My best to you this Christmas and new year’s. Thanks for your ongoing support and interaction, you truly are world-class. My best to every one of you who took the time to be part of my life, offer encouragement, or generally just bust balls with me in 2018. I hope your 2019 is stellar.
~ Love, K
Top Albums of 2018
I had a lot of other pretty intense personal shit going on in 2018, so my radar for new releases wasn’t nearly as keen as it has been in years past. But there were some stellar new records in 2018, so here’s a list of the ones I paid the most attention to.
Sweden’s Night Viper consistently put out solid heavy metal, and Exterminator is another fine example.
9. Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue
It took me a lot of years, but I’ve come around on Anselmo. The guy wears his love of metal on his sleeve, and the new Illegals record is weaponized ugliness that goes for the throat.
44 years since their Rocka Rolla debut, nobody expected to Judas Priest to put out a record as invigorating as Firepower this far into their career. That they were not content to rest on their laurels has rightfully earned this record a lot of year-end top spots this year.
7. Northern Chaos Gods
Same for Immortal. The departure of Abbath appears to have given Demonaz and Horgh a shot in the arm, and Northern Chaos Gods is welcome proof.
This rips. Nothing further, your honor.
5. Trident Wolf Eclipse
Watain showed a promising return-to-form here. Lead-off track “Nuclear Alchemy” wages war by ripping your face of from the get-go and the rest of the album just wallows in the blood-soaked kill.
4. Cobra Speed Venom
Cobra Speed Venom is the rightful heir to Deathrace King and reminded me why I love this fucking band so much.
3. Spectre of Ruin
“Why just thrash when you can blackthrash?” ~Kyle Harcött (attributed), 2017
2. Aura Noire
Ugly blackthrash is pure balm to my old-dude ears, and nobody does it better then Aura Noir.
Viktoria is Marduk on fire. More concise than 2015’s Frontschwein, this new album is a no-prisoners, short, sharp bootfuck to the skull, and I played it pretty much non-stop in 2018. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like… Viktoria.”
- CRAFT – White Noise and Black Metal (Season Of Mist) – it’s Craft. Duh.
- NIGHTSEEKER – 3069: A Space Rock Sex Odyssey (Royal Mountain) – Deaner from FUBAR’s fictional band should have put out a dumb record on par with Sp?n?al Tap’s releases. Instead it’s a great heavy metal record. Who knew?
- RIOT V – Armor of Light (Nuclear Blast) – Mark Reale may be gone, but his legacy lives on in Riot V.
- USURPRESS – Interregnum (Agonia) – Who put prog in my Swedish Death Metal, goddammit?!
- WHIPSTRIKER – Merciless Artillery (Hells Headbangers) – “Only filth will prevail.”
EPs & Demos
- REVERSED – Widow Recluse
- TRENCHANT – Martial Chaos
- SMOULDER – The Sword Woman
- IRON CEMETERY – S/T EP
- KRASH – Life Is Chaos
Album Cover of the Year
Xenoblight – Procreation, art by Fendie Daywalker
Best Gig of 2018
It took me thirty years to do it, but I finally saw Danzig. I’ve been a fan since I was 13 years old (incidentally, the first Danzig record was released on my 13th birthday), and if hard pressed, I’d probably cop to Danzig being my favorite band of my youth – but, somehow, I’d never gotten around to seeing Glenn live. This year’s 30th-anniversary-of-the-first-Danzig-album tour seemed like the perfect time to break my cherry. And it was. I can now say, safely, that Danzig live is the best gig I have ever attended in my life (179, at last count). Danzig played every one of my favorites, and even pulled out some longtime favorites not played in many years for the night. Truly a magical evening.
Most Anticipated Album(s) of 2019
My 2018 in Metal
Them irons in the fire I talked about last year at this time, have blossomed into a band called HEXRIPPER. We started out playing Motörhead and Venom covers, as you do, but quickly we realized that the riffs our main riffmeister, Sox, had in his arsenal, were just too nuclear not to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. After months of deliberating with band members and band names – we ironed out the kinks and settled on Hexripper. And we dropped our first demo in September — you can hear it here.
We also very lovingly dropped our tribute to Lemmy in time for his 73rd birthday last Monday, and you can hear that one on our Bandcamp as well.
Thank you to everyone who listened, spread the word, provided us with feedback, reviewed the demo or gave an interview, and –holy shit!- added us to their year-end lists! – it is incredibly appreciated by all five of us. There’s loads more to come, and our first gigs are coming up in January, so we certainly hope to see you very soon.
(As an added superbonus to the Hexripper goings-on, it is absolutely incredible to be part of a band unit that includes the four talented, passionate dudes that are my bandmates – among them, my dear friend and fellow Hellbound scribe, Rob “Mule” Hughes. Mule is not only the perfect drummer for Hexripper, and a secret-weapon recording engineer getting killer, live-off-the-floor sounds out of me and the boys, he’s an even keel and steady rudder to the SS Hexrip. Long may he reign and run.
I would also be entirely remiss if I didn’t mention just exactly how fucking stellar it was to get a hang in with another dear friend and Hellbound scribe, the inimitable Justin M. Norton, who brought clan Norton up to Vancouver for a vacation this summer. Justin and I have become dear friends over the years, and to meet him in the flesh after daily text-counsel and shit-talk for ages, was a real treat. It was especially heartening to discuss at great length what a POS our fellow HBer Jay Gorania is.
I had many life-altering processes going on in my own life in 2018. Bought my first home, four towns over – and got used to three hours’ commute travel each day. Lost the weight of an average-sized-woman, and started new regimens of lifestyle habits to help me keep it off, and lose more. Had major surgery the week after moving, and my recovery from it was so easy, I found myself questioning if the doctor had actually done anything at all. As I write this, I feel great, I look great, and I’m getting better every goddamned day. Life is a gift. Strength is a gift. Health is a gift. It took me a long time to get to this place. I plan to stick around until they drag me the fuck out. Also, never underestimate the raw power of heavy metal to push you through an especially gruelling workout. Once again, I can lay claim to the fact that heavy metal has indeed, saved my life.
I didn’t have time to engage in the incessant buzztrend and henny-penny politics of “checking to see what Twitter says it’s still okay to like in heavy metal” that I see go on all the time. I had bigger fish to fry.
Meanwhile, heavy metal charges on like a tank division, and if you get caught beneath its treads, then you lose, creep.
Looking Forward To in 2019
Metal Person of the Year
This year, I happily nominate my fellow Hellbound scribe Gene A. Gaona, who has proven himself to be a tireless warrior for the metal cause day in and day out, and he’s become a damn good friend to me this year. Hails and horns to my brother Gene!