For the next edition of our end of year guest posts, we have High Priestess Nighthawk, bassist and vocalist of Heavy Temple and her Top Albums of 2018. Heavy Temple spent 2018 being total badasses, and they are looking to smash 2019 to pieces as well. The band will record and release their next album soon, and have already booked a spring gig at Decibel’s Metal And Beer Festival. We’ll be sharing more lists like this one, 2018 memories, and other shenanigans from our favorite bands, partners, music industry peers, and other folks we respect across the globe all month long.
High Priestess Nighthawk says:
I won’t say these are the best releases of 2018 because top ten lists are always based on personal preference, and there’s likely dozens of albums that came out this year that I haven’t even heard. But these are the ones I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order.
Tribulation – Down Below
This is a band that has evolved but always kept the stuff that made them good. I listened the hell out of Children of the Night and honestly didn’t even know they had another album out this year until a few months after its release. I think they’ve done a great job with navigating the line between being accessible to a more mainstream audience and still retaining the elements of their earlier work. Dark and creepy, all the way. Their leads are always so on point and they seem to like the snare on the one, of which I’m a big fan.
Backwoods Payback – Future Slum
I’ve known this crew for a long time, and while the older stuff has a big place in my heart, I think this is, in a way, a solid retrospective of a long career. It’s very stripped down, straight forward, and raw. Possibly because I know what some of Mike’s favorite bands are, or possibly because it’s conveyed well and not contrived, it’s obvious that there’s a serious 90’s grunge influence here; Soundgarden, Acid Bath, Nirvana. It’s been awesome to see this record do so well and I’m very proud of my friendos for hitting the pavement so hard this year.
The Primals – All Love is True Love
This is a STRONG debut. Dudes from Darkest Hour, The Explosion, and Dead to Fall, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it by the sound of this album. It’s got everything I like from my favorite late 90’s/early 00’s indie bands like Built to Spill, The Pixies, Hüsker Dü or Superchunk, but it’s HEA-VY. The key changes are very satisfying and the quick little turnarounds keep it interesting. I always dig a band who can successfully marry pop sensibility with good riffs.
Judas Priest – Firepower
True, it’s no Painkiller, but a lot of the reason I like this record is because, frankly, it’s PRIEST. Even on their worst day it’s better than 99.99% of anything on your local butt-rock radio station. Yes, there have been lineup changes. Yes, they are not the spring chickens they used to be, but goddamn if I can still be putting out music in 40 years, selling out arenas and riding in on a motorcycle with my badass leather jacket sign me TF up. It sounds like Priest, it looks like Priest, and probably smells like Priest.
Black Thought & 9th Wonder – Streams of Thought, Vol. 1
This album proves that The Roots’ Black Thought has never lost his touch. What I’ve always enjoyed about hip hop like this is the density of it all. There’s a lot of depth and so much lyrical aptitude in the storytelling and rhyme structure. There’s also the killer samples (like French smooth jams from the 70’s), likely courtesy of 9th Wonder, who is a sterling producer. Not to mention the fact that there’s a track called “Dostoyevsky”, which should excite the existentialist in us all.
YOB – Our Raw Heart
I won’t spend too much time talking about why I like this record, mostly because it’s hard to articulate why I like any YOB album. We were fortunate enough to play with them twice this year, and I’ve seen them on several other occasions. The energy in everything Mike Scheidt and the band do is very palpable if you’ve ever seen them. For anyone who hasn’t listened to them, set aside a couple days, check this one out and work your way backward through the discography. You won’t be disappointed.
Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe
Prime example of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This album has all of what got me into them in the first place. Call it what you want, desert rock, stoner rock, or just rock ‘n’ roll, it hits hard. None of the tracks are rambling, they start, they rip, and then on to the next one.
ILSA – Corpse Fortress
I’m not sure how I would classify ILSA. Doom, sludge, black metal maybe? Whatever it is, it’s awesome. I like this record for the same reasons I loved Inter Arma’sParadise Gallows, it’s got a lot going on and it’s more emotive than a lot of other “metal” I’ve heard recently (metal is in quotations because I’m not sure what characteristics define it anymore). The double bass on this record is super tight, and the leads and riffs are crushing. In fact, I’m hoping to make it to their show with Inter Arma in February for full sonic assault. (Editor’s Note: Please support the GoFundMe to replace Ilsa’s stolen gear)
Messa – Feast for Water
My roommate was listening to this album after he came home from a European tour and I was immediately struck by it. I hear Uncle Acid, a little bit of Windhand or Acid King, maybe some Mgła. Oh, and did I mention the saxophone solo? It’s extremely atmospheric, even droning at times, with a ton of reverb and non-traditional instrumentation. Right up my alley. They’re from Italy, so I don’t know when/if they plan on coming to the states, but I’ll definitely be there when they do.
Jarboe – The Cult of the Warrior, For the last in my top ten, I thought I’d do something non-traditional. As I write this, I’m eager to hear Jarboe’s new album, which will be released three days from now. Her music has some of the same ethereal qualities that first attracted me to Nick Cave (particularly later in his career), with a little bit of Kate Bush thrown in. She’s been at it for a long time and I expect nothing short of greatness from her upcoming record.
Heavy Temple will be back in 2019 with new music and many shows. Get familiar with this essential stoner band: