I decided to spend the last week of the year doing some “year in review” type posts. This one is a little strange because it doesn’t fit into a specific musical genre and doesn’t fit into the ‘Top 5’ format (this list has 8 entries) that I usually keep these posts to. I wanted to put together a list of albums that I thought were great in 2018. It being an off year in regard to major act releases the releases that piqued my interest are varied in style and may not be ones that would be on your list, but these are the albums released this year that stood out to me.
A Perfect Circle-Eat the Elephant
APC’s releases have been of varying quality and limit in quantity. Since their first release in 2000 they have only released two albums of original material and one album of reimagined cover songs. After 13 years they finally released an album of new material that is amazing in dynamics and served as a reminder of why this group is so great. I remember hearing “The Doomed” and couldn’t get it out of my head. The dynamics of the song itself build so well into the conclusion.
Songs such as “So long, and Thanks for All the Fish” (which shares a title with one of Douglas Adams’ books) shows that the band can write something akin to a pop song with dark undertones. This album is strong from start to finish and keeps you interested sonically even through the slower more atmospheric songs.
Godsmack- When Legends Rise
Godsmack get a lot of shit for this album because its was not the standard hard rock fare that they have been serving for the last decade, but I think this is one of their strongest albums in over a decade. Even though this album isn’t over 40 minutes it still managed to cover the bases in regard to hard rocking songs such as the title track, “Take it to The Edge”, “Say My Name”, and “Let it Out” as well as mixing in more melodic or mainstream style songs such as “Unforgettable”, “Bulletproof”, “Someday”, and “Every Part of Me”.
This album shows a band that, after 20 years, did not want to keep rehashing their own sound. The writing shows a level of maturity that was missing from their debut album as well as the ability to keep enough of their signature sound to keep their fanbase happy while pushing their limits to a more commercial sound.
Like a lot of people I kind of lost track of Eminem after the first three albums. You would hear a song every now and then and see the humor and anger that made him a popular white rapper in the ’00’s but like most people I wrote him off as having lost his edge in middle age.
The surprise release of Kamikaze proved everybody, including myself wrong. Shady is back with a vengeance and is showcasing the acidic and sarcastic raps while lashing out at everyone proving that even though he tried to venture out of his comfort zone with his last few releases, he is still capable of dressing down anyone who doubts his ability.
Standout tracks are “The Ringer”, “Greatest”, “Not Alike”, and the title track. If you haven’t heard it yet check this album out because you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Everlast- Whitey Ford’s House of Pain
Everlast is an artist that doesn’t garner much attention outside of his fanbase, however, as an artist he manages to cover a lot of the bases musically to offer something for everyone. His 2018 release combines the styles and sound that made him stand out on his past releases. He manages to blend rap songs with acoustic rock, pop, and ballads into a coherent album that is good start to finish.
It’s hard to pick out only a few songs on this album to mention as the entire thing is coherent and each song blends to the next well so I’ll just say that you need to check it out for yourself.
Light the Torch- Revival
I was excited about this album for months before it’s release. Anyone who has listened to metal in the last two decades has to be a fan of Howard Jones. One of the best singer/screamers out there today his vocals are always a welcome portion of any song. Light the Torch’s first release under the new moniker (formerly Devil You Know) is heavy, melodic, and has enough sing-a-long choruses to keep you belting them out in your car.
There are a number of great standout heavy songs such as first three songs “Die Alone”, “God I Deserve”, and “Calm Before the Storm” as well as one of my personal favorites “The Safety of Disbelief” and “Bitter End”. The strength is not just in the fast and heavy songs on the album but also in the more atmospheric and slower songs like “The Great Divide” and “Judas Convention” that allow HoJo to showcase his excellent singing voice.
I recommend this album to anyone who loves melody in their metal and have an appreciation for strong singing and lyrics.
Red Sun Rising- Thread
I first heard of this band when I saw them open for Sevendust on tour back in 2016 and have been a fan of their first album after listening to it. They managed to release a great cover of Alanis Morrisette’s “Uninvited” in 2017 that kept me interested in them. However, 2018 saw the release of the Ohio band’s sophomore album “Thread”. Their first single “Deathwish” did not grab my attention at first, however, after a few repeated listens the bridge/ending of the song would get stuck in my head and I gained an appreciation for the new material.
Along with “Deathwish” songs like “Left for Dead”, “Stealing Life”, “Veins”, and “Rose” provide a good mixing of rockers and slower heart felt songs. The majority of the album is well written and sang and have enough hooks to keep the songs in your head days after listening to it. The only song I don’t like on this album is the closer “Evil Like You” which I feel is inferior to the other songs on the album and should have probably been better left off this collection of tunes.
Sevendust- All I See Is War
Speaking of Sevendust… 2018 provided another solid release from the Atlanta metal holdouts. As I’ve mentioned in some of my other posts, I have been a fan of this band since for 20 years now and buy every release and try to see them on tour every chance I can get because they are just that solid of a band and group of songwriters.
While Kill the Flaw and Black Out The Sun did not offer as many great songs in my opinion as their 2010 Release Cold Day Memory, All I See Is War more than makes up for that in songwriting and listenability of the songs overall. There are still plenty of hard rockers on this album including the opening track “Dirty”, “Medicated”, “Unforgiven”, and “The Truth” there are also some surprisingly heavy slower songs.
The band shows that their songwriting ability continues to grow with a more expansive sound of songs like “Sickness”, “Moments”, “Not Original” and “Life Deceives You”. There are so many great songs that I’m sure will earn a place in their already great set of songs they play live. Out of the many times I’ve seen Sevendust live they have never disappointed with their show, my only complaint is that they seem to disregard some of their deeper cuts and non-album work that is just as good as the hits they play at each show.
All I See Is War is a hearty addition to their already great catalog of work and I hope to see them put out more quality albums long into the future.
Tremonti- A Dying Machine
I was looking forward to this album release probably the most this year. Mark Tremonti stands as one of my favorite guitarists out there today and his work with his solo band is not a lesser content than that he puts into his main band Alter Bridge. Tremonti is one of the few players out there that can write quality songs consistently but also shred with the best of them.
The lyrical content on this album was doubly interesting to me as this is the first concept album that Tremonti has released but it also has to do with AI and technology. While not a new concept (Fear Factory has been basing albums off of this concept for two decades) the story and the music give the album a great feel with music and storyline that move the songs along nicely.
There are plenty of stadium rocker choruses as well as tasty solos to enjoy for the lover of heavy. There are also a few songs that are solid potential rock radio (does such a thing still exist) staples that given a chance could be popular.
“From the Sky”, “A Dying Machine”, and many others on the album are solid rocking tunes. Tremonti manages to put a few well thought out slower songs on the album as well to temper the dynamics as well as show that his guitar abilities are not limited to heavy distortion and shredding. Of all the songs on the album the one that is the catchiest and strongest songs is the song “Take You With Me”. This song just kicks ass period. A great radio song as well as just a solid rocking tune that helps to grab your attention on the latter half of the album.