We live and breathe music day in, day out. It’s ingrained into our DNA at HTPR. So every year we like to put together our end of year lists. No one else cares much and that’s ok. But it’s a way to spark debate within the team, what we loved, what we didn’t love.
2018 has been an incredible year for music, not only in metal and rock but right across the board and our lists reflect that.
James Monteith, Director. Likes Cheese, Gin and Top Gun.
Here's my top 10; I've not included any clients because I'd need to put them all in there, as they all released amazing music this year. This is what i've enjoyed outside of work. In no particular order…
Lorn - Remnant
Genius dark sound design, one of the most sinister electronic records I've ever heard. Put this on in the dark at your peril.
Pengshui - Ramp & Play, No Time, Don't Like Me, Control
This is a collection of singles, but I'll consider this as an EP cos.. I want to. This band have created the most exciting crossover sounds in 2018, and vocalist Illaman has one of the most versatile voices around.
Jon Hopkins- Singularity
One of the best produced records of the year, JH never fails to impress and this is a collection of diverse and interesting tracks which are palatable to the non-extreme ear (i.e my wife doesn't tell me to turn it off when at home.)
White Moth Black Butterfly - Atone (Expanded)
This is the expanded re-issue of Atone from 2017, but I missed it the first time because I’m sometimes a bad friend. Dan and Keshav have outdone themselves with this record; it's packed full of so many hooks and tasty melodies that it's an addictive listen.
AO Tøndra - Quintet
Another example of the level of sound design in 2018. This stunning collection of tracks is packed with subtle detail and a chilled vibe... it comes with a warning though.. it may send you to sleep (in a good way).
Between the Buried and Me - Automata I&II
Probably the best prog metal band around at the moment. I love their quirky ideas and expansive songwriting. Top blokes too.
Monuments - Phronesis
Some of the best tech riffs of 2018
Nightmares on Wax - Shape The Future
The master of instrumental hiphop returns with a collection of chilled groovy tunes that may remind one of coming down from drugs in the 00s.
Vein - Errorzone
Prob my fave heavy release of the year, this band fuse so many subtle tricks and styles to create their unique sound.
Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs
A very recent discovery, this record is packed full of interestingly swung beats and complex vocal rhythms. It's actually quite hard work to listen to at first (for me anyway), but that's what I found enticing.
Lisa Coverdale, Director. Likes Cheese, Wine and Forests.
Between The Buried And Me - Automata I & II
DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY. What else needs to be said? Automata II is some of the best music that Between the Buried and Me have widdled/poked/prodded and conjured together in years. Like prog metal black mages, they are untouchable in this genre and I’ve no idea how they do what they do. My husband spent a night trying to explain to me (he’s a musician) how it’s all written and my brain melted out of my eyes and I couldn’t see for three days. I absolutely fucking love them. I could wax lyrical about them for ever but in the end all it would look like is me rather excitedly shouting THIS BAND ARE BRILLIANT AND YOU ARE NUTS IF YOU DON’T AGREE. The opener on Automata II, Proverbial Bellow, is insanely good, those guitars, THE DRUMS…fuck. Voice of Trespass is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard and Blot on Automata I sounds like they’ve had to break their fingers to play it. It’s all good. Just listen to this band. Then listen again. But for the sake of your own sanity, if you are a non musician don’t ask how it’s done. Don’t believe me? Read this explanation from bassist Dan Briggs….https://www.loudersound.com/features/between-the-buried-and-mes-track-by-track-guide-to-automata-i Anyone know what a unison line or a triplet phrase is? No…me either but the albums are amazing. Automata II is the standout of the year for me. I’m so happy I could eat my own face. Bloody love them.
Boss Keloid - Melted On The Inch https://bosskeloid.bandcamp.com/album/melted-on-the-inch
Where do you start with Boss Keloid. I’m absolutely rabid for them. A stoner band that has ploughed their own unique niche into the sublime world of psychedelic prog but…they’re more than that. I don’t know how you classify them, or if you should, I just know that when Alex Hurst opens his lungs it sounds like all of the air has been sucked out of the atmosphere and blown back to earth in tune and incredibly loud. Melted On The Inch is a turning point for the band, an incredible marker that exclaims, we are here and you will listen. Boss Keloid stand proudly on their own, neither one thing or the other. A cracking album that all fans of progressive rock/metal need to listen to. Plus they wear awesome jumpers. Jumper Prog. These guys are going to be huge, if you don’t believe me, watch this phenomenal live set from them of the entire album https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te-3T_6PPy8
I saw a short clip of a band on Instagram and fell in love, instantaneously. I contacted their record label and begged on my knees to do their PR and well…here we are. What a debut. MØL deliver a heart wrenching, cathartic glimpse of their world on this stunning release. I’ve cried more times than is healthy listening to this album this year and I knew from the very first listen that if we could just get their music to the right ears then it would fly and it has. A beautiful album by beautiful people with a darkness right at its core that is all encompassing. I am massively in love with this band.
Yob - Our Raw Heart https://yobislove.bandcamp.com/album/our-raw-heart
I love Yob. I just bloody love them and they can do no wrong. A stunning listen. It needs no explanation. IT IS YOB.
Rivers Of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name https://riversofnihil.bandcamp.com/album/where-owls-know-my-name
Just an absolutely brilliant album full of progressive metal, wonder and joy. Twisting, turning song structures and a perfect blend of technical death metal with mixes of prog, jazz and fusion. Rivers of Nihil are one of the few truly exciting bands of the moment with that ‘what will they do next’ feel and Where Owls Know My Name has been a constant listen throughout the year. Bravo gents, splendiferous. Bonus points for having Owls in your album title, can the next one be about badgers?
Thomas Giles - Don’t Touch The Outside https://open.spotify.com/album/6ilY3ehwbHoFIERHiDtK5B
Brilliant solo album, brilliant song writer, brilliant vocalist. He’s a genius. Maybe not a genius but a really clever, creative person with the voice of a demented angel. One of my late night go to albums which is just perfect for when you want to shut the world outside off and retreat inward.
I’m a sucker for guitars that are played well and Emil Wrestler is an incredible guitarist. I fell into this album because of my previous love of Emil’s work on projects such as Levi/Westler (Avalanche of Worms is an incredible listen) and honestly I wasn’t expecting this album to sound like it does at all. It’s an odd, often unsettling listen because it feels like it shouldn’t work but it does. It’s weird but wonderful.
Another experimental guitarist, I just love love love the instrument and people who can play it intensely well and in such an unorthodox manner. Code Girl brings a more avant-garde, indie fused with free jazz fusion to Mary’s sound this time around and the result is a phenomenal album.
An album inspired by a hurricane no less, blends spoken-word narration of reminiscence, regret and anger with string arrangements and electronic weaving. A sublimely beautiful soundscape which is eerily haunting in parts, it can be an unsettling listen. But it’s brilliant, more art than music and I highly encourage anyone with an ear for the unusual and the exploratory to check it out.
James Monteith said that if I didn’t put his band’s album in my list then he’d fire me. So here we are. It’s always hard to critique a friends work but Tesseract make it easy by being so incredibly good. They’ve worked hard as a band to evolve over the years, becoming true masters of the prog metal genre and with each release their capabilities grow to the point where they’re not only flying the flag for British metal but also leading the new wave of progressive bands worldwide. Very proud of them.
Matt Benton, Account Manager/Wizard. Likes Cheese, Popes and Hannah.
AlithiA - The Moon has Fallen. Wild Thing Records
What is it with Aussies and brilliant forward-thinking music? AlithiA add to the pantheon of great Australian prog-rock bands with their The Moon has Fallen effort. Intricate, multi-layered, and an incredibly dynamic release. Karnivool, move over.
Architects - Holy Hell. Epitaph Records
A very good release from an even better band. The future of British metal is Architects’, and Holy Hell will only see the band reach even further.
Rolo Tomassi, Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It, Holy Roar Records
Finally! Much deserved success from one of the UK’s progressively heavy underground champions. A stellar listen, showcasing the band at full maturity.
TesseracT - Sonder. KScope
A band who get better with every release, Sonder is TesseracT’s most well-rounded and mature effort. Shaking off their djent-tag roots, the band can lay claim to being one of the UK’s bigger acts, sublimely straddling the progressive and metal worlds. Another gig of the year.
The Black Queen - Infinite Games. Federal Prisoner
Vulnerability personified. One of the most tenderly stunning releases of 2018 for me, and a beautiful midnight sonic haze.
MØL - Jord. Holy Roar Records
Aside from Conjurer, MØL’s Jord is the stand-out debut of year (and what a year Holy Roar have had too). Beauty and bleakness, a pinnacle of blackgaze – not enough words to do this release justice.
Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology. Willowtip Records
Much like Ghost, Slugdge’s brilliant prog-death output shows that you can be serious and fun all at once. A paean to the slime god Mollusca, Slugdge’s most recent LP is a thumping listen, and one of the best newer progressive heavy bands I’ve heard in a half-generation.
BEAK> - >>>. Invada Records/Temporary Residence
In a year of innovation, BEAK>’s third album is one of the more unique listens I’ve had this year. It’s an utterly beguiling record, a compelling mixture of early Pink Floyd-esque lo-fi psychedelia, and trip-hoppy improvised jamming. One of the gigs of the year, too – music to lose yourself in.
Ghost - Prequelle. Spinefarm Records
What is left to say about this record? A triumph. ABBA with facepaint, added guitars, and metal imagery and theatricality. Earworms for days.
Conjurer - Mire. Holy Roar Records
Of course I’m a little biased but few albums come close to Conjurer’s Mire in 2018, which is all the more impressive considering it’s their debut full-length. Mire is a grandstanding behemoth of a listen which combines as many metal subgenre influences as you can think of, and well matched by the band’s huge live shows. Credit to the skill of the songwriting and production which also allows moments of melody and stillness to shine through.
Hannah Gillicker, Broadcast Manager/Radio Plugger. Likes Cheese, Matt-ley Crue and Turnips.
As our radio plugger, Hannah works day in, day out with singles and as such has decided to pick her favourite ‘bangers’ of the year. Here we go…
Phoxjaw - Weapons
Phoxjaw are my favourite newly discovered band of 2018. Their debut EP 'Goodbye Dinosaur...' is up there as one of my top records of the year, but there's something about those crushingly heavy moments in 'Weapons' that make me want to come out of my mosh pit retirement (and I don't say that very often). Not forgetting the outstanding video that they released for this too, which makes me love them even more.
Kojo Funds - Who Am I? ft. Bugzy Malone
I came across this track one afternoon when I was listening to Radio 1Xtra and it became an instant favourite. It's so energetic and Bugzy Malone's guest appearance is amazing, it's been on my playlist ever since.
grandson - Blood / / Water
I remember first listening to grandson in March 2017 after a friend had recommended him and it's really great to see the waves he's been making over the last 18 months. 'Blood // Water' is another huge track, best served loud!
Normandie - White Flag
This was one of the first tracks I heard off Normandie's latest album and I knew within an instant that it was going to be a hit for them. It's a beautiful song that is both poignant and assuring - a real highlight of the year for me.
Boy Better Know - Athlete
I had this track on repeat for weeks when it was released. Can JME, Skepta and co. write a bad song? I don't think so. It's just SO good, hands down my favourite grime track of the year.
Chapter and Verse - Ink
This stunning track was in Chapter and Verse's live set for some time before they released it as a single and it was was always a highlight for me. If you aren't singing along to the chorus by the end of the song then there's something wrong with you.
Architects - Doomsday
For me this is one of the most powerful tracks of 2018, there's so much emotion and poignancy portrayed in such a chilling but beautiful way. Musically this track is outstanding too, that opening riff is a favourite of mine.
Bring Me The Horizon - Mantra
Admittedly it took a couple of listens but Bring Me The Horizon's comeback single has fast become one of my favourites of 2018. Big, bold and catchy.
Fever 333 - Made An America
You know a band is going to be great when it features ex-members/members of letlive., Night Verses and The Chariot, and their 'Made An America' EP was a perfect introduction. The title-track makes me want to to sing and shout from the top of my lungs from start to finish.
SHVPES - Calloused Hands
This track is so full of energy and I love how it twists and turns, it's really fun to listen to. My favourite from their latest album 'Greater Than'.