April is a busy month for metal fans, with Record Store Day along with the usual releases. Topping a strong April is an album that would have been highly anticipated if anyone would have known about its release more than a day in advance. Here are our choices for April 2018’s best new metal albums.
1. Sleep – The Sciences (Third Man)
Sleep shocked the metal world by dropping the surprise The Sciences, their first new album in 15 years. During the early ‘90s, Sleep along with Kyuss made it okay to worship Black Sabbath and helped to spearhead the stoner metal music scene. Some of these songs have been played live by the band before and are not exactly new, but when you hear studio versions of “Sonic Titan” and “Antarticans Thawed” you would swear they flow on this album like they belonged there the entire time.
The Sciences is the album fans have waited a long time for and does not disappoint. It has all the elements that made the band’s prior work so iconic and helped to launch a million reefer and riff soaked bands. Sleep made this style of music popular again and in their nearly 30 years of existence few would argue against that fact. This is the album no one knew existed, no one knew they needed, yet everyone wanted in 2018.
2. Boss Keloid – Melted On The Inch (Holy Roar)
The British band Boss Keloiddrew a lot of positive attention with their previous album Herb Your Enthusiasm, and their latest effort Melted On The Inchshould raise their profile even more.
While not as heavy as their last album, there are still plenty of thick riffs on Melted On The Inch along with a plethora of styles ranging from stoner/doom to prog to hard rock. Their songwriting has taken a quantum leap, blending memorable riffs with creative and progressive arrangements and a surprising amount of catchiness. With most of the six tracks in the 6 to 8 minute range, it gives ample opportunity for the songs to unfold, shifting tempos and intensities and maintaining interest throughout. Shortening the album by 20 minutes from their previous release was a wise decision, leaving minimal filler and allowing a deeper dive into an outstanding album that will appeal to fans of numerous genres.
3. Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality (Dark Descent)
California death crew Skeletal Remains worship at the altar of Pestilence’s Consuming Impulse and Devouring Mortality is the biggest culprit yet. Vocalist Chris Monroy is a dead ringer for Martin Van Drunen in the best possible way with a dry throated growl which paces furious and chunky riffs. A somewhat new wrinkle for the band are some of the more progressive styled riffs getting thrown into the mix ala the aforementioned Pestilence’s Testimony of the Ancients as well as Death’s Human, two of the greatest albums the genre has ever produced.
Their third album overall and their first with death metal powerhouse Dark Descent is easily their most fleshed out affair and an album that truly puts them into elite company. Horrendous are a band that comes to mind, a recent departure from Dark Descent’s roster and a void that Skeletal Remains amply fill. If the press received during the former band’s tenure with DD is any indication of how high Skeletal Remains can soar, then the sky’s the limit. These guys are the real deal and Devouring Mortality is primed to be one of the best death metal albums of the year.
4. Tesseract – Sonder (Kscope)
British djentlemen Tesseractreturn with their fourth full-length studio album Sonder.The band co-produced the album with Aiden O’Brien, who also worked on 2015’s Polaris.
Tesseract have delivered another dynamic and varied album. Mellow rock, trippy prog, heavy grooves and technical sections blend into a compelling whole. There are lengthy tracks like the nearly 7 minute “King” as well as more focused songs such as opener “Luminary.” Daniel Tompkins gives a diverse performance ranging from introspective crooning to powerful singing. It’s more organic sounding than previous albums, as they wanted to bring a more live element into the studio. The result is a blend of previous approaches into their most cohesive album to-date.
5. Ails – The Unraveling (The Flenser)
After the beloved Bay Area black metal band Ludicra disbanded in 2011, most of the members (Ross Sewage, John Cobbett, Aesop Dekker) quickly focused on their other bands or joined new ones. It took a few years, but vocalist Laurie Shanaman and guitarist/vocalist Christy Cather have re-emerged with Ails, who are issuing their debut album The Unraveling.
It’s a great lineup, which also includes guitarist Sam Abend (Desolation), bassist Jason Miller (Phantom Limbs) and drummer Colby Byrn (One In The Chamber). Blending fierce black metal with melodic death, the lengthy songs twist and turn, displaying a variety of tempos and textures along with dueling harsh and melodic vocals. Even with the frequent shifts and musical diversity, it’s still a cohesive album. Some tracks have memorable riffs (“Dead Metaphors”), while others like “The Ruin” are intense and furious, but no less memorable. Ails is a worthy successor to Ludicra, delivering a powerful debut with The Unraveling.
6. Møl – Jord (Holy Roar)
The comparisons to bands like Deafheaven and Ghost Bath may be a simple way to pinpoint what the Danish group MØL are doing with their full-length debut Jord, but their music isn’t as transparent as that. MØL place great trust in the shoegaze moments, as they envelop songs in a feverish melodic haze with a confident touch.
Some bands take a few albums to get that aspect down pat, but MØL only needs half a record to be successful. There’s still the obligatory cascading riffs and hyperactive blast beats, but it’s the sublime instances in the songwriting where their true talent sparkles.