Best of metal in 2018 so far
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Best of metal in 2018 so far

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Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society – Grimmest Hits

The first handful of BLS albums were a little bit samey, but in recent years Zakk really seems to have found his way to exploring different facets of his style. Grimmest Hits (don’t let the name fool you, it’s all new tracks) taps into a very ‘70s, Black Sabbath vibe driven in part by Zakk’s Sabbath cover band, Zakk Sabbath.

Judas Priest – Firepower

It’s rare indeed for a band to crank out one of their best albums almost 50 years into their career, but that’s what Priest has given us with Firepower, hitting their highest charting position ever in the USA in the process. Guitarist Richie Faulkner has proven himself to be Priest’s secret weapon, injecting youth and energy into the band’s sound, while still paying tribute to its past.

Ministry – AmeriKKKant

Yeah. Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen isn’t a Trump guy, which you could gather from the song titles alone (‘Antifa,’ ‘We’re Tired Of It,’ ‘Victims Of A Clown,’ ‘I Know Words’) or certainly from the cover art (a facepalming Statue of Liberty). Jourgensen is still the god of industrial metal and he knows it.

Sleep – The Sciences

Surprise-released on 4/20, this is only the doom metal legends’ fourth record and it ends a 15-year gap between albums (although they released the single ‘The Clarity’ in 2014). With lyrics that namecheck Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, the Sabbath is strong in this one, as is Matt Pike’s legendary guitar-goddery.

Behemoth – Messe Noire

Behemoth’s The Satanist is one of the greatest extreme metal albums ever, written in the aftermath of frontman Nergal’s successful fight against cancer, and this ferocious live album captures the whole damn genre-defining thing in full as performed in Warsaw in 2016. If you can, spring for the DVD/Blu-Ray version which includes two full 2016 concerts as well as all the music videos from the album.

Predictions For The Rest Of The Year

The rest of the year is going to be packed with undoubtedly great heavy releases. We’ve got new records from Parkway Drive (Reverence, Friday May 4,), Sevendust (All I See Is War, Friday May 11), a covers album from Burn The Priest (AKA Lamb of GodLegion: XX, Friday May 18), Ghost(Prequelle, Friday June 1) and Bullet For My Valentine (Gravity, Friday June 22). Looking further out I’m particularly excited about new releases from DevilDriver (a country covers album), Immortal, Deafheaven, Scars On Broadway, Skeletonwitch, Tool, Nita Strauss, Australia’s Teramaze, Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators and Alice In Chains.