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01.14.22 Dewinged's AOTY 2021 01.12.22 2022 Listening Log - January
12.21.21 Dewinged's AOTY 197110.19.21 5 years here, still no buffalo wings
06.21.21 Hospital 🏥 Jams01.01.21 Dewinged's AOTY 2020
12.24.20 Decrepit's AOTY 2000: One-liner Edition12.07.20 Defrosted's AOTY 1990
11.27.20 Dewinged's AOTY 1980 11.18.20 Dewinged's AOTY 1970
09.26.20 Officially Papa Dewi 03.22.20 MARCH MADNESS 2020 WINNER: 👑TRIFOLIU
03.19.20 MARCH MADNESS 2020 [💀R5 // THE UNDYI03.18.20 MARCH MADNESS 2020 [💥R4 // THE BRAVE
03.17.20 MARCH MADNESS 2020 [⚡R3 // PART 2⚡]03.17.20 MARCH MADNESS 2020 [🔥UNTIE🔥]
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Dewinged's AOTY 2021

Here's a loosely ranked, incomplete, and half assed blurb'd AOTY list. I usually get these ones out on dec. 31st but last year's end was insanity so there was no way I could have done it. I wanted to get into the other decades first but it seems I have busy ahead and it might have been dropped in March which doesn't make much sense. So here it is! Rushed and awful! Hope you enjoy it!
100Andrea von Kampen
That Spell

Release date: August 6th
Label: Fantasy
Genre: Singer Songwriter

When I heard Andrea the first time I had the same hunch I had when I first heard Tomberlin. At this point, Andrea is not as good as a songwriter, and her stuff may rely too much on folk and country tropes in my opinion, but she does have an amazing voice, so I'm excited about her future. The second track off "That Spell" was on my top 10 songs this year.

"Take Back Thy Gift"

Release date: July 23rd
Label: Matador
Genre: Psychedelic Pop

Wait, did this always have vocals!?

"Inside is out there"
Blackest Blue

Release date: May 14th
Label: Skye & Ross
Genre: Trip Hop / Pop

Aaaaah shit, I should have seen this coming. "Blackest Blue" is not a strong comeback, and if it wasn't for the track below this wouldn't be here. The highlight though, it's so unbelievably good that it saved the rest of the album.

"Falling Skyes"
97Lingua Ignota

Release date: August 6th
Label: Sargent House
Genre: Neoclassical / Darkwave

If I had knew of the recently unveiled sad events that surround this recording, I would have probably felt it on a different level. But strictly musically speaking, she hasn't crafted yet anything that surpassed her collaboration with The Body. I really hope she finds the happiness she deserves, and who knows, maybe that would be the key to music that aligns us again.

"Pennsylvania Furnace"
96Genghis Tron
Dream Weapon

Release date: March 26th
Label: Relapse
Genre: Progressive Metal

Definitely not the comeback we expected. It's a weird record this one, and I've tried to run it over and over again but it's somehow too dense for me. I do enjoy it on little doses though.

"Dream Weapon"
95Azure Ray

Release date: June 18th
Label: Flower Moon Records
Genre: Dream Pop / Folk

I'm not sure I like this album more than the idea of me liking this album. I've jumped from their debut to this one, and also got on it pretty late into the year, a total "Oh I missed that one" moment. The tune below is a stunner though.

"Bad Dream"
94Heave Blood and Die
Post People

Release date: February 5th
Label: Self released
Genre: Post Punk w/ a bit of psychedelia

These Norwegians are strangely captivating, and their single "Radio Silence" ended up being quite high on my song rotation this year.

"Radio Silence"

Release date: August 20
Label: House of Mythology
Genre: Krautrock / Progressive / Electronic

Whatever they release, I'll take it. New Ulver music, gets automatically slotted here, usually on higher positions, and I'll confess this didn't make me turn into a werewolf as it usually happens with their other albums, but it's a hell of a good time, especially for doing work.

"Bounty Hunter"
92Kings of Leon
When You See Yourself

Release date: March 5th
Label: RCA
Genre: Indie Rock

First review as a staffer. I don't understand how I still have the tag.

"The Bandit"
Bionic Swarm

Release date: March 26th
Label: Century Media
Genre: Thrash Metal

I've spent the whole year thinking this was a new Cryptopsy album. Embarrassing, I know.

90Anette Olzon

Release date: September 10th
Label: Frontiers
Genre: Symphonic Metal

A tale of sweet revenge? I am not sure Tuomas and co. care for the old pantheon members anymore, but it seems Anette had a lot to say about it, and she didn't hide it very well. On the other hand she managed to make a record along with Magnus Karlsson that almost sounds more Nightwish than Nightwish these days, so I guess there's that.

"Bye Bye Bye"
Norwegian Gothic

Release date: April 9th
Label: Pelagic
Genre: Alternative Rock

Marriage suits Nernes. Somehow Arabrot's chaotic noisy regime has evolved into something more tolerable. If his new partner is responsible God bless her. The couple now play on an abandoned church, how cool is that.

"The Lie"
88Black Country, New Road
For the first time

Release date: February 5th
Label: Ninja Tune
Genre: Post Punk / Indie Prog... Pop

I despised this the moment I heard it. Fucking artsy rich kids from th... oh Track X is pretty cool...

"Track X"
För Allting

Release date: November 12th
Label: Self released
Genre: Dream Pop

It's a mystery these guys are not more popular, when they actually do the same stuff as many other popular bands of the same style. Hell, they may do it even better than most of them. This one is not their best, but is still pretty decent.

"This Time"

Release date: January 1st
Label: Sel released
Genre: Symphonic Djent Metal

i was so happy to see Tiberi and co. resuming the yearly tradition. I've said this many times but, as much as I wanted an album completely dominated by Mel's vocals, now that we finally got it somehow it didn't feel the way it should.

"Shock Doctrine"
85Lunar Shadow
Wish to Leave

Release date: March 19th
Label: Cruz del Sur
Genre: Hevy Metal / Gothic Metal

I am still torn apart between what this could have been and what it actually is. I enjoy it a lot but... something's amiss.

84Drinking Boys And Girls Choir
Marriage License

Release date: July 21st
Label: Damnably
Genre: Skate Punk

Labelmates from Korea, they have made waves with this album and I'm really happy for them. They've taken skate-punk to another level and managed to craft something that it's hard to take out of your mind.

"Limitless Night"
83Gazelle Twin and NYX
Deep England

Release date: March 19th
Label: NYX Recordings
Genre: Folk / Ambient

Some moments off this are too avant-garde for my simplistic taste but as a whole, this is one album I would recommend before you sign off your own list. Ancient, occult, primal folk from a very underrated artist around these parts.


Release date: April 23rd
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Dissodeath

Better than Portal this year, there, I said it.

"Magno Evento"

Release date: June 25th
Label: Self released
Genre: Progressive / Post Metal

Didn't get to this one until later in the year but damn, good album. Every bit of hype was well deserved.

Methods Of Human Disposal

Release date: February 19th
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Genre: Deathgrind

One of the best covers of the year. Death punk from the crypts.

"Scum Breeds Scum"
79Tropical Fuck Storm
Deep States

Release date: August 20th
Label: Joyful Noise Recordings
Genre: Noise Rock

My least favorite of the three they have done so far but still a great album. Probably Gareth's finest work as a lyricist. Also, to no one's surprise, my favorite track is the one led by the ladies.

"New Romeo Agent"
78Circuit Des Yeux

Release date: October 22nd
Label: Matador
Genre: Baroque Pop

Her voice never fails to impress me, and there are three or four tracks here that showcase how far she has come as a composer too. Great arrangements and an amazing vocal performance.


Release date: August 27th
Label: InsideOut Music
Genre: Progressive Rock

This is an absolute delight on headphones so be sure to give it a go on a proper set up before swinging the axe.

"The Silent Revelation"
Poison Palinopsia

Release date: August 13th
Label: Invictus Productions
Genre: Death Metal

Two tracks of 24 minutes. That's it. That and the cover is all you need to know.

"Serpentine Susurrus: Mother's Abomination"
75Lisa Gerrard and Jules Maxwell

Release date: May 7th
Label: Schubert Music
Genre: Neoclassical / Darkwave

You all missed mama Gerrard dropping an album and punishment will be administered in due time.

"Noyalain (Burn)"
Clarity Before the Crash

Release date: March 5th
Label: Motor / Waldskin
Genre: Trip Hop

As far as I know, there are not many bands left doing the whole trip hop revival as faithfully as Waldskin, or at least doing it decently. These guys know their trade. (I also know I'll get savagely rec'd in the comments for my insolence).

"Sharing Atoms"
The Redemptive End

Release date: July 20th
Label: AOP
Genre: Black Metal

A good jam while you wait for the new Mgla, which is coming this year.

"The Redemptive End"

Release date: December 10th
Label: Crispin Glover
Genre: Hard Rock

Fuck guys, you almost don't make it. Fans of Motorpsycho, don't miss on this.

Kingdom of Oblivion

Release date: July 16th
Label: Rune Gramophone
Genre: Progressive Rock

What's left to say of the most prolific and consistent prog band of the last 20 years. It's not at the level of the last run of 3 or 4 albums but still blows it's peers out of the water.

"Kingdom of Oblivion"
70Suffering Hour
The Cyclic Reckoning

Release date: February 19th
Label: Profound Lore
Genre: Death Metal

Love that 80s chorus heavy guitar tone and the vocals are terrific.

"Strongholds of Awakening"
69Ophidian I

Release date: July 16th
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Tech Death

Really enticing album for a genre which is hostile by definition. I know your Archspires, First Fragments, etc, are probably better, but none of them sunk in me as deep as this one, and believe me, I tried. It's just incredibly fun.

68Der Weg Einer Freiheit

Release date: November 19th
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

These guys are everywhere on my social media so I guess I follow the right people.

"Ariana Grande the drunken head"
Eternal Hails

Release date: June 25th
Label: Peaceville
Genre: Black Metal.

I just can't conceive the idea of someone not liking Darkthrone.

"Last Arcane City of Uppakra"
66Can Bardd
Devoured by the Oak

Release date: November 12th
Label: Self Released
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Elf metal in all it's splendor.

"Autumn Shore"
65The Body and Big|Brave
Leaving None But Small Birds

Release date: October 1st
Label: Thrill Jockey
Genre: Folk / Americana

I was honestly dissapointed with the latest album by The Body, and I didn't care much about BIG|BRAVE's latest either, but this collaboration is something special. Big Earth vibes.

"Oh Sinner"
64Genesis Owusu
Smiling with No Teeth

Release date: March 5th
Label: House Anxiety / Ourness
Genre: Neo-Soul

As far as it gets from my comfort zone, so it felt good to dip into something different this year.

Ascension Codes

Release date: November 26th
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Progressive Rock

Some things just never get old.

62Yoth Iria
As The Flame Withers

Release date: January 25th
Label: Pagan Records
Genre: Black Metal

Helenic Black Metal All-stars. For the love of the Greek Gods, jam the opener.

"The Great Hunter"
Screen Violence

Release date: August 27th
Label: EMI
Genre: Pop

Didn't care for this until the staff list came out and then it somehow reminded me I wanted to give it another chance, since this year I haven't had any pop album really connecting with me. The results of such revisiting were surprisingly good. I also blame Robert Smith.

"How not to Drown"
60Public Service Broadcasting
Bright Magic

Release date: September 24th
Label: Play it Again Sam
Genre: Kraut Rock / Power Pop

The instrumentals are great but where the album really shines is on the features. I already reviewed this when it came out so give it a read if you havent'? Maybe?

"Blue Heaven"
59Goat Girl
On All Fours

Release date: January 29th
Label: Rough Trade
Genre: Indie Rock

I was a bit hard on this album when I reviewed it but I'll admit it has grown on me, so don't be mad at me klap, dammit.

"Sad Cowboy"

Release date: January 29th
Label: Silver Lining Music
Genre: Progressive Metal

You won't find any complaints about the production on this list. I simply love this shit.

Burn in Many Mirrors

Release date: April 2nd
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Literally every extreme metal and heavy metal variant stuffed in a single album. Bops aplenty.

"Lunar Madness"
Ming Ming

Release date: February 22nd
Label: WV Sorcerer Productions
Genre: Experimental

Before jamming this, don't be a pleb and listen to Elizabeth Colour Wheel. Only then you'll be ready.

"Through Death a Cup of Coffee"
55Thy Catafalque

Release date: June 25th
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Progressive Metal

The famicon bits still annoy the hell out of me but the proper tracks are just so good.

"Köszöntsd a hajnalt"
54Wolf Alice
Blue Weekend

Release date: June 14th
Label: Dirty Hit
Genre: Indie rock

As with any other Wolf Alice album, amazing highs and embarrassing lows. Definitely well balanced in that sense.

"Lipstick on the Glass"
53Sweet Trip
A Tiny House, In Secret Speeches, Polar Equals

Release date: May 28th
Label: Darla
Genre: Dream pop

Another release buried under an obscene mountain of other releases. I loved it but I don't remember why.

"The Weight of Comfort..."
52Radio Supernova

Release date: January 15th
Label: Playground / Soit Se Silti
Genre: Shoegaze

God bless Finland and its frosty shoegaze bands.

51Manchester Orchestra
The Million Masks of God

Release date: April 30
Label: Loma Vista
Genre: Indie rock

The transmigrifiticulication into the Manchester Pickups is almost complete.

"Bed Head"

Release date: May 14th
Label: Century Media
Genre: Stoner Punk

And I continue with stuff from my homelands, finally on the big leagues, not that they needed it, but it's always a plus.

"Hoy no"
49Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Release date: February 25th
Label: Goliath Enterprises
Genre: Singer Songwriter

I truly wish Nick Cave would speak on my funeral while Bjork sings Unravel on the background, you think we can arrange that?

" White Elephant"
48Beautify Junkyards

Release date: January 15th
Label: Ghost Box
Genre: Psychedelic folk/ Tropicalia

They really improved their game compared to the previous album. One review I always thought I would write and then never did and it kills me, especially because I wanted to tell you all how good this is.

Infinite Granite

Release date: August 20th
Label: Sargent House
Genre: Shoegaze

First album of this new Shoegaze band that totally ripped off the name from that other Blackgaze band that did that pink album, you know the one.

"Great Mass of Colour"
Kopár Hant... Az Alvilág Felé

Release date: October 12th
Label: Me saco un ojo
Genre: Death / Doom Metal

Hungary must be such a colorful and radiant place, tell'm garas.

45Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The LSO

Release date: March 26th
Label: Luaka Bop
Genre: Ambient / Jazz

I swear I could live in this melody forever.

"Movement 1"
44Spectral Wound
A Diabolic Thirst

Release date: April 16th
Label: Profound Lore
Genre: Black Metal

Decadent feasts of blood and lust under the black moon.

"Soul Destroying Black Debauchery"
43Full of Hell
Garden of Burning Apparitions

Release date: October 1st
Label: Relapse
Genre: Deathgrind

And the show goes on. Another megaton blast in the face from the boys.

"Asphyxiant Blessing"
42Cult of Luna
The Raging River

Release date: February 5th
Label: Self released
Genre: Post Metal

For my thoughts about this album, please read the soundoff section. Also, if this is an EP I'm the Queen of Wakanda.

"Three Bridges"
41Joana Serrat
Hardcore from the Heart

Release date: June 11th
Label: Great Canyon
Genre: Dream pop

One of Spain's most promising artists if she continues improving the way she has done in comparison to her debut. Trifo has everything to do with this album being here.

Rotten Garden

Release date: January 22nd
Label: Self Released
Genre: Black Metal

Wraith metal from the woods of the far, unfathomable north. If there were any doubts about how authentic this shit is, they also released a live album months later.

"Mourning Comes at Sunset"
39Blackwater Holylight

Release date: October 22nd
Label: RidingEasy
Genre: Doom

Soul appeasing doom for long night walks or for walking your dog while stalking strangers like Colton.

"Who the Hell"

Release date: September 24th
Label: The Flenser
Genre: Death metal / Hardcore

If there was any philosophical conclusion to the discussions here exposed is that if you don't like this it's very possible your volume level is not high enough.

37The Ruins Of Beverast
The Thule Grimoires

Release date: February 5th
Label: Ván Records
Genre: Death Metal / Progressive Metal

Tales in unknown tongues, of dubious origin and nefarious intention. This album is pure evil.

"Anchoress in Furs"
Glow On

Release date: August 27th
Label: Roadrunner
Genre: Post hardcore

These guys are gonna go far. This album have already given them wings, and it's no surprise, one of the funniest albums of the year regardless of personal taste.

"Don't Play"
Lustful Sacraments

Release date: May 28th
Label: Blood Music
Genre: Synth Wave

You wanna go down this road Perturdude? Ok, I'll take it.

34Black Midi

Release date: May 26th
Label: Roughtrade
Genre: Progressive... Mathy... Post Punk ?

I still don't get the hate for this band. The video for "John L" remains as one of my favorite videos I've seen last year. I also remember Papa Uni used to rep them hard, he actually introduced me to them, and that's reason enough for me to keep them on my good side.

"John L"

Release date: March 5th
Label: Ván Records
Genre: Doom

Fell in love with them through their Roadburn online performance this year. Incredible presence and sound.

"All That Black"
32Kadavar and Elder
Eldovar - A Story of Darkness & Light

Release date: December 3rd
Label: Robotor
Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Progressive Rock

Kadavar and Elder are bands I have in high regard, especially the first one. This record arrived quite late into the year but I managed to spend some valuable time with it and there's a lot to love here.

"From Deep Within"
31Year of No Light

Release date: July 2nd
Label: Pelagic
Genre: Post Metal / Drone / Doom

Probably the heaviest album of the year. It sounds like the goddamn sky falling on your shoulders. Incredible band.


Release date: June 18th
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Heavy Metal

Helloween and Iron Maiden releasing new albums with both original and new members in the same year? 10 year old me would have shat his pants if you would have told him about these prophetic times.

"Fear of the Fallen"
29The World Is a Beautiful Place...
Illusory Walls

Release date: October 8th
Label: Epitaph
Genre: Indie Rock

Anything remotely referencing Dark Souls gets a slot here. Upper spheres if the music is actually good.

"Queen Sophie for President"

Release date: January 22nd
Label: Columbia / Sony
Genre: Viking folk

I've watched 7? seasons of Vikings last year with the wife, so it's no surprise this landed on me so gracefully. We both screamed when Einar Selvik appeared on one chapter. (I also screamed to myself when I saw WWE's Edge).

Eternal Blue

Release date: September 17th
Label: Rise
Genre: Djent Pop

Talk about a band rising fast. I had no idea who they were the first time I got emotionally invaded by the video of "Constance". I went from there to "Holy Roller" which left me extremely confused, and it wasn't until "Secret Garden" glued everything together that I understood what this band was all about.

26Mare Cognitum
Solar Paroxysm

Release date: March 19th
Label: I, Voidhanger
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

First and foremost, I am extremeley relieved I, Voidhanger's chief Luciano is recovering finally at home. His label puts out unbelievable material consistently, and Mare Cognitum are among the best they released last year. To think that all this comes from the mind of a single human makes me shiver.

"Luminous Accretion"
The Crimson Corridor

Release date: April 9th
Label: Self Released / Observer/Observed
Genre: Post hardcore / Metalcore

Aging like fine wine. It's strange to consider a band peaking this far into their career, but somehow Zao managed to do it.

24King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
L. W.

Release date: February 26th
Label: Self Released
Genre: Psychedelic Rock

It's hard to choose from their hefty discography but this and its brother album "K.G." have become my spiritual animal.

De Doorn

Release date: June 25th
Label: Relapse
Genre: Post Metal

With the help of Caro Tanghe from Oathbreaker, the Belgians have managed to craft an album that occupies a singular spot in their catalogue. Heard this for the first time sitting on the hospital bed at dawn, with the first rays of sunlight shining through the dusty windows, it was a magical moment. Right when the album finished, the doctor came in and told me I was recovered and about to be discharged.

22Ancient Mastery
Chapter One: Across The Mountains Of ...

Release date: January 8th
Label: Death Kvlt
Genre: Black Metal

This was among the first BM I heard last year and it was love at first listen. Still waiting for Chapter Two,

"To Valdura"
Hey What

Release date: September 10th
Label: Sub-Pop
Genre: Sub-Pop


20Swallow the Sun

Release date: November 19th
Label: Century Media
Genre: Doom

Late contender, and with time it could have crawled into the top 10. The production is probably one of the best mix/mastering works I've heard last year, and the song with Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber) is one of my favorite tracks of 2021.

"All Hallows' Grieve"
19Hooded Menace
The Tritonus Bell

Release date: August 27th
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Death metal / Doom

I'm glad I'm not the only one that saw Skeletor on the cover. Whether the reference was intentional or not, this album is as buffed as any Mattel character, that's for sure. The NWOBHM vibes on this one are just so good.

"Blood Ornaments"

Release date: August 27th
Label: Napalm
Genre: Mathcore (I guess)

I was never a fan of this band, but somehow the video for "Vortex" made it to my YT rec section and the rest is history. Tatiana's variety of registers and the band's musical prowess really sold me on this record. Catchy, fun, and technically impressive.


Release date: August 27th
Label: Rocket
Genre: Psychedelic Funk Folk Rock

Technically a comp, but it includes two new tracks that are among the best shit I've heard in 2021. I really, really hope they have a full release in sight.

"Fill My Mouth"
16Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
This is a Mindfulness Drill...

Release date: June 25th
Label: Jagjaguwar
Genre: Singer Songwriter

This came out of nowhere. I've never been familiar with Richard Youngs, let alone with this album. I heard the original before getting into this "reimagination" of Youngs' classic piece, and I can say the effect was as powerful as I expected. Moses Sumney, Perfume Genius and Sharon Van Etten breathe life into the three lengthy tracks with superb vocal performances, while the Brass Ensemble gives new colors to Youngs' bleak melancholia.

"Soon it will be Fire"
15Lamp of Murmuur
Submission and Slavery

Release date: September 16th
Label: Self released / Black Gangrene (CDs)
Genre: Goth / Black Metal

Me and TheSpirit had a mirrored experience with this album and its appendix'd EP. We even thought about tackling seldom releases at once but time didn't allow for our machiavelic plans to be materialized. The Murmuur man has outdone himself with a perfect blend of good ol' black metal and gothic rock influences. I hope he continues on this vein in the future, because this is gold.

"Dominatrix's Call"
14Buke and Gase and So Percussion
A Record Of...

Release date: January 29th
Label: Brassland
Genre: Experimental pop

"Diazepam" was my SOTY and I have played it intensely during this last year. Can't get over how good is that main vocal melody. The rest of the album is also amazing, with the duo's brand of undefinable pop allowing the masters of So Percussion to play around with their toys enriching even more their craft.

13Midwife (USA)

Release date: July 16th
Label: The Flenser
Genre: Singer Songwriter / Sadcore

After a few albums Madeline Johnston has finally cemented her sound and you only need a few seconds into "Luminol" to know it's a undoubtedly a Midwife release. Not only using a phone? mic to record her ethereal melodies is a stroke of genius, but her distorted textures and the repetitive nature of her songs are guaranteed to stick in your mind for days, if not months, if not years.

"God is a Cop"
12Iron Maiden

Release date: September 3rd
Label: Parlophone
Genre: Heavy Metal

My dads are back! I'll be honest, before joined Sput I had drifted away from Maiden for a long while, I am talking even post Fear of the Dark era. I completely missed their comeback with Dickinson and Adrian Smith rejoining the band to form the fab six. So I guess they hype of being contemporary to a Maiden release on this, the year of our lord, did fuel my predisposition when it dropped. I was reluctant at first, but honestly I slowly began to discern how mindblowing is Harris' songwriting on those 3 last tracks.

"Days of Future Past"

Release date: February 26th
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Symphonic Metal

Listen, I'm as surprised as you right now. The whole affair with this album started casually. My wife, an opera singer, showed some interest in the way Simone combines her soprano belting with her less operistic register and the album started to be on heavy rotation during dinner time. A few songs started to grow on me, heavily, with "Freedom - The Wolves Within -" ending up being my most played track this year. For a year that was very heavy on Nighwish, and lady led sympho-metal carving its way into my soul, I feel Epica deserved the top ten inclusion, so that's it, I'm a fan now.

Errrrr... ok, "Freedom - The Wolves Within -"
10Wolves in the Throne Room
Primordial Arcana

Release date: August 20th
Label: Relapse / Century Media
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Only WITTR could release an album at the heights of summer and freeze my world the way "Primordial Arcana" did this year. The prodigal sons of the atmoblack scene returned with an incredibly rich and fulfilling release, tracing back to the raw sound of old and adding a few interesting tricks that showed why they are recognized as one of the most important bands of the genre.

"Primal Chasm (Gift of Fire)"
9Kaelan Mikla
Undir Köldum Norðurljósum

Release date: October 15th
Label: Artoffact
Genre: Darkwave / Dark Pop

I had a hunch back in December of 2018, when I first heard these girls' previous output, when aoty lists were already pouring out of everywhere leaving their fantastic post punk goth release in the shadows of our maniac gluttony for this kind of things. I was left feeling terribly curious about what would they do next. I didn't expect them to go this vein, combining the somber melancholy of The Cure with the otherworldly feel of Neige's Alcest (who is featured in one of the tracks) through ten dazzling dark pop songs that would make the dead dance out of their graves.

8Ethereal Shroud

Release date: December 10th
Label: Northern Silence
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

I remember when I heard "Discarnate" by chance on that news item of some months ago. At the time, I didn't know this was our homie DarkNoctus' project, all I was hearing was an amazing atmo black tune that apparently had come out of nowhere. Took some comments in that thread to connect dots but regardless, it only took one listen of the whole thing to understand Noctus had created one of the best albums of its ilk in 2021. Only he knows how much effort, time and money has gone into this, but the result couldn't be better, and believe me when I say, "Trisagion" will outlive us all.

"Chasmal Fires"
Hushed and Grim

Release date: October 29th
Label: Reprise
Genre: Progressive Metal

This on #1 of the staff list, shocker huh? I'd confess I've had more and more doubts about the production of this record as of lately, maybe it's the high-end, treble heavy mastering, I'm no expert but it definitely made it lose some positions the more I revisited it. On the other hand, this is the best Mastodon material since "Crack the Skye", which is something no one expected in these dark times. I, for all that is worth, am happy they lived up to their legend, and with a double LP no less.

"Pushing the Tides"
Etemen Ænka

Release date: March 19th
Label: Metal Blade
Genre: Progressive Metal

It was amazing seeing this record grow in ratings and comments as the year went by and I'm so happy for them after seeing it has been included in several AOTY lists not only on Sput but also on several other media outlets. I can't say I was crazy with them by the time they released "Asheran", I got into them with this album, simply because they have managed to create something greater and more accesible without sacrificing an inch of their own sound.

"Enuma ELis"
Bloodmoon: I

Release date: November 19th
Label: Epitaph
Genre: Sludge

Now that the dust is settled, and after I realized Cave In were far from being done (I seemed to misunderstand the message behind the "Last Transmission")... Yes, Bloodmoon, the collaboration between Converge, Chelsea Wolf, Ben Chrisholm and Stephen Brodsky, may leave room for improvement, but what they have created here is something unique. Hearing Wolfe singing over a Converge riff on "Lord of Liars" was what sold me on this. For fans of Wolfe, this is godsent. For fans of Converge, maybe not so much.

"Lord of Liars"
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound

Release date: January 29th
Label: Century Media / Metal Blade
Genre: Gothic Death Rock

Losing Jonathan Hultén is going to hurt this band. I still believe Zaar and co. will manage and maybe his legacy is solid enough to drive the band further but that's a story for another year. In the last 3 years or so Tribulation has become one of my favorite bands so Hultén's departure was a tough pill to swallow but at least he did go out with an absolute bang of record.

"Funeral Pyre"
3Lost Horizons
In Quiet Moments

Release date: February 26th
Label: Bella Union
Genre: Dream Pop & more

Bella Union has achieved an impressive catalogue of artists and records, and this is the celebration of said milestone. Two records in one, with Simon Raymonde from Cocteau Twins and Richard Thomas from Dif Juz directing a long list of singers giving voice to their songs in styles that range from post punk to soul or dream pop. An impressive collection of tunes and a wonderful showcase of what this legendary label is all about.

"Grey Tower"
2King Woman
Celestial Blues

Release date: July 30th
Label: Relapse
Genre: Sludge

Kris Esfandiari is a creative force that knows no rest. With several projects and even some incursions in film this last year, I can't understand how did she find the time to write, record and produce an album like "Celestial Blues". Definitely takes everything she has done in the past with King Woman and amplifies it in every aspect. It could have been easily my AOTY too.

"Celestial Blues"
1Emma Ruth Rundle
Engine of Hell

Release date: November 5th
Label: Sargent House
Genre: Singer Songwriter

I've said everything I needed to say about this album when I reviewed it. It's a very special release, it took me back to a place and a time I didn't want to be taken but it somehow helped me to see things from a distance and make peace with things I needed to cope with. Aside my personal reasons for having this as my AOTY of 2021, Emma's musicianship shines on this album. Her lyrics, her vocal melodies, the extremely fragile nature of this album can only reflect how far she has come as an artist, now in full control of her life and looking forward to the future.

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