Welcome to day three of my half-year round-up of the best music released during the first six months of 2018.

If you missed the previous parts of this mini-series, you can read them here:

The best of 2018 so far – Part 1
The best of 2018 so far – Part 2

However, essentially, this is a brief, chronological run-down of my favourite albums that were released between 1st January and 30th June 2018. The huge one-by-one countdown will return in the winter. And, to re-state, I still have a few albums that I have yet to review from the first half of the year for whatever reason. So, if you don’t see a particular record mentioned here, you may do by the time I complete my end-of-year top 30.

So, to continue the format, here are the next three albums that grabbed my attention earlier in 2018:

Auri - Auri - Artwork


Nuclear Blast
Score: 9.25


Despite my antipathy towards Nightwish these days, I felt compelled to check out Auri, the new band that features Tuomas Holopainen and Troy Donockley alongside vocalist Johanna Kurkela. It is a beautifully subtle, emotional and earthy album that has really impressed me.

“Auri may not have too much in common with my normal preferred musical choices, but I find myself really liking this record. It has charm in abundance and an inner strength that belies much of the more delicate material that emanates from the speakers with spectacular clarity thanks to a wonderful production. And even though there are nods towards Nightwish occasionally, Auri has created a strong identity all of its own that means you are guaranteed a unique listening experience if you give Auri a try – and I really recommend you do so. I didn’t expect to like this, but I have well and truly fallen for its numerous charms.”

Read the full review here.



Frontiers Records
Score: 9.9


I do love a spot of melodic hard rock and W.E.T are one of the very best that the genre has to offer. And, if there was ever any doubt about this, then ‘Earthrage’ snuffs it out once and for all. This is a sensational album, believe me.

“Do I want huge choruses? Do I want plenty of giant hooks? Do I want strong songwriting? Do I want impressive musicianship? Do I want to feel the passion of the musicians? Do I want power and for the music to rock? And finally, do I want the music to make me feel happy and alive?…

…they have an innate understanding of what makes a great song. One album could be considered a fluke, but without even considering their primary bands’ material, ‘Earthrage’ is the third record in a row to produce top drawer material. That’s not luck. That’s skill and plenty of it…

…I’m pretty sure, even at this relatively early stage, that it is W.E.T.’s best album to date and right now it is fighting hard to be my personal favourite melodic rock record ever. Time will ultimately tell on that score, but regardless, as I sit here now, ‘Earthrage’ is damn close to being a perfect record. I love this band!

Read the full review here.



‘The Offering’
AFM Records
Score: 9.5


You’d have to have been a hermit for the last few years to be oblivious about my love for Evergrey. And so, when a band comes along and does their very best to out-Evergrey my favourite band, I’m bound to take a listen. In the case of ‘The Offering’, I listened many, many times and loved what I heard each and every time. Full-blown power, heavy riffing and strong melodies combine to create a symphonic metal powerhouse of an album.

“I’d go so far as to say that the opening one-two of ‘The Fire Between Us’ and ‘Sign of No Return’ are two of the best prog/power tracks I’ve heard for some time…

…if you’re a fan of progressive power metal with melody and plenty of symphonic intent, then you need to add Borealis’ ‘The Offering’ to your collection immediately.”

Read the full review here.