We’re not going to beat around the bush here – 2018 was another killer year for music. While some bands dissapointed with efforts that were supposed to push them over the top, there’s also plenty of albums that might even be considered groundbreaking a few years from now.
We’re here to present the top 100 albums of 2018, now with handy Spotify links to each record! It’s all for your listening pleasure.
Editor’s Note: We didn’t include EP’s in our list. Only full-lengths here. Also just missing the cut were solid albums from Pale Waves, Senses Fail, Don Broco, Hail The Sun and Thrice, just to name a few.
#100: Epiphany (Napoleon)
On their debut album Newborn Mind, Napoleon took progressive metalcore to exciting new heights. While Epiphany doesn’t quite hit the peaks of their debut, calling it a sophomore slump would be a mistake. With some of the most talented instrumentalists in the genre today, and armed with a talented vocalist in Wes Thompson, Napoleon have cemented themselves as a unique act in the genre. Listen to “Ignite” for a fun start-stop riff FEST.
#99: Voicenotes (Charlie Puth)
Voicenotes is a much-improved effort for Charlie Puth, whose pop/R&B hybrid is miles better than his debut record. While not perfect, Puth shows off his diversity on tracks like “Done For Me” (which features Kehlani), and the catchy “Slow It Down”. It looks like the album delay was worth it.
#98: Ember (Breaking Benjamin)
By-the-numbers Breaking Benjamin is still better than most bands playing a tired, exhausted radio rock-esque genre. Much like all 5 of their studio albums to date, there’s plenty of exceptional choruses here, especially on the non-singles like “Tourniquet” – which may just be the best song on Ember.
#97: Proper Dose (The Story So Far)
Another solid, often spectacular The Story So Far album that also shows impressive songwriting growth without sacrificing their identity.
#96: Posthuman (Harms Way)
Probably the best workout album of 2018.
#95: Odyssey: The Founder Of Dreams (Voices From The Fuselage)
With a frontman as talented as Ashe O’Hara, the sky is the limit for this progressive metal outfit.
#94: Extinction(s) (Unearth)
Standard Unearth is still leagues above their metal peers. While not quite as good as its predecessor Watchers Of Rule, there’s still plenty of riffage to sink your teeth into, especially on “Survivalist”. They’re a metalcore staple for a reason.
#93: Loved (KEN Mode)
Canadian noise rock/metal band KEN Mode have been in the game for a long time. Their first full-length in 3 years, Loved, is a distillation of everything they’ve done so far – album opener “He Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should” is one of the most urgent openers of their career. If you’re a fan of noisy, chaotic metal with plenty of bite, KEN Mode is the band for you.
#92: Placebo (The New Age)
The New Age seamlessly meshes modern pop-leaning alt-rock with heavier metalcore sections. Think a more dynamic Hands Like Houses, or maybe even modern rockers Fight The Fade, especially on the fantastic title track. Vocalist Justin Cotton deserves to be heralded as one of the more unique vocalists in the scene right now.
#91: The Legacy Of Shi (Rise Of The Northstar)
French band that plays fun, 90’s-style metallic hardcore with hip-hop influence, and sings about Japanese anime? Sign us up.
#90: Is This Thing Cursed? (Alkaline Trio)
Alkaline Trio’s best record in over a decade, it’s clear that the band’s best work in Good Mourning and Godamnit weren’t just early career flukes. Modern pop-punk/alt-rock bands could take a few cues from “Worn So Thin”.
#89: In Moment / / In Memory (Our Hollow, Our Home)
More melodic metalcore goodness from the young British band. More musically talented than many of their peers, and “Parting Gift” is the sort of slow-burning track that might endear OHOH to fans outside the genre. One thing’s for sure – Our Hollow, Our Home know how to riff.
#88: Pareidolia (Actor Observer)
Post-hardcore newcomers Actor|Observer tread familiar, yet inspired territory on Paredolia, their new full-length for No Sleep Records. Influence from bands like Hopesfall is evident here, and “Pendulum Days” could easily fit on a record like A-Types. The aforementioned track also features measured, intelligent drumming and a sense of passion overall, ending in a breakdown that seems to come out of nowhere. No Sleep Records sure known how to pick ’em.
#87: Stranger Fruit (Zeal and Ardor)
Does black metal and Negro spiritual gospel music sound like the most jarring combination of genres to you? Same. It’s also wholly unprecedented, and fantastic. Turning on a dime for most of the record, “Don’t You Dare” and “Gravedigger’s Chant” are simply mind-blowingly unique.
#86: Death Spells (Holy Fawn)
Don’t let the new Holy Fawn record fly under your radar if you’re a fan of dreamlike, heavy metallic shoegaze. Intense, yet melodic, Death Spells is a record deserving of a much wider audience.
#85: You Won’t Get What You Want (Daughters)
NOISE. But the good kind, you know? Daughters’ new record isn’t for the faint of heart.
#84: Artificial Selection (Dance Gavin Dance)
4 albums in, this is probably vocalist Tilian Pearson’s best performance on a Dance Gavin Dance record yet.
#83: Little Dark Age (MGMT)
By embracing their Depeche Mode and New Order influences, MGMT have never sounded better. In fact, it’s their best album to date, even better than the band’s breakout debut LP, Oracular Spectacular. Synthpop lives!
#82: Sonder (Tesseract)
A little on the short side, but Tesseract’s 4th full-length album delivers where it counts – in Daniel Tompkins’ strikingly effective vocals, and a real sense of atmosphere.
#81: Kids (The Midnight)
More synthwave? The Midnight continue to deliver nostalgically effective songs that simply work well. “Wave” is a bright, upbeat slice of 80’s synthpop.
#80: Where I Go When I Am Sleeping (Casey)
Casey’s second full-length sees the sadly disbanding post-hardcore band opt for a softer direction, with more post-rock influence. Tracks like the title track and “Phosphenes” aren’t quite as immediate as their debut, but still pack an emotional punch.
#79: The Silver Scream (Ice Nine Kills)
Catchy post-hardcore/metalcore with songs about horror movies? Sign us up for what Ice Nine Kills are doing.
#78: Swimming (Mac Miller)
Psychedelic, instrumentally-driven hip-hop from a musician who was really coming into his own. On par with GO:OD A.M. RIP, Mac Miller.
#77: Bad Witch (Nine Inch Nails)
Trent Reznor explores his obvious David Bowie influences on NIN’s shortest studio album to date.
#76: Lost Tree (Young Mountain)
Young Mountain is a young post-hardcore outfit from Sweden with elements of screamo and post-black metal. The raw, yet solid and punchy production helps, too.
#75: Fantasy (LANDMVRKS)
Setting themselves apart from a crowded progressive metalcore pack with instrumental prowess and lots of fun riffs, LANDMVRKS’ second full-length is a really solid effort. Listen to “Scars”.
#74: Take Me To The Disco (Meg Myers)
On her 2nd studio album, Meg Myers rises above the weight of expectations.
#73: Holy Hell (Architects)
Boldly continuing on despite the passing of Tom Searle, Architects sound unhinged at times on Holy Hell. “The Seventh Circle” is a sub-2 minute track that is simply the heaviest the band have sounded since the career-defining Hollow Crown was released almost a decade ago.
#72: Trench (twenty one pilots)
twenty one pilots’ first new record since 2015’s chart-topping Blurryface shows the indie rock band tackling a concept album, with good results. The new record was also partially produced by MuteMath’s Paul Meany, and while it’s almost an hour long, there’s plenty of standout tracks.
#71: Only Love (The Armed)
Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, The Armed’s 3rd full-length abum pushes the boundaries of metal and hardcore like few bands can.
#70: Nearer My God (Foxing)
Was anyone expecting Foxing to expand their core sound like this? Unlikely.
#69: The Unheavenly Creatures (Coheed and Cambria)
The best Coheed record since The Afterman: Ascension.
#68: A Dying Machine (Tremonti)
Alter Bridge/former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti’s 4th solo effort, A Dying Machine is a concept record immersed in modern hard rock/metal that is every bit as engaging as predecessors Dust and Cauterize. The 6+ minute title track is worth the price of admission alone, and Tremonti is one hell of a vocalist.
#67: Eve (Emery)
Emery gets personal on their best record since …In Shallow Seas We Sail.
#66: Too Far Gone (Cane Hill)
Worth the price of admission for vocalist Elijah Witt’s dynamic vocals alone.
#65: Heavy Yoke (Azusa)
Members of Dillinger Escape Plan, Sea + Air, and Extol team up for a unique, hard to pin down sound that is truly genre-bending – elements of indie pop seep in as well, which isn’t a surprise considering vocalist Eleni Zafiriadou’s pedigree.
#64: A Patient Man (Cult Leader)
#63: Rituals (Deaf Havana)
Deaf Havana goes full-on pop-rock. “Holy” is a real contender for catchiest song of the year.
#62: Every Nothing (Tides Of Man)
A strong contender for instrumental post-rock album of the year, Tides Of Man join the big leagues.
#61: Devouring Radiant Light (Skeletonwitch)
Devouring Radiant Light tinkers with Skeletonwitch’s established core sound, opting for a more progressive black metal-esque sound. Recommended.
#60: The Light Of September (An Autumn For Crippled Children)
Post-black metal done right.
#59: Iridescence (Brockhampton)
#58: All That Divides (Black Peaks)
All That Divides is an improvement on an already great rock album in 2016’s Statues, and if you’re here for the riffs, you’ve come to the right place. It’s only 9 tracks, which is a shame, but then again that means more quality tracks like the nearly 7 minute “The Midnight Sun”.
#57: [untitled] (mewithoutyou)
Mewithoutyou displays urgency and intrigue on album #7.
#56: Dark Skies (Fit For A King)
On their 5th full-length album, Fit For A King have created the best record of their career to date. Songs like the fantastic “When Everything Means Nothing” are accessible in a way that few FFAK songs have been to date, and hint at even better things to come. American Metalcore never sounded so good.
#55: We Are Alive Beyond Repair (Gatherers)
One of the brightest new bands on the scene right now, Gatherers effortlessly merge lush, post-rock soundscapes with the genuine emotion of post-hardcore.
#54: Singularity (Jon Hopkins)
Singularity is one of the best electronic albums of 2018.
#53: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (The 1975)
#52: Braille (Palm Reader)
Heavy. Fast. Loud. Palm Reader’s Braille is one of the most urgent hardcore albums to come out of the UK in a long, long time.
#51: Only Self (Jesus Piece)
Philly hardcore, baby.
#50: Let Pain Be Your Guide (Portrayal Of Guilt)
Blackened hardcore that’s a very short listen, but also an effective one. If Portrayal Of Guilt improves on their debut album, watch out.
#49: Beside Myself (Basement)
Basement grows up.
#48: Crown Shyness (Trash Boat)
Trash Boat trades in some of their poppiness for more aggression on album #2.
#47: Love In Shadow (SUMAC)
4 tracks, each song is 10+ minutes long, and not a minute of this dense post-metal album is wasted.
#46: DROGAS WAVE (Lupe Fiasco)
Lupe Fiasco’s DROGAS WAVE is a record 5 years in the making, and despite how ridiculously long the record is, none of it really feels overblown. In fact, it’s Fiasco at his most versatile.
#45: Sister Cities (The Wonder Years)
Consistency reigns supreme.
#44: Shrine (The Republic Of Wolves)
One of the most underrated bands in alternative rock is back with a fittingly exceptional album.
#43: Where Owls Know My Name (Rivers Of Nihil)
One of the best extreme metal records of 2018, Rivers Of Nihil push themselves to their creative limits.
#42: What It Is To Be (The Comfort)
Out of nowhere, The Comfort cements themselves as one of Australia’s most interesting melodic rock bands.
#41: Automata I and II (Between the Buried and Me)
We’ll count both parts of the new BTBAM records. Why? They’re at the forefront of prog metal for a reason.
#40: Hyperreal (Makari)
After a series of solid EP’s, vocalist Andy Cizek and company really come into their own on Makari’s lush, melodic rock debut album.
#39: Annihilated (Sectioned)
Prepare to be annihilated with a wall of noisy, dense metal.
#38: East Atlanta Love Letter (6LACK)
6LACK’s sophomore record explores relationships and a look into a quick rise to fame – along with all the trappings that entails. Guest spots by Future and Khalid add to the music.
#37: Sunshine Dust (Skyharbor)
This is evolution. Skyharbor expands their sonic palette to go in a more atmospheric rock direction, and new vocalist Eric Emery really shines, too – especially on tracks like the unexpected nu-metal, early Karnivool-esque “Dissent”. Interestingly, Emery’s vocals are oddly reminiscent of the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. There’s also the pulsing melodic metal “Ethos”, which ends up being a very addicting track that showcases the band’s skills to put their expansive progressive metal in a more compact form.
#36: New Levels New Devils (Polyphia)
Instrumental wizards Polyphia explore hip-hop influences on their 3rd full-length, and might just bring the genre to mainstream attention with strong tracks like “So Strange”.
#35: Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic (The Ocean)
One of Europe’s most enduring progressive metal acts is still on top.
#34: Mire (Conjurer)
How does the UK keep pumping out new and intriguing metal bands?
#33: On Dark Horses (Emma Ruth Rundle)
#32: TA1300 (Denzel Curry)
#31: Empty Black (Greyhaven)
RIFFS FOR DAYS.
#30: Post Traumatic (Mike Shinoda)
Mike Shinoda reflects on the death of Chester Bennington, and explores a multitude of different genres on his first solo record. “Lift Off”, which features Chino Moreno and MGK, is just one of a number of strong tracks here.
#29: How Fleeting, How Fragile (Time, The Valuator)
Time, The Valuator’s long awaited debut album doesn’t disappoint. It’s hard to pin down this record stylistically, as it mixes elements of progressive rock/metal, alt-metal, and post-hardcore.
#28: REIðI (Black Foxxes)
Versatile, melodic, and filled with massive hooks, Black Foxxes improve on their debut record I’m Not Well, while improving their already strong songwriting. “Manic In Me” could easily pass for a track off Jimmy Eat World’s “Futures”, and that’s no small feat. Alt-rock with flair, really.
#27: In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind (Failure)
Released as a series of 4 EP’s, Failure’s new album cements them as one of the most important bands in alternative rock. “Distorted Fields” is worth the price of admission alone. A band that was truly ahead of their time in the mid-90’s, their 2nd full-length after their comeback earlier this decade is an impressive one.
#26: Vector (Haken)
Trimming the fat that was evident on 2016’s still-solid Affinity, Haken continue to refine their status as one of the more prominent progressive metal bands of the last decade or so.
#25: Dirty Computer (Janelle Monae)
Introducing Janelle Monae, the visionary.
#24: Neon (Erra)
A contender for the best of Erra’s 4 albums to date, few bands in the progressive metalcore genre have songs as hard hitting as the appropriately titled “Valhalla” and “Ghost Of Nothing”.
#23: Unloved (Frontierer)
On album #2, Frontierer’s brand of chaotic math-metal still hits hard.
#22: NOISE (Ghostemane)
Unsettling art that bridges the gap between industrial, hip-hop, and metal. Except Ghostemane is way darker than that.
#21: Dark All Day (Gunship)
#20: Ultraparanoia (Trevor Something)
Ultraparanoia is one of our favorite electronic finds of 2018, as a real 80’s vibe permeates the whole record. So much fun.
#19: White Flag (Normandie)
Solidly crafted alt-rock with massive, arena sized pop hooks crammed into every song. Swedish alt-rock band Normandie are aiming for the big leagues. The title track and “Ecstasy”, in particular, are golden.
#18: Applause Of A Distant Crowd (VOLA)
VOLA’s remarkable blend of progressive metal and synths is balanced out by even more melodicism.
#17: Infinite Games (The Black Queen)
Ex-TDEP vocalist Greg Puciato comes into his own on The Black Queen’s sophomore record. Dark synthpop at its finest.
#16: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (Deafheaven)
Another artistic stroke of brilliance.
#15: Aurora (Slow Crush)
Shoegazey alt-rock goodness that borders on metal at some points, Slow Crush’s debut album is a real triumph. The title track is guaranteed to put you in a dreamlike state, and shockingly it gives off similar vibes as classic records like A Storm In Heaven.
#14: When The End Began (Silent Planet)
Silent Planet are lyrically far ahead of their metalcore peers. “Share The Body” is proof enough.
#13: Jord (MOL)
Danish blackgaze band gets off to a very strong start on their debut full-length.
#12: Melted On The Inch (Boss Keloid)
Psychedelic stoner metal has rarely been as fun or as accessible as Boss Keloid’s new record.
#11: There Is A Presence Here (Many Rooms)
Many Rooms, the moniker of Brianna Hunt, is both comforting and vulnerable, all at once. When you hear “Which Is To Say, Everything”, it’s hard not to be emotionally swayed by Hunt’s talent for cresting genuinely soul-stirring ambient acoustic songs.
#10: It’s Hard To Have Hope (Svalbard)
Blackened hardcore delivered with lyrical passion and instrumental prowess.
#9: Time & Space (Turnstile)
Turnstile, making hardcore fun again.
#8: Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It (Rolo Tomassi)
Balancing The Dark.
#7: Chrome Neon Jesus (Teenage Wrist)
Vaguely shoegazey, riff-heavy 90’s alt-rock with dreamlike vocals. Chrome Neon Jesus is a brilliant romp with choruses that simply explode, like the one on “Black Flamingo”.
#6: From The Gallery Of Sleep (Night Verses)
The best instrumental record you’ll hear all year. Oh, and they’re a three-piece.
#5: Glow (Old Wounds)
There’s lots of diversity within a post-hardcore/metallic hardcore framework here on the new Old Wounds record, as vocalist Kevin Iavaroni really shines on diverse, left-field tracks like “Beauty Mark”. There’s no shortage of incendiary, metallic songs though – like the riff-heavy, Glassjaw-influenced “Stripes”, or “Failed Design”, which features Chris Motionless.
#4: Ancient Geometry (Vexes)
Earlier this year, we mentioned that “you tend to get the feeling that the band’s three sides – alt-metal, post-hardcore, and post-metal – are being crushed together to create something highly unique and engaging. And therein lies the exciting part – considering that on their debut album, Vexes seem to have aced their first test – there is still room for growth.”
And that’s a very accurate way to put just how good the debut record from Vexes is. With members of Fury Of Five and A Life Once Lost, there’s a certain musical pedigree already brought to the table, but not quite in the way you’d expect. Vexes bring together a multitude of metal and rock subgenres to create something truly engaging, whether it’s more aggressive numbers like opener “Helion”, or more expansive tracks like “Decisions Are Death Here”. One hell of a debut, especially for the alt-metal fans out there.
#3: Welcome To The Neighbourhood (Boston Manor)
Breaking away from an already-strong crop of pop-punk bands, Boston Manor improbably improve on their debut, with nods to alt-rock heroes like Deftones and Failure on “England’s Dreaming” and “Digital Ghost”. That’s not to say they’ve abandoned the strong pop-punk hooks of their previous work, though – “Tunnel Vision” does this pretty well. Still, it’s a darker and more mature affair that will win plenty of new fans over, simply because of how diverse it is.
#2: Errorzone (Vein)
Errorzone might be the underground metal/hardcore scene’s biggest success story of 2018. Combining nu-metal, industrial, and punishing hardcore influences into a violent concoction, Vein manages to stand out as a unique entity, pushing the boundaries of metal and hardcore as a whole. There’s even some hints at melody that never feel phoned-in, like on album highlight “Doomtech”. This is all that you were programmed to be afraid of.
#1: Arbiter (Hopesfall)
Arbiter is the logical progression after 11 years in between albums for Hopesfall. Right alongside other brilliant comeback albums from Failure, Faith No More, and My Bloody Valentine, Arbiter is the sound of Hopesfall showing everyone out to update their sound for 2018, in a timeless way. The galloping opening riffs of “H.A. Wallace Space Academy” are chillingly effective, and so too is when the song pushes forward into Jay Forrest’s iconic vocals. Even more interesting is that Hopesfall really throw back to their roots on “Bradley Fighting Vehicle”, taking the best parts of A Types and showing a distinct ability to still re-emerge as a genre torchbearer. Fucking “Tunguska”, man. It’s a classic track. Really, it’s like they never left. It’s both the best comeback album of 2018 – and a top choice for the best record, period.