After the success of last year’s poll, I decided it was worth the time and immense pain of doing this again! Once again and always, I am a glutton for pain. But enough about me! This post is all about you! Well, to be more precise, 118 of you. So I’ll let you decide how representative these numbers are thanks to self-selection bias etc. etc., but nonetheless we do have data and results to present, as well as some insights to draw from them!

Top Overall Albums

  1. ArchspireBleed the Future
  2. DvneEtemen Ænka
  3. Between the Buried and MeColors II
  4. The ArmedULTRAPOP
  5. Every Time I DieRadical
  6. MastodonHushed and Grim
  7. Rivers of NihilThe Work
  8. Panopticon…And Again Into The Light
  9. Mare CognitumSolar Paroxysm
  10. First FragmentGloire Éternelle
  11. SpiritboxEternal Blue
  12. ObscuraA Valediction
  13. IotunnAccess All Worlds
  14. Ad NauseamImperative Imperceptible Impulse
  15. Lingua IgnotaSINNER GET READY
  16. Genghis TronDream Weapon
  17. TurnstileGlow On
  18. Gojira – Fortitude
  19. Converge & Chelsea WolfeBloodmoon: I
  20. StortregnImpermanence
  21. Ophidian IDesolate
  22. VOLAWitness
  23. InferiVile Genesis
  24. Soen Imperial
  25. Low Hey What
  26. ArchitectsFor Those That Wish to Exist
  27. Suffering HourThe Cyclic Reckoning
  28. Humanity’s Last BreathVälde
  29. WormForeverglade
  30. DeafheavenInfinite Granite
  31. VildhjartaMåsstaden Under Vatten
  32. Plebeian GrandstandRien ne suffit
  33. Kayo DotMoss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike
  34. black midiCavalcade
  35. AtvmFamine, Putrid and Fucking Endless
  36. LeprousAphelion
  37. Green LungBlack Harvest
  38. Black Country, New RoadFor the first time
  39. AlustriumA Monument To Silence
  40. FrontiererOxidized
  41. The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to DieIllusory Walls
  42. yautjaThe Lurch
  43. AmenraDe Doorn
  44. EidolaThe Architect
  45. KaatayraInpariquipê
  46. Thy CatafalqueVadak
  47. Diablo Swing Orchestra2021 Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole
  48. CarcassTorn Arteries
  49. The Ruins of BeverastThe Thule’s Grimoires
  50. LLNNUnmaker

If a readership is a reflection of a publication, then I can say with confidence that we continue to have one of the best readerships out there. Compare this list to comparable ones from Metal Hammer, Metalsucks, Metal Injection, Revolver, and Kerrang, and I think this very clearly comes out on top. In particular seeing Archspire and Dvne at the top very closely mirrors our own internal polling.

Top Death Metal Albums

1. ArchspireBleed The Future
2. Ad NauseamImperative Imperceptible Impulse
3. Rivers of NihilThe Work
4. 1914Where Fear And Weapons Meet
5. Obscura A Valediction
6. Ophidian IDesolate
7. IotunnAccess All Worlds
8. AlustriumA Monument To Silence
9. WormForeverglade
10. Stortregn Imermanence
11. First FragmentGlore Éternelle
12. Suffering HourThe Cyclic Reckoning
13. MortiferumPreserved in Torment
14. Ænigmatum ‎– Deconsecrate
15. Humanity’s Last BreathVälde
15. VeilburnerLurkers In The Capsule Of Skull
15. Anna PestDark Arms Reach Skyward With Bone White Fingers
18. WharflurchPsychedelic Realms Ov Hell
19. Frozen SoulCrypt of Ice
20. Ominous RuinAmidst Voices that Echo in Stone
20. AbioticIkigai

Top Black Metal Albums

1. Panopticon… And Again Into the Light
2. Mare CognitumSolar Paroxysm
3. Der Weg Einer FreiheitNoktvrn
4. Wolves in the Throne RoomPrimordial Arcana
5. Plebeian GrandstandRein ne suffit
6. StormkeepTales of Othertime
7. MØLDiorama
8. Harakiri for the SkyMære
9. Spectral WoundA Diabolic Thirst
10. 1914Where Fear and Weapons Meet
11. Suffering HourThe Cyclic Reckoning
12. FluisteraarsGegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking
12. Dordeduh Har
12. GlassingTwin Dream
15. The Ruins of BeverastThe Thule Grimoires
16. So HideousNone But a Pure Heart Can Sing
17. KaatayraInpariquipê
18. Ethereal ShroudTrisagion
19. StortregnImpermanence
20. Olhava Frozen Bloom
20. Violet ColdEmpire of Love

Top Doom Metal Albums

1. KhemmisDeceiver
2. Dream UnendingTide Turns Eternal
3. Green LungBlack Harvest
4. WormForeverglade
5. Swallow the SunMoonflowers
6. King WomanCelestial Blues
7. The Ruins of BeverastThe Thule’s Grimoires
8. Wheel Preserved in Time
9. The Flight Of SleipnirEventide
10. Hooded MenaceThe Tritonus Bell
11. MonolordYour Time to Shine
12. SkepticismCompanion
13. Converge & Chelsea WolfeBloodmoon: I
14. TribulationWhere The Gloom Becomes Sound
15. SeedDun Pageant
15. yautjaThe Lurch
15. MastodonHushed and Grim
18. AmenraDe Doorn
19. MortiferumPreserved In Torment
20. LLNNUnmaker
20. DvneEtemen Ænka

Top -Core Albums

1. Every Time I DieRadical
2. The ArmedULTRAPOP
3. SpiritboxEternal Blue
4. Pupil SlicerMirrors
5. FrontiererOxidized
6. TurnstileGlow On
7. ArchitectsFor Those that Wish to Exist
8. Full of HellGarden of Burning Apparitions
9. Converge & Chelsea WolfeBloodmoon: I
10. ZaoThe Crimson Corridor
11. Silent PlanetIridescent
12. Knocked LooseA Tear In The Fabric Of Life
13. DreamwellModern Grotesque
14. Employed to ServeConquering
15. Between the Buried and MeColors II
15. WhitechapelKin
17. Brand Of SacrificeLifeblood
18. Fawn LimbsDarwin Falls
19. Portrayal of GuiltCHRISTFUCKER
20. ErraErra

Top Prog Albums

1. Between the Buried and MeColors II
2. DvneEtemen Ænka
3. MastodonHushed and Grim
4. SoenImperial
5. LeprousAphelion
6. Rivers of NihilThe Work
7. VOLAWitness
8. Boss KeloidFamily the Smiling Thrush
9. IotunnAccess All Worlds
10. Thy CatafalqueVadak
11. GojiraFortitude
12. CynicAscension Codes
13. Converge & Chelsea WolfeBloodmoon: I
14. Dream TheaterA View from the Top of the World
15. Vildhjarta Måsstaden under vatten
16. Genghis TronDream Weapon
17. black midi Cavalcade
17. ArchspireBleed the Future
17. ObscuraA Valediction
17. DordeduhHar

Top Post- Albums

1. DvneEtemen Ænka
2. Cult of LunaThe Raging River
3. Glassing Twin Dream
4. MØLDiorama
5. Godspeed You! Black EmperorG_D’s Pee AT STATE’S END
6. AmenraDe Doorn
7. LLNNUnmaker
8. Violet ColdEmpire of Love
9. KAUANIce Fleet
10. Converge & Chelsea WolfeBloodmoon: I
11. MogwaiAs The Love Continues
12. BRUIT ≤ The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
13. DéhàA Luminous Constant
14. The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to DieIllusory Walls
15. BosskMigration
16. The ArmedULTRAPOP
17. DeafheavenInfinite Granite
18. So HideousNone But a Pure Heart Can Sing
19. Emma Ruth RundleEngine of Hell
19. Still{ }
19. MONOPilgrimage of the Soul
19. BIG|BRAVEVital

Top Pop Albums

1. Adele30
2. Little SimzSometimes I Might Be Introvert
3. CHVRCHESScreen Violence
4. Lil Nas XMontero
5. Silk SonicAn Evening with Silk Sonic
6. Arooj AftabVulture Prince
7. SpiritboxEternal Blue
8. Kanye WestDonda
9. Olivia RodrigoSour
9. Manchester OrchestraThe Million Masks of God

So like last year, we also asked a group of questions not directly-related to favorite albums and the like. Once again Covid-19 played a large part to these questions, though I also really wanted to get some sense of people’s general mental well-being and if they feel they have what they need to live well. Here’s how those shook out.

The good news: If we can extrapolate these results to our general readership as a whole, then there are very few of you who have chosen to not take any Covid vaccines. If you are one of those people I can guarantee that nothing I can say here will change your views on that. I just ask that you really evaluate the information you are receiving on the subject and make sure that those sources do not have ulterior motives of their own that are not in your best interest.

The less good news is that half of respondents as of mid-to-late December have not received a booster shot. In the case of our current wave of Omicron a booster is not a guarantee that you won’t catch Covid, but the data strongly suggests that it all-but guarantees you will not land in the hospital from it. This is unfortunately a case where I am more mad at how the discourse and policy around boosters was rolled out in the US and elsewhere, because by the time it was clear all people should get them as soon as they were eligible it was already too late for many. I know many people, including several on staff here, who caught Covid shortly before they could get a booster or even immediately after. In short, get the booster, and expect this to become a yearly prompt that likely gets bundled in with the other flu vaccine eventually.

Not so fun fact: the last indoor concert I attended was early February 2020, which also happened to be we broke the weather‘s first ever (and tragically thus far only if you don’t count our participation in Somerville Porchfest this past fall) show. I have been tempted multiple times since to brave the odds and see live music, and it’s killed me not doing so. But the idea of being in a packed indoor space with a bunch of sweaty people drinking/eating and generally not wearing masks is enough just in theory to trigger my anxiety these days. I hate it, but the alternatives feel worse.

Based on the responses above, it appears many are in the same or similar boat as me. Over 1/3 of respondents attended zero shows last year, and the same percent only went to 1 or 2 shows. That said, it appears that those who did attend shows felt reasonably comfortable about their covid safety. The median response was a 3 out of 5, with the average somewhere between 3 and 4. I really, truly hope to join you all in those feelings and endeavors soon and break my dry spell this year.

So this is actually a repeat from last year’s survey, and a very odd thing seems to have happened in that year. This year’s outlook on Covid’s impact in 2022 is noticeably more pessimistic than last year’s for 2021. Then the most popular response was 4, with a fair number of people selecting 5. This year the curve has definitely shifted down by one level. I actually don’t know if I would agree with that myself as I do feel starting around spring this year we should experience at least a few months of relative “normalcy,” whereas in 2021 it feels like that really only lasted maybe a couple of months.

I think what is happening though is way more aggressive expectations management after the disappointments of 2021. At the end of 2020 I think there were probably too many people (including, frankly, within the incoming Biden administration) who believed that the coming vaccines would be the panacea to the virus and we could squash it for good. Not only did the vaccination rollout not go as planned, with huge swaths of populations refusing to take them, but multiple strains of the virus would prove to be incredibly efficient at evading the immunity of people who had received the vaccine or had even already caught the virus previously. So now more people are readjusting their expectations and possibly accepting that this is something we will have to learn to live with in some fashion for at least a few years to come. I think that’s actually a healthy attitude overall even though it can also lead to some less productive Covid fatalism (“We’re all going to get it anyway, so why wear masks/quarantine/get boosters/etc.?”).

As someone who is a chronic and lifelong sufferer of The Big Sad(TM), I think my perspective on how people’s overall mental health is probably going to be more pessimistic than the majority of non-clinically depressive people. But at least based on this relatively small sample with almost certainly some self-selection bias on multiple levels, it appears you all aren’t doing stellar yourselves. Nearly 40% of you described your mental health in 2021 as being fair to poor, and over another 1/3 of you were somewhere in the middle of the scale. Only a quarter of respondents said they were actively doing quite well. I probably would have described my own as being fair to poor, but I also had some extenuating circumstances around all of that.

The more hopeful side of things though is that just over half of you said that you have pretty much everything you need in the way of resources and support to address whatever struggles you might face, and only a few of you said you feel you do not have sufficient resources. There is definitely a sea change of sorts happening about how we think about mental health and deal with it on a larger scale, but at least in America it continues to be an uphill battle just to find adequate mental health treatment and not be bankrupted from it. It’s better but still not good. I don’t have any real answers (other than, you know, dismantling capitalism and the unreasonable and unsustainable pressures it places onto ordinary people, not to mention the earth itself), but it is something I feel strongly about and will continue to be a public advocate for whenever possible.

And that’s about it in terms of information that is probably particularly interesting to you all. We did receive some responses and feedback for our own internal use that is always incredibly welcome and will help us plan some of our priorities and goals for the coming year. For one, I already have been hard at work building up our blooming community on Discord to offer our readers and well-wishers a place to chat and nerd out about all sorts of things.

I will say in particular I got choked up reading the responses to the question I posed of “What was your favorite moment of 2021, music-related or otherwise?” I got to read people sharing comments about new relationships, impending weddings, births, birthdays, quitting their jobs, escapes to nature, and all sorts of musical high points. It’s a legitimately good reminder to me that even when things look like absolute and complete shit from the mile-high view, there are constantly little moments of light happening. So thank you for sharing all of that with me, and I hope it also gave you an opportunity to focus or reflect upon something positive for a moment.

And that is where I will leave things. I wish you all nothing but good things this coming year, and at the very least if things are going to shit we can still be in the shit together.

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