Justin Stormland’s 2021 Highlights

Justin is from the killer death metal band with a Gundam twist, Stormland. All around nice dude who is known to give music making advice in the community. Follow Justin on Twitter asap.

I’ll be honest, 2021 was a harder year for me in terms of memorable music. It’s not that there wasn’t a lot of quality – there absolutely was – but because I’ve been focused on my own. That said, there were band that were able to hold my attention despite my year-long-and-counting focus on writing and recording The Human Cost. It wasn’t all metal, either. There was some great stuff across a wide swath of genres that I really dug, and hope you will dig too.

Archspire – Bleed the Future

This is where it finally clicked for me, regarding my regional neighbors in Archspire. Bleed the Future hits the right balance of grooves, weedlies, and vocal hooks(!) to bring me back for repeated listens!

Bruno Mars/Anderson.Paak – An Evening with Silk Sonic

A beautiful throwback to ‘70s funk, soul, and R&B, this album is an irresistible mix of funky brash rave-ups and baby-making slow jams.

Cäina – Take Me Away From All This Death

I am very picky about my black metal, mostly in that I don’t find straight-up black metal all that interesting. It needs to be cut with something. Cäina’s blend of goth, black metal and post-rock grabbed my ears and just didn’t let go!

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

After what felt like an eternity due to fundraising, re-recording, and legal battles, the final Fear Factory with singer Burton C. Bell hits hard. Riffmaster Dino Cazares brought the musical fire, and Bell gave it his all in the studio for what would be his last album with the band.

Inferi – Vile Genesis

An absolute face-shredding bit of melodic tech-death from these Tenneseean masters of the style. This is what melodeath evolved into, and I love it. Bonus points for keeping it under 45 minutes, too!

Svneatr – Chinook

Wait, what?! Two black metal albums on my top 10! Well, Svneatr cut their black metal with equal parts prime Opeth and Dad Prog. And that? Well that just tickles my fancy.

Obscura – A Valediction

Much like Inferi, Obscura escalated the Guit-Arms Race this year. Really, it’s been a fantastic year for melodic tech-death. Riffs and weedlies galore!

Putrescine – A Fading Flame

This is the death metal album everybody told me Demilich’s Nespithe would be but wasn’t. Deathly weirdness that still draws you in.

Skyzoo – All the Brilliant Things

This New York rapper has been on an absolute tear since 2019’s Retropolitan, and it continues here. Skyzoo’s memoirical flows over jazzy, DJ Premier-style beats are prime example of how a rapper can continue to shine in their middle age.

Voodoo Glow Skulls – Livin’ the Apocalypse

A raucous, politically charged return to form for this long-running ska act. This is the first album featuring new vocalist Efrem Schulz (Death by Stereo), and has a fun guest appearance from Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe.

Honorable mentions:
Qoheleth – Warmonger
Jisei – Bad Representation
World Eaters – Grinding Advance
Amphibious Assault – Simulacrimosa
Lylat Conspiracy – Ephemeral

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