By Dillon O’Toole
Looking back on my article from one year ago, 2020 Sucks (But at Least the Music Is Good), the title still holds up to this day. 2020 was a year to forget in most aspects, but throughout the year great new music was continually released. The trend of good music being released seems to have continued into 2021, as I have found several albums that I consider to be quite good already.
First, I would like to address the fact that a couple of the albums I mentioned in my previous article were delayed and still have yet to be released. Those two albums are Surface Sounds by KALEO and Van Weezer by Weezer. If they don’t have any more delays, they are set to be released on April 23rd and May 7th, respectively. Before I move on from these two bands, I would like to mention the fact that Weezer actually released another album earlier this year called Ok Human. This quick 31 minute album incorporates a lot of string instruments to create a rather pleasant listening experience. If you are a fan of Weezer and have not listened to this album yet, I highly recommend sitting back and listening to the full album.
If you are a fan of LINKIN PARK and music within the same genre, the past year has seen several great releases for you. The first album I would recommend is Panic by From Ashes to New. From Ashes to New have captured that heavy sound of the early LINKIN PARK albums, but with a new fresh look at the genre. While I personally love the entire album, some highlights from it include the songs Blind, Panic, and Bulletproof. Another band that captures the early 2000s hard rock sound well is Fame on Fire with their album Levels. Originally a band known for their covers of popular songs from other music genres, (they have covered both Hello by Adele and XO TOUR LliF3 by Lil Uzi Vert), they show that they don’t need to rely on covers to make good music. Their songs Not Dead Yet, Headspace, and Down highlight Levels. If new bands don’t remind you of the early 2000s rock scene enough, then Evanescence has you covered, as they just released a new album called The Bitter Truth. The band who initially rose to prominence in 2003 with the song Bring Me To Life returns with their first album of solely new material since 2011. Highlights include The Game Is Over, Yeah Right, and Wasted on You. As a final note, if you really want some LINKIN PARK music, they did release a 20th anniversary of their debut Hybrid Theory, and it includes plenty of b-sides from that period of time.
Evanescence wasn’t the only band that was prominent in the early 2000s to release new music over the last year. Both Seether and Chevelle have released new music, and both albums have been pretty great. Seether’s latest release is Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellem, which is Latin for “If you want peace, prepare for war”. In what was one of my favorite albums to be released in 2020, Seether steadily rocks through the 13 songs for just under an hour. This is yet another album where every song is great, but some of the standout tracks are Wasteland, Dangerous, and Buried In the Sand. Chevelle’s new album, NIRATIAS, adds another solid album to the band’s already great catalogue of music. They start off strong with the instrumental Verruckt, and continue to hit the mark with the song So Long, Mother Earth. Additional highlights include Self Destructor and Remember When. In my prior article I had a section dedicated to the 90s bands that were releasing music in 2020, and in late 2020 another great 90s band released new music. That band would be Deftones, and that new music would be the album Ohms. Starting the album off strong with the song Genesis, the album maintains Deftones consistent quality with great songs like The Spell of Mathematics and the title track Ohms. Not every album released over the last year was a callback to older genres and time periods of music. Juice WRLD had his first posthumous album released, Legends Never Die, and it was quite enjoyable. My highlights include the songs Conversations, Wishing Well, and Stay High. The doom metal band Khemmis released a collection of b-sides and live songs called Doomed Heavy Metal that includes a cover of Dio’s Rainbow in the Dark and the song A Conversation with Death, which was featured in the game The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. Fans of the progressive metal genre can listen to IMPERIAL by the swedish band Soen. Two favorites from this album are Monarch and Illusion. Finally, fans of the metalcore genre have two great albums from the bands ERRA and Architects released this year to listen to. ERRA released a self-titled album and some standout tracks from this album are Snowblood, Divisonary, and Vanish Canvas. Architects album, For Those That Wish to Exist, is an early pick for my favorite album of 2021, and three amazing songs featured on it are Dead Butterflies, Animals, and Meteor. Whether your musical tastes are similar to mine or not, I hope the music released over the last year has brought some joy to you over the objectively terrible previous year.