The Kerrang! Staff’s Songs Of The Year (So Far)
Let’s be real – 2018 has been a stellar year for rock, metal, punk and all things in between. We’ve had a blast already and we’re only at the midpoint, with a bunch of big releases yet to come. Anyway, we’re nattering on unnecessarily already. You’re here to point, laugh and snigger at the songs deemed the year’s best so far by the esteemed Kerrang! gang, aren’t you? Ultimately we’re right though, so the joke is on you…
ALISTAIR LAWRENCE (WRITER)
THE LAWRENCE ARMS, CATALOG
Not a new song exactly, but new for 2018. This outtake from the Chicago trio found its way onto their recent best-of album and finds a way to remind us that The Lawrence Arms should be your new favourite (old) pop-punk band.
HANNAH EWENS (WRITER)
Why listen to one hardcore track when you can have five or six smashed into one?! Imagine this played live and know that it is utterly built to ruin us all (and this album slaps so hard, good god, it could be any track really).
SAM COARE (EDITOR)
The upcoming Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is majestic from start to finish, and lead single Honeycomb exemplifies the towering heights Deafheaven’s fourth full length scales.
ETHAN FIXELL (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.S.)
HOPESFALL, H.A. WALLACE SPACE ACADEMY
I might be a little biased here, because Hopesfall is one of my all-time favorite bands (The Satellite Years being one of my all-time favorite albums), but this first single from the post-hardcore band’s upcoming album, Aribiter (their first in 11 years) is everything a fan could have hoped for: plenty of Hum-like dynamics; sweet, swirling guitar parts and crunchy riffage; blends of aggressive screams and melodic croons. I’m especially psyched that the band is playing a sold out night at Saint Vitus this summer for Kerrang!’s first ever live series of U.S. shows.
DAVID MCLAUGHLIN (ASSOCIATE EDITOR)
THE XCERTS, DRIVE ME WILD
It’s impossible to narrow it down to merely one song off the shapeshifting, ever-revealing new Turnstile. The MØL record is an all-in-one skin-shedding affair. Every slice of Culture Abuse’s second is too delicious to choose favourites from. And once you remove your Power Gloves and Hypercolor T-shirt after listening to the Carpenter Brut offering, how do you unpack that? That’s before you factor in Weezer doing a banter cover of the internet’s favourite song (even though their other cover of that same band is better). But those are covers. So digital dad caps must be doffed to Drive Me Wild by a band called The Xcerts. You know the emoji that goes here.
SAM LAW (WRITER)
With the release of fantastic fourth LP Down Below (any reference to Creeper, we’re guessing, is largely unintentional…) back in January, Sweden’s rising blackened-gothic ghouls took another step towards the metal mainstream. Coming on like Ghost – or their forbears in Blue Öyster Cult – with a throat-ripping bloodthirst underpinning the faintly-psychedelic swagger, this is gleeful midnight music, combining the velvety caress of the vampire’s kiss and the bludgeon of the grave-robber’s axe.
GEORGE GARNER (WRITER)
A PERFECT CIRCLE, SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
When you wait 14 years for an album, there is always that part of you worried that – no matter how absurdly good it is – it will never actually be able to live up to your expectations. Let alone, y’know, best them. Enter: A Perfect Circle with Eat The Elephant. Not only did it dwarf said accumulated expectation, with So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish they delivered the best song of the year so far. It’s not just how boldly it pushes their sound, or the hypnotic nature of Maynard James Keenan’s spiralling melodies, it’s the way it makes the terrifying themes of our impending apocalypse sound so… goddamn elegant. If, indeed, we are all doomed to disintegrate in ‘mushroom cloud confetti’, this is a better soundtrack than we deserve.
OLLY THOMAS (WRITER)
ROLO TOMASSI, A FLOOD OF LIGHT
Rolo’s almighty Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It contains multitudes, so it’s no wonder the song which best sums up its staggering appeal is over eight minutes long. With Eva Spence in such attack/soothe mode that she’s almost duetting with herself, the band conjures an epic sprawl that’s as cinematic as anything they’ve done to date.
STEVE BEEBEE (WRITER)
JUDAS PRIEST, FIREPOWER
When a band that ought to be rocking only in chairs delivers one of the most thunderous maelstroms in their long history, you really have to just bow before the metal gods that they undoubtedly are. This - the opening cut and title track from their current album - is literally as good as anything they’ve done. Just like the Millennium Falcon, there’s a moment when the guitars seem to leap into hyperspace; it’s about the same time that your jaw hits the floor.
TOM BARNES (PHOTOGRAPHER)
AT THE GATES, TO DRINK FROM THE NIGHT ITSELF
I think the production is shocking but the track is great, this band are also one of the most unheard of yet influential bands – they simply do not get the recognition they deserve for birthing the metalcore genre back in the mid ’90s. But seriously, guys: get someone else to do the mix, sounds like it was done in a wasps nest. Fucking wasps.
MISCHA PEARLMAN (WRITER)
THE FEVER 333, MADE AN AMERICA
While plenty of heavy music is confrontational and tackles heavy issues, few songs sound as dangerous, radical and revolutionary as the title track from THE FEVER 333’s debut EP. The demise of letlive. was a travesty, but Jason Aalon Butler has come back with music and a message more vital than ever.
JAMES MACKINNON (WRITER)
HAGGARD CAT, BONE SHAKER
You can’t keep a good riffer down.While their pinballing guitarwork and rhythmic whiplash in Heck would guarantee mosh atrocities, Matthew Reynolds and Tom Marsh’s almost boneheaded primitivism here as Haggard Cat taps into something more primal, more gleeful, and downright nasty. Expect Bone Shaker to be causing tremors in festival mud pits and portaloos near you soon.
ROD YATES (WRITER)
FRANK TURNER, DON’T WORRY
One of the quieter songs on Frank’s latest album, but one of the most important and uplifting lyrical messages he’s ever delivered.
NICK RUSKELL (SENIOR EDITOR)
CARPENTER BRUT, BEWARE THE BEAST
Amid the synthwave mind-mash of mysterious French keyboard warrior Carpenter Brut’s Leather Teeth album, you can hear all sorts of things: full-on disco blasts, porno sax, over-stimulated rave. But in Beware The Beast, it’s nothing but a thrusting goth-rock stomp, featuring a dangerously ’80s guitar lick straight from an action movie VHS, and night-worshipping vocals from Grave Pleasures frontman Mat McNerny. A standout gem on the maddest release of 2018 so far.
KATIE PARSONS (CONTRIBUTING EDITOR)
PARKWAY DRIVE, WISHING WELLS
Brilliantly theatrical opener to banging new album Reverance – accompanied by a fearsome and stress-inducing video staring deep into the void of Winston’s enraged tonsils.
PAUL BRANNIGAN (WRITER)
GHOST, PRO MEMORIA
The stunning centrepiece of the finest album of 2018 to date, with Tobias Forge’s unique blend of black humour and radiant melody shining through on the most macabre singalong chorus ever: ‘Don’t you forget that you will die.’ Lovely.
JAKE RICHARDSON (WRITER)
COLD YEARS, SEASONS
The Aberdeen punk rockers have never sounded better than on this life affirming cut from March’s Northern Blue EP. Seasons nods to Springsteen, The Menzingers and The Gaslight Anthem, with the weathered charm of frontman Ross Gordon shining throughout. This is euphoric stuff.
JOHN LONGBOTTOM (WRITER)
THE HUMAN PROJECT, THAT ONE PERCENT
Shredding melodic punk riffs. Check. Massive harmonised vocals. Check. Unapologetic political message. Check check check. The Yorkshire fourpiece have been simmering on the underground scene of late but if this white-hot taste of their upcoming album, Clarion Call, is anything to go by you can expect them to boil over in Summer 2018.
ANDY FORD (PHOTOGRAPHER)
TWITCHING TONGUES, GAINING PURPOSE
We’ve all had those days, you’re gothing-out in your Sisters Of Mercy shirt, but you’ve got a fierce yearning to fire up the mosh, well Twitching Tongues have got you covered my friend. All the dark romance of Type O and Danzig turbo-charged with venue destroying riffs. Glorious stuff. Yet another band emerging out of the hardcore scene and happily spin-kicking genre boundaries in the face.
STEVE BEECH (ART EDITOR)
A great song after a shit / great day at work, but even better as an out on a Friday night tune with its bit of sass and ‘ah-ha’s.
JEN WALKER (CONTRIBUTING EDITOR)
PANIC! AT THE DISCO, HIGH HOPES
My favourite of Pray For The Wicked’s teaser tracks, High Hopes is three minutes of pure joy. The lyrics are filled with positivity, the trumpets add a certain perkiness, and that pre-chorus melody throws straight back to early Panic!. What more could you want?
PAUL TRAVERS (WRITER)
DIMMU BORGIR, INTERDIMENSIONAL SUMMIT
It wasn’t quite an eon, but after eight years in stasis, Dimmu Borgir returned more ridiculously, gloriously bombastic than ever. A high point of new album Eonian, Interdimensional Summit channels uber-goths the Sisters Of Mercy on a choir-heavy slab of mind-bending metal.
JAMES HINGLE (LISTINGS EDITOR)
GHOST, DANCE MACABRE
After the raucous black-death themed first single Rats, Ghost followed that up with a 1970s-dance-cum-industrial-rock anthem in the form of Dance Macabre. Scandinavian influences are worn on Tobias Forge’s sleeve for the world to see, as he unleashes his inner-ABBA. And of course they get the likes of Kirk Hammett, Chino Moreno, M. Shadows and Phil Anselmo to help launch the new track on Instagram. Dance Macabre is the living embodiment of what Ghost is all about – past, present and future.
NAT WOOD (PHOTOGRAPHER)
BIG CHEESE, TOWER TO THE SUN (DEMO)
Another absolute banger to add to their track record. Even though it’s a rough recording, you can’t deny how groovy it is.
TOM SHEPHERD (PRODUCTION EDITOR)
BLACK FOXXES, THE BIG WILD
A melange of idle guitar pop and sharp rock bits, this song perhaps best captures the dreamy, outdoorsy spirit that flows through Black Foxxes’ record Reidi. It also has a ‘woo’ that will surely not be bested for the remainder of the year.
STUART GARNEYS (DESIGNER)
THE FEVER 333, MADE IN AMERICA
I didn’t think these guys would be my bag at first, but this song and album is mustard!
DAN SLESSOR (WRITER)
Arguably the finest hardcore band Canada has birthed since the demise of Cursed, Baptists have never sounded more ruthless than on this d-beat-driven anti-anthem. Crusty, noisy, shot through with apoplectic rage and far catchier than it has any right to be, Outbreeding really is as cathartic as music gets in 2018.
JAMES HICKIE (WRITER)
A PERFECT CIRCLE, DELICIOUS
Delicious is one of the highlights of this year’s 5K-rated Eat The Elephant. And while it isn’t as reflective of the 14 years of musical evolution since APC’s last studio album as, say, So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish or Get The Lead Out, it’s nevertheless a reminder of the sound that made us fall in love with the Maynard James Keenan-fronted supergroup in the first place. It’s got everything: an epic chorus, a lush section with strings, and a heart-melting guitar solo. Feast your ears on it.
AMIT SHARMA (WRITER)
GHOST, DANCE MACABRE
A bit like the uplifting major melodies of ABBA invading the video set from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, this zombie love story is as feel-good as it is devilishly catchy. Following all the legal drama with ex-members, Ghost visionary Tobias Forge is out to prove he’s very much the beating heart of this one-man band. Mission accomplished.
PHIL ALEXANDER (GLOBAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR)
SLEEP, GIZA BUTLER
Any track whose lyric mentions the ‘day of the Iommic Pentacost’ has got to be winner. Clocking in at over 10 minutes, this also happens to be one of the standout tracks on Sleep’s first album in over 20 years.
EMILY CARTER (NEWS EDITOR)
THE LONGSHOT, KILL YOUR FRIENDS
The ‘it just sounds like Green Day’ brigade were out in full force when The Longshot surprise-released their ace debut album Love Is For Losers. And that’s fine – there’s a smidgen of truth there. But when Billie Joe Armstrong can write songs this brilliant in a year that he’s seemingly taken off from his ‘main’ band, why on earth would you knock it?
BOB FOSTER (DIGITAL EDITOR)
CULTURE ABUSE, BEE KIND TO THE BUGS
This is a song about being nice to everyone including yourself. It’s not beatdown hardcore with lyrics about killing snitches, but sometimes that’s okay. Can’t wait for the album.
SIMON YOUNG (WRITER)
TUSKY, YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS (PLEASE HOLD STILL)
This debut single from Dutch punks Tusky – featuring former members of John Coffey – is a supercharged song which bursts with the energy of early Foo Fighters and throws in a few bars of blackgaze rattle for good measure. Their album Rated Gnar is packed with similar delights.
MATT ALLEN (WRITER)
PARKWAY DRIVE, THE VOID
In a neighbour-terrorising track that frontman, Winston McCall describes as “Mastodon meets Metallica” Australian metalcore thrashers, Parkway Drive bolt bludgeoning riffs to jackhammer drums and corkscrewing guitar solos. Mosphit friendly: play loud.
MATT DYKZEUL (DEPUTY ART EDITOR)
CULTURE ABUSE, CALM E
The most summery of summer tunes. Can’t wait for the rest of this record.
If you’ve made it all the way down to here then well done you. What do you get? Well, you’ve won yourself the reward of listening to the whole lot in one go, thanks to the brand-spanking new playlist we’ve created out of all these songs. Make sure to follow us over on Spotify and hit us up on the usual social networking channels to let us know what you think.
Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie has been working on something heavy.
Alcest mainman Neige is the latest subject of Kerrang!’s 13 Questions