|2021 Top 21 Releases|
These are my favourite releases of 2021. Special consideration for releases by Portayal of Guilt, Knocked Loose, Be'lakor, Architects, BTBAM, WITTR, Full of Hell, Fawn Limbs, Panopticon, Bossk, Mental Cruelty, Amenra, The Ruins of Beverast, and Left to Suffer.
Somehow // Somewhere
I hadn't listened to FRCTRD before and found this record relatively listenable with a good number of hooky/memorable moments. The lighter/more melodic parts remind me of Aviana, Rosaline, early Northlane, and Invent Animate.
Really good release from LLNN. Some of the atmosphere reminds me of Old Man Gloom/Sumac. Definitely sludgey.
Måsstaden Under Vatten
Another decent Vildhjarta release. It did get a little monotonous at times, but some of the throwbacks to 'måsstaden' (2011) were epic. Very fun release.
Ultrapop' is a really fun record, and the first The Armed record I could listen through without getting a headache.
I love Converge. I love Chelsea Wolfe. I love Steven Brodsky. This release is definitely not on par with Converge's previous work. It should be viewed, in my opinion, as a collaborative project and not a Converge release. Whether the band wants that or not, I don't really care. Compared to previous Converge LPs 'Bloodmoon: I' would be a 3/5 at best. On its own, I do enjoy it and would probably give it a 4/5. However, the LP isn't super consistent from start to finish. I would have preferred if some of the hardcore bits were omitted to take away that sliver of hope that this was a Converge LP. Regardless, it exists and was fairly enjoyable.
|16||Signs Of The Swarm|
This was a release that I did not have on repeat quite as much as I would've liked, but Signs of the Swarm deserves a place on this list because 'Absolvere' is their best release to date. David Simonich is an absolute beast and his vocals are definitely some of the best out there.
|15||Harakiri for the Sky|
I usually have to be in a very specific mood for Harakiri For The Sky, and ultimately I had this long LP on repeat a number of times throughout the year. It is definitely longer than it needs to be, but I also listen to a lot of ambient, so the repetitiveness of some parts can be soothing at times. The mix is also quite smooth, relaxed, and contemplative.
|14||Cult of Luna|
The Raging River
If CoL's EP released later in the year it probably would have been higher on my list. I gave 'The Raging River' a number of listens right after release and then moved on to heavier content. That shouldn't mean this isn't an excellent work. Another impeccable release.
|13||Humanity's Last Breath|
The crushing atmosphere that HLB put together for this release is unfathomable in only one listen. This is a much better work compared to their last couple releases. And I do think it's better than this year's Vildhjarta release.
|12||Every Time I Die|
These guys always have solid releases. I think I definitely prefer 'Low Teens,' but 'Radical' is consistent has enough diversity to continue spinning for years to come.
The Crimson Corridor
This LP takes me back to when I was spinning Haste the Day and August Burns Red. The mix is absolutely perfect for Zao and their long awaited release delivers and is welcome.
I really enjoy the direction Genghis Tron is going. That's all I'm going to say.
Fragments of a Bitter Memory
As most have noted, Dying Wish's latest work is a throwback to early 2000s metalcore/post-hardcore. If you like earlier Oathbreaker, Underoath (DTGL), earlier Rolo Tommasi, Knocked Loose, and early 00s Killswitch Engage, this will be a fun listen.
|8||Brand of Sacrifice|
I was a little hesitant with Brand of Sacrifice this time around. Some of the singles prior to 'Lifeblood' releasing didn't promise much in terms of a cohesive album. However, this LP from start to finish is consistent and immersive. Would absolutely recommend within the veins of Darko (US), Humanity's Last Breath, and Signs of the Swarm.
I love pleasant discoveries. Alluvial's 'Sarcoma' was a welcoming experience and is littered with some very catchy riffs and passages. Feels like a mix of The Red Chord and Fit For An Autopsy.
Frontierer has always been a band on my periphery; some issues I have with them are the denseness in the mix. Previous listens have, at times, been like a really traumatic experience at the dentist's or being stuck in a concrete coffin whilst a jackhammer works its way through for 30-60 minutes. 'Oxidized' is not that type of outing.
Next to Spiritbox's 'Eternal Blue,' Darko's first LP might be my most listened to of the year. While the mix might not be my absolute favourite, nor the song writing, the energy and atmosphere is absolutely destructive. Tom Barber's vocal performances are outstanding and show the breadth and depth of his range as a vocalist (arguably better than with Chelsea Grin).
I absolutely slept on this one because I forgot to "follow" First Fragment on Spotify. I have been so impressed with these folks. I only began listening to 'Gloire Éternelle' as I started to piece together this list; after that initial listen I was hooked (yet again). The mix is so pleasing; almost every instrument is balanced with the others. In particular, the bass and guitars are reminiscent of Job For A Cowboy's 'Sun Eater' (2014). The drums are definitely the most prominent, and for good reason. This prog-death outing is a constant reminder that First Fragment owns the groove. This LP might have placed higher if I had discovered it earlier.
A Monument to Silence
Alustrium is a band I discovered this year (similar to First Fragment and Alluvial), and I was pleasantly surprised to listen to 'A Monument to Silence' alongside the rest of their discography.
|2||Der Weg Einer Freiheit|
'Noktvrn' as a late release has blown my mind. DWEF has done it again.
Spiritbox, in my opinion, released the undisputed AOTY solely due to the ability to mix heaviness, approachability, amazing vocal performances, and beautiful songwriting/lyrics in a consistent and enveloping package. Courtney LaPlante is amazing. Thank you, Spiritbox.