Another year, another dose of fuzzy deliciousness to put into our ears !
As every year, I’m happy to share with you fuzzers the albums that resonated with me. Once again our fuzzy scene put out so many releases and I’m sure I missed a lot of great albums. But then that’s the beauty of it, and it shows there’s still a lot of talented bands out there!
As always these albums don’t really represent the whole scene and this list is totally subjective, I recommend you to check out our other members’ Tops to get a wider spectrum of fuzziness 😉
Now it’s time for Rock ‘n’ Roll ! It’s time to show you what I think is la crème de la crème in terms of fuzzy music… Let’s discover my favorite releases of 2021 !
Top 20 Albums of 2021
20 : Himmellegeme – Variola Vera
For Fans Of : Motorpsycho, QOTSA, Tame Impala, Pink Floyd
Here is an interesting one that went under the radar of many people I think. I never heard of this Norwegian band before, but I got quite hooked after hearing their new album for the first time. Evolving into the Psych/Prog territory, their music is quite unique and diverse, and one could draw a similarity with their counterpart Motorpsycho, though with a much lighter touch.
Indeed they call themselves “Atmospheric Rock band”, and I’d totally agree with that, the majority of their songs feel like you are walking on clouds, silky guitars, enchanting keys, magnified by the ethereal voice of their singer. Though I also really enjoy their 2 songs (“Blowing Raspberries” and “Caligua”) which feel more upbeat and have that QUOTSAesque influence I really dig.
“Let the Mother Burn” is one of my favorite songs I heard in 2021, that chorus with the “Breathing In, Breathing Out” is just so epic and gives me chills every time.
19 : DJIIN – Meandering Soul
For Fans Of : GAUPA, Black Sabbath, The Doors
You’ve probably heard from Djiin as we have their debut album in stock in our webshop. They released the follow-up album in 2021 and it’s a clear step-up in their unique universe melting a lot of influences. A heavy psychedelic and proggish journey into the mind of a tortured soul that passes through a lot of different states throughout those 6 songs, with each their own atmosphere and identity. Each member of this quartet brings something interesting to the table, the highlight being Chloé and her deep and powerful voice, and I’m not even telling you how possessed she is on stage !
Warmly recommended if you’re looking for something that sounds different from anything you ever heard in the fuzzy scene. I was also happy to do some drone shots for the video clip of “The Void“, watch it here.
18 : Witchrot – Hollow
For Fans Of : Windhand, Dead Weather, Electric Wizard
This album from Witchrot, Canada will be the only “Doom” album you’ll see on this list, as you know it’s not really my cup of tea and I find it quite boring in general. But then if it’s here it should mean this Canadian quartet managed to tickle something in my head right? And yes they did indeed !
From the first seconds of this album, you know you’re in it for something special, with these sweet arpeggios and most of all the selling point of this album imo, Lea’s sumptuous powerful voice, oh my, she will bewitch you that’s for sure ! And then at the 2-minutes mark, that trademark “Metal Zone pedal” fuzz guitar sound hits you right in the face with a pachydermic and filthy riff, that’s it, you know Doom is upon you.
Witchrot definitely have created their own kind of “Doom” with 8 songs filled with interesting ideas, some of them more atmospheric while others with a higher tempo than what you’d expect from a “Doom” band. But again, this unique and beautiful voice is really what touched me and helped this album land a place in my top.
17 : Wooden Fields – ST
For Fans Of : Siena Root, Three Seasons, Witchcraft, Kamchatka
Fans of good ol’ 70’s rock rejoice because there’s a new supergroup in town and it’s called Wooden Fields! This Swedish trio features the singer/guitarist Sartez Faraj (Three Seasons, Mouth Of Clay), the bassist Sam Riffer (Siena Root), and the drummer Fredrik Jansson Punkka (Witchcraft, Angel Witch), and let me tell you the result is as good as you could expect from these 3 experienced musicians!
The 7 tracks of this self-titled debut album are all of the highest caliber, bluesy and groovy af with a delicious vintage sound, each member giving the best of himself. Sartez’ recognizable voice combined with his crazy guitar skills (oh my god those solos!), Sam’s iconic bass lines which are guaranteed to make your head move like a bobblehead, and Fredrik’s tight and varied play-style bringing a ton of energy to the overall sound. Talking about energy, most of the songs are in the upper range of the Temperature Level, promising some boiling live experience, I really hope a tour is scheduled soon!
16 : Triptonus – Soundless Voice
For Fans Of : Rotor, Mother Engine, Stonehenge
I remember liking very much the debut album from this 6-piece from Vienna, Austria in 2015, and I was really glad to see they released a second one in 2021. Those talented musicians play that kind of instrumental Heavy-Psych Prog ala Rotor that I love, but they also incorporate some interesting instruments and influences like oriental vibes with percussions and string instruments.
Each song is carefully crafted with several layers of sound, tons of changes and tricky rhythms, calm and trippy moments or heavy riffage, a complex mélange that’ll please all the lovers of quality instrumental music that’s for sure !
15 : Madmess – Rebirth
For Fans Of : Earthless, Elder, Slift, Mother Engine, Astrodome
What a superb Heavy-Psych album the Portuguese trio ! Another instrumental album, by now you should know I’m a sucker for such gems, and here they simply do it right. Long songs with great progression and what I really crave about : tons of melodic solos ala Earthless, yes ! It might not be the most original album you heard if you already are in that kind of music, but the quality is here and they deserve a spot on my list for sure.
14 : The Vintage Caravan – Monuments
For Fans Of : Rush, Dewolff, Kadavar, Motorpsycho
Our favorite Icelandic retro rockers are back with not one, but several “monumental” tracks (see what I did there), and they continue purveying that contagious energy we love with their music ⚡
What’s amazing with The Vintage Caravan is you never get bored. Each song is very dynamic with a wide variety of catchy riffs while still having that easy-listening experience, particularly with the great vocals which you can chant along after a few spins. I’d say they got a bit more proggish on this one though, even poetic with 2 acoustic tracks, but their classic rock touch remains intact. Also, one thing that hasn’t change is definitely Óskar’s solos, which are all more epic than the previous one (special mention for the double solo in “Forgotten”, oh my god 🤩).
A finely crafted album that proves these fine gentlemen know how to write a proper rock album that sounds no other than The Vintage Caravan themselves, placing them even more as the leaders in the current wave of 70’s revival sound we all love.
13 : Stew – Taste
For Fans Of : Leaf Hound, Kamchatka, Child, Wishbone Ash
Yes another Swedish band, yes another Retro Rock band, sorry fuzzers, but this trio is just too good not to include in my list ! And compared to Wooden Fields these guys are leaning more towards the Heavy Blues side of the 70’s classic rock spectrum, the guitar has more saturation, the attitude is kinda more “rise your drink in the air and sing with us” if you see what I mean. I tend to compare them to another Swedish band I love, Kamchatka, and this alone should tell you how good they are !
I can’t wait to see Stew live, do some air-guitar on those killer solos, and sing along on the “Stranger in the City” chorus : “I’m a hardworking man, do the best that I can!” 🤘
12 : Kanaan – Earthbound
For Fans Of : Slift, Lowrider, Astrodome, Rotor
The Norwegian surprise us once again with a new color in their sound palette with Earthbound. I’d say it’s still as psychedelic and crazy as the previous ones, but they just decided to crank that fuzz pedal to 11 and play the heaviest riffs they ever did, and even go onto Doom territories with “Crash” for example. And while each member full express himself with a lot of skill, I must say I’m just astonished by Ingvald’s drumming, this guy never stops ffs !
So, in the end it’s difficult to really describe more this album, I’ll finish by saying it’s a pure sonic trip that can be overwhelming for some people I think, but to me, this instrumental blast-off towards the Fuzz planet is definitely one of my favorite of theirs.
11 : Forebode – The Pit Of Suffering
For Fans Of : Dopethrone, Toke, Yatra
A little bit of violence shall we? 👊 Be careful don’t spill your coffee when you press play, because Forebode is HEAVY AF. I discovered this band from Austin randomly while I was scrolling Facebook, and didn’t stop listening to it since then.
They play that kind of “Stonerized Sludge” which to me is still not that represented in the scene. I’m talking about bands like Toke or Yatra, with this aggressive attitude, those uber-heavy and groovy riffs, and those powerful growls, instantly making you headbang like a madman even if the neck has already been broken by the heaviness of the sound.
And even if this is technically an EP and not an album, fuck it and just get into The Pit Of Suffering and see if you can bear it for more than a few seconds!
10 : Stone From The Sky – Songs from the Deepwater
For Fans Of : Toundra, RotoR, Somali Yacht Club, Mantra Machine, My Sleeping Karma
“Hey Mr. Fuzz you’re cheating that’s something you released with your label ?!” Yes indeed it is 😅 But for once “I’m cheating” and it’s still one of my favorite albums of 2021, so Stone From The Sky’s new album definitely has its place here !
The guys certainly produced their best album so far, still playing their interesting mix of instrumental Heavy-Psych and Post-Rock, but this time Songs from the Deepwater feels darker, and one could say with more Post-Metal elements.
Have a listen, get dragged into the abysses of Stone From The Sky’s world, and don’t hesitate to snag one LP or CD in our webshop if you like their music !
9 : Blackwater Holylight – Silence/Motion
For Fans Of : FFO: True Widow, Hangman’s Chair, The Well
With « Silence/Motion », the ladies of Blackwater Holylight went even further with showing off their emotions than their previous album from 2019. Definitely, a darker, more melancholic album that seems to reflect some global and more personal state of mind.
As a big True Widow fan, I found this album has a similar slow-paced shoegazey vibe. Though the work put into the compositions, the atmospheres, is more complex, where light and shadow often face each other inside a single song. More space is given to acoustic guitar and the keys overall, though the low-end fuzz guitars are still here and contrast very well with the beautiful ethereal vocals of Faris and the keys of Sarah. We even have some black metal growls in « Every Corner » the last song of the album!
A beautiful album if you are ready to be submerged by strong emotions. I feel it’s an appropriate one for the winter, to listen to while cocooning in your big blanket by the fireplace while the snow is pouring outside.
8 : Greta Van Fleet – The Battle at Garden’s Gate
For Fans Of : Led Zeppelin, Wolfmother, Rival Sons
Yes I know. Hate me if you want, but I believe this album from the new ” rock’n’roll sensation” described by the media is in fact good, I’d even say really good !
And I may be biased because Led Zeppelin is my favorite band ever, but you must admit Greta Van Fleet definitely managed to get the essence of the famous British band and transcribe it in their own way. Look we have dozens of Stoner/Doom bands copying Black Sabbath and we are not bashing them as we do with Greta Van Fleet.
Though the one point that repelled me at the beginning was Josh’s voice. Yes indeed he pushes it (too?) hard sometimes, but I’ve learned to appreciate it with the time, and in the end, I think it’s also a way for them to sound more themselves.
To me, the quality of the compositions of GVF has grown a lot, all in “light and shades” like Mr. Page said, and sometimes pure epicness like “Broken Bells” or the last and longest song of the album “The Weight of Dreams“.
These kids totally have earned my respect, this is proper 70’s Rock worship.
7 : Hairless Monk – The Ether Whale
For Fans Of : Elder, early-Weedpecker
Yep, that’s two years in a row I’m featuring the solo project of Jacob Willenborg in my Top, and it’s well deserved. Following the same vein as last year Monolith, Hairless Monk is another beast of an album for the fans of instrumental Post/Prog Metal in the style of Elder : epic, atmospheric, heavy, genuinely crafted, free-flowing, mind-bending, here are a few words I think of when listening to The Ether Whale, and knowing it has all been created by the same guy makes it even more epic! Congrats man 👏
6 : The Age Of Truth – Resolute
For Fans Of : Soundgarden, Monster Magnet, Plainride, Clutch
Oh my, The Age of Truth are back with their new album since their superb debut in 2017. Resolute consists of 7 tracks filled with the best riffage you ever heard. Mostly heavy, fuzzy, groovy, and with accomplished songwriting, the band maneuvers like experienced sailors in the ocean of Stoner, Grunge, and Heavy Rock.
I like that they also inserted some more psychedelic moments, the prime example being the last song « Return to the Ships ». And of course, big props to Kevin McNamara the singer, because while the instrumental part is insanely addictive, bad vocals can break a whole band so easily. Here, he’s the one who makes The Age of Truth truly shines, with this whisky-soaked voice ala Chris Cornell, powerful while at the same time delivering so many emotions, man I could cry listening to the end of « A Promise of Nothing ».
5 : Mt. Mountain – Centre
For Fans Of : TAU, Kikagaku Moyo, Papir, Moon Duo
If you know me you know I love these Aussies, and in 2021 I was glad to discover they signed with Fuzz Club Records as it’s exactly where they needed to be, among the dozens of quality spacey/krauty/psychedelic band of this great label.
And while I think this album feels a bit less “original” than their previous one, you can hear they chose to follow the successful path of bands like Kikagaku Moyo. Yep, they went a lot more krautrock, with most of the songs following that classic motorik rhythm, all in a very smooth and delicate manner. So by losing some of their originality, they gained an overall coherence in their sound with Centre, they basically recentered themselves (see what I did there 😉).
A calm and free-flowing album that I played so many times during the year, perfect for chilling and baking under the sun 🌅
4 : Tremor Ama – Beneath
For Fans Of : KIND, Witchcraft, Baroness
If you’ve followed the blog you should be familiar with Tremor Ama as we interviewed them, and did 2 video clip premieres, and let me tell you they totally deserve all that promotion, and not only because they are French 😅 Their debut album is a real bomb that feels refreshing while at the same time being accessible to any fuzzer.
Tremor Ama is mixing a lot of influences from the scene and managed to create a unique sound, though I think the main reason “it works so well” is because it’s catchy as hell. From the heavy fuzzy riffage to the powerful and memorable vocals, and even the more psychedelic passages which are well-built with just the good amount, everything fits in its place.
“Grey” must be my favorite song of the year, it’s so damn catchy, I just can’t help myself to sing that chorus every time I listen to it ! Congrats boys, you already have a bright future ahead of you with such a debut 👏
3 : King Buffalo – The Burden of Restlessness & Acheron
For Fans Of : Elder, Tool, All Them Witches, Rotor
Owwww man these guys are insane 🤯 2 albums released in 2021, and what albums they are ! Both are quite different from the other in terms of atmosphere, and that’s what makes King Buffalo such an amazing and creative band.
The Burden of Restlessness feels the most different of everything they released so far, emphasizing more on the “metal” side of their sound, with a lot of odd syncopated riffs and rhythms that repeat endlessly, the atmosphere feels heavier, earthier, the vocals are harsher, the mind is tortured, and that deranging artwork from Zdzisław Beksiński totally represents the vibe of this album.
Acheron, on the other hand, has more that “traditional King Buffalo sound” we were used to with their previous releases. Longer songs, more psychedelic, lots of reverb and delay on the guitar, fewer riffs and more solos and keys, the atmosphere tends more towards the sky, the mind is in expansion mode, we’re invited to let all things go and drift away with the sound.
So yes, I couldn’t choose my favorite between those 2 magnificent releases, each has its own identity, and show how King Buffalo grew as one of the main force in the Fuzzy scene.
2 : Savanah – Olympus Mons
For Fans Of : Elder, KIND, DVNE, Decasia, Pet The Preacher
3rd album from my dear Austrians, and their best one without a doubt ! Fat riffs upon fatter riffs, Olympus Mons is just a deluge of fuzz while also being well-constructed in terms of songwriting by including a lot of interesting calmer parts, but don’t get me wrong, there’s always a concrete block waiting around the corner to get smashed in your face 😂👊
Let me share some words from the review I did back then : “Basically, they pushed their sound even further, refining it from what they already built with the first 2 LPs. Now, we’re in front of the ultimate explosion of heavy, angry, and very tight riffs, which are all real neck-breakers if you ask me. But Savanah also continued to build upon those more expansive and psychedelic moments, to bring nuances in the songs’ composition, making it all more epic than ever, and not just a succession of riffs.”
1 : Delving – Hirschbrunnen
For Fans Of : Nick Di Salvo.
Yup, Nick wins, again. I have so much admiration for this fine gentleman. And when you think he couldn’t do any better than what he’s already done with Elder, he just releases a solo album that’s more beautiful than anything else he ever created. And he composed, played, and recorded everything himself! There are only a handful of such accomplished musicians in every generation, and Nick is for sure one of them.
With Delving, he basically expanded on what they created with Elder’s The Gold & Silver Sessions. A progressive psychedelic album that’s as smooth and subtle as a leaf falling slowly on a calm lake, and the many ripples it creates on the surface of the water would be all the layers of the sound and emotions you find in Hirschbrunnen.
This album just flows so perfectly, and that’s in fact when you recognize the talent of a composer, to be able to let your mind totally unplug for the whole duration of the album, and when it’s over it feels like you were in a different time dimension, absorbed by the music and back to reality.
What’s next for Nick Di Salvo then ? I don’t know, but with this masterpiece, I’d love to see him do the film score of a futuristic movie, how sick that would be right ? ✨