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2021: Stuff I Heard

So earlier in 2021, I actually finished a nine year old list, and I thought starting this in July and backfilling with previous listens would be a good idea. Turns out not jotting down some thoughts about albums as you listen to them the first time is mistake, so almost every album on here has been heard at least twice - often more.

I'm going to leave it in release date order for now - maybe I'll put them in rating order, but that seems like a lot of work.

And even looking at my own list, I'm convinced there are albums I've heard that aren't on here, so that's great!

Anyway, enjoy reading and hopefully this might point you in the direction of something from 2021 you haven't bothered with yet.


Created by: LordFezzington | 08.07.2021

1. Horndal - Lake Drinker
What's not to like here? Not just a concept album, but a concept band, based around the fate of the hometown of two of the band members. Lake Drinker reminds me, amongst other things, of absolute peak High On Fire, from guitar lines to Henrik Levahn's Matt Pike-esque vocals. Shot through with the real, visceral anger at the real world, Lake Drinker is a dark yet memorable listen. Hands down my favourite discovery of 2021, maybe even my AOTY. [8.5+]
2. Unto Others - Strength
This album is an absolute blast and one of the most pleasant surprises of 2021. Didn't check out their debut under the Idle Hands moniker, but this is crammed full of hooks. It's melodramatic and dripping in gothic sensibilities, wrapping everything from Sisters Of Mercy to Depeche Mode and back again, with a slightly harder edge. Plus some guitar melodies that wouldn't be out of place on an Iron Maiden album. 'Heroin' and 'When Will Gods Work Be Done' are two of 2021's stone cold bangers. [8.5+]
3. Obscura - A Valediction
Pretty much the only tech death band I've ever cared for, and they're not really tech death any more; certainly not on here. Essentially just a very, very good extreme melodic death metal album with a progressive flair. The songwriting here is so far beyond any of their contemporaries in a similar space, and performed absolutely flawlessly as you would expect given the level of musicianship in the lineup. One of the best things I've heard in 2021. [8.5+]
4. Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality
I know a lot of people think Gatecreeper and other OSDM revivalists are boring. I'm not one of those people, but even if I was, this certainly is not boring. Seven bursts of grindcore over seven minutes give way to the 11 minute doomy glory of "Emptiness", all while sounding distinctly Gatecreeper. [8.5]
5. Asphyx - Necroceros
Asphyx have done it again. Deathhammer was of my favourites of 2012 (I missed Incoming Death) and this might even be better. Some absolute bangers on here: slow, medium and fast. Lot of people not keen on Martin Van Drunen's voice, but he fits right in here. Quality death metal. [8.5]
6. Dรถdsrit - Mortal Coil
This is a really excellent little album of melodic black metal that pretty much combines everything I want from the genre. Vocals are suitably raw, riffs and melodies are memorable, and all mixed up with a great atmosphere and a healthy dose of crust punk. I mean who doesn't love black metal d-beat? [8.5]
7. Dordeduh - Har
Another new discovery for me, this sophomore effort from previous Negura Bunget members is an absolutely glorious blend of atmo-black and folk via Romania. Atmosphere is great and the songwriting is absolutely hypnotising in places. Reminds me of some of Thy Catafalque's heavier output in places. Fantastic album. [8.5]
8. Duskmourn - Fallen Kings And Rusted Crowns
2021's best Amorphis record, but with shades of Amon Amarth, Moonsorrow, Windir and Equilibrium (from back when they were actually good). Is it original? Hell no. But are songs incredibly well crafted? Hell yes. I'm a bit of a sucker for good folk-infused metal, and this has it in spades. [8.5]
9. Thy Catafalque - Vadak
Everyone's favourite one-man avant garde act returns less than a year after the excellent Naiv. And this is excellent again. I can't think of any other artist in the metal sphere that keeps producing such danceable music! Melodies and instrumentation are strong throughout but some of the songwriting isn't as tight as it might be. Still awesome though. [8.5]
10. Mastodon - Hushed And Grim
Mastodon have never really dropped the ball, but it's been a while since I've been completely mesmerised by one of their new albums. That changed with this release. Is 80+ minutes of Mastodon too much? Possibly, I but I don't think so on this form. The melancholic tone is sublime and this has some of their most interesting songs on it. Their best work since Crack The Skye. [8.5]
11. Rivers Of Nihil - The Work
'Where Owls Know My Name' was one of the surprise standouts of 2018, especially as I generally had very little interest in techy-deathcore type stuff. I don't think the highs are quite as obvious on 'The Work', but it's probably a more well-rounded maturation of the direction Rivers Of Nihil are headed. [8.0-8.5]
12. Fallensun - The Wake Of The Fall
A recommendation from the MS Shoutbox that I would have almost certainly missed otherwise. This is seriously melodic melodeath that doesn't really do anything different to the established genre template, but what it does do, it does really impressively. The melodies, especially in the tracks that bookend the album, are beautiful. Lush production helps too. [8.0+]
13. Burial In The Sky - The Consumed Self
I don't normally like much in the way of tech death - to me it's basically a way for people who think they're cooler than Dream Theater to do exactly what they would complain about Dream Theater doing: 90% technical wizardry, 10% song, 0% memorability. This, on the other hand, I found pretty engaging from start to finish. Will definitely be listening again. [8.0+]
14. Hooded Menace - The Tritonus Bell
Absolutely banging death/doom with a side of absolutely banging heavy metal. A bit of a changeup in Hooded Menace's sound, but a very welcome and effective one [8.0+]
15. Carcass - Torn Arteries
Is it Surgical Steel 2.0? No. But why the fuck would you want it to be? Still unmistakably Carcass both in sound and in Jeff Walker's tongue in cheek lyrics. A great mixture of stuff on here that makes for a much more varied listen than its all hallowed predecessor. I might even prefer this. [8.0+]
16. Cradle Of Filth - Existence Is Futile
One of my favourite bands with another solid release. Will almost certainly pick this up or at least listen again. [At least 7.5-8.0+]
17. Cynic - Ascension Codes
Really liked this. Not heavy in the slightest, but that's never really been Cynic's bag. Gloriously jazzy prog interlaced with some ethereal interludes, which would normally irritate the fuck out of me, but seem to work well here. Paul Masvidal's sense of melody is as good as ever, and Matt Lynch's drumming is awesome. [8.0+]
18. Kultika - Capricorn Wolves
Sprawling is an overused term in post-metal, but there's not really any other word for this. The opener is pretty classic post-metal build etc., but the rest of the record takes turns via black metal, prog, psychedelia and a smattering of other genres. Mostly pretty effectively too. Very nice. [8.0].
19. Tribulation - Where The Gloom Becomes Sound
I only really first heard Tribulation on 2018's excellent 'Down Below', and this continues in much the same vein. Curiously catchy, highly melodic, but still pretty extreme by catchy and melodic music standards. Even the simpler moments, like 'Hour Of The Wolf' and 'Funeral Pyre' shine. A gothic delight. [8.0]
20. Culted - Nous
Grimy, nasty, sludgy, industrial-tinged blackened doom. Gets satisfactorily uncomfortable in the second half. Oddly compelling. [8.0]
21. Stortregn - Impermanence
Another tech-death release that I actually really like, which is weird! There's enough of an infusion of high quality melo-black and folk melodies here to make this infinitely more memorable that most tech-death records. Sure, there are moments of showcasing technical brilliance at the expense of memorability, but "Ghosts Of The Past", "Multilayered Chaos" (which evokes Vektor) and "Nรฉnie" are all excellent. [8.0]
22. Spectral Wound - A Diabolic Thirst
Now this, THIS is how you do second wave black metal revival! This album combines most of the best things about the genre - icy blasts, swirling guitars, slightly unhinged vocals - and filters it through the ideal production for this style. Just clean enough to let everything come through, while still sounding hard edged and alive enough to be interesting. "Mausoleal Drift" is one stand-out track. Oh, and "Frigid And Spellbound" is an absolute banger by the way. [8.0]
23. Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined
Somehow, this is not only the first Corpse album I've ever bought, it may be only the second one (after 2006's Kill) that I've actually listened to from front to back. I just could never be bothered to dig into their back catalogue. This, however, is absolutely first rate Florida death metal. The addition of Erik Rutan to guitar and songwriting alongside his already established producer role works magnificently and the rest of the band sound as fresh and energetic as ever. Hard to believe this is a record by a 30 year old band. [8.0]
24. Gojira - Fortitude
Funny band, Gojira. They're another one held to the ridiculous expectation of being the "future" of metal despite having been around for over 20 years. Like, their debut came out between Slipknot's and Mastodon's - they're as old now as Iron Maiden were when Brave New World came out for crying out loud! But I digress. I really like Fortitude. Sure, the title track and "The Chant" detract from the flow of the record, but the rest of the record is excellent, and much more varied than some of their previous output. "Amazonia", "Hold On", "New Found" & "Into The Storm" are personal highlights. [8.0]
25. Jess And The Ancient Ones - Vertigo
Jess And The Ancient Ones' self-titled 2012 debut has one of the best songs of the last decade in 'Sulfur Giants (Red King)' amongst some other banging 70's psychedelic-tinged hard rock. Vertigo delivers more of the same and, while there's nothing quite on the level of 'Sulfur Giants' here, there's plenty of campy 70's weirdness to go around. Excellent again. [8.0]
26. Bewitcher - Cursed Be Thy Kingdom
Very fun blackened heavy metal/hard rock. All a bit tongue in cheek, but a highly worthwhile listen. An album like Venom wish they sounded. [7.5-8.0]
27. Amenra - De Doorn
I find this such a difficult record to properly appraise. On the one hand, the atmosphere is absolutely hypnotic and the vocals are soul crushingly painful. On the other, I'm not sure that enough happens over the course of some of the longer tracks; the vocals also make a lot of the tracks sound quite similar. An experience of an album, for sure. [Started at a 6.5, but has been slowly trending up. Probably an 8.0]
28. Empyrium - รœber Den Sternen
Not listened to these before, despite their over two decades of existence, so I can't compare this to other records by them. But if you have any interest in folk or folk with a bit of metal mixed in, a la Agalloch, then there's plenty to enjoy here. The clean vocals are perhaps not to everyone's taste, but I think they fit really well. "A Lucid Tower Beckons On The Hills Afar" is as majestic as the title suggests. [7.5-8.0]
29. Paranorm - Empyrean
Something to tide everyone over until the next Vektor record rolls around, trebly tremolo riffs and all. Some great ideas on here, if perhaps not enough for its 55 minute run time. Still, as debuts go, this is some ripping prog thrash. [7.5, maybe 8.0]
30. Funeral Mist - Deiform
Pretty straight ahead black metal here, admittedly of an excellent standard. Not sure I'd deify Deiform as much as some others, but it is certainly very good. [7.5-8.0]
31. Ildaruni - Beyond Unseen Gateways
Tidy little Armenian pagan/melodic black metal package here. Very much in the vein of Theogonia-era Rotting Christ, which is no bad thing given how good that album is. [7.5+]
32. Untamed Land - Like Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms
The Good, The Bad and The Black Metal? I'm interested. Didn't catch these guys' debut, but this is pretty good black metal that mostly successfully blends a little bit of Americana in. Execution isn't quite there in places, and maybe the longer tracks could be a bit more focused, but overall, the songwriting is pretty strong. [7.5+]
33. Thundering Hooves - Vestiges
Do you like Satyricon? You do? But do you like early full on black metal Satyricon, or mid-period Now, Diabolical black 'n' roll Satyricon? Well, take your pick here - Thundering Hooves do a pretty good job of covering all those stylistic bases on Vestiges. A very promising debut from this London duo. [7.5]
34. Frozen Soul - Crypt Of Ice
"Cold Thrower" might be a silly nickname for these Texans, but it pretty much nails what this record sounds like. Bolt Thrower worship of the highest order, just with a winter theme. Now, I fucking love Bolt Thrower, so a homage done this well is right up my street. Curious to see where they go for a sophomore effort. [7.5]
35. Sithu Aye - Senpai III
Anime for guitar, I guess? My first encounter with this particular style of instrumental-anime-djent-prog, and honestly, I had a great time. Well written, incredibly performed with uplifting melodies. [7.5]
36. Emma Ruth Rundle - The Helm Of Sorrow [Collaboration]
A second team-up of Emma Ruth Rundle and sludge outfit Thou, following 2020's excellent May Our Chambers Be Full. This is by turns melancholy and savage, with Rundle's distinctive vocals (a sound I've loved since her time in Marriages) floating across some decidedly heavy sludge riffing. [7.5]
37. Dread Sovereign - Alchemical Warfare
I like a lot of what Primordial do and Nemtheanga is one of the most idiosyncratic vocalists in metal. I also like doom, so naturally I like this album. Like so many albums, it could do with a bit of editing, but the thundering opener proper "She Wolves Of The Savage Sea" and the trad doom of "Her Master's Voice" are outstanding. [7.5]
38. Evil - Possessed By Evil
Extremely fun Japanese blackened thrash, much in the vein of Hellripper or Midnight from 2020. Some great riffs on here but all kind of slapped together in a very haphazard way, which is part of the charm. [7.5]
39. Alkerdeel - Slonk
My first encounter with Alkerdeel (I think), which is surprising. A strange encounter if I'm honest. Slonk is dirty, grimy sludge and black metal twisted together inside an intense atmosphere and production. Hypnotic in places, chaotic in others. Definitely one you need to be actively listening to, otherwise it might kind of pass you by as it did me on the first couple of listens. [7.5]
40. The Ruins Of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
Possibly also my first full listen through a Ruins Of Beverast album. At almost 70 minutes, listening to this in one sitting was a commitment, but a worthwhile one. Hypnotic and occasionally quite appealing black metal shot through with some gothic stylings that I'm led to believe don't appear on his other albums. Maybe not the best for newcomers, but I liked it. [7.5]
41. Earthshine - My Bones Shall Rest Upon The Mountain
So, the production. I remember discussing this with Radu when it came out - I can absolutely appreciate the benefits of it sounding like it does - especially in the cleaner and more spaced out/blackgaze-y sections. But I find the dirty guitar tone oddly grating in some of the beefier moments, particularly on "A Warm Place With No Memory". Still, a curiously uplifting combination of doom and blackgaze with an unique overall atmosphere. And sampling Bob Ross' voice on the closer is worth at least half a point! [7.5]
42. Shadecrown - Solitarian
A very late (January 2023 in fact!) addition to this list as I was catching up with it thinking it was a 2022 release... oops. But glad I did give it a spin - a showcase of all things Finnish metal really. Very solid [7.5]
43. Pupil Slicer - Mirrors
A very unusual album for me to end up buying, but I really enjoy the abrasiveness on display here. Definitely room to improve the songcraft and develop some ideas a bit further, but the combination of short stabs of violence with a couple of longer pieces is a pretty solid foundation. [7.5]
44. Moral Collapse - Moral Collapse
India typically isn't close to the top of the list for metal countries, but this international collaboration is certainly worthy of attention. This blends pretty classic death metal sounds with touches of jazz and avant-garde and some traditional melodies. Actually a bit short to make as much of an impression as it could, but when you have members of Death and Gorguts doing guitar guest spots and the mighty Hannes Grossman of Necrophagist and Obscura fame on drums, it certainly grabs the attention. [7.5]
45. Pestilence - Exitivm
I'd never claim to be an expert in Pestilence's style of slightly weird death metal, and I certainly haven't kept up with them in recent years. However, this does a pretty good job of blending their groundbreaking 90's take on the genre with some more modern sensibilities and production. Nice. [7.5]
46. Necronautical - Slain In The Spirit
Yet more really solid black metal, this time of the melodic and slightly gothic tinged variety. Definitely reminded me of CoF at times. Lead parts on "Occult Ecstatic Indoctrination" are really, really good, by the way. [7.5]
47. Wormwitch - Wolf Hex
Good black metal again! This one a nice little combination of crust and some really good melodic tunes. "Canadian Denim Mountain Attack" is a great song title! Slightly superfluous cover of "Hit The Lights" at the end of the album, mind you. [7.5]
48. Qrixkuor - Poison Palinopsia
An album of total madness quite frankly! Two meandering 25-minute treks through some really quite good dissonant death metal. Undeniably well put together, it's probably not something I'll return to often as it really does need quite an involved listen to get the most out of it. [7.5]
49. Aborted - ManiaCult
A nice, thick slab of brutal death metal from one of (as I understand it) the most consistent bands in the field. A fun time was had by all. [7.5]
50. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster - The World Inside
The largely instrumental post-metal masters return with another solid collection of lush soundscapes and builds. They remain an incredibly listenable band and I really do quite like this. [7.5]
51. Killing - Face The Madness
More debut album thrash revivalism, this time from Denmark. Definitely a better than average effort, with some eminently headbangable riffs. Especially like 'Straight Out Of Kattegat'. Obviously held back from greatness by a lack of originality. [7.5]
52. Unendlich - Paradox Of A Broken World
I initially thought this was just another black metal album, but I enjoyed this a lot more than expected. A bit spacey in places and a few more memorable melodies than some similar albums. [7.5]
53. Bizarrekult - Vi Overlevde
Another very enjoyable black metal album, with a few nice little touches from other genres. Not particularly bizarre; maybe a little bit kvlt. [7.5]
54. Noctambulist - The Barren Form
Solid effort in this Ulcerate-defined corner of death metal. Engaging throughout, but just doesn't have that certain something that The Destroyers Of All or Stare Unto Death And Be Still do that push them over the top. [7.5]
55. Born Of Osiris - Angel Or Alien
I used to be extremely elitist about deathcore, in that I thought it was all dogshit. But getting old actually seems to have made me more accepting of stuff, which I'm sure is backwards. Thought this was really fun. Sure, it's way too long, but I liked most of the individual songs. And spoiler free spoiler - "Shadowmourne" has moments in it I was not expecting! [7.5]
56. Darkthrone - Eternal Hails......
Fenriz and Nocturno Culto just doing whatever the fuck they want and still turning out a quality album. Obviously not to everyone's tastes but I really like this doomier take on their sound. [7.5]
57. Massacre - Resurgence
Who knew Massacre were dropping a new album this year? I didn't until the moment I put this on. And damn, if it wasn't a satisfying listen. If you think you know what to expect from this, you'd be exactly correct: Florida death metal to wreck your neck to. Much fun. [7.5]
58. Death Kommander - Pro Patria Mori
Pretty sure this lot have only ever heard one band. Competent if unspectacular Bolt Thrower worship, right down to the riffs, lyrics, vocal style and guitar tone. [6.0]
59. ะ“ะฝั‘ั‚ - ะ“ั€ั‘ะทั‹ ะž ะ’ะตัะฝะต
Reasonable, no frills atmo-black. Most tracks have a riff or two that stand out a bit more. Somehow the first of 11 releases (as of August) by this guy in 2021. [6.5]
60. Ritualist - An Audience of Desolation
Debut EP from these Michiganders. Standard deathcore/tech death with random sprinklings of djent and black. A bit lacking in personality but definite room for improvement if the different elements were interwoven better and with a few more memorable moments. Forgettable as it stands. [5.0-5.5]
61. Mirzadeh - Sauna
Fairly average melodic black that is much better when it leans harder into some nice folk melodies and instrumentation. [6.0]
62. Mechina - Siege
I think the formula is played out here. The same tried and tested riffing style with lush orchestration. There are moments on previous records, like Acheron, that stand out and even have some real emotional weight, "Vanquisher" for example. I can't remember anything about this one, other than it's definitely a Mechina album. Which is fine, I guess. [6.0]
63. Transilvania - Of Sleep And Death
Furiously blasting Austrian black metal. Perfectly acceptable for what it is, but nothing amazing by contemporary standards. [6.0]
64. Juan Bond - Womb
Surprisingly fun little mathcore record. Some nice riffs but a little bit incoherent as a whole. [6.0]
65. Svrm - ะ ะพะทะฟะฐะด
More swirling, slightly angry atmo-black from Ukraine, so Drudhk is a natural reference. Fairly enjoyable, but songwriting really suffers from not knowing how to end a song without just stopping dead! [5.5-6.0]
66. Born Of Thorns - The End-Time Continuum
Actually a very solid black metal release with some nice melodies and more than a hint of Dimmu Borgir-type orchestration knocking about. Well produced too. And the cover art is excellent. [6.5-7.0].
67. Saber - Without Warning
I actually though this was quite fun, even if I don't really see the point of rehashing 80's speed metal any further than bands like Enforcer and the like have already done. And while the vocals fit the shtick, they are pretty irritating after a while. [6.0]
68. A Diadem Of Dead Stars - The Furrow Of Woes
One-man Greek atmospheric black metal. Really quite good at what it does. The ending to "And Swallows Flew Away From The Land" is really quite beautiful. [7.0]
69. Aran Angmar - Black Cosmic Elements
Like a lot of modern black metal albums, this is well constructed, well performed and well produced. Just doesn't have the memorability or staying power to stand out from the crowd. [6.0]
70. Slytherin - When The Darkness Comes
What, Harry Potter themed atmospheric black metal not your thing? Mine neither. Not very interesting, concept or otherwise. [4.5]
71. Despondent Moon - Enshrouded In Eternal Moonlight
Second wave black metal worship. Again, fine, with some nice instrumentation and actually a couple of pretty sweet interludes. Vocals might as well not be in the mix at some points though. [5.5]
72. Celestial Swarm - Gateways To The Necroverse
Cosmic death metal on offer here. Pretty unrelenting and not very dynamic, which is a shame as some of the songs have good ideas going on - the intro to "Sentient Colony" for example. The regular DM vocals are fine, but the switch to super br00tal vocals at some points is silly and a bit shit to be honest. [5.0-5.5]
73. Malakhim - Theion
Just a very solid black metal album. No more, no less. [6.5-7.0]
74. Interloper - A Revenant Legacy
One of a couple of deathcore/deathcore-adjacent releases I've found myself quite enjoying this year. Surprisingly melodic in places, but not something I'm likely to hurry back to. [6.5-7.0]
75. For Giants - There, There
Instrumental prog-djent, with some genuinely quality moments and a great sense of melody. But nothing really stuck with me longer than while it was still playing. [7.0]
76. Molten - Dystopian Syndrome
A full on death/thrash assault from San Francisco that also manages to sound like Mercyful Fate by way of some nifty heavy metal stylings. Really like the overall sound and production of this, but not completely sold on the songwriting yet. Still, it's only a debut and a very solid one at that. [7.0]
77. Colosso - Hateworlds
A couple of interesting moments on this, but otherwise quite forgettable death metal. Production sounded like it was recorded underwater somehow. [5.0]
78. Distant Shapes - Life Forsaken
Melodic death metal is often pretty formulaic, but while some of the tried and trusted tropes do turn up here, the doomier side of this does enough to keep it an interesting and slightly heavier than average listen throughout. [7.0+]
79. Soen - Imperial
I think I've come to the conclusion that I don't like this style as much as I used to. Don't get me wrong, this is a very good album of progressive metal with some really good highs - the lead on "Illusion" is gorgeous, for example. Just don't feel myself connecting with the music like I do with my favourites in the space, like peak Arena, Subsignal or Porcupine Tree. [7.0-7.5]
80. Iotunn - Access All Worlds
Still not sure on this one. Some really excellent melodeath to be found on here, but the vocals and lack of dynamics in the production are a bit much to deal with over the course of over an hour. A strong outing for sure, but very hard to decide how much I actually like it. [7.0, probably...]
81. Evergrey - Escape Of The Phoenix
Not really seriously dug into Evergrey before. They missed their chance when I was much more into prog and power metal. I think this is probably pretty good if you like this sort of thing, just not really for me any more. [6.5-7.0]
82. Rob Zombie - The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy
Look, I had a lot of fun with this record, OK? Some of it is obviously a bit stupid, but has Rob ever released anything that didn't have a bit of that to it? All part of the charm. [7.0-7.5]
83. Saxon - Inspirations
I mean, it's a covers album by a band past their best. And for all that, it was OK. [6.0]
84. Serj Tankian - Elasticity
This sounds exactly like I would expect Serj Tankian doing Serj Tankian things to sound. The bounce of SOAD with typically idiosyncratic lyrics and vocal delivery. Solid little EP. [7.0]
85. Agent Steel - No Other Godz Before Me
A band from the 80s using a 'Z' to pluralize wordz in 2021 was already a bit of a red flag, but surprisingly the music on here isn't terrible. I mean, it's not good, but it's not as bad as I feared. The vocals on the other hand... they're just very, very silly. [5.0]
86. Smith/Kotzen - Smith/Kotzen
I mean, it's dad rock, isn't it? But given it's made by men in their 50s and 60s that's not a great surprise is it? Adrian Smith has always been one of my favourite guitarists, especially for lead work, and there's plenty of opportunity for him to shine here. The songs just don't do much for me sadly. [6.5]
87. Capra - In Transmission
2021: The year I remembered I quite like post-hardcore. This is a straight to your face slab of exactly that with VERY obnoxious vocals, which might put some off, but I think they're the only possible fit for the material. Plus, tell me that "Samuraiah Carey" isn't a genius song title, I dare you! [6.5-7.0]
88. Bodom After Midnight - Paint The Sky With Blood
Quite simply the best Bodom material from the last decade and change. The two original songs on here are both absolutely wonderful and really emphasise how great a loss Alexi Laiho is to the world of heavy music - an absolute tragedy that this project was only able to give us this EP. And the cover of DIssection's genre defining classic "Where Dead Angels Lie" is glorious. [9.0]
89. Evile - Hell Unleashed
I was so looking forward to this. I always wanted Evile to replicate the excitement of Enter The Grave, which they never had up to this point. Ol Drake saying they were taking a more extreme approach was great to hear, but outside of a few moments, this is just very ordinary 'Let's see how fast we can pedal the E string' thrash, with Ol's vocals being even less engaging than his brother's. Passable, but disappointing. [5.5]
90. Vexed - Culling Culture
Another in a (relatively) recent batch of newish heavy British bands that happen to be fronted by women (Svalbard, Employed To Serve, Pupil Slicer). Though I like this less than anything I've heard from the three I've just name-dropped, this still has its moments. Modern djenty metal/core, often reminiscent of NWOAHM bands like Chimaira, with a mix of harsh and clean vocals. A bit one-paced. Opening guitar hook to 'Purity' is excellent. [6.5]
91. Helloween - Helloween
There's a lot to digest here - all three vocalists taking the lead at different points across 12 tracks for over an hour. When Helloween get it right, they're a great band and the opening couple of tracks suggest they're still able to do good things. There's just no need for this much Helloween; trimming the fat from some overlong tracks and cutting some bloat like 'Mass Pollution' would make this a much stronger effort. [7.0]
92. Urne - Serpent & Spirit
Some of this is genuinely breathtakingly good, like the guitar melody line in the title track. There are hints of Death, Pantera and Iron Maiden plus a hearty helping of sludge and even a side of black metal. If anything, there are too many ideas here, such that the album is less cohesive than it could be. But when they get the blending of elements right, it's awesome. Fantastic debut, leaves me very excited for a follow up. [8.0]
93. Enshine - Transcending Fire
Pretty sounding atmospheric doom EP. A nice listen but overall not the most memorable. [6.0-6.5]
94. Felled - The Intimate Earth
Black metal in the vein of the mighty Agalloch, if a little rougher around the edges. [7.0]
95. Drawn And Quartered - Congregation Pestilence
This took me a couple of goes, but there's actually a decent slightly dissonant death metal album in here. Fans of Immolation & Morbid Angel should enjoy. Production could use a bit more punch though. [6.5-7.0]
96. Taake - Avvik
As usual with Taake, it's not the straight up black metal that makes them worth the ride. This is a collection of songs from recent splits, plus one more track. The folksy closing to 'Ubersereit', the saxophone rescuing an otherwise ropey cover of The Sisters Of Mercy's 'Heartland' and the gorgeous acoustic version of 'Nattestid Ser Porten Vid I' are amongst the stars of the show here. [7.0]
97. Nanowar Of Steel - Italian Folk Metal
Look, fun metal is fun, but this just isn't very good. One song sounded almost exactly like a Gamma Ray song that I can't quite put my finger on, and the rest was so uninteresting I didn't even finish it and have no intention to try again. [DNF, 4.0]
98. Lost In Grey - Under The Surface
I really don't go in for symphonic stuff much anymore - Nightwish and the like being fairly consistently disappointing over the last few years. While this can't top Tarja era Nightwish, it is a very worthy substitute. A few really excellent tunes here, 'Disobedience', 'Stardust II' and the beautiful 'Varjo', sung in Finnish, stand out for me. [7.0-7.5]
99. Year Of No Light - Consolamentum
When I first listened to this, I thought it was excellent - streets ahead of the highly touted Amenra release as it's more dynamic. Over time, I'm a bit less impressed by it, and Amenra is on the rise. This album certainly has more variety while still retaining a pretty claustrophobic atmosphere for post-metal; not sure it has the emotional kick I felt it did at first. Still probably an 8.0 though... [8.0]
100. Godhead Machinery - Masquerade Among Gods
Perfectly reasonable black/death EP, evoking stuff like Behemoth here and there. [6.0]
101. Mesarthim - CLG J02182-05102
Sci-fi black/melodeath with a very healthy dose of melody via electronica. Surprisingly entertaining. Mix could use some work. [6.5-7.0]
102. Dola - Czasy
More very listenable black metal, this time with some jazzy and post touches. Maybe lacking in cohesion a little. [7.0]
103. Mayhem - Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando
The 'standard' Mayhem tracks on here are OK, but I actually preferred the punk covers, which are quite fun. [7.0]
104. Elderblood - Achrony
More very decent black metal with some nice symphonic touches, reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir etc. Manages not to get too carried away with the orchestration, which is nice. Artwork is suitably dark, too. [7.0-7.5]
105. Ruadh - Eternal
There are moments on this that are absolutely sublime and really fit with the album's seasonal theme. Opener 'Break Of Dawn' and closer 'The Wheel' are both excellent. However, it all sags a bit in the middle and some of the clean vocals are less than stellar, sounding a bit awkward in places. [6.5-7.0]
106. Times Of Grace - Songs Of Loss And Separation
Heartlandcore? Is that a thing? Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage make a second attempt to blend Springsteen with metalcore. Sometimes with success, sometimes less so. I'd argue the tracks they don't go anywhere near KSE are actually the most interesting. [7.0]
107. Ophidian I - Desolate
This has a lot of impressive parts, but ultimately this reflects a lot of what I dislike about tech death: it's all style over substance. I honestly couldn't pick out a single song that stood out here; moments, like some of the lead work on closer 'Wither On The Vine' are pretty cool, but there are precious few hooks to be found. Sweep-picked arpeggios + blast beats do not automatically good songs make. [5.5-6.0]
108. Powerwolf - Call Of The Wild
Yes, it is fun. Yes, it's bombastic and overblown. Yes, they're very consistent. If you like this sort of OTT Sabaton-style power metal, then, yes, you'll love this. A couple of serious bangers to be found, but ultimately a fairly shallow experience. Not that there's anything wrong with that! [7.0]
109. Wizardthrone - Hypercube Necrodimensions
Checked this once. It seemed like yet more fairly boring tech death. Then it turned out one of the members is an abusive prick. Didn't listen again. [No Rating]
110. Korpituli - The Ancient Spells Of The Past
I seem to have inadvertently listened to a lot of black metal this year, most of which has been good or better. This debut is no exception. Atmosphere is good throughout and has a quite few nice riffs and melodies to keep it reasonably interesting. Good potential. [7.0]
111. Netherbird - Arete
A really nice melodic black metal album here. Netherbird have found a very workable blend between melody and aggression, and reminded me on occasion of last year's Necrophobic album, if not quite as impressive. Still really good though. [8.0]
112. King Woman - Celestial Blues
Not particularly bluesy, this, but I do really like it as a whole. The doomy feeling that pervades the album is very well achieved and there are some real emotional high (or low, depending on how you look at it) points, like 'Morning Star'. Feels like a very genuine record, and although not every song is incredible, I find it a captivating listen. [8.0]
113. Gama Bomb - Thunder Over London
Fun little EP by Ireland's best fun little thrash band. 'nuff said. [7.0]
114. Lingua Ignota - Sinner Get Ready
This is a very hard album to even categorise, let alone rate. I think if you approach it as a collection of very angry dark spirituals, it will absolutely give you what you want. Some tracks are borderline uncomfortable to listen to, and there is a distinct lack of musicality at times. Having said that, it is quite captivating and, given the real life experiences informing it, very believable. [8.0, maybe?]
115. Lorna Shore - ...And I Return To Nothingness
Look, I've become more accepting of deathcore over the years - I've even rated at least one 2021 deathcore album pretty favourably - but this just does very little for me. It is absolutely all over the place and doesn't seem to really know what it is meant to be - deathcore, death metal, power metal, symphonic, black? All get splattered round a bit. And some of the vocals are every parody of deathcore vocals in one - i.e. fucking stupid. [5.5]
116. Grinding Fear - Distorted Dreams
Crossover thrash from Finland? Strange, but I'll allow it. Pretty derivative in all honesty, but fun for 34 minutes. [6.0]
117. ร†nigmatum - Deconsecrate
Some more evidence that 20 Buck Spin are one of the best labels out there at the moment. An excellent, slightly dissonant death metal opus with a touch of progressiveness. Impressive stuff. [8.0]
118. Unreqvited - Beautiful Ghosts
A surprising blend of post-rock/metal with black metal sensibilities. A bit directionless at times, but opening and closing pair "All Is Lost" and "All Is Found" work really nicely and contain some moments of genuine beauty. [7.0]
119. Diskord - Degenerations
This is more or less indescribable! Is it death metal? Yes, kind of. Is it absolutely mental? 100%. Does it work? Incredibly well, actually. If I had to describe it, I'd say it sounds like Voivod covering Atheist covering Gorguts. Or something. Honestly, you should just listen to it - it's really quite good. [8.0]
120. Prestige - Reveal The Ravage
More Finnish thrash? OK, then... Bit different this time as this the first album in almost two decades from this lot. It goes pretty well, but I'm not sure anyone would have known much different if 1992 was still the last time Prestige released an album. Perfectly acceptable stuff though. [7.0]
121. Act Of Denial - Negative
A strange collection of musicians here - Soilwork's Speed Strid on vocals, former Decapitated & current Septic Flesh drummer, Krimh, and bass legend Steve DiGiorgio, with a couple of hitherto unheard of guitarists. All collaborating to make a fairly uninteresting, if well put together, melodeath album that leans very close to KSE territory in places. [6.5-7.0]
122. Deafheaven - Infinite Granite
Never really bothered with Deafheaven before, so I'm not wedded to any of their previous work or sounds. This is perfectly listenable, but I get the impression that if you like shoegaze, albums like this are pretty easy to find. And if you like black metal, you're shit out of luck here. [7.0, maybe 7.5]
123. Wolves In The Throne Room - Primordial Arcana
The only other WITTR album I'm really familiar with is Celestial Lineage, which is pretty damn good. I like this quite a bit too, even if it isn't quite as magisterial. But it's still WITTR, so it's still good. [7.0+]
124. Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
I find Maiden albums so hard to appraise objectively. They are undoubtedly the most important band to me personally, which can cloud my judgement a bit. Having said that, I enjoyed this SO much more than Book Of Souls, which may actually be my least favourite Maiden record. Yes, this is too long (again) and a couple of the longer songs really needed some editing, but "Writing On The Wall" and "Hell On Earth" are among the best things they've ever done. [No Rating]
125. Hail Spirit Noir - Mannequins
Now, obviously, this is very daft. A highly talented progressive band turning their hands to synthwave is certainly something to check out though. A collection of synthwave takes on existing HSN songs, plus a few new ones. Nothing really stands out, but it is quite fun, nonetheless. [7.0]
126. Employed To Serve - Conquering
Hmm, not 100% sure about this one. On the one hand, it's great to hear a newish British band putting out a nice chunk of heaviness like this. Some of guitar work is excellent and Justine Jones' vocals are vicious throughout. There's just a few too many moments that drift too far into nu metal for my current taste, which holds it back a bit. [6.5-7.0]
127. Spiritbox - Eternal Blue
I had heard this band hyped up to hell and back again so naturally wanted to check their hotly anticipated debut out. Can't say I get the hype in all honesty. Like, individually, the songs are fine slightly proggy, djenty, melodic metalcore, but there's definitely a formula to them over the course of a whole album. A bit disappointing [6.0]
128. Alien Weaponry - Tangaroa
Look, I'm highly in favour of working indigenous music into your metal - some bands pull this off really well. Unfortunately, though, this record just isn't very good. Mostly nondescript riffs, excepting those that sound like cheap knockoffs of Gojira and Deftones, weak production and a pretty ropey vocal performance in places left me feeling like I was listening to a shit version of Roots. And even the original of that isn't that great. [5.0-5.5]
129. Brainstorm - Wall Of Skulls
I only really bothered with this out of curiosity/nostalgia, since power metal really isn't top of my genre pile these days. This is exactly what you would expect from Brainstorm - very consistently structured and catchy PM anthems, some of which wouldn't sound out of place on late-90s/early-00s genre staples. Others sound more like something from the West End stage. Light entertainment only. [6.0-6.5]
130. Ministry - Moral Hygiene
I don't know Ministry's back catalogue that well, truth be told, so I can't really compare this with their classic releases or their later, much pilloried stuff. But this was actually quite decent. A bit one-paced and not sure all the very topical samples will be a great idea in a few years time, but "Believe Me" and "Alert Level" in particular are great. [7.0-7.5]
131. Full Of Hell - Garden Of Burning Apparitions
I definitely like a bit of grind here and there, and this has some good stuff in it's compact 21-minute run time. Not so convince about the more experimental/noise numbers, like "Derelict Satellite", though. [6.0-6.5]
132. Dying Wish - Fragments Of A Bitter Memory
If Killswitch Engage have ever been an important band for you, then you'll find great enjoyment in this. I certainly had a fun time with it. Straight-up 2000s metalcore adulation on offer, with nothing new added whatsoever, but Dying Wish nail the sound and energy required. [7.0]
133. Frontierer - Oxidized
There's a certain appeal to unrelenting chaos in heavy music, don't get me wrong. But I found this a bit too much, especially over the course of 50 minutes. I suspect you're either going to love what Frontierer are selling on Oxidised, or absolutely hate it, without much middle ground. [5.5]
134. Trivium - In The Court Of The Dragon
Full disclosure: I've never liked Trivium much, largely due to Matt Heafy's overinflated opinion of himself and his band when they were first knocking around in the early 00's. Ascendancy was decent, if a bit -core for my tastes, and then The Crusade was utter garbage and I lost interest. There are undoubtedly some great riffs on this album, and you can't argue with the musicianship. But ultimately, I still don't much care for the songwriting as a whole, and Heafy's vocals - harsh and clean - remain profoundly irritating to me. A good album, but no more than that. [7.0]
135. Vildhjarta - Mรฅsstaden Under Vatten
Far too long, far too little variation, far too few interesting ideas for a record of this length. Whereas they were innovative with Mรฅsstaden, this doesn't represent 10 years of creative growth. [5.5-6.0]
136. Aeon - God Ends Here
Extremely generic death metal, but very competent and reasonably entertaining. [6.0]
137. Every Time I Die - Radical
Never bothered with these before - metalcore arrived just a bit too late for me to be in to it really - but I'd heard glowing reviews of this. Actually an alright album, showcasing many sides of ETID. All the more interesting as it would seem to be their final ever record. [7.0+]
138. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole
I mean, this version of DSO has always been a batshit enterprise, and that certainly doesn't change with this album. There are some jaw dropping moments here - just not always for the right reasons! Just a little bit too chaotic for its own good - the good ideas would benefit from more exposure, while the more... questionable ones could do with fading into the background a bit. [6.0-6.5]
139. Stormkeep - Tales Of Othertime
The album art for this is absolutely incredible. And a pretty good guide to the music within as well. Which is to say, decent melodic black metal, especially for a debut. I do think the album is very samey and actually felt longer than its 43 minutes first time through, which isn't a great thing. Massive potential though. [7.0]
140. Khemmis - Deceiver
Turns out the price you pay for not really keeping up with heavy music over the last 5 years or so is that you miss out on a whole lot of great new bands. Who knew? Khemmis are one such band - Deceiver being my first proper exposure to them. I've read that this isn't as good as their earlier records, which must mean they're incredible, because this is really strong heavy metal infused epic doom. Reminds me a bit of Procession, which can only be a good thing. [8.0]

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 2   Visited by: 10 users
20.02.2022 - 15:26
Lost To Apathy
Finally finished writing comments for every album on here! Had to re-listen to quite a few of these to remember what I actually thought, but that's been at least a little bit helpful for the MS Awards... now to check out the nominees that aren't on this list!
"Pay no heed to anyone and do what seems right to yourself." - Franz Kafka, The Trial
2022 List:
2021 List:
20.02.2022 - 15:40
Nocturnal Bro
Very cool summary! Hopefully I can find some more 2021 gems in here!

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