101-200 Albums of 2021 by Mercury (2021)
Some of these albums are very good and it was hard taking them off top 100 of year. I really love this year in music so far. Also, a good few of these will be revisited and commented upon later down the line and, who knows, may rise high in and into the top 100.
I will now start another chart which is 2021 spill overs or 1-and-Dones (what this chart was for months). I had to make a spreadsheet like a dork because I know that soon this will get freaking way way to confusing to keep in order across 3 charts. Hope someday we have longer chart sizes.
- Chart updated: 45 hours ago
- (Created: 04/01/2021 21:24).
- Chart size: 96 albums.
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Okay, after a couple listens I can't say I have yet formulated much to say on this. Imagine Emo meets Powerviolence and you have, well, the genre Emoviolence and that is the genre of this album apparently per RYM. The more you know. But anyway, that describes this album well. This won't be everyone's cup of tea. But for me there were moments when the vocalist just fit so well with these vicious walls of sound, and in those ecstatic/pure hell moments I was in a whole other planet.
The more stripped down emo bits are also nice and present a nice counterpoint to the more violent outbursts that dominate the album (especially the first half.) In these moments the drumming is surprisingly nice, and active. The twinkly, introspective guitars really manage to tug at the heart strings, and the vocals are more traditional emo screamo stuff. This band also knows when to transition from the soft to the mindbogglingly loud, as whenever I felt like I could use another shot of insanity, there it was with another atomic blast of pain and fury.
Another thing I liked about the album is how it was produced. Now I'm no sound technician nor do I know what the fuck I'm talking about really when it comes to "sound design" or whatever. But this album is not clean. At times its even kinda shitty sounding and muddy and the sounds kinda sound like they are cutting in and out. And I love it. The waves of sound aren't these crystalline Sunbather things, but actually have a bit of grit and a lot more soul. I loved it.
In all, when I saw the genre description I legit laughed. I had only recently come to grips with the term for Hardcore Punk meets Grindcore being called "Powerviolence", and then the genre name creators had to go and up the ante with friggin "Emoviolence"? Really? And when I pushed play part of me was thinking it would be just kinda whiny Nails. But, No! This band has some cool things happening with it. Good and borderline great debut album from this group. [First added to this chart: 11/29/2021]
The Yoth Iria album from earlier this year opened me up to more black metal. I since have been listening to a smattering of black metal. I find myself drawn to the sounds and emotions quite strongly. I saw that this album is getting a lot of love in many circles. I gave ait a few listens and I love it.
The opener "Antaresian" is full of some truly killer riffs! Also a couple solos which are excellent and a general soaring, emotionally touching atmosphere that blows me away and heaps of cool tonal shifts to keep the entire piece moving at a breakneck pace without ever being overwhelming or jarring. Right from the jump with this epic opener I was on board and glued to the rest of this record.
The album is 56 minutes, 5 tracks, each track is 10-12 minutes long consistently having soaring riffs and, at times, insane pummeling blast beats, lots of tasty tremolo guitar, the vocals are screaming and seem to be buried, y'know lots of great black metal sounds. Even in my limited experience with the genre I can hear this isn't boundary-pushing, yet these tracks do have a cool and vibrant power. Despite the albums relatively long run-time (don't forget who is writing that, you know I like my albums like I like my hair cut, short) I find myself getting fully sucked into the atmosphere and there is yet enough variety of mood and sound that I don't feel like I'm listening to one long and monotonous dirge.
Track 2 "Frozen Star Divinization" is a standout, featuring some much heavier and more tangible brute strength with a few bits moving away from the atmospheric into a vicious pummeling arena which is refreshing. Track 3, "Terra Requiem" on the other hand throws us back into the clouds of the atmospheric and almost mournful with a particular instrumental bit in the middle that may moisten your average listener's eye. The melodic, soulful and beautiful guitar tone here is excellent.
The yo-yo between more forest-y, mysterious black metal vibey pieces to the more grounded and tangible and heavier pieces continues with track 4 "Luminous Acretion" which features some of the more clear examples of insane and stamina-testing drum attacks and some classic metal soloing and this building intensity as well as a building melodic almost choral sounding tone. This is a brilliant song and features some of the more abrupt and artful and nearly-but-not-quite proggy change ups in sound and tempo and this song is maybe the most essential or most representative of what this album has to offer. So, not that anyone reading this is likely to do this, but if you wanted to hear one song and not the whole album as a sampler of what this album has to offer, listen to "Luminous Acretion".
And it would be weird to make somewhat lengthy mention of the first 4 songs and then just leave with no word on track 5. The final track "Ataraxia Tunnels" starts with some of the most proto-typical tremolo guitar and keeps that the whole way through or most of it and builds from there. Its another great Atmospheric Black Metal epic, spanning 12 and a half minutes, several phases and changes, and the track seems to get more and more loud and intense as it continues until by about 7 minutes in the intensity is almost unbearable ... in a good way. At the end the song opens up with some beautiful guitar melodies and then the song and album ends.
Overall, yes I REALLY like this. Still working out/trying to decide if its my fave BM album of the year (lol there are only 2 in contention as of this date, April 8, 2021) but whether it is or isn't, it certainly is one of my fave metal albums of any subgenre and it was a beautiful and inspiring listen. [First added to this chart: 11/29/2021]
I wasn’t aware how much I craved some spiritual jazz to swim around in until I pushed play on this. I instantly was just in a better place as I listened.
The album itself is composed of 2 pieces, both about 16-17 minutes, called “Dusk” and “Dawn”.
To say this sounds Pharaoh Sanders would be an understatement, as it is clearly very similar to Sanders’ work. Of course that isn’t a bad thing, as Sanders is an absolute giant and his influence and style has influenced a myriad of artists. But if you are someone who for some reason feels personally offended if a modern artist wears their influences on their sleeves, then you’ll maybe be turned off by this fact.
At the same time, their is a vibrant, joyous, exploratory atmosphere that these musicians create that is their own. For example as the music of “Dusk” builds and shifts and crescendos from its breezy and blissful opening minutes to its clattering, more abstract avant-garde final phase, it’s clear that the musicians have gone into a different creative realm. It’s quite beautiful and inspired.
“Side 2” is a completely different vibe. “Dawn” doesn’t crescendo with a noisy clash of horns nor get particularly avant-garde, instead it is a more consistently uplifting feel and the vocal line/chant comes in and makes the whole thing just groove in a powerful and beautiful way.
I’m no expert on jazz, but I do love the spiritual jazz masters I’ve delved into such as Sanders and Alice and John Coltrane. This is a beautiful modern reimagining of that music. And it’s clear that there is a really beautiful jazz scene alive and prospering in England these days. I look forward to seeing where else it takes us. [First added to this chart: 11/29/2021]
This album is all over the fucking place. In a good way. The mix of dreamy pop soundscapes and experimental and jarring explosions just keeps me on my toes. The melodies and pop parts are pretty sick, the psychedelic bits are also consistently out of this world.
As happens with a lot of these types of surreal noise pop/neo-psychedelic albums, when ever I finish hearing this album I forget almost entirely every aspect of the album. Instead of clear ideas on what I justheard I tend to have a gauzy idea or conception of what the album was and how it flowed and what it was communicating. This is usually a bit of a downer, but in this case its mostly impressive. The way this albums sort of weaves these sounds in and out of each other and bridges disrelated elements with a sort of hazy smoke, the way the melodies are so sweet and bitter in the moment of listening and yet disappear as quickly as they go, its all quite impressive.
There are standout tracks and moments here, but I can't remember which even after 3 listens. The album flows so effortlessly track to track, each time I hear it I'm surprised when it ends, like "Wait, we just started! How can this be?!"
Overall, while this isn't on my Album of the Year shortlist personally, it does do things that no other album I've heard this year does better. [First added to this chart: 04/29/2021]
So, this is kind of interesting. First and foremost this is a Deathgrind album, very VERY heavy and very VERY fast with very intense growled vocals. Second secondmostfore, this is a sonically scattered mix of its primary genre with punk, groove metal, slowed down technical death and other random shit thrown in. Third, it seems to be a somewhat winking, certainly un-self-serious album and band. While still being creative and unique, this band seems to be in on a joke with that cover and the track names and the name of the band and the occasional whiplash changes into groovy, cowbell-heavy passages, or whatever seems to come to mind.
This is actually a fun album tbh. It doesn't have a particular atmosphere that I picked up on, nor deep themes, its not an album that makes me think conceptually about anything nor does it make me feel a particular emotion - not even anger or rage or hate like most grind does - outside of almost playful non-seriousness and whimsy if you wanna call that an emotion.
Its relatively A-to-B, although its 35 minutes maybe could have been reduced to 25 and it would be more to my liking. The musicians are solid as fuck. The drummer kicks ass throughout and there are some really fucking awesome guitar riffs and the whole album has this thick aggressive and clear sound that can also be credited a great deal to whoever produced the album and that bass player. The growled vocals are fine and the occasional shrieking screams (much much more my style and much more to my liking in music generally) are really solid.
I saw a comment saying that they heard some Pantera influences, and at first I thought that was stupid, but now I can say there is some of that testosterone-fueled anthemic quality that I associate with Pantera, along with the occasional groovy as fuck breakdown which DEFINITELY is Pantera. There are probably other bands that I would notice if I was more skilled and learned on spotting sounds and influences and metal music.
Then more I listen to this the more impressed I am with the fact that these dudes can and WILL go whatever direction they want to go musically at the drop of a dime. The arrangements and songwriting aren't doing much for me, but what IS doing it is the sheer unpredictability of this album while still generally being clearly a Deathgrind album.
Overall, not a world-beating, life-changing, genius Metal or Deathgrind album - but holy shit this is a lot of fun and way way way better than I expected it to be. [First added to this chart: 04/29/2021]
This is easily my most anticipated album of 2021 thus far. I adore Julien's debut Sprained Ankle, and, while I found her second album considerably less cathartic and powerful, I still quite liked it.
From her first 2 albums I felt that As a songwriter Julien is pretty miserable, not like she's bad, I mean she is very VERY good at just completely expressing utter despair and self-loathing like few songwriters I've ever heard. This is perhaps the main feature and most obvious aspect of her music in her career thus far. This aspect is so much on the forefront that sometimes I think her other strengths are overlooked. Lyrically she does know how to plunge the knife in and then twist it for maximum effect. Melodically she isn't an all time great, but she generally can write a good hook and a good and memorable melody. And she knows how to make just a very consistent and engaging emo album to sob along with.
In the lead up to this album I was feeling kinda meh and in the dumps and as a result I was very eagerly anticipating this album. When I heard it the night it was dropped I was initially lukewarm. Then I woke up and listened a couple more times and I started to warm to it a bit more. Now as I write this and I listen yet again, I am starting to really quite like it.
The obvious change in her production is what is probably going to get the most ink. And for good reason. Cuz this album is indeed MUCH more adorned with big synth parts and walls of electric guitar and keyboard and just a lot of embellishments that are trotting along beside Julien's familiar emotional voice and songwriting themes. This upscaling of musical...stuff... is generally well done. What the album clearly loses in terms of that intimacy and cathartic power that her first album had, it gains in terms of just a lot of beautiful moments of epic earcandy. The absolutely badass chorus of "Heatwave" is something that just couldn't happen without the new production angle and to say it works in enhancing the emotional punch of the song would be an understatement. There are other moments when the increased production touches work quite amazingly alongside Julien's songs.
There are also songs which feel somewhat overproduced and made me briefly miss that stripped down sound featured in "Sprained Ankle". An example of this arguably over-adorned style somewhat hampering the impact of a song is on "Relative Fiction". That song for me is good but coulda been great if not for those damn silly percussion sounds. Maybe that touch will grow on me, but for now I don't love it, feels a bit much especially with the big bass sounds and the several guitars also being layered on top of it with Baker's vocals also being multitracked, idk it just kinda rubs me the wrong way.
Still, the hits here and the overarching feel and flow of the album are indeed fabulous and there are some pristine and incredible moments sprinkled on this album. Tracks like "Heatwave", "Hardline", "Ringside", "Song In E", "Ziptie" are very powerful songs that are some of her best in her career thus far. While I don't love this like I love her debut, I think its a better album than her sophomore album and its great having a new Julien Baker album in my life to absorb when I'm feeling like my whole world has been bled of meaning and color. She's one of the best singer/songwriters of her generation and this album is quite solid and already has that familiar warmth connected with it in my mind that will make me revisit it often over the next long while.
"Blacked out on a weekday
Still something that I'm trying to avoid
Start asking for forgiveness in advance
For all the future things I will destroy
That way I can ruin everything
When I do, you don't get to act surprised
When it finally gets to be too much
I always told you you could leave at any time" [First added to this chart: 11/29/2021]
This album is a sugary sweet, honest to god, old school pop extravaganza. The whole album is this lavish and delectable mix of country pop, 60s Girl Group, Baroque pop, Disco?! (yes, but mostly just on the first couple songs), etc. And the album is just about as charming as that sounds.
This album is so rich and fleshed out. All over the place you'll hear saxophones, sexy synth riffs, clean guitar runs, beautiful strings, funky bass lines, gorgeous shimmering pedal steel parts, twinkly keyboard parts, and on and on. This album feels like some big budget pop album straight out of 1975 or something. It's incredibly lush.
Not every song is a total slam dunk. But what is amazing is most of them are. It feels like Pearl and her crew said "fuck it, let's record The World's Greatest Retro Pop Album ", and then...succeeded.
The funny thing is the first time I heard this I thought it was pretty, gorgeous even, but flimsy. The second time through I noticed that almost all my previous gripes had dissipated like smoke. I couldn't remember what most of my criticisms were. Instead I was just enjoying this delish buffet of sound. Now, on my 3rd listen, I'm just grooving. I have fully embraced carefree Ryan, and loving almost every minute.
I can say with some certainty that I'm not just riding a short-term high, and that 7 of these 10 songs are just fabulous. The other 3 are weaker but by no means bad. Just maybe a little less flwoing and natural and complete sounding.
Anyway, this album is great. Give it a listen. [First added to this chart: 10/13/2021]
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101-200 Albums of 2021 composition
101-200 Albums of 2021 chart changes
| Up 2 from 98th to 96th|
| Up 2 from 97th to 95th|
Slay In Hell
by Steel Bearing Hand
| Up 2 from 96th to 94th|
by The Notwist
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Impressive!...in both quality (of the insightful and descriptive notes and comments) and quantity (I'm only up to 69 2021 albums for the year as of now and I think I listen to a lot...wrongly I guess, hah!)
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