In today's world we need the hateful nature of black metal more than ever. Here is the best of the current crop. As with years past I sort through the genre lists before making the overall top ten of the year list. I know many of you are ready for 2021 to be over with. Hate to break it to you but nothing is getting better next year. 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. You can bitch and complain about your favorite band not being on the list. I listen to five new albums a day so yes, I heard your favorite album and was not impressed. No, I do not care what you think about it. I do hope 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 Black Metal albums of 2021
10-Vried- "Wild North West"
Their sound continued to evolve into the hookier almost rock-oriented sound they have now. Even clean singing crops up on the first song. Yes, there are blast beats and tremolo picked guitars so this is still very much black metal. It is my favorite kind of black metal as it is the kind that cares about song writing
8-Ancient Wisdom - " a Celebration in Honor of Death"
I see the words blackened doom on everything except when the band is actually playing a doom black metal hybrid like this project from Sweden is. Much like Burzum, this one-man band is helmed by Vargher from Naglfar The keyboards and atmosphere work really well here and this is a great example of you can have both a sound dialed in and still; care about writing a song. Yes, this kind of carries a drone to it and is more akin to a soundtrack track than pop hit, but that is ok
7-Sertraline : "The street light was all we needed"
This highly atmospheric band from New York has combined a bunch of EPS and is presenting them in this format. I am counting this as a 2021 album because these were all unknown until this point. They have plenty of grit and darkness set against the more sweeping sonics. The vocals are a lower snarl. They are dedicated to making very dynamic music and not the kind of black metal that settles for blast beats alone
6-the Ruins of Beverast - "the Thule Grimoires"
In 2021 if you are going to do black metal then this is the way to do it. You can tell it is in fact black metal, but it is not so tied down to conforming to a certain time period that it is stagnant. In fact it is full of dark new sounds that really add to the songs
5-the Flight of Sleipnir- "Eventide"
Their 7th album finds them very confident in what they do. They have a knack for slowing things down while the vocals stay very caustic. It gives this a cold sound that black metal, needs which is why I tend to listen to it more in fall and winter. There is a great deal of very nuanced playing on this album. Some of the guitar work really goes above and beyond. Some black metal tends to take on an almost punk feel in the way the guitar is handled, so they are really bringing playing that stands up against any metal band to the table
4-Wolves in the throne room- "Primordial Arcana"
Their new album is beautifully true to who they are and have been as a band with black metal as the core of epic atmosphere and sweeping guitars. The vocals are scowled much in the same manner they were when I first heard them, for a band that has taken us many other places over the years I respect that. I am open for them to do whatever, that is within reason and stays true to the core of their nature worshipping mountain selves. They once again deliver.
3-Plaguewielder - "Covenant Death"
This album really grew on me. They have grown as both a band and songwriters now finding themselves in a realm of sonic darkness not unlike the place that Tombs invokes. The rage and metallic battering ram they hit you with is not dulled by the creepy atmosphere the album is coated it.
2-Peste Noire- "Le retour de pastoureaux"
This gang of French maniacs continues to spit in the face of expectations. At times abandoning black metal to be more progressive, but in a very crude and confrontational manner. They have punk attitude Now they have more of a punk thing going on but bring you back to the more refined anger of metal when you think they are going to bring in acoustic guitars and forget who they are. Creatively ambitious this was almost my number one pick, but their crude primal organic leanings might be emotive, but not a massive of a sound as the band who took the number one spot.
1- Noctambulist - " Eiegieen"
This band from the Netherlands caught me by surprise hey can summon a scathing buzz of black metal, but are not limited to just that proving themselves more than capable of expanding the sonic horizons. They could fall into the black gaze sub-genre but are darker than most with more aggression in their song writing, they know when to let things simmer and when to roar back to life. This atmosphere contributes to the sparkling melodies that are layered in here. The album sounds great and is recorded in a manner that makes the most of their vision which is why they beat out Peste Noir for the top spot.