The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Album Review – Xenoblight / Procreation (2018)

A precious gem of Progressive Thrash and Death Metal made in Denmark, courtesy of an up-and-coming horde that’s more than ready to take the entire world of heavy music by storm.

Hailing from Silkeborg, a small city located in the middle of the Jutlandic peninsula in Denmark, here comes a new Extreme Metal horde that goes by the powerful name of Xenoblight, playing a multi-layered fusion of Progressive Thrash and Death Metal characterized by an intense and blistering atmosphere, while at the same time maintaining an apathetic and melancholic lyrical universe. Although the band is relatively new to the scene, being founded in the beginning of 2017, Xenoblight spent the following year carefully crafting their first record while playing only a limited number of shows before entering the studio, unleashing now in 2018 their debut opus Procreation.

Featuring an obscure and stylish artwork by Fendie Art, Procreation not only brings forward in its ten unrelenting and totally demolishing tracks what the band comprised of the she-demon Marika Hyldmar on vocals, Rasmus Tobias Clemmensen and Mikkel Jepsen on the guitars, Steffen Hagelskjær on bass and Thomas Halborg Madsen on drums is capable of, but it’s also a lesson in how to blend the best elements from old school and modern extreme music with tons of progressiveness and feeling, turning it into a must-have for any diehard fan of the music by renowned bands such as Behemoth, Cattle Decapitation, Gojira, Kreator, Skeletonwitch and Fleshgod Apocalypse, among several others.

In the intro Procreation the band offers the usual “calm before the storm” until they come crushing like a bulldozer in Descension, a crisp and modern display of Progressive Death Metal with a lot of punch where Marika begins gnarling the song’s lyrics in a beyond devilish way (“Behold our entitled savior / Spreading knowledgeable fumes / Binding hands with a single glance / Beredied for a stance… / …Entering the mortal realm / With stricts holds of selfproclaimed victories free from shame”), also showcasing a fantastic job done by Thomas with his piercing beats and fills. And Steffen Hagelskjær kicks off the dark tune Shapeshifter with his menacing bass, with the music morphing into a flammable hybrid of Thrash and Death Metal where Rasmus and Mikkel slash our ears with their heavy and metallic riffs.

Obsidian Chromatism is a traditional Progressive Death Metal creation where the entire band fires sheer aggressiveness, building the perfect stage for Marika and her demonic growls; whereas in the song that carries the band’s name, Xenoblight, we’re treated to three minutes of piercing sounds and nonstop beats and fills in a demolishing instrumental voyage, with highlights to the scorching guitar riffs by Rasmus and Mikkel. Then without giving us a single second to breathe Xenoblight keep blasting pure evil through their instruments in Nocturnal Manifestations, a frantic, furious and superb display of modern-day Thrash and Death Metal led by the enraged screams by Marika, with Thomas once again sounding brutally amazing on drums while Rasmus and Mikkel are bestial with their solos, followed by Transcendence, where a whimsical start morphs into another explosion of contemporary and vibrant Thrash and Death Metal, sounding like a hybrid between Exodus and Death. Moreover, Marika takes her insanity to a whole new level, making it the perfect opportunity for cracking your spine in half into the circle pit.

Kill Yourself. brings less than a minute of pulverizing Blackened Thrash Metal by the band, and even with such restricted amount of time in their hands they were capable of delivering a fun and electrifying tune, setting the stage for the full-bodied Predominance, led by the classic shredding by the band’s guitar duo. Furthermore, in this bold and thrilling 6-minute ode to devastation, Thomas not only is a beast on drums but the complexity of his beats is outstanding and, needless to say, Marika once again kicks us in the head with her hellish roars. And an instrumental start warms up the listener for the rabid harsh growls by Marika in the closing song Virus, perhaps the most progressive of all tracks, showcasing thrashier-than-hell, austere lyrics (“Delusional pesticides / Stand asunder / Tributing their gods / Keepers of the luminescent humanoid pollution”) in a display of first-class European Extreme Metal, also bringing gripping guitar lines and an extremely crisp drumming.

You can take a very good and detailed listen at this precious gem of Danish extreme music on Spotify, and follow the band on Facebook and on YouTube to keep up to date with all things Xenoblight. And in order to show your proper support not only to the band but to underground metal in general, you can purchase Procreation directly from the band’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel (as a regular CD version or as a CD + shirt bundle), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. Xenoblight are set to take the world by storm with their incendiary debut opus, and if you consider yourself a true fan of extreme music you must have such incredible album on your hands. Because in the end, if you don’t buy it, I guess Marika and her henchmen will have to pay you a not-very-pleasant visit, if you know what I’m saying.

Best moments of the album: Shapeshifter, Nocturnal Manifestations, Transcendence and Predominance.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Procreation (Instrumental) 1:01
2. Descension 4:37
3. Shapeshifter 5:35
4. Obsidian Chromatism 4:46
5. Xenoblight (Instrumental) 2:57
6. Nocturnal Manifestations 6:58
7. Transcendence 5:16
8. Kill Yourself. 0:52
9. Predominance 6:22
10. Virus 5:31

Band members
Marika Hyldmar – vocals
Rasmus Tobias Clemmensen – guitar
Mikkel Jepsen – guitar
Steffen Hagelskjær – bass
Thomas Halborg Madsen – drums