2021: Jan-Jun


After clocking well over 700 albums in 2020, I'm hoping 2021 will be a bit busier IRL and thus slightly less comprehensively covered in these lists, but let's see - with all the new strains emerging, who TF knows when we might return to a semblance of normality. Until then, I'll be trying to make sure that nothing noteworthy passes my radar.

On reflection, the .1 scores in these lists that I've had previously feel a bit excessive considering most albums are rated on 1 listening, so I'm going to switch to grouping albums into .5 boundaries instead

Created by: musclassia | 24.01.2021



1. Vulgaris - Asundre
[NA] - Too good to score, or more no chance for objectivity. I'm in this band; if you like my tastes when reading this list, feel free to check out my music.
2. Cult Of Luna - The Raging River
[9.0] - Another engrossing release by an unstoppable post-metal force.
3. Heliocentric - Ishmael
[8.5] - Tasty djent-core, got plenty of nasty djent riffing as well as a solid melodic metalcore side.
4. Yoth Iria - As The Flame Withers
[8.0] - Making good on the promise from last year's EP, there's good use of keyboards, acoustic guitars and other melodic elements alongside the mid-tempo blackened core of their sound.
5. Wolvennest - Temple
[8.0] - Similarly lengthy to Void, it's not quite as enthralling as that album, but is similarly atmospheric and with arguably greater gothic and ritualistic elements.
6. Moonspell - Hermitage
[8.0] - After Paradise Lost and Draconian's successes last year, another big name in gothic metal delivers a strong offering. The Pink Floyd aspects on All Or Nothing work really nicely.
7. Wardruna - Kvitravn
[8.0] - What you'd expect from Wardruna, performed and written as well as you would expect, albeit not quite at Runaljod - Ragnarok levels.
8. The Ruins Of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
[8.0] - Really solid and enjoyably diverse extreme doom effort; Anchoress In Furs is an excellent song.
9. Sunnata - Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth
[8.0] - Initial fears were wide of the mark; this is another strong effort from one of the most interesting bands in the stoner metal sphere right now.
10. Five The Hierophant - Through Aureate Void
[8.0] - Unique and satisfying ambient/avant-garde effort with nice use of sax and percussion.
11. Spoiwo - Martial Hearts
[8.0] - Really interesting muted and atmospheric electronic post-rock style.
12. Paranorm - Empyrean
[8.0] - Very impressive Vektor-esque prog thrash.
13. Kultika - Capricorn Wolves
[8.0] - Incredibly creative album that starts off as a fairly conventional post-metal record before going through psychedelic, black, sludge, death, prog and other territories, the style everchanging but the quality mostly staying high, with only a couple of missteps.
14. Sithu Aye - Senpai III
[8.0] - Sithu Aye proving again that he's the best in the business in terms of uplifting instrumental prog.
15. Earthshine - My Bones Shall Rest Upon The Mountain
[8.0] - A curious release fluctuating between Medieval-style doom and blackgaze; despite the rough production (or perhaps because of that), I rather liked it.
16. Grima - Rotten Garden
[8.0] - Again getting certain Panopticon vibes off of this one, albeit with more overtly melodic elements from the keyboards and at one point accordion (I think?), and again an enjoyable effort.
17. Japanische Kampfhörspiele - Neues Aus Dem Halluzinogenozinozän
[8.0] - Wonderfully mad grind-based music featuring hip-hop amongst other additional elements.
18. Tribulation - Where The Gloom Becomes Sound
[8.0] - Perhaps the softest their gothic sound has been to date, I think it works to their benefit, as in the absence of material reminiscent of The Formulas Of Death, I find the approach here more rewarding than the previous one or two albums.
19. Soen - Imperial
[8.0] - Another solid if not jawdropping record, but I think this is probably a step up from Lotus.
20. Iotunn - Access All Worlds
[8.0] - Very decent prog death metal album, with the balance between intensity, melody and complexity on the closing track particularly impressing.
21. The Weather Station - Ignorance
[8.0] - Peaks with fantastic early track Robber, but this is a hugely impressively well composed art pop effort with impressive layering of the array of instruments and fronted by a compelling vocalist.
22. Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning
[8.0] - Good, but not as enthralling as their Dwell EP.
23. Evergrey - Escape Of The Phoenix
[8.0] - Another good solid effort from these guys.
24. Xeper - Ad Numen Satanae
[8.0] - A good solid short burst of semi-melodic black metal that shines when it leans into those melodic elements with some of the lead guitars. "Riding The Spiral Of Lilith" hits really hard.
25. Haine - Haine
[7.5] - Crunchy mid-tempo deathcore, more likely to feature a melodic guitar lead than a trudging breakdown but still hitting hard thanks to punchy riffs and a clear production.
26. Humanity's Last Breath - Välde
[7.5] - Satisfying deathcore with punchy breakdowns and neat atmospheric bits.
27. Afghan Haze - Nihilistic Stoner Hymns
[7.5] - Sludge-leaning stoner with booming harsh vocals; got more meat, volume and personality to it than a lot of stoner.
28. Culted - Nous
[7.5] - I wasn't totally convinced on first listen, but I did really dig some of the more psychedelic/droney/repetitive grooves.
29. Jari Lindholm - Trajectories
[7.5] - Really pleasant instrumental melodeath sound, with a really nice post-rock detour on Mare Balticum.
30. Epica - Omega
[7.5] - Extravagant and bombastic, lacking a bit in memorability but much better than fellow symphonic heavyweights Nightwish managed last year.
31. Emptiness - Vide
[7.5] - An interesting extension of the moodier, softer parts of their previous couple of albums into something that is certifiably non-metal but still sinister.
32. John Carpenter - Lost Themes III: Alive After Death
[7.5] - A really fun album of horror movie soundtrack-style electronica that highlights how much synthwave has taken from Carpenter's movie soundtracks.
33. Molten - Dystopian Syndrome
[7.5] - Satisfying deathrash rampage with quality guitar soloing.
34. Empyrium - Über Den Sternen
[7.5] - It's got a distinctive sound, albeit a tad Summoning-esque, in the combination of black metal, dungeon synth and the distinctive plucked instrument they use (sounds like a hammered dulcimer but no idea if it is); generally, I wasn't that enthusiastic about it, but The Wild Swans is very good.
35. Needlepoint - Walking Up That Valley
[7.5] - Very quaint Canterbury prog band; not as good as Zopp's album from last year, but pleasant and enjoyable nonetheless.
36. God Is An Astronaut - Ghost Tapes #10
[7.5] - Another good effort from this band, even if their staying power has decreased a lot in the past decade for me.
37. Ferriterium - Calvaire
[7.5] - A good one-man black metal project; nothing overly remarkable about it but it is enjoyable.
38. Magogaio - Memorial
[7.5] - Very pleasant blackgaze debut EP.
39. Sur Austru - Obârşie
[7.5] - Felt like it had fluctuating appeal throughout, but offered some very good folk/black when on song (e.g. Caloianul).
40. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings
[7.5] - Captivating indie/psychedelic crossover with some mesmerizing vocal harmonies and instrumental arrangements.
41. The Amenta - Revelator
[7.5] - A rather interesting melodeath/industrial/other sound, with some nice atmospheric elements and fairly hard-hitting riffs.
42. Mogwai - As The Love Continues
[7.5] - I've not really dabbled with Mogwai before, as far as post-rock goes it's pleasant and makes good use of electronics.
43. Need - Norchestrion: A Song For The End
[7.5] - One of those prog albums that is very well made, with good vocals and solid instrumentation, but lacks the emotional hooks to raise it above the competition; having said that, the lengthy track Ananke is pulled off very impressively.
44. Break Of Dusk - …And The Winter Came
[7.5] - Finnish melodeath in the Insomnium/Wolfheart mould; some rough edges but I rather enjoyed it overall.
45. Steven Wilson - The Future Bites
[7.5] - Steven Wilson moves further into poppier territory, but aside from an occasional misstep (Eminent Sleaze), it's pulled off successfully thanks to Wilson's signature vocals, writing and production style.
46. Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)
[7.5] - Pleasant new addition to the Transatlantic discography.
47. StarGazer - Psychic Secretions
[7.5] - Good, unpredictable prog/tech-death.
48. Portrayal Of Guilt - We Are Always Alone
[7.5] - Some nice grisly sludgy hardcore with portions of malevolent atmosphere and bursts of sickening aggression.
49. Chaliced - City Of God
[7.5] - Very enjoyable alt/prog rock debut record with some really nice instrumental stretches on the likes of Kings, City Of God and Colossus.
50. ArcanΣ - Septem
[7.5] - Generally enjoyable metalcore release that has its share of tech-y parts but also a keen ear for melody; parts of it rub me up the wrong way but it's generally solid.
51. Sturle Dagsland - Sturle Dagsland
[7.5] - Wild avant-garde folk/pop/rock/electronic debut album with zero inhibitions and plenty of ideas.
52. Aethyrick - Apotheosis
[7.5] - Very rudimentary meloblack approach, but one that's delivered well.
53. Alkerdeel - Slonk
[7.5] - A top-quality ambient-leaning BM opening track followed by three decent blackened sludge cuts; I would like more of the style of track 1 in the future, really enjoyable.
54. Kita - Ocean Of Acid
[7.5] - Interesting Tool-inspired proggy sludge EP, showing signs of promise rather than being the finished deal, but it is definitely promising of better things to come.
55. Weird Tales - Y'all Motherfuckers Forgot 'Bout Good Ol' Son Of A Bitchin' Blues
[7.5] - Very competently delivered stoner metal covers of classic blues tracks, with track 3 in particular working nicely as the slow doom riffs contrast with the guitar leads.
56. Aztlan - Legión Mexica
[7.5] - A very original take on folk metal, with heavy use of Latin American acoustic guitars; however, the extreme length and relative lack of memorability beyond the concept do hold it back from being quite as great as the premise suggests.
57. Bicep - Isles
[7.5] - Solid UK dancefloor music.
58. Eros - Eros
[7.5] - Nothing new here as far as grungy stoner rock goes, but it's very good fun.
59. Ad Nauseam - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
[7.5] - Impressive but overwhelming dissonant death metal.
60. Mefitis - Offscourings
[7.5] - Probably similar to Black Curse last year in that it's an impressive extreme metal release with a lot of hype that I unfortunately don't connect with.
61. Descensum - Conjure Possessions
[7.5] - Impressive deathcore-leaning symphonic tech-death EP.
62. Fange - Pantocrator
[7.5] - Long-form expansion of their industrial inclinations on these two lengthy tracks.
63. Unknown Fault - Fabric
[7.0] - Curiously tagged as doomgaze, the -gaze aspects come through clearly in this doomy effort. It's got room for improvement on some tracks but works really nicely when it gets into a groove.
64. Melvins - Working With God
[7.0] - Quite stoner rock-y for a lot of it, there's also a couple of songs (apart from the obvious Beach Boys 'cover' opening it) that I think are reimaginings of other songs, but can't find anything about it online.
65. KOLLAPS\E - The Pandemic Sessions
[7.0] - Punchy, sludgy post-metal 2-song EP; nothing original but a solid listen.
66. Radio Supernova - Takaisin
[7.0] - Pleasant dreamy shoegaze, albeit with some tracks that are more effective than others; Utopia makes for a strong conclusion to the record.
67. Divide And Dissolve - Gas Lit
[7.0] - Some feisty drone metal, lacking some of the appeal of the albums in that genre that are most up my street, but I generally liked it.
68. Silkie - Panorama
[7.0] - I could do without the songs with vocals, but the other tracks are enjoyable, particularly the more psychedelic ones.
69. Gravesend - Methods Of Human Disposal
[7.0] - Meaty blackened grindcore effort with some solid grooves, more up my street than most grindcore records.
70. DSKNT - Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition
[7.0] - Densely cavernous dissonant BM.
71. Forest Fog - Of Broken Branches And Wilderness Unknown
[7.0] - Enjoyable and pleasantly well-produced raw BM debut EP.
72. Dread Sovereign - Alchemical Warfare
[7.0] - Enjoyable classic-sounding doom that has a somewhat up-tempo rampaging energy to it at times, as well as a good Alan Averill showing and ear-catching percussion.
73. Asphyx - Necroceros
[7.0] - Will probably be going against the majority on this one, but didn't really pick up on much with this album to make it stand out against the vast majority of other old-school style death metal; the tone is authentic and cool, but the songs aren't memorable enough to elevate this above the endless competition.
74. Ominous Glory - The Elven Dream
[7.0] - This album should not be 80 minutes long; it's an impressive Europower (albeit a US group) debut with a good share of memorable hooks, but it's just far too long for the style.
75. Einherjer - North Star
[7.0] - A well-made viking metal effort, but not one that I'm eager to revisit.
76. Sarin - You Can't Go Back
[7.0] - Generally enjoyable post-metal effort with a strong second track, but overall relatively forgettable.
77. Bummified - Beware The Living
[7.0] - Hefty sludge doom debut EP with a filthy guitar tone and mean, trudging riffs.
78. Eximperitus - Šahrartu
[7.0] - Stupid fucking name aside, it's a good tech death album.
79. Anneke Van Giersbergen - The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest
[7.0] - Pleasant acoustic music with nice use of strings, but none of the songs really go beyond being 'good', except perhaps Promise.
80. 16 - Doom Sessions Vol. 3 [Split]
[7.0] - Grim sludge followed by grimmer sludge.
81. Lake Of Tears - Ominous
[7.0] - I haven't listened to their previous stuff, but this is a perfectly adequate gothic metal album, but not one that compares favourably to the heavy hitters from last year.
82. Cacola - A Gift to Us All
[7.0] - Mainly enjoyable upbeat and energetic electronic music, with a nice tribute to Muse's Hysteria on "How To Take Complete Control Of Everything And Everyone".
83. Thou - The Helm Of Sorrow [Collaboration]
[7.0] - An enjoyable but forgettable extension to the decent collaboration album from last year.
84. Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality
[7.0] - A mostly throwaway OSDM/grind release rescued by a quality doomy final track that takes up over half the EP.
85. Daius - Ascuns
[6.5] - Another entry into the folk/black world of Saor, Ruadh and the like; I enjoyed this throughout, but did find it to be slightly limited compared to other projects within the genre.
86. Steve Roach - Into The Majestic
[6.5] - 75 minutes of pleasant electronic ambience.
87. Black Coffee - Subconsciously
[6.5] - I prefer his house mixes, but there's some nice tracks here.
88. Mechina - Siege
[6.5] - Generally enjoyable but lacking in dynamics across the album.
89. Architects - For Those That Wish To Exist
[6.5] - I can only assume some fans will consider this a sellout, as it's a lot simpler and more electronic-focused than the previous album. More than anything, though, it's just a bit boring.
90. Foo Fighters - Medicine At Midnight
[6.0] - A perfectly passable album, and one with some good and new moments for the band, but also one that's fairly lacking in exciting/memorable moments.
91. Therion - Leviathan
[6.0] - Less baggy that the snoozefest that was Beloved Antichrist, and has some good moments (particularly thanks to guests like Marco Hietala), but mostly very forgettable.
92. Loathe - The Things They Believe
[6.0] - Pleasant ambient effort, a stark contrast to last year's album.
93. Quantumnaut - I Want To Believe
[6.0] - Decent instrumental post-metal debut, but one that has room to develop both in terms of production and songwriting.
94. Korpiklaani - Jylhä
[6.0] - Never been a Korpiklaani fan, but I heard this was divisive so gave it a try. I didn't especially like it, but it was alright and the dark tone on something like "Miero" works quite well.
95. Accept - Too Mean To Die
[6.0] - A collection of competently written but forgettable classic heavy metal/hard rock songs.
96. Furia - W Śnialni
[5.5] - Seemingly a huge departure from their previous work, some of the more abstract sections don't really offer that much to enjoy, but I liked some of the builds that were featured on it, particularly due to the basswork. The second track undermines really promising ideas with offputting fluctuations in the audio channels.
97. Alice Cooper - Detroit Stories
[5.5] - It's not terrible, as there's some lively parts that are enjoyable, but it's mostly pretty forgettable.
98. Black Dresses - Forever In Your Heart
[5.5] - Like Fax Gang, definitely not made with me in mind, but whilst I enjoy some aspects of their intense noisy pop approach, some parts are very irritating.
99. Witch Egg - Witch Egg
[5.5] - Some quite engrossing dark droney jazz vibes on certain tracks are rather appealing, but this is one jazz album that my enjoyment of is substantially undermined by the saxophone.
100. Hoofmark - Evil Blues
[5.5] - I definitely enjoyed parts of this, but too many parts made me want to listen to something else.
101. The Bread Scientists - Amidst Radiances
[5.0] - I quite liked parts of this IDM/glitch release, but other parts either annoyed me or even made me feel nauseous, which isn't ideal.
102. Fax Gang - Aethernet
[5.0] - Heavily electronically distorted rap/RnB/pop music, not really for me but aspects of it I like.
103. Souls Of Diotima - Janas
[4.5] - I unfortunately found this rather grating and quit after a few songs; I wouldn't say that the singer is bad, but I did not enjoy her performance sadly.



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments

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Comments: 5   Visited by: 46 users
24.01.2021 - 17:17
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I've been waiting for this
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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24.01.2021 - 17:18
musclassia
It's going to be slow to start with, but wait until it flourishes during Spring
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30.01.2021 - 05:18
quieted_darkness
Nice list thus far. Bummified is some good sh*t. Probably wouldn't have bumped into it otherwise. Found the Steven Wilson album quite enjoyable unfortunately I cannot add it to my list since I'm just composing a list with bands that feature at least some metal.
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"If people kept things simple, there would be no discoveries in the world. If scientists said, "The brain is just a brain" and not take it by small segments and labeling it - We would not have come as far. Labels are necessary. Music is sci
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31.01.2021 - 12:53
blood678
Nice
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06.02.2021 - 16:49
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
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rekt
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