I was brave enough to publish the first edition of “BEST OF HEAVY METAL IN 2018” when it was only January. Indeed some readers of the blog expressed their perplexities about the idea of indicating the best albums of the year after such a short time. The fact is that in the first few weeks of 2018 we witnessed the release of a relatively high number of records inspired by traditional heavy metal, and as a matter of fact among these LPs there was also the one which today, at one third of the year, still deserves the award of best heavy metal album of 2018.
At this point in time, I have selected 8 different albums to represent the state of heavy metal in 2018. Some of them are definitely good and solid LPs and are destined to stay in the chart until the end of the year. The remaining ones have maybe a few good tracks or another particular element of interest, but most likely will be replaced in the coming months by more homogeneous and complete records.
The list of the 8 best heavy metals album in this first part of the year is the following:
- Trespass, “Footprints In The Rock“
- Mustasch, “Silent Killer“
- Satan Jokers, “Symphonik Kommandoh“
- Black Veil Brides, “Vale“
- White Wizzard, “Infernal Overdrive“
- Lechery, “We Are All Born Evil“
- Wail, “Resilient“
- Big Bad Wolf, “Outrage of Modesty“
In the remaining of the article you will find more details for each album and, most important, a selection of songs that may give you a better idea of the sound and style of each single band.
…and if you arrived here through a search engine, please check if there are more recent charts for the same genre in the Metal section of the blog.
Best Heavy Metal Album of the year (so far)
“Footprints in the Rock”, by Trespass
This album was indicated as the best heavy metal record of the year also in the first issue of the Heavy Metal chart, back in January, but at that time there were only a few other contenders. Today we have listened to many more records but the value of Footprints in the Rock, which is the last record released by Trespass, remains untouched and the band confirms its position on top of the chart.
Born and established in the metal scene when the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was the reference metal genre, Trespass had to go through various (and long) period of crisis along the 40 years that have passed since their original formation in 1978. What we have today is basically the third reincarnation of the band, which sees two of the three orginal founders of the group (Dave Crawte and Mark Sutcliffe) supported by new traveling companions. With this new line-up the band released a first homonymous album in 2015, followed by this new LP, Footprints in the Rock, released in the early days of 2018.
As suggested by the title of the album, the music played today by the band is a blend of classic heavy metal with many rock influences. The band features three guitars and the resulting effect is that of an hurricane of rock releasing healty doses of electric energy, engaging riffs and tight rhythms. The album seems composed of two distinct parts: the first section is absolutely beautiful, exciting and it features all catchy and well-played tracks. The second part of the album seems a little weaker and it somehow precluded the album to reach the prestigious elite of the Best New Music.
#2 – “Silent Killer” by Mustasch
Mustasch it is absolutely not a newcomer within the European metal panorama. The Swedish band is in fact active since twenty years and they have released a large number of albums during their career, arriving this year with the publication of Silent Killer to the ninth record of a rich and interesting discography.
The style of this Mustasch has always been relatively versatile, exploring over the years many of the boundaries that traditional heavy metal shares with other musical genres. In the recent years their sound has been oriented towards an enjoyable mix of heavy metal, groove and stoner, and their most recent work presents a collection of energetic, entertaining and well-packaged songs.
With a total duration that’s slightly longer than half an hour, the album spreads adrenaline and energy from the beginning to the end and although some songs are a little less engaging than the others, basically the average level of the album is definitely good. That’s another solid album of heavy metal that can satisfy both tradional fans of this genre but also casual listeners.
#3 – “Symphönïk Kömmandöh” by Satan Jokers
Satan Jokers is a band of heavy metal veterans, actually one of the very first French heavy metal bands. These guys, apart from a hiatus of about twenty years started in the second half of the 80s, have been playing their music since their formation in 1981 and have published up to now 8 full-lenght albums. – six after the reunion in 2005.
The most recent record from the band, Symphönïk Kömmandöh, is an heavy metal ride in sixteen tracks; these songs have different levels of quality but the album is fun and definitely enjoyable to listen. As the title suggests, for this new album the French metallers have called the support of a symphonic orchestra, but their style has not changed too much and, in the end, the record features the uy usual collection of classic heavy metal tracks, sung in French.
#4 – “Vale” by Black Veil Brides
I deepened my knowledge of Black Veil Brides by watching my son play the videogame Guitar Hero. The American band, in fact, had entered into a sponsorship agreement with the producers of the game and practically their songs appeared continuously among those offered to the players. Thanks to that I could thus appreciate the musicality and the enjoyability of most of their songs, as well as the gradual evolution of their sound that took place over the years: they basically moved from an initial style influenced by glam rock to a sort of commercial version of metalcore, arriving today to play a mix between alternative rock and heavy metal.
Out of the context of the game, however, I have found on many of their records that the band seems uncapable to maintain the same level of quality across all the songs of a single LP. Most of the records I heard from them show thus a huge gap between those two or three most catchy singles and the rest of the songs, which are often approximate and of much lower quality. Unfortunately this phenomenon is present also in Vale, their last effort. With the exception of a couple of interesting pieces, there are too many weak tracks which reduce the overall value of the disk. And it’s really a pity. Because the best songs that Black Veil Brides have composed so fare result really interesting and anjoyable, and it’s not by chance that their singles always gain a certain attention among the fans of heavy metal. To climb up the music charts, however, we need something more than that.
#5 – “Infernal Overdrive” by White Wizzard
White Wizzard is an heavy metal band from California which reached last year their tenth year of activity. Up to now their career has been marked by continuous revolutions in the line-up and probably the side events that have distinguished their career had more resonance in the press and the metal scene than the actual music they have produced so far (just to make an example, one of their past singers was fired after he refused to get on stage for how much he was drunk and stoned).
On the other hand, however, their music has never wanted to shine for creativity innovation and even their last album, Infernal Overdrive, seems more like a tribute to the sacred masters of the past (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden,…) than the result of a profound creative process. As a result, the music played by these metalheads from Los Angeles will hardly be ever capable to capture the attention of the new generations. At the same time, however, the songs in Infernal Overdrive show some features that will surely be of interest to every fan of traditional heavy metal: intriguing melodic lines, a singer with a wide vocal range, and also a certain variety of the songs that makes the album relatively enjoyable to hear.
#6 – “We Are All Born Evil” by Lechery
Lechery, from Sweden, is one of those band who want their albums to be filled with pure and classic heavy metal, so that you already know what to expect every time they release a new record.
The band was formed in Halmstad in 2004 and from that point in time they’re basically repeating the same formula again and again: vintage heavy metal with power riffs and lots of melodies. From their first LP, Violator, released in 2008, to the new album, We Are All Born Evil, released ten years after the debut, we actually observed some form of evolution in their style, mainly related to an increased variety among the songs of the LP. In the end, however, their music remains anchored to sound and feels of the golden age of heavy metal and, as such, whilst the album can be very good for all the fans of this genre of music, it has little to offer to everyone else.
Anyway, if you’re reading this post there are high chances that you may enjoy a strong dose of Swedish power and heavy metal, and you won’t be absolutely disappointed by We Are All Born Evil. The ten tracks of the album are in fact full of anthemic choruses, walls of guitars, and everything else you expect from old-school tradition.
#7 – “Resilient” by Wail
Wail, from Norway, is a relatively new formation born from the ashes of a previous group that played under the name of Mental Shudtdown. Wail have released in January 2018 their debut album, Resilient, which offers a particular kind of heavy metal characterized by moderate rhythms, intriguing riffs and catchy choruses.
The atmospheres created in their songs are generally interesting and we recognize in some of the tracks of the album a few elements that reveal the will of the band to find their own way in the world of heavy metal. The potential of the band is thus recognizable, and if the average level of the songs was closer to the quality of the top picks we would certainly have celebrated another excellent debut from Scandinavia.
#8 – “Outrage of Modesty” by Big Bad Wolf
From the small and beautiful Slovenia, a new heavy metal band entered the scene and debuted with a nice album of traditional heavy metal. Big Bad Wolf are actually active since 2011 but released only this year their first LP, Outrage of Modesty.
This record fits in that vast category of albums that seem to defy the passing of time. The album offers in fact a collection of songs that could have easily been published 30 years ago, and they would not even seem particularly innovative, if not maybe for an interesting presence of groovy elements that are sparse throughout the entire album. This doesn’t mean that the debut album has no value, but certainly the nostalgia reaches at certain times the limit of anachronism. In the end, although the album emanates the genuine passion of these metalheads, the overall result isn’t completely positive.
Anyway, we will continue to monitor the activity of this new formation and hopefully in the future they will surprise us with a more particular and unique style of metal.