Halfway To The Fucking End (mid year list)

Written by Carcassbomb

It’s that time of year and why can’t it just be over already? 2019 sucked, 2020 sucked and 2021 sucked. The only thing consistent throughout these years is that we got a lot of good music to pass the time. So here’s some of my favorite picks from the year of 2021 so far. You’ll notice some missing, because do I really need to tell you that the new Cannibal Corpse or Pupil Slicer are insanely good? I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure that’s established, so let’s look at more overlooked stuff. I keep a playlist of every new release I can find which is huge, if you’d like to find things on your own, it actually crashed my Spotify :/. Also for hardcore fans, Ellis has done his mid-year kind of list called Please Sir I Want Some Core.

Comments below are encouraged, maybe check out the one you think you’re least likely to enjoy and let me know what you thought! Or just pick the coolest looking one I guess.

This list isn’t really in a particular order btw, I’m not sure how one would with such a variety.

Scarred – Scarred

I was initially excited about this album just based on the futuristic psychedelic cover art and it’s weird how this album sounds like the cover too, it has a blue and pink neon feel to it all. I can’t quite articulate it. This is a sorely underrated album that genre hops in an admirable way. It’s a long album that is well constructed for maximum entertainment and it covers various moods. There’s similarities to Gojira but with more wider technical metal influences and even a sense of “tech glam”. It’s a very cool album from January that everyone should check out! It goes hard, but also very far. I don’t think any description will really nail it down, I think you’ll be quite surprised.

You can read my full review here.

Breaths – Lined In Silver

A brilliant album that I have been listening to since I got the promo very early in the year. It’s a new comfort album for me, which tends to be few and far between with albums like 2018’s Terminal by Bongripper or 2019’s Endless by Holy Serpent and OCHL by Deafheaven being almost the only examples of my other comfort albums in terms of the metal world. The vocal delivery is really infectious and beautiful, along with the tones used both for the guitar and the vocal modulations. A fleshed-out and layered album, which is made all the more impressive by the fact it’s a solo project. It’s very doomy and progressive but there are also harder elements at play as well as very Deftones sounding alt-rock influence. Another phenomenal album cover too, actually, this and Scarred go weirdly well together in terms of their vibe and modern sound. Trepanation Recordings put this one out and I can’t recommend them enough as they have a fantastic roster with acts like Tommy Concrete, Everson Poe and Non Serviam.

I gave it a full review here.

Abiotic – Ikigai

Technical death metal is my favorite kind of death metal and it’s yours too right? This is my most listened to tech-death album this year, it pays off so many times throughout and is an easy listen. I’ve listened to quite a bit of tech-death since this was released and none of it quite came at me with the same level of intensity and intrigue. The folky elements really make it pop and help break up the intensity of the death metal with nice melodies. No surprise that this is an Artisan Era release, they are very much in the lead when it comes to tech, they have consistently put out great records that stick in my memory and Ikigai is no exception. There’s some pretty cool ideas behind the music too that you can probably read somewhere.

Zax reviewed this one

The Amenta – Revelator

I guess I really enjoy genre-bending because this is another album that encompasses a lot of genres adjacent to the black metal and avant-garde world. This return album from Aussie metallers The Amenta is quite the spectacle and shows no signs of rustiness or difficulty getting going. It has both a lot of jams and a lot of atmosphere, it keeps you guessing. The vocal variety is immense with all sorts of cleans and growls, it’s just a very solid album and one of the few cassette releases I managed to snag this year. How much does an album cover decide how immediately I’ll listen to something? More than it should, but I’m certainly not alone in that.

Read my review here.

Violet Cold – Empire Of Love

A bold and beautiful blackgaze experimental album that has been doing the rounds in the chud metal sphere lately, as apparently gay and trans pride is a bit too triggering for such a sensitive bunch, let alone once they get a whiff of the communist revolution messaging entwined with the celebration of queerness. What more could you want? There’s a lot of interesting aspects to this album that I have already covered in great detail in my review, but what you can expect is a journey of positivity through the musical lens of black metal, post metal and shoegaze, with some electronic elements as well, which you may be more familiar with if you heard their previous works like Noir Kid. Violet Cold is a great force in the underground metal scene that is helping to challenge the status quo while also offering solidarity.

Here’s my review

Dr Colossus – I’m a Stupid Moron With an Ugly Face and A Big Butt and my Butt Smells and I Like to Kiss My Own Butt

Perhaps the least surprising one of my list because it’s no secret that this is my favorite Australian band. It’s a no-brainer for fans of stoner doom and The Simpsons, it’s just such a perfect combination executed by very passionate musicians. Their 2018 album The Dank is essential listening as well. Dr Colossus is on a whole other level when it comes to aesthetics and merch game, I own so much of their stuff because they have such great designs. They perform live in Stonecutters outfits, they really commit to the theme and embody it in every way. The characters and running jokes from The Simpsons aren’t just a tongue-in-cheek facet, they’re used as metaphors for feelings and themes that go deeply personal. A well rounded stoner rock album with psychedelic touches.

My review is here

portrayal of guilt – We Are Always Alone

I’m always going to enjoy blackened screamo and this is a beast of an album that comes with a lot of grit and shows chops in both black metal and screamo genres to make something super heavy, whereas the term blackened screamo often means blackgaze more often than not. portrayal of guilt brings utter darkness and anger. Their use of bass (both in terms of the instrument and electronic elements) on this record is fantastic, it’s very stompy and highly noticeable when it drops. Hardcore and screamo are honestly the best thing to happen to black metal as a genre and is more or less the only way I consume black metal these days. Some real bangers on this one and I didn’t hear nearly enough talk about it, I don’t know how this goes under the radar.

Check out my review

Summoning The Lich – United In Chaos

Such a fun and exciting death metal album, it has it all from death thrash to deathcore and all sorts. It even has Cradle Of Filth vibes with the higher vocals and symphonic elements. There’s definitely some great brutal death low moments with some pig squeals thrown in for good measure. Love the band name, I’m always excited to throw this on and summon some lich shit. This is a hectic debut album and I’m not surprised they got picked up by Prosthetic Records. It has that tech feel with some of the licks, solos and definitely on the bass but has a bigger emphasis on the riffs than the usual tech death fare. This is probably the most brutal album on this list and the one death heads are not going to want to skip. Very modern album.

Everson Poe – Grief

You might think this is a concept album about grief that goes through the five stages but it’s not quite so simple, this is a conceptual album about a Christian serial killer duty-bound to rid the world of witches and sinners but begins to wonder if he is possessed also. Absolutely raw and punishing sludge metal that utilizes a lot of witchcraft and preacher type samples alongside the tortured vocals to tell a story. It’s an album that rewards a close listen and invites you to join along rather than be a passive listener. Mae‘s vocals are intense and perfectly executed whatever the style being performed, I particularly love the more “broken” kind of emo screaming she does on “Depression” and the guttural lows filled with menace. I’ve heard a few Everson Poe releases at this point and it just keeps getting better each time.

Pipe Dreamer – No Solace For The Soulless

Post metal is basically my favorite genre, so let’s look at a couple of very underground debut albums that are well worth your time, starting with Pipe Dreamer. This is a raw album on the production side which I think serves the sound well considering they blend in elements of screamo and even black mewtal into their post metal framework. This isn’t the overly polished soundscape we’ve become used to, it’s some more chaotic and endearing to me, the emotion feels earnest and volatile. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they put out as a follow up. A young band to watch and support.

Read my review here

Smyčka – Fated

Russia has a fantastic post metal scene, I’ve been saying this for years now, so start listening. This album is based on the stories of Franz Kafka which should intrigue the literary nerds among us. This is one not many in the west will have heard and that’s a shame because it’s an intensely layered journey through emotion and jazz. It really spices up the post metal genre with a variety of vocals and strings, often stripping down to a bass driven groove accompanied by well… jazz bass and vocals, low key, expressive and playful. Then it will descend back into the depths of a more Cult Of Luna or Isis style. Very solid debut.

Dreamwell – Modern Grotesque

The best new band in sad screaming, you’ve probably heard them but I couldn’t bring myself to leave them out of this list. They’ve kind of helped to bring more straightforward violent emo posthardcore type music into the metal scenes with how much of a ripple this release has made. I mean, it’s not the kind that metalheads typically love which leans more into hardcore and death metal, this is a very emotional and melodic album that’s more “pure” in it’s genre than most of the screamo that makes it into this scene. It’s poetic and bare with a lot clean vocals and more traditional skramz shrieking. Have I said every emo hardcore-related subgenre in this small review yet? There are also beautiful guitar tones and chords that carry you away like… well, like a dream.

Review by Ellis Heasley

Trombone – Je me fiche d’être Français

This one came out of nowhere when I was looking for name your own price albums on Bandcamp. I hear a lot of mixed quality music this way, including the worst music I hear as a music journalist, so the sheer quality of this album utterly gripped me. If you see a genre like “screamo” and think bad things, give this a go because it’s heavier than so many metal releases, the emotional element of it only elevates the completely unhinged screaming and crashing riffs. Compared to many in the genre, there’s a lot less of the mellow sections in the music, it’s a nonstop outburst lamenting the very idea of being French in the face of nationalism.

Cult Of Luna – The Raging River

Not exactly “underground” but I felt like this album was met with a shrug from a lot of the online metal community but I really liked it so I’m going to include it here briefly. I’ve been a fan of the band since I was a teen when Somewhere Along The Highway came out and was my introduction to post metal, and in my opinion The Raging River is the first album since then to really touch on that vibe in a strong way. More Cult Of Luna in the world is better than less.

Read my full review here

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