What a glorious year in metal we just experienced. After the sheer amount of quality albums that were released in 2018, there is no question that the genre is as healthy and full of life as ever. Thus, making our top albums lists harder than usual.
For the APESHIT goons, 2018 was the year where the legends all shined. JUDAS PRIEST led the charge with their best album since 1990’s Painkiller. DIMMU BORGIR finally emerged from a long slumber and did not disappoint. VOIVOD remain the gods that the mass metal media won’t acknowledge as such. We can’t really think of any letdowns. Can you?
Sweden’s TRIBULATION took a big step with 2015’s Children of the Night. Their new one, Down Below, continues where its predecessor left off with a sound focused on incorporating traditional heavy metal, gothic rock/metal, and bigger riffs onto their Swedish death metal foundation. The band continue to capitalize on the fundamentals that “feel” and atmosphere resonate deeper with fans.
TRIBULATION have improved in key areas. First, they improved at creating spacing within each song for each instrument to have its own distinctive voice. For much of Down Below, each member is playing different parts coupled with plenty of twists and turns in each song, which creates the air of musicality. Throw in pianos and synth effects (i.e. tolling bells) and you’ve got plenty of ear candy through out Down Below. Please note that Johannes Andersson (vocals/bass) is an excellent bassist that makes a significant contribution with his playing. Rarely is he simply playing the same riffs as rhythm guitars.
Speaking of dynamics and song structure, TRIBULATION aim higher to make each song an experience. A song like “Lacrimosa” has a great bridge that feels like a haunted graveyard during the witching hour, which then takes off into a great guitar solo and eventually ends with quiet pianos.
Unfortunately, just like Children of the Night, Down Below loses momentum after the first few songs. Both albums are sequenced in a similar fashion with the “big” songs at the top and the more subdued, melancholic songs thereafter. While none of the latter on Down Below are necessarily bad, they simply aren’t as exciting as the former. Thus, the album just kind of ends on a quiet note.
Overall, TRIBULATION are on the upswing and will undoubtedly only get bigger from here. And in doing so, they are keeping the flame of Swedish death metal alive. (Century Media Records)
When looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.
Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene. Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts. You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.
Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years. Continue reading →