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The Top 10 Heavy Releases of 2018

This has become one of those dipshit blogs that don't update often and look like a graveyard circa 2004. I didn't even bother doing one of these lists last year.

In the past when I wrote about albums, I'd rattle off their superior qualities in comparison to others. The typical adjective Olympics, "I went to more uni than you did" toss. This year, I am going to keep it simple: which records did I listen to the most? I'm not even going to look up to figure it out, either. I think I can remember which records stayed on my turntable or CD player the most. I'm not a fucking robot.

So, here we go:


10. Kataklysm - Meditations

With the Northern Hyperblast put out to pasture, Canadian eh Kataklysm had to replace speed with strength. They kind of kicked ass with it.

9. Born Lion - Celebrate the Lie

Australia's answer to Danko Jones - minus the meme worship. If Danko and BL tour the country, I'll be right there next to 'em. See also: Bare Bones.

8. Underoath - Erase Me

I know a lot of people shit on this record for some reason, but you have to divorce it from the entire Underoath you knew and loved. It's their Black Celebration in reverse. No heroin addictions required. It's the opposite of Flood to Depeche Mode in 1990: "If you wanna play electronics, then play your fucking electronics."

7. Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology

This one had to be pried from my cold, dead car CD player. One of the most inventive death metal records in yonks, that didn't have that "we're too good for death metal" air about it. All the best bits from the last 20 years crammed into one disc.

6. Architects - Holy Hell

I don't like this LP as much as Your Gods Have Abandoned Us. Gods had fire in its belly, this kind of doesn't. Even so, it's still in my CD player since ripping it out of my post box in October.

5. Judas Priest - Firepower

This was such a treat for long-suffering metal fans. It was like hearing Painkiller and Screaming For Vengeance for the first time again, reminding us why we love this genre in the first place. Thank Satan for Richie Faulkner.

4. Teenage Wrist - Chrome Neon Jesus

Sometimes bands that take bits of all your favourites, that being Katatonia, Oceansize, and modern pop-punk, mashes 'em together and serves it like you ordered it special. This is a must have disc for prog fans, shoegaze lovers, and anyone who likes losing themselves in thought.

3. Omnium Gatherum - The Burning Cold

I know; melodic death metal is the red-headed stepchild in the metal world at the moment. When's the last melodeath record anyone really gave a fuck about? The Ride Majestic? I love this record because it captures the spirit of what melodeath is all about; taking risks and being out there. Gods Go First is such a well crafted song, despite it being so fucking weird.

2. Ghost - Prequelle

It's KISS Destroyer for the 2010s. Have you heard the non-single tracks on Destroyer? Not exactly top to bottom clones of Detroit Rock City, that's for sure. It's something more grandiose than that. It's not metal, it's not pop, and it's not a cookie-cutter half-and-half blend of either. It sits in that creepy haunted house on the border of bubblegum throwaway and absolute classic. Maybe Aussies love it so much because we can't get over ABBA.

1. Hellions - Rue

The resale value for my vinyl copy is nearing zero. Such a wonderful record, in the truest sense of the word. What these gentlemen conjure is really nothing short of magic.

I had a couple of disappointments too: Pagan's Black Wash only managed a couple spins on my turntable. There was an uncomfortable feeling that I'd heard it all before, and done better (by Kvelertak.) Can't fault them live, though. Behemoth have also succumbed to Star Trek movie syndrome. That being, every second release they make sucks. I Loved You At Your Darkest wasn't awful, but it certainly was too ambitious for the big boy britches it stomped around in.

Other pick-ups you should look for is At The Gates To Drink From the Night Itself, the true successor to Slaughter of the Soul; High On Fire's Electric Messiah, which is Sleep haunted by Lemmy; Khemmis newie Desolation; and DZ Deathrays' Bloody Lovely. It doesn't have a Gina Works at Hearts, nor does it have that Vaseline-over-lens feeling of dried out hangover music any more. DZ Deathrays are growing up, bless 'em.


Live Review: Devin Townsend Project (Hysteria)

My review of Devin Townsend Project at 170 Russell on 23rd May:

Photo: Elizabeth Kent

Witnessing the brutality Manchester had me seething. I was mad. Mad enough to kill. As editor of this fine publication (which one is that again?), music is kind of a big deal around here. Terror lancing through the heart of music is a counterpoint; a movement set to war.

Those 22 souls cut from their lives that night will never be forgotten. Our tears can’t wash their memories away. I really felt guilty stepping into 170 Russell to enjoy myself at a rock ‘n’ roll show.

The crowd at this first (yet second?) show on Canuck maestro Devin Townsend’s tour was moderate. Punters stood about, sensing there was something off, just about being here.



The Top 10 of Metal (and Mosh!) 2016

I just can't help myself. I'm like a fat kid eying off the last slice of pizza or a Kardashian with an internet-enabled camera. I just have to do it. I've been writing these lists for about ten years now, so why stop? Because THEY don't want me to? In the words of the great prophet DJ Khaled, THEY don't want me to, therefore I must. (I don't think he said that last part. Did I just play myself?)

2016 sucked ass in so many ways. Music was the one way it didn't. Here's my Top 10 in order of what I thought was the best - remember when people did that? Yeah anyway:

SPECIAL MENTION: Gunship - Gunship

The fact Gunship is "retrowave" precludes it from a place on a mosh/metal/punk list. But it really is my favourite this year. It's not a mere 80s nostalgia trip, it's something trancendental. It's new, it's old, it's like it was always with you. (Killjoy Deluxe Owen tells me this came out in 2015. THANKS BRO)

SEE ALSO: The black celebrated 80s sounds of The Black Queen's Fever Daydream.

1. White Lung - Paradise

I might need a new copy of this on vinyl cos I've played it so much this year. Punk, pop, perfection.

Read my interview with vocalist Mish Barber-Way here

2. Dark Tranquillity - Atoma

I think our melodeath masters deserve to soundtrack 2016. It's like an ice-wind cutting through your ribcage. It'll draw you in and never let go.

3. Katatonia - The Fall of Hearts

The second of my favourite bands released their best in many a year, reinvigorated by a new lineup. No fucking emo, just fire and balls.

4. Hellions - Opera Oblivia

It really is their Number of the Beast - a proud testament to being yourself and doing it right.

Read my cover story with Hellions, here

5. Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

"Really Tom, you are into fuckin Architects now?" When a band produces something with as much heart as this, you bet your ass in the middle of a prison riot that I dig 'em.

6. Vektor - Terminal Redux

Space metal. Enough said.

7. Evergrey - The Storm Within

Sweden's dreamboat not only floats, but cruises over emotional seas in this front-to-back belter.

8. Rotting Christ - Rituals

Beware of bloodthirsty Greeks bearing riffs.

9. Witherscape - The Northern Sanctuary

'Member prog metal? 'Member when it was cheesy but awesome at the same time? OH, I 'Member!

10. Sabaton - The Last Stand

History metal that's more historic, battle-ready, and epic than ever. Duh.


The Honourable Mentions

Gold Award: Deftones - Gore

Silver Award: Driven Fear - Free Thinker

Bronze Award: In Mourning - Afterglow



The Top 10 of Metal (and Mosh!) 2015

I'm drawn back to this empty screen each year to secrete my opinion on what I enjoyed this year. I've been doing it since at least 2009, back when I thought writing about music conferred some kind of numinous insight into music. I listen to a lot of bullshit and I'm cynical as hell. Sometimes, I leap out of my chair and whip my (no) hair back and forth in ecstacy. Some of those discs did that to me this year. Here's a numbered list of them.

1. Gazpacho - Molok

These guys are out of this world. Prog rock that's actually progressive and actually rock. It runs from ancient esoterics to futurist wanderings. This is such a trip. At the end there's this code that might blow the world up. For a second there, I tensed up and clenched my eyes tight...

2. Ghost - Meliora

It's pop music painted black. If metal had something close to Pet Sounds, this might be it.

3. Melechesh - Enki

Invoking ancient evil never sounded so badass.

4. Four Year Strong - Four Year Strong

Pop-punk? Fuck off, Tom. This can't be good. Actually no, fuck you. It's brilliant.

5. Hellions - Indian Summer

Saviours of Australian heavy music. Get into them before they burn out in a haze of cocaine dust.

6. Baroness - Purple

Sublime and surreal sounds from Savannah, again. John Baizley is a true artist in every sense.

7. Steven Wilson - Hand.Cannot.Erase

The concept reads like a Hugo winner and sounds like a stoner's dream.

8. Trials - This Ruined World

Thrash done with brains and heart. Riffs born with destinies deeper than "must imitate Metallica" are winners.

9. Soilwork - The Ride Majestic

I never thought Soilwork would make one of these lists again. Boy, I was wrong. Hard.

10. Pyramaze - Disciples of the Sun

lol Power metal. I thought these guys were just a cheap, clean version of Mercenary. Nope. Crisp production and brain-worming hooks do justice to the genre. Finally.

The Honourable Mentions

Gold Award - Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death
Silver Award - Sigh - Graveward
Bronze Award - Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

14. The Black Dahlia Murder - Abysmal
15. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
16. My Dying Bride - Feel The Misery
17. Killing Joke - Pylon
18. Cancer Bats - Searching for Zero
19. Earth Caller - Degenerate
20. Born Lion - Final Words


Check Hysteria's albums of the year, here!


THE HYST LIST: The Best Ages to Be (According to Rock Stars)

What's the best age to be (according to rock stars?) We answered that question over at

(Yes, I know you never asked!)