Steve's Top Ten Albums of the Year
This year I've decided to do things a bit differently. Yes, this is my personal top ten albums of 2021 list. Nothing's changed there. However, I will also be doing a separate list for my top EPs and singles of 2021. Considering the market is changing and more and more bands are utilizing the EP / single release schedule to pump out their music faster, I think it's fair to shine light on those who release EPs and singles only for the most part. Anyway, for now, here's my top ten albums of 2021. Luke's list will be coming soon!
10. White Ring : "Show Me Heaven". White Ring is one of the core founders of the witch house movement alongside the likes of Ritualz. While they have some tropes of the witch house scene built into their music, it’s the multiple layers of electronic beats and dream-like quality that pushes White Ring to be at the top of the game. “Show Me Heaven” is one of their best albums to date that I completely fell for. Whether they’re dragging out the beats or using hip-hop or trap inspired rhythms, “Show Me Heaven” is a brilliant piece of art.
09. Syd.31 : "Machine Ready". Syd.31 has turned in his most monstrous album to date with “Machine Ready”. This twelve-track beast sees him pull from a huge variety of genres – even if it may not seem like it. To see his talent in action, just switch between the tracks ‘Collapsing New Stars’ and ‘Machine Ready’. While the first is a funky 70s inspired track capturing the magic of youth, ‘Machine Ready’ is an industrial metal beast that’s going to crush your speakers. Oh, also, this album is perfect when lifting heavy at the gym.
08. Momy Fortuna : "Hexennacht". Momy Fortuna is a group of witchy folk who love to bring a huge love for Satan to their music. Inspired by 70s horror movies and gothrock, “Hexennacht” plays like an album that would have had the local church protesting in the 1970s. It’s a “thematic art piece and a labor of love” that I always waited to spin with anticipation when I first discovered it.
07. The Joy Thieves : "American Parasite". Rarely do I cover punk on Brutal Resonance as I, well, just often don’t bump into it. I can be a fan of the genre; my days of playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the PS2 led me to a lifelong love of that kind of music. What The Joy Thieves did for me with “American Parasite” was bring me back to the old days when I would sit in front of a big fat CRTV with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 booted up. This industrial and punk crossover – paired with a collaboration of over fifty musicians – has led it to be one of my favorites of 2021.
06. Jay Draper & The Subterraneans : "Behind The Night". Truth be told I’m not a huge fan of post-punk, new wave, and other related genres. I feel as if the genre is currently saturated with acts that utilize lo-fi mechanics as an excuse to cover up their poor production. Rarely is it that I’m able to find acts that stand out in the scene. Jay Draper & The Subterraneans is one of them. Draper and his partner in crime, Justin Minister, are masters of creating enigmatic and dreamy ballads. Draper’s handsome vocals drive the songs and Minister’s exceptional guitar work shines on songs such as ‘Scatterbrain’. Pair those two with a slew of guest musicians and this is one of the best releases of 2021.
05. Ex-Hyena : "Artificial Pulse". Ex-Hyena’s “Artificial Pulse” gave me a bit of a shock when I listened to it; it’s an album that I’ve heard about a million times. An electronic album inspired by both science-fiction and cyberpunk lore alike. But when I clicked that play button I didn’t get huge bass drops and four-on-the-floor dance rhythms. I was rather greeted with minimal electro, darkpop, and sometimes disco-inspired beats. The result is a ten track album that effortlessly glides from one song to the next. I originally described this as an album that could easily play in a futuristic, smokey bar. And I still stand by that statement. Try to come out of this album without thinking of anything but after hearing it. You won’t be able to.
04. Batavia : "Mythos". I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve bumped to ‘Azafrán’ throughout 2021. To me it’s just a feel-good song that I originally described as a “masterpiece” in the original review. And that statement still holds true. But one song cannot hold an entire album; luckily, the rest of “Mythos” is dynamic as well. Noise rock, electro-industrial, and doom metal are just a few of the other genres on “Mythos” that are utilized. It’s truly an album that shows Batavia’s love for our dark little underground scene – and their efforts have paid off.
03. Youth Code / King Yosef : "A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression". This one is a no-brainer. Youth Code paired up with trap metal maestro King Yosef to create an astounding album that’s both familiar to their previous output yet simultaneously altogether different. Sara Taylor’s brutal and rough vocals pairs with Yosef’s destructive chords all so well as if they were meant to do this from the start. Youth Code’s slamming industrial and EBM beats meet Yosef’s heavy guitars on the battlefield for one of the most satisfying albums of the year.
02. Extra Terra : "Zion". Everyone who follows this site knows I’m a sucker for both cyberpunk beats and synthwave / darksynth beats. While there is a plethora of bedroom producers within the scene who somewhat garble the name due to similar sounds and failure to develop their own niche, Extra Terra is a producer who shines. His latest album “Zion” takes to the classic film The Matrix for inspiration and delivers deep beats and hearty bass in cyberpunk fashion to fight against the robot revolution. It’s absolutely stellar and a phenomenal thrill ride from start to finish.
01. JERM : "JERM". The debut album from this Australian group is simply hypnotic. Their mix of industrial, goth, and general experimental music is astounding. The solemn sounds that pulse from the album can be depressing and emanate a sense of sadness. But vocalist Ganfield is always the light in the darkness thanks to her rather gorgeous set of chords. This is an independent gem and one that needs to be heard sooner rather than later.
Honorable Mentions (In No Particular Order):
Death Hags : “The Alice Tape”. Brilliant nine track albums featuring a Sister of Mercy cover. Halloween inspired too!
Night/Tmare : “Katharsis”. This ten track industrial techno album fuses dark ambient passages, noisy background texturing, thumping percussive rhythms, and middle eastern influences.
Trajedesalive : “Ultratumba”. Only recorded using analogue synthesizers without the aid of sequencers or programming, “Ultratumba” is an industrial / drone album worth checking out.
Dav Dralleon : “Fall Ov Men”. An absolute psychotic journey through cyberpunk and darksynth beats through the end of days.
Surgeryhead : “Lucifer’s Technology (Devil Sounds Pt. III)”. This downright filthy release has crunchy electronics, unsettling sounds, and eerie ambient sounds packed in a club album.
V▲LH▲LL : "Neversleep". I have yet to review this one as I haven’t had the time to really sit down and analyze it, but Valhall can do no wrong. While once they were Witch House, they’ve evolved into something more than that; like dark fairytales transformed into electronic music.
Neontenic : "Ultrawave". I’m more than sure that if I actually had the chance to sit down and review this it would have made it in my top ten albums of 2021. “Ultrawave” is a synthwave / cyberpunk album at its finest and I’m hoping to find room to review it next month.
Jan 08 2022
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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