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Metal this week: end-of-year lists stimulate vociferous, wayward commentary

It needs to be asked: are end-of-year lists really all they're cracked up to be?

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As the final month of 2018 engulfs us, we are now knee-deep in perhaps the worst time of year – the end of year list season. I really do enjoy seeing what other people have enjoyed, but often loathe the comments from onlookers that somehow think they deserve a say in your list. “No Architects???” said some random kid 30 seconds after I posted a collage of the 25 albums I’ve listened to most this year to Instagram just the other day, prompting me to delete the comment and turn off said feature. That’s right mate, no Architects – nothing against the band and what they've been through – I quite enjoyed two of their singles in particular, but found Holy Hell as an album to be too emotionally draining and uncomfortably grief-obsessed. It’s quite possible that it will click one day, but it hasn’t yet, so that’s that for 2018. I’m honestly more interested and excited about where the band can go from here now that they’ve established a new creative platform, and gotten it all off their chests.
 
Anyway, looking back over all the columns I’ve written this year, it seems I’ve already punched out paragraphs about almost every heavy album that appeared in this above spoken collage of artworks – the latest albums from The Ocean, Parkway Drive, Cult Leader, Harm’s Way, Encircling Sea, Psycroptic, Zeal & Ardor, Judas Priest, Møl, Harakiri For The Sky, Deafheaven, Gost, Anaal Nathrakh and more have already been raved about amongst this weekly partition of words.
 
All except for Ghostemane and his new record N/O/I/S/E. A Floridian-born, LA-based ‘trap metal’ artist, my boy Ghoste is, according to Spotify, my favourite artist from 2018 and one that I spent over 20 hours with. Anyway, old mate grew up playing in no name hardcore punk and doom metal bands, before discovering hip hop and ditching the guitar and putting out his first record in 2014.
 
Every Ghostemane record sounds like an experiment, and I think that’s because they are – there is nothing else out there combining such a full spectrum of heavy metal, hardcore and hip hop into the one cauldron. The influences are at times obvious, but the end result is inarguably unique. After spitting out three to six releases a year for the last few years, he took a little more time with N/O/I/S/E, and it has resulted in the cliché of genuinely being his most cohesive and focused record yet. Leaning further into industrial and nu-metal influences, this album has moments of Nine Inch Nails and Slipknot crystallised within a shell of tormented emo and blackened hip hop reportedly influenced largely by OutKast and Three 6 Mafia. With each song feeling like its own concept while still flowing perfectly into the next, the overall picture is super concise, about as blunt as possible lyrically, and most importantly, hard as fuck. You’ve never seen and heard anyone with as many satanic tattoos and extreme metal shirts with a flow like this before, and I'm here for it like it were a never ending pitcher of refreshing sparkling water. I’m not going to say it’s the best album of 2018, but the stats don't lie – it's definitely the one I listened to the most.