2021 Best of Metal: #9 Carcass-Torn Arteries

Origin: Liverpool, England

Release date: 9/17/2021

Personnel: Jeff Walker-vox/bass, Bill Steer-guitar, Daniel Wilding-drums

The wait was well worth it for this one. Torn Arteries was supposed to be a 2020 release, but the band pushed the release date back to 2021 due to pandemic issues. Don’t let the bright and shiny veggie heart album cover fool you. The godfathers of gore have delivered another slab of sonic putrefication (said bright and shiny veggies are pictured in an appropriate state of decay on the inside of the album liner). They even pay homage once again to their fellow Liverpudlians with Eleanor Rigor Mortis. Seems appropriate with all The Beatles hoopla of late.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

9. Carcass-Torn Arteries
10. Omnium Gatherum-Origin
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. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

2021 Best of Metal: #10 Omnium Gatherum-Origin

Origin: Kotka, Finland

Release date: 11/5/2021

Personnel: Jukka Pelkonen-vox, Markus Vanhala-guitar, Mikko Kivisto-bass, Aapo Koivisto-keyboards, Tuomo Latvala-drums

And we venture into the Top 10 for 2021. Hopefully you are still hanging out and waiting around with baited breath for each album drop. Next up are a band that plies their trade in Scandinavian melodic death metal that actually hails from Scandinavia (unlike yesterday’s pick). The OG boys are one of the premier bands in this important subgenre and they always manage to deliver a consistently solid product. Even though there were some lineup changes for this latest album (new bassist and drummer and the loss of a second guitarist), their sound has remained the same and Origin has resulted in one of their stronger releases in recent years. They continue to work in a good deal of clean vocals on this one as a balance to the harsh death vocals.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

10. Omnium Gatherum-Origin
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. Agrypnie-Metamorphosis

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