Welcome to the eighth instalment of 2018’s ‘Album of the Year’ series. We’re edging closer to the top 20 but don’t overlook any of the albums that find themselves nestled between 30 and 21. 2018 was the biggest year for manofmuchmetal.com in terms of numbers of detailed reviews – well over 100 albums were selected and dissected, as well as many more that simply couldn’t be reviewed either because time failed me or because the music wasn’t very good.
And so, out of all of those, this is the top 30, the very best music that I heard this year. Each is very deserving of a place in this list and, if you’ve not checked them out yet, this is a great opportunity to rectify your error. Each of these posts offers my up-to-date thoughts, snippets of the full review and, where possible, a different embedded sample track from the review in case the first track didn’t immediately grab you.
As always, if you’ve missed the previous picks in this series so far, links to these can be found at the bottom of this post.
And with that, here’s my latest choice…
Score of Much Metal: 9.5
My choice today is also one of the earliest albums I heard and reviewed in 2018. Even at that early stage, with less than a month in the bank, I had a strong feeling that we’d be seeing this record in my end-of-year list. The band in question is Norwegian extreme metal outfit In Vain, with their excellent fourth album, ‘Currents’.
Most of you will know that I’m a sucker for the whole melodic death/doom movement and ‘Currents’ is easily one of the very best that emerged throughout the entirety of 2018. For me, I loved the melodies, most of which made an immediate impact and continued to remain strong as I listened frequently over the last few months. Every time I press play, I’m reminded why I fell for the charms of this disc in the first place.
I love the energy that’s contained in the faster, heavier sections of the disc, but I also really like the variation between all-out attack and moments of quieter contemplation and experimentation where strong atmospheres are created and eloquently communicated. Indeed, there is a progressive edge to the music that just increases the sophistication of the record, as well as providing plenty of added dimensions to the sonic tapestry.
But did I mention the melodies? I did? Good, because they are truly superb and hugely enjoyable. And, at the end of the day, that’s the biggest clincher for me above all else.
To quote my review of 26 January 2018:
“…‘Currents’ feels more like the finished article. It is more polished, more assured and actually, more varied, as if the members of the band suddenly felt comfortable to experiment just a little bit more; to throw caution to the wind.
Undoubtedly, the heart of In Vein is bedded in that dark abyss that sits somewhere between melodeath and melodic death/doom metal. But into the mix comes elements like black metal, 70s progressive rock and straight-up brutal death metal. As I listen, each composition feels like it has been written by the band to explore a certain idea or feed off a certain influence.
Nevertheless, for all of the apparent shifts in direction, ‘Currents’ remains a very cohesive record and rather surprisingly, a very honed and succinct affair. There are no instrumental intros or interludes, no unnecessary posturing, just seven well-crafted songs…
This is a huge album, full of all the things that I love in my extreme metal, as well as other things I’d not really thought about, demonstrating a streak of originality to keep things fresh and exciting. In Vain have announced themselves on the biggest stage in real style and they deserve the plaudits coming their way with the magnificent ‘Currents’.”
Read the full review here.
If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30
If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:
And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years: