Steve's Top Singles and EPs of 2021
So, here is my second “End of the Year” list. Many people are confused by this because traditional end of the year lists contain albums only and that’s it. However, many musicians and artists are opting out of the traditional album approach for singles and EPs. I respect this; it allows artists to put out more music in a quick fashion to keep their name relevant. This is a necessity in an internet age where attention span is fleeting at best. I found that I reviewed a total of eight EPs (releases with three to seven songs) throughout 2021 which ranked at an eight or higher, and eight singles (one to two songs) that ranked an eight or higher. So, here’s me, putting them in order from my least to most favorite. Prep your headphones as you’re about to dive into some tremendous music.
11. Fact Pattern : “From Where You’re Hiding”. The industrial metal and doom-influenced trio Fact Pattern has been a pleasure to watch grow. With each release they’ve been refining their sound to cleaner and more addictive results. This paid off with Fact Pattern’s latest EP “From Where You’re Hiding”. Five original tracks in total with two remixes from the industrial metal powerhouse Black Magnet and industrial maestros Dread Risks. There’s a whole lot to love here.
10. I Ya Toyah : “Out Of Order”. Solo industrial rock project I Ya Toyah has been one of the most wholesome projects to watch in the scene for the past couple of years. A bright personality supporting mental health causes that puts out amazing music is a winner in my books. She’s an awesome personality that pulls from a wide range of dark electronic sorcery; drum’n’bass can be relevant on one song and the next she’s influenced by dark pop beats. It’s incredible what she was able to dish out on “Out Of Order”, and I can’t wait to hear more from her in the future.
09. Denial Waits : “Noirbox”. I remember first falling in love with Denial Waits when they released their excellent single ‘Father/Me’. Infectious downtempo beats, smokey vocals paired with another set of gorgeous chords had me hooked. This went doubly so when Denial Waits put together their debut EP “Noirbox”. The six track EP released mid-2021 and captured the hearts of many – mine included. It’s a must-listen for anyone in 2021.
08. Namesis : “Rave Is Dead”. Industrial techno producer Namesis released their brand new EP “Rave is Dead” and shook me to my core upon first listen. This is some of the most refined music in the genre that I’ve heard; clean beats with atmospheric nodes behind it all. It’s a seminal effort and one that I still listen to often.
07. Miss FD : “Adore”. Miss FD has been on a roll lately with her newfound love for electro music and cyberpunk themes. “Adore” is a result of her love for both those mediums as well as her own personal fitness journey. What we get is three tracks of dapper beats meeting Miss FD’s beautiful voice. Whether you’re looking to dance or lift some weights, “Adore” has you covered.
06. ESA : “I Detach”. No matter what ESA releases, he always manages a way to make it unique and infectious. His latest industrial techno masterpiece “I DETACH” is no different. It’s crazy how ESA is able to randomly place swing music into this single and make is sound just fine. Combine this with two awesome remixes from Mechanical Vein and MORIS BLAK and “I Detach” is one of the finest EPs of the year.
05. XEROX BIOPUNK : “HYDRA ヒドラ”. This short, sweet, and to the point EP from XEROX BIOPUNK is a conceptual piece based around a woman who was born through a “synthetic-amniotic broth”. The influences are huge; the title of the first track is called ‘Night City Blues’ which pulls from both Blade Runner and Cyberpunk 2020. The other two songs are grizzly darksynth pieces with cinematic pull and I absolutely adore it.
04. Choke Chain : “Invoking Shadows”. Choke Chain has long been a project I’ve been wanting to cover for quite some time. Their addictive EBM pulses and raw approach to the genre works wonders. “Invoking Shadows” is a boot-stomping worthy addition to his discography and only goes to show that Choke Chain is on top of his game and is only improving as he moves forward.
03. At The Heart Of The World : “Sorrow Uncoils”. Brutal, raw, and powerful all in the same. At The Heart Of The World delivers a slice of grim industrial electronics and equally engaging metal influences. This served as my introduction to the band and I immediately fell in love with them; it was shortly thereafter that I grabbed up as much merch from them as I could considering a ton of it was nearly sold-out. Go check it out when you get a chance.
02. LOFN : “Post-Apo Romance”. LOFN’s “Post-Apo Romance” is a gorgeous celebration of multiple dark electronic genres. Cinematic ambiance and techno can be considered the core of “Post-Apo Romance”, but LOFN knows how to throw in curve balls with songs such as ‘I Get Lit’. What’s also impressive about the project is that they are able to keep five-to-six-minute-long tracks engaging throughout without ever failing to impress.
01. Designer Violence : “Televised State Lies”. This is my top EP of 2021 and the only one to receive a nine out of ten. It’s also the most definitive and complete release from Designer Violence thus far. A six-track bout of industrial beats, EBM influences, and noisey samples makes “Televised State Lies” a must-listen. ‘Revolution’ is still one of my favorite songs I listened to in 2021 and will continue to be so.
And now that my favorite EPs are out of the way, I’m diving right into singles. Keep in mind that some of these singles did make it onto full-length albums. But, at the time of release, they were presented to me as the song by itself and nothing more. So, here goes:
08. Helvete Inc. : “9 3 21”. To me, “9 3 21” marks Helvete Inc.’s evolution as a musician. It’s a notable improvement from their past improvement as well as the production sounds better than what I’ve heard in the past. Not saying that Helvete Inc.’s previous material is bad, as that’s a lie, it’s just wholesome to see an artist grow. Either way, the two tracks on “9 3 21” are enough to keep me wanting more from them.
07. Simon Carter : “Simon”. Prolific electronic musician Simon Carter has taken it upon himself to release a bunch of new solo works on his own Bandcamp. What struck me as odd is that he states this music is not to be taken seriously; however, I take it very seriously as he’s just doing grand. The techno release simply titled “Simon” is a testimony to this. The two-tracks found within are vastly different from one another yet still under the same umbrella – one taking influences from industrial and the other acid. So whether you’re wanting to stomp on a dancefloor or feel like you’re playing Mortal Kombat this is for you.
06. Nature of Wires : “Through Someone Else’s Eyes”. Nature of Wires struck gold when they decided to collaborate with neo-classical and darkwave musician Madil Hardis. The song is extremely cinematic and has a sweeping, life-or-death like feel to it. As if this song is the catalyst in a movie where new powers, visions, or truths are unlocked. It’s one of Nature of Wires best so far, and I hope they collaborate in the future again.
05. Death Hags : “Synthetic Nature”. On our previous albums of the year list, Death Hags made it into the honorable mentions section. On this list, she’s hit gold with her single “Synthetic Nature”. Light techno beats dribble, background ambiance give a dreamy air, and her spoken-word vocals are almost futuristic. I compared this song to the likes of Desire, Chromatics, and Glass Candy, and I still stand by that statement.
04. Miss FD : “Your Core”. Yes, Miss FD is appearing twice on this list and I really don’t care if you complain about that. Released after her EP “Adore”, “Your Core” is a cyberpunk driven song that has more grit and grime than anything on “Adore”. Her vocal attitude follows suit. She even puts in some carnival sounds towards the third act of the song. And it somehow works. It’s brilliant.
02. / 03. Neontenic : “Set Me Free (Feat. Lisa Kant)” and “Dark Drive”. Neontenic is hitting towards the top of the list with two separate singles. Yes, both of these appeared on his album “ULTRAWAVE” but at the time of review, they were standalone releases teasing the forthcoming album. Both songs are absolutely brilliant and decadent. I’d say that “Set Me Free” ousts “Dark Drive” by a nudge thanks to guest vocalist Lisa Kant. She’s tremendous and Neontenic works with her strengths.
01. Skynd : “Michelle Carter”. One of my favorite acts of all time now, Skynd, released the hard to watch video “Michelle Carter” earlier in the year. The true crime fanatics always make it a point to explore a crime without ever glorifying the original perpetrators. They leaves mental health resources in the description of the song on YouTube, which explores how Michelle Carter encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide in a parking lot. The music is wonderful and dark; anything Skynd explores is golden. That’s why this is my favorite single of 2021.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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