TOP 5 – BEEHO
1. Mastodon “Hushed and Grim » (Reprise Records)
2. Gojira “Fortitude” (Roadrunner Records)
3. Somnuri “Nefarious Wave” (Blues Funeral Recordings)
4. Converge/Chelsea Wolfe “Bloodmoon: I” (Epitaph)
5. Bossk “Migration” (Deathwish Inc.)
TOP 5 – SYLVAIN GOLVET
1. TURNSTILE “Glow On” (Roadrunner Records)
Constantly on the edge of their hardcore roots and other pop inclinations, Turnstile decided to kick this year’s ass with “Glow On”, and we can tell you it’s a success. Massive production, trendy guests and catchy hooks: nothing has been spared and the energy is always there. Even better, the entire record is a cry of love to the hardcore scene that nurtured them, such as “Turnstile Love Connection”, a kind of Bad Brains ART for 2021. Can’t wait for the live shows!
2. Domkraft “Seeds” (Magnetic Eye Records)
“Into The Orbit” is a rather prophetic song title, given the trio’s devotion to making us take off throughout the seven tracks of the most abrasive stoner-doom release of 2021. The sound space is also well filled, overflowing with infra-enveloping bass, relentless and crash cymbal-filled pounding and slide guitar roaring, constantly trying to fill the gap between the bass and treble frequencies in our ears. Forget about SpaceX, for this unruly journey won’t leave you unharmed!
3. Nightwatchers “Common Crusades” (Season Of Mist)
In these times of political turmoil, there’s nothing quite like a 28-minute stormy punk rocker. Digging deep into the wounds of France’s colonial past, the album launches a scathing attack on Gilles Kepel (among others) and the forces of order’s two-tier secularism. The Toulouse outfit is anything but stingy, they also deliver some tasty melodic hooks (“White Fathers”, “A not-so Secular State Culturalism”) that make us shake our asses while holding our fists high.
4. Mastodon “Hushed & Grim” (Reprise Records)
Strangely, we weren’t expecting Mastodon anymore. Despite their ability to release one exciting album after another, we were afraid of a certain routine. So when they announced a double LP, we feared an overdose. One hour and a half are indeed a tad long, but “Hushed & Grim” only contains one dispensable track (“Peace and Tranquility”). The rest poaches on their entire discography, from the straightforward “Pushing the Tides” and “Savage Lands” to the proggier “Teardrinker” ane “Eyes of Serpents”. Injecting some fresh sound, this is surely not a “best of” album, proving that Mastodon are not lacking creativity after two decades.
5. Blackwater Holylight “Silence / Motion” (RidingEasy Records)
Like many “pandemic” productions, “Silence / Motion” explores painful introspective realms: Allison Faris wanted to express the feeling of standing still in a world of profusion. This contrast lies in Blackwater Holylight’s DNA and it’s being driven into a corner. Combining Alison’s ethereal choirs with intense growls on a wall of tremolos and double pedals, the album oscillates between shoegaze, dark folk, doom and heavy boogie, making us float in a state of uncertainty between comfort and uneasiness over the span of their seven tangled tracks. Yet, a ray of beauty keeps piercing the darkness when we least expect it.
TOP 5 – LORD PIERRO
1. Domkraft “Seeds” (Magnetic Eye Records)
Since I first listened to the album last spring, I’ve never stopped thinking that “Seeds” was the album of the year and that nothing could surpass it. A few months later, the conclusion is here: I was right. Domkraft have crafted such a monument of doom that not only have they delivered the best album of 2021, but they’ve also shattered the genre’s standards by crafting their own Saint Vitus-esque conception of doom, adding sludge, punk, and ultra-fuzzy passages, giving the whole thing an incredible variety while maintaining a sonic unity — the prerogative of great bands. Domkraft have planted the seeds of doom’s renewal, and the future crops looks delicious.
2. Zahn “Zahn” (Crazysane Records)
Banger alert: this is the best album of the year that almost nobody has heard of! An instrumental project of members or ex-members of Heads, The Ocean and Einstürzende Neubauten, ZAHN have created their own recipe based on well-known but sometimes long-lost ingredients, such as experimental noise rock, blended with others that are more recognizable and less difficult to assimilate. It’s about to shake you up badly, your ears and guts might well disagree, but because you dig challenges, you’ll keep coming back to it and end up loving this album and its wide range of ambiances that treat each and every listener to at least one unforgettable track.
3. Jointhugger “Surrounded by Vultures” (S/R)
This is only the Norwegians’ sophomore album but definitely a major album of the stoner and doom landscape. Just like their neighbors Lowrider, Jointhugger weave ethereal atmospheres with a heavier, more massive sound, giving the impression of seeing a herd of elephants performing an acrobatic ballet with fluidity and finesse worthy of Olympic gymnasts. Vocals are subtle enough to feel like a layer of mist on a cosmic landscape that came to guide you in your psychedelic journey and show you the beauty of this album.
4. Year Of No Light “Consolamentum“ (Pelagic Records)
Eight years after “Tocsin”, the Bordelais combo (finally) graces us with a new album. From their beginnings in 2004 until “Consolamentum”, which celebrates their twenty years of existence, YONL continues to assert their even darker and more intense instrumental post-metal. Continuing the exploration and spiritual thread of the previous records, “Consolamentum” is the culmination of a band mastering its creativity and expressing it in the most sublime way. The best album of a French band released this year, and simply one of the best albums ever.
5. Zeahorse “Let’s not (and say we did)“ (Copper Feast Records)
Thanks to the 90s craze, we finally get a quality revival without shrooms or patchouli! Australian rockers Zeahorse blast their noisy post-hardcore straight to our faces, with epileptic riffs that will blow your brains up. Melodies and catchy choruses interweave with sledgehammer parts that will stop grinding your bones once they’re turned into powder. Each track outcompetes the previous one, just to be sure of winning over audiences that have been craving for this sound for at least 20 years. Addictive as can be.
TOP 5 – YANNICK K.
1. BRUIT ≤ – “The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again” (Pelagic Records)
How weird call yourself BRUIT ≤ and produce a range of sounds taking the form of a soundtrack that literally overwhelms the listener emotionally. By weaving symphonic rock, electronic fiddling, and classical instrumentation, BRUIT ≤ deliver four instrumentals, like four cycles whose strength is double. The strength of narrating a story, our story, that of the man sawing tirelessly the branch on which he is sitting. The strength of delivering an anti-capitalist plea without even uttering a single word. In fine, this symphony has much more resonance today than any speech. (Mute) Rage Against The Machine.
2. Domkraft “Seeds” (Magnetic Eye Records)
Don’t be fooled by the weird artwork, these seven tracks indeed plant the seed of a doom revival, one that is dark and apocalyptic and relegates the occult and drug-worship gimmickry to the rank of entertainment for teenagers. “Seeds” is a one-way ticket to the hell of madness and despair. A muddy path surrounded by walls of impenetrable guitars from which poisonous and miasmatic psychedelia oozes through all the cracks. Taking away any desire to turn back, the power of its pachydermic grooves swallows everything on its path. Massive, dark and dirty to the core.
3. Kanaan “Earthbound” (Jansen Records)
Technical albums are generally more exciting on paper than on record. We end up getting tired of an overdose of prowess or convoluted parts that go nowhere to the detriment of emotion. These three virtuosos, rather seasoned with jazzy sophistication and psychedelic explorations, simply wanted to cut loose on this third album. They did well, for “Earthbound” turns out to be a monument of fuzz to the glory of space-time travel. The kind we haven’t experienced since Lowrider or more recently Slift.
4. Gojira “Fortitude” (Roadrunner Records)
An uncanny choice in this rather underground playlist. While the band’s international aura is undeniable, “Fortitude” allows these eco-warriors to get the recognition they deserved in their own country. No demonic imagery in here: the metal genre serves a noble cause by putting actions where the word is. One steamroller after another, Gojira delivers a tribute to its peers as well as Brazil, they dare some shamanic explorations and vocal harmonies, without ever letting go of their fury and mammoth rage. Yes, Gojira is the greatest metal band today. Respect.
5. Turnstile “Glow On” (Roadrunner Records)
The feel-good album of the year. Pushing their #wedontgiveashit crossover further than on “Time & Space”, Turnstile pushes the pop envelope by integrating unheard sounds on a hardcore album to the point of confusing some fans. It’s a bit too early to tag it as a game-changer, but the punk energy of the beginnings remains, while the uplifting anthems will find their place on their live setlists. Turnstile is at the top of its game, let’s just hope that “Glow On” is not a bold but racy turn for the band.
TOP 5 – MATT
1. Domkraft “Seeds” (Magnetic Eye Records)
Don’t be surprised, I’ve been preaching this one everywhere this year. Heavy, powerful, aggressive but also melodic, refined and well-balanced: there is everything I love and if we add to that a production and an unforgettable artwork (long live 3D), here is my top album of 2021.
2. Red Fang “Arrows” (Relapse Records)
I’ve been eagerly waiting for their return to the forefront and I was very pleasantly surprised by the noise rock direction tinged with sludge and the lo-fi production. If this clearly isn’t for all die-hard fans, I got won over and I salute the assumed and successful risk-taking.
3. Melvins “Working with God” (Ipecac Recordings)
Their best album in fifteen years, quite simply. Knowing that they released about 1233 albums during that timeframe, it means a lot. More inspired than usual but still unexpected, this is an album that can only delight the fans.
4. Kavrila “Mor” (Narshadaa Records)
I’m not objective when it comes the Hamburg scene, but I always have room for a dose of violence, darkness and strikingly honest screaming. It’s hard-hitting and rough as hell, but damn it, it feels good. Especially since these guys always have fun by adding small absurd details to their creations.
5. Baron Crâne “Les Beaux Jours” (MRS Red Sound)
Another band I’ve been following since their debut. I was a bit disappointed by the previous album, which was too long, laid back, and psychedelic for me. Back to ⅞ riffs and math rock sounds, with the heaviness of stoner rock and quality melodic takeoffs. Sophistication without pretension: bravo, sirs.
Last modified: 28 January 2022