With 2018 winding down, it’s time for us at Folk N’ Metal to reflect on some of our favorite releases of the past year. Folk metal in particular seems to have had a great year, as did power metal. This was actually one of the more difficult list for us to put together, as it seems that there were a lot of really superb titles in nearly every sub genre.
Along with our winners in various categories, you will also find our top 20 list as well. With albums and EPs we feel belong in the upper tier of releases for 2018. You can listen to some selections of all the artist that appear on Folk N’ Metals list by visiting our “Best of 2018” Spotify playlist here
Looking for our Rock, Punk and Folk list? Check it out here.
Album of the Year: Ghost – Prequelle
Prequelle tops our list this year for the best release of 2018. The record has somewhat of a medieval / black plague theme that features fantastic songwriting with mind blowing instrumentation. From the synths to the unexpected saxophone solo that everyone loves to mention (which, unusual instruments in metal is one of the minimum requirements to satisfy our needs here) it’s also an all around amazingly produced album. Though the album hasn’t been as well received by some fans, as a few of the tracks have gone a bit on the lighter side. However, Ghosts haven’t strayed far from the path on this release. They still deliver that brutal intensity with a number of songs on the record without becoming overly homogenized.
Best Folk Metal Album: Cruachan – Nine Years of Blood
Folk metal had a pretty good year as we saw some monster releases, and a number of very impressive debut albums. However, when it came time to choose who is going to take the crown of our most anticipated category, it was unanimously agreed upon that it would be Cruachan with “Nine Years of Blood.” The album is inspired by bloody tales of Irish history, with its grim and dark edge, and has a perfect blend of folk elements to give it a timeless vibe. The storytelling, the flow, the songwriting, the instrumentation are all flawless. As we mentioned before, 2018 saw quite a few God tier releases for Folk Metal, and “Nine Years of Blood” was able to stand out.
Best Heavy Metal Album: Judas Priest – Firepower
“Yeah, but I like their old stuff better.” Isn’t exactly a cliché that you can use when talking about Judas Priest. No matter how nostalgic your feeling, or longing for the past, after 18 studio albums the band is still putting out some of their best work. Halfords vocals have not aged, and he sounds just as good as back in the day. What the band has managed to do with Firepoweris just simply amazing, even after decades, with after home run after home run, this might be our favorite album from the band to date. That’s pretty surreal to think about.
Best Progressive Album: Amorphis – Queen Of Time
Finnish metallers Amorphis had a beautiful release this year with their album “Queen of Time.” It’s just an all-around amazingly produced masterpiece with one great song after another. The band does an outstanding job of showcasing who they were, and who they are as artist. There’s also as many guest musicians as there are unique sounds and influences. It’s actually quite hard to sum up this record without going into a 5000 word review, due to the fact that it has so many amazing things going for it. But in short, it’s a flawless, and an absolute must pick up.
Best Power Metal Album: Powerwolf – The Sacrament Of Sin
There were many great power metal records this year, but the one we kept going back to over and over again was “The Sacrament Of Sin.” The latest studio release from the larger-than-life German power metal act is a slight evolution in the right direction with the bands already amazing sound. There’s a handful of tracks on this record we can see as being some new fan favorites, as it seems to have plenty of repeatable songs. We recommend picking up the media book version as it has another disc “Communio Lupatum,” that features many artists covering some classic Powerwolf Songs.
Best Symphonic Album: Leaves’ Eyes – Sign of the Dragonhead
There could not possibly be a more fitting choice for best symphonic album of 2018 for us than “Sign of the Dragonhead” with its folky influences. Vocalist Elina Siirala has done a fantastic job and is a great addition to the band’s lineup. Symphonic metal tends to have a bit of a rabid fan base, I say this is one of those rabid fans, as are many of our writers. Major changes by your favorite band can be nerve wracking,but in the end it’s the music that does the talking, and Elina has shown us that things are going to be just fine. This is certainly one you do not want to skip.
Best Solo Metal Album: Leah – The Quest
As we’ve said before, Leah is a one-of-a-kind artist . What she has been able to accomplish with a DIY approach, is both amazing and inspiring. For “The Quest,” she brought in some amazing guest musicians such as Troy Donockley, Barend Courbois, Sander Zoer, Chen Balbus, with mixing and mastering by Jacob hansen. It’s an awesome blend of folk, metal, progressive, and orchestral music,that would please a wide range of new listeners. Similar to our summary of “Queen of Time,” there’s so much going on on this album and Leah as a creator, it’s kind of overwhelming to describe in just one paragraph. So be sure to check out our in-depth review on the record.
Best Black (Celtic) Metal Album: Primordial – Exile Amongst The Ruins
Legendary Celtic / black metal act Primordial, had one of our most anticipated releases of the year with “Exile Amongst the Ruins.” With this album they have solidified their position among the top artists in the modern metal hierarchy, continuing their flawless album streak. One of the most notable things about this release, are the singles such as “To Hell or the Hangman.” Not many bands can pull off a seven minute song that you wish would not end.
Best Death Metal Album: Horrendous – Idol
Horrendous seems to be one of those bands that can nearly do it all. When it comes to good old-fashioned death metal, it’d be hard to find anyone that could do it better for us in 2018. It’s full of great riffs, some clean vocals, so many switches and blends, and just in general a number of high points.
Best EP: Epica – Epica Vs. Attack on Titan Songs
“Epica Vs. Attack On Titan” was originally released in Japan, and a bit later Nuclear Blast Records offered a worldwide release. What the band managed to do with turning original Japanese songs into that trademark Epica sound that we all know and love, was pretty amazing. It’s a four track EP that also includes instrumental versions. This was such a really awesome concept that it would’ve been great to have seen this is a full-length album. Though if all we can get are these little occasional fun little EP’s from the band, that will be more than welcomed.
Folk N’ Metals Top 20 Albums of 2018
Here is our list of 20 more albums that we felt were some of the best releases of 2018. We strongly recommend checking out them out. (Albums are listed in no particular order)