I missed a couple fantastic pieces of music in 2018, but you can read about the ones I did find here.
Clown Core — Toilet
Sometimes, when you go off the deep end, you find some cool stuff down there. Uh, yeah, there’s no way this should work, or even be funny, but it does, and it is (ymmv, of course). Cut loose, be juvenile, play your saxophone in a Porta-John because it’s 2018 and the reasons not to are quickly evaporating.
+HIRS+ — Friends Lovers Favorites
You know how “Entombment of a Machine” is kinda the gold standard for brutal vocals? This album outdoes it in the first five seconds. This is my favorite set of transgender anthems—grimy, honest, full of guest musicians, full of hope for a better tomorrow, and hey, the breakdowns are beyond gnarly.
Metric — Art of Doubt
Because I’m the arbiter of all good taste and my opinions are the correct and best ones, I get to say that Metric’s Fantasies is a perfect album. Art of Doubt is the closest they’ve come to achieving another one since; Metric have found some of their old grunginess and have cherry-picked the best, synthiest, poppiest parts of Synthetica and Pagans in Vegas to sully it with. Art of Doubt is dance-rock muddled with buzzing synths, neon in the dark, desperate night-time drives in search of something stable and soft.
Pig Destroyer — Head Cage
I’m a bass-head; if it doesn’t rattle the windows, I’ll pass, which is why this is the first Pig Destroyer album that has really landed for me. “Army of Cops” and “Circle River” make me feel like I’m 14 and listening to Bury Your Dead for the first time. Head Cage is kinetic and meaty and sometimes that’s all you need.
Slugdge — Esoteric Malacology
Maybe I was just too wrapped up in Rivers of Nihil’s 2018 release, but I still can’t believe I slept on this one. I’d been aware of Slugdge for a while, but they were kinda on my to-do list, rather than something that felt pressing, but after I picked this up, I could go back in time and slap myself. This is a progressive death metal achievement of the highest caliber; it’s not easy to make a catchy seven-minute song, but Slugdge whipped up a whole album of them, wheeling freely from blast beats to doom riffs to blistering 80’s speed metal solos to absolutely revolting breakdowns.