The 10 Best Metal Albums Of 2021

The 10 Best Metal Albums Of 2021

In the 10 Best Metal Albums Of 2019, we introduced the Black Market Glossary, a reference guide designed to help new readers interpret what the hell we were writing about. In 2021, we’re introducing the Game Of Metal, a tabletop game for old readers to print out and play and wonder what the hell we’re doing with our lives. The Complete Handbook includes an incredible gameboard designed by Stephen Wilson, rules, roleplayable scenarios, starter cards, and more. It’s… a lot. And those 48 pages of glory, an intense, wild-eyed tribute to the gods of “a lotness” (Manowar?), can be downloaded here.

“Jeez, Ian,” you’re typing, “that looks like a lot of reading. Is there a podcast that I can listen to that explains the rules?” Yep. However, I made the mistake of letting those podcasters, who excel in an audio medium, make a video, which is only half that. The result is that… thing… embedded below, which is pretty much a portal to a YouTube graveyard where videos with productions not even good enough for early eBaum’s World go to die. (To the Plague Rages Podcast hosts and the Plague Rages Podcast hosts only: What kind of operation are you idiots running over there? Are you okay? Do you need to talk to someone?) On the bright side, it features Doug Moore as a guest. You can listen — and for the love of those “a lotness” gods, only listen — to that here:

As a programming note, we’ll be back later this month for our first legit December column in a few years. You know, in case you wanted even more of this, which is hard to believe.

And speaking of things that are hard to believe, oh yeah, here are our 10 Best Metal Albums Of 2021. In keeping with the grand tradition, Aaron Lariviere would like to remind you that “this list will disappoint you.” He’s right. Instead of bests, we pick favorites. That always makes for a fittingly weird list. Hell yeah. Let’s get weird. Once you’re done with ours, please stick your weird list below! —Ian Chainey


Skepticism - Companion (Svart)

The source of all; the dying light that came before; the ur-text of idiosyncratic, organ-drenched funeral doom: SKEPTICISM. Formed in 1991, Skepticism are arguably the most important, most consistently crucial, and most distinctive funeral doom band of them all. They specialize in what I’ve come to think of as the Overwhelming Chord: a single guitar playing low and slow, lurching between one massive chord after another, overlaid with an explosion of pipe organ that detonates every chord with a wash of stained glass melancholy. This was the template laid down on 1995’s seminal Stormcrowfleet, which is as classic as they come in funeral doom circles, despite insanely fuzzy production; and to some degree, it’s what they’ve done on every album since.

What has shifted over the years: production and overall feel. Their 2021 triumph, Companion, was clearly tracked live in the studio, “with the full band playing in free tempo, feeling every beat and crushing chord together” (or so the promo copy tells us). This is how Skepticism have generally recorded all their albums, but this time they tinkered with the overall mix to accentuate strange facets of their sound. The guitars are heavy but not crushing, the keys are as full and florid as ever, but the songs feel almost energetic by funeral doom standards. The sadness and depth of feeling are there; the all-consuming crush is absent. The elder band seems to prize clarity and depth of emotion over visceral impact these days. Companion feels distinctly left-field, and fans of traditionally “heavier” funeral doom like Esoteric, Mournful Congregation, or Ahab might need some time to adjust. But it feels explosive and alive in a way few doom records do. [A version of this blurb ran in our July 2021 column.] —Aaron Lariviere


Hooded Menace - The Tritonus Bell (Season Of Mist)

Cruelly toll the bells of hell, the bells, bells, bells… keeping time in a sort of runic rhyme, ah, the groaning tone peels flesh as the singing iron peals and chimes, the bells, bells, bells… what a world of tortured thought their tritonus compels. Sorry, my kids keep asking for Edgar Allan Poe before bed, so I’ve got bells on the brain. So do Hooded Menace, apparently, given they named their sixth LP The Tritonus Bell. Absurd as ever, Hooded Menace continue their deathless quest to resuscitate the corpse of death/doom with a healthy infusion of melody and ridiculous song titles. This time around they draw on (slightly) more uptempo heavy metal, with a noticeable King Diamond influence in the riffs. This makes sense, given that they tapped evergreen KD shredder Andy LaRoque to produce the record. Fear not: The vocals are pure growling death, as they should be (nary a hint of cleans, definitely no falsetto). The end result feels like death metal Candlemass — huge doom riffs cast in iron, putrid vocals balanced against unsubtle heavy metal chugs and the ever-present swirling leads — like burning incense to cover the stench of decay. There’s not much else to say: Hooded Menace are the best death/doom band of the past 20 years, and in 2021, they sound better than ever. [A version of this blurb ran in our July 2021 column.] —Aaron Lariviere


Violet Cold - Empire Of Love (Tridroid)

There isn’t a better 90 seconds to open any song on any album on this list than what launches track four of Empire Of Love into its resplendent, disquieting orbit. “We Met During the Revolution” drops you straight into an insanely stylish groove, with a wall of riffs and upbeat drumming driving things forward, an auto-tuned vocal line that both worms its way into your brain and makes you wonder if you’re listening to a metal album, and endless salvos of searing leads that fade into the night sky. It’s built for repeat listening, a jaw-dropping dose of nectar for the ears that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. What’s nuts about Empire Of Love is that multiple tracks are the kinds of songs that could define an era of life — etch them into stone or skin — and they’re all unique. No other album in the broader metal spectrum can claim both grime-style vocals and a banjo in leading roles. I’m partial to “Be Like Magic,” “We Met During The Revolution,” and “Shegnificant,” an absolutely insane three-peat casually dropped in the middle of an album released without fanfare, a label, press, or any support at all.

Mastermind Emin Guliyev has been crafting these mind-expanding, post-everything works at hyper prolific speed for some time, working from the strict confines of Baku, Azerbaijan, where this kind of music and its message is truly rebellious — as one Bandcamp reviewer put it, “in the true spirit of black metal.” The album artwork is an unflinching rework of the socially restrictive country’s flag. (Recently, his location listed on Bandcamp changed to Armenia). And while Empire Of Love is built on a black metal foundation of sound and its core ethos of defiance towards authority, one of those authorities in Violet Cold’s case is the genre itself; the album challenges the genre tag underpinnings of cold spite, disinterest, and hate, showing them to be misguided interpretations of underlying emotions. Guliyev takes on all of these limitations and intolerances that others would impose, injecting colorful magic, humanity, and optimism to both overcome a restrictive world of black and grey anger and create one of the best albums in memory. —Wyatt Marshall


Mesarthim - CLG J02182–05102 (Avantgarde Music)

Mesarthim have long proven to be masters of space-faring atmospheric black metal, wielding grandiose riffs, precision drumming that crosses onto the dance floor, and electric cosmic wonder to score the inconceivable nothingness and celestial bodies of the final frontier. The Australian duo released two works this year; the first was the unabashedly dance-centric Vacuum Solution EP, on which Mesarthim soundtrack the gothy techno-futurist clubs of science fiction’s collective imagination with dark, trancey euphoric anthems meant to be shouted into the void; then came CLG J02182–05102, Mesathim’s most seamless blend of the band’s electronic pulse and atmospheric black metal blood to date. CLG J02182–05102 plays out like a deep space journey, blasting at lightspeed to destinations unknown buoyed by the excitement of an endeavor freshly undertaken, dropping into orbit on strange planets to witness their surreal beauty up close.

Mesarthim have always taken album titles from astronomical features and phenomena. CLG J02182–05102 is the name of a cluster of galaxies that present something of a mystery to our understanding of the universe. In the Big Bang universe where all matter was created simultaneously, a galaxy incredibly far away should appear to be a young galaxy — the light from such a galaxy from so far away from reaching human eyes would have had to have traveled so far that it would show the galaxy as a young one, with a blueish hue from younger blue stars. CLG J02182 –05102’s 60 galaxies are at such a distance that they should look young, yet in the study of telescopic imagery, they’ve shown to be evolved, mature galaxies, full of mature red stars, densely populated, and much further along in their evolution than they should be. The lead author of the scientific paper announcing CLG J02182 –05102’s discovery said, “It’s like we dug an archeological site in Rome and found pieces of modern Rome amongst the ruins.” It’s a head-scratcher, and it’s no surprise Mesarthim seized upon this strange phenomenon that challenges and humbles for their newest masterpiece that rips resplendently into the unknown. —Wyatt Marshall


Concrete Winds - Nerve Butcherer (Sepulchral Voice)

Concrete Winds’ second album, the death metal F6 tornado appropriately titled Nerve Butcherer, is a perfect candidate for one of my favorite thinky games: What would’ve happened to the evolution of metal if it were released earlier?

Longtime readers are surely as annoyed by this flagrant Eurostep around logic as I am, but it’s just how my borked brain works. And, in my defense, the Finnish duo that formerly made noise under Vorum is uniquely well-suited for this particular what-if because Nerve Butcherer sounds timeless, an extra-extreme path that metal could’ve taken but didn’t.

That said, bugfuck bangers like “Chromium Jaws” contain unstable explosive payloads that only make sense to obsessive nowadays listeners. For instance, drummer Mikko’s fleet tradeoffs between steady thrash poundings and maniac blasting would flummox ’80s listeners that hadn’t yet heard Repulsion. That goes double for PJ’s idiosyncratic guitar and bass shredding. Those widdles are weaponized to irritate casuals, especially the pinched-nerve tremolos that seemingly hang there forever, piercing even the most protective earplugs.

On the other hand, a lot of Nerve Butcherer feels suitably ancient, a true modern contemporary to the classics. At their most dusty, you can fool yourself into believing that these ten tracks were on a killer cassette that would’ve changed everything in the tape trade if it wasn’t lost in the mail. Concrete Winds? No, this had to have been the work of cranked-up teenagers who were coloring outside the lines then-freshly laid down by Bathory, Hellhammer, Dark Angel, and Poison. Just, you know, teenagers with sweat pouring down their face and yelling “alright, again. Faster” like restless Dewey Coxes.

And, I mean, think about that! Like, if Nerve Butcherer drops in 1986, with its venomous intent and total disregard for traditional pacing, what does that do to metal? Does it force thrash to forestall its midlife crisis for a few more years? Does death metal leap over Seven Churches and Scream Bloody Gore and make heroes out of Necrovore? Does anyone in black metal buy a Casio when confronted with this kind of in-your-face malevolence? Fun stuff to think about! But, the real reason I love to listen to Nerve Butcherer is because it’s fun to jam. That’s it. That’s all the thinky I need. An absolute ripper. —Ian Chainey


Ethereal Shroud - Trisagion (Northern Silence Productions)

Before it gets loud, Trisagion spends about three-and-a-half minutes being quiet. It’s not a calm quiet, though. It’s not a relaxing feeling. From the first second, there’s an air of menace, of foreboding. Every time I hear those opening strains, they make me feel… anxious? I’m not sure that’s the word; that’s not quite it. You know what it is? You know that feeling you get when you first sit down on a roller coaster? Once you’re good and belted in, just before the thing starts up, and then, just as it lurches into its initial movements, that click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click moment? It’s that moment — before you start really rolling — when you know you’re fucked. This thing… why did you board this thing? It’s too big. It’s too intense. And now, you can’t get off. There are no exits. That’s how those first three-and-a-half minutes make me feel. And for the entirety of the hour that follows, Trisagion is nothing but ride.

The second LP from the musical alias of UK-based artist Joseph Hawker (aided here by Ba’al’s Richard Spencer on bass and viola, and John Kerr — of Marsh Dweller/Pyrithe/Vit/Seidr — on drums) arrives six years after the band’s debut, and you can hear every second of those six years in this music. Trisagion is beautiful, immaculately constructed, perfect. It’s filed under “atmospheric black metal,” but that doesn’t tell you what it sounds like. It sounds like Behemoth covering Bathory. It sounds like if Woods Of Desolation were in HD instead of on a TV/VCR combo, or if Sadness existed in corporeal reality instead of a flickering dream state. It is nothing but towering DSBM hooks. It is nothing but riffs. And drums. And roar. It is nothing but ride.

As suggested by its title, Trisagion comprises three songs — the shortest of which clocks in at just under 14 minutes, the longest of which is twice that length — but traditional metrics such as “time” are useless here. The sheer size of this thing is almost impossible to convey. There’s a wide-open analog richness to the sound that makes me think of Pink Floyd, and an overwhelming, otherworldly power that makes me think of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. The three pieces of Trisagion don’t even feel like individual songs — they’re three segments of a single piece. Like I said, there are no exits.

Trisagion was written by Hawker, on and off, over the last 15 years, and it was recorded by its three primary players, each in home studios spanning two continents, between August 2020 and July 2021, through the pandemic. It’s a testament to modern-day technology, I suppose, that such exquisite individual sounds could emerge from isolation and be pieced together so seamlessly. And perhaps it could have only been made during a plague, when such fury was overflowing, such solitude was required, and such connection was essential. In that sense, Trisagion is very much of its year. But while it may have come from 2021, it will not leave you here. Or there. It will not leave you at all. And once it’s on, once you’re in, then you can’t leave, either. —Michael Nelson


Succumb - XXI (The Flenser/Caligari)

The word of the year is “unrelenting.” Succumb’s sophomore album XXI hits the redline within the first five seconds of opener “Lilim” and maintains that level of intensity over the next 34 minutes. Even when Succumb go slow, the bruising beginning of “Maenad” being a prime example, it’s mean as hell, an all-teeth apex predator stalking in the shadows of your mind. XXI is everything their 2017 debut was but more, turned up to a level of nastiness that few other noisy death metal bands can reach.

Let’s enumerate the nastiness, shall we? Cheri Musrasrik’s fierce snarl often sounds like a rawer JR Hayes fronting Brainbombs and pairs perfectly with bassist Kirk Spaseff’s awesome lows. Guitarist Derek Webster Tetrises together a ton of styles, from sweaty basement death metal to noise rock lurches to disso pick scrapes, into this heaving, walls-breathing whole. Drummer Harry Cantwell is all over the place but also right where you need him to be, hammering down pegs securing teethers that keep songs from flying away and shearing those same tethers with driving blasts and fills. At the peak of their powers, all of these musicians are interested in one thing: making this deathly death metal record feel like it’s totally alive and constantly pushing forward.

This commitment to movement at all costs is infectious and energizing. Jack Shirley, perhaps most famously known as the knob-twiddler for Deafheaven’s Sunbather, steers into that sensation, packaging XXI with a punk-as-hell production that emphasizes the kinetic racket that reliably Succumb whips up. As such, you just feel immersed in the noise, transported to some Bloodbornean hell dimension where there’s nothing but bad-trip viciousness around every corner. Real, alive, fucking terrified.

Anyway, if you need something more actionable than my extra-indulgent year-end blathering, nothing sells this album better than “Soma,” a track that marries adrenaline-pumping Legionized death metal to speed-wobbling When Forever Comes Crashing chaos. I can’t wait until Succumb, a band that has already earned itself a rep as a live show barn-burner, rolls around on tour again. —Ian Chainey


Fluisteraars - Gegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking (Eisenwald)

The Dutch masters Fluisteraars entered a new creative era on the three-track Gegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking, shooting rays of brilliant light onto their surreal vision of frenzied and hypnotic atmospheric black metal that has enthralled us for years. A key feature that draws you in is the siren-esque warbling leads that guide some of the biggest moments on the album, and the duo assures you in their press materials that “NO KEYBOARDS WERE USED ON THIS RECORD!” so some other wizardry of Mink Koops, Fluisteraars’ chief architect, is at play. Bob Mollema’s vocals are as powerful and purposeful as ever, shouting existential doubts, questions, and proclamations into this whirling maelstrom. And it is a maelstrom, full of swirling and disorienting and destructive sways and shifts atop the relentless tumult. Albums this intricate and multilayered can often feel more clinical and highly produced, but the recording process for Grepen emphasizes improvisation, with each instrument receiving only a single tracking. That gives it a living, breathing, natural quality, and spur-of-the-moment tumbling drum fills, unpredictable clanging chimes and elongated groans of feedback, and other sounds at the end of each track play out like the eerie quiet in the wake of a devastating natural disaster.

Over the years, Fluisteraars have time and again expanded the limits and explored the intersections of engrossing fury and beauty, capturing sounds that speak at multiple levels and address both the grand scale of history and the intimately personal. Gegrepen further pushes these limits both outward and inward, gazing into the metaphysical and the conscious and subconscious. These tensions take time to explore, and Gegrepen reveals new nuance with each listen, kaleidoscopically shifting your understanding each time. Few, if any, bands can create the kinds of unreal auras that are Fluisteraars’ currency, where black metal melds into psychedelic shapes and colors, and unease and beauty meet in mind-expanding ways. —Wyatt Marshall


Sadness - April Sunset (Self-Released)

There was a point this past summer — must’ve been July or August, I guess, looking back at it all again now — when I was scanning Sadness’ Bandcamp page and thinking, “Huh. Kinda slow year.” And for Damián Ojeda, at that point, it had indeed been a slow year. I mean, by Damián Ojeda standards. Consider: In 2020, Ojeda gave us five new Sadness releases. But at the time that I’d found myself thinking about this, we’d only gotten one 2021 Sadness release, and that “one” was a lone song on the six-band Agnosia split, which came out on July 5. (“In A Memory”: a ludicrously incredible song.) I wasn’t, like, upset about this or anything. Ojeda can come and go as he pleases, as far as I’m concerned, as long as he eventually comes back. It was just something I was noticing, just something I’d noticed. It was nothing even worth thinking about, really. And then, almost as soon as I stopped thinking about it, I swear to God, it was like, après ça, le déluge:

09/09/21 Rain Chamber (EP)
09/24/21 Ataraxy (split)
10/24/21 Motionless, Watching You (EP)
10/29/21 April Sunset (LP)
11/05/21 untitled “Orange” album (LP)

Just like that, one release had become six, and one song had become 17. And I had gone from saying to myself, “Kinda slow year for Sadness,” to saying to the Black Market boys, “2021 is the year of Sadness.”

I’m not joking. If you were to put those 17 songs onto a single album, that album would be three hours and 13 minutes long, and it would be — not joking — one of the greatest albums ever made. I am NOT joking. Old-school fans of this music (“atmospheric black metal,” or whatever you wanna call it) fetishize Weakling and Lurker Of Chalice and Amesoeurs, partly because all of those things fucking rule, of course, but also because there is only one Weakling album, one Lurker Of Chalice album, and one Amesoeurs album — and perhaps more importantly, all of those projects were pretty well dead and buried by the time anybody actually found those albums. And for the listeners who did find them, all those things felt like forgotten treasures. Which is exactly what they were! And that’s great and all, but, like… you’ve got Sadness out here working quintuple-overtime, right now, today, making music that’s orders of magnitude better than all three of those other things combined, while sounding — rather bizarrely, now that I think about this — almost exactly like all three of those other things combined. But better! (Everything I’m saying here reminds me of this one Sadness Bandcamp comment — which I literally never stop thinking about — left for his 2018 album, Rain: “Best release since Purple Rain, only better! Superior songwriting!” It kills me. Sadness fans are the absolute greatest, and Sadness is for the fans.) Really, though: I am not motherfucking joking. Sadness eviscerates all that old shit and doesn’t show much mercy to anything else in this lane, either. In fact, by this point, Sadness has pretty much destroyed the lane itself.

Ojeda makes nominal designations between his individual releases, but I think Sadness is best understood as a single evolving body. That’s not how I first approached it, though, and I’m not totally sure it would be possible for anyone to first approach it that way. Music fans, myself included, tend to prefer things compartmentalized, which is why we do things like “year-end lists” — which, it would seem, is precisely what we’re doing here. So if you’re gonna ask me to pick one Sadness release as his best of 2021, I’m gonna go with April Sunset, because… well, because you asked me to pick one, so I picked one, all right? Of course, if you, on the other hand, were to pick, say, Rain Chamber or the “Orange” album or even just fucking “In A Memory” — that one song, by itself, alone — I wouldn’t argue with you. In fact, I’d probably agree with you! Really, it doesn’t much matter which one anybody picks, as long as that one leads to all the others, from 2021 and before and after. And it will. Because how could it not? Sadness’ music is like water. It trickles and flows inside itself, outside itself, elsewhere, wherever. Wherever it goes, it goes, and it gets there when it gets there, how it gets there, without guidance or concern. It finds its level, it finds its way. It is a mist, a whirlpool, a waterfall, an ocean. What, then, is the difference between a few drops?

Now, look, OK, there is some difference, obviously, and while Ojeda has been steadily upping Sadness’ game since its 2014 debut, he’s made insane leaps over the last three or four years — and in 2021, Ojeda elevated the entirety of the project to heretofore unimaginable levels. Ojeda’s prolificacy might suggest he’s simply churning out new music and tossing it into the world as soon as the tape stops rolling, but most of these songs have been in progress, painstakingly so, in bits and pieces, for years. That’s integral to Ojeda’s process, and it’s essential to Sadness’ remarkable, singular magic. (It seems to me fundamentally impossible that any artist could ever recreate this, even if they spent a career studiously trying to do nothing else.) When Ojeda closes the book on Sadness… well, even then, the book will probably still be open, knowing how Ojeda works. (“Demo 5” from his defunct hardcore project Life coming soon! Still not joking.) But when he really truly finally-finally cuts the lights on Sadness, critics and fans alike will look back on this catalog as one of the era’s great bodies of work, if not something akin to an artistic miracle… because that’s exactly what it is, both those things. And you could wait till that point, and at that point, you could gaze in awe at this unholy load of magnificent gems only after they’ve been put on display at a museum… because that’s exactly where they’re gonna wind up, canonized and immortalized. This music is going to be here FOREVER. You, on the other hand, should be here now. —Michael Nelson


Plebeian Grandstand - Rien ne suffit (Debemur Morti Productions)

The enduring joke around these parts is that, no matter how impartial and unbiased you try to be with a year-end list, no matter how hard you try to remove yourself from the process by engineering complicated voting schemes so that math divines the winner, that surefire classic that will withstand the test of time, that LP deity that will definitely not look as ridiculous as handing the #1 trophy to David Lee Roth’s Eat ‘Em And Smile in 1986 35 years later, you’re inevitably going to pick whatever resonated with you most over the objective “best.” Without fail. You’re just gonna do it. Because of course you will! And that’s fine! And that’s the way it should be! These lists should never be about anointing consensus royalty. There’s a reason those lists always feel deeply unsatisfying. There’s no “you” in them. Instead, to me, the best lists are the ones that act like a time capsule that tells future readers, “Oh, that year? Based on our experiences? We lived that album. We were that album.” Simple as that. So, put simply, for the Black Market staff in 2021, some of us were Sadness and some of us were Plebeian Grandstand’s Rien ne suffit.

I wrote about Rien ne suffit in our recent November column, so if you want a rundown on the nuts and bolts of this banger, I suggest you check that out. A commenter named shitty also wrote that “Plebeian Grandstand is like my soul shitting and vomiting uncontrollably all over my brain lobes and I’m here for it,” and that’s as good of a tl;dr as any.

If you need a little more, Plebeian Grandstand’s 2021 logline is that, already a diverse band in terms of styles, these Frenchmen pushed their limits by augmenting their attack with legit HNW/industrial horrorscapes. It’s neat. It’s deep. It’s like playing a Namanax record over a Krallice concert. So naturally, the noise stuff was the headline whenever I talked about this with similar sickos. “Heard the Plebeian Grandstand? I KNOW. THE NOISE.” And then we’d both make various whoa sounds because that is real, honest discourse. But, to be clear, it’s not just the noise. Everything makes me say “whoa” here.

A sampling: Drummer Ivo Kaltchev blasts like a beast… but also sprouts a third arm and pounds out these thunderous WHOOMPs that seem to enlarge the songs with every strike. Bassist Olivier Lolmède and guitarist Simon Chaubard toss a ton of notes skyward that crash together in the roiling overtone atmosphere and create sparks of dissonance that rain down earthward and ignite anything they fall on. Singer Adrien Broué just kills himself to live, bungee jumping into the void to deliver a harrowing and gutsy performance of howls, growls, and roars. I could go on for durations that clock as long as multiple spins of Rien ne suffit‘s 50-minute runtime because I hear something new every time I spin it. And here’s the crazy thing: On most other albums, any one of those elements would be a show-stopping highlight. Here, they’re just pieces of the big-ass puzzle that seems to include every “harsh” and “extreme” subgenre out there.

Anyway, forget all of that! Let’s talk about feelings. To start this off, I’m going to quote this answer from the band’s 2019 interview with Pierre Avril once more:

We have always been attracted by dark, tortured and extreme aesthetics, whether in music, cinema, literature, graphics, design… the dissonance, the rhythmic traps, but also the voices in colors closer to madness or despair than conventional metal codes, all this is stimulating for us, surprising, perhaps also a form of challenge, it forces us to listen actively. We’re here to stimulate, not to entertain.

I don’t know. Maybe that makes you roll your eyes. To me, it proves that Plebeian Grandstand make music for the same reason I listen to it, to find an outlet for the stressors of life and, once those stressors have been caught and quarantined, to immolate the unholy fuck out of them with loud noises. So, yeah, I’m not going to speak for anyone else but myself here. I’m not going to try to convince you to listen to this, that you’re not a metalhead in 2021 if Rien ne suffit isn’t a part of your metal diet, or whatever. We’re all on our own journeys. I just know that it has been a real dogshit year and this makes me feel better about it. Those howls, industrial clangs, hair-raising blasts, and beautifully disturbing guitar squalls offer a kind of catharsis I can’t find anywhere else. To close, I can’t say this is the most important metal album of 2021 because, I mean, we’re not going to know that until 2031, if we ever do at all. But right now, at this very moment, I am living Rien ne suffit, I am Rien ne suffit, and that’s good enough for me. —Ian Chainey

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