Music that made 2021 worth it

It’s been a terrible year for me overall, but the music was pretty damn good at least. This is something like my top 10 albums of the year.

Stormkeep was an amazing throwback to early 90s melodic black metal in the vein of Sacramentum and Windir that I just keep coming back to. Everything from the cover to the riffs to the dungeon-synth interludes is superb.

Këkht Aräkh adopt a sound reminiscent of a more Romantic early Burzum with beautiful analogue production and folk instrumentals. Takes the bleak minimialism and melancholy of Filosofem and grants it a warmth and beauty which utterly transforms this style of black metal.

Knocked Loose kicked my head in and made me like it. Violence, anger, grief and rage overflow in angular, jarring punk/metal.

Deafheaven dropped the metal from their sound and came away with something that’s still incredibly provocative and heart-rending. I found this song in particular very cathartic in trying to deal with the death of a close friend.

Spectral Wound delivered on balls to the wall satanic black metal. It does what it says on the tin and just gives you riffs, delivered at a blistering speed.

Lorna Shore surprised me with their rich, blackened and symphonic take on deathcore. Far more interested than I’d expected, with the final track in some ways reminding me of early Equilibrium at their most creative.

Plebeian Grandstand blew my ears and mind to bits with their terrifying, disturbing avant-garde black metal infused with violent bursts of noise and distortion.

Dying Wish took me back to a simpler time when big Gothenburg riffs and brutal breakdowns was all we ever needed.

Wolves in the Throne Room came back from the slight letdown that was Thrice Woven with a much more textured and dynamic album than they’ve made in a long while, rediscovering that organic connection with nature they made their own in their early records.

And Noctambulist scratched my itch for dissonant death metal a la Ulcerate, though it rarely reaches the heights of the masters.

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