2018 was off to a great start with the January release of Fall Out Boy's seventh studio album, Mania. Despite a relatively lukewarm reception by critics, the album has proven to be a commercial success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts while also earning the band their first ever Best Rock Album nomination at the forthcoming 61st Grammy Awards. Highlights include The Last of the Real Ones, Hold Me Tight or Don't, Champion, and Young and Menace.
Various Artists - Black Panther: The Album
One of the biggest event movies of the year also brought with it one of the year's finest albums. Spearheaded by none other than Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther: The Album finds the American rapper recruiting a number of talents from home and abroad as they take on several themes from the movie. The result is a cultural showcase that is every bit as remarkable as the movie that inspired it. Highlights include All the Lights, Opps, King's Dead, Redemption, and Pray for Me.
The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy,
The Weeknd returned this year with a back-to-basics album; at 6 tracks in length, it is more of an EP than anything else. Shedding the more pop-oriented trappings of his previous two albums, My Dear Melancholy marks a return to the downbeats of his earlier mixtapes. He'd enlisted the likes of Skrillex, Gesaffelstein and Daft Punk's very own, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo to create its dark but luscious sonic soundscape. Highlights include Call Out My Name, Hurt You, and Privilege.
Panic! at the Disco - Pray for the Wicked
Panic! at the Disco released their sixth studio album, Pray for the Wicked, back in June. It's the first album to feature frontman, Brendon Urie, as the sole contributing member of the band. The fact that he's been able to hold it all together while also delivering what is possibly their best album till date is nothing short of incredible. Highlights include (Fuck A) Silver Lining, Hey Look Ma, I Made It, Dancing's Not a Crime, and Dying in LA.
Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
Janelle Monáe is one of those few artists out there today that still manages to consistently put out good music. Ever since her breakout EP, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), she has gone on to release the followup albums, The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady. For her third album, Dirty Computer, she'd decided to drop her Metropolis narrative. Easily her most overtly sexual album till date, the record is renowned for its catchy hooks and buttery smooth production. Highlights include Crazy, Classic, Life, Take a Byte, Screwed, and I Got the Juice.
Five Finger Death Punch - And Justice For None
And Justice for None is the seventh studio album released by American heavy metal band, Five Finger Death Punch. It features their signature hard rock-leaning style of heavy metal, while also incorporating elements of blues rock on several of its tracks. But perhaps what sets their seventh album apart from its predecessors is the inclusion of two of their finest covers till date. Highlights include Fake, Sham Pain, Gone Away, and Blue on Black.
Florence + The Machine - High as Hope
Florence Welsh is without a doubt one of the finest vocalists in the world today, and her vocal prowess was on full display this year on the fourth Florence + the Machine album, High as Hope. The album is noted for its stripped-down production, which allows her vocals to shine even more than it did on previous records. Highlights include June, Hunger, Big God, and Sky Full Of Song.
Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts
Two of my favorite rappers came together this year to form the super-duo, Kids See Ghosts. Comprised of Kanye West and Kid Cudi, the duo released their self-titled debut, which came after several collaborations between the two over the years. There is no denying the high level of musical chemistry shared by both artists, but only time would tell just how far they are willing to take this with future projects. Highlights include Feel the Love, Freeee, Reborn, and Kids See Ghosts.
Disturbed - Evolution
Like I mentioned during yesterday's post, the heavy metal band, Disturbed, have made an attempt this year to followup on the crossover success of their Simon & Garfunkel cover, The Sound of Silence. And this came in the form of their latest record, Evolution, the title for which was meant to reflect the change in their sound to incorporate different styles. While they haven't quite captured lightning in a bottle for a second time, the effort has produced the equally beautiful ballad, A Reason to Fight. Other highlights include Are You Ready, No More, and The Best Ones Lie.
Architects - Holy Hell
Holy Hell marks the first Architects album released after the death of founding member, Tom Searle, and as a result, much of its subject matter is a reflection on death and our inherent mortality. Tom, who died of skin cancer in 2016, had written most of the band's songs with twin brother, Dan. The fact that the remaining members of the band have been able to craft something this heartfelt and admirable out of a situation so dire is an achievement in and of itself. Highlights include Death is not Defeat, Hereafter, Royal Beggars, and Doomsday.
And the winner is...
Architects - Holy Hell
It's been a solid year for metalcore, and fans of the genre specifically, but its defining moment this past year came with the release of the eighth Architects album, Holy Hell. This is without a doubt the best album I'd listened to all year, and one that I've found myself going back to time and again. There is something wholly mesmerizing about the music crafted by this English metalcore band, from lead singer, Sam Carter's, scream singing, to Dan Searle's drumming, and some of the best guitar work I've heard on a metalcore album. The album oozes perfection on every track, and is a clear indication that good things can come out of even the worst situations. It all depends on how you choose to move forward from it.