Arash Khosronejad’s Top 100 Albums of 2021

Arash's Top 100 Albums of 2021

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Last year was a better year than what happened to all of us in 2020. A large part of the world reopened, we returned to a society we knew, and we resumed life. Clubs, pubs, stadiums, music halls and venues reopened, bands started to hit the roads again and live music performances revived the passion for music in all of us. However, it was the magic and passion of the music that kept us alive and hopeful during quarantine, locked down days.

What you are reading is my top 100 albums of 2021, which were selected from more than 800 albums I listened to. Some of them surprised and some of them disappointed us, but we should be happy and feel lucky to spend another year with the music of the bands we love, and with the new bands we started to know.

PS: We are now in March 2022 and I know that it is a little late to publish this list. I’ve been busy with a lot of unforeseen things over the last two months, and it took me a while to publish on time. But it’s better late than never!

Honorary Mention:

Vukari – Omnes Nihil (EP)
The Vintage Caravan – Monuments
Still – { }
Wizardthrone – Hypercube Necrodimensions
Aethyrick – Apotheosis
Ghost Bath – Self Loather
Bewitcher – Cursed Be Thy Kingdom
Thårn – Collisions
Svn.Seeker – Means to an End
Blanket – Modern Escapism
Gràb – Zeitlang
Between the Buried and Me – Colors II
Aversio Humanitatis – Silent Dwellers – Live MMXX
Ghostheart Nebula – Ascension
Black Sigma – Lost
Dead/Awake – Melancholia
Lock Up – The Dregs of Hades
Broken Glass Sanctuary – A Kingdom Below
Blightmass – Harbinger of Lucidity
Wolfmother – Rock Out
Aborted – ManiaCult
Zornheym – The Zornheim Sleep Experiment

100. This Ending – Needles of Rust
99. Cirith Ungol – Half Past Human (EP)
98. Wythersake – Antiquity
97. Atræ Bilis – Apexapien
96. Abscession – Rot of Ages
95. Mental Cruelty – A Hill to Die Upon
94. Mānbryne – O Udręce Ciała I Tułaczce Duszy
93. Cult Burial – Oblivion EP
92. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee at State’s End!
91. Stortregn – Impermanence

90. Monument of Misanthropy – Unterweger
89. Times of Grace – Songs of Loss and Separation
88. Mesarthim – CLG J02182-05102
87. Infested Entrails – The Iniquitous Secretion
86. Necroticgorebeast – Human Deviance Galore
85. Iskandr – Vergezicht
84. Paul Stanley’s Soul Station – Now And Then
83. Path of Giants – Beholder
82. Unfathomable Ruination – Decennium Ruinae
81. Thyrfing – Vanagandr

80. Spectral Wound – A Diabolic Thirst
79. Alustrium – A Monument to Silence
78. Green Lung – Black Harvest
77. Inoculation – Celestial Putridity
76. Redemptor – Agonia
75. Kauan – Ice Fleet
74. Ophidian I – Desolate
73. Białywilk – Próżnia
72. Turnstile – Glow On
71. Unreqvited – Beautiful Ghosts

70. Abiotic – Ikigai
69. Pathology – The Everlasting Plague
68. Horndal – Lake Drinker
67. Wode – Burn in Many Mirrors
66. Malignant Altar – Realms of Exquisite Morbidity
65. Dawn Fades – Ode
64. Exodus – Persona Non Grata
63. Cadaveric Fumes – Echoing Chambers of Soul
62. In Asymmetry – Ashes of Dead Worlds
61. Netherbird – Arete

60. Mare Cognitum – Solar Paroxysm
59. Livløs – And Then There Were None
58. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite
57. Memoriam – To the End
56. Vreid – Wild North West
55. Amenra – De Doorn
54. Greater Pain – Images of Evil
53. Summoning the Lich – United in Chaos
52. Mind Power – Self Torture
51. Aegos – The Great Burst of Light
50. Unleashed – No Sign of Life
49. Gatecreeper – An Unexpected Reality
48. Lucifer’s Hammer – The Trip
47. Drawn and Quartered – Congregation Pestilence
46. Born of Osiris – Angel or Alien
45. Massacre – Resurgence
44. Me and That Man – New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2
43. Enforced – Kill Grid
42. Criminal – Sacrificio
41. Der Weg einer Freiheit – Noktvrn

40. Mastiff – Leave Me the Ashes of the Earth
39. Archspire – Bleed the Future
38. Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime
37. The Breathing Process-Labyrinthian
36. Deformatory – Inversion of the Unseen Horizon
35. Soen – Imperial
34. Unto Others – Strength
33. Wolverine – A Darkened Sun (EP)
32. Humanity’s Last Breath-Välde
31. Modern Rites – Monuments

30. Thulcandra – A Dying Wish
29. Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum
28. Monolord – Your Time to Shine
27. Converge – Bloodmoon: I
26. Unanimated – Victory in Blood
25. Lorna Shore – …And I Return To Nothingness (EP)
24. Pestilential Shadows – Revenant
23. Hate – Rugia
22. Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon
21. Obscura – A Valediction

20. White Void – Anti
Probably the catchiest album of the year, along with The Night Flight Orchestra’s Aeromantic II. Remarkable proggy, catchy 70s/80s synth rock-influenced progressive metal/rock by Lazar (Borknagar, Solefald). One of those albums that is tune will stay with you for a long time.

19. Tribulation – Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
Jonathan Hulten’s last record with Tribulation is an absolute gem in Gothic metal/rock history. Album’s title says it all; it is gloomy, dark and sensational. Where the Gloom Becomes Sound laments the gloomiest stories of Gothic genre with astonishing songwriting and stellar performances. Gothic metal has a new classic record.

18. Seraph in Travail – A Black Death Incense
It’s very easy to see how creative and clever Seraph In Travail are, when we look back to their rendition of Led Zeppelin’s classic song “Stairway To Heaven,” which appeared on their first album Bring Forth Death. And this wave of creativity and mastery is repeated in their next two albums. And A Black Death Incense reflects Seraph in Travail’s enormous to manage an electrifying symphonic melodic black/death metal.

17. The Dark Alamorte – Lunacrium Thepsis
Lunacrium Thepsis is stunning. From start to finish. This is over-an-hour-long brilliant opus for those looking for heavy atmospheric soundscape alongside the brutality of death metal; where a magnificent work of art begins to be made.

16. Swallow the Sun – Moonflowers
Swallow the Sun need no introduction that how they are masterful to make exceptional soulful musical works. But Moonflowers marks Swallow the Sun at the highest peak of their career. The music is gloomier than before and it is utterly well-written, well performed dramatic melodic death/doom metal piece.

15. Dvne – Etemen Ænka
Since the release of Ahseran in 2017, Dvne strengthens their position as one of the most innovative bands today with each new album they put out. With amazing creativity in songwriting that completely touches the soul and leave a deep effect on it for a long time, Etemen Ænka is another Dvne’s finest and thrilling progressive sludge/post-metal album.

14. Whitechapel – Kin
Ever since Whitechapel changed their music path significantly, and based on the singles they put out before releasing the album, I was not very optimistic that the new album would replicate the success of previous albums. But Kin unexpectedly surprised me, much more than The Valley. Kin is Whitechapel’s most emotional and personal work, especially for Phil Bozeman. Whitechapel have found their new path in music and it seems they are managing to keep going on with it for a while.

13. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined
Pat O’Brien out, Erik Rutan in. But have there been any fundamental changes in the band’s voice and composition? Not that much! Rutan has worked with Cannibal Corpse for many years, as a producer and mixer and he completely knows the highs and lows of Cannibal Corpse’s music. The mark and effect Rutan left on Violence Unimagined made this album as one of Cannibal Corpse’s most gruesome and significant albums.

12. Cradle of Filth – Existence is Futile
For years, no Cradle of Filth album was on my year-end list, especially among the top 20 albums of the year. But Existence is Futile finally broke that spell. Existence is Futile is a glorious return to the band’s golden age music, the nineties and the early years of the third millennium. A thought-provoking and exciting blend of Cradle of Filth’s classics and their more recent tunes, at its best.

11. Cynic – Ascension Codes
Sean Malone and Sean Reinert both died in 2020, and this was undoubtedly a great tragedy for Paul Masvidal and Cynic’s music. The crushing and touching sadness that is seen in countless moments of Ascension Codes, Masvidal’s glimpse of the revival of Aeon Spoke, his side project with Sean Reinert, in Cynic structure, makes Ascension Codes as one of the most touching and influential progressive albums of the year or even the decade.

10. So Hideous – None but a Pure Heart Can Sing
Back in 2015, So Hideous released their masterpiece, Laurestine, which I named it as the best album of 2015, stood on top of my list. Six years later and So Hideous proved that they are one of the finest, most innovative and most electrifying metal bands right now. None but a Pure Heart Can Sing is utterly beautiful and stunning, from start to finish.

9. In Mourning – The Bleeding Veil
In Mourning reinvented themselves with this The Bleeding Veil. They have combined progressive and [melodic] death metal in a wonderful way, as if a new sound has been created in this album. The peak of maturity and skill in composing is strongly evident in this album.

8. Impure Wilhelmina – Antidote
Impure Wilhelmina do not waste any time to surprise the world. Five years ago, Radiation came in second on my year end list, and they repeated the glory of that masterpiece. Deeper exploration into progressive metal, while songs have gotten harsher time to time, while they preserve post-metal foundations. Creative, unique, full of art, precision and emotions.

7. Bornholm – Apotheosis
Bornholm have made another attempt to create a dark and sinister epic in the form of a black metal work. Apotheosis, their fifth studio album once again emphasizes the band’s mastery in creating this form of epic.

6. Dormant Ordeal – The Grand Scheme of Things
The best death metal album of the year. Groovy yet dark, emotional and dissonant, The Grand Scheme of Things is otherworldly in sound and atmosphere. The music mourns and roars and it reflects through the darkest corners of human’s minds.

5. The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II
You can dance to it. You can headbang to it. You can do whatever you want. Aeromantic II’s music is not from the decade. This is catchiest thing you can here in 2021. Aeromantic II gives you joy; and it hails the pain.

4. Ethereal Shroud – Trisagion
Depressive black/funeral doom metal? Maybe so. But that’s not the whole story. Trisagion is more than that. It is epic and glorious, sad and dramatic. Joe Hawker defines the aesthetics of melancholy and glory differently in Trisagion. It’s very sad to find out that Trisagion is Ethereal Shroud’s last album; but what is left with it will be remembered forever.

3. Gojira – Fortitude
Gojira took a new path with Fortitude, shocked and upset many, and shocked and pleased many others. This album is a clear example of the fact that you can start a new way, you can make drastic changes in the structure of your music, but at the same time you can be dignified, magnificent and dazzling. Fortitude is following that point. It’s stunningly beautiful.

2. Urne – Serpent & Spirit
Hailing from London, England, Urne have brought the world their debut Serpent & Spirit, combining various genres from doom to sludge metal, from post-hardcore to stoner metal, and from groove metal to progressive metalcore, Urne have created a vast, massive and voluminous soundscape. It’s a clever and powerfully performed effort that seems to indicate a redefinition of post-metal genre by Urne.

1. Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
I’m absolutely out of words for this. We all know what Mastodon have done on this album. When you incorporate sadness into your music shells, using it to heal yourself and release your body from its presence. Hushed and Grim is a masterpiece that gives a new meaning to everything that Mastodon have done so far and defines the future sound. I’m sure this is not enough, as it does not even describe the slightest bit of the album’s beauty. They are still one of the greatest, although they really don’t need to prove it, but they still do. And they still have a lot to bring to this world.

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About the Author

Ken Kopija
I'm a very tired, black coffee drinking curmudgeon. Over the last 45+ years, I've amassed a pretty substantial collection of records, cassettes and compact discs.

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