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Best Of The Year: 2021

Hitting somewhere within the region of 900 new albums that I've heard released in 2021, I've consumed a frankly ridiculous amount of music this year; I reckon things will return to a slightly more sensible level in 2022, but for now, these are the most impactful records from this year. I'd say the number of albums that truly stuck with me from this year is lower than 2020, but there were still gems to be found in 2021.

I can see the lower regions of this list changing/expanding as I revisit a few albums that I've not had the chance to fully reflect on after reviewing them (Belakor, Converge, Dormant Ordeal), but this was my gut feeling right now

Created by: musclassia | 29.12.2021

1. Between The Buried And Me - Colors II
Absolutely smashed my expectations of what a 'sequel' album could accomplish, resulting in the best album by the band since Parallax II.
2. Dvne - Etemen Ænka
The kind of 'Edge Of The Earth'-level sophomore record that makes a fantastic debut record look almost feeble in comparison; I've had no interest in listening to Asheran since this was released.
3. Heliocentric - Ishmael
I've enjoyed a lot of djent releases this year, but this is the one that had songs that really grabbed me throughout the whole record.
4. Trivium - In The Court Of The Dragon
An irresistible record that's hampered my ability to revisit some other great albums, because I can't get enough of it.
5. Spaceslug - Memorial
With this, Spaceslug well and truly take the crown from Weedpecker for my favourite Polish stoner metal band, I love their melancholic approach.
6. LLNN - Unmaker
Truly destructive sound that is pretty much unrivalled; I can't think of anybody that can match the sheer heaviness of LLNN, and they back it up with quality songs.
7. Amenra - De Doorn
Intensely atmospheric and admirable maturation of their sound.
8. Cult Of Luna - The Raging River
Not their greatest record, but still features some typically quality music from the band.
9. Delving - Hirschbrunnen
Where Eldovar missed the mark for me, this pulled through with plenty of that delectable Nick DiSalvo instrumental jamming.
10. Dordeduh - Har
Well worth the wait, it's a bit less folky than Dar De Duh but has much of the same charm.
11. Decline Of The I - Johannes
The greatest post-black rendition in 2021, and there were plenty of options on that front, but the atmosphere and writing of this band is hard to top.
12. Thy Catafalque - Vadak
Coming hot on the heels of Naiv, this is somehow even better than that album, going in a slightly more serious direction to great effect.
13. Lorna Shore - ...And I Return To Nothingness
New vocalist? No problem; the only problem with this EP is that it's too short.
14. Hippotraktor - Meridian
Very similar to Psychonaut, helped in no small part by sharing a vocalist with last year's list-topper, and similarly compelling to Unfold The God Man.
15. Terminus - The Silent Bell Toll
Really charming record that matches an at-times very chunky guitar tone with bright and moving vocals.
16. Musk Ox - Inheritance
Incredibly rousing string trio; the title track is mesmerizing in the manner that it develops and intensifies.
17. Melancholia - Static Church
The standout effort in this year's Clandestine Cuts; expect big things from this band.
18. Wardruna - Kvitravn
Probably helped by me beginning Skyrim for the first time when preparing to review this record, but damn such great atmosphere once again.
19. Year Of No Light - Consolamentum
It hasn't quite stayed with me as much as the #2 position in my July-December list would suggest, but more excellent instrumental post-metal from this group.
20. Be'lakor - Coherence
Not quite another Of Breath And Bone, but approaches those heights in its best moments.
21. Noctambulist - The Barren Form
Hard to separate this from Dormant Ordeal's latest, as both take a particularly rewarding spin on dissonant death, but the sheer quality of Infintesimal is hard to argue against.
22. Teramaze - Sorella Minore
Not huge on tracks 2-4, but the title track takes up well over half the record and is perhaps my most played song this year, what a majestic piece of music that song is.
23. Wolvennest - Temple
Love the gothic touches on Succubus and Disappear, and really dig the ritualistic atmosphere of the rest of it.
24. Mastodon - Hushed And Grim
Sags a bit in the middle, but the first few tracks are solid and the final trio are some of the best work by the band since Crack The Skye.
25. Eidola - The Architect
Like Dance Gavin Dance's latest, it opens with a hugely catchy song (Counterfeit Shrines), but unlike Afterburner, I continue to enjoy this the rest of the way through.

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: 41 users
29.12.2021 - 16:42
The Nice Guy
Good list and descriptions, I can imagine this list is going to expand quite a bit in time. And listening to Wardruna whilst playing Skyrim, sounds like a damn good combination if you ask me
29.12.2021 - 16:44

Written by AndyMetalFreak on 29.12.2021 at 16:42

Good list and descriptions, I can imagine this list is going to expand quite a bit.

I could theoretically make this 50 albums long, but I'm trying to keep it to a smallish number of albums that truly stuck with me during the year - I might expand it to 30 to match my list from last year, as I'm tempted to find room for albums like Leprous - Aphelion and Urne - Serpent & Spirit, but I'm still undecided on that; there's a few albums I need to revisit before I'll be really comfortable with the list!

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