Written by Carcassbomb
Something something 2020, who cares, we’re just here for my favorite albums of the most recent 12 month period of time. Covid made press releases near unbearable to read and was a part of most pitches, I’m just wanting to get to 2021 already for a different kind of cringe. I did a lot of my own exploring this year, finding random Bandcamp releases during the process of creating the Free Bandcamp Wiki. Some that have like 5 supporters and no social media despite being incredible. These aren’t really ranked other than that the top 5 are particularly special to me. Honorable mentions at the end. I’m really into doom/hardcore hybrids, super abrasive hardcore punk, voidgaze and gothic doom. there’s gonna be a whole article on it’s own for post black/screamo albums in the near future so that’s not on here.
Thanks to everyone who helped support Noob Heavy in our second year, it was huge. I got to do a lot of exciting interviews like Katatonia, TBDM, BTBAM, Horse the Band, The Number Twelve, Destruction, Hellripper, Snorlax and that’s just a handful. If you’d told me last year I’d be doing those I’d have called you a frivolous optimist. Especially thanks to the crew Zach, Mass and Steve for another year of great articles including their own interviews with bands like Benighted, Necrot and Nytt Land. I haven’t included any of my PR clients in the list for ethical reasons, even though I really wanted to because I’ve been working with some very talented people like Xeno Ooze, White Crone, L’homme Absurd and Rise To The Sky.
25. Terminal Nation – Holocene Extinction. Death Metal/Powerviolence. America.
An incredible album, if you want to start heavy then this will get the job done. Militant energy and sick artwork by Adam Burke make Holocene an antifascist must have. It has a very apocalyptic sound to the atmosphere and it really makes me miss excessively violent moshpits. The vocals are a huge strength, there’s some really hectic shit in here like barking and demonic possession. Stompy.
24. Cytotoxin – Nuklearth. Technical Brutal Death Metal. Germany.
Super heavy and super technical, we’ve got tone porn and sweep picking so I’m on board. A really tight band, especially the drummer, they are mad focused. The riffs accompany the vocal rhythms really well to create a menacing toxic environment – such is life in the zone.
23. Feminazgul – No Dawn For Men. Atmospheric Black Metal. America.
Feminazgul have really made a name for themselves in the underground this year with an entire anti-Feminazgul movement started online by black metal babies. The result however was more promotion and merch sales to the band than ever, so jokes on them. You can buy “Chud tears” coffee mugs over at Bandcamp right now. It’s a vibrant black metal album that pulls out all the tricks and stops from field recordings to a ensemble of obscure instruments. The artwork is done by one of my favorite IG artists Trez who does a lot of cool fantasy stuff. This album is even free on Bandcamp.
22. Couch Slut – Take A Chance on Rock ‘n Roll. Hardcore/Thrash. America.
Dissonant hardcore punk with a fair bit of thrash to it’s name. It’s utterly psychotic and unsettling, love it. The only thing I can think to compare this to is King Parrot and Pageninteynine, because of it’s raw, energetic and forceful nature.
21. Concede – Indoctrinate. Grindcore/Powerviolence. Australia.
This is some of the heaviest shit you’ll hear right now, it’s like the musical equivelant of that scene in Event Horizon where they play a transmission from the hell realm and everyone is stuck together naked and screaming covered in cuts. It’s plain ol fucking sick and I don’t know what else I can possibly say. They nailed it. It’s not just heavy, it’s an enjoyable listen.
20. Vagina Witchcraft – Vagina Witchcraft. Hardcore/Sludge. America.
A very aggressive hardcore album with a bluesy stoner doom backing on the guitar and bass. Top notch screaming, with additional anger within the themes dealing with social issues and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s finger pointing protest music with an interesting musical style. It’s very much raw and punk, but with unusually long songs for the genre with some of them being over the eight minute mark. You’ll be stoned browsing Bandcamp by amusing names one minute and completely radicalized the next.
19. Hellripper – The Affair of the Poisons. Blackened Thrash. Scotland.
Chances are if James puts out an album it’ll be my favorite speed record of that year. The Affair of the Poisons is the first release since he got signed to Peaceville Records and nothing has changed about the writing process, he’s still writing this stuff himself. Obviously it’s fast, I’m also just a fan of Jame’s vocal style, it’s very old school and blackened. He has a lot of good social content if you follow him on IG and twitter, breakthroughs and constant updates. The next release is already being written as we speak.
18. Frayle – 1962. Doom Metal. America.
Get ready for some witchy thespian music you could describe as voidgaze if you were so inclined. It’s a very dreamy take on the whole Sabbath and Sleep fuzz with added elements of trip hop. It’s very catchy and addictive, the older goth rock influences can be heard and appreciated. The whole occult doom thing is pretty big right now and there’s a lot of bands that aren’t honestly that great, Frayle ensures enjoyment by having a compelling emotional aspect to the music to go with the aesthetic. Much like their primary influence, Portishead.
17. Dawn Of Solace – Waves. Gothic Doom. Finland.
Gothic doom has been a staple of rotation since I was a teenager, I’m a sucker for emotional immersive albums. Waves is definitely that, a mood altering album. Somber yet uplifting. Dawn of Solace is a kind of duo project with Tuomas Saukkonen and Mikko Heikkilä who have numerous other projects between them, the former having also being on the Wolfheart release this year which I strongly recommend as well, these are both solid albums. I think if you love Damnation by Opeth or Anathema, you’ll dig this quite a bit.
16. Sutrah – Aletheia. Progressive Death Metal. America.
My favorite The Artisan Era release this year, a really cool EP that experiments with some additional instruments and vocal styles to bring a full experience, perhaps a holy one, perhaps an unholy one. Much like the spellbinding album cover this is a very memorable album that I’ve been screaming about for most of the year. A unique essential listen.
15. Ainsoph – Ω – V. Voidgaze. Netherlands.
The first album I fell in love with in 2020 and my go to for an example of what voidgaze is. It’s very moody post rock with fantastic poetical lyrics. The drumming gets quite black metal at time and yet the bass often sounds like it could be playing in Heart – It comes together perfectly to form a kind of doom rock. It’s a reliable album that has stuck with me since it’s release.
“I am the human vacuum”.
14. Afterbirth – Four Dimensional Flesh. Brutal Death Metal. America.
These guys have grown on me a lot since I first heard it prior to release, it takes a few listens to sink in. Brutal death can be a stale genre at times and Afterbirth skirt this by deconstructing the genre while adding sci-fi elements that would make The Chasm blush. This is probably the most sophisticated I’ve heard of the genre, perhaps along with the new Defeated Insanity album. Four Dimensional Flesh also has a bit of that old school death doom production to it. Incredible artwork and album for the band to return with.
13. Atrea Bilis – Divinihility. Technical Death Metal. Canada.
Atrae Bilis made a huge impact on the year with this release through Transcending Obscurity that proved very popular and the band was quickly signed onto 20 Buck Spin for the follow up LP due out in the future. It’s a very modern death metal sound in line with the Canadian scene with bands like Thy Hallowed Catharsis and Killitorious (Both whom have good albums this year). I got sent the shirt for this which has the same art, it’s sick. Yet another Burkework, he’s all over my lists every year and he’s always coming up with something different.
12. Moloken – Unveilance Of Dark Matter. Post Hardcore/Sludge. Sweden.
Severely underrated album, Moloken play dissonant sludge mixed with various hardcore stylings like skramz and power-violence. A real solid artful work that unravels with an urgency and groove. Anyone who has gotten into Boss-de-Nage or Birds In Row will feel right at home listening to Unveilance Of Dark Matter. It has intrigue and it’s dark as fuck, I could easily recommend this to the wider metal community in the context of Ephel Duath. This is one of the best post hardcore releases in years, it’s a good head warp.
11. Bull Elephant – Created From Death. Progressive Death Doom. United Kingdom.
An anonymous band that I suspect shares a member with Conjurer but I CANNOT confirm. I just made that up. Created From Death has a really strong opening track and it should sell you right away if you enjoy a sound the melds Mastodon and Death. The rest of the album showcases a stoner/heavy metal/Prog/death doom sound both in the sense that the styles alternate and combine. Their 2019 self-titled debut was an interesting one as well but it wasn’t clear what the band would become, and now the beast is further revealed.
10. Comaniac – Holodox. Thrash Metal. Switzerland.
I’ve written about this one like four times now, no surprise here. I don’t like thrash much so I was basically deciding out of two thrash albums, this or Warbringer and Comaniac keeps winning. Holodox is somehow a simultaneously great time and horrible time in that the music is fun as all hell but the lyrics are a dark horse. The songs are well written musically and contain a lot of old school technical punch, you can practically hear that it was produced by Tommy Vetterli who also worked with Coroner. Fantastic young band with a great appreciation for the solo. Free on Bandcamp too.
9. Void Rot – Descending Pillars. Death Doom. America.
Ominous, threatening death metal released on the 19th anniversary of 9/11, as bespoke by the album title. Big fan of the extended double drum kicking and general sound arrangement on this record, it’s subdued and yet still terribly violent. I knew earlier in the year this was going to be solid based on Void Rot’s split with Atavisma which is another death doom release from this year well worth listening to. Guaranteed to choke and snuff you out.
8. Venom Prison – Primeval. Death Metal/Hardcore. United Kingdom.
Venom Prison are so damn heavy, always forging forward empowered by the best parts of both death metal and hardcore. They are one of the most serious bands around right now. Their sense of artwork aesthetic and sample choices is impeccable and I completely trust in their future releases. I mean, they sampled Eraserhead so this album wraps around me like a warm screaming blanket. Not to mention I’m always down for multiple people screaming at once, it adds an extra level of psychosis to the music. I’ve been a fan of Eliran Kantor, the artist, for a couple of years now but this is their best work yet, it legitimately inspires awe.
7. Mrs. Piss – Self Surgey. Alternative. America.
Such a succinct release with 18mins of masterful genre changes. Coupled nicely with an aggressive album cover that leaves an impression. This is kind of voidgaze too, everything I like is now and I’m like a pig in mud. This is my entry point into Chelsea Wolfe and I’m definitely invested. I lost my shit in the second half when the blast beats kicked in, this is truly one of the best little releases of the year.
6. Undergang – Aldrig I Livet. Death Grind. Denmark.
Fast disgusting burping death metal but it’s the slow parts that will get you. Waiting with great anticipation for my cassette pre-order, I just know the muddy production on this will lend it’s self well to tape. The vocalist uses a lot of different effects that work really well with his insanely low gutturals, it’s like the bands fronted by the muck monster from Fern Gully. Aldrig I Livet sits comfortably between all of the death and grind kind genres and really comes into it’s own, even with it releasing so late in the year it killed all competition. There’s some moments on this that will give you pause, it’s sick.
5. Deeformis – Stranger. Atmospheric Black Metal. Israel.
A black metal solo project by Alona Dee from Israel and it’s the first time I’ve been floored by a black metal album since 2019’s Aversions Crown. I’ve put this one on quite a lot since finding out about it, it has high replay value. Stranger is very atmospheric but also quite fast paced so it’s manages to be entertaining while also strongly resonating emotionally with an intense depressive element across the record. The vocals are very powerful and I enjoy the use of overlapping multiple vocals for various effects, it’s done quite effectively. There’s various samples used that contribute well to this solo projects collage of despair, it feels very personal and curated, crafted. Dee’s voice is the strongest component of the music which is often not the case with these kinds of black metal projects, but that’s not to say there’s any weakness in the instrumentation, there’s so many great riffs and nothing I would change. It just has that iconic voice that makes for the best black metal albums. It’s free on Bandcamp too.
4. Viscera – Obsidian. Tech Deathcore. United Kingdom.
A deathcore/metalcore superground on Unique Leader, of course it was going to be decent but this is something else, this is quality equivalent to last years Shadow Of Intent to me. Comprised of members and former members of Heart Of A Coward, Sylosis, Nervecell, Surfaces, Martyr Defiled and Abhorrent Decimation and also features guest musicians from the likes of Bleed from Within, Bound in Fear, Brand Of Sacrifice and Osiah – so there’s plenty of experience within this record. The simultaneous presence of intensity and melody is done just right, it’s the most entertaining aspects of metalcore fused into the more brutal parts of deathcore with a technical weaving. Throw in some synthy shit and other oddities and you have an insanely fleshy album. In terms of vocals it’s nuts, they’re all great but I particularly enjoy the melodic cleans because they’re so empowered. The technical death metal aspect of it really shows on tracks like “Lamb To The Slaughter” that could be closely compared to Rivers Of Nihil.
3. Witching – Vernal. Sludge/Punk/Prog. America.
An absolute treasure of an album. The production is appropriately imperfect, it gives it a lot of character without doing any band members a disservice and works well with the guitar tones used, often very modulated ones – Recorded/Mixed by Daniel Kishbaugh (The Creep Recording Studio) and mastered by usual suspect Brad Boatright of Audio Siege. Sonically this is an aggressive and trippy mix of sludge, stoner and prog fluidly incorporating both metal and rock aspects of these genres. It often feels like hardcore punk in the vocal delivery and attitude of the album. Everything about Vernal sits just right and is a rewarding listen that channels you into Witching’s very specific kind of spooky vibe. Really cool band who appear to be already working on new stuff, exciting.
2. Dyssidia – Costly Signals. Prog Metal. Australia.
The most impressive album to come out Australia this year and all of prog metal as well. Dyssidia have plenty of melody but they also have a healthy mix of styles, particularly on the vocals which at times sound like manic mathcore and other times well trained opera. I interviewed Mitch on Noob Heavy Radio earlier in the year and to no surprise, he is a vocal coach. This is one of the few CD’s I purchased this year to put in my housemates car for trips – I don’t even drive or own a CD player but I needed this one. Incredibly entertaining with memorable moments that you will wait for with anticipation once you hear it enough times. The kind of shit where you say to the driver “hang on a sec, this bit is really good” while they’re talking about something, I dunno what because I’m listening to Dyssidia. Criminally underrated
- Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full. Sludge/Grunge/Alt. America.
Since October many have been aware that this was going to be my number one pick. As soon as it came out I listened to it on repeat for almost the entirety of November and listened to nothing else. I didn’t get reviews done and I delayed the production of this very list. It deadset halted my musical life in a way that is so rare that it deserves this superiority over any other album I’ve heard. How I feel about May Our Chambers Be Full is the same way I’ve felt about Terminal by Bongripper since it came out or Mariner by Cult Of Luna with Julie Christmas – albums I can put on any time no matter how many times and get the same intense enjoyment I got on the first listen. It’s just perfect through and through, if you haven’t heard it you have to. Emma is an amazing singer songwriter and Thou are fantastic sludge composers, they complete each other in way that feels destined. A grunge alt fusion with heavy distorted peaks. I’m stoked that they’ve already put out another EP together, it’s such a glorious project.
I will spend the rest of 2021 listening to this list as it’s pillar to post bang on! Then I’ll rinse and repeat with 2022…Also as an illustrator and metal artist mad props for the artwork call outs! Fuck yeah dude x
Thanks Jon, I really appreciate that! These albums are so special to me. I do try hard to shoutout the artists but unfortunately some bands make that information harder to find than others so if I ever post your stuff without crediting it let me know!
Cheers for reading!