Dec 142021

(Andy Synn continues his annual round-up of the year in Metal)

Now that all the furore over yesterday’s debacle of disappointments has (hopefully) blown over, it’s time to get into the good stuff.

And I do mean the “Good” stuff, as while the wide variety of albums featured in this article (some 200+ by last count) run the gamut from just “pretty good” to “almost great”, they all have different things to recommend about them, some more so than others, obviously, and my hope is that this list will help at least some of you discover – or even rediscover – a bunch of new bands you’d otherwise overlooked.

Because, let’s face it, the real purpose of this particular piece – which, to be clear, is in no way comprehensive, as there’s lots of things I didn’t get chance to hear (and probably several things I did but have forgotten to include) – is simply to provide a useful round-up for our readers to pick and choose from at their leisure so they can, hopefully, catch up on some of what they might have missed!

In that spirit I’ve made some slight tweaks to the formatting this year, both to make things easier on myself and to make it easier for our audience, so – without further ado – here’s all the new releases from 2021 that I think didn’t quite make the cut for the “Great” list (although some of them came very, very close).

And, bear in mind if you don’t see something you’re looking for here there’s always a chance it will make an appearance in tomorrow’s list!


Let’s start out with some of the debut albums which laid a firm foundation for various bands, where I’d particularly like to draw your attention to the doomy delights of Poland’s Grieving, the extremely impressive Progressive Death debut by Nanga Parbat, and the ambitious opening statement from Lunar Ark (about whom I plan to write some more later this month), along with all the rest of these fine records:

Angrrsth – Donikąd
Ankerkeria – Matriarch
Apparition – Feel
Autarkh – Form In Motion
Burial Pit – Subhuman Scum
Grieving – Songs for the Weary
In The Shadows of Giants – The Quiet World
Io – Fire
Lunar Ark – Recurring Nightmare
Nanga Parbat – Downfall and Torment
Nihilanth – Graceless Planet
Silver Talon – Decadence & Decay
The Silver – Ward of Roses
Thermohaline – Maelström
Vertebra Atlantis – Lustral Purge in Cerulean Bliss


The UK contingent provided a variety of raucous releases for you all to check out if you haven’t done so already, and while I’d honestly recommend giving all these albums a listen if you have the time, I’d also like to specifically highlight Underdark‘s vibrant debut, which saw the band truly beginning to live up to all their promise and potential, along with the razor-sharp Tooth Over Claw by Axecatcher and the intriguing prog-powered grooves of Blind Tendril, whose new album was a late (but extremely worthy) addition to this list. And, of course, the last will and testament of my long-time favourites Send More Paramedics. Rest in pieces guys.

Anakim – The Elysian Void
Axecatcher – Tooth Over Claw
Bleeding Antlers – Stagmata
Blind Tendril – α
Celestial Sanctuary – Soul Diminished
Cognizance – Upheaval
Craven Idol – Forked Tongues
Lvcifyre – The Broken Seal
Mastiff – Leave Me the Ashes of the Earth
Necronautical – Slain in the Spirit
Ninkharsag – The Dread March of Solemn Gods
Send More Paramedics – The Final Feast
Thundering Hooves – Vestiges
Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Rentry
Wode – Burn In Many Mirrors


This year was a big one for the Death Metal scene, in all its different forms, from crushing new releases by living legends like Apshyx  and Aborted to as lesser-known bruisers such as Organic and Steel Bearing Hand (both of which I absolutely loved) and absolute annihilators from Carthage and Celestial Swarm… as well as all the other devastating albums listed below.

Aborted – Maniacult
Aegis of Nothos – Chronicle
Aeon – God Ends Here
Altered Dead – Returned to Life
Asphyx – Necroceros
Blood Red Throne – Imperial Congregation
Carthage – Sicilian Wars
Celestial Swarm – Gateways to the Necroverse
Cognitive – Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction
Devoid of Thought – Outer World Graves
Frozen Soul – Crypt of Ice
Genocide Pact – Genocide Pact
Hexorcist – Evil Reaping Death
Inoculation – Celestial Putridity
Necrochaos – Mortal Angels Descent
Occulsed – Crepitation of Phlegethon
Organic – Where Graves Abound
Oxygen Destroyer – Sinister Monstrosities Spawned By the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind
Sallow Moth – Stasis Cocoon
Snet – Mokvání V Okovech
Steel Bearing Hand – Slay In Hell
Terminalist – The Great Acceleration
The Absence – Coffinized
The Day of the Beast – Indisputably Carnivorous
The Monolith Deathcult – V3: Vernedering
Typhonian – The Cosmic Pendulum of Time


The ever-expanding “Dissonant Death Metal” scene saw some healthy growth this year, with new releases from KlexosSunless, and Blindfolded and Led to the Woods being obvious stand-outs in my eyes.

But there’s no denying that the Technical Death Metal scene was even more fertile… with Hatalom‘s debut, the highly underrated third album from Poland’s Catharsis, and Prophetic Scourge‘s proggy-yet-punishing second album, Gnosis – A Sorrower’s Odyssey, being some of the lesser-known highlights from an extremely fruitful year.

Blindfolded And Led To The Woods – Nightmare Withdrawals
Catharsis – Human Failures
Cathexis – Untethered Abyss
Deviant Process – Nurture
Fleshbore – Embers Gathering
Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon
Hatalom – Occhiolism
Inferi – Vile Genesis
Intonate – Severed Within
Klexos – Apocryphal Parabolam
Moral Collapse – Moral Collapse
Portal – Avow
Portal – Hagbulbia
Prophetic Scourge – Gnosis – A Sorrower’s Odyssey
Replicant – Malignant Reality
Siderean – Lost On Void’s Horizon
Sunless – Ylem
Unflesh – Inhumation
Xenosis – Paralleled Existence


If you like your Death Metal with some proggier proclivities or a dash of electrifying melody then 2021 also had some good stuff to offer in that regard, and like to give a special shout-out to both the powerfully proggy Black/Death hybrid of Dementia’s Creed and the intricately arranged riffs and rhythms of Pierceive, the second album by Italy’s Screaming Banshee, as well as the electrifying debut from Vaelmyst and the unexpectedly impressive comeback from Destinity too!

Dementia’s Creed – Ain Soph Arar
Destinity – In Continuum
Lascaille’s Shroud – Othercosmic Divination II
Morost – Forged Entropy
Nakhara – The Procession
Screaming Banshee – Pierceive
Stone Healer – Conquistador
Sullen – Nodus Tollens – Act 1: Oblivion
Toward the Throne – Vowed to Decline
Vaelmyst – Secrypts of the Egochasm


On the other hand, if you prefer your Death Metal with a more “Blackened” edge (or your Black Metal with a more deathly sheen) then 2021 gave you multiple opportunities to blast your ears off, with obliterating new releases from Crypts of Despair (which almost made the “Great” list), Dakhma, and Our Place of Worship is Silence, and more. Prepare to get blasted.

Autokrator – Persecution
Creeping Fear – Hategod Triumph
Crooked God – Cruel and Blasphemous
Crypts of Despair – All Light Swallowed
Dakhma – Blessings of Amurdad
Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death
Disillumination – Во Тьму Предвечного Слова
Hate – Rugia
KHNVM – Portals to Oblivion
Noctambulist – The Barren Form
Otargos – Fleshborer Soulflayer
Our Place of Worship Is Silence – Disavowed, and Left Hopeless
Sxuperion – Auscultating Astral Monuments
Vomit Ritual – Callous


Segueing smoothly into the Black Metal scene, the last twelve months were packed with malevolent metallic morsels to sink your teeth into, whether that’s in the form of Concilium‘s soul-scarring debut, Desecration, or the furious final album from Human Serpent, the searing Speak of the Devil by Austral Kult, or the cruel charisma of Whoredom Rife.

Aara – Triade I: Eos
Aethyrick – Apotheosis
Astrophobos – Corpus
Austral Kult – Speak of the Devil
Concilium – Desecration
Decline of the I – Johannes
Hegemon – Sidereus Nuncius
Human Serpent – Heirlooms Eternal
Lykhaeon – Opprobium
Moon Oracle – Muse of the Nightside
Ofermod – Mysterium Iniquitatis
Whoredom Rife – Winds of Wrath


2021 also found a number of bands adopting a slightly more modern approach while still paying tribute to the genre’s ancestral roots, with Borgne‘s industrialised horror, Feral Lord‘s acid-drenched dissonance, and Wesenwille‘s mercilessly modernist approach, all being worthy of your attention and acclaim (as are all the others, to be fair).

Anatman – Existence:Void
Borgne – Temps Morts
Demonic Temple – Through the Stars Into the Abyss
Feral Lord – Purity of Corruption
Grab – Zeitlang
Hån – Breathing the Void
Imperialist – Zenith
Kosmodemonic – Liminal Light
Los Males Del Mundo – Descent Towards Death
Nixil – All Knots Untied
Wesenwille – II: A Material God


Of course, if you just want to bang your head and get your groove on – in punchy, pitch-black fashion – then you also had a wealth of wicked wonders to enjoy too, and I’m particularly partial to the grisly swing ‘n’ swagger of Russia’s Crust, the balls-to-the-wall bombast of Krigsgrav (about whom I plan to do a Synn Report sometime soon), and the sludgy Black ‘n’ Roll of Take Over and Destroy (but don’t forget about PlaguewielderThron or Vile Aesthetic either).

Codex Nero – The Great Harvest of Death
Crust – Stoic
Downcross – To the Last Sunset at the Gates of Collapse
Ferriterium – Calvaire
Krigsgrav – The Sundering
Plaagdrager – Rampspoed & Verdriet
Plaguewielder – Covenant Death
Sordide – Les Idées blanches
Stargazer – Psychic Secretions
Take Over And Destroy – Fade Out
Thron – Pilgrim
Vile Aesthetic – To Bloom and Flourish from Utter Rot
Vreid – Wild North West
Wolf King – The Path of Wrath


Looking for something to utterly immerse yourself in? Then the abrasive atmospheric intensity of Arde or ColdCell should be right up your alley.

Or maybe you want something with a darker, folkier edge? Then why not allow the new releases from DantalianEldingar, or Pan-Amerikan Native Front to sink into your bones and get your blood boiling?

Agrypnie – Metamorphosis
Alda – A Distant Fire
Arde – Ancestral Cult
Blurr Thrower – Les Voutes
ColdCell – The Greater Evil
Dantalian – Death Magick Blood
Eldingar – Maenads
Fluisteraars – Gegrepen door de Geest der Zielsontluiking
Fyrnask – VII – Kenoma
Harakiri for the Sky – Mӕre
Inanes – Acedia
Iskandr – Vergezicht
Mroh – XII
Negură Bunget – Zău
Owl Cave – Broken Speech
Pan-Amerikan Native Front – Little Turtle’s War
Vvilderness – As Above, So Below
Waldgeflüster – Dahoam


And, hey, if you just want to get weird then we’ve got you covered there too, from Esoctrilihium‘s mind-bending Requiem for the Serpent Telepath and Maladie‘s prog-tastic The Sick Is Dead…, to the truly disturbing (and borderline undefinable) Skin Show by The Lion’s Daughter.

An Autumn For Crippled Children – As the Morning Dawns We Close Our Eyes
Esoctrilihum – Dy’th Requiem For The Serpent Telepath
Krallice – Demonic Wealth
Maladie – The Sick Is Dead – Long Live The Sick
Mesarthim – CLG J02182–05102
So Hideous – None But A Pure Heart Can Sing
Spire – Temple of Khronos
The Lion’s Daughter – Skin Show


The Blackened Hardcore scene was particular vital and venomous this year, so don’t sleep on the abrasive assault of bands like Anti-RitualMagdalene (more about them later this month) and Morokh (a long-time favourite here at NCS who only seem to be getting better and better), while the more anthemic and emotive energy of Areis and Hunted Like Thieves should appeal to anyone who, like me, came up from the Punk/Hardcore scene.

Anti Ritual – Expel the Leeches
Areis – Areis
Arid – Arid
Hunted Like Thieves – On The Edge of Giving In
Kavrila – Mor
Magdalene – Lightcarver
Morokh – All the Darkness Looks Alive
Rejecter – The Vulgar Wine
Vorvan – Awakened
Znous – Znousland 3


If you want to just get nasty – to hammer, slam, and violate your eardrums – then the Death/Grind/Mathcore triangle offered you multiple opportunities to inflict auditory violence on yourself, from the bonecrushing blackened brutality of Distant and the merciless metallic assault of God Complex‘s posthumous To Decay in a Deathless World, to the gruesome Death-Grind of Swampbeast and the unrelenting Liberation From a Brutalist Existence by Wanderer, and more!

Bound In Fear – Penance
Bridge Burner – Disempath
Carnifex – Graveside Confessions
Depths of Hatred – Inheritance
Distant – Aeons of Oblivion
Full of Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
God Complex – To Decay in a Deathless World
Noise Trail Immersion – Curia
Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone
Swampbeast – Seven Evils Spawned of Seven Heads
The Breathing Process – Labyrinthian
Wanderer – Liberation From A Brutalist Existence


From some of the fastest, and most furious, we move onto some of the most claustrophobic and atmospheric albums of the year, whether that’s the suffocating sludge-soaked heaviness of bands like Churchburn and Kehlvin or the pounding Post-Metal of A Secret Revealed and Sigil. And then there’s moodier, more melodic offerings from the likes of Kauan and Slow Crush, or doomier flavoured offerings from Demande à la Poussière and Whitehorse.

A Secret Revealed – When the Day Yearns for Light
Amenra – De Doorn
Black Sheep Wall – Songs for the Enamel Queen
Churchburn – Genocidal Rite
Demande à la Poussière – Quiétude Hostile
Hemelbestormer – Collide & Merge
Ikarie – Cuerpos en sombra
Kartoum – Maelstrom
Kauan – Ice Fleet
Kehlvin – Holistic Dreams
Kultika – Capricorn Wolves
Le Monde par le Feu – – À néant –
Presages – Pleurs
Redemptus – blackhearted
Sigil – Nether
Slow Crush – Hush
Speech Act – Letters On Extinction’s Piece
Sterbefall – Verlorene Zeit
The Drowned God – Pale Home
Whitehorse – Death Weight


Speaking of doomier offerings… 2021 gave us, among others, the deathly, funereal filth of Abysskvlt and Suffer Yourself along with the proggier, more psychedelic stylings of Spaceslug and Maha Sohona (both of whom I hope to write more about very soon), as well as the more haunting and ethereal “Domgaze” of iLLudium and shedfromthebody… plus a plethora of other doomy delights.

Abysskvlt – Phur g. Yang
Dalit – Moksha
Faeries – Faeries
The Flight of Sleipnir – Eventide

Forlorn – The Answer Lies In The Black Void
Funeral Void – In The Epic ov a Funeral Sunset
Fuoco Fatuo – Obsidian Katabasis
Ghostheart Nebula – Ascension
Holy Death – Separate Mind From Flesh
Hooded Menace – The Tritonus Bell
iLLudium – Ash of the Womb
Maha Sohona – Endless Searcher
Ophis – Spew Forth Odium
Shedfromthebody – To Hold the Ripened Sun
Spaceslug – Memorial
Suffer Yourself – Rip Tide


Last, but by no means least, we’ll finish off with some of the “big name” bands who released new albums this year, pointing out that Gojira‘s Fortitude probably would have made it onto the “Great” list if it had been a little tighter and more concise (and the same goes for Mastodon‘s Hushed and Grim, which I really like, but think should have been split into two albums and tightened up ever so slightly), and noting that while neither the new Cynic or Khemmis albums were as good as the band’s best work they’re both still worthy additions to each group’s catalogue. Oh, and The Crown rule. ’nuff said.

Be’lakor – Coherence
Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined
Carcass – Torn Arteries
Cynic – Ascension Codes
The Crown – Royal Destroyer
Gojira – Fortitude
Hypocrisy – Worship
In Mourning – The Bleeding Veil
Khemmis – Deceiver
Leprous – Aphelion
Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
Moonspell – Hermitage
Swallow the Sun – Moonflowers
Scale the Summit – Subjects

  22 Responses to “2021 – A YEAR IN REVIEW(S): THE GOOD”

  1. As usual, I will never be able to listen to this much music, but your dedication and thoroughness is always extremely appreciated

    • Thank you for your kind words. Hopefully you’ll still be able to pick out a few things though. After all, we’re not going to be taking this page down any time son (or ever) so you can just keep on coming back to it if you like!

  2. Very thoughtful! I will say that I agree about Mastodon, but this is one of the issues with moving to primarily digital music. The CD and vinyl versions separated these into two very distinct discs, making the double album more clear, and it becomes MUCH better when you listen to it at as two 45 minute albums vs. one 90 minute one. The digital version blurs that line which makes it a much worse album.

    • It’s still kind of weird that the title is SO easily separated into two pieces “Hushed” and “Grim” that they didn’t present it that way. I might even have been tempted to spend a bit more time on each one, tighten them up separately, and release them individually on a staggered release schedule, then maybe as a double album further down the line!

      But, still, I’m not in Mastodon and I’m not going to tell them what to do. And I do very much enjoy this album (more than I have from them in a long time, in fact, which isn’t meant as a slight on their other stuff either).

      • I agree with you 100% on all count! It definitely would have benefitted from being more clearly separated and then each tightened up a little bit, even if they didn’t want to stagger the releases.

        And agreed too that it’s the most I’ve liked them in a while. Probably since “Crack the Skye.”

  3. Thanks Andy, guna listen to all of these today.

  4. Great stuff Andy, the new format is quicker to browse through and zero in on the genres that appeal so it’s working for me.

    Tried a few so far and loving the sound of the Borgne album. As always thanks for listening to all of this for us!

    Got a handful of the LPs here and agree they’re good, one exception for me – Waldgefluster are gonna make my top 10.

    • “the new format is quicker to browse through and zero in on the genres that appeal”

      Oh, awesome. You don’t know how good that sort of feedback is, since I was really struggling to get this piece finished in time doing it the usual way and this new format came to me very late in the day. Very glad it’s working for you!

  5. Nice list(s)! Some of my favourites this year were:

    Mānbryne – Heilsweg: O udręce ciała i tułaczce duszy
    Issolei – Cilicium / Devouring Current pt​.​1: Crystalline Fractures (EP) / Devouring Current pt​.​2: Treacherous Ascent (EP)
    Ænigmatum – Deconsecrate
    Hedvig Mollestad Trio – Ding Dong. You’re Dead
    Monte Penumbra – As Blades in the Firmament
    Beyond Man – Beyond Man
    Qrixkuor – Poison Palinopsia
    Rothadas – Kopár hant​.​.​. az alvilág felé
    Cantique Lépreux – Sectes (EP)
    Malignant Altar – Realms Of Exquisite Morbidity

    (Yes, I will also respond to the Readers’ Lists invitation!)

    Up the Hammers, down the Nails!

  6. love this series as always, like a very thoughtful metal map with signposts.

  7. Yes, also liking this format, thanks for all you do Andy!!!

  8. Wow. Really, really, really surprised to see Krallice’s “Demonic Wealth” on the “Good” list. It’s my favorite album of the entire year and was so after just one listen, but that just serves to show yet again how there’s is just no accounting for personal tastes.

    Same with that Kauan “Ice Fleet” LP.

  9. Andy…many thanks from Blind Tendril for including us!

  10. Wow! Amazing job Andy!! I think new format makes easier to reach and to listen all this HUGE musical library from 2021!!!

    I’m also really impressed with the unexpectedly comeback from Destinity… for me “In Continuum” is a TOP 10 year contender!!!!

  11. Thank You for your amazing work and true dedication Andy!

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