2021 was…. a bit much. We will take each day at a time cautiously in 2022 and try not to spook it. While 2021 brought a hefty amount of unpredictability and chaos, some wonderful things were forged in the turmoil. This was a really great year for music, and I have many albums that I want to shout about from the rooftop, but I am keeping it concise and calling out my Nine Circles nine (we love a good theme). Once again, I am one of the last of the bunch of wonderful writers here to post my year end list as my indecisiveness and overthinking ruined the party again. However, I did participate in the group list (though my albums have shifted a bit…) and also the Best of 2021 Audio Thing (which was a blast).
Here are my top nine personal favorites as well as a list of honorable mentions and non-metal albums that brought me some joy this past year.
We’re kicking through November, and I’m here with my usual: a steaming cup of coffee in a cup big enough to swim in, and a playlist of all the metal I’ve listened to in 2021 to start sorting out end of year stuff.
It’s a loooong list.
So to make it easier OF COURSE I’m going to kick it off with some Darkthrone. But the rest of the crew is definitely going to bring you to some uncharted corners for Volume 205 of the Nine Circles Playlist. I don’t know who Thangorodrim are, but they’re bringing the dark vibes on their debut. Jon just has a birthday, so he’s letting loose with some faves like Dethklok and Strapping Young Lad. Josh is over the moon over the news that Death Breath are coming back, and The Halo Effect, aka In Flames 2.0 seem to be moving in a good direction with their debut single. Vincent crosses the border into pop with some good good CHVRCHES but quickly hops back over with the long awaited new song from Nechochwen. And Ian closes us out this week with some Spiritbox, Owen, and Coheed and Cambria. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this week’s list, so settle in and give your ears a workout.
The cold weather’s finally kicked in. I’ve got a steaming cup of coffee so big I need two hands to bring its caffeinated goodness to my lips, and I’ve spent the past hour fiddling with parametric EQs to kick my headphones into high gear while listening to newest single by one of my favorite guitarists on this great glob of a world, Wata from Boris. Wherever you are I hope you’re finding some kind of aural and chemical comfort (feel free to pick your own poison; I’ll stick with coffee) right now.
Of course that’s not the only thing we’re blasting in Volume 204 of the Nine Circles Playlist. After thinking they were done Porcupine Tree is back in the saddle and released a new single which feels like Steven Wilson bringing his pop sensibility into the band and the band fighting back, and I love it. Josh brings the filthy death metal with Under the Church and Concrete Winds, while Vincent splits his time between the grace of Alcest and the brutality of Atræ Bilis. Anton revels in the swirling symphonic chaos of Dessiderium, and Buke? Buke is living in the glory his (and my) youth with classics from Twisted Sister, Down, and even some Spinal Tap. Finally, Angela brings it all home with the latest from 9C favorite Emma Ruth Rundle and some new stuff from Monolord. In other words it’s a stacked house, so settle in and enjoy the tunes.
Masters of riffs and doomy goodness, Monolord have emerged from the smoke after two years with their latest full-length release Your Time to Shine. This is most certainly a Monolord album, however, there is some fine-tuning and added finesse making it a unique addition to the band’s discography. It may even be the best album by the Swedish trio to date. This dynamic album has everything fans love about Monolord—amazing riffs, sludge distortion, hypnotic doom metal vocals—with added dramatics and wrapped in a crisp production. Your Time to Shine was created with “liters of coffee, cinnamon buns, and good bad jokes” which can be felt in these five tracks. Who knew that was the perfect formula for creating stellar doom metal?
Your Time To Shine is Monolord‘s fifth full length release since exploding onto the doom metal scene back in 2014 with their excellent debut Empress Rising. To say their rise in this genre has been anything other than meteoric would be an atrocity, and even including ‘rise’ in that statement is misleading since their debut captured fans from across the globe and landed on many best of lists. Their sound has become the new standard in doom metal for anyone looking for something outside the ‘paint by numbers’ formula that’s been around for so long. And, with every album since, their star shines ever brighter. Your Time To Shine continues this tradition and further cements their legacy in doom metal. With that said, jump in for an excellent chat with Thomas Jäger via The Nine Circles Audio Thing.