Best of 2018: Non-worst in metal

The closing moments of Migration Fest 2018

Every year right about this time, we rattle off the worst shit that happened in metal throughout the year. There’s always stuff that chews on our asses and makes us furious that we even put up with that shit. But you know what? We’re changing that this year. Let’s talk about the non-worst moments of metal this year, because there were tons of them.

Just so we get this out of the way, it still sucks we have to deal with racism and sexism in metal, and fuck the fuck out of NSBM. If you’re in the league of people who are like, “Hey, it’s metal, it’s supposed to be dark!” you can go fuck yourself, too. You think this site will shut down without you? No. It won’t. Fuck you, and fuck NSBM. It’s cowardly music made by cowards FOR cowards. If that’s you, then enjoy your cowardice, you loser.

OK, so instead of giving losers more air time, let’s instead go over some of the stuff that made metal an amazing place to be in 2018. I know some people hate when we say this, but I can’t remember a year when it felt like metal was more of a positive community with great bands coming together, their followers checking out their shows and making friendships, and the creativity reaching an all-time high. Fuck you if you don’t like that. So, let’s talk about some cool shit.

MIKE SCHIEDT IS ALIVE, AND YOB STILL RULE:  Mike Scheidt almost died. He survived diverticulitis, a massive infection, and a ton of shit that would dominate most people. But he still stands. YOB still stand. This year, they released “Our Raw Heart,” an incredible comeback record that is overflowing with love and positivity. You think death is going to darken Mike Scheidt?! Think again. Even the biggest jerks among us all can’t possibly put on this album and not smile from temple to temple. Oh, and if you doubt me, see them live. Try to defy their energy. You can’t. This band is one of the most amazing in metal and always has been, and the fact that their emotional/creative center point still lives and is making music that matters as much as anyone’s is a triumph and a reason to realize sometimes the universe is kind.

I MISS ALL MY MIGRATION FEST FRIENDS: I spent four days this summer with people I have known and loved for a long time and people I only knew online and finally got to see in person. Oh, and there were four incredible days of music. I can’t explain how important these three days were to me. I’ve never had a lot of friends. I am socially anxious. But when this amazing fest closed down, and I was heavily emotional during Panopticon’s amazing, fest-closing performance, I realized I had experienced a time that was one of the most important to me as a human. I hope Adam and Dave know this, not because I’m important. But because they were able to give this experience to people. Some of this contains inside references, but I will always treasure sneaking beers into Smalls; seeing Thou; meeting a slew of folks I knew online who have become very important friends to me; seeing FALSE; finally seeing Spirit Adrift live, which was a total rush; Dark Man Duck; experiencing Deadbird; the series of We Are 138 photos; Couch Slut’s blunt, aggressive set; spending like $400 on merch; the Uber ride home with Nate and Matt from Immortal Bird who thought I played a great trick on them; hugging a million people; the late afternoon at Strange Roots; the opening set with Cloud Rat; and goddamn, so much more. Can’t wait to do this again in two years.

WE ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF CROM: Descendants of Crom is a wholly Pittsburgh festival, and reasonably so. The first two installments have been comprised some of the best times I’ve had as a person, and this year’s (it grew to two days) just compounded that. Heavy Temple, a band I love, just outright ruled. Like, few bands who played our fine town this year could top them. They were otherworldly. But it wasn’t just them! Doctor Smoke ruled. The Long Hunt dominated. Horehound crushed again. Come to Grief were masters. And that was just day 1! I couldn’t go to day 2 because of a family wedding, but everyone I know and trust said it was a tremendous day, and I don’t doubt it at all. I also spent a lot of money, which is the sign of a killer fest, which this is. It’s such a fun time, the show just blows by, and I got to see a lot of bands that weren’t really on my radar before but are now. There’s another one in 2019. Go. You’ll feel insanely at home and will love it. Thanks, Shy Kennedy for an amazing weekend. Can’t wait for the third installment!

CLASSIC METAL BANDS STILL MATTER: I always laugh when people crush Ghost, like they took metal to some new, filthy world. Metal USED to be a show, and it wasn’t until recently when that changed. But classic metal never died, and this year is a gigantic reason why. So many classic metal bands dug in and put out amazing records including Voivod, Judas Priest, Deceased, Sleep, and At the Gates. While it’s great that the underground is so powerful and we have so many styles of metal and amazing bands playing the music, we always need the ones who started it all, and to have them putting out vital, strong music is priceless. It’s been a great year for bands that seen and done it all, and we need to enjoy them while they’re still in our grasps.

CHAOS WILL NOT DESTROY THE STRONG: If we’ve learned anything about metal, it’s that things never stay peaceful for very long. Bands break up, members leave, problems arise, and that puts the artists to the test to determine if their future will bear fruit. This year, we saw many musicians and bands return to the scene after surviving turmoil. The band Ails debuted, rising from the ashes of Ludicra’s dissolution several years ago, debuting with their excellent first record; Witch Mountain made a switch at singer a few years back when Uta Plotkin decided to move on, but they brought in powerhouse vocalist Kayla Dixon and put out a tremendous self-titled fifth album; Skeletonwitch probably should have imploded following the removal of former singer Chance Garnette after his arrest, but they carried on, brought in singer Adam Clemans, and released easily their best album ever in “Devouring Radiant Light”; and Khorada’s members rose from the ashes of unnecessarily torched Agalloch and put-on-hold Giant Squid to form an animal unlike their previous bands and a fascinating, sweltering debut record “Salt.” No one decides these bands’ futures but the artists themselves, and all of them put out great music this year.vc