2018 Award Nominations: Best Collaboration

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Welcome back to the 2018 Musicalypse Awards nominations! It’s getting more and more common for artists with unique sounds to trade their voice or style with another band. These are our picks for the best guest appearances or collaborations of 2018:

1. Amorphis ft. Anneke van Giersbergen – “Amongst Stars”
2. Pendulum ft. Devin Townsend – “Crush”
3. Ayreon Universe

We all knew that Amorphis and Anneke van Giersbergen were magic together after she did guest vocals on “House of Sleep” and “Her Alone” at the UtRC show a few summers ago, which clearly paved the way for this collaboration. Tomi Joutsen and van Giersbergen’s voice work together angelically, and I hope to someday get the chance to see this live with van Giersbergen. Then again, any song our Dutch darling does guest vocals on tends to be amazing. See any Devin Townsend song with her for reference if you don’t believe me. Or Ayreon. Or… well, there are a lot to pick from.

I already mentioned the Pendulum remixes in my Best Song nominations. It’s not easy to get Devin Townsend to join in on a project, but when he does, it’s usually going to be gold. This song is no different, and turned out to be one of my favorites of the whole year. The mood is perfect and Townsend’s vocals are just what the song needed to push it from great to amazing.

If we’re talking collabs, then I can’t not mention Ayreon Universe, the live Ayreon best-of album that came out this year. Not only were the live versions of old songs astounding, but the new makes with substitute vocalists were (almost) always better than the original. The whole album is a tremendous work of art, and if you haven’t heard it, shame on you.

1. Amorphis ft. Anneke van Giersbergen – “Amongst Stars”

I can’t think of any other metal collabs from this year, so “Amongst Stars” by Amorphis has no competition in my books, but it’s such a great song that it definitely deserves the #1 spot.

Honorable mention: “Drone” by Alice in Chains, which features Chris DeGarmo on acoustic guitar, although it’s more of a low-key guest appearance.

1. Blaze Bayley & Thomas Zwijsen – “December Wind
2. Angra ft. Alissa White-Gluz -” Black Widow’s Web”
3. King Dude ft. Myrkur – “The Winner Takes it All” (ABBA cover)
[ed: we couldn’t find this on Spotify, so it’s missing from our playlist]

After three albums’ worth of the Infinite Entanglement story, Blaze Bayley came out with an acoustic album with Thomas Zwijsen, with whom he’d previously toured and collaborated with on the  EP, Russian Holiday. It was a welcome change of pace and “December Wind” hit just the right spot for me.

In the last few years, Brazilian prog power metallers, Angra, haven’t quite lived up to the stride they hit between Rebirth and Aurora Consurgence. However, the new album, ØMNI, has it’s moments, one of them being the eerie track “Black Widow’s Web.” Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy does a cute clean intro and provides some sorely needed heaviness to Angra’s prissy sound. It gets just a bit metalcore at times but mostly it’s a solid track.

“The Winner Takes it All” is such a strange choice for King Dude and Myrkur. King Dude’s delivery is just bizarre; it feels like it’s in the uncanny valley between outright bad and genius. Amalie Bruun from Myrkur is barely even in it but her contribution provides a much needed grounding. It’s insane but beautiful.

Honorable mention: Deafheaven – “Night People”

Worst Collaboration: In Vain ft. Matthew Heafy – “Soul Adventurer.” In Vain already has two fine singers in Andreas Frigstad and Sindre Nedland. I don’t understand why they would bring in the guy from the formerly-known-as “the next Metallica”, Trivium. The song itself is okay, but far and away the least interesting on an otherwise stellar record, Ænigma.
1. Amorphis ft. Anneke van Giersbergen – “Amongst Stars”
2. In This Moment ft. Rob Halford – “Black Wedding”

I personally don’t remember any other collaborations, but these ones stuck out to me the most, as mentioned before “Amongst Stars” by Amorphis ft. Anneke van Giersbergen is the absolute winner. The song sounds magical and a perfect combination, as if it was meant to be.
Another song, a bit more poppy, is the collaboration between In This Moment and Rob Halford, “Black Wedding.” In the song, it is clear that Rob Halford can just do about anything. I have never heard his song in such a poppy setting, but he still shines.