The Biggest Disappointments of 2018
Ah 2018. Who could forget the time we shared together? From the hot-button news stories that attracted all kinds of weirdos to our site to the long summer days when I was too lazy to write anything for this shit-caked blog, no one can deny that we lived through this year. We toasted 2018’s intoxicating highs through several weeks of Best Of lists and we chortled at the most hilarious cover art of the calendar year, 2018 wasn’t all just wine and roses. No, amid the dank jams and slamming riffage, we also experienced crushing disappointment. Here are the things that got our goat in 2k18.
Khemmis – Desolation. It’s boring and several steps back from Hunted. The only decent song is “Isolation.” I loved Hunted and can’t sit through this snoozefest. (Rolderathis) Note: this pick led to a lot of name calling and personal attacks within the writer’s room
Against all odds there weren’t too many disappointing releases in 2019, and most of that were, weren’t bitterly so. Rytmihäiriö didn’t deliver a great album, hell, they barely delivered a good one, but it’s exactly what I expected out of them. Obscura‘s latest felt stuck between progression and stagnation filled with pointless riffs and directionless solos. Vector was the first time Haken didn’t really grab me, and I wasn’t thrilled about the change of bass’ role in their compositions. Visigoth released a record I was extremely lukewarm on, and I wouldn’t have loved it even it hadn’t come with a sense of abandonment, having left behind most things that had made the debut for me. But none of these are outright bad records, and the majority of this year’s bad records weren’t from bands that I had expected greatness from.
Trying to rack my brain for what actually stood out as a disappointment, and the only one that I can think of is Amorphis‘ Queen of Time. It’s predecessor, Under The Red Cloud was an album that invigorated my interest in Joutsen-fronted Amorphis, and the most exciting thing about it was the promise of experimentation. The rhythms, the chords, the melodies and the progressions, each was carefully trifled with over the course of the album. It did not make for a greatly experimental one, but sounded like a statement: “We want to fuck around with the blueprint”, while barely scratching the surface of how they might move about this newfound desire to trifle. And it’s followed up with a thoroughly generic Amorphis album the likes of which they’ve been producing for the last twenty years, completely gone are the notions of experimentation. every single review praising this as a new direction for Amorphis has only managed to add insult to injury. Yeah, there’s a few choirs and a good bunch of symphonic instrumentation, or “orchestration” via keyboards, neither capable of changing the facts that this is merely taking the aeons old blueprint and hastily adding a new coat of paint. And since the band has willingly admitted the children’s choirs (please don’t use them) were the producer’s idea and decisions, so going in with this record, Amorphis had even less of a desire to tweak the formula that Queen of Time lets understand. Bugger off a bridge, Amorphis. (Karhu)
The seemingly completely intertwined relationship that’s been slowly becoming clearer between black metal and extreme racism/nationalism. As I’ve said before, I can’t in good conscience let things slide when it comes to an ideology that dictates my family and I should be strung up by our necks just because of who we are. Also I saw Slayer on the SW Washington leg of their never-ending final tour and it was so full of awful meatheads that I was almost fully distracted from how much Slayer sucks ass. Slayer is not good and I had to sit there for two hours while they played essentially the same song over and over. Anthrax was good tho. (Ben Serna-Grey)
Deafheaven‘s Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. With Chelsea Wolfe as a guest feature, a bizarre album cover as well as title choice, a premium studio loaded with no shortage of gear to play with, and at a point in their careers where they didn’t have to prove anything to anyone; this was supposed to be the album where Deafheaven transcended even themselves. Yet ‘Ordinary’ was exactly as much: ordinary. Aside from some fairly breakout moments, Ordinary felt very much like New Bermuda 2.0. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the band had all the tools to make something a lot better. I’d hate to say it shows their limits as a group, because I feel they’re just on the cusp of becoming something much better. OCHL just wasn’t it. (Brenocide)
I wasn’t going to lodge any more complaints this year–but who am I kidding? Whatever KHôRADA‘s Salt was envisioned to be, the result is bafflingly unstimulating. I mean, the very idea of vocalist/guitarist Aaron Gregory and drummer Aesop Dekker working together gave me hope for the future. Salt pulls that hope out from under me like a rug with a smorgasbord of ideas that are ultimately too vague and undercooked to merit a deeper listen. The overall sound lacks a center; and in the absence of such, it doesn’t even have the decency to be brazenly centerless. Dear Mr. Gregory: Please reinstate Giant Squid with Mr. Dekker on drums. Thank you. (Richter)
At the Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself. What should have been a triumphant return for At the Gates building on the success of At War With Reality was rather limp-wristed. If anything, this album furthered my appreciation for At War With Reality. Oddly enough, while the new songs sounded lackluster when recorded, they sounded amazing live. (The Conductor)
Mammoth Grinder have released some of my favorite records, demos, and EPs of the last decade. As the kids say, Cosmic Crypt ain’t it chief. The best song on the record was released as four years ago as a demo and I prefer the hell out of that rough version as opposed to the bogged down production of the final product. It’s fine, I guess. I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed. (Joe Thrashnkill)
What dropped your ice cream cone this year? Let us know in the comments. Or don’t. Either way, see you next year, suckers.