Not Dungeon Synth Nor Dark Ambient But…Fifteen Albums From 2021 That (for me) Transcended Greatness!!

Although The Dungeon In Deep Space is primarily focused on Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth, I take great pride in the fact that my love for music has no borders. I’m a life-long metal fanatic but there are so many more genres that I love and respect. Here are some of my favorite albums of 2021 and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

1. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

https://spiritboxofficial.bandcamp.com

A lot of hype surrounded the release of Spiritbox’s debut album ‘Eternal Blue’. Prior to its release, quite a few video singles were released that catapulted the band into a much bigger realm. Was the album worth the wait? Absolutely!! With an impeccable blend of djent metal and commercial anthems with a slight pop vibe, the album lived up to the hype and much more. Soaring vocals, masterful instrumentation and top notch songwriting make this one of my favorite albums of 2021. Best of all, there was a cassette release as well!

2. Atomic Skunk – Wisdom Of The Sun

https://atomicskunk.bandcamp.com/album/wisdom-of-the-sun

I’ve been a huge fan of Atomic Skunk since 2009 and it’s the blend of light ambient, World music influences and a plethora of soundscapes & field recordings that make this style so unique. After an 8 year hiatus, Atomic Skunk started releasing consistently great albums in 2019 and has been on a relentless escapade since then. This years ‘Wisdom Of The Sun’ has been one of my favorite electronic album of the year and I hope this pace continues for the foreseeable future.

3. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

https://cannibalcorpse.bandcamp.com/album/violence-unimagined

Hands down, ‘Violence Unimagined’ is Cannibal Corpse’s best album since 2006’s ‘Kill’. I’m not sure if it’s the addition of Erik Rutan (who recently replaced Pat O’Brien) or the fact that their songwriting is getting better with age. Either way, this is a banger of an album from start to finish and it reiterates the fact that Old School Death Metal is alive and well…and here to stay.

4. Kowloon Walled City – Piecework

https://kowloonwalledcity.bandcamp.com/album/piecework

Kowloon Walled City excel at creating a lethargic brand of Post Punk. The songs are complacent, not overly aggressive and no other band does it quite like they do. As adroit songwriters, they are able to blend heavy music with scaled back distortion while maintaining a massive sound. ‘Piecework’ is one of their best albums and I still listen to it on a regular basis.

5. Cosmic Abyss – Midnight

https://cosmicabyss.bandcamp.com/album/midnight

Cosmic Abyss is one of the best DIY artists in existence right now. Producing an offshoot brand of Doom Metal with an alluring ambient vibe, this is obscure experimentation at its best. ‘Midnight’ is one of his best offerings thus far and sets a high bar for other artists that dabble in this style of music.

6. Dinosaur Jr – Sweep It Into Space

https://dinosaurjr.bandcamp.com/album/sweep-it-into-space

80’s alt-rock masters, Dinosaur Jr., continue to release their brand of pre (and post) grunge rock. Expect plenty of fuzzy guitar tones, laid back vocals and well executed songs that continue to impress from an aging band that doesn’t see an end in sight.

7. Human Figures – After An Ordeal

https://popnihil.bandcamp.com/album/after-an-ordeal

If you grew up in the 80’s and were exposed to the surge of dark wave and post pop and liked it, then look no further than Human Figures. Creating a resurgence of the aforementioned genres, Human Figures excels at recreating that retrospective vibe and the production value alone is the icing on the cake. ‘After An Ordeal’ is an EP’s worth of incredible tracks that are sure to impress the listener with its emotional output and captivating sound. Don’t sleep on this one!

8. Breather 1 – The Noodle Bar

https://breather1.bandcamp.com/album/the-noodle-bar

Breather 1 has the whole cyberpunk and synthwave vibe down pat. ‘The Noodle Bar’ is a massive conceptual album that takes the listener on a retrospective journey in a futuristic setting. Sit back, grab your favorite headphones and enjoy this staggering ride to an enchanted world that you won’t soon forget.

9. Friendly Donut Shop – Childish Footsteps

https://friendlydonutshop.bandcamp.com/album/childish-footprints

There is a reason that Comfy Synth is a thing. It was meant to be a peaceful approach to the easy listening of obscure music. Friendly Donut Shop takes that concept seriously and is one of the best in the business. Latest release, ‘Childish Footsteps’ has a soothing and warm feeling that will take the listener away from their worries and replace it with positive energy. Another amazing effort by Friendly Donut Shop and I hope more albums of this variety are on the way in the near future.

10. Primordial Serpent – The Winter Warrior

https://primordialserpent.bandcamp.com/album/the-winter-warrior

Upon initial listen I was blown away by ‘The Winter Warrior’. Primordial Serpent has a serious knack for writing aggressive tunes that conjure that primitive sound of early 90’s black metal. With a lo-fi production and contentious style, this is exactly what I want to hear when listening to barbaric black metal.

11. Phurpa – Hymns And Rituals Of Gyer

https://modernbon.bandcamp.com/album/hymns-and-rituals-of-gyer

Phurpa takes ceremonial chanting and Tibetan ritualistic vocalizations to the next level. For some, an acquired taste must be obtained before soaking in the deep value of a Phurpa recording or you may not be able to handle it. However, for others that like it, the output is extremely rewarding. ‘Hymns And Rituals Of Gyer’ is nearly three hours of extreme mediation through deep chants and throat singing. Ancient instrumentation are used to give this bleak occasion a setting of ritualistic darkness.

12. Mastodon – Hushed And Grim

https://www.mastodonrocks.com/?frontpage=true

Although Mastodon is not as heavy as they were when they first started out, for what they lack in the “heavy” department, they more than make up with superior songwriting. This mammoth two-album set of songs is some of their best – and most accessible – work to date. There are some heavy tracks on here as well as dark ballads and they are all amazing. What’s more impressive is the three-vocal attack that just keeps getting better.

13. Flotsam And Jetsam – Blood In The Water

https://www.flotstildeath.com/news/flotsam-and-jetsam-releases-title-track-brand-new-video-of-upcoming-album-blood-in-the-water/

80’s Thrash Metal pioneers Flotsam And Jetsam may not have a storied career like that of Metallica, Megadeth or Slayer, but you have to be impressed with their sticktoitiveness approach to releasing music. ‘Blood In The Water’ is their fourteenth full-length album and quite possibly their best to date. Every track is a banger and the vocals, music and production are the best they’ve ever been. Definitely check this one out if you’re into that classic Thrash Metal sound with a slight modern influence.

14. Converge & Chelsea Wolfe – Bloodmoon: I

https://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/bloodmoon-i

I love collaboration albums and when I heard that Converge and Chelsea Wolfe were releasing an album together, I almost lost my mind. At first, I had no idea what to expect, especially since the styles of both artists are on the opposite end of the spectrum. However, the results is a clean mix of both artist with even distribution of styles and pristine song writing. I wish more artists would follow the lead of Converge and Chelsea Wolfe and push the envelope of fusing styles. This is amazing stuff.

15. Novemthree – Storms Of Memory

https://glassthroatrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/storms-of-memory

I’ve never been disappointed with any release from Glass Throat Recordings. With artists such as Blood Of The Black Owl, Moon Mourning Earth, and Cedar Dreamer, Glass Throat Recordings releases Nature-inspired Folk music with elements of acoustic passages, ambient, and impressive vocalizations. The addition of Novemthree is just a natural progression of the label and ‘Storms Of Memory’ is one of the finest albums to be released this year. Light vocals, dreamy instrumentation and the occasional percussion input are stand-out factors for this highly impressive album.

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