Best Albums of 2018


It’s the end of the year so, as I have for the past few years, that means it’s time for me to put together my list of the best albums of 2018.  As always, my picks are almost entirely of the rock/metal variety but there is one country album thrown in there.  And if you know me, you can probably guess which artist’s album that is!  Anyhow, I don’t claim to be any kind of professional music reviewer.  I’m just a hardcore fan of music- & an old school fan at that- who still buys actual physical albums (read: CDs).  As such, these are my picks for the best albums of 2018.  These are in no particular order, other than my absolute favorite is at the end (& that was hard to choose).

  • Disease by Beartooth: I can’t believe I initially forgot to include this album on here- but I guess that’s what happens when you’re rushing to compose an entire post during your toddler’s nap.  Anyway, the follow up to Aggressive is every bit as amazing as that album was, perhaps even more so.  The album starts with Greatness or Death which has to be one of the greatest album openers of all time.  It starts slow & quiet- & then suddenly bashes you in the face with heaviness. It’s simply genius.  It’s hard for me to pick favorites from this album because every song is truly fantastic but you definitely don’t want to miss the energy on FireBad Listener, & Manipulation.  It’s truly difficult to believe that lead singer & songwriter Caleb Shomo is just 26 years old- but he is.  This is one mature & talented young man for sure. beartooth
  • Reverence by Parkway Drive: The previous Parkway Drive album was entitled Ire but this album contains every bit as much ire as that one did- as well as a heavy dose of sadness.  I think Ire will probably always be my personal favorite Parkway Drive album but Reverence is still a great one.  It’s worth reading about the stories behind the songs to understand the pain that infused lead singer/songwriter Winston McCall as he penned this album.  Album opener Wishing Wells is heavy & dark & sets a great tone for the rest of the disc.  Prey has some fantastic guitar riffs & will easily get stuck in your head, as will Absolute Power.  Cemetery Bloom is by far the most inventive & unusual track on the album with its chanting medieval feel.  Another beautifully written song that you absolutely shouldn’t miss is melancholy album closer The Colour of Leavingparkway drive reverence
  • Vicious by Halestorm: If you know anything about my musical taste, you probably already guessed that this album would be on here.  Here lately I’ve been trying to decide if I could pick a favorite Halestorm album- & I swear I really can’t!  I love them all for so many reasons that it’s just impossible to choose.  In any case, as soon as I heard Uncomfortable I knew this album was going to be a good one (not that I ever had any doubts).  Overall this album has a darker grungier feeling than the band’s previous album.  Even the album artwork & Lzzy’s current outfits, hair, & makeup strike me as a bit darker, a bit more rock & roll than her softer, more traditional appearance during the last album cycle.  Lzzy is gorgeous no matter what she wears or how she does her hair but I for one am a big fan of this darker look that she has embraced lately.  Anyway, back to the music. . . . Other favorites of mine include Killing Ourselves to Live, the acoustic slow-burning The Silence, & the powerful Skulls (don’t miss the grungy part at 2:17 that is a bit reminiscent of Alice in Chains).halestorm vicious
  • Family Tree by Black Stone Cherry: Black Stone Cherry have definitely embraced a more bluesy southern rock feel on their last few albums but never so strongly as on this year’s Family Tree.  Songs like New Kinda Feeling & You Got the Blues perfectly exemplify this.  Other favorites of mine are I Need a Woman & James Brown.  I seriously don’t know how anyone could listen to this album & not end up with a smile on their face- & a serious desire to dance!  These guys have got some serious rhythm, not to mention a heavy dose of soul.  Listen & you’ll know what I mean.family tree bsc
  • Vale by Black Veil Brides: I’m not sure BVB will ever top Wretched & Divine for me because that album was just so amazing in every way possible.  However, this album, which is actually a sequel to that one & was co-produced by lead guitarist Jake Pitts, is definitely a great effort.  Songs like Wake Up (don’t miss the awesome leather jackets the guys are wearing in the music video) & The Outsider will get you pumped up while more ballad like pieces like When They Call My Name really showcase Andy’s powerful voice.  Also don’t miss the return of Jinxx’s strings on Dead Man Walking.vale bvb
  • Ember by Breaking Benjamin: Can Ben Burnley ever go wrong?  Probably not.  This album, the second with the new BB lineup, is every bit as good as the previous one.  It’s hard to choose a favorite but I think my top track is Feed the Wolf.  As I noted on their previous album, the backup vocals by bassist Aaron Bruch really amp up the heaviness on this album, especially on tracks like Psycho & Red Cold River.ember bb
  • Attention, Attention by Shinedown: Shinedown’s sixth album is a concept album about depression/mental illness, largely inspired by bassist Eric Bass’s own struggles with depression.  Some of the lyrics seem a bit cryptic at times but once you realize the basis of the album it all makes sense.  Don’t-miss tracks include heavy hitting Devil & Brilliant, the latter of which probably has the fastest drums & the most metal sound I’ve ever heard from Shinedown (don’t let the gentle beginning fool you).  Lyrically songs like Monsters & Get Up are especially strong.  My personal favorite is Special which encourages us to stop wallowing in self pity & take control of our own lives.attention shinedown
  • Disobey by Bad Wolves: Even if you don’t like rock music, you’ve probably heard Bad Wolves’s enchanting cover of The Cranberries’ classic song Zombie (if you haven’t you must check it out NOW!).  What you might not know is that the band was set to record with Cranberries singer Delores O’Riordan on the very day that she died.  The band has subsequently donated profits from the song to O’Riordan’s family as a way to honor her.  Most of the songs on this album are far heavier than Zombie but another easily accessible track is Hear Me Now.  My favorites among the heavier songs are No MastersLearn to Live, & Remember When, the last of which was inspired by singer Tommy Vext’s twin brother who almost killed him several years ago (no joke).  [P.S. In case you thought there weren’t any black men in rock, check out singer Tommy Vext.]disobey bad wolves
  • Evolution by Disturbed: Evolution is an appropriate title for this album because it definitely represents an evolution in the band’s sound.  Songs like Are You Ready & The Best Ones Lie are classic Disturbed without a doubt.  But there are far more ballads on this album than any previous disc, largely inspired by the success of the band’s The Sound of Silence cover from their previous album.  None of the ballads matches the pure magic of that song (not sure that anything ever could) but it’s nice to see the band expanding their sound & capitalizing on David’s amazing voice.  My personal favorite on this disc is David’s response to all the Social Justice Warriors in Savior of Nothingdisturbed evolution
  • Victim of the New Disease by All That Remains: If you’re familiar with my political beliefs you probably know that I’m a huge fan of fellow Libertarian Phil Labonte, the lead singer of ATR.  The last ATR album was good but it doesn’t hold a candle to this year’s effort.  Victim of the New Disease was largely inspired by Phil’s divorce & while I’m sorry for the pain he suffered because of that the world is definitely benefiting from the music he wrote while working through that pain.  Songs like F**k Love ensure that this is the heaviest ATR album in years.  But my personal favorites are some of the more moderate songs like Just Tell Me Something (which features Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria- brilliant!) & Broken.  The acoustic Alone in the Darkness is also a great listen.atr victim
  • Stranger Fruit by Zeal & Ardor: I have my husband to thank for introducing me to this band whom he discovered on Liquid Metal on Sirius XM satellite radio.  Zeal & Ardor are a Swiss band whose lead singer was born to a Swiss man & an African American woman.  If you ever wondered what it would sound like to combine metal + gospel + blues, this is it.  That sounds like an equation that is doomed to failure but strangely enough it’s actually damn good.  You won’t find much more unique, diverse music than this, I can guarantee you that.  Check out Ship on FireRow, Row, & Gravedigger’s Chant.  Better yet, just listen to the whole album.  I promise you will not be disappointed.stranger fruit
  • Firepower by Judas Priest: I first heard Evil Never Dies on satellite radio maybe a month ago & I immediately fell in love & knew I had to buy this album.  Judas Priest are a bit before my time & I have to admit I’ve never gotten into them before this album (shame on me).  But wow, what an album to dive into!  There isn’t a bad track on here but some of my favorites include the aforementioned Evil Never Dies, Lightning StrikeFirepower, & Necromancer.firepower
  • Desperate Man by Eric Church: You guys, I’m so out of touch with country music these days that I didn’t even realize until last week that my favorite country artist had released an album back in October.  I guess it doesn’t help that Eric Church has no real social media presence but I can’t complain because that is one thing I admire about him, that he guards his private life so preciously.  Anyway, Desperate Man is definitely Church’s most stripped-down album to date.  I’ll admit I miss some of the bombast of The Outsiders but there’s no denying Church’s lyrical genius is in tip top form on this album.  The title track is one you should definitely not miss as is The Snake, Church’s take on the current political situation in the U.S.  Other favorites of mine include MonstersDrowning Man, & Solid.desperate man
  • And Justice For None by Five Finger Death Punch: FFDP have never put out a bad album but this year’s effort proves they are at the very top of their game & is my choice for best album of 2018.  With Ivan Moody (as well as all the other band members) finally sober, the band is in better shape than ever.  If you’re curious about the unusual album title, guitarist Zoltan Bathory does a good job of explaining it here.  There isn’t a bad song on this album & picking a favorite is nigh impossible, but if I had to pick only one song to share it would be I Refuse.  This has to be one of the most emotionally powerful songs FFDP have ever written.  Even if you normally don’t like rock/metal, you MUST listen to this one- not only is it lyrically beautiful but the acoustic guitar solo by Jason Hook is a real winner.  Fortunately I CAN share more than one song so please also check out Fire in the Hole (which sounds like a metal pirate song), Will the Sun Ever Rise, & Sham Pain.  The last is a play on the word champagne & is proof that the band don’t take themselves too seriously.  Watch the video for a good laugh!  FFDP have done many great cover songs over the years & this album includes two great ones, my favorite of which is Blue on Black.  With a good mixture of ballads & more traditional heavier fare, FFDP created the perfect album that makes you want to just keep playing it over & over & over.  Don’t miss it!and justice for none

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