By Dillon O’Toole
Well, it’s the end of the fall semester and as a result, also the end of the year 2021. Well, technically the year ends in just under a month but I’m going to ignore that for the sake of this article. Today, I’m returning to the topic of music, and I’m going to comment on what the best music of the year has been. Now, this is one hundred present biased, as this only includes albums that I have listened to. So if you don’t see your favorite album on here, too bad.
I want to say that this is not in any particular order, I am just commenting on the albums that I think were really good this year. So, to start off, I am going to highlight what I consider the best debut album of this year, Eternal Blue by Spiritbox. Spiritbox starts the album off strong with their song Sun Killer, an amazing opener that builds up to an intense breakdown. The greatness continues with the transition into their song Hurt You. Other stand out highlights include Secret Garden, Eternal Blue, We Live In A Strange World, Circle With Me, and Constance. I just listed seven songs out of a total of 12 as standouts (and I consider the rest of the songs to be great as well), so I think this album speaks for itself for why I am including it in my top albums. If you liked Spiritbox’s album, other albums within the same subgenre that I also consider to be great are Annisokay’s album Aurora, and Architects’ For Those That Wish to Exist. Highlights from Aurora include Like a Parasite, Stfu, The Tragedy, The Cocaines Got Your Tongue, and Standing Still. The best songs from Architects’ album are Black Lungs, Discourse Is Dead, Dead Butterflies, Little Wonder, Animals, Libertine, Goliath, and Meteor.
If you are a fan of progressive music, this year has also been great. For those of you who yearn for the return of progressive rock in the style of the 1970s, the band Evership is perfect for you. Their album, The Uncrowned King – Act 1, is a great example of modern proggressive rock. Like most progressive rock albums, it’s best to listen to the album through in its entirety, but some standout tracks from the album include the opener The Pilgrimage, and the songs Crownshine -Allthetime, The Tower, Yettocome – Itmightbe, and Wait. If you want some heavier proggressive music, I have a couple of choices for you. Mastodon’s Hushed and Grim and Between the Buried (BTBAM) and Me’s Colors II. The thing about progressive music is that the songs and sometimes the albums tend to be quite long, and Mastodon pushes their album length to the limit with Hushed and Grim coming in at a whopping hour and twenty-six minutes. Lots of great music is packed into that extended length, but if you had to check out a limited selection I would listen to Pain with an Anchor, Sickle and Peace, Teardrinker, Pushing the Tides, Savage Lands, and Gobblers of Dregs. BTBAM’s album, Colors II, is a sequel to their 2007 album Colors (shocking I know). As Colors is one of BTBAM’s best albums, Colors II had a lot to live up to. In my opinion, it does not disappoint. The album starts off great with Monochrome. The album continues to be great with songs such as Revolution In Limbo, Fix The Error, Never Seen / Future Shock, and The Future Is Behind Us. The album closes with the fifteen minute song Human Is Hell (Another One With Love), which concludes the album excellently.
I’m out of nice genre groupings, so I’m just going to start talking about the other albums that proved their greatness to me this year. To start, let’s talk about an album that is a little less aggressive and instead is pretty calming. This album would be Deafheaven’s Infinite Granite. This is yet another album that is best listened to from start to finish. But, for those of you who want some highlighted songs, try listening to Great Mass of Color or Lament for Wasps. These are my two personal favorites to listen to when I don’t want to listen to the full album. A more dance inspired album, but still within the genres of rock or metal, would be Royal Blood’s Typhoons. The band’s third album, it continues demonstrating why only two people are necessary to create excellent music. My personal favorites off the album are Trouble’s Coming, Typhoons, and Who Needs Friends. If you’re looking for some Black Sabbath inspired music, look no further than the subgenre of Doom Metal. The two albums I would recommend from this genre are Monolord’s Your Time to Shine, and Khemmis’ Deceiver. Both albums have short track listings, so don’t expect too long of a list here. For Monolord’s album, my three favorite songs are The Weary, I’ll Be Damned, and Your Time to Shine. For Khemmis’ album, my favorites include Avernal Gate, Living Pyre, and Obsidian Crown. The final album I am going to discuss is Starset’s Horizons. With Starset being one of my favorite bands, this album was almost certainly going to be on my list of best albums this year. Standouts from the album include OTHERWORLDLY, EARTHRISE, LEAVING THIS WORLD BEHIND, DEVOLUTION, THIS ENDLESS ENDEAVOR, TUNNELVISION, INFECTED, and SOMETHING WICKED. Not only do I consider this album to be one of the best of the year, I can also confirm that Starset is a great live band. If you ever want to see a band live, Starset is a great choice. Well, I hope someone out there enjoyed my selections for the best music this year. Hopefully nothing releases this month to make this list completely outdated.