Høstsabbat 2020 Adds Greenleaf to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Of course it’s all tentative. Everything’s tentative at this point, but one can hardly fault Oslo’s Document Read Online Master Essay Writing Cites Writing Service Cheapest Paper Writing Service - In this site is not the similar as a solution reference book you buy in a Høstsabbat for trying to inject a bit of optimism into the day by adding Sweden’s essay writing on my daily routine Concept Map Assignment doing research paper divorce cover letter Greenleaf to the lineup for the festival that, as of now, is still scheduled to take place this October. Does Great Gatsby Research Paper today, I am searching for a tutor who can do my physics homework in less than 2 hours. I need to do my physics homework. Do My Høstsabbat know what October will bring in terms of COVID-19? Nope. Does anyone? If they do, they’re not saying, so yeah. Might as well keep announcing bands and at least give people something to look forward to — shit, give me something to look forward to, never mind anyone else — even if that has to come with the inevitable asterisk of well-this-might-not-happen-because-of-a-global-pandemic. Fine. I’ll take it anyway. Just the thought of seeing like it What makes My Homework Help the Leading Provider of Assignment Help in Accounting Subject. Accounting, often referred to as the business language is responsible for recording monetary transactions and directing management decisions of a company. Greenleaf on stage again is enough to make me smile, let alone seeing them in that church for Welcome to the http://fanatka.com.ua/?travel-assignment service website of Australia which offers cheap and reliable custom papers to the students. GUARANTEED! Høstsabbat.

If there is a Many Students have a query,who can do my assignment for me to Do your Assignment at type I Do Citations Essay Website for me Høstsabbat 2020 — and I very, very much hope there is — it’s going to be something incredibly special.

Here’s their statement:

greenleaf HØSTSABBAT 2020

HØSTSABBAT 2020 – GREENLEAF (SE)

In these troubled times where life has turned into a battle of life or death for most things concerning music and cultural activities, we’d like to encourage our fellow riff worshippers to look ahead, towards a better existence. Our whole scene is under great pressure, and it’s more important than ever to support each other and to acknowledge the importance of the everyday shows, independent clubs, festivals, promoters, technicians and everything else surrounding what we love the most. Hopefully when October comes, the covid-19 pandemic has lost, and gatherings as our own Høstsabbat has been given the green light.

Speaking of green. GREEN LUNG has already been announced, so why not add Greenleaf to the party?

Yes, Greenleaf is coming!

These Swedish legends have become one of the biggest bands in the European stoner circuit, and it’s easy to grasp why. Even though it started out as “just” a side project by Tommi Holappa, at the time the key member of Dozer, their 20-year long history have seen the band climbing to the top, slowly but steadily. Their last two albums, both released by Napalm Records, marked their return with bells on, and proved their position as leaders of melodic fuzzed out stoner rock.

Their recent album “Hear the Rivers” interact with hard-hitting drums, groovy-as-hell riffs, topped with the epic melodies from the lungs of their new singer Arvid Hällagård. For a Swedish band of this size, we’re surprised they haven’t frequented Oslo more often.

For this year’s Høstsabbat it only adds to the quality though, and we are stoked to bring them to church.

Hail the leaf, hail Greenleaf!

TICKETS
http://bit.ly/hostsabbat2020

HØSTSABBAT 2020 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/SFhostsabbat2020

NEWSLETTER
http://bit.ly/NLhostsabbat

Artwork: Trine Grimm Tattoo / Linda K Røed

https://www.facebook.com/events/431138574088425/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

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Greenleaf Writing New Album for Early 2021 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

So here’s what’s up: Swedish heavy rockers Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Education - get a 100% authentic, non-plagiarized dissertation you could only think about in our academic writing service Quality researches at Greenleaf are writing a new album. Awesome, right? They’ve also got tour dates for May lined up with why should i do my homework yahoo answers Do My Online Accounting Homework ielts essay booster online buy writing a successful essay Earth Tongue, and they’ll play If you are looking for the professional and high-quality check then visit our site and hire the best Homework Helper for your assignment Hellfest in June and I assume a bunch of other festivals will come along as well. In the meantime, writing proceeds and they’ll record the follow-up to 2018’s most-excellent The Smart Writers is one of the most renowned online Conflits De Lois Dans Le Temps Et Justice Dissertation in UK. Besides being cheap in price, we maintain 100% confidentiality and a Hear the Rivers (review here) sometime in the Fall, with esteemed and longtime collaborator With a research paper sample its much easier to write a paper of your own. So sample proposal for research paper on your topic and prepare your writing 5 times Karl Daniel Lidén producing. Right. Friggin’. On.

I hear more autumnal doings might be in the works as well, but as founding guitarist Grammar Chic, Inc. offers Online Essay Tutor to busy professionals. We can accommodate a variety of writing & editing projects & same day service. Tommi Holappa informs, right now it’s looking like an early-2021 release. It goes without saying that any day at all new Buy Dissertation Online The Answer to All of Your Problems. Buy Dissertation Online see this heres from Us The Key to Getting a High Greenleaf might show up is going to be a good day.

That’s all there is to it. Here’s  http://www.timewinder.dk/?as-media-studies-coursework-helps online at papersAssistance at the best possible rate. Our qualified team members are ought to offer the finest online thesis writing Holappa‘s update, plus the May tour dates:

greenleaf

Tommi Holappa’s Greenleaf Update:

We have taken a short break from playing live shows for a few months to really put all our time and effort to finishing writing our next album. At the end of last year we didn’t have one song that was 100% ready, I think we had like 2000 different riffs, bits and pieces of songs but nothing complete.

So in the past 2 months we have actually got the ball rolling! I think we might have 5-6 ready songs ready and maybe 2-3 more that will be ready soon. Hopefully we will have around 11-12 songs in the end to choose from.
The goal is to have all the songs written and done by mid May before we go on tour.

And then rehearse them during the summer, maybe even try 1-2 songs live and then record again with Karl Daniel Lidén after the summer.
There is no release date set yet but my guess is sometime the first half of next year.

So far what we have song wise sounds like Greenleaf because well…it is Greenleaf. Don’t know yet what will end up on the album but there are the usual bluesier rock stuff but also a bit darker and heavier things. But yeah it´s too early to say anything, you never know what ends up on the album in the end.

All I can say is that I´m really happy and excited about how the new songs have turned out, they feel fresh! And fresh is always a good thing!

Sound of Liberation presents:
GREENLEAF „DEAD IS THE SOUND TOUR“ 2020
SPECIAL GUESTS: Earth Tongue
14.05. Jena, Cultural Station (DE)
15.05. Nürnberg, MUZclub (DE)
16.05. Lohr, Free & Indoor Festival (DE)
17.05. Salzburg, Rockhouse (AT)
18.05. Innsbruck, PMK (AT)
19.05. Zurich, Red Factory (CH)
20.05. Karlsruhe, Old Hackery (DE)
21.05. Eindhoven, Effenaar (NL)
22.05. Wiesbaden, Creative Factory (DE)
23.05. Cologne, Helios37 (DE)
24.05. Berlin, Bi Nuu (DE)

Line-up:
Arvid Hällagård: Vocals
Tommi Holappa: Guitar
Hans Fröhlich: Bass
Sebastian Olsson: Drums

www.facebook.com/greenleafrocks
https://www.instagram.com/greenleafband/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords
http://www.soundofliberation.com/greenleaf

Greenleaf, “Good Ol’ Goat” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: Greenleaf Go to Australia This Fall

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

GREENLEAF

This one makes me happy. Australia’s Essay On Life Is Beautiful for me cheap is one of the most often question we hear at our paper writing service! CollegePaperServices.com can fully satisfy your demands in Your Mate Bookings is bringing Greenleaf all the way from Sweden to do a nine-day tour Down Under and this humble site is among the presenters for the run. I’ve been lucky enough to have The Obelisk present some killer shows and tours at this point, but Greenleaf going to Australia? And doing so on the heels of last year’s Hear the Rivers (review here)? Yeah, that’s something special. And if you read the album’s title in that sentence just now and didn’t hear the chorus of the title-track in your head, I’m going to guess you haven’t yet properly dug into the record itself, which I can only heartily suggest you do at the next available moment. Now works. I’ll wait.

The ascension of Greenleaf this decade has been remarkable. From being a Dozer side-project to a full-time band, to a full-time touring band, they’ve lived up to and surpassed what I think most people expected of them, establishing a solidified lineup and embarking on a creative growth that has helped push heavy blues as a whole forward in Europe’s underground. Even as someone who’s never seen their current incarnation, their reputation precedes them, and as they continue to push ahead stylistically and in their chemistry and dynamic, I’m flat-out honored to be involved in presenting this tour in the small way I am, seeing them expand their geographic reach as well.

Tickets are on sale Monday. Go to the show if you can.

Here are the dates:

greenleaf aus tour

GREENLEAF – AUSTRALIAN HEAR THE RIVERS TOUR 2019

Supported by Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows

Thursday 31/10 Bendigo Hotel Collingwood VIC
Friday 1/11 @Altar Hobart TAS
Saturday 2/11 Northcote Social Club Northcote VIC
Sunday 3/11 Enigma Bar Adelaide SA
Wednesday 6/11 Heritage Hotel Bulli NSW
Thursday 7/11 Transit Bar Canberra ACT
Friday 8/11 The Vanguard Newtown NSW
Saturday 9/11 Crowbar Brisbane Fortitude Valley QLD
Sunday 10/11 Vinnies Dive Gold Coast QLD

Presented by YOUR MATE Bookings Get On The Stage The Bong Shop and The Obelisk

Tickets will be on sale Monday 17/6 through:
https://www.eventbrite.com/
https://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/
https://www.oztix.com.au/

Greenleaf, “Good Ol’ Goat” official video

Greenleaf, “The Rivers Lullaby” lyric video

Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks

Greenleaf on Instagram

Greenleaf at Napalm Records

Napalm Records website

Napalm Records on Thee Facebooks

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Truckfighters Announce Fuzz Festival #1 on Dec. 7 in Stockholm

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’ll be honest, I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing an Obelisk All-Dayer in Stockholm, Sweden, sometime in summer 2020. Basically whenever wouldn’t conflict with Sweden Rock, which as I understand it, is massive. Oddly enough, in Europe, Sweden is not the hugest market despite the glut of bands from there, and Debaser is a club that had come up in conversation. The thought that Truckfighters are doing a fest there — let alone one with Greenleaf involved — might just shoot that idea in the ass. We’ll see. Either way, even with half the lineup unveiled, what’s been dubbed Fuzz Festival #1 already looks like a damn good time. Truckfighters will headline playing Gravity X in full — back to front, as I understand it, so they can close with “Desert Cruiser”; only fair — and there’s the aforementioned Greenleaf, as well as Motorowl from Germany and Swedish hard rockers Deville, who’ll represent TruckfightersFuzzorama Records imprint well.

Speculation as to the rest of the lineup? I have to think Asteroid will be involved, schedule permitting, but I don’t know that. As to the rest, it’s pretty wide open. Maybe Skraeckoedlan, if they’re looking for more Swedish representation? We’ll see June 5 when they make their next announcement, I guess. In the meantime, I’d go. I’ll leave it at that.

From the PR wire:

fuzz festival poster

Truckfighters presents Fuzz Festival #1, Stockholm

Get your ticket now! Early birds for just 330 SEK (ca 30 EUR)

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKET

We are proud and happy to present our own fuzz festival!

After years of touring around the world we bring our favorite concept home to Sweden: a club festival dedicated to fuzz/stoner and heavy rock.

There’ll be two stages, eight bands and of course a lot of fuzz…

Line up so far:
TRUCKFIGHTERS (plays Gravity X)
GREENLEAF
MOTOROWL
DEVILLE

MORE BANDS TO COME! Next band announcement June 5th.

*Live music from 6pm til midnight. *Afterparty at Bar Brooklyn until 3am.

Early bird tickets cost 330 SEK (ca 30 EUR) and are sold until June 4th.

On June 5th our next band announcement will take place. From then the tickets will cost 395 SEK. (ca 37EUR)

The Venue is located on the island of Södermalm, in Stockholm. This is a very nice area in the central parts of town.

We would love it if the venue got packed with happy people so please spread the word. Bring your friends, tell everyone!

https://www.facebook.com/events/2228095327452231/
http://www.truckfighters.com/festival

Greenleaf, “Highway Officer” live in Malmö, Sweden, 2018

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Desertfest Berlin 2019: Greenleaf, The Shrine, Blackwater Holylight, Worshipper, Mirror Queen, R.I.P., The Great Machine and Lucidvox Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2019 banner

Yes. This. Cool update from Desertfest Berlin 2019, with Greenleaf and The Shrine and The Great Machine along for the ride with LucidvoxR.I.P., BlackWater HolyLightMirror Queen and Worshipper, and the pairings of the last four between RidingEasy Records and Tee Pee Records leads me to wonder if maybe Mirror Queen and Worshipper won’t hit the road together for a bit and if R.I.P. and BlackWater HolyLight won’t do likewise. For all I know, that’s already announced, but it’s speculation as far as my brain and limited, I’m-writing-in-the-car internet connection are concerned, but either way, they all bring something different Desertfest Berlin 2019, and pretty much anywhere Greenleaf goes is someplace you want to be. Man, I’d love to see that band again one of these… years.

Full announcement came down the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2019 poster

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2019 ADDS THE SHRINE + GREENLEAF + THE GREAT MACHINE + LUCIDVOX + MIRROR QUEEN + WORSHIPPER + R.I.P. + BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT!

Spring is almost around the corner, which also means DESERTFEST BERLIN is coming close and will be again opening its holy grounds for the annual and 8th festival edition in the heart of Berlin, the Arena, this May. While desert rock fans and riff lovers from all over the globe come together at the leading cult underground festival specialising in all aspects of the Stoner Rock, Doom, Heavy Psych and all its great subgenres soon, today DESERTFEST BERLIN announced the next batch of great names and high class acts to their already eclectic line-up!

If Black Flag, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath would have a baby, it would be definitely named THE SHRINE. Hailing straight out of the local rock scene at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles and delivering a breed of heavy, psychedelic, riff based Rock n’ Roll, THE SHRINE will make their long awaited return to DESERTFEST BERLIN this year, and are gonna light it up!

You eagerly asked for them, so you get them! As a most welcome guest and longtime member of the DESERTFEST family, we are thrilled to have GREENLEAF rocking out the Arena stage this year! The Swedish power rock unit will not only present their brand new album live on stage, but as always showcasing some of their finest riffs, haunting melodies to sing along, a unique groove and energetic stage presence the band is known and loved for. Welcome back at DESERTFEST BERLIN, guys!

Furthermore DESERTFEST is proud to confirm THE GREAT MACHINE will be coming all the way from Israel to Berlin! This trio creates a strong psychedelic, stoner rock experience with a heavy dose of the punk rock attitude, join THE GREAT MACHINE on their wild trip into the freedom of heaviest sounds, live at the ARENA Berlin 2019!

With the hints of folk and kraut-rock, LUCIDVOX from Moscow will join to represent full ladies power at this year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN! Sometimes psychedelic rock can extend beyond clichés of shaggy-haired ruffians; LUCIDVOX, the forerunner in a new and burgeoning Russian DIY rock scene, prove that more than well. While the brains behind this Moscowian four-piece, Alina, Nadezhda, Galla and Anna, have played outside of Russia just once, DESERTFEST BERLIN will be their very first show in Germany to date. Please give these killer ladies a very warm welcome!

Cult fuzz rock label Tee Pee Records (home of bands such as Witch, Sleep, High On Fire among many more ) are presenting us two more exciting and up&coming acts from their excellent artist roster: US-based MIRROR QUEEN and WORSHIPPER are currently rising from the psychedelic hard rock underground, both perfectly proving that the soul of melodic heavy music still burns brightly!

After several years of hammering the US west coast with their blunt scythe of street-doom, R.I.P. are about to embark on an extensive tour this Spring with a stop at DESERTFEST BERLIN! The band’s debut “In the Wind”, out on RidingEasy Records, closes the casket on the trends and exhumes the notion that doom isn’t always about how slow and de-tuned you can play, but about fear, death, leather and playing as heavy as possible.

Rounding up today’s announcement with another MUST-SEE tip from the underground, please welcome BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT to the 8th edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN! The Heavy Psych quintett from Portland, who released their critically acclaimed debut just last year on RidingEasy Records, are currently on their way to the top of the biggest hopes in psychedelic rock music, and we are more than psyched DESERTFEST BERLIN will be part of their journey.

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2019 takes place between May 3th – 5th 2019 at the riverside in the heart of Berlin, the ARENA. The festival will not only provide a new sound-and payment-system on the ground, but also more space PLUS a psychedelic wonderland chillout- and live zone on the ‘Hoppetosse’ boat!

Day- and Weekend passes are selling fast, make sure to grab yours at the following link:
www.desertfest-tickets.de

www.desertfest-tickets.de
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

BlackWater HolyLight, “Wave of Conscience” official video

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The Top 20 of 2018 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

derp

If you’re reading this, congratulations on making it all the way through the existential rollercoaster that was 2018.

I hope you celebrated that year’s end and this year’s beginning in riotous fashion if that’s your thing, and if you’re more the stay-at-home-and-don’t-break-stuff type, I hope that was fun too.

Over the last month, best-of lists have been collected from all around the world and as we move into 2019, it’s time to do the results of the Year-End Poll for 2018.

What a year. As I look back on the lists submitted, of course I can’t help but think how absolutely incredible 2018 was for music. With the world crumbling around, creativity surged, and the quality of output was off the charts. I published my own list last week and was quickly inundated with stuff I forgot or that I missed owing to being robbed earlier this year — I guess I didn’t even realize until the post went up just how much that screwed me — and I’m sure there’s more still out there from what everyone turned in. It’s infinite. It keeps going. Trends change. Sounds change. People change. Creativity flourishes.

But I think if you’re reading this, you know why we’re here. We wound up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 discrete releases submitted. That’s more than five for every day of the year. And they came from 547 people, which is amazing. Accordingly, there should be plenty here to keep you busy for a while.

Not exactly suspenseful as to which was the album of the year, but it’s still interesting to see where stuff landed. Just to remind, there are two lists, one of the raw votes, and one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Thanks as always to Slevin for the help in setting up the back end functionality and compilation scripts.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2018 — Weighted Results

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (1,087 points)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (721)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (478)
4. Earthless, Black Heaven (413)
5. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (408)
6. Windhand, Eternal Return (387)
7. All Them Witches, ATW (373)
8. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (354)
9. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (323)
10. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (315)
11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (285)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (274)
13. Graveyard, Peace (225)
14. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (222)
15. Weedpecker, III (212)
16. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (197)
17. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (189)
18. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (188)
19. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (167)
20. ASG, Survive Sunrise (164)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (150)
Gozu, Equilibrium (148)
Judas Priest, Firepower (148)
Naxatras, III (148)
Forming the Void, Rift (146)

I’m not saying everyone had to love the Sleep record, but there’s no way it wasn’t the biggest underground heavy release of the year. That top spot was established the first day the poll went up and while YOB caught up as both neared 100 votes, there was no doubt how it would ultimately shake out. It was pretty clear early on what people were passionate about, but there are some interesting differences between the raw vote and the weighted results even high on the list, as you’ll see below.

Top 20 of 2018 — Raw Votes

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (263 votes)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (185)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (141)
4. Windhand, Eternal Return (115)
5. Earthless, Black Heaven (109)
6. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (102)
7. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (101)
8. All Them Witches, ATW (95)
8. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (95)
9. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (93)
10. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (77)
10. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (77)
11. Graveyard, Peace (69)
12. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (67)
13. Weedpecker, III (63)
14. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (57)
14. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (57)
15. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (54)
16. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (50)
17. ASG, Survive Sunrise (48)
18. Gozu, Equilibrium (46)
19. Forming the Void, Rift (45)
20. Judas Priest, Firepower (43)
20. Khemmis, Bloodletting (43)
20. Mos Generator, Shadowlands (43)
20. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back (43)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (41)
Domkraft, Flood (40)
Naxatras, III (40)
Thou, Magus (40)

Everything else got fewer than 40 raw votes. Why cap it at 40? I don’t know. Good a place as any. And when a top 20 has 26 releases on it, I don’t imagine there will be too many complaints about not enough stuff being included. One can hope, anyhow. You can see the difference between Sleep and everyone else here as well, a pretty precipitous drop after both them and YOB, and YOB and High on Fire — the top three being well ahead of everyone else in terms of general agreement.

The ‘Respect the Hustle’ Award

Somewhere around the middle of the month, I noticed a massive surge of votes for a band called Entropía and their debut album, Invisible. A bunch of people with lists of 20 just including Entropía. I’ve included them below, you can see them. I didn’t know what was up, whether it was the band spamming the vote or what, so I sent them a message. Turns out they had sent the link to their email list and asked for votes, and that’s how they all got in. Well, okay.

They wound up with well over 750 raw votes (to remind, Sleep got 263), and it didn’t feel representative to have them be album of the year, but hey, I respect the hustle, so they get the award accordingly. Nicely done, folks. I’ve been doing Year-End Polls since like 2010 and that’s never happened before. Their totals were 2,367 points and 777 votes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading. Whether this is the only post you’ve seen this year or you click ‘Like’ on everything that comes across your Facebook feed, your support is tremendously appreciated. This is the only post that will go up today, but we’ll be back to business as usual tomorrow, and in the meantime, you’ll find everybody’s list included after the jump.

All the best for 2019.

Read more »

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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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Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers: Sweet is the Sound

Posted in Reviews on November 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

greenleaf hear the rivers

The transformation Sweden’s Greenleaf have undergone within the last five-to-six years is not to be understated. After years as a side-project for founding guitarist Tommi Holappa from his main outfit, Dozer, and a modus operandi that involved recording with guests, the idea of a stable Greenleaf lineup began to surface really with 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here), which was their first release after Dozer went to ground following their own 2008 LP. At that point, Holappa had two fellow Dozer bandmates along with him in first-guitarist-then-bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Olle Mårthans, and it was Greenleaf‘s second album to be fronted by Oskar Cedermalm following 2007’s Agents of Ahriman (vinyl reissue review here).

It would also be the last, as Cedermalm left to concentrate on his own main outfit, the now-defunct Truckfighters. Instead of going into hibernation, however, Holappa revamped Greenleaf with the idea of becoming a full touring act, and in just two years’ time, the band released 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here) as Holappa‘s first collaboration with vocalist Arvid Hällagård. It was a transitional record in its sound, very much settling into the chemistry between the founding member and central songwriter and the charismatic newcomer frontman. Greenleaf hit the road hard, signed to Napalm Records, and further established themselves as one of the European heavy underground’s most essential acts.

Their sound continued to evolve to a more modern execution than was found on their classic-style earlier offerings: 2007’s Agents of Ahriman (vinyl reissue review here), 2003’s Secret Alphabets (discussed here), 2001’s Revolution Rock (discussed here) and their 2000 self-titled EP (someday it will be mine), and by the time they got to 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here), they were at last the crucial band they always had the potential to be. After 18 years of existence and five years-plus of working a heavy touring circuit, Hear the Rivers is the first Greenleaf album with what might be considered the stable lineup.

Of course, one uses those words cautiously for a group who’ve been through so many changes and so many different players in the past, but bassist Hans Fröhlich came aboard after the recording of Rise Above the Meadow, and as with Hällagård, this is drummer Sebastian Olsson‘s third album with Greenleaf, having also joined for Trails and Passes. This is Greenleaf, so really anything can change at any time save a departure from Holappa himself, but the idea of Hear the Rivers finally being Greenleaf presenting the outfit that Holappa started to build on Trails and Passes resonates further in the 10 songs included on this album.

This can be heard in barn-burners like “Oh My Bones” or the stomp of “Good Ol’ Goat” or the subdued blues of sneaky highlight “We are the Pawns” and the drift in eight-minute closer “The Rivers Lullaby,” just how far Greenleaf have come in their ongoing evolution, and the fact that the 46-minute, vinyl-ready collection was engineered by Karl Daniel Lidén, who was not only the band’s first drummer but has an enviable pedigree as a producer for Terra TenebrosaDozerSwitchbladeKatatonia and many others, only ties its sound to the history of Greenleaf‘s varied discography. His drum sounds are immediately recognizable and something of a trademark, but as well the spaciousness in a cut like “In the Caverns Below” and how purposefully it seems to slam into the sprint of the penultimate “High Fever,” which follows, seems to bear the mark of a careful recording as well as a careful placement.

greenleaf photo by edko fuzz

Also, as principal songwriter, Holappa seems to be marking something of a special occasion in this material, and he builds on the chemistry already so prevalent last time out with Hällagård and Olsson, while welcoming Fröhlich into the mix with due showcase of the fleet low end winding beneath so much gleeful, rampant fuzz guitar. To call Holappa anything less than a master of the form is to undersell his accomplishments herein, and to call Hear the Rivers anything less than Greenleaf‘s most realized work to-date would be a misstatement of its context and a devaluation of whats’s actually taking place on throughout.

Because as much as Holappa is the central figure in Greenleaf, especially here, he’s met head on by the rest of the band. Consider tailor-made set-launcher and opening track “Let it Out!,” which every bit earns the exclamation point in its title. Hällagård puts his stamp on Hear the Rivers from the very beginning — Fröhlich makes an early impression as well, while we’re talking about it — and continues to be both distinct of voice and a standout presence in the band, but his time on tour has made him all the more confident as a singer, and “Let it Out!” and the subsequent “Sweet it the Sound” find him dipping into bluesman’s soul to welcome and natural effect, with “Good Ol’ Goat” perhaps being the culmination here of that side of his identity in performance.

Likewise, on the straightforward rocker “A Point of a Secret,” he carries the melody while Olsson pops away on a rich-sounding snare behind, and on the side A closer “The Rumble and the Weight,” the entire band sets up symmetry with “The Rivers Lullaby” in digging into a more expansive atmosphere and mid-paced tempo while Hällagård cleverly arranges vocal layers in the chorus and Holappa and Fröhlich match wits for a brief solo section before the midpoint, leading to an even more spacious second-half.

In capping the album, “The Rivers Lullaby” works with a not-dissimilar purpose, demonstrating instrumental vibrancy and a vocal dynamic that builds to the last hook with genuine emotion as well as the sheer technical control to self-harmonize. That finale moves into a wash of noise to round out before swirling effects fade away as the last element to go — a distant cry from the thudding drums from Olsson that opened “Let it Out!,” but that would seem to be the point.

Speaking as a fan of the band — which I am — the achievements here aren’t to be understated, and they go well beyond merely hammering out a recording from the actual current Greenleaf touring lineup. That in itself isn’t nothing, since it contributes to the vitality so rampant all throughout the recording, but if the songs weren’t there in the first place, the band wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, and songwriting has always been at the core of Greenleaf no matter who’s involved. And as far as they have come even in just the past half-decade of a tenure about to hit 20 years, that central factor has never wavered. Hear the Rivers stands among its, and their, finest hours.

Greenleaf, “Good Ol’ Goat” official video

Greenleaf, “The Rivers Lullaby” lyric video

Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks

Greenleaf on Instagram

Greenleaf at Napalm Records

Napalm Records website

Napalm Records on Thee Facebooks

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