20 Best Metal Albums of 2018: Judas Priest, Yob, Sleep and More – Rolling Stone
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20 Best Metal Albums of 2018

Nineties revivalists, noise-rock weirdos and titans of the old school: the year in heavy

top metal albums of 2018

Rolling Stone staffers rank the 20 best metal albums of 2018, including the latest from Judas Priest, Daughters and Sleep.

Metal thrived in 2018, as bands from every imaginable genre, subgenre and microgenre tapped into deep wells of anger and disappointment for some of the most stunning heavy albums in years. Doomsters Sleep, Yob and Windhand stretched out their malice; black metal purveyors Immortal and Deafheaven supercharged it with labyrinthine melodies; extreme death dealers like Tomb Mold and Portal crushed it and compacted it; and metal legends Judas Priest rained hellfire down upon it. There were so many strong releases that some projected favorites, like Ghost and High on Fire, ranked too low on our critics’ ballots to make the cut. Here are 2018’s heaviest hitters.

Daughters You Won't Get What You Want
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Daughters, ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’

Close to two decades since Daughters first erupted in a burst of explosive grindcore on Canada Songs, their reunion LP, You Won’t Get What You Want, captures a darker, more shadowy side of the group. Each track builds slowly, reveling in noise and unusual rhythms, as frontman Alexis Marshall moans and croaks about disillusionment and uneasiness. It’s like a unique combo of noise-mongers the Jesus Lizard and art-punks the Birthday Party — but so much heavier — as the group seems to experience a nervous breakdown on tracks like the dirge-like “Long Road No Turns” and plodding “The Reason They Hate Me.” They may have ditched the more obvious metal influences, but there’s a sense of menace throughout the record that reflects their past through a glass darkly. K.G.

The Sciences Sleep
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Sleep, ‘The Sciences’

In the nearly two decades since Sleep’s last album — the monolithic, single-track odyssey Dopesmoker — they’ve gone from underground heroes to stoner-metal legends. So when they surprise-released The Sciences on 4/20 (of course), the happy shock was just how great it sounded. After three minutes of unwieldy feedback riffing, dubbed “The Sciences” (duh), you hear vocalist-bassist Al Cisneros take a bong hit like Popeye downing spinach, and the trio kicks into a chunky, plodding groove on “Marijuanaut’s Theme.” Each of the album’s tracks is a deep dive into a hesher shadow realm where Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi is God (he’s namechecked on the Sabbath-punning “Giza Butler”) and time is only a construct. Guitarist Matt Pike, who also put out an excellent High on Fire album this year, plays measured, wah-wah–inflected solos, drummer Jason Roeder keeps everything on track and Cisneros spaces out, singing his fantasies in a gloriously stoned monotone. It’s a mood, man. Don’t question it. K.G.

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