Gene A. Gaona’s Top 10 of 2018

Every year, Hellbound writers submit their top albums of the year. They all get compiled into Hellbound’s Top Metal Albums of the year (coming soon).

It’s that time of year again… Here are the top 10 albums that I enjoyed the most and got by far the most plays in my rotation in 2018.

— Gene

Top Albums of 2018

Satan - Cruel Magic

10. Cruel Magic

  • Artist: Satan
  • Label: Metal Blade

This band that’s been around since the late 70’s released a really fun album in 2018. Metal meets Rock, heavy, great grooves and just plain good rockin’ music. I had honestly never heard the band before this year, but with this release I went back and listen to their older stuff and one thing was made real clear to me right away, their formula hasn’t changed much, and it doesn’t need to. Real fun band and I’m sorry I missed them when they came around this year.

Amon Amarth - The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm

9. The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm

  • Artist: Amon Amarth
  • Label: Metal Blade

Yes, a live album made my list. The Pursuit of Vikings album/DVD was recorded over the span of two shows in 2017 and released this November. It’s like an Amon Amarth greatest hits record on steroids. There is something about this band live that is simply amazing, the raw power and emotions these songs are played with is true rock star level status. Wonderful recordings with quality sound.

Mammoth Grinder - Cosmic Crypt

8. Cosmic Crypt

  • Artist: Mammoth Grinder
  • Label: Relapse

A Punk infused Death Metal album that is just fun. A different style all together, a killer combination of heavy and fast that leaves you wanting more. I play most of my music loud, but this is an album that sounds much better at higher volumes.

Revocation - The Outer Ones

7. The Outer Ones

  • Artist: Revocation
  • Label: Metal Blade

David Davidson and crew brought to the table another awesome technical Death Metal album in 2018, which is no surprise – they are always awesome. The Outer Ones is a beautiful piece of art that anyone who is inspired to play guitar should pick up and listen to.

Genocide Pact - Order of Torment

6. Order of Torment

  • Artist: Genocide Pact
  • Label: Relapse Records

These young men from the Washington DC area struck gold with me. Order of Torment at times is slow, heavy and just dreadful sounding Death Metal, and I mean that is the very best way possible. Dark and heavy is the best way I can explain the album. One aspect I really enjoyed about this album was that when you are comfortable and grooving it sneaks in with some well timed blast beats to make sure you’re still alive, and then back to the perfect heavy storm and grooves. Awesome album!

Exmortus - The Sound of Steel

5. The Sound of Steel

  • Artist: Exmortus
  • Label: Prosthetic

What can I say, Exmortus continues to grow and produce excellent Metal for our listening enjoyment. The band’s previous release Ride Forth was a solid album and at the time my favorite of theirs, until The Sound of Steel came out this year. The bar has been raised; the material is a perfect storm of Thrash riffs, incredible solos, thunderous bass lines, accompanied with fantastic drumming and growling vocals. The production on this album is also amazing and their best to date. Exmortus is a hungry young band from LA that have a super bright future ahead of them. I couldn’t be happier for these guys, all solid dudes that deserve nothing but the best.

Philip Anselmo & the Illegals - Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue

4. Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue

  • Artist: Philip Anselmo & the Illegals
  • Label: Season Of Mist

Now this one was a tough pill to swallow initially and I’ll explain why. Choosing Metal Illness as a Virtue is an abrasive, harsh and a bit of off putting at first play and left me thinking “what the Hell did I just listen to?” I literally sat in silence trying to figure out what this album was, I mean, I’m a HUGE Superjoint fan, and this seemed to be the furthest thing from. But here is the interesting thing: I continued to listen to the album and the more spins I gave it, I started to hear it, I mean really hear it. I found the grooves, the rhythms, the chunky parts in Metal that I look for. Then all of a sudden I realized how genius of an album this was; all it took was time to let it resonate, to absorb if you will. This was the most unique album I had the pleasure of listening to as well as seeing live many times in 2018. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if given a chance I can almost assure you that you will find many things you do enjoy about the album. It took me a while, but I’m glad I stuck with it, such a great album.

Create a Kill - Summoned to Rise

3. Summoned to Rise

  • Artist: Create a Kill
  • Label: Repulsive Echo

Gus Rios (also of Gruesome) and friends have by far put out the best true Thrash album of 2018. Summoned to Rise is a brutal ride of pure brutal Thrash greatness, the way the masters before them (like Slayer) intended it to be. The way I have explained it to people is just to think of Reign in Blood, because that’s exactly what it reminded me of. No bullshit happy, poppy, good time Thrash from Create A Kill. This is in your face, grab you by your throat and fuck you up Thrash Metal, the way the genre was meant to sound. Truly an exciting album that any Metal fan should own.

Soulfly - Ritual

2. Ritual

  • Artist: Soulfly
  • Label: Nuclear Blast

Max Cavalera and company have officially put out the best Soulfly to date in my humble opinion. I realize how big of a statement that is – I have been a fan of Max’s the vast majority of my life and this is some of his most impressive work since the early years of Sepultura. Ritual is full of catchy, Thrashy riffs infused with the familiar tribal sounds. It also caught me off guard a few times because there is a not so hidden Punk feel to some of the songs. Not very often I hear an album and upon first listen I am hooked, but Ritual was that special.

Gruesome - Twisted Prayers

1. Twisted Prayers

  • Artist: Gruesome
  • Label: Relapse

What started out as a group of talented musicians paying homage to the band Death has taken on a life of its own. Gruesome’s Twisted Prayers in my opinion is absolutely perfect in every way. The riffs, the sound, even the artwork is unbelievably awesome; listening to this album made me feel like a kid again. It took me back to the late 80’s when Death Metal didn’t need to be played at 1000 mph. My personal favorite Death album happens to be Spiritual Healing and Twisted Prayers is in the exact same vein with its original material. I knew when I first got Twisted Prayers and gave it a listen there wasn’t going to be another album released in 2018 that would beat it as my favorite, and I was right. Gruesome fucking rules!


Gene A. Gaona enjoys writing album reviews and conducting artist interviews for and Capital Chaos TV as well as taking in as many live metal shows as possible. He firmly believes there is nothing better in this world than his family, and great heavy metal.