20 Best Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums Of 2018 (So Far)

1. Altars Of Grief – Iris

Iris is not the most progressive album on this list. Nor is it the most melodic. Nor is it the most energised. Nor is it the heaviest. But it soars to unparalleled success as an emotive work of art that elicits feelings from me that no other entry on this list could even come close to recreating.

Providing almost an hour of ethereal, blackened doom, Altars of Grief’s second full-length is the deeply sorrowful record that you listen to when the sun is imploding or the oceans are evaporating. It is the soundtrack to unfettered despair, hopelessness, regret and lamentation.

Iris is the best kind of album: one that challenges the listener to explore emotional avenues that they would otherwise be frightened to. It beckons you down dark hallways and – through its despondent melodies, choral vocalisations, agonised wails and atmospheric guitars – you are powerless to resist its call. The slow-burning “Isolation” envelopes with its curious yet haunting aura, just in time for “Desolation” and a mind-melting title track to barrage you with a cathartic display of raucous yet never uncontrolled rage.

Everything about Iris is masterfully done, from the compositions to the production to the lyricism. Nothing feels out of place: every note has its position and its purpose. And, more often than not, that purpose is to transport you to a hellishly blackened landscape of the most soothing sadness.

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