Look, the absurdity of writing yet another intro to an Album(s) of the Year list isn't exactly lost on me. If you're a purveyor of music review sites, you've undoubtedly already skipped over a fair share in the interest of checking out the actual content. We all had a very tough year, but as a consolation prize, 2021 presented a veritable bevy of good (and indeed great) music. Etcetera, etcetera. Let's leave it at that.
In terms of format, this list is purely unranked. While previous years counted down to #1, that generally arbitrary structure simply doesn't demonstrate the way I enjoy music. It's also not an effective or accurate way to make recommendations. I'm also significantly less concerned about genre as in the past--I listen to a lot of different stuff, and if I'm writing a list, it should probably reflect that reality instead of projecting a false image of metal exclusivity. So be prepared for a little eclecticism.
I hope there's something herein that catches your ear. If so, please support the artists in any way you are able. And lastly, thank you for your readership! You're the best. Yes, you.
Greetings, dear reader. It's listmas 'round these parts, which can only mean one thing: a reflection on the music that has defined our collective and personal year. After the success of our collaborative mid-year list, we decided to run a similarly community-oriented extravaganza to sum up 2021 as a whole.
It's a different approach, but we like it. The era of ranked tier lists is over. The era of non-exhaustive AOTY smorgasbord hath begun.
This list is a collaborative effort, with ten distinct music writers, musicians, and fans lending a few words. My personal collection o' favorites will follow later this week. Hopefully the variety of perspectives results in a list containing at least one or two releases that speak to you! This, of course, is far from exhaustive--indeed, every single one of ye could undoubtedly highlight a vast number of deserving albums not appearing here. Please feel free to leave a comment with a recommendation or two. As mentioned back in June of this year, list season is a great time to show the musicians that we know and love a little well-deserved support, and if you wanna shout someone out, this is as good a time as any.
And, lest it be forgot: a massive thank you is in order to everyone who contributed words to this endeavor. As always, we couldn't have done it without ye!
Enough chit-chat. Let's dive in.
Written by: The Administrator
Proponents of, y'know, not judging a book by its cover: try this one on for size. Look at that moniker. Look at that project title. My god, look at that artwork.* The black lagoon beckons. Prepare thyself accordingly.
Bong Coffin's bio states "heavy stuff, we hope." I am but one listener with limited authority as such, but I'm comfortable stating that this is, indeed, heavy stuff. But sheer weight aside: is it good? Aye. And the most solid indication that this is Good Shit? The reality that each of the three tracks herein is my favorite on the project. They are each unique, and surprisingly catchy, and emotive enough to generate a heartfelt kinetic response. As such, Swamp-Kings and Sunken Citadels presents a high degree of replayability. I've listened to this thing quite a bit at a generally inappropriate volume, as any fellow inhabitant of ye olde Sleeping Village can begrudgingly attest.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Here we are. It's the last few weeks of 2021. Now is the time to ponder back on the past 11 months. This year has been insanely stacked with great releases, sometimes being overwhelming. The genre I feel with the most eyes this year was death metal. We had the debut albums from Frozen Soul and Sanguisugabogg, the second slab of brutality from Cerebral Rot, and the latest opus from Worm. But we're not done yet, because we have the debut album from 200 Stab Wounds. Just based off of one demo called Piles of Festering Decomposition, these Ohio death merchants already cemented themselves in the death metal-sphere. But do they keep the momentum on Slave to the Scalpel?
Written by: Blackie Skulless
While Conjureth took me by storm, being the best album released through Memento Mori this year, Hexorcist is another band that came out alongside it. In a similar OSDM vein, they hail from Miami, Florida, much like many of the style’s originators. The striking debut is entitled Evil Reaping Death, and it shows little interest in subtly. Rather, it stays as straightforward as it possibly can. Musically, think something very similar to the likes of Morbid Angel.
So it should go without saying that this effort consists of raw guitars resembling aggressive thrash acts, alongside pummeling and simplistic drumlines. All of the Azagthoth-like guitar tricks are there, including the screeching and wailing solos topped with harmonics to invoke panic and confusion. Fret-happy tapping and similar guitar tones? All checks out. Admittedly, this can feel a bit same-y, and obviously isn’t really anything original, but the brevity and incredible execution allows me to give this a pass.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
After the Finnish doom act Church Of Void disbanded, some of the members would break off and form Fimir. Tomb Of God is their first full-length, dropping earlier this year. Similar in style to the disbanded group, they stick to the traditional doom complex that feels very tight for the genre. Modern production over familiar riffing styles and small nuances make this a pretty pleasant listen.
Comprising of six songs on the longer side of things, Tomb Of God manages to fill them with solid build-up and gradual shift. It also avoids any and all “epic” doom tactics as well as steering clear from fuzzy, obnoxiously distorted stoner tones. As the record progresses, the groovier hooks lean more and more onto the heavier side. Density and threatening auras cloud the rhythm sections, causing the end of the record to reach peak heaviness. “Mausoleum Craft - Tomb of God pt.3” has an intro that could heat up a whole room.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.