By Dillon O’Toole
Well, the end of yet another year is fast approaching. That means only one thing: I get to talk about what great music came out this year! As always, this article (that’s totally not a list expanded into paragraphs) will be heavily biased as I won’t be considering anything that I haven’t listened to. So, if you read this and you don’t see one of your favorites on here, I probably just didn’t hear it. Unless, of course, I hated it. One final note: like last year, the order the albums will be presented in is not in order of quality(hence why this isn’t actually a list).
I’m going to start off slow (and no this isn’t just so you can quickly get up to speed). This is the perfect segue into the first album I am going to talk about, a Doom Metal album called The Harvest by MWWB (formerly known as Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard although their Apple Music page is still under this name). As I have previously written about this genre (see my article Doom and Gloom Vibes from last semester), I’m just going to highlight the songs that stood out the most to me. These are The Harvest, Logic Bomb, Strontium, and Moon Rise. While these may be the individual highlights, I have to say that Doom Metal as a genre is best enjoyed as a full album experience.
Speaking of full album experiences, the only genres that I can think of that are better for them is Progressive Rock and Metal. The only prog album I am going to talk about this year is Epigone by Wilderun, and it is a great example of why I sometimes have trouble naming songs off albums that I truly enjoy. Since it’s a Progressive Metal album, I typically end up listening to the entire album, and I always manage to disregard the track names of the songs that truly stand out. So trust me on this one, if prog is your thing just check out the entire album.
Ok, time to stop talking about bands whose songs have 10 minute run times. In fact, this next album (technically it’s an EP) only has a 22 minute runtime in total. That shorter runtime doesn’t detract from the quality, as Empires Fall by Our Last Night has given me several of my favorite songs released this year. These songs are Graveyard, Valley of Vision, F.E.A.R., and the title track.
The next group that I will discuss, I have actually briefly written about before. Fame on Fire released their second album, Welcome to the Chaos, this year and it is an excellent follow up to their debut album released in 2020. I previously described them as a band that evokes early 2000s Nu-Metal, and I still stand by that. While not a perfect description (what genre label is ever perfect?), it’s the best my non-professional opinion can give. The album starts off really strong with its title track, and it follows it up with strong songs such as Ketamine, Lost In Doubt, and Plastic Heart. I do have to say that the second half of the album is definitely weaker than the first half, but overall the best songs more than make up for the other songs.
Another album that has a weaker second half that still somehow made my selected albums is TRUE POWER by I Prevail. Much like the previous album that I discussed, TRUE POWER unfortunately suffers from songs that I personally find less memorable at the tail end of the listen. The first two thirds of the album, however, is always a treat to listen to. Any song of the first nine is good, but my personal favorites would have to be There’s Fear In Letting Go, Self-Destruction, FWYTYK, and Deep End.
If you’ve ever dozed off in a class, you will know that The Price of Dreaming is missing what was probably the only important part of the lecture. In other news, Hollow Front’s album this year was pretty damn good. Never heard of Hollow Front? Well neither had I prior to this year. If you are a fan of modern Metalcore, they are well worth the listen. Some songs to get you started are In the Spotlight, Comatose, The Price of Dreaming, and Treading Water. I have yet to dive into all of their earlier music but from what I have listened to it’s also great.
Now I know I said this article was in no specific order, but that was kind of a lie. These last four albums are what I would consider the best four albums of the year. And as I’m writing this, I would list them sequentially from lowest to highest. To start off, I would like to mention THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND by Bad Omens. Having never heard of this band prior to this year, I have to say their mixture of clean melodies and aggression hits the perfect balance. The best songs have to be the title track, Like A Villain, Just Pretend, and Nowhere To Go.
If harsh vocals aren’t your thing, you might actually like this next band. Having described themselves as Dream Thrash, Astronoid’s album Radiant Bloom is both relaxing and still heavy at the same time. The use of “dream” in their description is very apt, and the sound is best highlighted in the songs Eyes, Sleep Whisper, I’ve Forgotten Your Face, and Decades. Sit back and enjoy, because this one makes its 46 minute runtime go by quick.
In what has been a common theme this year, the next two bands are also bands I have not heard of prior to this year. Alexisonfire’s (pronounced Alexis on fire not Alex is on fire) album Otherness strikes all the right nerves for me. I don’t know how to really describe it, but it deserves to be listened to at least once. If you want a brief selection, try the songs Committed to the Con, Sans Soleil, or World Stops Turning.
As I am quickly running out of words that I am allowed to write, I’m going to try and wrap this up quick. My top album of the year comes from the band Greyhaven, with their album This Bright and Beautiful World. This album is an experience, and I’d recommend listening to the full thing in a single listen. It will not be for everyone, as the vocals feature an extensive amount of yelling, but I’ve grown to love it despite not previously enjoying this vocal style. If the description of the vocals puts you off, try the songs All Candy or Ornaments from the Well. Welp that’s all for me, I hope I didn’t forget any albums (wait didn’t Alter Bridge have a good album?).