We made it to the halfway point of another fucked up year, woo. For those who enjoy these kinds of lists, here’s the coolest shit I (Melinda aka Carcassbomb) has heard this year. 20 albums, so strap in (this article has undergone 53 revisions, I have a problem). As per my usual curation, expect a lot of non metal. Anti-metal even. It’s loosely organized by metal, core, other. If I’ve already personally written about them before, I’ll quote that and leave a link to the full article. Pictures go to bandcamp or youtube, you can click them!
I’m not on socials apart from sometimes dropping into the Noob twitter account but you can always interact with me on our Discord server of mostly queer metalheads and hardcore fans.
I also keep a playlist of albums to consider for my end of year list, which helped me build this list, if anyone wants to catch up!
Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North
“I’m not going to pretend to understand the deeper meaning of it, or the rest of the band’s work. As I’m surely a music bimbo in this industry when compared to all the talented musicians and 21 year olds on Adderall in music journalism, but Cult Of Luna has a consistent through line of geography. This recurring theme of roads, bridges, sun sets, horizons, oceans and traversing them feels fuller with each new release and in a way fills out a map pieced together from bits of music across decades. The gigantic rhythmic sounds of Cult Of Luna, and also the massive quiet moments in their music helps to paint these desolate landscapes and intimidating structures. An entire dead world to wander and self reflect in, for better or worse. Are you finally resigned to being and only ever becoming, the miniscule?” – Full Review
Wiegedood – There’s Always Blood At The End Of The Road
I have a lot of love for Wiegedood this year, not just because the album whips but also because finally, a band who makes the fascists say “but the riffs!” due to them pulling out of a recent festival after finding out they would be playing with the fash friendly MGLA and Ahykyls. Wiegedood then went on to make a very concise stance against fascism citing their background in the punk scene. It’s noteworthy due to just how many large black metal bands every year are too cowardly to do this. Musically it’s more punishing than your grandma after finding out you stole a chocolate bar from the corner store. Aggressively rhythmic black metal filled to the brim with intriguing bits and pieces of chaotic playtime. A record of shrieks and agonized moans assembled curiously.
Konvent – Call Down The Sun
“In a world of sand, there is no sink or swim, there is only coarse sand burying you with each grain. There is no need for urgency for your death is certain. This is a glimpse of what you can expect from Konvent and their second LP Call Down the Sun, a phenomenal follow up to their 2020 debut Puritan Masochism that continues to build their signature style with consistent artwork and further development of their dreadful death doom style. Death and doom, a proven combination that I have repeatedly enjoyed but there’s an extra level of spice Konvent brings to the table with their take on the genre. It’s less moping around in the cosmos or ambiguous misanthropy and is more violent purpose-filled wrath. They also aren’t confining themselves to the death doom tag in a purist way, instead adopting some elements of melodic death metal, black metal, A grade production and some modern vocal styles venturing into the realm of brutal death. The vocal variety is stunning.” – Full review (roundup article)
Hath – All That Was Promised
Every year there’s one death metal record that gets community wide praise and hype (or at least Kep didn’t shut up about it), and this year it has been Hath, and yeah I agree, fantastic death. You don’t really need my thoughts on this one but I’ll say compared to a lot of death metal that emphasizes being more heavy than the last guy, Hath have gone for something far more patient and controlled in order to produce a sense of force. I still like Adam Burke artwork four years later.
Lunar Blood – Twilight Insurgency
“Twilight Insurgency is absolutely soaked in gory themes about police brutality and cruelty to animals (from a vegan perspective, not a tongue in cheek exploitative one) to the point of coming off as goregrind if not for their more sludge ridden death musical style. There’s a whole mess of authoritative guttural vocals and chaotic drilling guitars to go along with these themes but there also is a slower grinding sludge tendency to the sound. There is an ear gripping groove here among the high energy blistering rhythms. It will stick to your ears filling them with glorious dirt, and for a certain kind of person – rightfully fill them with fear and dread.” – full review
Wraithstorm – “Unseen & Unfound”
“The only difference between this and very good popular funeral doom metal bands is simply that not enough people have heard Wraithstorm yet. This is my favorite kind of format, one long ass thirty seven minute beast of a track. When I checked the lyrics for this it was immense. Everything about this project is huge in presentation, music for fucking giants. The single track “Unseen & Unfound” has two large pieces “UNSEEN” and “UNFOUND” that passes by seamlessly. I went to check on the track progress to see how far in I was, and I was 33 minutes in and the track was about to end. Where did that time go? Was I abducted by music? Well, time to hit replay while I delve into the grim treasure trove that may be unseen and unfound but certainly not unheard today.” – Full Article
Breaths – Though life has turned out nothing like I imagined, it is far better than I could have dreamt.
Quite simply, Breaths make music that is somehow in equal strides endearing and depressing. A sublime crossroad between post metal and blackgaze, this album goes through personal stories of family, love and hardship with a teary eye and a soul full of memories. The writing on this album is comparable to the people and words from our past who come to us most when we are alone on a balcony drinking and watching the skies at midnight. It’s sullen yet hopeful, and as someone in their 30s now it is utterly striking to the core after coming to understand not only the last few decades of my own life, but also understanding the underlying troubles experienced before me. No family is without tragedies and triumphs, and no love is tested more than the love of relatives. I am literally crying.
Asian Glow/Weatherday – Weatherglow
Speaking of crying, now is the perfect time to introduce the first blatantly non metal release of the list and one that is steadily becoming my most listened to album of the year. A collab between two artists worlds apart, Weatherglow is a mathy emo sound that is as tender as a bruise while also remaining playful. Thanks to my friend Norah for putting me onto this one. It’s one of those albums that can instantly make you feel like life is a movie, or can make a whole city seem to come alive when you walk through it’s night lights.
Author & Punisher – KRÜLLER
“There is a big gothic industrial sound here that focuses on conceptual story themes and their accompanying musical expressions. It’s not super different from their previous 2018 album Beastland in terms of actual sounds used but it is far more thoughtful and gazelike here. A lot of the same abrasive textures and ideas although here they feel drawn out and squeezed for each moment a sound is worth. The custom made tools used for instrumentation that Tristian calls “dub machines” and “drone machines” are really getting a work out here (and have apparently been upgraded significantly for this release). I don’t know anything about noise or industrial music on a technical level but I can only guess that the unique machinery used to put together this music will have DIY noise nerds backflipping in excitement. It’s a shared element on every Author & Punisher release, being partly responsible for the signature of their style.” – full review
Hazemaze – Blinded by The Wicked
“A lot of us around here are familiar with Hazemaze already from their Twitter presence and excellent 2019 album Hymns Of The Damned. Right off the bat, Blinded By The Wicked is some of that traditional doom metal THE LORRRRD OF DARKNESSSS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR ALL HIS CRIMES THE LORRRRRD OF DARKNESS ass doom music. That’s followed by “Devil’s Spawn” which is exactly what it sounds like, DEVILS SPAWWWWN BURN THEM TO THE GROOOOOUND DRAG THEM TO HELLLLLLLL. Yeah they’ve done a good one here, one of the best of the year if you ask me. This makes me want to go listen to Witchfinder General now” – full article (stoner roundup)
Soul Glo – Disapora Problems
Holy fuck does Soul Glo rip and tear through every beat and genre in an ungodly manner. This music isn’t just an attack, it’s a purposeful stride, it’s a flex, it’s everything. If you even begin to think a song is losing you or isn’t as good as the previous one, it will shift into sicko mode to win you over by the end. Such a full fucking meal right here with extreme crossovers between hardcore punk, metalcore, rap, ska and other adjacent genres tied together by a spiteful ACAB sentiment. It shook me and I really can’t see anything else hitting me in that same way. For an album with mostly 2 minute songs they fit so many lyrics into each song by blasting them out with chaotic speed and screams. This is the punk album of our times, it’s utterly complete. It’s witty without sacrificing any of the hatred that fuels it.
Blind Girls – The Weight Of Everything
“My local mathcore darlings have finally released a new one, and I am pumped. This is one of the last bands I saw live before the pandemic and it was intense, I loved it. Is it really a mathcore show if the vocalist isn’t convulsing on the floor screaming into the microphone? The Weight Of Everything is SO good and I really hope it makes the rounds among fans of The Callous Daoboys, Pupil Slicer and Ithaca. It deserves it. I AM FILLED WITH SO MUCH ENERGY I WANT TO COMMIT CRIME. I can barely compose my thoughts on this at the moment because I really am on an intense upswing at the moment but I’ll double back to write a full-length review on this one somewhere. I fucking love emoviolence. AHHHHH. Mathcore of the year, fuck you.” – Full Article (Toilet Ov Hell Free Flush)
Gospel – The Loser
“The gospel is preaching, and what they are preaching is gleeful nihilism. Among the bright tones and entertaining sound layers such as church organs is a world of despair and very little faith in the “current”. The conversational tone of the lyrics suits the jazzy mathy hardcore style well, following in the footsteps of some of my favorite bands ever like Trophy Scars, Horse The Band and Fear Before. Vocally it toes the line between clean delivery and unhinged screaming well, bringing plenty of grit and gain while maintaining a level of communication with the listener. The guitars and keys are proggy and the rhythm section are lively, the band feels like they are ready to break out into a scifi prog soap opera at any moment, leaving every speck of bullshit on earth behind. Gospel is angst and finesse” – Full article (Roundup article)
Underoath – Voyeurist
I’ve enjoyed Underoath more and more with each release and as they stray further and further from god. The loss of faith era for hardcore bands (especially metalcore and post hardcore – looking at you Fear Before) tends to be their most aggressively emotional output period. This latest album also shits on a lot of similar releases from bands struggling to return from hiatus, or new bands who just haven’t developed the chops yet. Underoath have always been present and working and growing, which shows in their work. These songs are written so well and the production is insanely clear making for one of their most accessible albums to date. I’ve come to feel indifferent about a lot of my favorite bands over the years as they keep putting out albums that get increasingly mainstream but Underoath is one I feel like I can trust when I hear they have a new album coming. No matter how catchy they become, the underlying lyrics and themes are still potent and they haven’t dropped the more post rock instrumental focused parts of the songs. It’s clear their primary concern is craftsmanship and expression over blind popularity. Also, Ghostmane feature (“Cycle”). I’ll always get excited to see rap and hardcore get along.
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Now for an uninterrupted flurry of rap selections before getting back into metal (yes, I heard the new Kendrick Lamar, It’s not on here intentionally, I liked these albums more). Denzel‘s voice feels fresh and deeply in touch with everything that has been going on since the pandemic. Across this powerful rap record is features from a huge assortment of cool musicians like Saul Williams, T Pain, 6lack, slowthai and way more. One track even features more artist than spotify is able to present to me, “Ain’t No Way [Feat. 6LACK, Rico Nasty, J.I.D, Jasiah & Powers Pleasant]”, a track that is a busy but coherent showcase of various smaller rappers. The many solo tracks show that Denzel does not NEED all of these features to carry an album but they do contribute a lot in terms of stirring the overall flavor of the album. It’s a very modern sound that combines the kind of music you could play at parties with darker brooding musings about poverty, politics, racially motivated violence and spirituality. The result being something more suitable for when the party spills into the latest part of the night and everyone’s resigned to blurring couches in a smoke filled room. It has no problem being chill but by no means is “at ease”.
Billy Woods – Aethiopes
“Never told the truth in your life, can’t start now. Ever so slowly slowly locked up in your own house”. Billy Woods is a thoughtful experimental rapper that uses a lot of samples and interesting sound design ideas in his production like strings and horns and various electronics, often evoking vintage soul and jazz styles in the instrumentation. Vocally it reminded me strongly of someone and I couldn’t quite place it, this is when I discovered Billy Woods is also known for his work in Armand Hammer (which made it to my end of year list last year), so that explains the philosophical way of the rap and the witty wordplay that expresses it, as well as the experimentation. In terms of vocals and pacing I’d compare Billy Woods to MF Doom or Dälek with themes darkly exploring upbringing such as home and school life and the way violence intersects with those periods of time.
Vince Staples – RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART
Vince Staples is already back after a critically acclaimed album last year and none of that time was wasted as RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART is one of the most emotional rap albums (that’s isn’t classified as emo rap) I’ve heard in recent times. Vince is a wholesome figure in the scene in that he is straight edge and has had nice things to say about trans people (rare!). He isn’t afraid to express tenderness or present himself with theatrics. His seamless lyrical flow, the sometimes sing song vocal style and that iconic Californian rap production make for something entirely consumable. Given his recent rise to popularity, Vince has a lot of thoughts on fame and not losing track of your roots to go along with the modern political themes centric to rap such as incarceration and police violence. About as wholesome as you can get without overlooking the issues or dodging the difficulties of life.
Cypress Hill – Back In Black
Who isn’t a long term fan of Cypress Hill? They’ve done through the eras gracefully and this latest album is a delightful trip back to the old school ways of big beats and weed smoking. Tracks like “Open Ya Mind” go into depth about the hypocrisy of weed laws in America with some states legalizing it while the federal government still tries to press it and with the prisons still full of people charged with weed related offences. The band also contemplates the cost in lives caused by not only the state but also the militant gang culture surrounding many rap scenes. And then they rap about weed a few more times for good measure. While I don’t expect this to end up on my total end of year list in January, it is certainly a nice treat early in the year for any rap enthusiast. This has to be the first time I’ve seen a long running band return with some play on Acca Dacca‘s Back In Black without cringing.
Ho99o9 – SKIN
Perhaps the most energetic album on here. A chaotic force of industrial metal rap and even digital hardcore with a slew of secondary electronic elements. Some interesting features like Corey Taylor, and again the awesome Saul Williams. It’s interesting to me how this album simultaneously maintains a strong sense of humor as well as a dangerous edge, all of which is elevated by the experimental aspect to the tracks. Ho99o9 (Horror) gives strong cyber punk vibes aesthetically and are musically somewhere between Death Grips and $uicideboy$ making their own distinct mark in the rap and heavy music scenes. The techno remix of a sample of someone shitting on techno music (“Battery Not Included”) is a pretty good example of the tongue in cheek “fuck you” mentality Ho99o9 possesses musically. “…Speak Of Devil” caught me off guard with the shift of tempo and expression, coming closer to some modern emo rap tropes combining screaming with melodic singing, one of my favorite tracks of the year. “SKINHEAD (Feat Saul Williams)” is the most old school hardcore punk sounding track here. This album actually has it “all”.
FKA Twigs – Caprisongs
My pop pick of the year so far, well at least the closest to pop that FKA has come yet, previously preferring far more of an avant garde arty style. The production of this album is super interesting to me as it combines a lot of the jungle influence and faster rapping found in the British grime scene with the slower sadder American style of emo rap beats and autotune. It’s all tied together by an array of singing, candid samples and featured rappers, It’s really a hodgepodge of styles and expressions. “tears in the club (ft The Weeknd)” exemplifies the emo rap aspect in particular, very much bringing me back to the depression/club life juxtaposition often ruminated on by genre titans such as Lil Peep, albeit with far more of a pop twist. Overall it feels like a forward thinking album musically, that embraces influences from a wide world of music while also remaining market-viable with the sensibilities of Madison Beer or Taylor Swift, where the emptiness of classic pop music is replaced with a platter of meaning provided by performers who actually write their own stuff. It’s not a flawless album by any means but certainly one that sticks out.