5. Portal "Ion"
Patchy year for DM this year and this thankfully remains a high point near 12 months after it was released.. A more refined and calculated record (by Portal standards at least) although no sacrifice is made of the usual mind destroying chaos that we have all grown to know and love. A great build on the use of the horror elements of "Vexovoid" to create more atmosphere than a divorce hearing. Here's hoping 2019 can raise the stakes somewhat in the DM world.
4. Svartidaudi “Revelations of the Red Sword”
The revelations here are all dark and majestic, carrying a dissonance and extremity at the same time, combining fathomless black with the angry stabs, slashes and protracted strokes of red promised by the sword. A truly well written and thought out record, that sits way high above the likes of Behemoth’s paltry excursion of 2018 that the internet seems to love. I have listened to this regularly for weeks now but still feel I have so much more to learn and discover about it. That my friends is the sign of a good record.
3. Megaton Leviathan “Mage”
Hazy, gazy(?), doomy, drony goodness here with a shit (mega)ton of melody and harmony to make ya feel good about life. Vocally it doesn’t always exactly sit right but musically the songwriting and instrumentation are near perfect. My - slightly odd - analogy is that this album is like decorating a room, the laminate flooring effortlessly clicks together and the colours on the walls blend superbly to give vivid and vibrant shine to the room. But then some of the furniture is a little out of place but somehow it still really works. Not my normal bag but...me likes it.
2. Winterfylleth “The Harrowing Of Heirdom”
No surprise here that this places high on my list, it was top of my BM release list despite not having one moment of BM present. The folk storytelling theme of this record captures a mood of dark and ethereal tales told via dulcet harmonies and medieval strings. It weaves scriptures of musical mystique noted on scrolls of poetic parchment.
1. Mournful Congregation “The Incubus Of Karma”
Funeral doom on top of the list, what an odd year 2018 turned out to be. The fact is “The Incubus Of Karma” generates enough emotion, atmosphere and density to crack windows. I can’t recall any release since the last couple of Bell Witch albums, that establish such a memorable and impacting experience based largely on the use of one instrument. The guitars on the latest Mournful Congregation album just sing for virtually the whole record. Never do they become smothering or even mildly irritating and naturally for the genre in question they aren’t remembered through excessive technical wankery. They just do such a great job of constructing tracks that bore into your bones. For hours and days after each listen I can hear tracks echoing around my head like it is devoid of all organ matter and is just now some cavernous void with the best of acoustics.
The success for me of this record shows why I couldn’t get my head around Evoken’s offering from this year. It had lost all menace, all definition and virtually all tangible emotional connection with me. I wanted to feel consumed by it and instead felt a bit nibbled at and the effort required to try and figure out the direction was just not worth the eventual reward. “The Incubus Of Karma” ate me whole, digested me, absorbed me into it’s blood stream and I am swimming for all eternity...