2021 has delivered more than its fair share of better and better releases! Excellent albums, EPs and songs from the more well-known bands as well as from the underground scene. In this article, we’ve collected 20 albums from last year (10-10 albums each) that we feel you shouldn’t miss! Here are the albums!
X. Silent Planet – Iridescent & Resolve – Between Me and The Machine
Silent Planet – Iridescent (T.)
Band: Silent Planet (US)
Album length: 39:56 (12 tracks)
Label: Solid State Records
To be honest, I never fell for Silent Planet! No particular reason, they didn’t do anything wrong, their music just didn’t grab me that much. But now with their new album “Iridescent” it’s a different story. Changing the formula a little bit, they’ve added a lot more atmospheric and melodic elements to the songs, which has benefited the tracks tremendously. The songs became very catchy, and for some of the songs I dare say the refrains were high up there with the best choruses of last year!
Resolve – Between Me and The Machine (W.)
Band: Resolve (FRA)
Album: Between Me and The Machine
Album length: 47:44 (11 tracks)
Genre: Post-Hardcore, Metalcore
Label: ARISING EMPIRE
In 2021, countless more and more promising bands have released debut EPs and albums, showing that they are worth counting on! France’s Resolve is definitely one of them. Between Me and The Machine, imbued with post-hardcore and metalcore, could be a good choice for fans of the former. The screams and the more shouty vocal parts are essential elements of the songs, but there are also slower, calmer tracks like Fifteen Roses. But the real picture of the album is given by D.G.G.R.S or Surrender, so these are the first tracks to get acquainted with if you are new to Resolve. Judging by the first album, there is every chance that Resolve will become a dominant band after Landmvrks, coming from the French music scene.
IX. While She Sleeps – Sleeps Society & Eyes Wide Open – Through Life And Death
While She Sleeps – Sleeps Society
Band: While She Sleeps (UK)
Album: Sleeps Society
Album length: 44:27 (11 tracks)
After their 2019 album “So What”, While She Sleeps has now expanded their discography with Sleeps Society, which is more crushing and slower than its more experimental predecessor. It’s closer in sound to “You Are We”, but you can still expect some creative and interesting musical elements. The album is energetic as hell, sounds good and is full of electronic elements as well as many more emotional moments. It has everything to love about While She Sleeps! The only downside is that there are a lot of filler tracks on the album, by this I mean the various interludes and the like, which although also well crafted and add to the concept of the album, still take up a considerable amount of the album’s playing time (a quarter of an hour).
EYES WIDE OPEN – Through Life And Death
Band: EYES WIDE OPEN (SWE)
Album: Through Life And Death
Album length: 39:25 (12 tracks)
Label: ARISING EMPIRE
IMMINENCE from Sweden is probably the first band that comes to mind for anyone who loves the metalcore genre, or maybe Dead by April. EYES WIDE OPEN is one of the less noticed representatives of the style. This might be because they originated from the Swedish metal scene, but now they are much closer to metalcore. Relying on melodic atmospheres and captivating instrumentation, the band’s latest album, Through Life And Death, is roughly forty minutes of contemplation, especially on tracks like Burn ‘Em, Where Death Meets Paradise and Eraser. But there are also more upbeat songs that rely more on grungy vocals, such as Devastation and Echoes, featuring Richard Sjunnesson and Jonatahn Thorpenberg.
VIII. Whitechapel – Kin & Spiritbox – Eternal Blue
Whitechapel – Kin
Band: Whitechapel (US)
Album length: 47:49 (11 tracks)
Label: Metal Blade Records
“Kin” is a direct sequel to 2018’s “The Valley”, which recounted the childhood struggles of singer Phil Boozemen. “Kin” is an alternative sequel that mixes reality and fiction. The band started flirting with clean vocals and more emotional melodies on their 2016 album Bring Me Home, which they further explored on The Valley. “Kin” is also a step up in this respect as it is perhaps where we find the most acoustic elements. Here, there are some tracks with completely clean vocals. Don’t be afraid, of course, there will be some pretty heavy tracks, worthy of their reputation. “Kin” is a beautiful record, full of emotion and a pain, beauty and filth.
Spiritbox – Eternal Blue
Genre: Spiritbox (CAN)
Album: Eternal Blue
Album length: 43:12 (12 tracks)
Label(s): Pale Chord; Rise Records
If you are talking about 2021, it’s hard to avoid Spiritbox and their debut album Eternal Blue. The Canadian metalcore band undeniably put themselves on the map for many fans last year. The likes of Holly Roller, Constance, Circle With Me and Secret Garden clearly laid the foundations for the success of Eternal Blue, which hasn’t disappointed following its release. Perhaps more than expected, Spiritbox has also become a hit and has rained down like an avalanche on metalcore lovers. Courtney’s dirty vocals have become a recurring element not only within the band, but also with others. It’s no exaggeration to say that Courtney LaPlante’s name has been one of the most frequent guest vocalists (Make Them Suffer, ERRA, Eternal Void or Crown The Empire. Just a few of the bands she has performed with). Still, the hype surrounding them is far from undeserved and Sun Killer or Yellowjacket prove that they could bring a higher standard beyond the songs they had previously released.
VII. Darko US – Darko & Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb
Darko US – Darko
Band: Darko US (US)
Album length: 44:50 (12 tracks)
The current lead singer of Chelsea Grin and the (now former) drummer of Emmure teamed up in 2020 to create a two-piece music project called Darko. They started off with an EP and then finally released their first full-length album last year, which really made a splash. As the name suggests, the guys were aiming for a very bizarre, dark, sometimes scary and disgusting sound. The album delivers this in full. Sometimes perhaps too well. The guitars tuned and effected beyond recognition, the many other bizarre sound effects, and Tom’s disgusting vocals really make the whole album a nightmare. Although there are a few more emotional, slower tracks on the album, such as “Donna”, “Daniel”, and the ambient track that closes the album, “If This Is Forever”. Not to mention that the album also features contributions from names like Ben Duerr, (Shadow Of Intent) and Courtney LaPlante (Spiritbox).
Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb
Band: Sleep Token (UK)
Album: This Place Will Become Your Tomb
Album length: 52:06 (12 tracks)
Genre: Post-Metal, Alternative Rock
Label: Spinefarm Records U.K.
Sleep Token, known in part for their mysticism, have given us a way to lead up to their 2021 album by throwing Alkaline in as a bait, very successfully! Their instrumentals, which are rich in ambient and electronic musical components, and which did not neglect the chunkier riffs typical of metal and the drums common in jazz, brought a whole new experience to many. This was accompanied by the unique vocals of Vessel, the band’s lead singer. This Place Will Become Your Tomb was getting more and more exciting by the day and the question was, how sustainable is this level of excitement in the long run? In hindsight, the increased interest had waned by the time the album was released, partly due to the fact that the Imogen Heap-inspired Fall For Me was not necessarily a song that would have been able to excite many people immediately prior to the release of This Place Will Become Your Tomb. Of course, that wasn’t the dominant approach to this album either. We got a pleasant and varied album. Hypnosis is one of the more powerful, pounding tracks, while The Love You Want is a mix of styles, but a softer song. The final track, Missing Limbs, is an acoustic, slow song with piano and guitar vocals. The diversity of the album is undeniable.
VI. Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist & There’s A Light – For What May I Hope? For What Must We Hope?
Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist
Band: Architects (UK)
Album: For Those That Wish To Exist
Album length: 58:28 (15 tracks)
Label: Epitaph Records
“For Those That Wish To Exist” was the biggest turnaround of the year for me. I had nothing against the new direction and more mainstream sound, I didn’t get on the “Sellout” train either. Two of the four early singles, if anything, piqued my interest and when I spun the album, it didn’t really get any reaction out of me. I felt that it was an “ok” album that I didn’t have a problem with, but it would settle into the middle of the year’s line-up and fade into oblivion. There was every chance of that, as apart from the closing ‘Dying Is Absolutely Safe’, none of the songs really impressed me. At least on first listen. Because as the months passed and we moved into the year 2021, the album slowly matured. I was starting to like the songs, sometimes finding myself humming them to myself, or having them crawl into my head out of nowhere. Granted there are still one or two tracks on this 15 song monstrosity that feel like filler, but overall it’s a very enjoyable, catchy album. Definitely worth giving it a chance!
There’s A Light – For What May I Hope? For What Must We Hope?
Band: There’s A Light (DEU)
Album: For What May I Hope? For What Must We Hope?
Album length: 01:00:00 (11 tracks)
Label: Napalm Records
Of the albums listed, For What May I Hope? For What Must We Hope? stands out the most, in terms of genre. Germany’s There’s A Light closed the year with a pure post-rock album last December. It’s no wonder that the 11-song album’s 1-hour span can stand out on our list. This is presumably not so surprising to fans of post-rock, since one of the genre’s peculiarities is that it operates with lengthy, drawn-out tracks. The album could be a great start for those who want to immerse themselves in the sea of post-rock and just enjoy the moment. There’s not much in the way of vocals, but every second of it creates an irrepressible desire to hear that vocal again. As for the instrumental use, it is up to the expected standard, it is innovative and somehow the 6-7 minute songs don’t feel like too much. Moreover! The instrumental always gives that pleasure that makes you love post-rock so much. Elpis and Be Brave, Fragile Heart could be the ideal openers for this unforgettable journey!
V. The Plot In You – Swan Song & Capstan – SEPARATE
The Plot In You – Swan Song
Band: The Plot In You (US)
Album: Swan Song
Album length: 35:12 (10 tracks)
Genre: Metalcore/Alternative Rock
Label: Fearless Records
The Plot In You has put perhaps the most creative album of 2021 on the table with “Swan Song”. I feel the band’s main strength is definitely vocalist Landon Tewers. He is incredibly talented. On older albums he screamed a lot more in the traditional sense, but with his unique voice with so much character, he doesn’t really need gutturals or other gross-outs. There’s a lot of emotion in both his lyrics and his voice. It’s just goosebumps the way he sings and plays with his vocal chords. He probably also reaches into the band’s harmonies with courage and a big palm. Because Landon is a genre of his own. It’s hard to pin down exactly what you’re hearing. Punk, metal, pop, electronic elements and alternative rock are mixed with all sorts of unique sound effects, resulting in a unique style that is easily recognisable anywhere. All this is evident not only in The Plot In You, but also in his solo project. Swan Song is one of the most creative and emotional records of the year!
Capstan – SEPARATE
Band: Capstan (US)
Album length: 37:25 (10 tracks)
Label: Fearless Records
One of the emerging post-hardcore bands of the last years is Capstan, which after SEPARATE is still on the way to success! Although their 2019 album, Restless Heart, Keep Running, doesn’t leave a sense of lack, SEPARATE is by far the more balanced album. On the one hand, the majority of the songs on the album are not inferior in quality to the other tracks, which was not the case with previous albums. On the other hand, the post-hardcore characteristics are easily recognisable, such as the shouting vocals, the intensity or the deep bass guitar, guaranteeing a professionally executed experience. As a further sign of progress, SEPARATE’s songs now include co-productions with some very special names! Shane Told, lead singer of Silverstein, has contributed to Alone, while renowned saxophonist Saxl Rose has been involved in the creation of blurred around the edges. For post hardcore fans, Capstan and SEPARATE could be a potential new favourite!
IV. Brand Of Sacrifise – Lifeblood & Starset – Horizons
Brand Of Sacrifise – Lifeblood
Band: Brand Of Sacrifise (US)
Album length: 41:09 (12 tracks)
Label: Blood Blast Distribution
Mahattan-based Brand Of Sacrifice set the bar very high early last year with this album. A huge leap in quality compared to the 2019 album Gods Hand. That wasn’t bad stuff either but Lifeblood is a whole other level. By the way, the album is based on Kentaro Miura’s most famous work and just oozes love for the source material, with plenty of references hidden in the lyrics and an authentic manga feel. Berserk fans (like me) will love it! The album is unabashedly heavy, topped off with lots of electronic and symphonic sounds. And Kyle Anderson is a monster! Lifeblood is an effective way to pump fresh blood into the deathcore genre!
Starset – Horizons
Band: Starset (US)
Album length: 1:11:00 (16 tracks)
Genre: Hard Rock, Alternative Rock
Label: Fearless Records
Judging Starset’s fourth album is not an easy task. Starting from the previous albums, we can discover a lot of what was characteristic of Transmissions, Vessels or even Divisions. In addition, there are also influences from other bands associated with Starset (Downplay or MNQN). In this respect, it could be a brilliant album for those who want to absorb the Starset universe as much as possible. Hidden messages, old familiar sounds and lyrics related to astronomy and space. But with songs linked by outros, unity can also mean monotony. Although there are differences in vocals and instrumentation, there are not many songs with more character. Consequently, if you are looking for songs that are radically different, or if you are looking for Vessels’ standards, you might be disappointed. The elements of Transmissions, Divisions or MNQN are more noticeable. Still, the 16 song album is likeable and enjoyable, and if you’re just looking for a single track to pick up at any time, you’ll have no trouble! Horizons is a cornucopia of possibilities, with Icarus, Alchemy, Devolution and Something Wicked all capable of capturing our mood of the moment.
III. Slaughter To Prevail – KOSTOLOM & Virtues – Comfort In My Own Arms
Slaughter To Prevail – KOSTOLOM
Band: Slaughter To Prevail (RUS)
Album length: 49:01 (12 tracks)
Label: Summerian Records
If I mentioned a monster before, here’s another one. Straight from Russia. After four years, last summer saw the release of Slaughter To Pevail’s second album Kostolom, under the trademark of Alex Terrible. For three years they promoted the album and kept us on our toes, with one song a year and a pile of snips posted on instagram. Was the album worth the wait? Absolutely! They tried to create a unique sound by incorporating nu-metal elements alongside a hardcore deathcore sound. Which works for some and not for others. Well, I was hooked. Also, some clean vocals, symphonic backing, and other goodies were thrown in. Alex is known to love Slipknot and it shows on the album, as there are a lot of stylistic elements to be found on “IOWA”. (Which I didn’t mind as I love that album.) Specifically, towards the end of the track “Father” there’s a segment that if I listened to it alone, I’d think I was hearing a scrambled prototype of “Iowa” or “Scissors”, with the suggestively dark, slightly atmospheric instrumental and the moaning, mumbling vocals suggesting a state of self-absorption. Needless to say, this is a devastating album. Still, if I had to say one negative thing, it’s that the album tries to grab too much in some parts and doesn’t always get the job done. There are a couple of build ups so ridiculously big that the breakdown can’t be as hard as it’s spun up to be. Still, it’s definitely worth a listen!
Virtues – Comfort In My Own Arms
Band: Virtues (SGP)
Album: Comfort In My Own Arms
Album length: 25:17 (8 tracks)
Genre: Melodic Hardcore
Although Singapore’s Virtues is unknown in Hungary and does not have a significant worldwide followerbase, it is fair to say that they are a “hidden gem”. Without a doubt one of the most promising bands from Asia when it comes to melodic hardcore! Comfort In My Own Arms is not a lengthy album. With its 25 minutes and 8 songs, it is by far the shortest album on our list of twenty albums, but that can be seen as a positive overall: it doesn’t feel repetitive, the quality is there from start to finish. The harmony of heartbreaking screams and stunningly beautiful cleans is a dagger to the soul, but it’s something you don’t want to get away from. The instrumental is mostly calm and idyllic, but at times tense and dramatic. The former is essentially due to the intimate guitar playing, while the latter is due to the bloodcurdling drumming, which is compounded by vocals that become speech-like at certain points. It would be hard to single out one song from the six full-lengths, but perhaps I don’t have to. Comfort In My Own Arms is 25 minutes of quality, one of the gems of underground music waiting to be discovered.
II. IMMINENCE – Heaven In Hiding & Phinehas – The Fire Itself
IMMINENCE – Heaven In Hiding
Band: IMMINENCE (SWE)
Album: Heaven In Hiding
Album length: 47:44 (13 tracks)
Label: Arising Empire
Last year was a year of surprises. One of the biggest surprises for me was IMMINENCE! I got to know them back in 2019 with their album “Turn The Light On”, which I enjoyed listening to a lot of songs from, but didn’t feel particularly overwhelming. However, Heaven In Hiding is a huge step forward. Single after single, I was amazed at how something could sound so good, how each song could raise the bar higher and higher, and how it could capture my soul so much. It quickly became one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and in a way it lived up to my expectations. The Architects-like harder pounding with the violin sounds wonderful. Also Eddie flashes techniques I never knew he could do. Minimally detracting from the overall picture is the fact that there are a couple of less strong tracks on the album, and a bit too many interludes. Nevertheless, an excellent piece. Definitely the most personal album for me this year!
Phinehas – The Fire Itself
Band: Phinehas (US)
Album: The Fire Itself
Album length: 41:42 (10 tracks)
Label: Solid State Records
Phinehas came back in a big way in 2021! After four years, they have released another album, and The Fire Itself is an amazingly strong one! Among the pre-released singles was Eternally Apart, for example, after which a standout performance was to be expected. Classic metalcore songs, dazzling guitar solos, a massive amount of dirty vocals and first class clean vocal parts. If that’s what you’re looking for in a song or an album, then The Fire Itself is for you! Along with Eternally Apart, the title track The Fire Itself, The Storm In Me or Dream Thief could be a good start if you’re still getting to know the band’s sound.
I. Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood & Eidola – The Architect
Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood
Band: Ice Nine Kills (US)
Album: The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood
Album length: 47:19 (14 tracks)
Label: Fearless Records
Last year INK came, saw and won! In 2018, it just missed out on the Album of the Year for me by a small margin, which was finally won by Fit For A King, Dark Skies! This year, however, it was by far the most entertaining album for me and I can’t really find any fault with it. It’s creative enough, heavy, emotional, melodic, inventive, full of jaw-dropping choruses, devastating breakdowns and I could go on and on. A great album!
Eidola – The Architect
Band: Eidola (US)
Album: The Architect
Album length: 45:29 (12 tracks)
Label(s): Rise Records; Blue Swan Records
After a four-year hiatus, Eidola released a 12-song album called “The Architect”. Until the release of the new album, I didn’t know much about the band, but at least I had the experience of a hard-to-forget first meeting. After listening to Caustic Prayer and Elephant Bones, there was no turning back! The constant quality that has been emphasised on other albums is perfectly present on The Architect. One of, if not the greatest strengths of the album is that it is not varied as a whole, but broken down into songs. The variation of different genres is almost dizzying. In addition to the post-hardcore characteristics, experimental, ambient, progressive post-metal and metalcore elements come out of the hat. Andrew Wells’ clean vocals suck you in instantly, his voice is overwhelmingly dazzling. He knows almost no boundaries! The vocals are accompanied by screams on certain tracks, such as Empty Gardens or Mutual Fear with Jon Mess. The instrumentals are creative as previously described and are as dynamic as a post-hardcore song. Sometimes even a poisoned mouse can seem slow and comatose compared to the pace dictated by the songs. I would also not omit to mention the instrumental base, that Eidola is made up of very talented musicians who can make a big impact individually, be it on drums, guitars or bass. And there’s more! Eidola’s soundscape is familiar on some songs, which is no coincidence. The band was very influenced by Dance Gavin Dance, so for DGD fans I would highly recommend The Architect! Of course, others might also enjoy Eidola’s latest creation, as there is plenty to experience when getting into the album and after a song or two, everything that is a little bit part of the disc can become addictive.
In a week’s time, we’ll be back with another article featuring 5-5 EPs from last year’s line-up that you shouldn’t miss! Stay tuned!
by: Traidusk & Wolfy