The end of the year is finally here, and that means we’ll be looking back at the music that defined the last twelve months, and what resonated the most among it all. And to kick off, we’re starting right at the bottom with the worst albums of 2018.
Luke Nuttall (Editor / Writer)
5. BrokeNCYDE – 0 To BrokeNCYDE
To call a BrokenNCYDE album one of the worst of the year might seem like picking the lowest hanging fruit possible, but it’s not as if it’s not warranted. Granted, 0 To BrokeNCYDE is hardly anything remarkably egregious by their standards, but considering how their base sound already scrapes the dregs of what’s typically seen as good taste, it’s already on the far, far left of 2018’s bell-curve of quality. Between the constant frat-boy gurning and the sound of literal vomit, there’s barely a moment on this album that’s listenable, let alone likable, and it’s only held off a higher spot thanks to the fact that, by and large, it’s already been scrubbed from the memory of vast majority of people. That’s not a reason to give it a pass, mind, and only further begs the questions of why BrokeNCYDE thought it was necessary to return in the first place. It was so much nicer without them.
4. Escape The Fate – I Am Human
It’s not as if it’s some form of revelation that Escape The Fate are totally irrelevant at this point, but what’s actually quite hilarious about that is that they don’t seem to believe that themselves. How else could anyone possibly explain I Am Human, an album that sees a band so determined in ripping themselves off in as mercenary fashion as possible that they resort to having the final song on this album as the exact same one from its predecessor? Oh, and let’s not forget the bargain-bin scene lyrics that would’ve been overwrought a decade ago, the faux-hard rock instrumentation that thinks it has flair and personality but ends up as little more than wet, sticky mush, and a vocal performance from Craig Mabbitt who genuinely believes that he’s got a chance of being a rock icon by copying what he and countless others in the same boat have been doing for years. This is a blank template of an album somehow masquerading as the real deal, and the sooner that Escape The Fate stop trying to palm this dross off as something deep or meaningful, the better it’ll be for everyone involved.
3. Nekrogoblikon – Welcome To Bonkers
This feels like the most opportune time to clear the air surrounding Nekrogoblikon and say that definitively, I do not hate them. Even if that passage of time hadn’t slightly cooled the bile felt towards this album (which, for the record, it has), they’ve taken everything in good spirits and come out with a genuinely brilliant t-shirt design from it. To put it simply, The Soundboard’s 2018 would have been significantly worse if it wasn’t for Nekrogoblikon. With all that said though, Welcome To Bonkers is still shit. Entry-level death metal coated in slime and overdone goblin imagery still lacks any sort of wit or palpable humour, and the fact that it falls apart the second that central gimmick is removed says everything you really need about how threadbare this whole concept is. Yes, the whole spiel about how this sort of thing will “cause metal to regress” was a tad hyperbolic, but that’s hardly enough to save this album from being the worst kind of fodder.
2. Lil Xan – Total Xanarchy
It’s not impossible for trap to work, regardless of how base or dumb it is, as long as there’s a decent intensity to the production and a vocal performance with energy, or at the very least something that’s a bit distinct. Lil Xan, on the other hand, has neither of those things, and as a result, Total Xanarchy ends up as the absolute worst and most boring permutation of a genre that’s already running critically low on ideas. Ignoring the fact that there’s not a shred of interest to be found across the entirety of this wretched, sixteen-track album, Lil Xan sounds perennially half-asleep in a nonstop mumble that sounds both bored and boring in equal measures. There’s no personality in any capacity, be that vocally or in terms of production, nor is it even remotely convincing that this isn’t an effort to capitalise on trap trends by an “artist” who doesn’t even sound convinced of his own abilities. Then again, to say that Lil Xan actually has abilities would be giving him far more praise than he deserves.
1. The Amity Affliction – Misery
You just know that it’s been a pretty good year when, instead of some outlier that’s dropped a real turd for everyone to endure, the spot of worst album of the year is taken up by The Amity Affliction, the perennial punching bags regarding how utterly drab and soulless metalcore can be. Especially with Misery, though, it’s very much justified, with them somehow plumbing the depths even further then before for an album that still has all their usual hallmarks – sickly sweet production; sagging, watery instrumentation; lyrics that are supposedly personal but are delivered with all the conviction of a rotting cadaver – but it’s in the combination of all of them that elevates this album from another merely awful album from a band whose output has been consistently so, to something that can feel genuinely foul in such brazen emotional manipulation. As much as The Amity Affliction want to convince listeners that they’re raising awareness of mental illness and delivering some form of catharsis, it’s as blatant as shallow profiteering comes, and the fact they’ve been able to get away with it for as long as they have is frankly appalling. The one bit of solace that comes from this album’s existence is that the general response has been disinterest across the board; let’s hope that’s enough to convince The Amity Affliction to stop this sooner rather than later.
Georgia Jackson (Deputy Editor / Writer)
5. Sting & Shaggy – 44/876
The idea of Sting and Shaggy putting an album out together should’ve been a shoo-in for our Surprises list, but there’s a reason it’s been put on here instead. 44/876 isn’t a collaboration that gels well at all – it’s not a joyous union of two worlds and looking past genre differences, but an awkward one. This is music middle-aged people go crazy swaying for at local one-day music festivals in parks as they spark their pop-up barbecues up. Plus, all it really does it raise questions. How did this happen? Does Sting think he’s going to up his street cred with this album? (Judging by the album cover, yes he does). Why are there two consecutive songs that use the metaphor of the sun coming up for the end of political unrest? Why is there a half-cover of the Walrus and the Carpenter song from Alice In Wonderland? 44/876 manages to be boring and grossly fascinating at the same time, so for all of our sakes it’s probably best locked away and never spoken about again.
4. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
How were Arctic Monkeys going to follow up AM, the album that dominated airwaves, singlehandedly struck a new lease of life into the indie youth subculture and made them the biggest indie band in the world? With the exact opposite. In a bid to be as revolutionary as they once were, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is a concept album about a futuristic world with a sound that’s far from futuristic. The faux-suave lounge singer vocal Alex Turner does throughout Tranquility Base is infuriating, mainly because you can feel his ego inflating with how cool he thinks he sounds with every note. Pair that with the glorified elevator music that soundtracks Turner’s ramblings (and they are ramblings – the tiny amount of actual melody on this record is shocking), and you have one of the most substanceless releases of this year.
3. Wilson – Tasty Nasty
If there’s anything the heavier realms of music needs more of, it’s fun. But not in the way Wilson imagine it. On top of their base of a hulking hard rock band, they’re total party boys. That might be something to be proud of in certain crowds, but it’s the lyrics about just that which make this album unforgivable (and this is an album with hiphop interlaced between the guitars). Desperation for Instagram likes and tit pics, a Smash Mouth ripoff about knowing they’re immature and refusing to grow up, and an odious latin-tinged song about trying to get with a Spanish woman, amongst other things. Being in-your-face and not caring is Wilson’s brand to a tee, so they’re sure to be thriving off the people who like them. But for everyone else, it’s undoubtedly one of the worst records of 2018.
2. Nekrogoblikon – Welcome To Bonkers
The concept of Nekrogoblikon was funny back when they first started getting legs-up from the music press – they’re a metal band, but with a goblin mascot doing all their interviews! What a novelty! Now, it’s beyond a joke, although thankfully it isn’t being pushed in our faces anymore. Vocally, it’s all odious, and layered over the most run-of-the-mill metal guitar work. Sometimes some odd synth line or comedy piano will come in to accentuate the mythical lyrics, presumably for a little more depth or to push the already hysterical listeners into dangerous, soiling themselves territory (let’s not talk about groan-worthy The Magic Spider). If it were just the concept on the chopping block here, it would need to be put out of its misery asap. But just take into account the total lack of humour or quality when it comes to enacting an already terrible idea, then it’s a given that Welcome To Bonkers is one of the absolute worst records of 2018.
1. Migos – Culture II
If you read our Catch-Up feature from last week, then this will be no surprise to you. Yes, even worse than an album about fictional goblins is the autotuned drabness of Migos, who for some reason thought putting out 24 identical-sounding songs repeating every tired, irritating trope of current rap over and over again was a good idea. It would be at least somewhat redeemable if there was even some kind of zest or energy fueling the project, but there’s nothing but monotony and lifelessness. And for some reason, people love it. New Year’s resolution idea for 2019: start listening to music that not only has something to say, but has real musicianship attached to it instead of this bottom-of-the-barrel dross.