We may have taken a different approach to our AOTY coverage this year, but we still wanted to share what everyone on staff thought were the best releases of 2021! Comment with your own list, albums you discovered/enjoyed on our lists, and records we should check out.

Jonathan Adams

  • Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
  • Alustrium – A Monument to Silence
  • Amenra – De Doorn
  • Aquilus – Bellum I
  • Archspire – Bleed the Future
  • Atvm – Famine, Putrid and Fucking Endless
  • Black Country, New Road – For the First Time
  • Black Midi – Cavalcade
  • Der Weg einer Freiheit – Noktvrn
  • Diskord – Degenerations
  • Ethereal Shroud – Trisagion
  • First Fragment – Gloire Eternelle
  • Frontierer – Oxidized
  • Knocked Loose – A Tear in the Fabric of Life
  • Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
  • Mare Cognitum – Solar Paroxysm
  • Obscura – A Valediction
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • Panopticon – …And Again Into the Light
  • Plebeian Grandstand – Rein Ne Suffit
  • So Hideous – None But a Pure Heart Can Sing
  • Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime
  • Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning
  • Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine – A Beginner’s Mind
  • Thy Catafalque – Vadak

Joe Astill

  • Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  • Dvne – Etemen Ænka
  • Dreamwell – Modern Grotesque
  • Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
  • Meer – Playing House
  • Black Country, New Road – For the first time
  • The Sonder Bombs – Clothbound
  • For Your Health – In Spite Of
  • Pupil Slicer – Mirrors
  • Cruelty – There Is No God Where I Am
  • Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR
  • Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic
  • Møl – Diorama
  • Hippotraktor – Meridian
  • illuminati hotties – Let Me Do One More
  • Rivers of Nihil – The Work
  • Trophy Scars – Astral Pariah
  • Dave – We’re All Alone In This Together
  • Urne – Serpent & Spirit
  • Vexed – Culling Culture
  • LLNN – Unmaker
  • Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry
  • A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Invisible Cities
  • Mastiff – Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth

Trent Bos

  • Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
  • The Armed – ULTRAPOP
  • Atvm – Famine, Putrid and Fucking Endless
  • Backxwash – I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
  • Black Country, New Road – For the first time
  • black midi – Cavalcade
  • BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  • Death Goals – The Horrible and The Miserable
  • Dreamwell – Modern Grotesque
  • Dvne – Etemen Ænka
  • fallfiftyfeet – Twisted World Perspective
  • for your health – in spite of
  • Kaatayra – Inpariquipê
  • Kaonashi – Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year
  • Knoll – Interstice
  • LLNN – Unmaker
  • Moral Collapse – Moral Collapse
  • Orphan Donor – Unraveled
  • Pink Siifu – GUMBO’!
  • portrayal of guilt – We Are Always Alone
  • Pupil Slicer – Mirrors
  • Sentinels – Collapse by Design
  • The Silver – Ward of Roses
  • The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die – Illusory Walls
  • Trophy Scars – Astral Pariah

Josh Bulleid

  1. Between the Buried and Me – Colors II
  2. Every Time I Die – Radical
  3. Panopticon – …And Again into the Light
  4. Fucked Up – Year of the Horse
  5. Moon Unit – Differences in Language and Lifestyle
  6. Dvne – Etemen Ænka
  7. Employed to Serve – Conquering
  8. Frontierer – Oxidized
  9. Don Broco – Amazing Things
  10. Backxwash – I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses
  11. Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
  12. Archspire – Bleed the Future
  13. Urne – Serpent & Spirit
  14. Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
  15. Brand of Sacrifice – Lifeblood
  16. Green Lung – Black Harvest
  17. Cry – 壱 [One]
  18. Converge – Bloodmoon: I
  19. Vorvaň – Awakening
  20. Bad Wolves – Dear Monsters
  21. Crypts of Despair – All Light Swallowed
  22. Trillionaire – Romulus
  23. Gost – Rites of Love and Reverence
  24. Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm
  25. Lordi – Humanimals

Nick Cusworth

  • Black Country, New Road – For the first time
  • BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  • Floating Points & Pharaoh Sanders – Promises
  • Fucked Up – Year of the Horse
  • Green Lung – Black Harvest
  • Lantlôs – Wildhund
  • Leprous – Aphelion
  • Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
  • Lizzard – Eroded
  • Long Hallways – I Still Believe In Us
  • Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World
  • Manchester Orchestra – The Million Masks of God
  • Meer – Playing House
  • Mogwai – As the Love Continues
  • Mountainscape – Acceptance
  • Portico Quartet – Monument
  • SEIMS – Four
  • Shy, Low – Snake Behind the Sun
  • So Hideous – None But a Pure Heart Can Sing
  • Sons of Kemet – Black to the Future
  • soup – Visions
  • Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
  • The Physics House Band – Incident on 3rd
  • VOLA – Witness
  • Voronoi – The Last Three Seconds

Cody Dilullo

  1. Archspire – Bleed the Future
  2. BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE
  3. Dying Wish – Fragments of a Bitter Memory
  4. Ophidian I – Desolate
  5. Abstract Void – Wishdream
  6. Born of Osiris – Angel or Alien
  7. cleopatrick – bummer
  8. Hacktivist – Hyperdialect
  9. Wolves in the Throne Room – Primordial Arcana
  10. Frontierer – Oxidized
  11. Lil Nas X – Montero
  12. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon
  13. Taylor Swift – Evermore
  14. Structures – None of the Above
  15. Left to Suffer – On Death
  16. Celestial Swarm – Gateways to the Necroverse
  17. Atræ Bilis – Apexapien
  18. Waking the Cadaver – Authority Through Intimidation
  19. Planetkiller – Fraudulent
  20. Evanescence – The Bitter Truth
  21. Limp Bizkit – Still Sucks
  22. City Girl – C-Girl
  23. Vomit the Soul – Cold
  24. God’s Hate – God’s Hate
  25. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

Karlo Doroc

  • Archspire – Bleed the Future
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
  • Epiphanic Truth – Dark Triad: Bitter Psalms to a Sordid Species
  • Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde
  • Rivers of Nihil – The Work
  • Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon
  • Don Broco – Amazing Things
  • Bullet For My Valentine – Bullet For My Valentine
  • Hacktivist – Hyperdialect
  • Crown – The End of All Things
  • Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets
  • Nubiyan Twist – Freedom Fables
  • I Built the Sky and Jake Howsam Lowe – Coalesce
  • Leprous – Aphelion
  • Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
  • Wristmeetrazor – Replica of a Strange Love
  • While She Sleeps – Sleeps Society
  • Khirki – Κτηνωδία
  • Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist
  • Genesis Owusu – Smiling With No Teeth
  • Be’lakor – Coherence
  • Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
  • White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost of Dreaming
  • Moon Unit – Differences in Language and Lifestyle

Calder Dougherty

  1. Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde
  2. LLNN – Unmaker
  3. Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak – An Evening With Silk Sonic
  4. black midi – Cavalcade
  5. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue
  6. Knocked Loose – A Tear in the Fabric of Life
  7. Fawn Limbs – Darwin Falls
  8. Blindfolded and Led to the Woods – Nightmare Withdrawals
  9. Dreamwell – Modern Grotesque
  10. Civerous – Decrepit Flesh Relic
  11. Limp Bizkit – STILL SUCKS
  12. Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb
  13. Whitechapel – Kin
  14. Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime
  15. Sermon of Flames – I Have Seen the Light, and It Was Repulsive
  16. Archspire – Bleed the Future
  17. Knoll – Interstice
  18. Dessiderium – Aria
  19. Luo – Convoluted Mess Machine
  20. Throne – Pestilent Dawn
  21. BADBADNOTGOOD – Talk Memory
  22. Born of Osiris – Angel or Alien
  23. Moral Collapse – Moral Collapse
  24. Wanderer – Liberation From A Brutalist Existence
  25. Portico Quartet – Monument

Simon Handmaker

  • Brii – Sem Proposito
  • Daisuke Ishiwatari – Guilty Gear – Strive- Original Soundtrack Vol. 1
  • Halluxvalgus – Reflections of Distant Dreams
  • Injury Reserve – By the Time I Get to Phoenix
  • Kaatayra – Inpariquipe
  • Grateful Dead – Fox Theatre, St. Louis, Mo 12-10-71
  • Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime
  • Replicant – Malignant Reality
  • Full of Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
  • Yautja – The Lurch
  • Steel Bearing Hand – Slay in Hell
  • Sunless – Ylem
  • delving – Hirschbrunnen
  • Spectral Lore – Ετερόφωτος
  • Malignant Altar – Realms of Exquisite Morbidity
  • Trha – lhum johlhduc
  • Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning
  • Worm – Foreverglade
  • Mortiferum – Preserved in Torment
  • Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
  • Cerebral Rot – Excretion of Mortality
  • Devoid of Thought – Outer World Graves
  • Lunar Shadow – Wish to Leave
  • Seputus – Phantom Indigo
  • Darkthrone – Eternal Hails….

Ahmed Hasan

  • Aborted – ManiaCult
  • Archspire – Bleed the Future
  • Blindfolded and Led to the Woods – Nightmare Withdrawals
  • Cynic – Ascension Codes
  • Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
  • First Fragment – Gloire Éternelle
  • Frontierer – Oxidized
  • Full of Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
  • Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde
  • Julian Lage – Squint
  • LLNN – Unmaker
  • Lee Pardini – Homebodies
  • Leprous – Aphelion
  • Lil Nas X – MONTERO
  • Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
  • Nick Johnston – Young Language
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • Rivers of Nihil – The Work
  • Spiritbox – Eternal Blue
  • Stortregn – Impermanence
  • Sunless – Ylem
  • Thank You Scientist – Plague Accommodations
  • VOLA – Witness
  • Voronoi – The Last Three Seconds
  • vildhjarta – måsstaden under vatten

Bridget Hughes

  • Facelift Deformation – Path to Retribution
  • Vulvodynia – Praenuntius Infiniti
  • Fatuous Rump – Perceptions of the Dark Ornaments
  • Djinn-Ghül – The Mechalith
  • Brand of Sacrifice – Lifeblood
  • Sugar Candy Mountain – Impression
  • First Fragment – Gloire Éternelle
  • Diphenylchloroarsine – Subterranean Existential Warfare
  • Succumb – XXI
  • Diskord – Degenerations
  • Atræ Bilis – Apexapien
  • Abominable Putridity – Parasitic Metamorphosis Manifestation
  • Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde
  • Blood Cultures – LUNO
  • Rob Zombie – The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy
  • Oxygen Destroyer – Sinister Monstrosities Spawned by the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind
  • Sunless – YLEM
  • Replicant – Malignant Reality
  • Pathology – The Everlasting Plague
  • Monument of Misanthropy – Unterweger
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • 200 Stab Wounds – Slave to the Scalpel
  • Sanguisugabogg – Pornographic Seizures
  • Cutterred Flesh – Sharing is Caring
  • The Reds, Pinks and Purples – Uncommon Weather

Jordan Jerabek

  1. The Armed – ULTRAPOP
  2. Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon
  3. Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
  4. Steel Bearing Hand – Slay In Hell
  5. Bríi – Sem Propósito
  6. ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL – ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL
  7. Every Time I Die – Radical
  8. Succumb – XXI
  9. Unto Others – Strength
  10. Ophidian I – Desolate
  11. Quicksand – Distand Populations
  12. Dream Unending – Tide Turns Eternal
  13. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – A Cult That Worships A God Of Death
  14. Trophy Scars – Astral Pariah
  15. BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  16. Lantlôs – Wildhund
  17. Body Void – Bury Me Beneath this Rotting Earth
  18. Wanderer – Liberation from a Brutalist Existence
  19. CHVRCHES – Screen Violence
  20. Dust Moth – Rising//Sailing
  21. Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows – The Magnetic Ridge
  22. FACS – Present Tense
  23. Part Chimp – Drool
  24. Sallow Moth – Stasis Cocoon
  25. Sunless – Ylem

Eden Kupermintz

  • Aenigmatum – Deconsecrate
  • ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL – ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL
  • Azure – Of Brine and Angel’s Beaks
  • Bent Knee – Frosting
  • Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
  • Christian Cosentino – Lawn
  • Dvne – Etemen Ænka
  • Fierce Deity – Power, Wisdom, Courage
  • Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • Fugitive Wizard – Obscuri Aeternum
  • HAAST – Made of Light
  • Kaschalot – Zenith
  • Long Hallways – I Still Believe In Us
  • Meer – Playing House
  • Mystras – Empires Vanquished and Dismantled
  • Obsolete – Animate//Isolate
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • Outrun the Sunlight – A Vast Field of Silence
  • She Said Destroy – Succession
  • So Hideous – None But a Pure Heart Can Sing
  • Stone Healer – Conquistador
  • Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime
  • Stortregn – Impermanence
  • Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
  • The Flight of Sleipnir – Eventide

Scott Murphy

  • Archspire – Bleed the Future
  • Bent Knee – Frosting
  • Black Country, New Road – For the first time
  • black midi – Cavalcade
  • Brand of Sacrifice – LIfeblood
  • Dormant Ordeal – The Grand Scheme of Things
  • Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • Frontierer – Oxidized
  • Full of Hell – Garden of Burning ApparitionS
  • Glassing – Twin Dream
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
  • Lantlôs – Wildhund
  • LLNN – Unmaker
  • Monobody – Comma
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • Papangu – Holoceno
  • Plebeian Grandstand – Rien ne suffit
  • Portico Quartet – Monument
  • SEIMS – Four
  • Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb
  • Succumb – XXI
  • Syncatto – A Place to Breathe
  • Victory Over the Sun – Nowherer
  • Voronoi – The Last Three Seconds
  • Wax People – Wax People

Noyan

  • Trivium – In The Court of the Dragon
  • Archspire – Bleed the Future
  • Machine Head – Arrows In Words From The Sky
  • Interloper – Search Party
  • Stortregn – Impermanence
  • Ophidian I – Desolate
  • Hacktivist – Hyperdialect
  • Christian Cosentino – Lawn
  • Silent Planet – Iridescent
  • Humanity’s Last Breath – Valde
  • Abstract Void – Wishdream
  • Between The Buried and Me – Colors II
  • As Everything Unfolds – Within Each Lies The Other
  • First Fragment – Gloire Eternelle
  • Limp Bizkit – STILL SUCKS
  • Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon
  • Alustrium – A Monument to Silence
  • Leprous – Aphelion
  • Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic
  • Lil Nas X- Montero
  • Sunless – Ylem
  • Brand of Sacrifice – Lifeblood
  • Spiritbox – Eternal Blue
  • Panopticon – …And Again Into The Light
  • VOLA – Witness

Jimmy Rowe

  1. Frontierer – Oxidized
  2. Pupil Slicer – Mirrors
  3. The Armed – ULTRAPOP
  4. Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
  5. Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon
  6. Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs)
  7. Limp Bizkit – STILL SUCKS
  8. Dream Unending – Tide Turns Eternal
  9. Blindfolded and Led to the Woods – Nightmare Withdrawals
  10. Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
  11. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  12. Stortregn – Impermenance
  13. Chevelle – NIRATIAS
  14. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite
  15. Defacement – Defacement
  16. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic
  17. Abominable Putridity – Parasitic Metamorphosis Manifestation
  18. Plebeian Grandstand – Rien ne suffit
  19. Yautja – The Lurch
  20. Glassing – Twin Dream
  21. First Fragment – Gloire Éternelle
  22. Full of Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
  23. Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone
  24. Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde
  25. Worm – Foreverglade

Pete Williams

  1. Panopticon – …And Again Into the Light
  2. Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage
  3. Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal
  4. Dream Unending – Tide Turns Eternal
  5. Khemmis – Deceiver
  6. Five the Hierophant – Through Aureate Void
  7. Archspire – Bleed the Future
  8. Oryx – Lamenting a Dying World
  9. Full of Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
  10. Woman is the Earth – Dust of Forever
  11. Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning
  12. Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime
  13. MØL – Diorama
  14. Vouna – Atropos
  15. Steel Bearing Hand – Slay in Hell
  16. Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead
  17. Abstract Void – Wishdream
  18. Noltem – Illusions in the Wake
  19. Rivers of Nihil – The Work
  20. Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum
  21. Vokonis – Odyssey
  22. Oxygen Destroyer – Sinister Monstrosities Spawned By the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind
  23. Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
  24. Green Lung – Black Harvest
  25. Gatecreeper – An Unexpected Reality

David Zeidler

  1. Pinegrove – Amperland, NY
  2. Panopticon – …And Again Into The Light
  3. The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die – Illusory Walls
  4. Dreamwell – Modern Grotesque
  5. Every Time I Die – Radical
  6. So Hideous – None But a Pure Heart Can Sing
  7. sonhos tomam conta – hypnagogia
  8. PUPIL SLICER – Mirrors
  9. One Step Closer – This Place You Know
  10. SeeYouSpaceCowboy – The Romance Of Affliction
  11. BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  12. Mogwai – As The Love Continues
  13. Glassing – Twin Dream
  14. Dust Moth – Rising // Sailing
  15. BLAK – El Tall d’Escil·la
  16. Trna – Istok
  17. CIVILIA – Past Lives
  18. Shy, Low – Snake Behind The Sun
  19. Ranges – Cardinal Winds
  20. Death Stare – Haze
  21. soup – Visions
  22. Vientre – Estado de Imago
  23. Blankenberge – Everything
  24. Raccoon City – For Nobody, Nowhere
  25. Manchester Orchestra – The Million Masks of God

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