With 2018 coming to a close, Greg Blachman and Rob Rom of Static Tension took some time to collectively reflect on their Top 10 releases of the year. The below are their picks, listed in no particular order.
It’s no secret that Alice In Chains is a band that has inspired Static Tension greatly, and they continue to do so with their latest album Rainier Fog. AIC stays consistent to their formula; even in the absence of their original vocalist Layne Staley (may he RIP). The band serves as a constant reminder to never give up, even in the face of the greatest obstacles or tragedies. The album is strong from start to finish; maintaining haunting vocal harmonies, atop melodic and somber tones that only AIC can deliver. Some personal standout favorites are “The One You Know”, “So Far Under”, and “All I Am”.
Mike Patton will always make my list, that’s a guarantee! The Dead Cross EP that was released this year is absolutely fantastic! Although short (only 4 tracks), “My Perfect Prisoner” would make song of the year for me. I’m also not usually a fan of remixes, but in this case, Dead Cross wins! Even their remixes blow my mind! This EP will definitely hold me over until faith no more or tomahawk release a new album, and I think everyone could use new Mr.Bungle… but there is nothing lacking in Dead Cross.
Automata I & II by Between the Buried And Me is an impressive display of technical musicianship, with enough diversity to leave everyone’s pallet satisfied. BTBAM continue to push the boundaries with what is arguably their best work to date. The two-part release incorporates everything from symphonic keyboard melodies to crushing djent riffs and everything in between. These albums are highly recommended for any musician or fan of intricate, progressive music.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have returned with their 70s horror inspired doom rock, and their fifth release, Wasteland. They have impressed me with every release to date and this one is no different. The crunchy production quality along with the John Lennon style vocals create an eerie atmosphere, as if I were watching an old Argento film…. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Black Sabbath and anything in the doom and stoner genres.
Given Joe Satriani’s track record, it’s a safe bet that whatever he releases is bound to be pretty amazing, and What Happens Next is no different. The master of melody does not disappoint with riffs that will stick in your head for days and leave you wondering how he does it. What I love most about Satriani is his ability to convey emotion through his guitar – as if it’s telling a story. In particular, “Righteous” is a favorite track of mine on this album that does just that. A must listen for any guitarist.
It’s an unpopular opinion among Melvins’ fans, it seems, that this latest album is a masterpiece… I personally love it. It’s refreshing! What I’ve always loved about Melvins is that I never know what to expect from them…. each album is its own little entity. Pinkus Abortion Technician is a strange and interesting release, and that Beatles cover is ridiculous… here’s to many more Melvins albums!
Another 2018 release that I’ve found particularly enjoyable is Fates Warning’sLive Over Europe. This album contains some excellent live renditions of some of my favorites by the band. Tracks I find especially enjoyable are “Firefly”, “Still Remains”, “The Eleventh Hour”, and “A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Pt. IX.” Fates Warning has always impressed me with their ability to seamlessly integrate odd time signatures behind melodic, catchy vocals lines – something I also strive to do with Static Tension. Also, with the track time tallying up beyond 2 hours, this is enough to satiate any progressive metal fan’s musical appetite for quite some time.
This one was unexpected. Voivod’sThe Wake totally crept up on me and blindsided me. I was only familiar with their work on Dimension Hatross, so it was nice to have something pull me back in. These guys are technical, progressive, and thrashy at times! I love what they’ve done with their chord progressions and clean vocals in this album and have been prompted by it to dig even deeper into their catalog. The Wake is definitely an album worth your while.
Chris Cornell – one of my favorite musicians to walk this earth, will forever have a place in my top 10 on just about any list. The compilation album released this year entitled, Chris Cornell, was organized by Chris’ wife Vicky with the help of Chris’ close friends and band mates. The album features a great selection of songs spanning Cornell’s entire career, as well as a previously unheard track, “When Bad Does Good.” I would recommend that Cornell fans opt to buy the deluxe edition, which contains 64 tracks vs 17 tracks on the standard version. Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster as this album takes you on a journey through the most memorable highlights of Chris’ 30 plus years in music.
Darkthrone’s Arctic Thunder comes out of left field, bringing back hints from the days of “Cromlech” and “Coulside Journey”… the blistering percussion, sweeping riffs and guttural vocals are definitely Darkthrone at their best! All these years later and these guys still have it, “arctic thunder” definitely makes my top 10 of 2018.
Static Tension’s new full-length debut, Ashes To Animation, is releasing next month! Check it out and pre-order it here: https://statictensionrocks.bandcamp.com/
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