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2018 releases in review: Marika Zorzi’s picks

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Music journalist and writer Marika Zorzi (Relapse Records, CVLT Nation, New Noise Magazine, …) is in a celebratory mood. After a highly successful year of great write-ups, festival reports, traveling in pursuit of her passion and self-development, she was kind enough to compile her ‘best releases of 2018’ list for us. Therefore, our End Of The Year special continues with a diverse and utterly compelling set of records that you should definitely put on your radar. Dive into the countdown and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The year 2018 was a great one for metal music and more. I listened to tons of albums over the last 12 months, but what I was looking for was cross-pollination between genres, musical experimentation, something innovative or that would push me beyond the musical boundaries I previously had. I like when music is a challenge and when it is tough to define. Every album in this list has a history behind it that makes it special for me and singular enough to be added to my favorites of 2018. – Marika

16. EAGLE TWIN– The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)
Southern Lord Recording

I saw them for the first time at Desertfest Antwerp. Tyler Smith is one of the best drummers I’ve seen live. While the album is well produced, it is missing something, but I can’t not list it for 2018. The vinyl was a gift that means friendship to me. When I hear Eagle Twin, I think of all the fantastic people I met this year.

15. STORM{O} – Ere
Moment of Collapse Records

I have deep respect for Storm{o}. Born in the mountains that are my home, these guys have big hearts, lots of passion, and play with a nearly surgical precision. What I like about Ere is that it is written and sung in Italian, my native language. To be direct and express the anger we harbor, sometimes we need to use our most natural tools. Ere is a great album, and Storm{o} are a great band./blockquote>

14. CHRCH – Light Will Consume Us All
Neurot Recording

I met these guys in London this year. Chrch was another thing that pushed me to go to Desertfest UK. A sensational debut for Neurot Recordings. A heavy sound and the magical voice of Eva make Light Will Consume Us All a record that belongs in the collection of everyone who loves heavy metal.

13. INSECT ARK – Marrow Hymns
Profound Lore

A film, a voyage, an experience in a gloomy atmosphere and avant-garde sounds. This record reminds me of the snow that fell in February and an afternoon spent listening as this duo brought me to faraway places.

12. MISERABLELoverboy / Dog Days
Sacred Bones Records

Sometimes you need someone who sings for you. Who can say what you can’t, using music. Kristina Esfandiari did that with this album. I really like the introspective approaches in this world when feelings can get pushed aside, when it isn’t cool to show your weaknesses. At times, though, we may find ourselves feeling sad, wretched, wanting to be alone or to share our time only with those who understand us. This album is my comfort zone and it makes me feel understood. My non-metal album for 2018.

11. GOUGE AWAY – Burnt Sugar
Deathwish Inc.

I grew up with hardcore punk. I have always embraced that aptitude for saying what’s not okay and supporting the right causes. What I like about this album is the simplicity with which Gouge Away talk about the present day and things like depression and mental illness using the typical punk register. Speed and lyrics as direct as a blade. I still haven’t seen one of their concerts, and I hope to fix that in 2019.

10. RANDALL DUNN – Beloved
Figureight Records

I like when a record pushes me. I like when a musical style is hard to define. Beloved takes me to dark places and brings me back to the light. In this scenario, synthesizers create atmospheres of a post-apocalyptic era when living can be very painful. Randall Dunn (producer of Sunn O)), Earth etc.)  did something very beautiful.

9. WINDHAND – Eternal Return
Relapse Records

I am completely in love with Dorthia Cottrell’s voice. I had the pleasure of speaking with her on the phone last spring, and I discovered a delightful person. Eternal Return may be Windhand’s album with the grunge influence. This Virginia group is staying loyal to its sound and is throwing another doom bomb.

8. ABSTRACTER – Cinereous Incarnate
Sentient Ruin

Cinereous Incarnate by Oakland’s dark doom destroyers Abstracter simply struck me. I was driving in the mountains the first time that I listened to it and I stopped the car and I instantly brought it. I really respect the work of Mattia Alagna and his Sentient Ruin. Finding and supporting new bands it’s not easy. Take a look at this awesome label.

7. MESSA – Feast for Water
Aural Music

I have a special relationship with this album and this group. We grew up in the same places and have known each other for a long time. Messa gives me a reason to be proud when I talk about current Italian music. I watched them get started and mature until becoming the band that would play at Desertfest, Roadburn, and Hellfest this year. Feast for Water is a gem, a musical blend that brings together doom, jazz, and black metal, where you hear the musical influences of Marco, Sara, Alberto and Rocco. When I listen to this record, I feel at home.

6. YOB – Our Raw Heart
Relapse Records

This album is titanic. These three people manage to create a power with sound and composition that makes this album a massive work. One of the best live bands at Desertfest Antwerp. End of discussion.

5. MIZMOR – This Unabating Wakefulness
Gilead Media

Not really an album, because it is a single song that lasts about 15 minutes, but I don’t care. Mizmor is an easy project for me. It’s a certainty, like peanut butter or French fries. I am sure I’ll like every live show or album they do. It was this way for This Unabating Wakefulness, too. I adore the lack of hope and the total desperation that Mizmor convey. Such profundity of content and instrumental bravura is hard to find. Mizmor’s live performance was one of the reasons why I went to Roadburn this year. I absolutely had to see them live. Devastating.

4. SUMAC – Love in Shadow 
Thrill Jockey

I saw Sumac for the first time in July at Primavera Sound in Barcelona. It was a memorable show. The guys were touring Europe before returning to the United States to write what would become Love in Shadow. Hearing a preview of it was dazzling. I was also lucky enough to speak with Sumac guitarist and vocalist Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer, ISIS), the singer who got me to notice subtleties that would otherwise be impossible to grasp. Love in Shadow is a solid and powerful achievement. Yet while popular music puts an emphasis on conveying moods through well-trodden tropes, cultural signifiers, and deeply ingrained associations between tempo, texture, melody, and their respective emotional resonances, Sumac approach their music with the tactile immediacy of abstract expressionists. The beauty is not in the content, but in the form.

3. DAUGHTERS – You Won’t Get What You Want
Ipecac Recordings

I like things that disturb me, that make me a bit uneasy. I am still listening to this album by Daughters on a loop. You Won’t Get What You Want has stark irreverence and violence. I heard it for the first time in September before going out. I was in Barcelona and I remember it well because it was like a thunderbolt. Sometimes certain songs get under my skin until I feel cold. It was 104 degrees and I had goosebumps.

2. THOU –Magus
Sacred Bones Records

When I think of Thou I think of the 2018 Roadburn. Totally disconcerting. I fell in love with this band as soon as I heard You, Whom I Have Always Hated, which happens to feature a collaboration with The Body. Magus, however, are something else altogether; they are desperation, frustration, and a real sound test. Each piece last about 10 minutes and challenges the listener to follow it to the end. What I like about this sludge/doom band is that they don’t try to pander to anybody. No frills, no compromises. The Changeling Princeis my favorite piece this year, so wrenching it makes me ill. Spotify tells me I listened to it 160 times. There’s a reason for that.

1. THE BODY  – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer 
Thrill Jockey

Absolutely no one makes music like The Body. With each release, the duo of Lee Buford and Chip King continues to defy the constraints of what it means to be a “heavy” band. I am a big fan of this duo’s approach, which continues to surprise me. For The Body, any source of inspiration is fair game to achieve their distinct atmosphere of unbearable dread, pain, and sadness. This album is an exasperating journey in somber tones where the voice of Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota) makes everything even more dramatic. I listened to it during the saddest times of this year, when everything felt dark with hardly a glimmer of light. I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer proves how truly adventurous and diverse a creative force The Body has become. This is my album of the year.

Marika Z.

Journalist • Writer • Addicted to pop corn • Animals are better than humans • Nature is the most powerful thing • Music is my safe place • Italy

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