The painful and inescapable truth that I’ve known ever since I submitted Converge’s “I Can Tell You About Pain/Eve” as 2017’s Song of the Year was that last year was devoid of great singles. Sure, Converge dropped a great song(s), but the list fizzled out pretty quickly after that, and the winner couldn’t hold a candle to Nails (“You Will Never be one of Us”) and Ghost (“Square Hammer”) from 2016 or Cattle Decapitation (“Manufactured Extinct”) from 2015.
2018? Off to a great start, with fantastic singles already released from The Atlas Moth, Judas Priest, Helion, Primordial, TesseracT, Harakiri for the Sky, and many, many others. And that was before the last month, which saw more singles dropping than Amateur Night at the Gentleman’s Club. Here’s a quick rundown of the best of the best from the last few weeks:
Ghost – “Rats”
I honestly don’t care anymore. Go ahead and judge me all you want. I fucking love Ghost. Tobias Forge and his ever-evolving band of ghouls can do absolutely no wrong in my book despite their horrible reputation against smug elitists who don’t think they’re metal enough. “Rats” may not be quite as catchy as “Square Hammer” (although I’m not sure any metal song is), but this song will embed itself in your brain and make itself nice and comfy in no time flat. Bonus points awarded for the fantastic choreography in the video, but bonus points subtracted for the limited movement in Forge’s face while wearing the name makeup for his new persona, Cardinal Copia.
Khemmis – “Isolation”
Khemmis took the metal world by storm in 2016 with their phenomenal album Hunted, which wound up at or near the top of any Top 10 list worth a damn. “Isolation” has a bit more upbeat vibe than anything on Hunted, but it still falls squarely in line with Khemmis unique and enthralling brand of doom. Full of soaring sludgy riffs and unparalleled vocals, “Isolation” gives me hope that Khemmis has more than one all-time album in them.
The Night Flight Orchestra – “This Time”
The greatest 70’s prog-rock band that just so happens to exist in the 2010’s, The Night Flight Orchestra are back to bring more classic rock tunes with a metal twist on Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough, the follow-up to 2017’s Amber Galactic. Featuring Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid on vocals & Arch Enemy bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, TNFO are a magical blend of YES-style progressive rock with a modern heavy metal attitude. “This Time” may have the catchiest hook this band’s written yet, and that’s saying something considering the incredible awesomeness of Amber Galactic.
Deafheaven – “Honeycomb”
America’s favorite (or least favorite, if you’re the majority of the metal community) hipster metal band, Deafheaven deliver their signature blend of post-rock, shoegaze and black metal on “Honeycomb”, but with just a touch of melody and, dare I say, happiness? Over 11 expansive minutes, Deafheaven deliver one of their most focused tracks to date while still incorporating some elements I’ve never heard from them before.
Pallbearer – “Dropout”
Pallbearer are the only band on this list that doesn’t looked primed to be releasing a new album this year. Which is fine, because there is still enough residual awesomeness from Heartless last year that I’ll easily be able to get my Southern-made melo-doom fix from their newest single “Dropout”. Released as part of the Adult Swing Singles series, “Dropout” personifies what Pallbearer does best, with a couple of huge scoops of doom and sludge topped off with one of the most soulful and beautiful voices in doom, if not all of metal.
Bleeding Through – “Set Me Free”
Last I heard from these guys was back when I caught them opening for Slayer and Marilyn Manson on tour back in 2007. I was definitely a fan of “Kill to Believe”, and “Love Lost in a Hale of Gunfire” was pretty cool too, but they fell off my radar after that show (they released a couple of albums afterwards before calling it quits in 2014). But they’re back together for a brand new release, and if “Set Me Free” is any indication, it’ll be full of their patented metalcore sound with a hint of black metal sprinkled in. This song sounds right out of 2004, but it surprisingly plays well in today’s metal climate.