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SHAWN “Animalize” IRWIN’s Top Ten of 2018 (Top Albums 2018)


As 2018 quickly comes to a conclusion, it is time to reflect on over 130 new music releases that were discovered this year and to pick my Top Ten for 2018. Bringing these down to my Top 10 has not been an easy task. Some worthy mentions would be new releases from Holter, Tokyo Blade, Magnum, Ten, Stryper, W.E.T., Saxon, Mob Rules, Kamelot, Eliene, Udo, and Red Dragon Cartel.

The recap of my last few years #1 albums of each year are:

2017 – Harem ScaremUnited (Top 10 2017)

2016 – SabatonThe Last Stand (Top 10 2016)

2015 – Leaves’ EyesKing Of Kings (Top 10 2015)

2014 – SabatonHeroes

2013 – Tobia’s Sammet’s AvantasiaThe Mystery Of Time (Top 10 2013)

Without any of these bands releasing new material in 2018 let’s see who takes #1 for 2018.

So, without further ado, here is a synopsis of my Top 10 for 2018.

SHAWN “Animalize” IRWIN’s TOP 10 2018

#10. MILLENNIAL REIGNThe Great Divide

Millennial Reign hail from Arlington, Texas and formed in 2010.  2018, the band with new lead singer Travis Wills released their third full length album. I first heard of this Southern outfit in 2015 with their Carry The Fire release and it has been a long wait for their new CD. The Great Divide did not disappoint, as it snuck into my Top 10 for the year.

It is always a concern when a band changes singers, but Wills provides his vocal talent to Millennial Reign which should take them to great heights. If you like Power Metal with a symphonic touch, like I do, then you will be a fan.

Buy: The Great Divide


#09. DEE SNIDERFor The Love Of Metal

For the Love Of Metal is not a Twisted Sister album.  I love Twisted Sister, but Dee Snider outshines anything he has done with his new release. The album is full of metal talented musicians bringing Dee to a level he dominates. At 63 years old, we can only hope Snider continues to tour with these powerful tunes and not just the popular Twisted Sister era.

Buy: For The Love Of Metal


#08. JUDAS PRIEST – Firepower

Firepower to me is the best Judas Priest album in years. The Priest hooked me onto Heavy Metal back in 1983 with “Love Bites”. I am a fan of all their releases and anything Rob Halford has done and the last handful, for me were really good. Firepower though is awesome, bringing back earlier Priest up to Painkiller level. Having seen this tour twice, it was great hearing a few of these tracks live with all the classics. Halford shows he still has the pipes to be one of the best Metal bands of all time.

Buy: Firepower


#07. TRILLIUM – Tectonic

With their second release, Trillium waited seven years to release Tectonic. Lead singer Amanda Somerville is no stranger in the music industry. I first learnt of Somerville with her work in Avantasia then Kiske/Somerville and, most recently, Exit Eden. Her vocal strength is incredible with all she has done and Tectonic is no different. This release brings a heavier punch to Somerville’s discography, which had me spinning this CD many times this year.

Buy: Tectonic


#06. PRIMAL FEAR – Apocalypse

Primal Fear is back with another blistering release of German power metal. For me, Primal Fear is the bench mark for German Metal, even with all the amazing bands from this Metal nation. Apocalypse takes right off where the last two releases left off. I have to admit, it took a bit for me to feel the power compared to Rulebreaker and Delivering The Black, but, in the end, it is another awesome release. If you are a Metal fan, you should have everything in your collection from Primal Fear.

Buy: Apocalypse


#05. BONFIRE – Temple Of Lies

Bonfire is back with their 15 studio album, second with lead singer Alexx Stahl. Their last album Byte The Bullet from 2017 made my Top 10 and this year is no different with Temple Of Lies. Stahl has really proven he is the best fit for the lead vocalist with Bonfire. It has been 7 years now since we last heard original singer Claus Lessmann in the band and now it is time to put the past behind.  Byte The Bullet , I thought was their best release since 2001, but Temple Of Lies tops the 2017 release. Alexx Stahl brings back the true feel of what Bonfire has been for me since 1986.  A band on my bucket list that I hope one day I will see play live.

Buy: Temple Of Lies


#04. CRYSTAL BALL Crystallizer

Crystal Ball from Switzerland started rocking in 1998 and released their 10th studio album in 2018. Back in 2007 they released what fans thought was going to be their last album before coming back with new singer Steven Mageney and bass player Cris Stone in 2013 with their album Dawnbreaker. Their 2015 and 2016 albums easily were in my Top 10 those years as Crystal Ball has become one of my most listened bands for the last 3 years. Crystallizer has the group showing consistent powerful melodic music. Crystal Ball  is just another Swiss band that I have become a huge fan of like Gotthard, Shakra, Krokus and Shylock.  Since they will likely never come to Canada, I will have to make it over to see them. I keep voting to see them at Sweden Rock Festival as I go each year, but so far no luck.

Buy: Crystallizer


#03. DYNAZTY – Firesign

Dynazty from Sweden is one of the newest bands I have acquired a liking to this year. After watching a couple of their newest videos from their release Firesign I figured I should order the cd. Wow this really blew me away with their melodic rock with symphonic elements as they combine a couple of my favourite styles. Since 2009 they now have 6 albums to their portfolio. They may be gone away from that classic melodic rock sound in their earlier releases, but for me Firesign almost made it into second spot for 2018. Looking forward to seeing them play Sweden Rock 2019.

Buy: Firesign


#02. NORDIC UNION – Second Coming

Nordic Union recently released their second album which consists of lead singer Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and guitarist Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T.). Their first album S/T in 2016 placed third in my Top 10 and Second Coming improved on that placement. As a huge fan of these 2 incredible musicians, this was my most anticipated release of 2018. It did take a few listens to really fall in love with it. Their first cd was so amazing; it is hard to top it. Second Coming is just as good, if not better. We can only hope this project one day turns into a band that will tour. The best melodic rock album of the year.

Buy: Second Coming



The #1 position goes to Kobra And The Lotus from Calgary,Alberta, Canada. Kobra And The Lotus formed in 2009. Their third release in 2014, High Priestess is the album that motivated me to listen to more of their music. 2017 this amazing outfit came out with Prevail I which I became a huge fan. Now 2018 they released Prevail II. The new album has many great aspects as a pure rock album. The beautiful Kobra Paige on vocals has a magnificent vocal range from heavy to melodic. I only wish Canadian radio would give these great musicians a chance.  Kobra And The Lotus join some of my favourite bands over the years, Harem Scarem, Kiss, Black ‘N Blue and Sabaton to name a handful. The band toured in October throughout Europe. Hopefully the rest of the world will get a chance to see Kobra And The Lotus entertain us playing these incredible songs live before going into the studio.

Buy: Prevail II


Therefore, get ready for 2019 with all new releases by Within Temptation, Starbreaker, Beast In Black, Avantasia, Delain, Dream Theater, Last In Line, Rhapsody Of Fire, Tora Tora, Mike Tramp, Queensryche, Hammerfall, Find Me and many more bands. Who will make the Top 10 of 2019?

You will find out in December 2019.

Shawn “Animalize” Irwin

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