Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.
2021 did force me to put my writing here on pause for a while. Between the very good and the very bad it was a wild pendulum of a year, and at some point I found myself unable to keep up with all of it. I took time away, as I have been want to do lately. And for the first time in a long time, I feel like that time away really did me some good. I’m not just back here writing a year-end list because I feel like I have to in order to earn my keep, I’m doing it because I feel like I have things to say about the music I loved this year. Because there was a lot to love, and because I managed, somewhere along the way, to find that love again after feeling like it had been fading for the last few years. Between long train rides with old favorites and early mornings with coffee and brand new discoveries, I felt that connection between me and the music I love slowly flowing back. I feel hopeful that that connection will allow me to be able to share more with you all about what it is that makes me light up.
But then, I suppose I should talk about what made that happen for me in 2021, right?
Huh, it appears that I blinked and a whole year went by just like that. Luckily there was metal, a lot of it in fact, to the extent that none of the albums on my list ended up on our staff’s combined list, which shows just how much diversity there is, in terms of releases, genres and our respective tastes and preferences. With majestic hails to the bands whose releases enriched my life in the past 12 months, the following contains my 20 favorite albums of the year. I hope you will find something that intrigues, excites and animates you.
This is just getting chaotic at this point. Unsustainable will be the word of the year for 2021 in my life. Anyway. What did I miss in the metal world in the past 36 hours?
Emptiness is streaming their full performance from Roadburn Redux. That event took place back in April (yet somehow feels only like yesterday), but is available again at the Season of Mist YouTube channel. This is obviously in support of their latest album, Vide, which I really wish I enjoyed more… but I still need to spend more time with it. Stay tuned.
The Wardruna North American tour that was supposed to happen… this year? Last year? Whatever. It’s been moved to 2022, and they’ve added a couple new dates to the excursion. Those dates are all in October and November, so there’s some time to kill before we get there. That said, this is something I would like to take part in when the time comes.
German post-black metal project Agrypnie have debuted a new track and video ahead of the release of the sixth full-length effort, Metamorphosis. That album is set for a July 30th release through AOP Records (and a few others), but you can check out “Verwüstung” right now.
This is a fun one to toss in the mix today. Ghoul have announced a free livestream this coming Saturday, the 26th, along with the release of a limited edition “Live In The Flesh” VHS. I mean, I know tapes are making a comeback… but I didn’t see VHS tapes doing the same. But who knows!?
And we’ll wrap up with a new music video from Nightfall for “Martyrs of the Cult of the Dead (Agita)”. The link below is the censored version, because I guess the original was released via OnlyFans? What on Earth is even happening anymore.
The experience of awaiting new music from a band that previously released your album of the year can be foreboding, especially if the band in question is known to be an unpredictable shapeshifter. The tug of war between trepidation and giddy excitement can become overwhelming and begets deeper questions: how do you even categorize or approach something that defies expectations and convention at every turn? Is it even fair or useful to compare their new release with previous ones? In the case of Vide, the sole clear answer is that only Emptiness could have conjured up this hypnotic album.
Hello one and all to another edition of Initial Descent where I’ve got nothing quippy due to it being Monday and all. And, I’d love one more weekend day but that ain’t happening so here we are. New stuff, we got it and you want it so let’s get after it… This week we’ve got a couple of tech death albums from Abiotic and Demon King, but holy crap look at that Abiotic album artwork! Kung Fu movies anyone? The answer is yes with this playing in lieu of the tv sound. Elsewhere we have a death metal banger from Humanity’s Last Breath and one that has made our very own Zyklonius happy; the misery pop of Emptiness who travel waaaaay outside the lines of expectations and offer up a whole lot of something, or in Zyklonius’ words: ‘something and nothing at the same time.’ Decode that and you win the week. Speak with him for your prize. As always, much more follows these four so dig in.