(Below our Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum presents her own year-end list of eleven 2021 favorites.)
This year started with lots of Thrash and now it ends just the same. The damper mood with lots of restrictions and lots of cancelled or postponed concerts and festivals does not allow for anything too dark nor cold at the moment. So this list is quite biased in the sense that it highly favors rhythmic virtuosity, old school sound, and non-monotonous riffing for the most part. Also I’m not going to include commercial bands that have been mentioned a thousand times already.
Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû
(Black Thrash Metal – U.S.A)
I was busy enough this year so I luckily didn’t notice the controversial turmoil surrounding the ending of Absu until recently. Anyway, I care only for music, I always say, and that’s all. On the other hand what I did notice was the creation of Apsû. I got renewed hopes right after it was announced because Proscriptor to me is the very soul of Absu. Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû is just a total masterpiece and it reconciles technicality and old school oriented feeling in a brilliant way which is amazing. I’m happy with the end result which is at the very heart of Absu, and it even brings to mind Tara which is one of the epitomes of the band.
Brodequin – Perpetuation of Suffering
(Brutal Death Metal – U.S.A)
Brodequin are one of the most influential bands in the Brutal Death scene worldwide. They have a relentless and brutal sound that is super-empowering and I never get tired of it. Their latest EP Perpetuation of Suffering is just as brutal as one can expect, but it is also slightly different in its composition. I would say the EP marks a more approachable style for those who are not familiar with the band yet, and at the same time it fulfills all the expectations of old fans. More info about the EP and the upcoming new album can be found here.
Archspire – Bleed the Future
(Technical Death Metal – Canada)
Archspire just shows that it is humanly possible to improve a notch even when their level is already pretty high. I’d say Bleed the Future has a sophisticated touch too. It brings together the best the tech world has to offer. The jazzy elegance, the mathematical precision, the brutal speed, some neoclassical touches, lots of virtuosity, all immersed in a contemplation-inducing atmosphere. The treatment of melody shows now how mature the band is musically. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Nocturnal Graves – An Outlaw’s Stand
(Blackened Thrash/Death Metal – Australia)
I found Nocturnal Graves many years ago while on a hunt for anything old school thrash, excellently performed. This band is a must for any Deströyer 666 fan. This year they released 3 singles from their new album, An Outlaw’s Stand, which is going to be released on January 7th via Season of Mist Underground Activist.
Deathcult – Bestial Recordings
(Black Metal – Norway)
Deathcult are from Bergen and have the raw production and atmosphere, and at the same time they are experienced musicians so the music holds a high standard. I can’t help thinking a bit of the hypnotic nature of VON in this EP. It’s awesome, and in addition you have all the Norwegian goodness of the Bergen scene, so I look forward to the next release.
Massacre – Resurgence
(Death Metal – U.S.A)
Resurgence is a hybrid conceived out of the vast musical experience of the musicians behind Massacre, and if you want to know more about it you can read my interview here. I’ll be listening to this one a lot. The quintessencential American Death Metal album has a Swedish influence that I can finally enjoy as opposed to the more commercial Melo-Death that has always been more prominent in the American scene.
Cambion – Conflagrate the Celestial Refugium
(Blackened Death/Thrash – U.S.A)
It’s Death, Thrash, and can be a bit Black too. To make matters simple let’s say it is metal! It has awesome guitar work with a heavy virtuosity to it. All and all, it is highly technical and yet true to metal roots. This is recommended for fans of Angelcorpse, Vital Remains, Hate Eternal, and the like.
The Crown – Royal Destroyer
(Death/Thrash Metal – Sweden)
Royal Destroyer has an uplifting mix of influences from different genres like Death Metal, Thrash, Hard Rock, Punk, all combined with relentless, brutal drumming. So it is enjoyable and never boring. They announced a new album in the making and I’m already looking forward to it.
Abscession- Rot of Ages
(Old School Swedish Death Metal – Sweden)
If I have to pick one Old School Swedish album then it has to be this one. I don’t get the impression they are just playing more of the same old same in a generic way. I think they take a well-known style and the musical composition flows effortlessly since they project all the feeling, the groove, and all the musicality that makes it such a nice musical piece.
Craven Idol – Forked Tongues
(Black Thrash Metal – UK)
The album features really awesome solos and lots of rhythm, and all the instruments are well-executed within the old school style musical frame to the listeners’ delight.
Nekromantheon – Visions of Trismegistos
(Thrash/Death Metal – Norway)
Actually a pretty acclaimed album by the mainstream press here in Norway, and for once I agree with them, it’s an awesome album!