15 – The Zornheim Sleep Experiment – ZORNHEYM (Sweden) October 22, 2021
The single “Slumber Comes In Time” was my most played new track of the year. I absolutely loved the chipper chorus, and upbeat rhythms that complimented the dark themes of being in a mental institution. The rest of the concept album was a fun jaunt telling a dark story of torture and experimentation on people and the utter madness of the doctors involved. It’s an extreme metal musical, and the symphonic riffs portray an epic and dramatic story that is easy to picture and get lost in.
14 – Lost Elegies – PRIMALFROST (Canada) December 27, 2021
After releasing a bomb single earlier in the year, I waited to finalize my year end list until I heard this album in full which was released at the very end of the year. Ultimately, I’m glad I waited because this album is a work of art. I will always be partial to icy tracks and the return of Canada’s PRIMALFROST conjures nothing less than eternal winter. A one man powerhouse, Dean Arnold, composes, performs and records all parts on the album, single handedly embodying more talent than the entire thrash metal subgenre.
13 – Serpent Crown – WOUND (Germany) December 17, 2021
By the beginning of December I already tabulated over 30 albums that were my most recommended of the year, that I was struggling to keep to 25, but more releases kept coming. WOUND snuck onto the list at the last minute catching my ear with imaginative solos and the melodic riffs that strike me just right. “Serpent Crown” delivers one excellent death metal riff after another with ferocious precision to keep you head banging all the way through, coupled with enough variation to keep you interested.
12 – Beautiful Ghosts – UNREQVITED (Canada) August 13, 2021
While I didn’t immediately attach myself to this album like I did with “Empathica”, after a couple listens, I was hit by the familiar rush of being thrown through dramatic keyboard orchestrations, fast drumming and the vocals nestled in the background. Like with his last release, Unreqvited, lets the vocals take a back seat so you can really focus on the composition of the music. As far as black metal goes, it offers something different, an atmosphere that is comforting and inviting like a campfire on a cold winter’s night.
11 – Fallen Kings and Rusted Crowns – DUSKMOURN (United States) June 19, 2021
The first thing I noticed about the album and what ultimately made me give it a listen was the album art. Call me basic, but a sepia toned mountain scene will always catch my eye. I was ecstatic to uncover music that was just as fantastic. It is exceedingly rare to find quality melodic death metal in the US, never mind as a duo anywhere. DUSKMOURN firmly cement their place among the Finnish greats with delicate keyboards, growls that paint an immensely picturesque soundscape and hooks that make you bang your head. There is an obscene amount of talent between these two and I look forward to hearing what they come out with next.
To be continued in Part 4.