Halfway Mark: The Best Albums of 2024 So Far

Halfway Mark: The Best Albums of 2024 So Far

- By Creative Team

The Knotfest Editorial team compiles a shortlist of potential album of the year candidates including the likes of Knocked Loose, 200 Stab Wounds, Hulder, Couch Slut, Inter Arma, Kerry King and more.

Cover Image / HULDER - Photo by Liana Rakijian 


Knocked Loose - You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To (Pure Noise Records)

Every album in Knocked Loose’s discography has marked a visible step up in their status, success, and impact in the hardcore genre. This is the album that pushed them to transcend the heavy scene, become a gateway band for new ears, and a phenomenon worthy of sold out shows in 2K+ capacity venues complete with full-scale production (hello custom tree props!). They broke the internet with the reggaeton breakdown on “Suffocate” featuring Poppy and recruited Chris Motionless for a home-run collaboration. This is a no-skips, no fluff tracklist where even the deep cut tracks are single-worthy. “Thirst” sets the tone as an unrelenting opening track: take it as a warning for what’s to come. “Take Me Home” creates an eerie, haunting ambiance at the mid-way point. Meanwhile, “Don’t Reach For Me” pummels our eardrums with Isaac Hale's impressive low growls. This album defines the band’s clear vision and solidifies their unwavering confidence in their identity and musicianship. Knocked Loose proves that heavy music CAN succeed in the mainstream without compromising integrity. - Tori Kravitz

Chelsea Wolfe - She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She (Loma Vista)

Chelsea Wolfe has always been known for her intricate songwriting and soulful vocal abilities and this album took it to the next level. Following her previous folk-inspired album “Birth Of Violence” (2019), this album flipped all of my expectations upside down with a tracklist fueled by tasteful synths, gothic-industrial weight, catharsis, and spine-tinglingly haunting poetry. The production is raw, opulent, and expansive, which reminds me of her earlier releases like “Hiss Spun” or “Pain Is Beauty.” This is an album that must be listened to in order; it’s a journey that will leave you feeling introspective, sensual, aggressive, and vulnerable all at once. Wolfe always has a way of creeping into our psyches and affecting us in new ways with each release. This is a master class in world-building, experimentation, expert musicianship, and out-of-the-box creativity. - Tori Kravitz

Alcest - Les Chants De l'Aurore (Nuclear Blast Records)

This is my summer soundtrack and will also be a wonderful album to transition into Fall. It's a beautiful, wistful, dream-like metal shoegaze listen. Compared to their previous releases, this one has an especially uplifting feel. The warm atmosphere and spiritual energy of this record bring up feelings of nostalgia and reflection that, for me, have always been synonymous with Alcest. They possess a stunning ability to create soundscapes that envelope all of my senses and send chills down my spine. Their genre plays off of the juxtaposing heavy metal darkness and ethereal shoegaze lightness. Every track is laced with layers and depth that will keep listeners discovering new details with every listen. This tracklist is a journey worth savoring. - Tori Kravitz

Upon Stone - Dead Mother Moon (Century Media Records)

SoCal's San Fernando Valley is steadily becoming a thriving hotbed for heavy with Upon Stone proving testament to that. Quickly asserting their position as one of the most promising prospects in the space of heavy music, the Scandinavian influence combined with modern execution has landed effectively with a cross section of fans both old and new. Melding elements of melo-death and blackened thrash, the band's impressive debut is among the most compelling spins of the year thus far. 

Hulder - Verses In Oath (20 Buck Spin)

Following the acclaim of 2021's Godslastering: Hymns Of A Forlorn Peasantry and the five-song EP a year later with The Eternal Fanfare, US black metal powerhouse Hulder had amassed the kind of hype that could make a or break and band. Given the anticipation for 2024's sophomore full length in Verses In Oath, suffice to say the Northwest mystics not only met expectation, but surpassed it. The presentation is a grim, grandoise masterclass of Pacific Northwest frost, combining the requisite bleakness of black metal, with the bold, brazen modernity that advances the genre into the next generation. 

Slift – Ilion (Sub Pop)

The French three piece shot for the moon and obliterated it with this album. Colossal, mind-bending psych rock laced with frantic acid flashbacks. The title track beautifully showcases the restless virtuosity of the band as they go at each other. For me, Ilion tops its predecessor, the similarly phantasmagorical Ummon, in its more doomed-out moments – like being swallowed by the sun, or merging with the red shift. Stellar stuff (literally). - Dan Franklin

Couch Slut – You Could Do It Tonight (Brutal Panda)

By contrast, this is a too-close, terrifying album. A record that sounds like falling in with the wrong crowd, its lyrics come over like threats; words akin to shards of a broken bottle Megan Osztrosits has just cut herself with. “Some guy raped me in my dumb car last week/Who cares who they are?” one of her characters says. Where do you go from there?! It pounds and gnaws and scrapes, part noise rock and part blackest metal, all whilst being kept on the precipice of control. A band fully in command of their art. - Dan Franklin

Thou – Umbilical (Sacred Bones)

For all of Thou’s rancorous protestations that this is a diss album about themselves, it’s also a downright masterpiece. On Umbilical, Thou distil boiling piss down to purest urea. They make every second count in a musical performance full of muscle and pared to the bone. Take the album’s closer, “Siege Perilous”, which sets forth like a funeral procession for a world of dying machines, before it hits a hook so huge it could fling you into the corner of the cosmos to face your deepest insecurities. Umbilical is also heavier than the Knocked Loose album – ha! - Dan Franklin

Orange Goblin – Science, Not Fiction (Peaceville)

Almost thirty years into their career, Orange Goblin's new album finds them with a renewed fire in the belly. Exploring science, religion and spirituality in the wreckage of a post-pandemic world, it's singer Ben Ward’s first album since getting sober. Like last album, The Wolf Bites Back, there’s a range of sounds: from the AC/DC stomp of “(Not) Rocket Science” to the Beatles-esque pop-psych of “False Hope Diet”. Science, Not Fiction is heavy metal at its finest: leathery, multi-faceted, and full of iron-rich blood and thunder. - Dan Franklin

earthtone9 – In Resonance Nexus (Candlelight)

It's earthtone9’s second reunion album, following IV, eleven years ago. It proves again they exist in a genre of one, with elements of their unmistakable, polished alt metal sound all around us in today's heavy music scene. Adamantine riffs, circuitous melodic puzzles and gnomic lyrics all amount to a typically unique, and heady, brew. “Observe Your Course” also features vocals from Malli Malpass of long-gone British wrecking crew, Onedice. To hear his roar again alone makes this one of the stand-out albums so far in 2024. - Dan Franklin

Inter Arma - New Heaven (Relapse)

One of the most forward-thinking bands in America or anywhere else, the Virginians emerge from the shroud of the pandemic years, Sulphur English, multiple bass player changes, and near death experiences to create the only logical result of listening to lots of technical death metal, 70s prog, and country. No other band in the world could make it. - Perran Helyes

Ihsahn - Ihsahn (Candlelight)

The concept of “symphonic metal” was made to accommodate bonkers maximalist masterpieces like this. Coming in with a self-titled album based around a Promethean rise of the artist and creator not short on self-reflection, one of black metal’s premiere geniuses checks in his most gonzo and gung-ho record since his Emperor days. - Perran Helyes

Chapel of Disease - Echoes of Light (Ván)

Some of the most unique and original bands of recent years have started in straight up death metal and grown from there into their own freaky shapes (Horrendous, Tribulation, Morbus Chron), and Echoes of Light completes Chapel of Disease’s own such transformation sounding like a band of death metal scholars taking a trip back to the glam and hard rock of the 1970s introducing those extreme tools of the future while they’re there.  - Perran Helyes

Dödsrit - Nocturnal Will (Wolves of Hades)

Nocturnal Will leans more into the classic metal than the crust and d-beat side of Dödsrit’s chemical equation, but if that doesn’t suggest the make-up of a very exciting black metal band you might need to check your pulse. The grit and the underground resolve is there, but the melodies fashioned this time are as anthemic as Amon Amarth.  - Perran Helyes

Folterkammer - Weibermacht (Century Media)

The second album from the NYC-based, European-fronted “torture chamber music” act delves wholeheartedly into the thematic concept of “bitch power”, marrying absolutely unchained howling operatic vocals and bitingly arranged black metal under the banner of the dominatrix and other such fiercely dominant female icons. Cleverly drawing black metal’s anti-repression outlook together with these knowingly racy symbols, it’s as confrontational as the genre can still be. - Perran Helyes

Night Verses -  Every Sound Has A Color In The Valley Of Night (Equal Vision Records)

Progressive gamechangers Night Verses marked their celebrated return from a five year hiatus last year with the release of the masterfully executed, Every Sound Has A Color In The Valley Of Night. The ambitious double album sources the skilled showmanship of prog without the pretense, making for an album that asserts artistry with songs that ebb and flow with energy throughout. Paired with the expertise and instrumental lockstep of  Nick DePirro, Reilly Herrera and Aric Improta, Night Verses asserts all that is great about the genre, while daring to color outside the lines of it. Boasting features from Anthony Greene of Circa Survive, industrial innovator Author & Punisher and Justin Chancellor of Tool, the band's return is a formidable one. - Ramon Gonzales

High On Fire - Cometh The Storm (MNRK Heavy)

Practitioners and defenders of the riff, High On Fire debuted their landmark ninth studio album this year with the walloping, Cometh the Storm. The rlease marked the first since 2018's Electric Messiah and served as the first studio release to feature the configuration of drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Murder City Devils), alongside bassist Jeff Matz, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike. Bolstered by the production of the incomparable Kurt Ballou, the album underscores the band's 25th anniversary and their brand of steadfast stoner heft that has become their signature for well over a generation. 

Candy - It's Inside You (Relapse Records)

Hardcore aggressors Candy most certainly understood the assignment when it came to following up their lauded 2022 sophomore release, Heaven Is Here. The band's third and arguably most ambitious effort to date, It's Inside You, touts the collaborative muscle of principle songwriter Michael Quick along with Ben Greenberg of industrial noise provocateurs Uniform. Paired with super producer Kurt Ballou,  the collection frames a caustic mesh of audio aggression consisting of 12 tracks that blur the lines between various subcategories of metallic heft. The album is a dizzying, dominant show of force that positions Candy in a lane all their own. 

200 Stab Wounds - Manic Manual Procedures (Metal Blade Records)

Cleveland brutalizers 200 Stab Wounds earned lofty expectations when it came to the follow-up to their celebrated 2021 release, Slave to the Scalpel. The band's Metal Blade Records debut in Manual Manic Procedures was among the most anticipated of the year and with good reason. Characterized by their obvious reverence for the greats of the genre, the band's meld of classic sensibility and contemporary execution has resonated with even the most discerning fan among the death metal traditionalists. Delivering gloriously gory, splatterhouse grade brutality, 200 Stab Wounds harken to the genre's heyday on a sophomore full length that is fun, fearless and brilliantly filthy. - Ramon Gonzales

Kerry King - From Hell I Rise (Reigning Phoenix Music)


Among the biggest takeaways from the eagerly-anticipated solo debut from thrash legend Kerry King leans into the consistency and definitive quality of his unmistakable sound. Rounded out by an elite roster of veteran musicians in drummer Paul Bostaph, bassist Kyle Sanders, guitarist Phil Demmel vocalist Mark Osegueda Bay Area thrash OGs, Death Angel, the album is the kind of furious show of force that King has made a career of. Scorching solos, stints of breakneck speed and plenty of confrontational spit, From Hell I Rise speaks to the time-tested adage of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". - Ramon Gonzales



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