The Joy Formidable have been an absolute force of nature since their first LP, The Big Roar. Crunched-up guitars and in-your-face vocals from frontwoman Ritzy Bryan and the hard hitting rhythm section of bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas define the Welsh band’s distinct sound. In 2018, they released perhaps their hardest hitting record yet, AAARTH.

Their last proper record, Hitch, came out in 2016 and was hit with some mixed reviews. The Joy Formidable, however, immediately silence the critics as the first track is an undeniable return to form with the Welsh language, “Y Bluen Eira”. Seriously, there is no more badass opener on a record this year. Bryan keeps the killer riffs up throughout the record, highlighted by the outstanding solo on “The Wrong Side”. “Go Loving” just rips while “Cicada (Land On Your Back)” has such a unique, yet totally badass, epic sound.

There are slow builds, like “All in All”, which becomes larger than life before it is through. There are full-throttle bangers, such as “What For”. There are moments of quiet that erupt into mountains of sound, namely on “The Better Me”. Then there’s the insane groove laid down on “Caught on a Breeze”, which turns into one of the album’s largest tracks. By the time AARTH comes to an end, sheer exhaustion is experienced, which is the sign of a most excellent record.

AAARTH was released on The Joy Formidable’s own Seradom label, and it’s available on Bandcamp.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here.

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