When summer hits, the number of metal releases tend to decline. And while fewer albums may have been released in June, the quality did not suffer at all. There were some outstanding releases, and the depth of quality was surprising for this time of year. Here are our choices for the best metal albums released in June of 2018.
1. Yob – Our Raw Heart (Relapse)
Yob‘s miraculous, magnificent Our Raw Heart is the kind of album that will turn the sun dim and have you repeatedly return for the experience. Yob have taken it beyond the thunderstorms that they have left in their wake on previous outings and summoned yet a grander storm that pounds with greater fury and a more refined, heart-churning focus.
Reaching in deeply to wrench its chest open toward a violent sky, Yob expose its raw heart to roar back at the latest storm, to become fragile in the power of thunderheads and lightning. Vocalist Mike Scheidt gives strength to that fragility, though, scorching through the reverb and rancor on tracks like “In Reverie” to put wrong in its place by voicing its common horror. Yob tower over other doom bands, and it is a rare achievement to take a genre with the strictures and restraints of doom and yank out beauty unmatched.
2. Tomb Mold – Manor of Infinite Forms (20 Buck Spin)
Tomb Mold have been prolific in their short time as a group, already releasing multiple demos and a full-length in the span of two years. Manor of Infinite Forms is a continuation of this proficiency, which hasn’t dimmed the group’s gritty death metal flame. The seven versatile songs on their second album crackle with crooked tempos and an unwelcoming demeanor.
The ragged momentum of Manor of Infinite Forms is propelled in part by drummer/vocalist Max Klebanoff. His sadistic growls and schizophrenic drum performance give the other members a path to follow along in the insanity. Closer “Two Worlds Become One,” with its low-key acoustic intro and death/doom pacing, is a top-notch finish to the album.
3. Khemmis – Desolation (20 Buck Spin)
Khemmis describe their sound as “doom if played by Iron Maiden,” and that’s not far off from the truth. Guitar harmonies permeate the songs, and while the doominess of previous albums is further reduced on Desolation, the tuning, lyrics, and underlying feel of the album still fit in that subgenre. On Desolation, Khemmis have moved further down the path of epic, traditional metal. Melodies gallop along in many cases, and almost every lead break features at least a bit of harmonization.
Phil Pendergast’s soaring, emotional, melodic voice is the selling feature of the band (of course along with the excellent guitar work of Pendergast and Ben Hutcherson). Pendergast’s voice draws you into each song, each story sung with maximum conviction. Khemmis have delivered another excellent album, one that should broaden the band’s appeal, and rightfully so.
4. Ghost – Prequelle (Loma Vista)
Even though they are more of a rock band, Ghost have been fully embraced by metal fans. Their potent live shows, visual imagery and lyrical themes are right in the wheelhouse of metal fans, while Ghost’s music is catchy hard rock with a ’70s and ’80s vibe. Their fourth studio album Prequelle may be their catchiest release so far.
Tobias Forge, now going by Cardinal Copia, along with the Nameless Ghouls, have dialed down the occult rock while amping up the melodies on tracks like “Rats.” Ghost still sound ominous and have some occult rock moments, but bring the prog on instrumentals “Helvetesfonster” and “Miasma” (which has a sax solo and pays homage to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) along with pop sensibilities on several songs including “See The Light” and the ’80s tinged “Danse Macabre.” The 9 tracks are diverse and memorable, more appropriate for singing along to than headbanging, but undeniably enjoyable and surprisingly uplifting.
5. Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back (Candlelight/Spinefarm)
British stoners Orange Goblin have been around for more than 20 years, and all four current members have been there since the beginning. That chemistry and cohesion is on full display with The Wolf Bites Back, their ninth studio album.
The opener “Sons Of Salem” is one of the album’s catchiest with driving riffs and a singalong chorus. They change things up with the title track, an acoustic beginning gathering momentum and electric mode eventually kicking in. “Swords Of Fire” begins as a doomy instrumental with vocals eventually taking over and the tempo increasing. There’s a lot of variety throughout in everything from guitar tone to tempo. It’s an album that grabs your attention from the opening note and doesn’t relinquish control until the end.
6. The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough (Nuclear Blast)
It has only been thirteen months since The Night Flight Orchestra released Amber Galactic. Now the death metal-turned ’80s AOR supergroup is back and ready to cater to our guilty dad-rock pleasures with Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough, the band’s fourth album. It has rousing choruses, inspiring vocals, and a predominance of keyboard work that wasn’t there on Amber Galactic.
This is a very keyboard-centric album. Gone are the great guitar hooks from Amber Galactic, replaced with authentic ’80s synth-driven anthems. When the guitars do come into play, it’s in a very funky way, and Sharlee D’Angelo’s bass guitar work is excellent. This album is the best soundtrack for our summer months, an infectiously fun record, one you can’t help smiling to when blasting it on the patio.