I was originally waiting to find the first '9' of the year to start this thing off but I've grown tired of waiting. So let's begin.

Created by: Neachy | 07.02.2021

1. Sepulcros - Vazio
(9) (Funeral Doom/Death) 3 of the 4 main tracks on this album have been streaming for over a month before this thing was released. I was really hoping I had only heard half the album but unfortunately, the first and last tracks are an intro and outro. This is very short for an album of its style at 37 minutes. The sound here is mostly excellent atmospheric funeral doom with short passages of black/death metal in each track. This is great stuff, just wish it was longer.
2. Krallice - Demonic Wealth
(9) (Avant-Garde Black) If you'd told me at the beginning of the year that my first 9 would be Krallice, I probably would've laughed at you. Not because I didn't recognize the talent of the band but rather because they had their niche as a band doing fairly uneventful, stripped down, highly technical black metal and never showed much inclination to deviate from that path. I wasn't a fan of that approach. This is something else entirely: Ambient, synths and just an entirely different approach to songwriting. There's still highly technical Black metal involved here but it never feels over indulgent as it always did before. This is something special.
3. K.F.R - Shayṭān 2.0
(8.5) (Raw Black/Dark Ambient) This project has a deep and prolific discography. A brief exploration finds that prior albums are almost exclusively raw black metal. On this one dark ambient is thrown into the mix and the project is much better for it. This is quickly becoming my most listened album of this young year. Has a similar vibe to mid-era Leviathan.
4. Mefitis - Offscourings
(8.5) (Death) This is in sound and spirit a successor of the trend of death metal in the vein of Horrendous, Morbus Chron, Chapel of Disease and Venenum. Perhaps less overtly progressive than any of those at their most progressive. Rather a prominent focus on clean riffs and an old school vibe that blends the spirit of black, death and thrash in their infancy. It helps that this thing rips without any context as well.
5. Monte Penumbra - As Blades In The Firmament
(8.5) (Black) Excellent mid to slow paced modern doomy black metal out of Portugal.
6. Wesenwille - II: A Material God
(8) (Urban Black) Excellent modern sounding urban Black metal in the vein of Odraza and Shining but with less unique flair. The sound compliments the subject matter well.
7. Unknown Artist - The Stench Of Delusion
(8) (Dissonant Black/Grind) This single track EP rips. Condenses nearly everything that's right with modern black metal into less than 20 minutes.
8. Divide And Dissolve - Gas Lit
(8) (Drone Doom) I took one look at the song titles and the band photo and fully expected to have a laugh at this. Figured it would sound like some horrible art project from a womens studies class. Perhaps it is but I'll be damned if it isn't damn fine Drone Doom.
9. Decline Of The I - Johannes
(8) (Post-Black) Before even laying ears on this: Strike 1 - Genre tag is Post-Black. Strike 2 - Wasn't impressed by the previous efforts I heard by this band. I was prepared to not give this much of a shot. Fortunately it wowed me right off the bat. This is a damn fine album. Mature, engaging, aggressive.
10. Paranorm - Empyrean
(8) (Progressive Technical Thrash) Similar in style to Vektor but less extreme and leans more into progressive territory.
11. Tribulation - Where The Gloom Becomes Sound
(8) (Blackened Gothic Heavy) If you wish Ghost sounded less poppy and more metal, this is what you're looking for. Very strong songwriting. I like the harsh vocals but part of me wishes they were broken up with some cleans or something as they can be rather monotonous when some of these tunes seem to crying out for a catchy vocal hook here and there.
12. Coffin Mulch - Septic Funeral
(8) (Death) Entombed's Left Hand Path meets Autopsy's Mental Funeral is a good baseline comparison for the overall sound here. Short and sweet at around 20 minutes in duration, it doesn't overstay it's welcome.
13. Cult Of Luna - The Raging River
(8) (Post-Metal) These guys put their contemporaries in post metal to shame release after release.
14. Fossilization - He Whose Name Was Long Forgotten
(7.5) Death/Doom
15. Helleruin - War Upon Man
(7.5) Black
16. Dread Sovereign - Alchemical Warfare
(7.5) Doom
17. Asphyx - Necroceros
(7.5) Death Doom
18. Molten - Dystopian Syndrome
(7.5) Thrash/Death
19. Labored Breath - Dyspnea
(7.5) Experimental Post-Black
20. Mork - Katedralen
(7.5) Black
21. Alkerdeel - Slonk
(7.5) Black/Sludge/Doom
22. Abyssal Vacuum - MMXX
(7.5) Cavernous Black
23. Altered Dead - Returned To Life
(7.5) Dirty Doomy Death
24. Revenant Marquis - Below The Landsker Line
(7.5) Lo-fi Avant-Garde Melodic Black
25. DSKNT - Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition
(7.5) Dissonant Black
26. Graveolence - Anthropomancy
(7.5) Death
27. Forsmán - Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma
(7) Icelandic Black
28. Turris Eburnea - Turris Eburnea
(7) Tech Death
29. Earthshine - My Bones Shall Rest Upon The Mountain
(7) Post-Doom
30. Les Chants De Nihil - Le Tyran Et L'esthète
(7) Black
31. Cryptosis - Bionic Swarm
(7) Technical Thrash
32. Spelljammer - Abyssal Trip
(7) Stoner Doom
33. Yoth Iria - As The Flame Withers
(7) Black
34. Culted - Nous
(7) Industrial Blackened Doom/Ambient
35. Other Albums Of Note
36. Ad Nauseam - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
(6.5) (Blackened Tech Death) The band name couldn't be more accurate to describe the sound here. Take the most overused sound of the last dozen or so years - DsO style dissonant riffing, the mechanical feel and precision of Ulcerate and the metallic jazz ethos of Imperial Triumphant. Take out everything unique and interesting about those bands sounds, leaving only the pretentious wankery and you have this. Serviceable and probably sounds fucking amazing to someone who hasn't been familiar with those sounds the last decade.
37. The Ruins Of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
(6) (Black/Doom/Gothic) I actually love the first track on here. I had high hopes for the rest of the album after hearing its psychedelic majesty. Unfortunately for me, the rest of the album falls back into everything I hate about each TRoB album starting with The Foulest Semen. Some additional gothic elements are added which if anything just make it worse for me. Highly disappointed by this album but obviously saw it coming with how poor I think the albums have been since the perfection that was Rain Upon The Impure.
38. Emptiness - Vide
(6) (Darkwave) Empty? Rather than a feeling of emptiness, this engenders a feeling of mild annoyance and boredom in me. If I'm looking for an album that can hollow out my soul and leave me feeling "empty" this solidly misses the mark.
39. Mare Cognitum - Solar Paroxysm
(6) (Cosmic Black) Do you like your black metal inoffensive, bland and thematically about climate change? Portland, Oregon based one man black metal project Mare Cognitum may be just for you. This is about as average as black metal can be. Not bad. Just hums along with tremolo picked melodies and blast beats, well produced but so painfully by the numbers that it's easy to forget I'm even listening to anything. Spectral Lore will be releasing something a bit later in the year to compete for the title of "blandest black metal of the year". Comically, this is currently the number 1 rated album of the year on this site.
40. Spire - Temple Of Khronos
(5.5) (Blackened Technical) There's nothing bad, per se, about what's going on instrumentally here. Doesn't blow my skirt up but it's a decent listen and one can appreciate the skill on display. The vocals here do to this what the guitars do to Suffering Hour's latest: make it a painful listen.
41. Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning
(5.5) (Black/Death) I was extremely hyped for this thing after the excellence of the Dwell EP a couple years back. I preordered this and everything. Was not feeling the first tracks released but hoped that they would shine more in the context of the full album. No. I'll give them credit for trying for a novel sound on the guitars but it absolutely fails for me. Anything interesting or serviceable going on with the drums, bass or vocals is ruined by the guitars. The tone is abysmal. I like dissonance as much as anyone but it simply doesn't work here. This has been a highly disappointing start to the year for things I've had high hopes for but this one takes the cake. Listened to Dwell immediately after this which only increased my disappointment. Fail.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 2   Visited by: 30 users
23.02.2021 - 21:52
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
I like your inclusion of some of the more disappointing releases from the year. The new Suffering Hour is a definitely a step down from Dwell and In Passing Ascension. I have no idea why they went with that weird-ass lead guitar tone.

get that bag
Today - 03:12

Not gonna lie, your lists have been my primary source for finding new stuff in the past 3 years or so, or even revisiting bands that I've already known, which has kind of made me lazier to discover new interesting works myself lol, but I'm really glad that you're still keeping it up!

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