Welcome to the 2018 Musicalypse Award nominations. In order to share our nominations with you, as well as our reasons for certain album picks, we’ve had to limit ourselves to the albums that came out before these posts. However, we want to give all of 2018 a fair chance, so here are some last-minute entries into the competition from the staff-members who think that the late entries into the game were worth including!
Have a listen to the full selection of nominees here:
1. Best New Discovery: Beyond the Black
I discovered Beyond the Black when the normal curiosity hits me upon listening to a new Kamelot album. Kamelot always has an eye for great female vocalists and regularly brings in new singers. Some of the best female vocalists out there gained attention from working with Kamelot – Simone Simons (Epica), Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), and Kobra Paige (Kobra and the Lotus) are a few of them. So, seeing as how “Burns to Embrace” is one of my favorite songs of this year, I had to know who this female vocalist, Jennifer Haben, was and what band she was from. It turns out that Haben is the lead vocalist from Beyond the Black, hailing from Germany, and their debut album that just came out this year, Heart of the Hurricane, was rather solid across the board.
1. Best New Band/Discovery: Northward
2. Best New Band/Discovery: Afire
3. Best Party Song: Northward – “While Love Died”
My list was a little short with Flat Earth (whose full album I’ve finally heard and enjoyed by now) being my only nomination for Best New Band/Discovery, so I’m adding Northward, the hard rock collab between Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Jørn Viggo Lofstad (Pagan’s Mind). Jansen is mainly known as a symphonic metal powerhouse, so it’s refreshing to hear her voice in a more straightforward and raw kind of music.
My other newcomer nominee is the Oulu-based melodic hard rock act, Afire, who released their debut album this year. I can only go by the basis of the lead single, “Let Me Be the One”, but it’s a cool song with a punchy riff, moody verses, and a strong chorus, and vocalist Suvi Hiltunen has a pleasant, dark timbre that’s different from the typical female rock/metal singers.
I’m also filling out my party song list with Northward‘s “While Love Died” – it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a quality rocker, and it’s fun to watch the chemistry between Jansen and Lofstad in the video. Bonus points for the Tom Morello-like guitar solo!
1. Best New Album: Stam1na – Taival
2. Best Music Video: Belzebubs – “Blackened Call”
3. Best Album Art: Frosttide – “Decendents – Enshrined”
4. Best Slow Song/Ballad: End Of You – “Soul Eater”
5. Best Collaboration: Stam1na ft. Anna Eriksson – “Gaian lapsi”
6. Most Epic Song: Wolfheart – “Everlasting Fall”
7. Most Epic Song: Frosttide – “Final Hour
Stam1na is a strong contender whenever they put out a new full-length, and Taival is no exception to this – yet another intense, emotional, thought-provoking album, that takes you by surprise with its moments of sudden beauty, and it works effortlessly and excellently in the album format.
Also, I can’t believe I almost forgot Belzebubs. The whole thing is a work of genius, and I can’t help but watch in awe how a funny Inktober project has gotten completely out of hand and turned into a legitimate, signed-to-an-actual-record-label project. But while things have escalated around Belzebubs, the video for ”Blackened Call” still nods to the traditions of the scene, and shows a wonderful DIY spirit through and through.
On album art front, Frosttide delivered some fairly basic imagery for the scene with their Decedents – Enshrined EP, but damn, does the cover look fine. The almost monochromatic blue-shade palette and the execution are spot on – it gives an exact impression of cold and ethereal, as it should.
End of You’s ”Soul Eater” isn’t that much your average ballad, rather than an almost meditative piece, that captures perfectly in music the oceanfront mood it paints with its lyrics. A delightfully calm and mysterious thing to listen when walking home from bar in the middle of night.
When I first heard that Anna Eriksson – one of the best known artists in Finnish adult pop and iskelmä scene for past couple decades – would be featured in a Stam1na song, I had no idea what to expect, all prejudice aside. What resulted was a real stroke of genius – my gosh, ”Gaian lapsi” gives me chills every single time I listen to it. Eriksson’s voice is sharp and clear, a perfect fit with Antti Hyyrynen’s almost earthy, often raspy delivery.
When talking about epic songs, Wolfheart‘s ”Everlasting Fall” fits the bill in practically every way. Obviously it’s lengthy – an interesting choice for an opening track in that sense, at least – and orchestrated, but not overdone. I love how it flows from acoustic guitar intro to orchestrations to electric guitars and back to acoustic guitar before really starting, and the subtle dialogue between all the elements keep it from getting boring at any point. And when it reaches the airy and soaring choruses, it really reminds me of Insomnium’s Winter’s Gate in the best way possible.
Basically most of Frosttide‘s Decedents – Enshrined EP would be fitting to the epic category, more or less, but ”Final Hour” stands out as an exhilarating second-to-last chapter in the EP’s storyline; it moves you in breathtaking pace to the end of the story, like rushing towards a cliff at the end of the world, not sure whether you’ll be able to stop before you drop off it, and frankly, you don’t even care. It’s the musical form of ‘come what may’ attitude as a warrior takes their final stand, not knowing if they’ll come out of the battle alive and being okay with that.
1. Best New Song/Best Music Video: Beast in Black – “Sweet True Lies”
2. Best New Song: Brymir – “Ride On, Spirit”
3. Best New Song: Children of Bodom – “Under Glass and Clover”
Three songs that I still want to mention for the Last-Minute Entries are songs that all came out at the beginning of December and might not make it to the end of the year lists. I’m talking about “Sweet True Lies” (Beast in Black), “Ride On, Spirit” (Brymir) and “Under Glass and Clover” (Children of Bodom). I’ve been listening to all three songs in the last couple of days only, they all have been equally stuck in my head, so that’s why they deserve to be mentioned.