BEST OF 2021: Runners up

Come Monday, we begin the Top 40 albums of 2021, a pain in the ass of a list to put together if there ever was one. It may seem like 40 is a lot, but it’s not enough to get in every record we loved this year, and today’s list of runners up also won’t even cover all of that. But there are 5 records it pained us not to squeeze into the Top 40, and despite that, they’re still killers.

AARA, “Triad I: Eos” (Debemur Morti): For their third record “Triad I: Eos,” Swiss black metal force Aara decided to dig into 1820 novel Memloth the Wanderer by Irish Protestant clergyman and playwright Charles Robert Maturin, and it tells the story of a man who sold his soul to the devil for another 150 years of existence on earth. Good thing is you have time to absorb the text because this album is the first in a trilogy for the band—vocalist Fluss, guitarist/bassist Berg, drummer J—that we assume will continue over their fourth and fifth albums, if they stay on a straight path with the story. The music is another dose of their sharp, fully atmospheric black metal that surges and causes your blood to rush along with them. Fluss’ shrieks manage to get inside of you and swim in your head, bringing you to your own brink of damnation. (March 26)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Aara-941630312665011

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

FORHIST, self-titled (Debemur Morti): Blut Aus Nord mastermind Vindsval never rests, and that’s apparent in his art, the latest coming under the new Forhist banner, resulting in some of the most aggressive black metal he’s made in some time. Yet, there still are stretches of imagination and wonder in what he does on these bone-freezing eight tracks, but for the most part, it’s power, riffs, riveting chaos, and infectious melodies, keeping your insides volcanically hot while your body tries to adjust to the sub-freezing temperatures. The tracks are titled “I” through “VIII,” and the thunder and frost coasted over these songs will make your skull shiver as you immerse yourself in violent disorientation. (Feb. 26)

For more on the band, go here: https://blutausnord.bandcamp.com/album/forhist

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/band/forhist

Or here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/518-forhist-shop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

MEHENET, “Ng’ambu” (Gilead Media/Stygian Black Hand): Undoubtedly one of the strangest records to come out this year and yet another example that black metal can shape and shift into whatever it wants to be, New Orleans-based band Mehenet unleashed “Ng’ambu,” a spiritual force. According to the band’s bio, Mehenet’s music has a personal connection and dedication to Quimbanda, the Afro-Brazilian diasporic belief system based around magic, rituals, and offerings. It separated from Macumba and at some point took on the darker, more black magic aspects of the religion. “Horse to the Earth,” “In the Garden of Suicide,” and closer “The Mystery of Nations” grab your attention, keep it, and fill you with blackness from which you’ll never fully recover. This music lives in your bloodstream, an infection for which you won’t want an antidote.  (Sept. 10)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Abomination718/

To buy the album (vinyl to come in 2022), go here: https://gileadmedia.net/products/mehenet-ngambu-cd

Or here (cassette): https://stygianblackhand.bandcamp.com/album/ngambu

For more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/

And here: http://www.stygianblackhand.com/

MORTIFERUM, “Preserved in Torment” (Profound Lore): If you want to immerse yourself in thick doom and morbid death blackness, you don’t have to look much further than Olympia, Wash., maulers Mortiferum and their ungoly second record “Preserved in Torment.” This horrifying follow-up to debut offering “Disgorged From Psychotic Depths” maintains that impenetrable density and gloomy violence, battering you on tracks such as “Eternal Procession,” monstrous “Incubus of Bloodstained Visions,” “Exhumed From Mortal Spheres,” and mighty closer “Mephitis of Disease.” You’ll feel like you need a shower to remove the grime afterward. (Nov. 5)

For more on the band, go here: https://mortiferum.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.com/

PUTRISCENE, “The Fading Flame” (Tridroid): We’ve already hailed San Diego death squad Putrescine in the past, but their first crack at a full-length was a true test, and they came out with disgusting flying colors on “The Fading Flame.” This 10-track, 41-miniute album was one of the more interesting releases in a year filled with killer death metal records, and nine months after it first landed, it remains a formidable power, lathering you with vicious entries including “The Abyss,” “Devourer of Gods,” “That Mountain” (vocalist Marie McAuliffe describes the track about her surviving trauma), “Outsider” (a message about class structure within the gay community), and “In a Setting Sun” that balances technical prowess with gut-slicing power and violence. The fact the band is proudly antifascist is yet another reason for eternal fucking hails and continued visits with this killer record. (March 26)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Putrescine-464280534319064/

To buy the album, go here: https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/the-fading-flame

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/TridroidRecords/

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