Stumbling Through 2021

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Trying to organize my listens since I tend to forget bands after a time. Ratings will fluctuate as I return to albums.

Created by: NAnsari | 05.02.2021

1. Soen - Imperial
(8.31) [progressive alternative] Soen has always created vivid imagery with their lyrics, and Imperial is no different. There's nothing surprising here as Soen sticks to their sound, however, the energy and fire on display is incredible.
2. Dvne - Etemen Ænka
(8.00) [sludge/stoner] This is a journey, and one that doesn't feel as long as the album actually is. There's so much going on and it's never boring. Definitely returning to it later.
3. Empyrium - Über Den Sternen
(8.00) [blackened folk] Despite it not really being my thing, the orchestration and overall composition is extremely well done. Does anyone else get Harry Potter vibes from the cover art?
4. Æthĕrĭa Conscĭentĭa - Corrupted Pillars Of Vanity
(7.95) [progressive black] It's always refreshing to hear diverse inspirations and genres in black metal. The sci-fi story is also interesting.
5. Cult Of Luna - The Raging River
(7.95) [post-metal/sludge] Pounding and atmospheric, this album is what you expect from Cult Of Luna. I do think they sacrificed some memorability for the story but its still a fantastic release.
6. Kauan - Ice Fleet
(7.82) [doom/post-rock] Great atmosphere. The light touches of heaviness give the album nuance, and special props to the production for the continuous bleed from song-to-song
7. Five The Hierophant - Through Aureate Void
(7.70) [post-metal/jazz/avantgarde] Excellent show of avantgarde metal. The sax is great.
8. Wode - Burn In Many Mirrors
(7.67) [black] Really engaging, punchy black metal. There's nothing I haven't heard before but the way Wode brings everything together while adding extra elements makes this one of the better black metal albums I've listened to this year so far.
9. Need - Norchestrion: A Song For The End
(7.67) [prog metal] On point prog metal with interesting themes and intricate musicality
10. Stortregn - Impermanence
(7.66) [blackened melodeath/tech death] Really balanced yet complex. The switches between lighter and heavier moments are well-produced and the feeling of immensity is apparent in the execution.
11. God Is An Astronaut - Ghost Tapes #10
(7.61) [post-rock] Standard post-rock. It's done well, meditative, and has no unnecessary tracks. What is lacks in originality it makes up for in execution.
12. Evergrey - Escape Of The Phoenix
(7.59) [progressive power] Decent power metal, though I felt the middle was bloated with too many softer ballady-type songs. Vocals are great and soulful, which for me boosted many of the songs. That said, my favorite songs are scrunched together at the beginning, so in terms of personal longevity, I'm not sure if this album will last.
13. Tomahawk - Tonic Immobility
(7.58) [experimental/alternative] At this point, it's an album I'd expect from Patton. Fun, experimental, quirky, and satirical.
14. Witherfall - The Curse Of Autumn
(7.55) [progressive power] Engaging prog metal. Really great showcase of musicianship, with special props to the bassist for great lines. The song arrangement is a bit bizarre, with the beginning of the album and final track contraining the longest songs with the shortest songs clustered together in the middle.
15. Wardruna - Kvitravn
(7.52) [ambient/neofolk] The atmosphere and folk instruments gives me the visualization of a windswept, near-stormy landscape with th listener and band around a fireplace. Very immersive and powerfully done.
16. Nine Treasures - Awakening From Dukkha
(7.50) [folk] Despite this being an album of re-recorded songs, it really gets to the core of what makes Nine Treasures so fun to listen to.
17. Wheel (GER) - Preserved In Time
(7.50) [doom] Very good doom, though not necessarily my favorite
18. The Lion's Daughter - Skin Show
(7.48) [blackened sludge/hardcore] This was an interesting blend of synth-tinged sludge, though I felt there was little variety, with "Neon Teeth" and "Sex Trap" having the most to offer.
19. Ildaruni - Beyond Unseen Gateways
(7.47) [pagan black] Very refreshing pagan black metal. The light touches of folk instruments cut through nicely and it's overall a more engaging experience for the progressive elements. Very promising debut.
20. Epica - Omega
(7.46) [symphonic] Not much new here, if at all, but the execution is as great as Epica is known for. There's some unnecessary tracks I feel which could have been scrapped.
21. Devil Sold His Soul - Loss
(7.45) [post-hardcore] Very emotional, heavy, and well-executed. The blend of post-rock tremelos really heightens the souful dual singing. Reminds me a bit of Envy, which is only a good thing.
22. Steven Wilson - The Future Bites
(7.44) [art pop] After a second listen I started to find deeper elements in the album I hadn't noticed before. The production is crisp and I enjoy the experimentation in most of the songs. There was a little Nine Inch Nails somewhere in the mix which I appreciated.
23. Gates Of Doom - Aquileia Mater Aeterna
(7.39) [melodeath/melodic black] One of the better debut albums of 2021. Fantastic atmosphere, consistent performance, and power make this a worthy listen. Looking forward to their next release.
24. Wheel - Resident Human
(7.39) [alternative/prog] Need another listen but enjoyed what I heard.
25. Dust Moth - Rising//Sailing
(7.38) [alternative/post-rock/shoegaze] Really great blend of heaviness and ethereal vocals.
26. Darkfield - History Reimagined
(7.38) [post-rock] The electronic elements give Darkfield a unique feel in the pool of post-rock, and thematically appropriate.
27. Acid Age - Semper Pessimus
(7.35) [thrash] Don't let the album cover or first song fool you; this is a quirky, off-kilter thrash album with excellent musicianship. Special props to the distinctive bass lines. I don't like the production much, which seems to fluctuates in quality and obscures the vocals, but what is on display here is worth the listen. There's plenty of moments where you hear their influences, but to me has enough of their own little quirks which balance it out.
28. April Rain - Mirror Of Ether
(7.35) [post-rock] Excellent production with nice bass lines. Standard post-rock with some songs, like "Clockwork Birds", which elevate the experience.
29. Melancholia - Static Church
(7.33) [blackened doom/sludge] Everything about this speaks to a band ready to dominate the scene. Amazing riffs, fantastic atmosphere, and incredible energy.
30. Ghosts Of Atlantis - 3​.​6​.​2​.​4
(7.31) [extreme gothic] Really enjoyed this; the songwriting is pretty good and consistent songs throughout keep things engaging. The cleans remind me of ICS Vortex, and some songs had elements I'd heard before in Cradle Of Filth. Overall, really pleased with this one.
31. Sleep Terror - Above Snakes
(7.28) [prog/tech death] This was completely unexpected. Great variety of styles and impressive range.
32. Angelus Apatrida - Angelus Apatrida
(7.28) [thrash] While not very original, this is great thrash with some memorable moments.
33. Th1rt3n - A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism
(7.25) [hip-hop] Really excellent example of experimental hip-hop. The blend of shock rap, intricate flows, insightful lyrics make it a somewhat lopsided listen but the incredible inclusion of doomy guitar tones and menacing back line make it engaging throughout. That said, the last two songs could have been omitted in my opinion.
34. Orden Ogan - Final Days
(7.25) [power] This was fun and will definitely be returning to this. It's an interesting approach, considering this is a power metal band creating a morose story.
35. A Day To Remember - You're Welcome
[pop rock/alternative] (7.23) Enjoyable pop rock with some heavier moments.
36. Dark Horse / White Horse - Dark Horse / White Horse
(7.20) [symphonic/progressive] One of the standout EPs this year for me. The vocals are incredible and the music is punchy, heavy, and not the norm for a symphonic album. My biggest complaint is how the mix doesn't give enough clarity to the separate parts. It's as though they couldn't decide on the technical or the symphonic aspects to focus on, and the result is a muddled, noisy experience when it should be smoother.
37. Crown - The End Of All Things
(7.20) [darkwave] One of the smoothest listens of this year. Excellent atmosphere and consistently engaging throughout. There's this sense of slowness or maybe patience which I appreciate, probably most apparent in the vocals, which take a conversational drawl tone.
38. Cave Of Swimmers - Aurora
(7.18) [hard rock/doom] Really enjoyable musicianship on display here. My only issue is the vocals, which aren't really my style. The short length of the album works in its favor.
39. Moonspell - Hermitage
(7.18) [gothic] Haven't listened to much Moonspell to compare it, but generally enjoyed the album.
40. Eisbrecher - Liebe Macht Monster
[industrial] (7.14) This is a lot of fun. Definitely an album I'll return to.
41. The Offspring - Let The Bad Times Roll
(7.13) [punk] Not having listened to a full album from The Offspring before, this was a lot of fun and somehow nostalgic, helped by a piano rendition of "Gone Away". I think the nostalgia works in its favor for me, and, really, it's what you expect from the band.
42. Holy Figures - Luck Of The Draw
(7.13) [alternative/post-hardcore] Really enjoyable EP that makes me hopeful for a full release from this band.
43. Thron - Pilgrim
(7.11) [black] Enjoyable black metal which doesn't quite follow through with the musical range the first track suggests. Still, very good execution.
44. Grima - Rotten Garden
(7.11) [atmospheric black] Enjoyable but was disappointed by the minimal use of folk-instrumentation, with "At The Foot Of The Red Mountains" being the most unique.
45. Armand Hammer - Haram
(7.09) [hip-hop] The dark ambiance coupled with the dark lyricism make this a suffocating and heavy album.
46. Mogwai - As The Love Continues
(7.07) [post-rock] Nothing unexpected from Mogwai, but still a solid release.
47. Nawather - Kenz Illusion
(6.98) [prog/folk] My only problem with this album is how, despite the unique instruments and cultural references, it's not very remarkable. The songwriting, to me, is the weakest part of the album.
48. Spoiwo - Martial Hearts
(6.97) [post-rock/electronic] Pleasant post-rock with electronics. One of the more enjoyable examples of electronics in post-rock because the songwriting focuses on implementing the strengths into building an atmosphere rather than using the electronics as background noise.
49. Divide And Dissolve - Gas Lit
(6.97) [drone] Captivating drone, which even the poetry track melded well with.
50. Greenleaf - Echoes From A Mass
(6.95) [stoner] Despite not really enjoying stoner all that much this was a good listen.
51. Culak - Glass Sanctuary
(6.92) [post-rock/post-metal] The structure follows a general post-rock/metal formula which is complimented by its opposite tropes. Piano, cleans, and hymnal post-rock melts into blast-beats, growls, and percussive post-metal. There's elements of Alcest in the softer moments but it has its own identity.
52. Evanescence - The Bitter Truth
(6.90) [alternative] This didn't grab my attention like The Open Door, but this album may be like their self-titled where it tooks awhile for it to click.
53. Mother Of Graves - In Somber Dreams
(6.88) [melodeath/doom] Engaging debut melodeath abum. "In Somber Dreams" and "The Urn" have memorable riffs worth the listen alone.
54. Heave Blood And Die - Post People
(6.84) [post-metal/alternative] I really enjoy the production on this, even with the heavily-effected and back-pushed vocals. It does it's job to deliver a hazy atmosphere and boosts the listening experience. I don't think I'll return to the album but it's good background music.
55. Chevelle - Niratias
(6.83) [alternative/hard rock] On second listen, Niratias really sticks and best exemplifies what makes Chevelle interesting. Their ability to put emotion into the vocals and not have it get lost in production is remarkable. This is definitely a contender for Alternative Metal AOTY.
56. Of Mice & Men - Timeless
(6.83) [melodic metalcore/alternative] Passable metalcore from an established act.
57. Paranorm - Empyrean
(6.81) [progressive thrash/ progressive death] The music is great but I find the vocals to be really distracting. It's hard to take the growling seriously, possibly because the enunciation is a little off.
58. Fuoco Fatuo - Obsidian Katabasis
(6.79) [funeral doom] The meditative and ritualistic atmosphere are well done, if something I've heard before.
59. Rod Wave - SoulFly
(6.79) [hip-hop] Very soulful and intimate. I think the ablbum would have been better served without so many tracks, as after a while I felt it was going in circles.
60. Sarin - You Can't Go Back
(6.79) [post-metal/atmospheric sludge] Chunky post-metal with minimal vocals. I almost prefer they get rid of the vocals entirely. That said, it's not particularly memorable musically but isn't bad either.
61. Tribulation - Where The Gloom Becomes Sound
(6.78) [gothic] It's not bad but I didn't find this as engaging as others on this site.
62. Crust - Stoic
(6.75) [sludge] solid sludge album.
63. Descensum - Conjure Possessions
(6.75) [symphonic/tech death] While not very original, with flavors of Dimmu Borgir and Opeth emerging throughout, the cohesive whole makes this a worthwhile EP, one which I hope the band builds from.
64. Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark
(6.75) [indietronica/slowcore] Interesting album. Never listened much to these genres before and can't say this intrigues me enough to go further in, but the poetic nature of the lyrics and the minimalist approach to the music make it unique
65. Svn.Seeker - Means To An End
(6.70) [melodeath] Decent melodeath which sounds different from recent groups I've listened to in the genre.
66. Junon - The Shadow Lengthens
(6.69) [post-metal] Really interesting EP debut from these post-metallers. Great introduction and I'm looking forward to more of them in the future.
67. Thou - The Helm Of Sorrow [Collaboration]
(6.69) [sludge/doom/post/neofolk] Very similar to the collaboration last year, except Emma takes more of a backseat.
68. Enforced - Kill Grid
(6.64) [crossover thrash] My only problem with the album is the production, which pushes the vocals noticeably into the soundscape.
69. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G_d's Pee At State's End!
(6.63) [post-rock] Solid post-rock from one of the genre's greats. The front of the album was stronger to me but the entire package is worth the listen for any post-rock fan.
70. Earthshine - My Bones Shall Rest Upon The Mountain
(6.59) [atmospheric doom/black/metalgaze] Despite the blurriness of the production, it works really well for what the band it doing. This particular blend of metalgaze is interesting, though there are moments when the performance is lacking for me, such as in the cleans for "A Warm Place With No Memory".
71. Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined
(6.59) [death] What everyone expected from Cannibal Corpse.
72. Corr Mhóna - Abhainn
(6.55) [doom/heavy metal/celtic black] An album themed around the rivers of Ireland is interesting, though I'm not sure if the band pulled it off. The music doesn't really fit with the theme, being a standard black metal with progressive elements. I feel I might be missing something in the lyrics though.
73. Thunder - All The Right Noises
(6.55) [hard rock] This is fun, if for no other reason than the lyrics of "Young Man", which exemplifies the 'old guy has nostalgia for the past and can't understand the present'. The album is a jam with excellent vocals and decent music.
74. Humanity's Last Breath - Välde
(6.52) [tech death/djent] It's a bit long but I imagine a fan of this genre will enjoy the album. It doesn't stand out to me beyond what I would hear elsewhere but the use of strings helps give the album a little gravitas. I didn't like how the vocals were mixed; they sounded too muffled to me.
75. Loathe - The Things They Believe
(6.48) [ambient] Very lush production and soundscape. If I'm honest, I like this better than Loathe's last album.
76. Rob Zombie - The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy
(6.46) [alternative/industrial] As someone who hasn't listened to Rob Zombie since Educated Horses, I can't say I'm an expert on his musical output. However, this is what I expected from him, so no surprises.
77. Japanische Kampfhörspiele - Neues Aus Dem Halluzinogenozinozän
(6.44) [grindcore] After a second listen the album clicked with me. I really like the weird changes they do in the middle of each song. It's a fun album with a creative flare running throughout.
78. Olde - Pilgrimage
(6.44) [doom/sludge] It takes a few tracks, but Olde starts building on their sludge sound with mellower moments in "In Defiance" and even sax in "The Dead Hand" which, while not prevalent or experimental, give needed texture. I enjoy the vocals quite a bit.
79. Minutian - Magical Thinking
(6.41) [progressive] Pretty standard prog with tiny moments that go beyond the norm. It seems like the decent songs were packed in the front while the worst performances ended the album.
80. Weezer - OK Human
(6.40) [chamber pop/pop rock] Never thought I'd listen to a full Weezer album, but it was an interesting experience. I can't say I was enthralled by the music and I generally did not like the vocal delivery, but I also recognize I don't really like their style. So, with that in mind, it was interesting and had moments I enjoyed, but as the album went on it got dull.
81. Love and Death - Perfectly Preserved
(6.38) [alternative] Pretty standard and shiny-clean modern metal. Head's vocals are surprisingly good, and honestly, I prefer his to Jonathan Davis' voice.
82. Dim Crimson - The Prey
(6.38) [symphonic] enjoyable EP which shows the band's potential. Despite some wonky songwriting, there are moments which make me hopeful for a full release.
83. Demon King - The Final Tyranny
(6.38) [blackened death/technical death] Decent tech-death, but I felt the songs were a bit longer than necessary.
84. Rome - Parlez-Vous Hate?
(6.35) [neo-folk] This was an interesting introduction to what feels like a European Bruce Springsteen, obvious comparison through "Born In The E.U.". I'm sure I'm missing some context for certain political ruminations, but generally it was a breath of fresh air.
85. Pantokrator - Marching Out Of Babylon
(6.34) [death] Production value really holds this back. The album starts out strong but struggles to maintain it's momentum throughout. I enjoyed the use of cleans here, even though they are placed in the background of the production. When part of your lyrics in "The Last Cheek" include 'I'm not stuck here with you, you're stuck here with me', you know you've hit a creative wall somewhere in the process.
86. InnerSphere - Omfalos
(6.33) [melodeath/thrash] Enjoyable if little which stands out. "The Embodiment" feels the most inspired and I hope showcases where they will go from here.
87. Dreamshade - A Pale Blue Dot
(6.29) [melodeath] This reminded me of modern In Flames and elements of Linkin Park. The sleek production really elevates the music, which has post-rock and electric undertones. That said, I think the cover best exemplifies my issue with the album: everything it too polished and suffers from sounding overproduced and safe. The main riff for "Elephant" is really good.
88. Nervosa - Perpetual Chaos
(6.29) [thrash] Standard thrash with death elements. Nothing really stood out to me other than the guitars sounding dull in the mix.
89. Bummified - Beware The Living
(6.25) [sludge/doom] Enjoyable sludge with crunchy bass.
90. Turbulence - Frontal
(6.24) [progressive] For a debut, this is a great inroduction to a talented group. Their production really complements their sound. However, they need to focus on crafting better songs in the future.
91. Cactus - Tightrope
(6.23) [hard rock] Decent hard rock. The length doesn't do the highlights of the album justice, and there are songs which could have been taken off and would have made the experience better.
92. Serj Tankian - Elasticity
(6.15) [alternative/hard rock] I've never liked Serj's solo production because his voice sounds somehow separate from the music. This is about what I'd expect from Serj, and not having listened to him in a while, it's nice to here something new, even if it's not great.
93. Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz
(6.15) [post-punk/art punk] If there's one takeaway from this album, it's the singer really loves dogs. I kept imagining this would be the album Elvis would have made if he was a punk and into house. It's an interesting mix but there's not much to add. Production is lackluster, though that's the point. Interestingly, "To The Country" seems to be their most well-developed and produced song, which seems contrary to the rest of the content.
94. Varang Nord - Pārķiuņa Uomurs
(6.02) [folk] It's fine. Nothing really noteworthy to me but I can see how folk metal fans would love it. There's just not a lot of variety for me to invest much in it and, honestly, I partly blame the production for that lack. "Troļļs" is the most unique of the bunch but it comes a little too late.
95. Anneke Van Giersbergen - The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest
(5.98) [singer/songwriter/folk rock] Anneke's powerful vocals are the only thing about this I enjoyed. The music is generally uninteresting and the songwriting is pretty basic. The worst thing about this is the annoying A, B, C rhyme scheme used in most songs. "Hurricane" is a great example of trying to rhyme everything with -ane or -ain.
96. Werewolves - What A Time To Be Alive
(5.92) [black/death] It's a bit too generic for the social commentary to have much weight. The music is well done but nothing stands out. Essentially, a run-of-the-mill death metal album.
97. Eyehategod - A History Of Nomadic Behavior
(5.81) [doom/sludge] Nothing really stood out to me, but it's not like Eyehategod have anything to prove.
98. Autarkh - Form In Motion
(5.78) [brutal death/industrial] I found myself enjoying this album's experimental composition. The blend of industrial with death metal and metalcore, among others, while disharmonious, I found kept my attention. I doubt I'll return to the album, but the experimentation and creativity behind the project is interesting enough to warrant a listen. One issue I had is the difference in production quality; this was mixed by three different people, and you can tell straight off by the difference between the first two track: "Primitive Constructs" and "Turbulence"
99. Dead Poet Society - -!-
(5.06) [alternative] A few of the tracks, like the title track, are completely useless beyond affirming the band's angsty feel. The production doesn't really help them, and despite having a blend of post-grunge with a poppy The Strokes feel, the project comes off as more awkward than anything.

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