It's been a good six months for heavy music, with a slew of heavy-metal shredders, industrial rivetheads, hardcore pit-starters, gothic death worshippers and more dropping stellar new tunes. We recently released our list of the 25 Best Albums of 2018 So Far; now, we want to hear what records rocked your world from January to June. We asked you to pick your single favorite album of the year to this point, and you hit social media with a wide-range of opinions, spanning the gamut of styles and sounds. Below, are the ranked top five vote-getters.
Can a band that is strictly about weed ever truly mature? The answer, surprisingly, is yes, as indicated by Sleep's The Sciences, the stoner-metal titans' first new album in 20 years. The songwriting has matured and gotten stronger, the riffs are better (save for those on "Dopesmoker," pretty much the greatest riffs of all time) and the subject matter has gone from serious to more tongue-in-cheek and playful. Only time will tell how well The Sciences will age, as the novelty of its surprise release wears off, but we're guessing it will hold up as a classic in its own right.
Many diehards were thrown off by Parkway Drive's shift from purist metalcore to hard-rock territories on 2016's Ire, but the Byron Bay crew righted their ship with this year's Reverence. The album combines the band's successes in both arenas, allowing for songs full of beefed-up riffery and anthemic hooks, fulfilling the group's prophecy that they were destined for bigger sounds all along.
Much to the relief to all the Maynard James Keenan stans fearing a tired rehash, A Perfect Circle's first full-length in 14 years courses with the same gloomy, alt-metal spirit heard on past albums, while housing that spirit in more luxurious, tasteful surroundings. True, Eat the Elephant might lack an all-out assault in the vein of "Judith," but that was then, and this arresting, piano-laced fever dream is right fucking now.
Statistically speaking, as a band approaches its 50-year anniversary, chances are the gas tank is getting pretty close to empty of combustible creative inspiration. But fuck math anyway because Rob Halford and Co.'s ripping, riff-filled 18th studio album, Firepower, is not only their best work in decades (and their highest charting album ever on Billboard) but it just might end up being the stand-out metal record of 2018.
The art of Swedish band Ghost is one, big, heavy-metal balancing act: mastermind Tobias Forge weighing tragedy against comedy, metal against pop, theatrical pomp against pit-starting ferocity. With the band's fourth album Prequelle, he's pulled off his most impressive feat of musical tightrope-walking yet, welding the carnivalesque to the catchy on standouts like "Rats" and "Dance Macabre." The end result easily proves the most bombastic album of 2018 thus far, but it's also one of the most well-balanced. Equilibrium is a wonderful thing.