Yearlist 20s:

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Cradle Of Filth - Trouble and Their Double Lives
Score: 10/10
I've been listening to Cradle Of Filth since the early nineties, so it's quite amazing that they haven't had a decent live album out until now. It consists of two new songs and a compilation of live recordings. I greatly prefer their first four albums, so was pleased to hear songs from Dusk and Cruelty, but their later releases always contains some good songs which are present on this album as well. Fully aware I'm not scoring scene-points by putting this at the top of my yearlist though ;)
 
Paradise Lost - Gothic Live At Roadburn 2016 (digital)
Score: 10/10
There are many reasons why this album should not be in this yearlist: 1) It's a live album that 2) is from a concert from 5 years ago where they 3) play a (by now) 30 year-old album. 4) The label doesnt seem to care much for this release either since 5) it's a digital-only release that they didn't promote much and 6) didn't even bother to cut up in separate songs. 7) Instead they are promoting their live album 'Into the Mill' that you may find way WAY down this yearlist. 8) And from the band interaction between the songs I got the idea that even the band seems less into playing old songs. 9) Finally putting this in my yearlist might expose me as a grumpy senior metalhead who only likes old stuff. There's actually only one single reason why this album is topping my yearlist, and that's because it's the best fucking thing I heard all year.
 
Dominia - The Withering of the Rose
Score: 10/10
I don't know if it's because 2020 was such a messed up year, but it turned out to be a perfect year for doom metal. Two releases by My Dying Bride, the return of old doom favourites such as Celestial Season, Autumnia, and Draconian, and many other great doom bands have released albums this year. So it's surprising that relatively unknown Russian doomsters Dominia took the album of the year title. But they managed to do so by releasing a modern doom metal album that is literally infused with many elements of the old doom classics. In "The Withering of the Rose" I hear influences of Theatre of Tragedy, previously mentioned Celestial Season, and many others, so listening to their latest album is like a revisit of all music I listened to in the nineties and early 2000s. And of course it doesn't hurt to have guest vocals of Sakis of one of last year's top bands Rotting Christ!
 
Graveyard Of Souls - Infinity Equal Zero
Score: 10/10
While sunny Spain is certainly not known for producing famous doom-metal bands, Graveyard Of Souls has been releasing solid doom/death albums for the last decade, slowly improving each time leading to "Infinity Equal Zero" which is their best album yet, hitting that sweet spot with a very old-school feel, sometimes reminding of early Tiamat, some old Moonspell. Definitely worth to be known outside of Spain!
 
Dominia
Reincarnation (digital)
Score: 10/10
 
Emyn Muil - Afar Angathfark
Score: 10/10
There's a couple of bands I usually refer to as Summoning-clones because, well, they sound a lot like Summoning. With Emyn Muil's latest album I start to feel it's a bit unfair though, since it's such a great release on its own. Maybe I should call it Summoning-inspired, or admit to the fact that Summoning started a metal genre of its own, something like fantasy-movie-soundtrack-metal, and other bands start playing this style. Anyway, Afar Angathfark is a massively inspiring and atmospheric album rivalling Summoning in its own genre.
 
Dark The Suns - Raven and the Nightsky
Score: 10/10
Dark The Suns have been around for a while and have released some excellent melodeath albums already, but this one is my favourite. Usually I'm waiting for a fuckup, but I actually like all the songs on this release. Some songs are more doom than death which is also highly appreciated, so (non-live) album of the year for me!
 
Austere - Corrosion of Hearts
Score: 10/10
Austere is hard to define. Maybe melo-doom-death leaning towards atmospheric black? And I'm sure some people would throw a 'post' in there, whatever that means. For sure is that it's music for people who would not hesitate to call their metal "beautiful" - because dear reader, this is a beautiful album. Special mention for the last track which is a Type O Negative cover. And while I don't like the original so much, Austere's version is much improved: Combining the Type O catchiness with the Austere sound can make it play in your head for weeks though!
 
Árstíðir Lífsins / Carpe Noctem - Aldrnari
Score: 10/10
Besided great doom albums, 2020 has brought some excellent split albums as well, such as this one called Aldrnari. Featuring Icelandic Árstíðir Lífsins who often end up high in my yearlist if they don't take their male choir-thing too far. They did just that on the full-length they released this year, but the 22 minute song on this split is excellent. Vocalist Árni is also member of the other band on this split, Carpe Noctem. This is a more Behemoth-like black metal band that delivers also a 22 minute song full of atmosphere.
 
The Ruins Of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
Score: 10/10
I have to start by saying that "The Thule Grimoires" is a great album. It's a excellent example of The Ruins Of Beverast's typical mix of faster black/death metal with atmospheric slower parts. Having said that, I'm afraid it just doesn't live up to their two last albums Exuvia and Blood Vaults. The songs sound more simple somehow, more straightforward and less layered, whereas in earlier works you somehow always discovered something new on repeat listens. Still some excellent work here, and perhaps a more comfortable listen than earlier releases.
 
Drudkh - Vsi Nalezhat' Nochi (All Belong to the Night)
Score: 10/10
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Lost Souls Domain has nothing to do with the Eurovision song contest! So when a band from the Ukraine comes out on top this year, it has nothing to do with the war in Ukraine, but it is based on one thing and one thing alone: They made the best album of the year. And this is the also case for Drudkh with their latest album. It consists of only four songs, but each is an epic black metal masterpiece. Heavy in atmosphere and with the Ukrainian folk influences, Drudkh has always been a favourite of mine, but this might be their best album yet!
 
Dream Unending / Worm - Starpath
Score: 10/10
Every yearlist needs a split cd, and the honor this year befalls to the Dream Unending / Worm split. Both bands are bordering somewhere on funeral doom, though the speed is a bit too high for pure funeral fun. Both also throw in a bit too much prog-sounding solos for my taste, but otherwise deliver an excellent 45 minutes of dooming darkness.
 
Høstsol - Länge leve döden
Score: 10/10
Even though Länge leve döden is the first full length of Høstsol, the band is probably well known by many as it's comprised of some well known artists in the metal scene, most notably Niklas from Shining, but also members of Ajattara and Manes. Earlier releases even had Hellhammer on drums, but on this album he's replaced by Shining's old drummer. And speaking of Shining, Høstsol does sound a lot like Shining. And while the recent Shining album did end high on my yearlist, I do like this release just a bit better!
 
Anomalie - Tranceformation
Score: 10/10
It is so difficult to sound innovative as a metalband in 2021. Most releases are sticking to a certain style and try to do very well what has been done before, so it's quite refreshing to hear an album like Tranceformation from Austria's Anomalie which goes for its own sound and excels at it on top of that. Stylistically perhaps it's closest to viking metal, yet somehow not that at all. Hard to describe, but easy to enjoy!
 
Harakiri For The Sky - Mære
Score: 10/10
Another Austrian release here is Harakiri For The Sky's latest effort. While their style may be no surprise to fans of the band, it's an excellent continuation of what they're good at. Also serving as an example that sometimes quality and quantity go hand in hand, Mære spans over two cds without losing my interest, and it helps to end with the excellent Placebo cover, which is one of my favourite bands outside of the metal genre.
 
Eternal Solitude - The Gates of the Beyond
Score: 10/10
This is why I love discovering new bands! After three decades listening to metal, I am still finding hidden gems like this. Of course the method changed a bit: What used to be browsing through boxes of albums in obscure metal shops, is now replaced by scouring the internet looking for obscure releases. And Eternal Solitude from Brazil was certainly a band I never heard of before, but "The Gates of the Beyond" is a great find. It starts off as a total 'The Elysian Fields' worship, but then quickly degenerates into an awesome doom death fest, before closing appropriately with a coversong from The Elysian Fields. So surprising, but so good!
 
Septic Flesh
Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX
Score: 10/10
 
Árstíðir Lífsins
Hermalausaz
Score: 10/10
 
Almyrkvi / The Ruins Of Beverast - Split
Score: 10/10
Multiple album-of-the-year title holder The Ruins Of Beverast will release their new full-length album in 2021, but leading up to that they released two split albums this year. On this split with Almyrkvi they showcase what they do best: Making extremely captivating but uncomfortable black metal soundscapes. Icelandic Almyrkvi are not completely on the same level but still deliver some excellent atmosphere here.
 
Auðn - Vökudraumsins Fangi
Score: 9.5/10
Iceland seems to be rather over-represented in this yearlist, a fact easily verified by how often you see the ð character. Auðn is no exception, but sillyness aside they truly deserved their yearlist ranking with their third album Vökudraumsins Fangi. All three albums stand out for their epic atmospheric black metal with plenty of variation between calm melodies and aggressive blastbeats, but on this latest effort they perfected their songwriting and it's a captivating listen from start to end.
 
21Kalmankantaja - Nostalgia I: Bones and Dust
Score: 9.5/10
Of the Nostalgia albums, Kalmankantaja claims that "These recordings are my tribute to the music that inspired me years ago, and continue to do so." It takes about two seconds to find out which music this is, as the first track sounds exactly like Dunkelheit, the first track from Burzum's Filosofem album. The guitars, the keyboards, even the vocals sound like they're recorded over the phone from prison (little Burzum joke there). Not a complaint though, since Filosofem is such a brilliant album I don't mind a tribute. The second and third song on "Nostalgia I" follow in the exact same footpath, also retellings of Burzum's Dunkelheit. On the last song Kalmankantaja changes things up to... copy Jesus' Tod, the second track from Filosofem. But again, not a complaint, as a tribute this album works very well.
 
Cadaveria - Emptiness
Score: 9.5/10
I remember the first time I heard Cadaveria in action. I was a frequent guest of a place called Diskotheek in Rotterdam, which was not for dancing, mind you. It was a library (Bibliotheek in Dutch) but instead of books they loaned out cds. Luckily for me, their strategy to build their collection was to simply purchase everything they could get their hands on, which included quite some underground metal releases. Every quarter they released a thick paper catalog (This was the very early days of the internet, so this was not online yet!) and every quarter I would go through this catalog to pick out interesting releases. One of these was Opera IX's debut album "The Call of the Wood" which a diskotheek employee had to find in their storage, after which he grumpily told me they never loaned this one out yet. Of course a lot has changed since then, Cadaveria left Opera IX to start her own band, then she got very sick and is now on the road to recovery. During this period they released a couple of songs online, which are all on this album together with some new songs. And while all of the songs are good, it did make this album feel more like a compilation album. I am looking forward from more greatness from Cadaveria in the future!
22
 
23Winterfylleth
The Reckoning Dawn
Score: 9.5/10
 
Lacrimosa - Nachts
Score: 9.5/10
Ok so it miiiight be a bit of a cop out to put two live albums in a yearlist. But I can't deny Lacrimosa being one of my favourite not-quite-metal bands and Nachts being their best live album so far. It's a compilation of several live concerts performed since the Covid lockdown, and while it's a mix of older and newer songs as on the various other live albums they released, they managed to focus more on the songs I actually like. Together with an excellent sound quality this album is a clear recommendation!
24
 
25Hermóðr
The Sea of Dragons

Score: 9.5/10
 
Kalmankantaja - Nostalgia II: My Kingdom
Score: 9.5/10
The second part of the Nostalgia albums continues mostly in the style of the first one. Still very Burzum-esque, but a bit less copy-paste. Still, if Kalmankantaja wanted to pay tribute to anything else than Burzum I don't hear it. A solid listed for if you like slow atmospheric black metal covered in keyboards though!
26
 
27Imber Luminis
Fletus (digital)
Score: 9.5/10
 
The River
Different Dirges
Score: 9.5/10
28
 
29Kalmankantaja - Viimeinen virsi II: Sairaan sielun sanat
Score: 9.5/10
The bad thing about bands like Kalmankantaja is that they keep pumping out so many releases that it's hard to keep up, preventing you to really connect with one album or song in particular. The good thing however, is that they produce a lot of amazing music. On Viimeinen virsi II, Kalmankantaja is returning more to their own sound, which in itself is still very Burzum inspired, so expect more long mid-tempo black metal drowning in atmosphere.
 
Saturnus - The Storm Within
Score: 9.5/10
The true doomer metalhead needs no introduction to Saturnus. They cemented their name in the scene back in 1996 with Paradise Belongs to You, and since then they've released new albums with generous intervals (doom metal speed one could say) - the last full length was 11 years ago. Stylistically their new album The Storm Within is exactly as we would expect from Saturnus, which is not a bad thing because it brings us back to those early nineties doom days, melancholically banging our grey hair after we took our blood-pressure pills...
30
 
31Djevel - Naa Skrider Natten Sort
Score: 9.5/10
Last year Djevel entered the yearlist for the first time, so what are the odds that this year they're not only back, but they even surpassed last years release? "Naa Skrider Natten Sort" is just incredibly well made Norwegian Black Metal, remnant of the golden age of black metal in the nineties. Also last year I complained about the long song titles and this time they're shorter, so apparently they're reading these reviews - another brilliant album next year please!
 
Shylmagoghnar
Convergence
Score: 9.5/10
32
 
33Clouds - Durere
Score: 9.5/10
Clouds have been releasing great doom metal albums for a while, stylistically bouncing between Funeral Doom with deep growls and guitars, to a lighter doom with clean vocals and acoustic music that sometimes gets a bit too soft for me. Still plenty of slow depressive funeral goodness to enjoy on Durere though!
 
Aphonic Threnody - The Loneliest Walk
Score: 9.5/10
Every year list needs a good funeral doom release, and international outfit Aphonic Threnody takes the honour this year. With a singer from Italy, guitar players from the UK and the US, a drummer from Australia and a keyboard player from Greece I wonder how they made this work, though perhaps it didn't work so well since everyone except the guitar player seems to have quit the band. They did come up with an excellent release though. And for the funeral doom aficionados worried about the ten tracks on this album: Stay calm, its a double cd clocking in at almost 2.5 hours, so you still have tracks averaging out almost 15 minutes!
34
 
35Anguish Sublime
Maelstrom Imperium
Score: 9.5/10
 
Eye Of Solitude - X
Score: 9.5/10
To be honest, this album is exactly what you would expect from a funeral doom release. Ok, the songs are a bit short (average only 8 minutes!?) but other than that there's no big surprises here. Still, it sounds so good though, the perfect cold winter soundtrack.
36
 
37Ophis - Spew Forth Odium
Score: 9.5/10
If your ears are in need of a bass-fed massage then Ophis' latest "Spew Forth Odium" is an outstanding choice. They could even be mistaken for funeral doom this time since they wait until the third song to pick up speed and remind us of the death in their doomdeath style, which is almost a pity because that's where they really shine. Otherwise another great release for the German doomers.
 
Evilfeast / Uuntar - Odes to Lands of Past Traditions
Score: 9.5/10
Splits are not only a great way to discover new bands, but when they have the duration of a full-length album, they make excellent entries for my yearlist. And this split between Polish Evilfeast and Dutch Uuntar does both things. The best thing about Evilfeast is, besides the band name of course, that their albums always sound decades older than they actually are. Their part of this split again sounds like you're listening to an old Emperor demo tape. Uuntar I hadn't heard of before but plays an excellent folk inspired black metal that I definitely have to check out more.
38
 
39Cradle Of Filth - Existence Is Futile
Score: 9.5/10
Writing a Cradle Of Filth review is almost a waste of time, since the band is so polarizing. People who hate them will not listen to this album no matter how good the review, and the fans will buy their latest release blindly. So what is left to say, except that if you're in the second group you will not be disappointed. Over-the-top theatrics, bombastic symphonies and supporting choirs, this is Cradle showing off that they're still in top form after 30 years.
 
Irrlycht - Wolfish Grandeur
Score: 9.5/10
Germany's Irrlycht came out of hiding one decade after their last album to deliver us an outstanding raw black metal album with a very old-school feel to it. For sure I hear some Nagelfar and Farsot in their music, but also some throwbacks to the old Norwegian black metal classics. They're delivering some grandeur indeed.
40
 
41Acherontas
Psychic Death - The Shattering of Perceptions
Score: 9.5/10
 
Djevel - Tanker som rir natten
Score: 9.5/10
Djevel is band that has been around in the Norwegian black metal scene for a decade or so, and while releasing many albums that were always decent efforts, they never stood out that much, except maybe for the crazy long song titles which I'll try to avoid quoting in this review. Their latest "Tanker som rir natten" is the first album that really speaks to me, with a highlight in their slower-tempo last track "Vinger som tok oss over en brennende himmel, vinger som tok oss hjem". Dammit!
42
 
43Dark Fortress
Spectres from the Old World
Score: 9.5/10
 
Thy Light - Thy Light
Score: 9.5/10
Originally I got to know Thy Light on the Summoning tribute album "In Mordor Where The Shadows Are" - in hindsight this compilation introduced me to so many exceptional bands. Officially this Thy Light release is an EP, but with two long atmospheric black metal tracks clocking in well over 30 minutes it's absolutely worthy of a position in the yearlist.
44
 
45Wolfheart - King of the North
Score: 9.5/10
The typical 'melodeath' is a difficult genre for me. While I enjoy the combination of faster death metal and melodic parts, and the mixed grunts and clean vocals, it can so quickly turn cheesy. Wolfheart is a band that finds the balance perfectly though, and their latest album King of the North is their best album since their debut Winterborn, so absolutely worthy of a place in the yearlist.
 
My Dying Bride
A Mortal Binding
Score: 9.5/10
46
 
47Panopticon
...And Again into the Light
Score: 9.5/10
 
Wyrd
Vandraren
Score: 9.5/10
48
 
49Winterfylleth
Live at Bloodstock 2021
Score: 9.5/10
 
Shadecrown
Solitarian
Score: 9.5/10
50
 
51In Mourning - Live in Valley Sound Studio
Score: 9.5/10
What do you do when you want to play live but you also don't like to see people? You rent a studio and play live there? It's an interesting concept, but the result is a nice mix between live and compilation album: A new take on great songs from past releases, but also with perfect sound quality. I'll not bother with comparing Swedens In Mourning with country mates Opeth, but if you so happen to like older Opeth, then it's definitely worth a listen!
 
Autonoesis
Moon of Foul Magics
Score: 9.5/10
52
 
53Theudho
Voorbij de nevelen des tijds
Score: 9.5/10
 
Ex Deo
The Thirteen Years of Nero

Score: 9.5/10
54
 
55Midnight Odyssey
Biolume Part 2 - The Golden Orb
Score: 9.5/10
 
Grima - Frostbitten
Score: 9.5/10
Another example of great finds is this year's Grima. I had never heard of the Russian band before, but they put out a superb atmospheric black metal album with Frostbitten. They masterfully combine fast black metal with instrumental passages and great solo work, and since this is already their fifth full length I really should have heard of them before! Well, better late than never.
56
 
57Primordial - How It Ends
Score: 9.5/10
Primordial has long been one of my favorite bands ever, so expectations for a new album are always high. With their latest release How It Ends I was not disappointed, but still I feel it's not quite as good as it could have been, or as Primordial has been in the past. I do think it's a better album than their previous "Exile Amongst the Ruins", but less good than the one before "Where Greater Men Have Fallen". Good things are definitely Nemtheanga's vocals and the musicianship of the rest of the band: these guys have been around for a while and shows. On the downside however, the songs just seem less memorable, a bit been-there-done-that. Also the 3/4 rhythm starts being a bit overdone, and the instrumental passages seem to last just a bit too long here and there. So overall not a bad album at all, but not their greatest work either.
 
Celestial Season
The Secret Teachings
Score: 9.5/10
58
 
59Havukruunu
Kuu Erkylän Yllä

Score: 9.5/10
 
Nocte Obducta
Irrlicht (Es schlägt dem Mond ein kaltes Herz)

Score: 9.5/10
60
 
61Lethian Dreams
A Shadow of Memories
Score: 9.5/10
 
Helheim
Woduridar
Score: 9.5/10
62
 
63Skálmöld
10 Year Anniversary - Live in Reykjavík
Score: 9.5/10
 
Timor Et Tremor - Realm of Ashes
Score: 9.5/10
With usually quite a few years between releases, and even six years since their last album, Germany's Timor Et Tremor is not the most productive band out there, but each album is definitely worth a listen. Their latest "Realm of Ashes" is an interesting experience: while rooting in black metal, it kind of bounces between genres, going from slow passages with clean vocals to harsh and fast, and do I hear some Dissection in there? Well worth a listen!
64
 
65Evilfeast / Gnipahålan
Split
Score: 9.5/10
 
Marche Funèbre
Einderlicht
Score: 9.5/10
66
 
67Aphonic Threnody - When Death Comes Again
Score: 9.5/10
This years entry of Aphonic Threnody in the yearlist is a bit of a cheat: When Death Comes Again is a re-recorded version of their 2014 album When Death Comes. However, since it's not just a newly recorded version of the same album, but the songs are actually changed, and sole member Riccardo even pulled in some celebrity talent from bands like Void Of Silence and The Howling Void, I decided it counts as a new album. So, what else to say? Excellent not-quite-funeral doom from the UK, check out their full discography!
 
Spell Of Dark
Ghost from the Past
Score: 9.5/10
68
 
69Ancient Wisdom
A Celebration in Honor of Death
Score: 9.5/10
 
Cult Of Fire
Nirvana
Score: 9.5/10
70
 
71Grey Skies Fallen
Cold Dead Lands
Score: 9.5/10
 
Dr. Death
Reincarnation
Score: 9.5/10
72
 
73Shallow Rivers - The Tales Told Under the Willow
Score: 9.5/10
The Russian doom metal scene is as ever a very productive one, and while Shallow Rivers balances between doom and melodeath, it's an absolute treat for the fans of the slower metal genres. And using lyrics from William Blake is certainly adding a nice touch :)
 
Rotting Christ
Pro Xristou
Score: 9.5/10
74
 
75Ne Obliviscaris
Exul

Score: 9.5/10
 
Kalmankantaja
Metsäuhri

Score: 9.5/10
76
 
77Deafheaven
10 Years Gone
Score: 9.5/10
 
Vargsheim
In the Tower of Ivory
Score: 9.5/10
78
 
79Graveland
Hour of Ragnarok
Score: 9.5/10
 
Anti
Anti (digital)
Score: 9.5/10
80
 
81Wędrujący Wiatr
Zorzysta Staje Oćma
Score: 9/10
 
Thyrfing
Vanagandr
Score: 9/10
82
 
83Golgotha
Mors Diligentis
Score: 9/10
 
Einherjer
Norse and Dangerous - Live... From the Land of Legends
Score: 9/10
84
 
85Borgne
Temps Morts
Score: 9/10
 
Shining
Shining

Score: 9/10
86
 
87Cult Of Fire
Live in the Underworld
Score: 9/10
 
Agrypnie
Metamorphosis
Score: 9/10
88
 
89Skratte
Akt I - Ein Feuer Entfacht
Score: 9/10
 
Merrimack
Of Grace and Gravity
Score: 9/10
90
 
91Hermóðr
To Be Alone
Score: 9/10
 
Aphonic Threnody
The Great Hatred
Score: 9/10
92
 
93The Negative Bias
The Seven Seals of Saligia
Score: 9/10
 
Enchantment
Cold Soul Embrace
Score: 9/10
94
 
95Shape Of Despair
Return to the Void
Score: 9/10
 
Dominia
Timeless
Score: 9/10
96
 
97Hermitage
Nawiht
Score: 9/10
 
Old Corpse Road
On Ghastly Shores Lays the Wreckage of Our Lore
Score: 9/10
98
 
99Arkona (RUS)
Kob'
Score: 9/10
 
Yoth Iria
As the Flame Withers
Score: 9/10
100


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