My name is Richard Murray, I write in a pretentious manner where I just make lists of similes, I hope they make you people laugh. I do this while I prepare and eat Mediterranean food and obsessively clean my house. Something about preparing spicy food while listening to songs about demons and robot overlords is fun for me.
I enjoy moshing and fawning over my two cats. If I could bring my cats to shows just to throw into mosh pits I would. But that’s illegal and would cancel me. My other hobby is coffee. Living a very healthy lifestyle while drinking enough caffeine to make a hippo overdose is something I’ve grown very good at. Now here are my top ten albums of 2021.
10. Hans Zimmer ‘The Dune Sketchbook’
This might seem like a cop out, or an odd way to start my list, but I challenge you to find me something that pacts more evocative themes into one listen. Just put this on and be flung to a Middle Eastern drenched Star Wars on quaaludes. Vastness that lingers and wastes not even a single second of your time. On a nerdy note, I waited and waited for this movie to be released and these Hans Zimmer composed songs made the wait a little more bearable.
Label: WaterTower Music
9. Ad Nauseam ‘Imperative Imperceptible Impulse’
Being one of the highest rated albums of the year, you knew that Ad Nauseam’s magnum opus, Imperative Imperceptible Impulse, would end up being something you’d read on countless top ten lists ad naus…over and over. And that’s for good reason. It’s a brutal experiment of throwing spaghetti at the wall, picking up what didn’t stick, and smashing it in until it does.
Label: Avantgarde Music
8. Der Weg Einer Freiheit ‘Noktvrn’
My pick for blackgaze album of the year from a band I’d been sleeping on for far too long. The intricate passion and beauty from Der Weg Einer Freiheit saturate every note played and scream is…screamed that just agrees with my ears. It resonates even harder given that so many blackgaze bands have dropped either the black metal or shoegaze elements for a more traditional sound.
Label: Season Of Mist
7. Daxma ‘Unmarked Boxes’
A late in the year surprise as Daxma aren’t afraid of forgoing ugliness in favor of gorgeousness. Call me what you like but when a violin is played in any song, I just feel cultured as hell. And this is dripping with that culture. As that violin glides with ferocious guitars, it makes me look for the calm in myself. Maybe in a time when it’s easier to scream into the oblivion of the abyss of our own world on fire, an album that makes me reflective just hits differently.
6. The Silver ‘Ward Of Roses’
Black metal that slows it down served with a delicious shift between harsh and clean vocals that grabbed my attention upon first listen. The Silver’s Ward Of Roses has made it officially onto my workout routine music playlist. I know that’s why people make music. It’s a high honor for me to enjoy your music while I do my one push-up a week.
Label: Gilead Media
5. Kabbalah ‘The Omen’
A fairly light-hearted affair that’s really captured my affection without going too heavy. So often doom metal goes into something so deep and dank it numbs you into a haze of weed and Sabbath worship. Kabbalah’s The Omen stands on its own and doesn’t need to smoke you dizzy or overstay its welcome. The magick performed here left me charmed and interested enough to return for repeated listens.
Label: Rebel Waves Records
4. Lingua Ignota ‘Sinner Get Ready’
Survivor anthems that grow more powerful with each listen. After two albums of screaming in a blind rage, or singing like a bruised angel Lingua Ignota has completely fallen into a somber sound that doesn’t flex and cry as much as it sits stoically in grace. I sat on a train once for sixteen hours to watch her perform in 2019 and would gladly do that again with this new album.
Label: Sargent House
3. BRUIT ≤ ‘The machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again’
BRUIT ≤ deliver a dense listen that begs to be dissected. Each layer stacked on top of the last like it was laid by artisanal bricklayers. And it’s just so pretty. Notably missing on major streaming services brought me to buying the cassette (vinyl is coming eventually) so I could be buried with these songs along with other possessions I love. This is music I’ve enjoyed alone with my thoughts and a nice glass of cognac. I invited friends but I guess a ‘cassette listening party’ brings absolutely no one over. Or maybe I have no friends.
2. ISON ‘Aurora’
ISON’s discography keeps building and refining their gorgeous sound over and over again. On Aurora a playful and elegant feeling permeates and caresses each note and makes me feel weightless and at peace. I guess after the past couple of years I’m gravitating towards this sound more and more. ISON made me realize this and I thank them for that.
Label: Avantgarde Music
1. Converge & Chelsea Wolfe ‘Bloodmoon I’
This is cavernous but impossible to be lost inside of. This is bleakness without sulking. It’s so easy to make a song that’s catchy. It’s easy to fall into a disparity of screaming dissonance. This collaboration of Converge and Chelsea Wolfe, along with Stephen Brodsky, understand and love each other is everything I could have asked for in an album. Anyone who’s read my reviews knows my all-out love affair and appreciation for atmospheric sludge. On my first listen this felt like pure darkness, upon repeated listens this darkness shows a glossy shine and a dark kaleidoscope of bleak beautiful colors.
Label: Epitaph Records
Devoid Of Thought ‘Outer World Graves’ – I normally don’t dig on death metal but this was something seriously special.
Cult Of Luna ‘The Raging River’ – They’ve given me such a great pool to dump my aggressions into and this was a nice little bridge between A Dawn To Fear and The Long Road North.
Dvne ‘Etemen Ænka’ – Wow. Another post-metal album I listen to non-stop for weeks on end. This showed a marked improvement of their already established sound.
1914 ‘Where Fear and Weapons Meet’ – Blackened death metal that drips with a bleak realness that would spit in the face of those who romanticize war’s carnage.
Scribed by: Richard Murray