Hey, when you’re done with my list below or even just open these in a tab now, I’ve conveniently listed all of our contributor end of year articles from all the cool people I invited to share their picks. And also my other list for Toilet Ov Hell Free Flush of course (which has no double ups with my list here, intentionally, so don’t worry if you’re on there but not on here).
April from Anna Pest
Aki from Dreamwell
KZ from Dreamwell
Justin from Stormland
Erin from Wolven Daughter
Emma from Voices From The Void
Sierra from Krystal Swords
Kostas from Pantheist
Max from Subulation
Ria from Karnstein
Mx. Zoe! from Eyerolls
Westin from Sassy Gamers
Ellis from Noob Heavy
Swatty from Noob Heavy
Espi Kvlt from Noob Heavy
Kep from Noob Heavy
John Angel from Noob Heavy
Now for my top 69! uhhh it was a particularly good year for all of the things that I personally listened to and I hope you will check out what you haven’t heard and give me your thoughts, either here in the comments or on twitter somewhere. EPs, LPs, who cares if they blew me away. The first 39 are very good albums I respect a lot and the final 30 I either latched onto over the whole year or found them recently and just looking at the cover knowing I’ll get to explore this further fills me with excitement. All were picked over a long time, I’m posting this on new years but started in October. This is the most seriously I have taken something in 2021. 69 ranked seems unreasonable and I don’t blame you for doubting me but let me put myself in context: I am in a unique situation where I have no money and make no money but have infinite time. This is possible because I’m a carer for special needs children so I’m always home as well. Combine this with a hyperactivity disorder and OCD and you may begin to realise that this whole thing, Noob Heavy and organising music, is what I fucking do whether people are watching or not, and I’ve been keeping track closely since January with various prepared methods that made this article easier.
69. Scarred – Scarred
68. Cult Of Luna – The Raging River
67. Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
666. Dr Colossus – I’m A Stupid Moron, With An Ugly Face and A Big Butt an My Butt Smells, and I Like To Kiss My Own Butt
65. Kosmodemonic – Liminal Light
64. Redemptus – blackhearted
63. Abiotic – Ikigai
62. Glassing – Twin Dream
61. Mariana’s Rest – Fata Morgana
60. Seven Spires – Gods Of Debauchery
59. Knoll – Interstice
58. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined
57. Pupil Slicer – Mirrors
56. Atrae Bilis – Apexapien
55. Monument Of Misanthropy – Unterweger
54. The Breathing Process – Labyrinthian
53. Burn In Hell – Disavowal Of the Creator God
52. The Amenta – Revelator
51. Trophy Scars – Astral Pariah
50. BROCKAMPTON – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
49. Summoning The Lich – United In Chaos
48. Underoath – Numb
47. Full OF Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
46. Creeping Death – The Edge Of Existence
45. Bridge Burner – Disempath
44. Madison Beer – Life Support
43. Spaceslug – Memorial
42. Black Sheep Wall – Songs for the Enamel Queen
41. Wanderer – Liberation From A Brutalist Existence
40. Be’lakor – Coherence
39. Worm – Foreverglade
38. LLNN – Unmaker
37. Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou – The Helm Of Sorrow
36. Dreamwell – Modern Grotesque
35. Swallow The Sun – Moonflowers
34. Every Time I Die – Radical
33. Darkthrone – Eternal Hails……
32. WORLD PEACE – COME AND SEE
31. JPEGMAFIA – LP!
30. Employed To Serve – Conquering
Bombastic metalcore with great dual clean/unclean vocals. Fast paced with heaps of noodling and beatdowns in equal measure. Both vocals are fantastic and feel like something more in line with melodic death metal than your typical metalcore approach which is better heard in the guitars. AAA production quality and solid song writing.
29. Juan Bond – Womb
A wild ride from people clearly deeply influenced by old school punky post hardcore and math like Botch and The Blood Brothers. It’s not a simple homage though, they wrap it all in jazzy avant garde and sudden moments of modern clarity among the chaos. The production is right on point, not too much and not too clean, everything is expressed. The energy of it is captivating and the vocalist does really well to vary pacing and vocal tone on the fly. Normally with math I’m all about the screams, which are great here, but it’s the clean vocal moments that grab me the hardest with Womb.
28. Pizza Death – Slice Of Death
Crossover thrash album of the year and Australian album of the year. The greatest pizza themed album since Horse The Band’s “Pizza” EP. The meme is very present here with heaps of samples related to pizza from film and media but musically it is just as strong. The riffs pierce beyond the joke and are heavy as fuck. Themes aside, this is one of the most satisfying blends of thrash and hardcore you will hear. And just look at that fucking pizzagram logo
27. Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead
Such a fun stoner/trad heavy metal mix. I discovered them looking for some vibing halloween party tunes and it worked a treat. The vocals are clean and super infectious. You will eventually start singing along. There’s nothing super remarkable to mention about it, it is simply a highly enjoyable mood lifting album with a classic feel.
26. Armand Hammer – Haram
Heady rap duo Armand Hammer teamed up with legendary producer The Alchemist to create a gripping rap album filled with tension, interesting sound textures and deeper meanings. Haram is an Islamic term for sin (which makes sense with the album cover) but I also love to entertain the possible double meaning about other kinds of sinful pigs like cops and landlords which definitely get a shoutout on this album. I’ve heard a lot of the Alchemist collabs but I feel like this one is the best fit I’ve heard. Billy Woods and Elucid take full advantage of the complex outlandish production with a barrage creative lyrics and deliveries.
25. Unto Others – Strength
Unto Others take everything I love about 80s goth rock and amp it up with modern production and energetic performances that pull from a lot of 80s rock and pop rather than jut the intentionally dull rhythms and vocals of the 80s goth rock and post punk styles. Huge vocals, huge hooks and huge guitar solos. The whole lot.
24. Kaonashi – Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year
I love unique vocals in screamo and hardcore and Kaonashi has one of the most distinct voices of the whole year. It does a lot to get the messaging across, which will hit home to most people who suffered at university or school in general. It’s kinda like if Aaron Bedard from Bane played in a more mathcore band. The cleans are distinct as well but it hits on what feels like a “classic” emo style perfectly and other times belts into a poppy screamo/post hardcore melody. Kaonashi have a made a very cool homage to the breadth of emo inspired hardcore that will be sure to tickle long term core fans.
23. Lil Ugly Mane – VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN
I know it’s easy to dismiss something when it starts with “lil” just because of how many bad mainstream rappers use it and you often confuse who is who but this is one of the very good ones. Lil Ugly Mane has a solo black metal project that’s better than half of the ones I hear made by people entirely dedicated to the genre. When it comes to his rap there’s a lot of thought and experimentation in the beats and themes. This one blurs a lot of lines between genre, I’d best describe it as lofi depressioncore that turns a lot of rap ideas on it’s head to make something fresh and chill. Highly relatable lyrically.
22. Vivid Illusion – Vivid Illusion
A pleasurable slow blackgaze burn that often leans more into straight up shoegaze creating comforting blankets of sound driven by vibrant pretty guitar tones. We have clean and harsh vocals between seas of instruments that reach a sweet spot where they aren’t overbearing but aren’t too absent either. The progression and pacing are effortless. Go for a night walk and let it’s light shine on your face.
21. IDLES – CRAWLER
More in the rock realm than I normally listen but it pushes the boundaries of heaviness for the genre with it’s fucked mood. It brings me back to the years where I was first discovering The Jesus Lizard and Pissed Jeans. The darker more nihilistic sounding grunge stuff. “The Wheel” in particular is something else, there’s dancy bass and upbeat vocals and yet the entire vibe is like an end of the world orgy. The bass is great and they evoke a lot of that British post punk sound from the 80s I enjoy so much. An album to furiously burn the night away.
20. Stortregn – Impermanence
I’m not the biggest fan of black metal, and even less so of blackened death but if you make it technical and melodic through a modern lens it is capable of soaring to great heights as Stortregn shows us here.
19. MØL – Diorama
A really sophisticated proggy blackgaze album that sounds like the people making it are actually enjoying themselves. It does not drone one bit and is packed with peaks. One of the best albums from the genre in the last handful of years I’ve been doing this. A lot of gaze bands are leaning heavier into the brighter tones and it’s working for me every time.
18. Burial In The Sky – The Consumed Self
An elegant progressive death metal album. This sound is basically what I wanted out of both the new Rivers Of Nihil and BTBAM. Lots of tones and long songs with good transitions and expressive melodies. There’s bits of Katatonia on tracks like “Mountains, Part 2. (Empathy)” and in many of the moments where cleans are accompanied by subdued strings or keys. It’s really lovely.
17. The Armed – Ultrapop
If I am genderfucked then The Armed are genrefucked. The base of it is an intersection between noise and post hardcore with so many secondary elements added that there’s no point in really trying to figure out. They are clearly cultured music nerds with an immense amount of creative vision and the chops to execute that vision.
16. Sea Sleeper – Nostophobia
I’m on the Sea Sleeper diet, if I Sea Sleeper I eat sleeper. A ridiculously fun progressive death metal album with sludge elements. It’s unreasonably groovy and is often difficult to pin down into one style. The soaring sludgy cleans do a lot to break up the haemorrhaging death metal which is a godsent this year where so much tech death and prog left me underwhelmed by the sheer consistency of it. The cleans on some songs remind me a lot of Alice In Chains. Other songs, I dunno, they are on their own epic kind of shit. This year there was A LOT of vocal gimmicks in tech death but Sea Sleeper focus on a dynamic vocal performance rather than gratuitous effects or speed. A lot of energy on this record.
15. Knocked Loose – A Tear In the Fabric Of Life
This lot have done with an EP what the average, and even above average band wishes they could achieve with an LP. It’s a dire injection of god dethroning mosh madness that even that most stubborn metalheads had to tip their hat to. From beginning to fucking end it does not let up and contains so much spice. Press button to go off instantly.
14. Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry
Black metal and screamo go together so perfectly and Underdark do it heavily on the black metal side compared to most. If you’re a fan of Bosse-de-Nage (and you should be) then you’ll be right at home here with the mixture of harsh black metal and raw emotion. They nail their build ups and endings.
13. Mouthbreather – I’m Sorry Mr. Salesman
CHAOS AROUND ME CHAOS AROUND ME. Such a hectic metallic hardcore album. Been waiting for more from these guys since hearing Dollmeat in 2018 and this album manages to blow that out of the water and suggests a future where Mouthbreather is one of the hardest and most prominent hardcore bands in the scene. They have a haymaker combination of technical noisy music and a vocalist with a good range who knows exactly how to capitalise on each segment and progression and breakdown. It’s a fucking mosh. If you don’t listen to core but love death metal give it a go, I am sure between this and Pupil Slicer I can convert you. It’s one of those ridiculously heavy albums where half the time all I can do is shake my head.
12. Anna Pest – Dark Arms Reach Skyward With Bone White Fingers
Such an entertaining and varied deathcore album, I never get sick of listening to it. April makes the good music. The start of A Whisper In The Rain is so damn good, come on. This song is a great example of her ability to do the most disgusting gutturals you’ve heard but also, near angelic cleans that cut through the song like butter. There’s something awesome happening in every track and If I were to discuss everything I appreciate this album then we’d basically be doing a full review here because the guitars are tickling me and the vocals are always impressing me. Many ideas presented eloquently.
11. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite
I’ve been a fan for a good while and enjoy each new album more than the last. They know how to make music.
10. Converge & Chelsea Wolfe – Bloodmoon: I
They did a good one. Taking from previous experiences of playing live with Chelsea Wolfe on slower renditions of their songs, they’ve decided to bring the collaboration to the studio with original songs for the whole world to enjoy, although for most fans nowhere near those shows it will be a very new sound. I love what they can do with metalcore in general but what they have done here shows a diversity of talent and a lot of sophistication. If you’ve been as obsessed with Julie Christmas/Cult Of Luna and ERR/Thou as I have then this album is sure to win you over immediately. A dense and seamless listening experience that will hopefully become a trilogy. Wistful af.
9. Breaths – Lined In Silver
Such a soothing album that quickly became a comfort album of mine when it came out in Jan. Progressive doom with stoner and alt metal influences not too far removed from Deftones. It’s a pleasant blend musically but it’s the overall aesthetic and themes that really tie it all together. A delicate album surrounding the topic of family in various ways, from heart warming moments to layers of discord. As a parent I adored the part where he got his child to contribute death growls and then you can hear the parents laughing. Such an odd bit of the album sonically and one of the many little touches that makes this a unique and passionate project. Both the clean and unclean vocals are very good. They have a new album coming next year that I’ve already been fortunate enough to hear. Good band sorely underrated band.
8. Backxwash – I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
Rap is in my top 3 genres and was the first genre I fell in love with as a kid, so I’m glad there’s a rap album impressing the metalheads this year. Backxwash is intense in every way. Angry industrial rap that assaults the world through the lens of being trans, something I really appreciate in a genre lacking trans messaging and flooded to hell with misogynistic messaging. The appeal doesn’t stop there however, Backxwash is essential listening for any kind of person weary of living in a world full of fucked systems and fucked people that have no desire to cater for race, gender or disability. I love how aggressively honest it is, particularly regarding the darker side of drug use. As someone who has often experienced misadventure with their drug use I can relate strongly to undesired side effects, coping and misadventure.
7. Kowloon Walled City – Piecework
DONT KICK THE TYRES, THEY HELD US UP. A blending of post metal and post hardcore that hits on the best of both. Kowloon Walled City make a tense and crushing atmosphere. Just copious amounts of mood. They have an older grungy post hardcore sound in their style like Fugazi or Unwound along with the distorted atmosphere of Cult Of Luna. I always look forward to listening to this album and no matter how many times I’ve heard it, it earns my total investment from the very first chords.
6. A Portrayal Of Guilt – We Are Always Alone
Blackened mathy violent emo music that makes metalheads who hate hardcore and emo look reaaaal silly because this is heavier than half of the death metal I’ve heard this year. The vocalist is fucking seething. A lot of people have been talking like this came out last year because it released in January and they’ve since released a huge EP as well, but it’s stuck with me right through the year. It’s a reliable listen from a consistently great band. Check out their Audiotree set if you can’t catch them live.
5. The Hyena Kill – A Disconnect
Phenomenal post grunge type alt rock album that delivers hook after powerful hook. If you like the dark prog sound of Tool but don’t want to have to think of that dickhead Maynard then you might dig this which has a lot of that alt rock Deftones influence as well as some nu metal. They bring plenty of their own nuance to these sounds and generally craft phenomenal songs that keep me hitting that repeat button.
4. Fawn Limbs – Darwin Falls
Fawn Limbs excel at two things; story telling, and seamlessly switching between calm errie spoken word to the heaviest fucking bullshit you will hear in your life. The most hectic mathgrind avant garde around. I wrote my longest review of my life about this album already so go check it out if you want to get lost in the woods at night and die alone in agony surrounded by the bleeting and buzzing of a wild world in a perpetual state of devouring.
3. Turnstile – GLOW ON
Duh. One of the most interesting and addictive hardcore sounds of our time, progressive even. The guitar tones here are so perfect for the way these songs are written, it’s highly impactful and makes each song memorable. The energy is gripping and uplifting until they absolutely rattle you half way through with the very emotional track ALIEN LOVE CALL. This is the album I put on when I want to break out of my usual moods and have a shot at productivity. I didn’t catch the EP containing the core of these songs when it came out which some people seem to prefer but I love every song on here and wouldn’t want any less. The artwork for the EP is so cool though.
2. James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart
My non metal/hardcore album of the year, in a big way. I’ve listened to this so damn much, every night since it came out a couple of months ago. I know every lyric and it’s a perfect album. I’ve been a fan for a while but James just keeps getting better and better and adding more hip hop elements to his style of soul singing. It’s superb on both a vocal level and a producer level, he is a genius. It hits me every time with lyrics like “Life is not the same if we’re miles away” (oh god the moots I think about during this song, you know who you are), “you are the last of my old things, the cast for my broken limbs”, “We both swam out to sea, you lost me willingly, but that was yesterday”, “I would live in the leaves that crunch beneath your feet” and “Don’t give up on me, I’ll come out of my shell “. The feature with SZA is so fantastic, everything she features on is great and she pairs so well with Blake.
1. King Woman – Celestial Blues
AOTY easily. It has everything I personally look for in an album as an obsessive fan of dramatic voidlike doom. It’s masterful across the board with a distinct vocalist who is also a superb lyricist. The overall album and sound has a huge sense of vision. This is the album I’ve listened to most at 3am for that real long vulnerable kind of thinking and remembering. Instrumentally it’s hypnotising with massive build ups and pay offs. The vocalist Kris acts as an emotional conduit, like an exposed nerve daring you to connect to it.