The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 16

Posted in Radio on May 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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This was the first episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio to air in the new timeslot of Friday at 1PM Eastern, and I’ll just be honest, I think it was the best one I’ve done yet. The music was right on, the rhythm of one song into the next. There’s a way to make a thing like this that carries a flow — remember mixtapes? Same deal. This one had that. It tripped out when it needed to with Kandodo3 and instead of going psych-blast at the end, it went heavy with Nomadic Rituals and Thronehammer. I loved opening with 16 Horsepower as something unexpected and apart from both the riffy and the Gimme norm, and from pairing Lord Vicar and Destroyer of Light — someone book that tour! — to Sacri Monti and Wild Rocket, everything just came together right.

Tapping Monster Magnet for a classic track (classic track! yay!) didn’t hurt either, but even aside from that, it was a cool show. I’m not sure of the timing on re-airings — they’re every Sunday now at 7PM Eastern; the old timeslot for new episodes — but Gimme also has that Brigade thing you can join and listen to their full archive of everything. I’m not trying to spend your money; just want to give you options and not be like, “Hey this awesome thing happened and you missed it!” On that thought, maybe I should start posting these playlists before the show airs. Hmm… Things to consider.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 05.24.19

16 Horsepower Hutterite Mile Folklore (2002)
Abrahma Last Epistle In Time for the Last Rays of Light*
Giant Dwarf Repeat After Defeat Giant Dwarf*
BREAK
Monster Magnet Ozium Spine of God (1992)
Vorrh Myths Nomads of the Infinite Wild (2018)
Kandodo3 Everything – Green’s – Gone K3*
Lord Vicar The Temple in the Bedrock The Black Powder*
Destroyer of Light Eternal Death Mors Aeterna*
Faerie Ring Lost Wind The Clearing*
Ruff Majik Speed Hippie Tarn*
BREAK
Sacri Monti Waiting Room for the Magic Hour Waiting Room for the Magic Hour*
Wild Rocket Caught in Triangle Again Disassociation Mechanics (2017)
Slomatics Mind Fortresses on Theia Canyons*
BREAK
Nomadic Rituals Face Down in the Sea of Oblivion Marking the Day (2017)
Thronehammer Behind the Wall of Frost Usurper of the Oaken Throne*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is June 7. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma in time for the last rays of light

[Click play above to stream Abrahma’s In Time for the Last Rays of Light in its entirety. Album is out Friday on Small Stone Records and Deadlight Entertainment.]

It has been an especially long four years since France’s Abrahma released their second album, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here). As early as 2016, the topic of a new full-length had been broached, and they revealed recording plans in consecutive Junes across 2017 and 2018. The latter took. By the time they got there, guitarist/vocalist and principle songwriter Sébastien Bismuth was the lone remaining original member of the band, with a changing lineup around him that contributed in no small part to the delay. In the end, it was by absorbing the entirety of the band Splendor Solis that Bismuth was able to construct Abrahma as a five-piece and enter Orgone Studios to record with Jaime Gomez Arellano, known for his work with Paradise Lost, GhostDream DeathOrange Goblin, etc., and the resulting LP, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, harvests cohesion from the tumult of its making.

With Bismuth joined by guitarist/synthesist/noisemaker Benoît Carel, guitarist/vocalist Florian Leguillon, bassist/vocalist Romain Hauduc and drummer/vocalist Baptiste Keriel, the eight tracks and 49 minutes of the record play out with a fullness and a patience that undercuts the basic idea that this is a completely new lineup — perhaps the fact that CarelLeguillonHauduc and Keriel were a band previously helps — and builds on the atmospheric impression Abrahma made on their second LP with a greater focus on songwriting patience and telling a story with the songs front to back. The operating theme is coping with mental illness, specifically depression, and whether it’s the wailing guitar of “Lost. Forever.” or the turns between massive chug and harmonized vocals of the penultimate “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle,” Bismuth and company hold firmly to that focus across the record’s span. Methodical pacing and tonal weight lend depth to the mood of the material, and while there’s certainly a creative range at play, the songs serve the purpose of conveying that theme regardless of arrangement or other factors.

Those who remember Abrahma‘s 2012 debut, Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives (review here), might be surprised at just how metal some of the guitars sound throughout In Time for the Last Rays of Light, be it at the end of 8:41 third and longest cut “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 1: Isolation Ghosts” or in the six-minute side B leadoff “Last Epistle,” which emerges from a short intro “Dusk Contemplation” with what would be the album’s most intense spirit — capping in some unabashedly death metal-style chugga-chug in the fadeout accompanied by double-kick drum that’s only too appropriate — were it not for the subsequent “Wander in Sedation,” which swirls in on a dark severity of tone and resolves its lumbering progression in a culminating stretch of blastbeats, echoing those earlier of “Lucidly Adrift” on side A, which takes hold from side A and marries together heavy post-rock with these more extreme impulses.

abrahma

What actually keeps Abrahma from being full-tilt metal is their melodic sensibility and the overarching groove of In Time for the Last Rays of Light. There are moments certainly where one might call out a doom-rooted sense of theatricality, as on closer “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit,” in which a complex arrangement of multiple vocalists — or at least multiple layers — brings mournful resolution to the turbulence preceding, going so far as to have some shouting behind Bismuth in a call-and-response in the pre-chorus, touching on a vibe that would nod to Arellano‘s work with Paradise Lost in its general atmosphere, but working from a foundation of heavy rock instead of classic doom. Still, Abrahma make the lines between styles blurrier on In Time for the Last Rays of Light than they ever have before, and that in itself is something of a victory when it comes to establishing their sound on their third record. They are their most progressive here and their most sonically bold, from the memorable lead line of “Lost. Forever.” setting the downer course for what follows through the last march of “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit” into its fading ringout.

In keeping with that, Bismuth‘s presence as a frontman has never been so palpable. His vocal melodies range further than they have before, and with the others surrounding him at various points throughout, it leads to a more complete and more engaging experience, contrasting the instrumental thrust at times, but finding a foothold in that contrast. And maybe that’s the idea of the record as a whole — exploring or at least trying to come to an understanding of that dynamic and finding a place within it from which to express the emotionality at the core of In Time for the Last Rays of Light. Depression is not an easy to talk about. If it were, it would probably be less pervasive. But Abrahma do not shy away from saying what they want to say about it, and while they don’t go so far as to offer some clichéd hopeful ending, they do manage to craft something beautiful out of the darkened foundations from which they work. The inevitable question, then, is what it will lead to, and how indicative In Time for the Last Rays of Light ultimately will be of where the band are headed, creatively as well as in the simple reality of the players involved.

I don’t know if Abrahma‘s lineup woes are done or not, but listening to “Last Epistle,” “Lucidly Adrift,” “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle” and each of the other tracks that make it, it’s clear In Time for the Last Rays of Light was an album that the band needed to make, almost to exorcise it from their collective system. It is a record of striking instrumental purpose and expressive intent. It not only moves their sound forward from where it was four years ago, but it changes the narrative of the group’s function and that of Bismuth as a bandleader and songwriter. What might come next, I won’t speculate, but for the way it lays bare the personal and pushes Abrahma to places they’ve never been, it is an achievement worthy of the obvious pains taken to make it.

Abrahma website

Abrahma on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records website

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Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

Deadlight Entertainment website

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 15

Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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It was last Friday about an hour before I had to head out for the start of Desertfest NYC that I cut the voice breaks for this episode, once again on my phone, while in transit. I did the same thing last time and it sounded like crap. I know the stakes are pretty low — that is, nobody really cares — but if you’re going to do a thing, at least try to do it well. I backed off the phone this time and hopefully that cut some of the overmodulation in my voice.

I say “hopefully” because I actually haven’t heard the show yet. I was at the fest on Sunday while it aired, so I’ll be catching the rerun at 9AM this Thursday when that’s on. This is the 15th episode of The Obelisk Show and it’s been an exceptionally busy few weeks, but it’s still fun to put together, and there were some killer tracks included this time from Worshipper, Abrahma, Molasses, Stone Machine Electric, The Well, Kandodo, Methadone Skies, and so on. Any opportunity to throw in some Øresund Space Collective makes me happy, so that was a must, and I was kind of also doing myself a favor in including Natas as the “classic track” (yay! classic track!) for the episode.

So basically, unless I crapped it up, at least the music is good. That’s what matters anyhow, or so I’m told.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.28.19

Pelican Midnight and Mescaline Nighttime Stories*
Abrahma Lost Forever In Time for the Last Rays of Light*
Worshipper Coming Through Light in the Wire*
BREAK
Molasses Drops of Sunlight Mourning Haze*
Los Mundos Subterráneo Mar Jurásico Calor Central*
Kandodo King Vulture K3*
Omen Stones Fresh Hell Omen Stones*
The Well This is How the World Ends Death and Consolation*
BREAK
Natas Samurai Delmar
Smear Old Town A Band Called Shmear*
Methadone Skies Where Were You When We Were into the Void? Different Layers of Fear*
Stone Machine Electric Purgatory Darkness, Dimensions, Disillusion*
BREAK
Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle Afterglow in the Sea of Sirens Freak Out in the Fjord*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Thursday at 9AM. Next show is April 28. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Abrahma Post “Lost Forever” Video; In Time for the Last Rays of Light Available to Preorder

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

It is exceedingly hard to discuss depression. The second one enters into the classification of a diagnosis, the conversation changes. You become less of a person than the manifestation of an idea. This is true of any diagnosis. Think of the simple language involved sometimes. Depressives. Schizophrenics. Cancer patients. Not “people with…” but a simple, easily-filed categorization that saps the individual of their humanity when, let’s face it, acknowledging one’s humanity could potentially go a long way as a first step to addressing the issue in question. It doesn’t always help — it’s not going to make tumors stop growing — but it never hurts.

Making their return after an even-longer-feeling four-year absence, French progressive heavy rockers Abrahma are tackling the issue of depression head on with their new album, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, which is out May 24 on Small Stone and Deadlight Entertainment. The follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) indeed puts a human face on depression and the effects thereof on oneself and those surrounding. The video for “Lost Forever” directly portrays the despondency and loneliness that one can feel, even when in the company of loved ones. It manifests in the clip directed by Michael Leclere as a grueling agony with a tragic end and is by no means easy to watch.

“Lost Forever” is the opening track on In Time for the Last Rays of Light. I’m hoping to set up a premiere with a review as we get closer to the release, so keep an eye out for that (or, you know, don’t, if it doesn’t happen), but in the meantime, you can see the clip for “Lost Forever” below, followed by more info from the PR wire. I’d normally say “enjoy” here, but it seems crass given the context. Maybe just understand?

Here goes:

Abrahma, “Lost Forever” official video

In Time For The Last Rays Of Light is the third full-length from French progressive heavy rock outfit ABRAHMA. Set for release next month via Small Stone, the record follows three tumultuous years of personal challenges and lineup changes and is a chronicle of the ravages of coping with loss and mental illness, brought to bear with heavy and progressive songwriting, melodic catharsis, and an impact that goes beyond the material itself.

In advance of its release, the band has unveiled the moving video clip for “Lost Forever.” Offers director Michael Leclere, “‘Lost Forever’ unequivocally deals with depression, so I wanted to evoke identity quest as a parry to nothingness; when you lose yourself into the wilderness and have to draw in your own resources, facing yourself and looking after your animus, finding the strength to fight for things that may seem meaningless. Moving slowly toward an inextricable death, whether you do it to get a little more time or to find epiphany as a last shield before the abyss. We keep scattering pieces of ourselves through our constant efforts to stay alive. It’s like dying a little more each time. And it’s what will get us in the end.”

ABRAHMA’s In Time For The Last Rays Of Light will be released May 24th on CD and digital formats worldwide via Small Stone Records and in France on Deadlight Entertainment. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION.

Abrahma is:
Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benoît Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

Abrahma website

Abrahma on Thee Facebooks

Abrahma on Twitter

Small Stone Records website

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Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 13

Posted in Radio on April 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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This was a good one. After last episode, which was kind of working on a theme of balancing different kinds of heavy against each other, it felt rewarding to just get down to business and play some tunes without worrying really about some grander statement. Plus, during the voice breaks I got to bitch about having a cold, and you know I loves me some complaining. What other recourse is there for such a condition? DayQuil? Well, okay, yes, but also complaining.

Anyway, it starts with new Valley of the Sun because golly goodness golly golly is that record good, and then there’s some High Reeper, and then Saint Vitus because I’m still so gosh darn proud of having premiered that track that I included it basically as a gloat to myself. It’s mostly new music this time, which is how I like it, but I’ll say that in doing my typical classic-track thing, the intro to Electric Wizard‘s “Funeralopolis” is the best one I’ve ever done. Look out for the Centrum and Sigils tracks — both are marvelous — and though I was basically late to the party on Mammoth Grove‘s Slow Burn, which came out last year, “Gloria” makes an excellent closer to the set, which doesn’t really have a miss in the bunch. Again, it was a good one.

Note the second airing has moved from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning. It’ll be this Thursday at 6AM Eastern, which I’m calling the “Euro airing,” which means it comes with universal healthcare and old buildings, I guess. That’ll be fun, and hopefully the cold will be gone by then, because it certainly isn’t yet.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.31.19

Valley of the Sun Means the Same Old Gods*
High Reeper Eternal Leviathan Higher Reeper*
Saint Vitus Bloodshed Saint Vitus*
BREAK
La Grande Armée Normandía La Grande Armée*
Sigils Faceless You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves*
Pyramidal Digital Madness Pyramidal*
Spaceslug Ahtmosphere Split with Major Kong, Dopelord & Weedpecker*
BREAK
Electric Wizard Funeralopolis Dopethrone
Abrahma Lost Forever In Time for the Last Rays of Light*
Centrum Stjärnor För Meditation*
The Devil and the Almighty Blues Salt the Earth Tre*
BREAK
Monocluster Leviathan Ocean*
Mammoth Grove Gloria Slow Burn

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Thursday at 6AM. Next show is April 14. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Abrahma Announce May 24 Release for In Time for the Last Rays of Light

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

As it happens, I wrote the bio for Abrahma‘s upcoming third album, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, which will be out May 24 through Small Stone Records everywhere else and Deadlight Entertainment in the band’s native France. So yes, I’ve heard it. It is a darker affair than either of Abrahma‘s other two albums, but still carries the weight and impact that so typified 2016’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here). No question though that the context has shifted, and founding frontman Sébastien Bismuth talks about a bit of what that’s all about in the bio below, touching on inward and outward tumult of a kind that, hey, I get it. Like, a lot.

I’m going to try to get some coverage set up for this one, so I’ll say “more to come” and leave it at that. You’ll find the PR wire below, and the bio I wrote starts after the “–” in the second paragraph.

Dig:

abrahma in time for the last rays of light

ABRAHMA to release third album “In Time For The Last Rays Of Light” on May 24th through Small Stone Records

ABRAHMA’s third album “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” follows three tumultuous years of personal challenges and lineup changes. It is a chronicle of the ravages of coping with loss and mental illness, brought to bear with heavy and progressive songwriting, melodic catharsis and an impact that goes beyond the material itself.

— Produced and mixed at Orgone Studios by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Ghost, Candlemass), “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” follows 2015’s “Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird” and whether it is the stark chug and lumbering weight of “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 1: Isolation Ghosts” or the furious blast-beating in the prior “Lucidly Adrift,” its songs produce a depth of atmosphere that speaks to the soul that birthed them. A split with the prior lineup of the band brought the Rouen, France-based founding vocalist/guitarist Sébastien Bismuth into contact with local outfit Splendor Solis, whose members would soon be folded into the new incarnation of ABRAHMA. After many false starts, the band hit the studio in July 2018 and set to work on what is unmistakably their greatest accomplishment to-date: an album that copes with the depression that birthed it and soars hopefully above while reminding that the darkness beneath is ever-present.

“People do not take mental illness seriously,” says Bismuth. “People suffering from depression generally feel rejected, and it is not only a feeling. People that never gone through it generally do not really understand how hard it can be to live every day with this weight on your shoulders, all those questions going through your head.” Spanning genres and decades of influence, from the Bowie-ism of “…Last Epistle” to the gothic unfolding of closer “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit,” “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” speaks with raw honesty and lush craft to its challenges and realizations. In keeping with the album’s theme, a portion of the merch proceeds from ABRAHMA’s next tours will go to help those suffering from mental illness. “I decided to use this album has a medication against this depression and maybe help other people in this situation,” Bismuth recounts. “Each song explains a different side of it: loss of confidence, other’s critical looks, the impression of not having a place in this world.”

With front and back covers by famed French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) and a greater expanse of sound than ABRAHMA has ever had before, “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” confronts its demons and offers a reminder that light exists in the first place. (Words by JJ Koczan for The Obelisk)

ABRAHMA “In Time For The Last Rays Of Light”
Out May 24th on Small Stone Records (world)
and Deadlight Entertainment (France)

TRACK LISTING :
1. Lost.Forever.
2. Lucidly Adrift
3. Eclipse of the Sane Pt.1: Isolation Ghosts
4. Dusk Contemplation…
5. …Last Epistle
6. Wander in Sedation
7. Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle
8. There Bears the fruit of Deceit

Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benoît Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

www.abrahmamusic.net
www.facebook.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.twitter.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com

Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light teaser

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it. Foghound, who were in the midst of making Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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Abrahma Recording New Album Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

It seems like a really long time since Abrahma released their second album, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here), but the truth is it’s only three years. That record, also their second for Small Stone behind 2012’s Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives (review here), also followed its predecessor by three years, so actually the pace is pretty consistent. Maybe it just feels like a long time to me because I’ve been talking about their third album since Oct. 2016. Maybe I just can’t fucking do math. I don’t know. Point is: hasn’t actually been that long.

And in that time, I don’t even know how many players founding guitarist/vocalist Sebastien Bismuth has been through. At least one full lineup, and I think another one minus a guitarist? In any case, today’s news that Abrahma will record their third long-player — which had the tentative title In Time for the Last Rays of Light when it was first announced but may or may not be called something else by now — will be recorded next month at Orgone Studios in Bedfordshire, UK, with Jaime Gomez Arellano (Orange Goblin, Ghost, Paradise Lost, etc.) at the helm would seem to indicate that the current five-piece incarnation of the band will be the one captured on tape. Fair enough, and here’s looking forward to what comes out of the session, since while it hasn’t actually been that long since their last one, I’ve still been anxious for new Abrahma for three years running.

The band sent the following down the PR wire:

ABRAHMA LOGO

Long time without news from us… But after many up and down we’re delighted to announce that our third album Will finally be recorded in July with Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studios.

This new album Will contain 7 songs and some surprises…

It took 3 years to give birth to this album and we really hope you’ll enjoy the fruit of this long work…

Stay tuned for more info….

Tracklisting:
– Lost.Forever.
– Lucidly Adrift
– Eclipse Of the Sane pt.1: Isolation Ghost
– Last Epistle
– Wander in Sedation
– Eclipse of the Sane part.2: Fiddler of the bottle
– There Bears the fruit of Deceit

Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benjamin Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

www.abrahmamusic.net
www.facebook.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.twitter.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC

Abrahma, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (2015)

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