Backxwash – HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING (industrial hip-hop, horrocore)
HIS HAPPINESS is the follow-up to one of the best and most pissed-off records of 2021 and the final chapter in an autobiographical trilogy that began with 2020's genre-bending God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It. This third offering is notably less musically adventurous than its predecessors, but no less incendiary in its confronting and intensely personal exploration of race, gender and religion.
From my first few listens, I don't think HIS HAPPINESS is quite as strong as the previous records (and I'm really not sure about the Kanye West pastiche that ends the album), but it's growing on me with each listen and Backxwash herself remains one of the most exciting figures in modern music, regardless of genre.
Devin Townsend – Lightwork (chill prog)
...and now for something completely different.
(Not so) Heavy Devy's newest offering is about as far away from the indulgent excess of 2019's Empath (not to mention the suffocating extremity of Strapping Young Lad) as the man could get, while still maintaining a sense of continuity in his evolution as an artist. For me at least, it's a welcome mix up. It's been a while since I've been fully invested in anything Devin Townsend has put out, but there's something about the stark, introspective presentation of Lightwork that's capturing my attention more than maybe anything he's put out since his Devin Townsend Project days, and I feel like it could be a bit of a grower as well.
Don't sleep on the bonus Nightwork disc either. There's some heavier stuff on there that also numbers among his more effective and memorable output and, while I understand why it was left off Lightwork proper, I can't help feeling that a more streamlined combination of the two might have even made for one of his strongest single releases yet.