Hey fuzzers ! I am glad to present you my Top 20 albums of 2021 !
I have felt like 2021 was not the best of last years in terms of heavy music. I guess it is because after few killer albums at the beginning of the year and other masterpieces at the end, I was a bit frustrated with little musical discoveries at some times. But this is not what I want to keep from 2021. To me, 2021 means one very important thing : the return of gigs. Having been able to go and listen to live music was my greatest pleasure and a big source of relief. That being said, 2021 also delivered some remarkable albums. So here is my Top 20. As usual, I hope it will help you to catch up with golden albums you might have missed. Do not forget to check the honorable mentions. Most of them could have been part of the list. May 2021 be doomed and stoned again!
Top 20 Albums of 2021
20: Year Of No Light – Consolamentum
Let me open this top with a classic but most-valuable French metal band : Year of No Light. Four albums in a twenty-year-long career may not seem much. But Bordeaux’s band has always put quality before quantity. Their last release, Consolamentum, is the most recent example. Consolamentum is a dark instrumental album. Their sound is modern, mature and steps out as a both major and singular interpretation of what post-metal can be in the 2020’s.
19: Five The Hierophant – Through Aureate Void
Five The Hierophant is one of the few bands I did not know before and that entered this 2021’s top. Through Aureate Void is a kind of UFO. A wise – and occult – mixture of psychedelic jazz – listen to this saxophone -, drone metal and modern doom. The result is one of the most original albums I listened to this year.
18: The Spacelords – Unknown Species
I feel like I have a special relationship with The Spacelords as it is one of the bands that really got me into heavy psychedelic music. I always look forward to their next album. Their last, entitled Unknown Species, did not disappoint me. The German trio came back to tell us about their last interstellar exploration. A three-track odyssey full of psychedelic jams, spaced-out grooves and rocket-like riffs. Just as I love it.
17: Mythic Sunship – Wildfire
It is quite unusual that no band from El Paraiso Records appear in my top 20. That is the situation this year. However, the legacy of the incredible Danish label can still be felt here with Wildfire, the last album from Copenhagen’s quintet Mythic Sunship. Released on Tee Pee Records, Wildfire still displays Mythic Sunship great mastery. Wildfire is a burning piece of hectic jazzy space-rock fueled with intuitive compositions, freaked-out improvisations and clever musical explorations.
16: Electric Octopus – Inclinations
Wildfire did not entirely quench your thirst for crazy psychedelic jams ? More Fuzz has the solution : Inclinations from Electric Octopus. A more than two-hour (!) improvised funky delight performed by Belfast’s band. The music flows naturally, surfing on smooth grooves and melodies. And what about this exotic, sweet and most-enjoyable flute work !
15: Kavrila – Mor
Here comes the violent part with Kavrila. Mor, their second album, is 2021’s explosive gem. Hamburg’s band delivers almost 30 minutes of pure enraged sludge harcore, with its load of high-paced tempo, straightforward riffs, harsh drumming, screamed voice and dissonant guitar melodies. Just add some stoner influences and a super heavy sound and you obtain an album more versatile than how it appears at first glance. Harcore heavy fucking music !
14: Shem – II
Shem is another band I discovered this year. I found it thanks to someone you must know if you follow this blog : Mr. Stone. I read his review while listening to the album and I loved it right away. II is quite a unique piece of psychedelic jams from space. As Mr. Stone perfectly describes it, “this is a crossroads of hypnotic trippiness” that oscillates “between drone, space, kraut, and noise rock”. You definitely did not hear to something like this in 2021. And you probably won’t next year.
13: Spaceslug – Memorial
I used to listen to Spaceslug when they released their second album Time Travel Dilemma. I was not that satisfied with their next one and I left the Polish band a little bit behind. To be honest, I had little expectations with their last album. I was wrong : Memorial rocks ! Polish wizards arrived with their epic stoner sound, combining monumental metal compositions with some esoteric psychedelia. What a come back !
12: Liquid Sound Company – Psychoactive Songs For The Psoul
I have been a big fan of Liquid Sound Company for years. As their last album was released in 2011, I thought the Texas’ band was not active anymore. You can imagine how surprised – and happy – I was to see them releasing a new LP last March. Their fourth album brings back acid rock under the spotlight. Psychoactive Songs For The Psoul is a deep and exotic travel across colorful landscapes. Brace yourself : you may meet fuzz masters such as Hawkwind and Jimi Hendrix during your trip.
11: Rostro Del Sol – Rostro Del Sol
This one was not expected… and was a very good surprise ! The eponymous album from Mexican band Rostro Del Sol brought some sun and colors to my cold January. Rostro Del Sol is a super catchy album that reuses all the best ingredients of late 60’s and 70’s progressive psychedelic rock. Fans of The Doors, Hendrix, Santana and Weather Report ? Just go for it and be careful : you probably won’t stop grooving.
10: Samsara Blues Experiment – End Of Forever
In More Fuzz, we chose to consider Samsara Blues Experiment last opus as a 2021’s release – we wanted to stick to the band’s announcement from 2020’s Fall. So here it is. To be clear : End Of Forever is not my favorite SBE’s album. It might not be the most innovative they crafted. But SBE definitely is one of the most groundbreaking and appealing bands of the heavy scene’s modern era. End Of Forever still displays the unique heavy psychedelia from our three German wizards. No one sounds like them even if many keep taking inspiration from them. End Of Forever is supposed to be the last episode of their mighty quest. I will miss them. I guess you too.
9: Stone From The Sky – Songs From The Deepwater
In 2018, Chicago’s band REZN enchanted me with their fascinating exploration of the abysses labeled Calm Black Water. Three years later French power trio Stone From The Sky put on its diving suit to continue the adventure. Their third LP, Songs From The Deepwater, constitutes the most achieved album crafted by a band that already enjoys a solid reputation among the heavy scene. More complex and versatile, Songs From The Deepwater is much more than a classic instrumental stoner album.
8: SUNNATA- Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth
Well-known Polish band SUNNATA was back this year with Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth. Their fourth album may be their most interesting so far. This opus pushes forward their musical frontier, crafting a darker and more organic shamanic stoner-doom metal. It is like a kind of pagan religious solemnity was sweating out of this album. Their music works as a corrupt incense with its smoke bewitching the listener and transporting him to a new state of elevation.
7: Delving – Hirschbrunnen
Delving is Nick DiSalvo’s (Elder) solo project name and Hirschbrunnen his first solo album. On his Bandcamp page, the American musician describes himself as a person “obsessed with home recordings”. Hirschbrunnen basically is a selection of songs he wrote during the past few years. It is an intimate album, a deep and dreamlike trip into Nick DiSalvo’s musical universe, made of endless delay, jazzy compositions and hints of epic stoner. The musical creativity of this guy is just astonishing.
6: Yawning Sons – Sky Island
Back in the 2000’s, the collaboration between British instrumental rock band Sons Of Alpha Centauri and Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson) gave birth to an album that quickly became cult: Ceremonies to the Sun, by Yawning Sons. Twelve years later, Yawning Sons is back with friends such as Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, etc.) or Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed). The result of their work is labeled Sky Island. It sounds like desert rock surfing on post-rock waves until reaching the upper limit of the atmosphere.
5: King Buffalo – The Burden of Restlessness
What did you do during the Covid-19 lockdown ? King Buffalo made The Burden of Restlessness. An album that completely justifies the American psych stoner trio’s first appearance in this top – and which could have been higher if they did not reserve us another incredible surprise in December. With The Burden of Restlessness, Rochester’s trio enters post-stoner rock territory. They crafted a most-valuable opus that paves the way for a definitely modern spaced-out and progressive stoner music. Who said that stoner always sounds the same ?
4: Green Lung – Black Harvest
After their excellent debut Woodland Rites, Green Lung’s second LP was probably one of the most awaited albums this year. Black Harvest never disappoints. As More Fuzz contributor Mr Cromlech wrote, “there’s no shortage of awesome riffage & guitar solos” in Black Harvest. Adding some folk medieval melodies and a gloomy organ to the magic potion, Green Lung’s super catchy heavy doom metal sounds even more modern. Their sound is so rich and recognizable that I wonder how they can do better than this without any radical change in their musical approach. Damn, Green Lung’s paganism sounds so good!
3: Domkraft – Seeds
In 2018, Domkraft’s third album Flood was -after YOB’s Our Raw Heart – probably the best stoner-doom album that year despite a harsh competition – REZN’s Calm Black Water, Conan’s Existential Void Guardian, Windhand’s Eternal Return, among other treasures. This year, their fourth studio album, Seeds, has no rival in its category. More Fuzz contributor Mr. Momo nicely summed up what Domkraft psychedelic sludge is about : “The monolithic sound comes and goes in waves, unstoppable, incommensurate, repeating until the listener gets overwhelmed, crushed by the sheer volume of the sluggish liquid poured on him.”
2: Kanaan – Earthbound
Last year, Kanaan already climbed to the 16th position of my 2020’s top. I was impressed by the great mastery they displayed in Double Sun. I did not expect such a young band to do even better just one year later. I was wrong : Earthbound is a masterpiece. Kanaan adds some dirty fuzz to their jazzy psychedelic rock and it makes all the difference. Earthbound did not lose anything of Kanaan’s hectic jams, sharp compositions and technical impressive mastery. It is just richer, louder, heavier and even easier to listen to. Furious heavy psychedelic music as we crave for.
1: King Buffalo – Archeron
Remember King Buffalo’s big surprise I told you before ? Here it is and its name is Archeron. It is the second part of a musical triptych Rochester’s trio wrote during the pandemic. It is, above all, a killer album of modern heavy psychedelia. As Mr. Stone wrote in its review, “Acheron was recorded in a cave that features a subterranean river, and you can hear it, and feel it in the music too”. This album submerges the listener with its captivating groove, trippy melodies and endless echoes. It brings back him to the surface from time to time with irresistible fuzz stoner bursts, leaving him under the unfathomable look of celestial forces. Archeron is, in itself, the Greek odyssey from which it takes its name. It is the first time I placed the same band twice in the same top. I guess it is just another proof of how significant King Buffalo is in the contemporary heavy music scene. At least in 2021, there is no place for doubts : King Buffalo rules.
Acid Mammoth – Caravan
Borracho – Pound of Flesh
Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
Codex Serafini – Invisible Landscape
Conclave – Down of Days
Crypt Witch – Ritual Herbs
Duel – In Carne Persona
Dunbarrow – III
Eldovar – A Story of Darkness and Light
Komatsu – Rose of Jericho
Los Tabanos Experience – Bioluminescence
Monolord – Your Time to Shine
Savanah – Olympus Mons
Spelljammer – Abyssal Trip
Suncraft – Flat Earth Rider
The Black Heart Death Cult – Sonic Mantras
Uranus Space Club – Another Planet, Another Love
Wormsand – Shapeless Mass