I find it hard to pick albums of the year as there’s simply so much music I’ve not listened to yet. In 6 months time, I’ll still be discovering albums from 2021 I missed, still working my way through friends albums of the year lists and discovering something new albums via them. So these aren’t the definitive albums of the year, but they are shit I enjoyed over and over and over again.
Deafheaven – Infinite Granite (Sargent House)
I’ve loved Deafheaven for years, but their pivot away from blackgaze to producing pure and soaring dreamscapes was unexpected and yet incredibly welcome. This is beautiful music to get completely immersed in and lost within its walls; music to course wildly through your veins and make your heart explode in starbursts. I’ve cried my heart out to this album. I’ve had some of my happiest moments whilst listening to this album. I don’t care what genre they are or are not. I’m just glad they exist. An incredible band.
Paysage D’Hiver – Geister (Kunsthall Produktionen)
Chris from Winterfylleth introduced me to Paysage D’Hiver and ever since I’ve been absolutely enthralled. I love black metal, I love everything about it and when it’s good, it’s possibly the best genre in the world. I love the journey into dark oblivion. I love the simplicity, I love the rawness and what Geister delivers here in droves is old school black metal ambience, atmosphere and minimalism. A devastating listen.
Yoth Iria – As the Flame Withers (Pagan Records)
A debut album from early members of Rotting Christ (one of my favourite bands), yes please I’ll be having some of that. More melodic and well-produced than the black metal of Passage D’Hiver mentioned above and referencing passages of more old school heavy metal than pure black metal, this is still a compelling listen due to incredible atmospherics and enough guitar meandering to satisfy my errant guitar lust. 45 minutes of sheer aural ecstasy. What an incredible first offering.
Greenleaf – Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records)
I stumbled across this album earlier in the year by chance and have had it on repeat consistently ever since. Echoes From A Mass is an absolute belter of an album. A really potent and heady mix of heavy rock, stoner psych with vibes by the bucketload. I come back to this album so often, usually late at night when I’m trying to unwind, between the ethereal vocal delivery, lively riffs and oodles of fuzz it’s just a really easy album to disappear inside. An extraordinary listen and a very special band. Keep an eye on this lot.
Årabrot – Norwegian Gothic (Pelagic Records)
Recommended to me by their publicist Simon, this came as a total curveball early on in the year. I’d never heard of the band before (they’ve been going 20 years!!) and certainly wasn’t expecting everything that this is. An amazing alternative noise rock duo dripping with gothic overtones, brooding intensity and a fascination with sex and death (my two favourite things). Everything about this album is weird and wonderful and entirely me. Listening to it feels like coming home. Kjetil Nernes incredible (and probably marmite for most) vocal delivery seals the deal for me. I want this, I want all of this, I want it on toast. I want it.
Dordeduh – Har (Prophecy Productions)
Can I just write absolutely amazing and move on?
You can read about the band’s history online, it involves the masterful Negură Bunget…so with that in mind… DORDEFUCKINGDUH. Great to say, feels good in your mouth, sounds even better through your speakers.
One of the most impressive albums of the year. A genuine surprise and one I’ve not stopped speaking to people about. There’s some black metal mixed with progressive metal mixed with Romanian folk and huge soaring soundscapes. There’s just the foundations of a really unique and brilliant album. Utterly compelling, utterly fascinating. If I have to pick one album from this list as utterly essential… it’s this one.
Black Sheep Wall – Songs for the Enamel Queen (Silent Pendulum Records)
Another band I’ve loved for years and years and was really happy to see an album out this year after a six year break. This isn’t nice music nor an easy listen but it is the perfect soundtrack to encapsulate the utter insanity of the past few years that we’ve all lived through.
If you’re looking for an emotional and aural assault, Black Sheep Wall are your band. It’s mentally exhausting and it fills your heart full of fucking sand. Absolutely essential listening for those who dare to drag themselves to the very edge of bleak insanity to feel alive. Only the strongest survive this one.
Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush (Ripple Music)
One of the most unique bands I’ve ever stumbled across – evolving from the depths of the stoner sludge underground to become prog giants with their recent fifth release, Boss Keloid have a sound all of their own making. Neither one thing nor the other. No one sounds quite like them. And as great as the album is musically, the vibe, the vocal delivery and the lyrics are the hook for me – the emotional energy locked within them and the positive message delivered through every song made this whole experience akin to listening to a jar of sunshine.
I could wax lyrical about this band for days. I truly, truly love them and most people know that because I never shut up about them. Listen to this album from start to finish and tell me afterwards you haven’t been on a spiritual journey. It’s incredible.
MØL – Diorama (Nuclear Blast)
Fun fact – I can’t listen to MØL without crying. Any time I put any music by MØL on then I’m only minutes away from losing my shit whilst blubbering something about them being the soundtrack to my soul. It’s obscene quite frankly. An amazing group of people making the most amazing music – this is blackgaze…and then some.
Utterly brilliant – there’s spangles, there’s glitter, there’s shoegaze, there’s post-metal, there’s black metal vocals, there’s emotion…IM GONNA CRY….there’s huge soaring guitar passages, there’s songs about real life struggle…PLEASE PASS ME A HANKIE….there’s the most beautiful atmosphere, there’s the perfect band. I’M CRYING. MØL are very special, they always have been, they’re on a journey and they’re unstoppable. Watch where they end up.