ARCHSPIRE’s Bleed The Future
is the best album of 2021, according to *everyone*. They topped the list that came out of the analysis of almost 100 international end of the year lists with 119 points. Archspire follow up Oranssi Pazuzu (2020), Blood Incantation (2019), Yob (2018), Converge (2017) and Vektor (2016).
Let it to metalheads to find a way to sonically escape reality. Last year we indulged in Finnish psychedelics to dampen the outside world of lockdowns and restrictions, but this year we needed something stronger. A full bottle of ear knotting Canadian technical death metal was there for us when we needed it most and they proudly top the list of 656 albums.
‘Bleed The Future is a dense and compact body of superlative technical death metal’ (Metalwani); ‘Every one of Bleed the Future’s eight songs abounds with such technical feats, and Archspire’s care in their arrangement ensures that you remember every note’ (AngryMetalGuy); ‘The band’s commitment to outdoing each previous release has showed no sign of letting up steam, law of averages be damned’ (HeavyBlogisHeavy); ‘Bleed The Future hits new levels of dizzying technicality mixed with the band’s ability to make the most complicated riffs sound catchy’ (MetalInjection); ‘Bleed the Future isn’t short, it’s just really, really fast’ (Exclaim).
The top is full of big names; moreso than the previous years I made this list. But in a year where many bands decided to no longer hold in their already delayed albums because who knows when this crisis will end, I’m not surprised. It has never been this close before though. Number #2 Mastodon (117 points) had been on top for a long time, even right before finishing up this list, only to concede to the Canadians with the final few entries. At the same time #4 Gojira (105 points) - also a top contender for a while - fell of third place in favor of #3 Iron Maiden (110 points), with just a few points in difference. All four could’ve won, and even runners-up #5 Converge & Chelsea Wolfe (94 points) and #6 Worm (93 points) both have been on first place at one point. A close call, very unlike past years, where it was clear who would win pretty early on. An exciting year, one could call it.
Also very unique: everybody liked Archspire, but noone liked it most: they were on exactly zero #1 spots. They’ve got two silver medals and two bronzes, but they never made it on any of the calculated lists’ top spot and won without ever getting the full 10 points - that’s a first! Mastodon were on three numbers 1, but not on as many lists. Archspire was on the most lists though (named 26 times), Every Time I Die was on the least amount of lists of the top 25, with just eight list mentions. No less than 14 bands were on more lists, but had less points.
The surprise of the year is Worm. The band from Florida, signed by 20 Buck Spin, made funeral death/doom cool again. They had been on top of this list for a while, but I can’t imagine they’d be upset with their #6 place, only one point behind Converge & Chelsea Wolfe. Worm were on just as many lists as Gojira, and that’s not bad for a band with under 15.000 monthly listeners on Spotify (7k on Last.fm)! Lamp Of Murmuur, who fell just outside the top 25, aren’t even on Spotify.
Worm is not the ‘smallest’ band in the top 25 when you count it like that. Black metal one-man band Mare Cognitum, #16, has just over 10.000 Spotify listeners (although: 20k on Last.fm), and the brand new Dream Unending made it up to place 22 with just a little over 3.400 listeners on Spotify (and almost 3k on Last.fm). Notable is that they’re the second 20 Buck Spin album in this list. Someone has a good ear over there.
Bigger bands have it easier. But some of them still fell behind. Darkthrone (28 points) came near the top 50, but were never a top contender - very unlike their legacy. Also bands like Trivium (23 points), At The Gates (19), Exodus (14), Amenra (17), Fear Factory (15) and Hypocrisy (11) lagged behind. Dutch powerhouse Epica were (like their symphonic colleagues Nightwish last year) on just one list and ended this year with a meagre 5 points from it.
Anyway, the list. Onwards!