Welcome to the 2018 Musicalypse Award nominations! Apart from the ‘best song’, the other obvious category for 2018 is ‘best album’, and it’s pretty likely that we won’t have a consensus on this, as we all have pretty varied tastes from one another. Nevertheless, if we can’t convince each other, maybe we can convince you to try some new albums, so here we go!
Listen along with all of our nominees on our Spotify playlist (we’ve only picked one song from the album that hasn’t already been nominated, so you only need to listen to one song):
It’s become a bit of a cliché for me at this point that Ayreon wins all awards, but frankly, they function on such a level that it’s hard for anyone to compete. They have tens of the best vocalists from the world, great music and musicians, and earthshattering remakes performed the first time live. How can you not be at least a nominee for all that… though maybe it’s a cheap move to vote for a live album?
Arion‘s Life is Not Beautiful had every reason to fail, but managed to prove that in spite of the odds, they could still write and play along with the best of what Finland (and the world) have to offer.
Lastly, the new Tuomas Holopainen side-project, Auri, feels like it was written just for people like me, who like mystical sounds and fantasy literature. It might not be an album for everyone, but when it works for you, it really works for you!
Alice in Chains took me by surprise this year – after the overlong and somewhat samey The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013), I didn’t expect the Seattle quartet to knock it out of the park quite like this. Rainier Fog is easily their best album with vocalist and guitarist William DuVall, and the songs sound fresh and vital, even though the band’s sound hasn’t really changed. Bonus points for luring ex-Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo out of hiding for “Drone”!
Another veteran band that succeeded this year is Amorphis: while Queen of Time isn’t loaded with songs you can crank out anytime like its precedessor, it’s a strong step forward for the band.
The same applies to The Night Flight Orchestra: Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough proves that Amber Galactic was no fluke, even if it doesn’t reach the latter’s heights.
Honorable mention: Alkuteos by CMX.
1. Ihsahn – Amr
2. Zeal and Ardor – Stranger Fruit
3. Tribulation – Down Below
Ihsahn (best know from Emperor) outdid himself again with Amr, drawing from Norse mythology, as the name suggests, and mixing it with introspective lyrics and a wide soundscape. It’s every bit as proggy, heavy, and catchy as The Adversary was. At times it can be piercingly sharp while other times it’s subdued and soft as a cloud.
Zeal and Ardor‘s Stranger Fruit is an insane voyage. It takes the ridiculous concept of African-American spirituals mixed with black metal and somehow makes it seem respectable. Unlike the first album, Devil is Fine, here the changes in tone never feel jarring – it flows together perfectly. The chants are every bit as evil as the blastbeats and growls. I simply can’t recommend it enough.
Sometimes referred to as black ‘n’ roll, Down Below is the long awaited follow up to Strange Gateways Beckon by Tribulation. It takes the aesthetics of black and/or doom metal and plays it more like straightforward Goth rock. This was my most listened-to album of the year. “The Lament”, “Nightbound”, and “Here Be Dragons” would play in my head any time I found myself in a quiet place.
Honorable mentions: in Vain – Currents, Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart, Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest, Warrel Dane – Shadow Work, Judas Priest – Firepower, Dimmu Borgir – Eonian, Septicflesh – Codex Omega
1. Amorphis – Queen of Time
2. Arion – Life is Not Beautiful
3. Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
With Queen of Time, Amorphis took a huge leap forward, introducing new elements to the band I had never heard before. I never really got into listening to Amorphis until “The Bee” was introduced to my Weekly Radar on Spotify. I was hooked and ever since the album was released, I’m slightly addicted to it. Probably their best work to-date.
I was already a big fan of Arion‘s Last of Us and hoped for an even better follow-up. The band basically blew me away with their new songs. Hits like “Unforgivable” and “At the Break of Dawn” have been incorporated into my playlists since the days they were released.
The Burning Cold by Omnium Gatherum, to me, has been the melodic death metal album of the year. The production has a well-deserved retro feel to it, as the band also points to this nostalgia with their songs. It all fits together very well.
Honorary mentions: Shiraz Lane – Carnival Days, Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough