It's that time of year again. It might seem early to start this, but record labels have pretty much sent me most of what this year has to offer already, by the time I am done sorting through the top 10 albums of all the respective genres, I will then compile the top 10 albums of the year. As I predicted last year 2021 was not much better than 2020, things continue on a downward spiral, making dark music more important as a soundtrack for this. As far as 2021 goes for goth there was so much to choose from I have to split things up and move some of the bands over to the electronic list, as there was not as much interesting electronic music this year and only three new bands on this year's list .The very fact these bands made it on the list speaks to how great these albums are, so it's not a slight that the number 8 album is above the 9th album, there is something that just gives it an edge that makes me want to listen to it more. After all we can try to look cool and pick the hippest bands for a list, but at the end of the day what makes an album the best is that it makes you want more, you look forward to listening to it again. Perhaps you can find your next favorite on this list; and have included links to reviews of these albums if you want to check out audio on these guys. Anyways here are the top 10 goth albums of 2021
10-Lotus Thrones - "Lovers in Wartime"
Another metal musician goes to the dark side. The trend of having a post punk project is one I am fond of despite the mixed results it sometimes brings, here everything works well. This one comes from former Wolvhammer drummer Heath Rave. He recorded this during last year's quarantine. His self-isolation was not too strict as he is joined by Bruce from Yakuza who throws down some sax on a couple of songs. Andy from Feral Light also drops a guitar solo on the fourth song "the Quarry" . Sanford Parker mixed this album, so few metal heads have their hands in this.
Once upon a time this band from Portugal used to be at the forefront of the goth metal movement. This album finds them no longer trying to be Type O Negative . The vocals have improved over the years, their singer knows himself better and continues to improve. The most metal album on the list this year.
8-Skold - "Die Irae "
I was surprised how mean and metal the guitars were going into the album. There is more of a Marilyn Manson or Orgy , which considering he has played with both Manson and KMFDM this makes sense. At times falling ore in line with more typical industrial , electronic elements come in to move it in a more experimental direction.
Stormy foreboding tension from Oakland, where the bulk of this revivalist death rock seems to be coming from. Ok this is a little more on the Siouxsie side of things, perhaps a bit less manic than Miss Sioux’s more punk days. The bass is driving and more over driven which owes more to Bauhaus. The vocals are more aggressive than your typical Siouxsie worship
6-Kælan Mikla :" Undir Köldum Norðurljósum"
Darker than I remember these gals from Iceland getting before, but with a pulsing drive at time. There are crazy layers of vocals in the background that sound like screaming witches , helping to make this a perfect Halloween album.
5-Clan of Xymox- "Limbo"
These guys are busting out lots of new music while their fires are still burning. Last year's "Spider on the Wall" made it onto the top 10 Goth albums of the year list, and now this one is too making them equally consistent since their 2017 album. "Brave New World " is more organic and guitar focused though they do step into the club enough for you to get your dance on as called for.
4- Cold Cave- "Fate in 7 Lessons"
10 years since the last full length from this "band" , so we will take what ever we can get. A step further in this progression into darkness chronicled in the 2018 ep . Thought there is a range of sounds dipping into more upbeat new wave not out of place on the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie and many a thick groove that is hard to resist being moved by.
3-Deathsomnia- "You Will Never Find Peace"
This gem blends darkwave , shoegaze and industrial in a manner not unlike the old roster of 4AD, these days indie rock bands are on the label but it used to mean something to be released by them. These guys are not on the label , but should be as they deserve it more. We have ethereal vocals with memorable melodies . We have solid percussive grooves. We have a band that can capture the sound and still write songs. Grows on me with each listen.
2-Gary Numan- "Intruder"
At 63 who would have guessed Numan would be making some of the best music of his career at this late in the game. I really liked his last album "Savage" it was less future pop and more industrial. The same can be said of this one , but the mood is darker and compositions more lushly colored. His voice sounds great, granted he using a more nuanced and softer approach. Though he never really flexed his pipes a ton on his more classic stuff. The album hits more power balladry feel in the second act but still stronger than most everything else that came out this year.
1- Bloody Hammers - "Songs of Unspeakable Terror"
It was a tough call between this one and Gary Numan, but what gave these guys the edge is that this album came out back in January and hung tough as an album I would return to at least once a week or so. An impressive feat when you consider how much new music I ingest . This time the band leaned into the punk side of their influences and it works much better. It is not total Danzig as the Elvis side of the coin is toned down. The vocals are great and very catchy. I can appreciate how this is married to an almost edgy cock rock side of 80s metal, but all horror anthems which earned their place at the top of this list.