|New Variant called Deez-Top-45-of-'21icon|
Sounds horrendous and is. Another messed up year. I've been to my first 3 live shows in 18 months over the last few weeks which has been amazing, and immeasurable in how much they were needed, live shows are my life but with fear on the horizon again I don't know how long this will be enjoyed, It doesn't look great. And neither does extended travel, my other importance in life. Hope the good kids of Sputnik are all doing ok in these mad times. It's easy to go under. Keep your heads up x
Really tried to strip back my EOY list this year. Felt like I was just fluffing it (oo-er) for the sake of filling 50/100. Basically a ton of 7/10s this year that I can't be bothered with adding. So we going 45 which include a few EPs . I hope the 4 people who read this appreciate. Again embarrassed by the lack of Electronic this year just nothing really grabbed me. A dark list for dark times....or something.
Possibly the surprise of the year for me. I never thought I would be putting Cannibal Corpse on an EOY list. Who knew? Although adding the might Erik Rutan must have slashed the odds a bit. First CC record I've found interesting and been into for about 20 years.
UK Powerviolence/grindcore. Saw these kids a few weeks ago and they were blew me away so this has been in rotation ever since.
Lustral Purge in Cerulean Bliss
Another latecomer but not really a surprise that it was a beauty when Gabriele Gramaglia of Cosmic Putrefaction/The Clearing Path is involved. One of the most consistent/exciting songwriters in the genre putting yet another marker down.
The Cyclic Reckoning
Seems like an age this dropped now and everyone being hooked on those ridiculously angular yet catchy as hell riffs/leads. I hadn't listened to this in a month or so as I had completely overdone it on its realise but still what a fun, intriguing black metal album this is. rarely have I whistled riffs in the show as if they where TV advert jingles as much as I do after a session with this.
|41||Emma Ruth Rundle|
Engine of Hell
You know, I love ERR more than many of many of my own family but I would be lying if I said I feel the same about this record as I do her others. It's obviously more stripped back, cold and sombre with minimal Instrumentation but Emmas broken serenades still carry this beautiful, sombre album. I just haven't connected it like I have others. Maybe it will come in time. Yet it is still fantastic and utterly heartbreaking at times.
Almost forgot about this debut MLP even though I bought the vinyl ( Cheat word for an EP really isn't it? come on) Reminiscent of Void Rot but murkier. 15 mins of death doom heaven on Sentient Ruin.
Hardcore punk from Korea doing exactly what it should. Raging, Foot stopping , head walking , two stepping Korean hardcore.
|38||Crypts of Despair|
All Light Swallowed
No bells and whistles just a killer Lithuaninan death metal album with a bit of blackened/atmospheric/dissonant vibe. Bumped this many a time this year.
Monolith of Corrosion
If this was a Pound 4 Pound boxing list then this baby would be sitting comfortably right near the top of the tree but as its a super short 13 minute EP It's staying here but HAS to be on here because it is purely devastating. Production is huge and with added Keith Merrow this is by a mile the best they have ever sounded. Super dissonant, excellent song writing with loads going on. Stellar, Stellar stuff. Peak dissodeath for me. Gimme a whole album of this please Lads. So, so good.
Ridiculously awesome, Latino , heavy zeuhl prog record. A whole lot of Crimson in here. Loads of fun. Loads of sweet latin breakdowns. If Fripp had been from the favelas and also was into a bit of doom now and then.
Open The Gates
This things a jam. The band are truly fantastic some of the bass and percussion goes hard. I can kind of go with or leave Moor mother depending on my mood but on here it sounds like she's standing head of a rally busting out forgotten poetry or something ready for a jazz backed, Million man march.
Dudes from Keeper and Body Void making some super emotive Funeral doom (funeral sludge almost) but without the associated gurgles that come with many FD bands that somehow makes it sound more hopeful than all things lost/dead. Keys are heavily present throughout. One track really reminds me of an 80's film that I WILL remember if it kills me it has been bugging me for months.
Decrepit Flesh Relic
This was everything I wanted out of L.A death metallers Civerous. Their split last year with Stygian Obsession was killer and this carries on from that promise. I hate labelled death metal as death doom but The doom sections here are just sooooooo good. Some massive breakdown. Production is on point and just an 'all boxes ticked' debut album for me on the wonderful Transylvanian Tapes.
The king is back with a less metallic/industrial feeling dark ambient record and much more orchestral passages. There's a special edition with an extra 30 mins on also. No surprise it's another masterpiece by..well.. the master.
|31||Cult Of The Damned|
The Church Of
The kings of UK scally hip hop. Such a diverse crew, Always hilarious while also being some of the low key coldest MC's in the country. I imagine they would be mad annoying to hang around with though.
This made my half way list but on revision I had seemed to grown out of love with it. A week later after being pointed out I missed to off here and I am back in love and rearranging my list to fit it in. The wonderful Lane Shi of the incredible Elizabeth Colour Wheel with a dreamy Art pop/Electronic album to get utterly lost in, find yourself and instantly want to get spun around again. Bjorkism are lazy,I know, but it really is hard for me to not hear it in much of this record without it ever being a straight copy (' Through death a cup of coffee'?? come on) Theres a melodic innocence to Lanes beautiful voice that is perfectly coupled with the banshee in her although less revealing her as in ECW it is clearly there. Another album that reveals more and more with each patient listen. Her Chinese roots seep through the entire album. Sorry I neglected for a slight minute Lane. It won't happen again.
The most underrated duo on planet earth. Feeling this much more than the record out on Southern Lord. Heard the live version on Roadburn Redux this year and it really settled in me. I think they called it a 'meditative piece' which I go along with completely. An ode to a river in Berlin soon to be destroyed for some Hipster flats or the like I believe. Typically swirling, smokey and full of fuzz and layered and looped effects. One to turn the lights off too, for sure.
|28||Vijay Iyer / Linda Oh / Tyshawn Sorey|
Vijay at this point is held in pretty high regard. A lifetime fellowship at Harvard in Music and a Macarther Fellowship. His mind shared across the Jazz world as well as scores for movies, Ballet etc etc This is the debut of this particular trio and man is it wonderful. More and More reveals itself on each listen and despite being in a Modern contemporary jazz style the Jazz 'phrasing' also shines through here and despite not the usual madcap jazz I would listen too, some of the playing and expressions are glorious. Time expanding while always feeling pretty damn smooth. Equisite.
Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth
Hella nasty, bludgeoning, doom/sludge album from the Bay Area duo. Oppressive and Harsh and just how this type of thing should be. Primitive Man and Hell kinda of heavy. Throwing boulders at the floor heavy.
Metta, Benevolence BBC 6Music...
Basically 'Life Metal' but with the majestic Anna Von Hauswolff doing some vocals and Keys. I like Sunn O))) but can't always listen to them. This makes a much more enjoyable hour listening to them. I listened to this on the radio at the time and loved it so was happy to see this get an official release.
Solar Drone Ceremony
Needed many repeated listens for this to land but it's wonderful. Just a really great, unique, experimental proggy drone/doom band that release nothing but epic records. Not on the scale of the monolith preceding it but a great addition to their discography there's a live video about of the whole thing which is a must.
Anyone who knows me knows how much of a fan boy I am of Amenra and have been for literally decades. I was initially disappointed in this. I felt the soaring cleans in 'De Evenmans' where a nod to an almost new, Post 'A solitary reign' Amenra fan. There is that weird medieval pause in the middle of 'Het Gloren' which for me, breaks up that track needlessly but the rest is pretty awesome. It's much more cinematic in feel and let's be honest, Colin is my boy but Caro elevates this album by a good way. Taken as a side piece from the Mass series it stands as something slightly different but Kinda hoping it goes back to a more "Mass' feel on the next one. This has still been one of my most played albums though regardless.
Fire, Magic & Venom
Tremendous black metal EP from London. DSO vibes without being on that level of tech but really interesting and ending on a damn sax solo. Kinda wish it was a more Zorny solo than Michael Bolton but hey, it rules. Even for an EP it takes a bit to warm up. Stick with it.
Always found their sound really hard to describe, Not because it's super left field or tech. It's bleak, pounding, death metal basically, but creates a really dense atmosphere that just kind of sweeps you along. I love how the Vocals are more hardcore leaning than extreme metal growls too. It sounds more like Godflesh than Grave Miasma. I dunno, It gets under your skin in a way.
They label themselves as math core it seems but its more sludge/hardcore with math core elements although it does give me first Dillinger Escape Plan EP vibes and maybe some Knut. Came to this one late but it smashes. The bass is the star here though almost Helmet-esque/Dub Trio like, at times.
Noč Na Krayu Sveta
No-one out there sounds quite like Sleepwalker. Every record you know is going to be something new. Something ridiculously layered with noise, jazz, black metal, Industrial and whatever the hell they feel like. This is only 2 tracks and less than 30 minutes but that's like saying It's only 3 gram of shrooms rather than 5. You're still gonna for a pretty mad journey.
A last minute, from the back of the field winner. This 12" containing 2 EP's was shown to me last week and it has barely been off since. It just brought back memories of many a day in my teens at hardcore all-dayers waiting for some ridiculously heavy bands when some guys you never heard with nice hair and striped polo shirts of would blow you away with fast, passionate, melodic, emotional hardcore. It kind of loses steam the last 3 tracks after blazing out of the gates but it has me goosepimpling out of control at some points. Its a fan-fking-tastic screamo album and I may have massively overreated in putting it all the way here after a week but hey...I feels what I feels.
Family the Smiling Thrush
A band I have never really been able to connect with. They firmly sit in the beige territory as opposed to my mostly black taste. The last record semi won me over and this new release sealed the deal. Really dope, heavy prog with doom,sludge influences. If I'm feeling like I just want a roaring hook to sing along to. I will stick this on. The vocals are wonderful, The songwriting superb. It IS a bit clean and a bit Metal Hammer where as I'm more of an obscure/messed up/Japanese Drone blog guy that 3 other people read but they got me now. I'm in.
Vacuum γ-Noise Transition
Worst album title of the year, no doubt. I hate the word Vacuum. No idea why. In fact I hate vacuums too. I once googled to see if there was a word for an ' Irrational hatred of vacuums' There wasn't. Gutted. Anyway Sentient Ruin had an amazing year and this was one of the best although slight less talked about I thought. Intense, Claustrophobic and unrelenting. Literally nowhere to hide. That Swiss /French black metal sound is there but there's such an overwhelming abrasiveness around it that the whole thing just takes over you until its done. An auditory blur but a damn fine one.
The Dutch metal scene is WILD, huh? So many interesting takes on extreme music from those crazy dutch. Cryptae, Plague Organ, Laster. Could do a top 50 of awesome dutch metal bands. This records is experimental af. Sometime the Avant grade tag is thrown about too easily (guilty) but this most definitely qualifies. Love the loung-ey jazz parts and how one minute you're picturing the singer screaming his lungs out and the next you've got him with a trillby on smoking a fat cigar busting poetry next to a cello. Really inventive and really damn good.
Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike
Kayo Dot at their brilliant best and back to their more tradition sounding and 'metal-esque' songs which with basically all Maudlin of The Well that's not surprising. As with all KD this grows more and more over time and if this chart was a mainstay it would creep up it.
|14||Armand Hammer and The Alchemist|
I don't think I've ever had an Armand Hammer below 15 on an EOY list. I am a fanboy 'tis true. Although this didn't sound how I initially thought when hearing they were teaming up with Uncle Al. The whole thing sounds like an AH record rather than Al plus Armand hammer and in that sounds cohesive. As always they both shine on the Mic and it never feels like Al has gone overboard, It is like he's put beats together as Armand Hammer beats for Billy Woods and Elucid. The guest spots are dope also. Another triumph for the Kings but was it ever in doubt?
You know what you're getting with Big Brave. Slow, melodic, repetive, emotive. Nothing massively changes one record to the next in structure but enough auditory tweaks and using their amps as extra instruments for it to always be different. Big Brave speak to somewhere inside me, I do get how you could also find them insanely boring. They kinda trance me out. This might be my favourite Big Brave record too.
Tortured doomy sludge or sludgey doom (?) from Latvia with endless feedback, fuzz and smoke to make your ears bleed. If you like Hell, Corrupted, Noothgrush kind of thing but with killer, layered, almost discordant female vocals, You may well dig but If you don't, who cares? It's my list.
Aussie Ne-Soul crew FINNNNNALLLY return with a follow up to the one and only 'Choose your weapon'.Despite having listened to half of these tracks as live versions for years during the famine it was/is so great to hear them down on record. Maybe less grandiose as CYW but still typically mad time structure and just smooth as hell playing from every one of the. 'Stone or Lavender' might well be my track on the year and to say that about a damn RnB Ballad in a list full of torturous metal speaks volumes. With a new record already written it won't be so long that this record turns to salt and dust from repeated spinning before the next one comes.
A Krallice quarantine record. Surely a perfect cocktail? It did take me a while to get used to the tone of this album and given 'Drums recorded at the Mouth 3 on a phone'
and 'Vocals recorded in the car by the swamp' that isn't surprising but it ends up being a plus for me. The rawness of it works. Especially against the extra keys on this release. It's as mad as usual and as intriguing as always. Every Krallice record is a highlight of any year.
SINNER GET READY
Obviously a whole new light is shined on this album given her recent statement and with that, a whole new weight. I was won over by Lingua Ignota the first time I saw her live before that I didn't really feel what she was doing but everything since has blown me away in all honestly. This is less fierce, less heavy in its instrumentation only those allowing fleeting moments of unbridled anger bellow out now and then but I feel it has more singular tracks you could listen to rather than have to sit throw the whole thing. Now, whether that's a good thing or not depends on you. One of the artists that most splits opinion on this site. I, for one, am massively grateful that's she is here putting out consistently fantastic and challenging music.
Totally love this band. Another eagerly awaited follow up to an album I hold close. Lots of latter Gorguts like tech death which is hard to avoid a nod too but those groovy, melodic passages really make it. Really creative band and a more than worthy return.
|7||N + Ehnahre|
'The Man closing up' from 2008 is one of my fave records ever but Ehnahre can be very hit or miss. Avant grade/Experimental loads of impov and definitely not for everyone. I'm always hyped to hear new stuff and this collab with German gutairist N (Who's real name is Helmut which I LOVE) was no different. Its as oppressive but as free as always yet with an overlaying black cloud that permeates it all from N. Like the harsher parts of Kayo Dot or Today is the Day played at the same time as White Suns 'Clairvoyant'. Definitely a headphones record.
Feel like this one has been slept on around these part after the debut was so well received. Raging hardcore/sludge with some really cool 'post' sections that always keep it varied enough to last the runtime which can sometime tarnish this style. Always loved screaming hardcore style lyrics in a language I don't understand too, just sounds cool af but the vocals in general are great. They have grown since their last album and it is clear to hear on this. A 2021 staple but this has creeped up to to this position really late on Verstappen style. Also Two Lithuanian entries. Well played Lithuania.
|5||Kowloon Walled City|
Noise rock 5 piece that have been a staple for many years but one I never really payed attention too. Luckily I put this on my MP3 player ( I know ) on a long journey and was hooked. Kinda minimal noise rock with hint of Melvins here and there, they just use the open spaces to build tension so well. Scott sounds so emotionally drained and pissed off with it all without having to scream it, Just as the band don't have to go for that extra distortion or stereotypical heaviness to hammer home the felling on this album yet it still carries tremendous weight by tone and feeling. A fine, fine record. Sorry for not paying attention all these years.
|4||Tumba de Carne|
Decatexis // Perpetu Altar
A pummelling debut from these Argentinian youngster. I think they're teenagers they have no business writing stuff like this. Although getting Andrea from Ad Nausseum to produce it shows they know the score. It sounds like it was recorded in the back of a cave but in the best of ways. There's always enough for it to never get stale whilst never not being absolutely disgusting. The Vox are tremendous. I'm sure one of them transforms into a dog at some point and just starts the most aggro of barking, Really looking forward to see what they do next after this album as its only 30 mins. They call it album so I'll call it an album. Strongest of debuts.
Rien ne suffit
So after what was, personally, a bit of a disappointment with their last release after the majestic 'Lowgazers' This seems to be the absolute peak of a this bands whole lifework. Everything that made Lowgazers great, The schizophrenic, dissident chaos but with added Electronic/Noise parts that really work for me. Add to that Ivo being an otherworldly machine behind the kit as usual and some slightly more varied Vox here and there and you have 50 mins to the soundtrack of completely losing your mind. Welcome back lads.
2x20 minute tracks choc full of ideas, a myriad of riffs and and mixed bag of textures whilst remaining pretty much 'Death' at it's core but there are layers to it all and just when you've got down with one there's something coming out of the void to switch it up on you. The second track especially kills. After a 5 year hiatus, this is how you bridge that wait. An engrossing psychedelic death metal masterpiece.
Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
Like a classical music expression played in extreme metal form. Creators of their own instruments,amps and tuning. Not a stone unturned in the creating of these songs and boy can you tell. Insane transitions and song structure carried out by a supremely talented band. Their last album was great , This elevates them further. Everything you can want in a technical, experimental extreme black/death metal album. Close to untouchable.