Kez Whelan looks back on the past 12 months and brings you this series of unmissable albums
It is always a daunting challenge to reduce the value of a year's music to a list of twenty records, but I found it particularly difficult to write this record. In the past few years, every year has produced obvious outstanding performances. This record immediately attracted me and resonated deeply, but this time I finally got even more troubled by the top spot.
To be honest, in the past twelve months, most of the records that really talked to me were not metal. No other album can capture the anxiety, depression and exhaustion of 2021 more acutely than "Bug Fire". However, Emma Ruth Rundle's Engine Of Hell is coming to an end, removing the heavier guitar focus of her collaboration with Thou, and producing her most fragile, quiet and painful song collection to date. On the contrary, I love Godspeed You! The latest work of Black Emperor, due to its uncharacteristic joy and optimistic tone, perfects the more rock and roll style of the materials after their reunion, and at the same time combines it with the more intensive composition method of classic materials. This is their best ear in years.
Moor Mother’s Black Encyclopedia Of The Air is also very pleasant, combining the atmospheric hip-hop of last year with her more experimental free jazz aspect, creating a very compact half-hour work that truly shows her range . All of these may be with me for many years, but it may be a strange choice for the top spot on the annual list of the best metal records.
But don't worry, I won't become one of those boring "metals are dying"! Boring because it's obviously not the fuck; just because I tried to settle down in that coveted number one position doesn't mean there are not many competitors. Metal continues to expand in thousands of different directions, and no matter how it is arranged, you may be spoiled. The list of every metal writer I have seen so far this year is completely different, and the fact that the genre is as healthy and eclectic as ever.
However, many of the metal albums I heard this year do give a sense of transition, compared with the more explicit statements these artists have made in the past few years. After a year when many music lovers had to face the fear of survival without the existence of live music, it may make sense that many recorded music from this strange era have a deep sense of displacement for it. The Body, Full Of Hell, Paysage d'Hiver, Esctrilihum, and Lamp Of Murmuur all continued their prolific momentum in 2021 and created fascinating records, but compared to more powerful records, these records appeared More low-key and uncertain, rest assured seniors.
For other reasons, there are many obvious omissions below. I believe these records will add to the many other lists you read carefully this month. If it is in the top 25, my records are easy to enter. Carcass and Cannibal Corpse's records are great. Although it is difficult to compete with their cherished past catalogs, they both do very well. This time, Carcass seemed to give their voices more breathing space, Bill Steer staged one of the most dazzling guitar performances of the year, and Erik Rutan’s joining Cannibal did ignite a fire under them. Leading to one of their most concentrated and powerful records in a period of time.
The new Lingua Ignota is also great. Although it does not attract me like the towering Caligula, the closer'The Solitary Brethren Of Ephrata' is one of her most outstanding works so far. Somehow managed to be one of the two. One of the strangest comforting and scariest songs I've heard all year. But you already know these are great, right? At least, I will support each of the contents in the list below. As a very reliable metal record, it is totally worth your time. Hope you can find some new favorites in the process...
20. Universal alienation-growing up in spectral predation (blood collection)
There is something truly otherworldly about this Texas solo musician's debut album; it's almost as if some kind of alien power received the transmission of the blood curse records and broadcasted its own interpretation of them to us. The fascinating lo-fi method, coupled with some purely strange sounds here, make this album one of the most unique death metal records this year.
19. Hellish Form-Remains (translation lost)
Combining a tragic funeral doom with a gleaming soundscape inspired by 4AD, this long-distance doom duo’s debut album contains some of the most bleak, tragic and depressing music I have heard throughout the year, and Some of the most peaceful, charming and beautiful music. This tension makes Remains a very intense listening that can comfort you and then emotionally hollow you out in a few minutes.
18. Wode-Burn In many Mirrors (20 Buck Spin)
For a full ten years, Manchester's Wode has been one of the best black metal bands in the UK, but in 2021 it feels like everyone else has finally caught up with them. Burn In Many Mirrors may be their best record, combining their cold and mysterious black metal with the nuances and mysterious and weird atmosphere of their classic heavy metal song creation. It does not sound like any of their peers.
17. Alkerdeel-Slonk (Babylon Doomsday Worship)
No one mixes sludge with black metal like Alkerdeel, and the Belgian sounds more unique and depraved in this absolutely dirty fourth album. Slonk has a truly insanity quality, even if it adheres to the rugged lo-fi black metal production principle, it can sound physically flat in some way. This method works wonders, bathing the band’s harsh, angular improvisation in such an unpleasant and dirty atmosphere that you still feel unclean after the fifth shower.
16. Bongzilla-Weedsconsin (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Let's face it-Stoner's doom is fucking dead in 2021. After a good run, the type was submerged by cloned clones and disappeared in its own carbohydrate hole; this made it more satisfying to witness Bongzilla finally come down from a height to show us how it was done. Offering a lot of improvisation while starting some serious psychedelic tangents, and always maintaining an organic, crowded atmosphere, Weedsconsin felt like picking up an ounce of Kush after enduring bad soap for months.
15. Severe Punishment-Bang To Rights (Dying Victims Productions)
Undoubtedly, this is the best and unabashed old-school heavy metal record of the year. The premiere of this Manchester Quintet is a joyous celebration of metal in its purest form, equipped with raucous NWOBHM-style massive hooks and G. Howells. The roar of Lemmy-gargling-sulphuric-acid howl. However, the songwriting here has enough energy, courage and imagination to prevent it from being just nostalgia. The absolute ripper.
14. Dream Unending-Tide Turns Eternal (20 Buck Spin)
Tide Turns Eternal is the latest record released on this list, but it is deeply rooted in my heart, so it must be included. If it's not completely original, it's easy to sell-classic Peaceville-style doom, powerful post-punk influence and rich dreamy and hot solo? Sell! – But this album completed its brief content so convincingly and touchingly that it almost surpassed its influence and became its own unique thing.
13. The last days of mankind-the terrible combination of decomposition (Rotten Roll Rex)
Perhaps it is wise to realize that they will never surpass the process of corruption in 2006 in pure barbarism. The bloody saga of the Netherlands. The last human doomsday has weakened the bland trap, relaxed the noise wall method and re-emphasized their early work for this A clearer, metallic repetition of the comeback album. However, the band did not sound dilute, but always maintained its iconic intensity, thus bringing this year's most memorable and exciting experience of crunching.
12. Mare Cognitum – Solar Paroxysm (Super Conscious)
Few black metals can make such a rage, melody and warm sound at the same time. This fifth album of the American solo project shines like the sun, offering five lengthy epics that never let go. Despite the wide range and manic rhythm, each song is full of yearning and passionate melody to prevent Solar Paroxysm from becoming too tired.
11. Amenra-De Doorn (Relapse)
In many ways, De Doorn is the first member of this Belgian post-metal band. Their first full-time collaborator with Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker, their first Relapse, their first writing for a series of commissioned activities, and the first to give up the traditional Mass title. Ironically, this album also feels like their most public and ceremonial yet, a sad mood shrouded in sadness, listed as one of their most cathartic efforts.
10. Worm-Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin)
Now this is a surprise; this Florida death/doom squad really blooms in the third full-length album, using a variety of textures and emotions, not only to create one of the heaviest and most shocking doom albums of 2021, but also the most One of the albums of expressiveness and color. The main theme of Foreverglade, like its impromptu repetitions, will continue to linger in your memory. Considering how many very satisfying lizard brains ignite the thumping sound, this does show something.
9. The Wolf of the Throne Room-Primal Mystery (Relapse)
Primordial Arcana is completely recorded by the band themselves in their Owl Lodge studio. It is not only the most personalized Wolves record in The Throne Room, but also one of their most focused and cohesive records in a period of time. Former Aldebaran guitarist Kody Keyworth really likes the band here. His slow and graceful lead voice adds a fresh new dimension to the band's atmospheric black metal.
8. The Ruins Of Beverast-The Thule Grimoires (Ván)
Although they have explored some of the most depressing, doom-laden, and blatantly Gothic areas that the German black metal project has ever explored, this may still be their most accessible album. The thick, impenetrable halo of the Ruins Of Beverast record is certainly part of its appeal, and The Thule Grimoires certainly does not disappoint in this regard, but this syrupy darkness is immediacy and vitality and should help Attract new listeners and long-term fans.
7. Panopticon-... into the light again (Bindrune)
After the 2018 double album The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness separated the black metal and folk aspects of his voice into different records, Austin Lunn’s eighth Panopticon album is a glorious return to form, and it feels like It is one of the most seamless fusions of these music. His musical identity has two seemingly different aspects. …And Again Into The Light has a more obvious post-rock influence than his previous albums, but it blends perfectly with his exciting, wind-blown black metal.
This album feels like the logical conclusion of the slower and more tragic taste that Darkthrone played on Arctic Thunder and Old Star. By really honing that eerie atmosphere, I want to say it surpasses both. The composition of the song has a truly epic quality, and the improvisation of this pair of partners is as always second to none-but what really makes eternal hail... What stands out is the strange ancient halo that it exudes, like the existence of time and space Classic metal record outside. It is the most esoteric and mysterious dark throne, and it reigns.
5. Underdark-Our bodies burn when re-entering (surviving voice)
The premiere of this atmospheric black metal quintet has been brewing for several years, but it is totally worth the wait. Although many bands are peddling this fantastic, shoe-style post-black metal, but it feels a bit too sugary or beige, Underdark's powerful, organic sound does have a sense of weight, urgency and relevance. The song creation here is full of truly unique identities. It does not resort to preaching slogans when dealing with political issues, and cleverly blends the creepy and otherworldly tremolo improvisation with the luxurious, reverberant atmosphere.
4. The Body & Big Brave-Only the little bird left (Thrill Jockey)
Both bands released their own great records this year. The Body applied the harsh industrial aesthetics of their first two records to the simpler composition style of their debut album, while Big Brave did the opposite. OK, and expand their voices to more grandiose, extremist rants. If I didn't realize that including this collaboration is a cunning way to talk about the two of them, then they can all easily make this list. Leave nothing but Xiaoniao is not just playing word count here; this is a surprisingly gorgeous and avant-garde folk record with a warm classic rock background, it feels like a real collaboration with any band’s past catalog Nothing in it is the same, and I don’t know how many times I have found solace in it this year.
3. Fluisteraars-Gegrepen Door De Geest Der Zielsontluiking (Eisenwald)
This pair of Dutch black metal duo has always been very interesting, but in the fourth album it really feels that they have become their own people. This album manages to be large and concise, dark but bright, cosmic and simple, strange but profound, making People are uncomfortable with humans. The structure of the long song really emphasizes the power of repetition in this genre, but it also allows the duo to go far beyond their usual range and enter the detached realm more in line with space rock or free jazz. Even in a great year for Black Metal, Gegrepen Door De Geest Der Zielsontluiking is still a good example of wildness, still largely undeveloped on the fringe of the genre.
2. At the door-the nightmare of existence (Century Media)
I really like the material after the reunion of At The Gates, but I really don't think there is another real classic left by the band at this time. The Nightmare Of Being strongly proved me wrong, not only made their iconic melody death metal improvisation sound more exciting than years, but also extended their voice to various progressive and psychedelic places. It feels completely fresh but also completely in line with the identity of the band. Incredibly, 30 years after their founding, At The Gates still sounds so imaginative and powerful.
1. Yield-XXI (The Flenser)
In terms of idiot intensity, nothing else can touch the California Death Metal Quartet’s second album this year, which seems to significantly improve their speed and technical accuracy, while also reaching a more depraved and disturbing atmospheric depth. XXI blurs death, suffering, noise and hardcore elements into a grotesque new shape that is not quite similar to any of these things. The uplifting and deeply disturbing atmosphere it creates further strengthens Succumb’s role as The absolute frontier of extreme metals.
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