Day two of my half-year round-up of the best music released during the first six months of 2018. I still can’t believe that we have reached this stage of the year. But then again, when I look back at all 62 reviews that I have completed so far, I begin to realise just why the year has flown past. This is definitely the busiest and most productive year in my blog’s history and I thank each and every one of you for giving me the impetus to continue.

If you missed the first part of this mini-series, you can read it here:

The best of 2018 so far – Part 1

To continue the format, here are the next three albums, in chronological order, that grabbed my attention earlier in 2018:



Armored Dawn:
‘Barbarians In Black’
AFM Records
Score: 9.25


If I’m honest, I never expected to see this record in any ‘best of’ list, but here it is. This is partly because I’d never heard of Brazilian sextet Armored Dawn before. However, this album, with its blend of power metal, classic metal, melodeath and hard rock is just so damn infectious, it is worthy of the plaudits.

“‘Barbarians In Black’, their first on the books of a record label, is going to turn a few heads, ruffle a few feathers and announce a new name on the heavy metal scene…

…Barbarians In Black’ may not be the most sophisticated, the most complex, or the most original album you will hear in 2018. However, I guarantee that it will be one of the most fun, enjoyable and downright addictive heavy metal listening experiences of the year.”

Check out the full review here.

Conjurer Mire 1440x1440


Holy Roar Records
Score: 9.5


This is another band that I was new to and never considered might be within this list at the half-way mark of 2018. And that’s because I’m not normally a fan of music loosely described as sludgy post-metal. But the dirty, rotten and surprisingly sublime sounds on this incredibly mature debut album simply couldn’t be ignored. This is powerful music in just about every sense of the word, the perfect tonic to a bout of flu I was suffering at the beginning of February.

“The first thing that struck me out of the gate when listening to ‘Mire’ for the first time was the riffs…

…Not only have Conjurer delivered a crushingly excellent album, they have made me think long and hard about whether I actually do like this kind of metal more than I thought. In short, they have reinvigorated my desire to explore this genre a lot more. And all this from a young quartet, clearly older and more mature than their years suggest…”

Check out the full review here.

OoS cover


Oceans of Slumber
‘The Banished Heart’
Century Media Records
Score: 9.5


Somewhat inexplicably, Oceans of Slumber seem to have a love/hate relationship with metal fans. I really don’t know why, but some people really don’t like them. Fortunately however, I love them. And that love has blossomed as a result of the amazing ‘The Banished Heart’. Darker, heavier and more emotional than its predecessor, it is a captivating record that I still frequently listen to when I want to be moved and challenged by the music that I am listening to.

“‘The Banished Heart’ is another big step up for the band. The songs are smoother, more mature and simply stronger all round. The same goes for the individual performances too…

… I could reference a hundred bands in an attempt to describe the music on ‘The Banished Heart’, everyone from My Dying Bride, to Paradise Lost, to Opeth, to Enslaved, to Katatonia. However, it would simply be easier to say that Oceans of Slumber sound like Oceans of Slumber.”

Check out the full review here.


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