The Ramblin’ Man team chose their favourite albums 0f 2018 and they are listed below!
For a bit of Ramblin’ fun you can vote too here
Judas Priest – Firepower
Arguably their best but certainly their most consistent album since 1990’s seminal Painkiller, the Priest are back and still screaming for vengeance at the end of their fourth decade! Emotionally intelligent changes to the live line up are not the only success of this new era as the the signature solos and muscular riffs remain as intense as ever while Halford’s searing vocals cut through steel. Weaponized metal indeed.
Monster Magnet – Mindf*cker
Owing as much to MC5 as it does Hawkwind this 2018 version of the Magnet’s psych rock template pulls heavily from a grittier, garage sound and marks a welcome return to the swaggering, cock sure attitude of their golden era. Kick back, turn up the volume and plug into the Milky Way as these space pirates put on a tour de force of riffing goodness. “You’re a mindf*cker, baybee….”
FM – Atomic Generation
When you’ve found what works, why change it when the challenge is surely to perfect it? And whichever way you look at it FM are damned close to perfecting their sound on Atomic Generation. Maybe its about time that the rest of the world woke up to this all too often unrecognised jewel in the British rock crown. As good as any of the latter day and much heralded Foreigner records and no mistake.
Myles Kennedy – Year of The Tiger
Several years in the making but no less compelling for it, Year of The Tiger, marks the solo debut for MK. Anyone who witnessed Myles’ stunning solo show at RMF this year will know just how pure a sound that the voice of Alter Bridge can call upon. A stripped down soul laid bare for all to see. An intimate classic.
LizZard – Shift
An album for those who love their prog from the darker and often heavier side of the moon. Tense, twisting, Tool-esque psychodramas are the calling cards of this compelling fourth album from these intense Frenchmen. As an album, ‘Shift’ channels the finer points of Queensryche (vocals), Dream Theater (arrangements) and Opeth (sheer vision). It would appear that the mighty Gojira have some decent competition in their homeland.
A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant
Madder than a bag of cartwheeling badgers they may be but you cannot deny that messers Keenan and Howerdel know how to construct an album of sheer aural delight. Shedding much of the darker metal leanings of their early albums for a lighter, more melancholic fragility, Eat The Elephant captures a songwriting partnership in full ascendency. The apogee of their relationship and a progressive classic.
Robert Jon & The Wreck – Robert Jon & The Wreck
As southern as bottle of rye whiskey and grits, Robert Jon and the wreck are the real thing. Their fourth album it may be but one listen will explain why its their first self -titled. Combining the swinging big band sound of the classic southern bands with an instinctive nous for great songwriting (and killer slide guitar!) the Wreck will open your ears to another world of sunshine, blue skies and whiskey stills.
Slash – Living The Dream
And the world’s most iconic guitarist keeps the quality rolling into a fourth collection of fist-pumping belters. If you can’t get your ideas heard via GnR world you might as well call upon Myles Kennedy and your other band to nail the tunes slamming around your brain. Perhaps the best since the 2012 solo album, Living the Dream simply bounces along to good times whilst letting the maestro weave his guitar magic throughout it all.
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Just don’t call it a supergroup, right? One of the obvious battles any band of such individual extreme talent will face is creating a working balance between the skills of the individual and the need for a compelling and decent song, but add in a love of modern jazz and surely you’re just asking for a free form disaster, right? And then you deliberately create an album where you cannot forsee how it can be played live, then surely it’ll be unlistenable pretension, right? Wrong, wrong and indeed, thrice wrong. A masterwork of creativity awaits the brave….
Fish – A Parley With Angels
The big scotsman set himself a hell of a task in trying to surpass A Feast of Consequences. So maybe it was an astute move on his behalf to not even attempt to match the spiralling war epic of the the High Wood suite and to concentrate here on delivering a warmer, often simpler and decidedly more upbeat album. Not that Fish steers away from a good epic you understand, out of Parley’s seven cuts there are still two 10+min workouts, replete with the fabulous musical counterpoints, wistful insights and resonating with a sense of commitment and desire. Yeah, you really get the feeling that the great man definitely means it as he heads into the last chapters of his career.
Stone Broken – Ain’t Always Easy
The best new rock band in Britain? You won’t find RMF arguing much with that weighty monicker. As debuts go, Ain’t Always Easy is a solid marker in the sand. If the album had been released under the name ’Shinedown’ no one would have batted an eyelid as it was proclaimed one of the best of the year. You can put ‘Let Me See It All’ up against the best of them this year. Let some Stone Broken into your life.
Graveyard – Peace
Mad Swedes hooked on retro rocking sounds of the early 70s, what’s not to like? Weaned on a diet of classic Deep Purple and Hawkwind, Hammer Horror and Jodorowsky’s psychedelic westerns Graveyard deliver a pot shrouded, bottom heavy groove like no other. Pull on the double denim and let the bell bottoms fly!
Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions
Clutch are still delivering the goods album after album since the nineties and Book Of Bad Decisions carries on in the classic Clutch tradition! With plenty of hooks, groove and riffs and even a touch of brass and country twang for good measure, Clutch never fail to please and Book Of Bad Decisions is very pleasing indeed! It has everything you would expect and more from the Maryland rockers!
Ghost – Prequelle
Ghost are band rather like marmite you either like them or hate them and this album most definitely falls in the like! An album harking back to an era of eighties stadium rock with fist pumping anthems and blistering guitar solos and singalong choruses Ghost are still proving critics wrong and there’s so much more to their armoury than just stage costumes and theatrics!
Black Label Society – Grimmest Hits
An absolute titan of a record from the titan of guitar Zakk Wylde! It’s what would you expect and more from the guitarist hand picked by Ozzy and who has become a riff maestro and more in his own right and an influence on many a guitar player today!. It’s a heavy record, a really heavy record with licks that delve into the Page and Iommi songbook. . There are touches of southern rock here but also that so recognisable Wylde sound. A brutally heavy album!
Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree
We gave them their first ever festival headline slot in 2016 and never a nicer band you will ever meet. The southern rockers new album, the much anticipated ‘Family Tree’ is a full on southern blues rock record that any Cherry’s fan will take straight to their heart. Their own unique blend of southern rock shines through from track to track with a recording process based on spontaneity and intimate studio sessions and writing contributions from each member and a guest sllot from Gov’t Mule Warren Haynes.Tthey keep it in the ‘family’ and the Kentucky rockers keep that train a rockin’ and rollin’.
Blackberry Smoke – Find A Light
They could of easily have kept to the format that every Smoke fan would expect but with ‘Find A Light’ they threw the Blackberry Smoke tried and trusted formula to the wall and rolled the dice and returned with an album that takes them to the next level! A 13 tracker with songs ranging from laid bare acoustic to standard southern rock anthems, to alt country alternatives with fiddle, piano and organ but still with that oh so recognisable Blackberry Smoke sound. They have raised their own bar and they will only continue to do so.
Magpie Salute – High Water & I
An album steeped in classic 70’s rock traditions and southern rock leanings the younger of the Robinson brothers sheds the feathers of the Black Crowes and kicks it into touch with this beaut of an album with his band the Magpie Salute! In places it eclipses his past and shows a healthy balance of stadium rock mixed with hints of Dylan and Crazy Horse with a tip of the hat to his beginnings as you would expect.
Kris Barras – The Divine & The Dirty
A Ramblin’ Man favourite and one of the most electrifying guitar players of the new Blues generation! His debut album delivers all the aces and even topped the amazon and itunes Blues charts! An album of full on incendiary laden guitar riffs and right down and bare to the bone grit, the Divine 7 The Dirty fully encapsulates the Barras live experience. If this debut is anything to go by Kris Barras has a bright and healthy future and will bring the Blues storming into the 21st Century and beyond.
Dewolff – Thrust
This dutch neo psychedelic southern rock trio deliver their 6th album ‘Thrust’ which for a band still in their twenties is more than impressive! An explosive and enduring rock album full of imagination and with their own blend of versatile free form rock is a true monster and can endear them even more to a wider audience hungry for something that little bit out there and and that little bit different.
Greta Van Fleet – Anthem For The Peaceful Army
They lead the Grammy nominations in no less that 4 categories best rock album, best performance, best rock song and best new artist! The Michigan brotherly four piece channel an inner Led Zep and with their debut album Anthem For A Peaceful Army debuting at 3 in the Billboard Charts they are well on the way to rock stardom! Splitting critics and fans alike they wear their influences firmly upon their sleeve and with this album they play balls to the wall rock and roll and play it damn well with the ghosts of Hendrix, DC and more applauding from the sidelines!
Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa – Black Coffee
They started collaborating on 2011’s Don’t Explain, and returned with 2013’s Seesaw and a 2014 live double album, all to commercial successes. They returned this year with the album Black Coffee. A heady mix of gritty, soulful blues recorded live in the studio to capture the essence of that live performance. Once again Hart and Bonamassa have achieved Blues gold!
Marcus King Band – Carolina Confessions
The southern rock blues minstrel returned with a guitar drenched blistering soul of an album in 2018! Sonically pleasing it combines a deep rooted southern psychedelia rock with a soulful groove. Described by themselves as jazz-influenced psychedelic Southern rock, it’s an album so pleasing to the ear that fans of Blues, alternative country and that southern rock sound will lay claim.
Brothers Osbourne – Port Saint Joe
Capturing the essence of Nashville and more country influences than you can tip a cowboy hat at, Brothers Osbourne really come into their own with an album brimming with country swagger and outlaw cool. It rocks and rolls, from ballad to all out rocker Port Saint Joe ticks every box and if grunge went country then the Osbourne Brothers would be leading the pack…