Best Albums Of January 2018
January isn't exactly considered a prime time to release an album. Folks are broke from the holidays, the coldest temperatures of the year make concert goers hesitant to leave the house, and best of the year lists may forget about a release that came out so many months ago. That said, January has given us some gems already. Many from lesser known bands looking to make their mark in a month not so crowded with major name releases. There were more quality records that came out than what is listed here but we had to narrow it down. Leave a comment on an album you think got shafted.
"Sangue Cassia" By Sinistro (Doom Metal)
Portugal's Sinistro provide a beautifully atmospheric take on the genre of doom metal. Patricia Andrade's haunting voice provides a distinct contrast over the bed of sludgy guitars, boomy drums, and piano that the rest of the band employs. It's dark and heavy as doom should be but infused with an artful ambiance that would be fitting for a film soundtrack. It breathes new life into heavy metal's oldest sub genre and is an experience not soon to be forgotten.
"Down Below" By Tribulation (Gothic Metal)
Even on their early blackened death metal works, Sweden's Tribulation showed a penchant for experimentation with less extreme styles of music. That diversity comes to fruition on Down Below. While still a metal record complete with raspy black metal vocals intact, it leans more towards rock with its dalliances into psychedelia and straightforward rhythms. The songwriting is top notch with the band's dramatic, horror-themed lyrics and artsy, Gothic vibe a likely attraction to even non-extreme metal fans. And the diversity of the tracks keeps things interesting through its 50 minute time span. Tribulation are proving themselves a band to watch with this latest release's timeless appeal.
"Knowing What You Know Now" By Marmozets (Post-Hardcore/Indie Rock)
Young English upstarts Marmozets had a lot to live up to after making such a big splash with their debut record The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets. And the band more than delivered with their sophomore effort. While they dropped most of the metal-leaning elements displayed on their first LP they kept all the intensity and tightened their songwriting chops. Knowing What You Know Now is a diverse effort with hooks galore and more buzzy, punk rock guitars than you can shake a stick at. Becca Macintyre further establishes herself as one of today's top rock singers and the band is helping bring guitar rock back to an indie scene too enamored with electronics.
"X: Varg Utan Flok" By Shining (Progressive Black Metal)
Black metal is a genre that's experienced more experimentation than most. And Swedish band Shining is a leader in pushing the style beyond its roots. The band's tenth album has all the intensity an extreme metal fan could want but with plenty of breaks for atmosphere and melodic vocals to set it apart. Especially on songs like "Mot Aokigahara" and "Gyllene Portarnas Bro" with their long acoustic sections. The tracks are lenghty and extensively layered leaving a lot to unpack for the listener. But the aggressive nature of the tracks keep your attention with new details to come to light on repeat listens.
"Infernal Overdrive" By White Wizzard (Traditional Heavy Metal)
There's a lot of revival bands trying to bring back the metal sound of the 80's. But few perform it to as high a level as White Wizzard. With a blend of 70's progressive rock influence and 80's speed metal to draw from, the band has a sound all their own while still striking a match of nostalgia for fans of classic metal. "Storm The Shores" could be considered White Wizzard's "The Trooper". And "Cocoon" leans more towards progressive with some Egyptian sounding instrumentation and groove making it a stand out. While the thrash revival has been getting more attention White Wizzard could spark a revival of bands that lean more towards the NWOBHM of old.
"Avatar Country" By Avatar (Avant-Garde Metal/Melodeath/Groove Metal)
Avatar's popularity has been steadily rising in recent years and for good reason. They've set themselves apart as one of the most unique bands in modern metal with theatrical performances both on stage and on record. Playing a hard to define style that touches melodic death metal, prog, groove metal, and musical theater; all put through a filter of catchy hooks that draw in even casual rock and metal fans. Avatar Country is unique even for the band with its dedicated king theme, instrumental tracks, and genre bouncing from country rock to nu metal to a royal march. The tone is light-hearted and humorous at times and puts a big focus on fun. All while keeping the artistic complexity intact.