As I’ve already stated previously, 2018 has been an excellent year for music! So much so, that I couldn’t just leave my end of year roundups at my favourite music releases. With that in mind, I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite tunes of this year. Long story short, I see these tracks as the definitive playlist of the past 12 months, being the most noteworthy songs to grace our ears. I’m only going to be including tracks that have been showcased in a studio recording of some form. So if they’ve debuted live, but have not yet been released, then they won’t be here. There have been some amazing songs that have debuted live, but I feel it’s only fair to judge them in their final form. Once again these are in alphabetical order and not ranked. Enjoy!
Ashbury Heights – Headlights
Now this is how you start an album! Ashbury Heights didn’t make any delay in getting things going on The Victorian Wallflowers with this track. It kicks in quite quickly, to a high-octane rhythm, and the synths are amazingly catchy. Anders Hagström surprisingly takes a back-seat in terms of vocal duties here, leaving Tea F. Thimé to take the reins. Her voice soars throughout the track, melding perfectly with the electronic instrumentation, making it all the more mesmerizing.
Bitman – Bucket of Fuck
As I said in my review of The Dark Byte Rises back in October, this track is catchy as fuck, and catchy it has remained. Bitman’s mashing up of genres is at it’s strongest here, with an aggressive cavalcade of them on display, moulded into a monster of a hit! The bass is chunky, making the beat even more satisfying, and sections of build-up explode into a gritty electro. It goes through a ton of motions, and is fascinating to dissect. It feels like there’s always something new to come back for.
Empirion – I Am Electronic
Empirion’s opening track to their I Am Electronic / Red Noise EP is a bona fide club hit. The beefy synths are hard to ignore, and extremely addictive, basically making it impossible to not move to! It has callbacks to old-school Industrial, whilst feeling fresh at the same time. Some may argue that it gets a bit too repetitive, but my counter to this is that the sheer nature of the hooks are so hypnotic, that it draws the listener in, and doesn’t let them go until the final beat. Even then, it’s an earworm that will get stuck in your head.
Frozen Plasma – Safe. Dead. Harm
I love this track so much, that I even gave it it’s own review when it released! It gave me the desire to do more stand-alone track reviews, but alas, I never found the time to do so. This track is hard-hitting from the get-go, and goes through many transformations before it’s done. From the eerie ambient opening, to the pounding beat, and lively synths, it’s a joy to listen to. At the same time, it manages to be dark in lyrical content, creating an interesting contrast. Even with it’s moody themes, it still manages to create a euphoric sensation, and one that will stay with you for a very long time.
Muse – Algorithm
At First, I was going to pick “The Dark Side”, as it gave me hope for Simulation Theory prior to it’s release (and it turned out to be a great album too.) However, “Algorithm” blew me away in every way possible! The dark synth tones that bleed into beautiful romantic piano segments, stunning orchestral arrangements, and occasional bulky guitar riffs meld together in unison. It results in a hauntingly atmospheric tone, enhanced by Matt Bellamy’s vocal performance, which is on-point. It sets the tone perfectly, highlighting the brave experimentation that is present across the record, as well as containing the essence of their style. It’s definitely one of Muse’s best opening tracks to an album.
Rabbit Junk – Shadow Horizon
Ultimately, there was a showdown between this track and “Bend The Light” off Rabbit Junk’s Rabbit Junk Will Die: Meditations on Mortality. It was a tough choice, but “Shadow Horizon” won by a thread. It’s the incredibly upbeat synths at work, combined with gritty hardcore guitar-work that won me over. To top it all off, there’s the use of reggae influences, as well as a hint of drum and bass. This track isn’t just amazing because it sounds good, it’s a showcase of how well Rabbit Junk can throw genres together and just make them work. The result is unpredictable, chaotic awesomeness!
Sirus – The Book of Gates
Is it really surprising that I put a Sirus track in here, after the praise I showered their mighty latest album, Apocrypha, with? My reason for loving this one so much is because it’s where I feel the contrast between the differing styles is the greatest. There’s the usual harsh pounding electro hooks, enforced by Josh Rombout’s aggressively charged vocals, at times it sounding almost apocalyptic! On the flip side, there’s some epic melodic moments, with beautiful harmonies from Keeva. It’s also where the metaphors of Egyptian mythology explored with the concept of the album are at their most realised, not only sonically, but in the lyrical content. It’s genius, and treads brave new ground.
Slipknot – All Out Life
Well, this was an unexpected Halloween surprise, but a very welcome one! The Iowa metallers are known to create anthems, and this one is no different. It has an intense brutality, and hits with the force of a runaway freight train. It’s a huge callback to Slipknot’s older material, with an explosion of twisted riffs and pounding drumbeats. It’s visceral, unrelenting and incredibly dark, never letting up on the rage. It makes a bold statement of calling for unity, and to not discard with past with disdain. Ultimately, this song makes an excellent case for that, and is absolutely massive.
Syd.31 – Bulldoze Everything
When Syd.31 debuted with The Last Punks On Earth last year, I knew they were going places, but this evolution is better than anything I could have possibly imagined. It begins with a tribal beat, transitioning into an angry fusion of sharp electro and bulky metal riffs. Frontman Dr Magic has taken inspiration from various metal influences here, and considering the punky nature of their sound, it just makes sense, and is the perfect fit too. It sounds more aggressive than ever, and I’m excited to see where their second album Walk Amongst Rebels goes.
Tankard Haus – Stalkers
Industrial is not dead! There I said it. Tankard Haus proved this with their Stalkers EP, the trio’s debut, and the title track is the strongest of them all. It has all the hallmarks of a title track; a hypnotic catchy melody, plus a beat that is guaranteed to drag listeners to the dancefloor, all backed up with a prominent vocal performance. The pace of the song is vigorous, which makes it extremely lively and energetic, making it stand out even more. It has hypnotic properties, and is so memorable that it’s bound to get stuck in people’s heads for a long time to come.
Within Temptation – The Reckoning
As soon as I heard this one, I knew big changes were afoot for Within Temptation. The track makes a strong showcase for their new direction, and is the perfect way to introduce it. It contains the band’s usual epic, haunting symphonic gothic influenced metal, but there are some prominent electronic elements thrown into the mix. This slots into their style perfectly, and they sound heavier than ever. Also, the vocals of guest singer Jacoby Shaddix (of Papa Roach), is the perfect fit alongside Sharon den Adel’s. I genuinely had goosebumps listening to it. It only makes the wait for the rest of the album even more painful.
Wrapped In Plastic – Stomp!
The dynamic duo seem as dark and as messed up as ever in this track. From the dark gritty eerie intro, to the raw bulky guitar riffs, it’s hard to not get drawn into their dark world. There’s a somewhat industrial edge to it, with a catchy synth hook added for good measure. The lyrical content is unsettling, enhanced by an aggressive assault of vocals. It’s Wrapped In Plastic at their finest! Even though this is at the demo stages, it already ticks all the boxes as a brilliantly visceral monster.