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15 Dec 2021

TOP 5: Five The Hierophant – Through Aureate Void (21-02-26) https://five-the-hierophant.bandcamp.com/album/through-aureate-void https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3167120058_10.jpg “The Hierophant II” Five The Hierophant continues to dazzle with their signature fusion of bright sax and dark riffs. Relentlessly inventive, the outfit bridges the gap between free jazz and heavy psychedelia on Through Aureate Void, which doubles down on improvisation and experimentation to deliver one of the most unique-sounding records of the year.

Hippotraktor – Meridian (21-10-15) https://hippotraktor.bandcamp.com/album/meridian https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3446421720_10.jpg “Beacons” Something saucy is brewing in Belgium and for once I am not thinking of the Trappists. Loaded with every ounce of magic that made “Unfold The Godman” such a monumental release just over a year prior, Meridian reconstitutes a new collective effort to raise the ante with more of everything I already loved from these guys. More crushing prog metal, righteously balanced dual vocals, variegated song structures and heady Socratic speculation makes this one of the most accomplished releases of the year and hopefully the beginning of a movement to spawn further collaborative brilliance.

Thy Catafalque – Vadak (21-06-25) https://thycatafalqueuk.bandcamp.com/album/vadak https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0396434264_10.jpg “A Kupolaváros Titka” Thy Catafalque might be one of the unung masterminds of Metal but Vadak will surely change that with its unfounded inspirational force and willingness to reinterpret the meaning of Metal to free it from traditional constraints. The international collaborative effort employed on this recording also perfectly encapsulates the year in which it was made.

Dimwind – Slow Wave Violence (21-05-14) https://dimwind.bandcamp.com/album/slow-wave-violence https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0140268201_10.jpg “Blinds Drawn” I never would have crossed paths with this record had it not been reviewed here back in June, but it has proved nearly telepathic in its ability to tap into the prevailing emotions of our immediate existence. By taking on some of the most stigmatized aspects of mental health and wielding some of the most effective mood-building skills I have ever heard, Dimwind have released a monster of an album that shot straight to the top of my list.

DVNE – Etemen Ænka 21-03-19 https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/album/etemen-nka https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3088714416_10.jpg “Omega Severer” This follow-up to the masterful Asheran was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. And I was not at all disappointed. Their heavy Sci-Fi psychedelia scratches every itch. This record has every neuron firing on overdrive. Everything from the dizzying progressions to the versatile vocals to the slick visual aesthetic, has this one easily wedged in beside other monstrous realeases of the year like Unmaker, Consolamentum,https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3088714416_10.jpg and Snake Behind The Sun, to name just a few.

STAFF PICKS:

Slowly Rolling Camera – Where the Streets Lead (21-07-23) https://slowlyrollingcamera.bandcamp.com/ https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3824070394_10.jpg “The Afternoon Of Human Life” A more than worthy successor to the eclectic Juniper, Where The Streets Lead masterfully infuses a delectable jazz cocktail with a reduction of rock, trip hop and soul. SRC stands tall amongst a robust movement (particularly fermenting in the UK) including visionary acts such as Algiers, Alt-J, Go Go Penguin, Mammal Hands, Strawberry Girls, Portico Quartet, etc. This one was threatened by a potpourri of Rock and Roll throughout the year but kept returning to my top list, and it stands as one of the very few truly joyous records to which I keep returning in these dark times.

Tiny Tree – XI (21-08-27) https://tiny-tree.bandcamp.com/album/xi https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1099216779_10.jpg “Idle Eyes” This record snuck onto my list at the last minute on the strength of their Art Rock prowess, intensely groovy mood-building and skillfull blend of spacey atmospherics and incendiary riffs.

Verbian – Irrupção (21-09-03) https://antigonyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/irrup-o https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0739489190_10.jpg “Vesuvio” Hard not to instantly connect with this heavy, intensely psychedelic album. The persistent grooves, added textures and crushing vocal treatments along with their boundless experimentalism and moving rhythms all come together to make this one of the most exciting trips I’ve taken without ever leaving the house.

Ward Of Roses – The Silver (21-10-15) https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/ward-of-roses https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3370981599_10.jpg “Vapor” One of the greatest surprise bangers of the year for me. This Progressive, Hardcore, Art-Metal masterpiece is relentlessly aggressive yet catchy and beautiful, with lovely versatile vocals.

The Omnific – Escapades (21-10-08) https://theomnific.bandcamp.com/album/escapades https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a4037233082_10.jpg “Ne Plus Ultra” Perhaps the most unusual entry on this list, a trio consisting of a drummer and two bassists, will not tempt those who found Polyphia’s approach sterile, but I for one am all in. Not for a moment do I miss the presence of guitar or vocals as the captivating grooves and outrageous skill level of this fret-slapping funky bunch catapults The Omnific straight to the top of my ‘must watch’ list!