2021 has been quite a dynamic year, with many ups and downs. One of the highlights have been the absolute deluge of new music that has been released in the past 12 months! Perhaps this onslaught of new things to fill our earholes with is being driven by the time afforded by the lack of touring as a result of certain public health crises that shall not be named, but if that’s the case, let’s call it a silver lining. I’ve paired down all that I’ve listened to in the past year to my favorite ten albums of 2021!
10) Between the Buried and Me, Colors II (Sumerian)
A true follow-up to 2007’s Colors (really, 2007? I feel this dates me), Colors II features the amazing blend of musical textures and styles that made the first pop! This album truly wanders all over just as Colors does, and that’s what makes it so great.
Key Track: “Fix the Error”
09) Phantom Elite, Titanium (Frontiers)
It’s great to see absolute stand-outs in the crowded and samey field of symphonic metal, and that is firmly where Titanium, the second record from Phantom Elite, lies. This album blends symphonic, power, and progressive metal styles into a slick package with an incredibly polished production that delights the ears! Vocalist Marina La Torrca has such a unique voice, which only makes this album stand out from the pack even more than the fantastic production and cool writing would alone.
Key Track: “Diamonds and Dark”
08) Jinjer, Wallflowers (Napalm)
Jinjer are one of metal’s hot commodities at the moment, with a vast US tour (twice postponed) under their belt in 2021 in support of their latest work and a stream to tide folks throughout the dark times of 2020. Wallflowers keeps that consistency that is to be expected from a band such as Jinjer, giving the audience exactly what they want – an aural assault of groove, backed by the brutality of Tatiana Shmayluk’s impressively varied vocal performances.
Key Track: “Vortex”
07) Be’lakor, Coherence (Napalm)
As one of the up-and-coming sets of melodic death metal bands, Be’lakor, hailing from Australia, are starting to become more commonly known, and Coherence is sure to assist with that. Adding a dash of progressiveness to the standard melodeath template keeps things interesting, but this album doesn’t diverge enough to be uncomfortable for those who just like their riffs, keys, and growls! It’s almost as if someone took a Finnish band and put them on the opposite end of the planet…
Key Track: “Locus”
06) Aephanemer, A Dream of Wilderness (Napalm)
Hailing from France, Aephanemer continues to prove their worth in the symphonic death metal space with their first release under the Napalm Records banner. A Dream of Wilderness is consistent with the musical styles present in their last release, Prokopton, but showcases their continued growth and development, especially in the hints of power metal sprinkled in various spots around the record.
Key Track: “Le Radeau de la Méduse”