2021 Best of Metal: #11 Be’Lakor-Coherence

Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Release date: 10/29/2021

Personnel: George Kosmas-vox/guitar, Shaun Sykes-guitar, John Richardson-bass, Steve Merry-keyboards, Elliott Sansom-drums

The album is pure Scandinavian melodic death metal by way of Melbourne, Australia. I swear there is a secret tunnel running from Finland to Australia. There is no other way to fully explain how Be’Lakor managed to produce an album that feels this frozen. This album is reminiscent of Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum and even early era Katatonia. Lush epic songs are what you can expect on this one.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

11. Be’Lakor-Coherence
12. Hooded Menace-The Tritonus Bell
13. Quicksand-Distant Populations
14. Harakiri For the Sky-Maere
15. Converge and Chelsea Wolfe-Bloodmoon: I
16. At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being
17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #12 Hooded Menace-The Tritonus Bell

Origin: Joensuu, Finland

Release date: 8/27/2021

Personnel: Harri Kuokkanen-vox, Lasse Pyykko-guitar/bass, Teemu Hannonen-guitar, Pekka Koskelo-drums

Back to Scandinavia the next entry on the list. Looking at that album cover, you’re probably guessing that this is a death metal band. And you’d be correct. However, these guys kind of play out more like a doom metal band than a traditional sounding death metal outfit. The riffs on this one bring to mind more of something you’d hear off a Trouble album than your typical Scandinavian death metal band. Chuggy and slow moving with a severe guttural sounding vocalist.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

12. Hooded Menace-The Tritonus Bell
13. Quicksand-Distant Populations
14. Harakiri For the Sky-Maere
15. Converge and Chelsea Wolfe-Bloodmoon: I
16. At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being
17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #13 Quicksand-Distant Populations

Origin: New York City, NY

Release date: 8/13/2021

Personnel: Walter Schreifels-vox/guitar, Sergio Vega-bass, Alan Cage-drums

Probably the least metal album to make the list this year. There’s usually one non-traditional metal album that catches my fancy each year and Quicksand is the one for 2021. Distant Populations is an infectiously catchy post-punk/pop punk album that will worm its way into your brain and will not let go. Consider yourself warned because you’ll be humming these tunes for about a week or so after listening to them.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

13. Quicksand-Distant Populations
14. Harakiri For the Sky-Maere
15. Converge and Chelsea Wolfe-Bloodmoon: I
16. At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being
17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #14 Harakiri For the Sky-Maere

Origin: Salzburg, Austria

Release date: 2/19/2021

Personnel: J.J.-vox, M.S.-all instruments

This two man black metal project out of Austria has been a model of consistency during their tenure together. Their last album, Arson, made the list back in 2018 and now it’s follow-up, Maere, has gained that distinction as well. These guys are very good at creating melancholic atmospheric soundscapes. This is a good album for rainy (or snowy, depending on where you live) winter days when you just need something to pull you under its spell.

4 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

14. Harakiri For the Sky-Maere
15. Converge and Chelsea Wolfe-Bloodmoon: I
16. At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being
17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #15 Converge and Chelsea Wolfe-Bloodmoon: I

Origin: Salem, MA and Sacramento, CA

Release date: 11/19/2021

Personnel: Jacob Bannon-vox, Chelsea Wolfe-vox/guitar, Kurt Ballou-guitar, Nate Newton-bass, Stephen Brodsky-bass/vox, Ben Chisholm-synths/keyboards, Ben Koller-drums

Seems like there is always some sort of collaboration or side project that makes it onto the list each year. This year Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, Stephen Brodsky of Cave In/Mutoid Man and Ben Chisholm have put together the collaboration album Bloodmoon: I. While it appears as a formal Converge release, it is unlike anything Converge has done before. There are a couple of traditional caustic hardcore Converge tracks on here, but on the whole this one feels a lot of the gothic influence of Wolfe and the pop punk influence of Brodsky’s work in Cave In. Hell, it feels like all of these people populate and influence each other’s main gigs as it is anyway. So, the final product here can’t be too much of a shock for traditional Converge fans. This one is a dark and moody journey and with the moniker “I” in the Bloodmoon title, I’m guessing that we will probably see another release by these folks.

4 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

15. Converge & Chelsea Wolfe-Bloodmoon: I
16. At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being
17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #16 At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being

Origin: Gothenberg, Sweden

Release date: 7/2/2021

Personnel: Tomas Lindberg-vox, Martin Larsson-guitar, Jonas Stalhammar-guitar, Anders Bjoler-bass, Adrian Erlandsson-drums

At The Gates is back with album number three since their reunion. The first two albums they put out after getting back together were straight up traditional At The Gates death metal. On this latest release, it was as if they were feeling a need to stretch their creative legs a bit. They’ve worked in some fairly melodic parts, some spoken word segues and even a bit of saxophone. These changes brought a bit of fresh air to the band’s sound and has resulted in one of their stronger albums.

The list so far:

16. At The Gates-The Nightmare of Being
17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #17 The Vintage Caravan-Monuments

Origin: Alftanes, Iceland

Release date: 4/16/2021

Personnel: Oskar Logi Agustsson-vox/guitar, Alexander Om Numason-bass, Stefan Ari Stefansson-drums

Gonna change it up a bit after a slew of brutal picks. The Vintage Caravan is a lovely power trio out of Iceland that crafts a stonerish, hard rock sound. I’m fairly certain they are the first Icelandic band to make one of the year end lists. This album is full of tasty riffs, beautiful harmonies and some really catchy melodies. This is a great album for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The list so far:

17. The Vintage Caravan-Monuments
18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #18 Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos

Origin: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Release date: 1/22/2021

Personnel: Diva Satanica-vox, Prika Amaral-guitar, Mia Wallace-bass, Eleni Nota-drums

One of the earliest releases of the year and it had enough staying power to hang around to make the year-end list. The ladies are not fucking around on this one. This is a blistering set of classic death metal songs that starts with a punch to the face and doesn’t let up until the last note is played. But, don’t worry, this is a pummeling that you will thoroughly enjoy. Prika Amaral has assembled an international cast of characters to round out this latest version of Nervosa. Yet, even with the new players, Amaral remains the driving force of the band and her up front driving riffs move this beast forward. Also, Eleni Nota gives one of the more impressive drumming performances recorded in 2021. This one is simply a helluva romp for fans of Slayer and Sepultura.

4 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

18. Nervosa-Perpetual Chaos
19. Baest-Necro Sapiens
20. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #19 Baest-Necro Sapiens

Origin: Aarhus, Denmark

Release date: 3/5/2021

Personnel: Simon Olsen-vox, Lasse Revsbech-guitar, Sven Karlsson-guitar, Mattias Melchiorson-bass, Sebastian Abildsten-drums

At #19, we’ve got another one that is a bit on the grim side. This one’s gruesomeness lies mainly in its lyrical content which hovers around the same gutters as Cannibal Corpse and Carcass dwell. Song titles such as Meathook Massacre, Sea of Vomit and Purification Through Mutilation will give you an idea of what to expect. Now, although the subject matter is gritty, the music that accompanies it is a rockin’ and rollicking affair. You’ve got a more thrash oriented death metal sound that ends up resulting in a downright boozy affair. These songs may be grotesque, but you’ll have a damn good time going on this journey.

4 flip flops out of 5

2021 Best of Metal: #20 Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

Release date: 8/6/2021

Origin: Grob-Gerau, Germany

Personnel: Torstsen Hirsch-vox/guitar/keyboards, Marc Zobel-bass, Florian Musil-drums

Gonna start the list out this year with a grim one. Even though this album was my first exposure to Agrypnie, it looks like these guys (or, well, guy) have been around for quite a few years and this is album number six for them. This appears to be a one man project by and large and our man, Torsten, is our guide through this murky atmosphere. This album is sung entirely in German. So, I’m not entirely sure exactly what the storyline is, but from the photos in the album liner notes, it appears to focus on the dirty looking dude shown on the album cover. We see him paganing out in the woods in search of his true innermost form. Or at least that what appears to be going on. Eventually, he sprouts antlers in what I’m assuming is the representation of him reaching some sort of pagan nirvana. Or something like that. Hell, I don’t speak German. But, that’s the gist I’m getting. Musically, this thing has your standard black metal framework, but Torsten and the gang never let things devolve into just blastbeats, tremolo picking and bleak screams exclusively. This one takes enough twists and turns to keep the proceedings interesting and dynamic. Very much an album for fans of Behemoth. Hell, this one even contains enough power chords to act a bit of a hook for the non-black metal fan. All in all, this one is a fairly accessible black metal album.

4 flip flops out of 5