August 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums

As we enter into the final quarter of 2018, the year is starting to come into focus. It has already been a good year for metal, with some highly anticipated releases still to come. However, August saw a bit of the summer doldrums, with fewer releases than some other months, and a struggle to find the cream of the crop. Thankfully there were some excellent releases, though the depth of quality was thinner than usual. Here are our choices for the best albums released in August of 2018.

KEN Mode – Loved
Season Of Mist

1. KEN Mode – Loved (Season Of Mist)

Canada’s noise-rock veterans KEN Mode are back with their seventh album, Loved. After issuing some outtakes on 2016’s Nerve EP, the band delivers what promises to be a darker, heavier album, and they deliver with nine furious blasts of unnerving chaos. Production is handled by Andrew Schneider (Cult of Luna, Converge) rather than Steve Albini, and the sound is as raw as the emotion.

Loved is 36 minutes of unbridled aggression. The first eight songs never let up, with atonal guitar work, wonderfully obnoxious drum sounds, and Jesse Matthewson spitting fantastic lyrics with a maniacal rage. The only respite from this acerbic devastation comes in the first few minutes of album closer “No Gentle Art,” making Loved an exhausting but engaging listen.

Mantar - The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze
Nuclear Blast

2. Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (Nuclear Blast)

German doomcore duo Mantar return with their sophomore release The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, a fitting continuation of Ode To Flame which sees the band revisit some older themes and also some newer musical tropes. The plodding of “Age of the Absurd” is chock full of pounding drums and a vicious guitar tone which at times treads into black metal territory; giving the band more atmosphere than they had on their prior album.

“Midgard Serpent (Seasons of Failure)” has the kind of fat riffs with an ability to encapsulate the listener with furious chants and more power than two men should be able to generate. “Obey the Obscene” must be a lifestyle choice for the band; it is a nasty number to mosh to with neck-breaking force and also what sounds like a pipe organ to lead you in and out of furious power. These Germans are forging a path that is all their own and you should start paying attention.

Krakow - Minus
Karisma Records

3. Krakow – Minus (Karisma)

The Norwegian quartet Krakow have always brought a lot of different influences to the table, and that remains the case on their fourth full-length, Minus.

The six songs are an eclectic mix of genres. Opener “Black Wandering Sun” has some stoner/doom influences, but also features a shredding guitar solo from Motorhead’s Phil Campbell. “The Stranger” has alt rock/grunge vibes, while other tracks incorporate post metal and prog, channeling everyone from Neurosis to Mastodon to Voivod. Perhaps the most progressive song on the album is the nearly 10 minute instrumental title track. And even with all the varied styles, Krakow manage to keep things cohesive.

Jesus Piece – Only Self
Southern Lord Records

4. Jesus Piece – Only Self (Southern Lord)

Jesus Piece have made a name for themselves in and out of their local Philly scene. These dudes are angry and their metallic hardcore assault is pure animosity for animosity’s sake and one of the most pissed off albums since Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic. With albums by Harms Way and Vein being released earlier this year it can be hard to stand out during this stellar time for hardcore, but this particular vitriol has a sense of vindication about it.

Shifts in speed do Jesus Piece well, for even when the band slows down, they also happen to be scaring the hell out of you in a “The world is ending” kind of feeling. This is the kind of hardcore that demands to be experienced in a live setting because Only Self is the kind of unforgiving music we need right now.

Void Ritual - Death Is Peace
Ipos Music

5. Void Ritual – Death Is Peace (Ipos)

These past few years have been very prolific for Void Ritual’s Daniel Jackson, where he has finished writing and releasing plenty of musical stuff beside Void Ritual (Dead Wretch, Mendacium, Somnus Aeterna). Working on numerous musical projects didn’t make him to stop working on Void Ritual, which is known as his main one man musical project. Just under a year after their debut album Heretical Wisdom, Void Ritual have offered the terrific Death Is Peace.

Death Is Peace is from the scene known as USBM but everything you hear is all about an outstanding homage to Scandinavian black metal. Most of the time the album is reprising its dark and gloomy, punishing and cold imagery. Death Is Peace is definitely Void Ritual’s most melodic and perfectly written studio album to date. Jackson’s well produced drum programming and stellar musicianship on other instruments have transcended this album to higher levels of current era’s black metal scene.

Trappist - Ancient Brewing Tactics
Relapse Records

6. Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics (Relapse)

As I write this review of Trappist’s Ancient Brewing Tactics, a half-empty bottle of Yuengling sits on my desk. With the group’s affection for craft beer, it’s unclear how they would feel about this particular choice of alcohol. The answer seems clearer since the band includes a recommended list of beers for each song, with names like Saison Bernice.

Trappist take their beer seriously, but their wild crossover thrash has a lighter tone. Songs about the film Old School (“Frank the Tank”) and winks to Jay-Z (“99 Problems (But A Beer Ain’t One)”) make this apparent, though the group also has room for a history lesson (a German law from the 16th century called Reinheitsgebot, which placed restrictions on beer, is the theme of “Giving The Boot To Reinheitsgebot”). Trappist may not like your favorite beer, but Ancient Brewing Tactics is the album to pound a few of those beer to, regardless.

Other 2018 Best Monthly Albums Lists

January 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums
March 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums
April 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums
May 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums
June 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums
July 2018 Best Heavy Metal Albums

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