13 of the most intense releases in 2021

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This time we decided to go for something special by selecting some of the most intense records of 2021. These aren’t for everyone and you should keep in mind that most of these will appeal to people with a trained ear. So if you don’t, try not to dismiss them right away, because some stellar musicianship went into the creation of these albums. We will however start with a disclaimer: don’t expect any lo-fi or raw recordings, like cybergrind or black metal that’s been recorded inside a cardboard box under a railway bridge. We want to keep the list classy. Well, classier.

PlasticBag FaceMask – Ȉ̴͇̲̄ ̵̩͎͋W̶̝͒a̷͖̰̖̙͐n̴͉͉͇̣̔t̶̫̎ ̶͈̔̈̃Ț̸͗̓̽ö̷̡́ ̶̡̤͗̂̈B̴̢̥̪͙̎̈e̸̝̠̰͑̔ ̴̜̠̈́̑͋Y̶̨̮͎͙̆̒͑ȯ̷̻͝͝ů̸̖͓̲̊̂̏r̸̢̡̗̞̈͐̅̃ ̴̢͕̹̪̋̀F̵̣̱̳̀̋r̴̝͒í̵̢͖̺͚̃e̸̫̯̝͗̐͝n̷̠͍̦̽d̶̦͈́̈́̿͗

(5/2 – independent)

There’s no way you could possibly paint a more nihilistic picture of your band than naming it PlasticBag Facemask. And by their silly song titles alone you’d think there isn’t much to say about ‘I Want To Be Your Friend‘, but think again. This studio-only brainchild by Patrick Hogan (Time Bomb) and Jacob Lee (Elder Devil) has some carefully considered and intricate compositions typical of a mathcore sound. At first glance you probably won’t be able to make head nor tail of the almost constantly broken musical patterns, but once you get into the jazzy all-over-the-place drumming and chugging riffs alternated with nonsensical pinching and sludgy slams, it quickly turns into delightful insanity.

FFO: Car Bomb, The Sound that Ends Creation, Norma Jean, etc.

Swampbeast – Seven Evils Spawned of Seven Heads

(12/2 – Translation Loss Records)

Swampbeast‘s full-length debut, ‘Seven Evils Spawned of Seven Heads‘, was one of last year’s first records to reassure us that 2021 wasn’t gonna be a total bust in terms of musical extremity. While this album doesn’t waste any time in punching you right in the face with some fast-paced deathgrind, it is surprisingly varied with the occasional slower-paced old-school caveman death metal, even daring to end on a doomy note. The vocals on this one are especially slimy and ghoulish, and befit the album’s atmosphere to perfection. Something that struck us about this record was the fact that the experience was over in no time, despite the record not being particularly short. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

FFO: Tomb Mold, Of Feather and Bone, Benighted, etc.

Pupil Slicer – Mirrors

(12/3 – Prosthetic Records)

Another more mathcore-oriented album, which we decided to include in this list for the simple reason that you need to give this band your attention if you’re looking for intensity. Pupil Slicer fill a big part of the void The Dillinger Escape Plan left behind when they called it quits. If, like with the latter, absolute musical frenzy with a grindcore attitude is your thing, look no further because this London trio have got you covered with their 2021 release, ‘Mirrors‘. This is one hell of a record we haven’t been able to set aside for the simple reason that it is a tremendously cathartic experience which helps deal with the day-to-day bullshit. It stands to reason that Pupil Slicer have now joined the list of bands we can’t wait to see perform on stage.

FFO: TDEP, Fawn Limbs, Pig Destroyer, etc.

Burn in Hell – Disavowal of the Creator God

(6/8 – Reason And Rage Records)

Last Summer, Australia’s latest dissonant hardcore / powerviolence outfit Burn in Hell released a doozy of a record. ‘Disavowel of the Creator God‘ is a seriously political work that tackles and denounces a variety of inhumanities like oppression by religion, and race, gender and queer inequality. All this packaged in a deeply intense musical experience dripping with punk attitude. The riffs are cold and heavy, drums pack an angry punch and the vocals have an abrasive effect on them, making them hit all the harder for it.

FFO: Jesus Piece, Nails, Fuming Mouth, etc.

The Sound That Ends Creation – Boomers, Zoomers, Desperate Coomers

(5/11 – independent)

Look who made it into another one of our lists. We never tire of jazzy mathgrind goofball Chris Dearing alias The Sound that Ends Creation‘s musical experiments. And we’re happy to say that in 2021 he dropped his fifth full-length slice of insanity in just as many years. This guy is the unstoppable mad scientist of extreme music. Anything he puts out is pure folly. On 2020’s ‘Memes, Dreams, And Flying Machines‘, we saw a shift in focus from the mathgrind formula he usually served us into a more jazz-oriented product of chaos. A shift that in our honest opinion gave the project an even crazier sound, if that were at all possible. 2021’s ‘Boomers, Zoomers, Desperate Coomers‘ follows along the same lines as its predecessor. It’s just as chaotic, just as bonkers and just as intense.

FFO: Methwitch, Discordance Axis, Total Fucking Destruction, etc.

Frontierer – Oxidized

(1/10 – independent)

We felt Frontierer‘s ‘Oxidized‘ got a very underwhelming release despite everyone hyping over their previous record, 2018’s ‘Unloved‘. Don’t get us wrong, the hype was much deserved, but we don’t get why we almost didn’t hear anything about their latest effort. If anything social media should have been littered with promo, but no. Maybe because it’s a little less accessible? Beats me. In any case, ‘Oxidized‘ is a record you shouldn’t miss if you enjoy extreme hardcore. It sounds very similar to Car Bomb’s ‘Mordial‘ right down to the beeps and boops, which add to the album’s frenzied ambiance. It’s chaotic, it’s a challenging listen, but at the same time has the potential to grab you by the throat, put you in a trance and never let you go anymore.

FFO: Car Bomb, Une Misère, Leeched, etc.

Sermon of Flames – I Have Seen the Light, and It Was Repulsive

(3/9 – I, Voidhanger)

Hailing from Ireland, not much is know about the mysterious duo Sermon of Flames other than the fact they dropped the 2021 soundtrack to the apocalypse back in September. If you’re into noisy blackened death metal ‘I Have Seen the Light, an It Was Repulsive‘ sounds exactly the way you’d think it does. Wall of sound after wall of sound with voluminous end-of-the-world growling and shrieking to set the mood. It’s got a bit of an Anaal Nathrakh vibe if we’re being completely honest, though not entirely similar. This has a much more dissonant edge to it.

FFO: Anaal Nathrakh, Nightmarer, Convulsing, etc.

Altarage – Succumb

(23/4 – Season of Mist)

Along the same lines as Sermon of Flames, this Season of Mist signee had our attention from the very moment ‘Succumb‘ was announced for its April 2021 release. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered this was to be their fourth album. I never even knew these Spaniards were a thing. Anyway, Altarage‘s latest effort was a masterpiece in dissonance. Extreme death metal through which are woven black metal elements, making for a result that can only be defined as auditory Armageddon. This is most certainly one of the releases on this list that will truly test your limits.

FFO: Immolation, Born to Murder the World, Ulcerate, etc.

Erdve – Savigaila

(23/7 – Season of Mist)

Lithuania shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to extreme metal. And Erdve‘s latest record, ‘Savigaila‘, is my favourite thing to most recently come out of that scene. These lads from Vilnius play a very groovy type of dissonant hardcore/death metal, that can even veer off into something sludgy and atmospheric if you’re keeping an open mind. The whole record is also sung in Lithuanian, which is pretty rad in itself. The onslaught of groovy strings and aggressive vocals are the perfect combo to make you feel as though any kind of danger could come from all sides at any point. It’s an unsettlingly gorgeous experience.

FFO: Mass Worship, Realize, Primitive Man, etc.

Knoll – Interstice

(26/2 – independent)

We don’t often come across blackened grind bands, which is a real shame because the combo works perfectly and the result always sound super disturbing. Knoll‘s ‘Interstice‘ is no exception to that rule. Adding to the madness is the fact the Tennessee six-piece (!) boasts three guitarists, giving their overall sound an extra, much larger-sounding dimension. This is a noisy record, thanks in part to that extra string, where drums play an intricate part as the main source of musical disarray. Blast beats are relentless and cymbals sizzle almost non-stop, only to be topped off with screeching maniac, Jamie Eubanks, who I’m surprised hasn’t yet managed to scream himself inside-out. If you’re looking for an album that’s full of rage, this is the one for you.

FFO: Full of Hell, Meth Leppard, Feastem, etc.

Bastarður – Satan’s Loss Of Son

(29/10 – Season of Mist)

We didn’t immediately see this coming, but Sólstafir‘s vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason saw the time fit through the extra time being at home to channel some of his musical ambitions that couldn’t find a home with his main band. In turn we get Bastarður and a bit under half an hour of crust punk madness with touches of old Entombed death metal. Aðalbjörn and his conspirator Birgir Jónsson on drums pummel you through the tracks with a raw punk attitude and blistering and shrieking guitars at ever turn. It’s crunchy, crusty, dirty and comes in like a damn blitzkrieg, running you over before you realize what just happened. A couple of cool guest vocals by Marc Grewe (Morgoth, Insidious Disease) on ‘Neonlight Blitzkrieg‘ and Alan Averill (Primordial) on ‘Black Flag Fools‘ are great additions to this intense little release and as soon as ‘Rise Up’ ends this short blast, we’re ready to hit repeat!

Succumb – XXI

(24/9 – The Flenser/Caligari Records)

When the first single from Succumb‘s new release ‘XXI’ got unleashed upon the world, we were blown away by its sheer brutality and intensity. The noisy and absolutely mental brand of death metal they bring forth is a maddening and chaotic, but at the same time feels completely under control and purposefully. Vocalist Cheri Musrasrik is a relentless beast with absolutely filthy growls and the instrumentation barely leaves you room to breathe. The hand of Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker) on production manages to contain the madness to some degree and at times there are what you could call atmospheric parts to be heard. But don’t be mistaken, these are still in no way pretty. This is all about unforgiving ferocity, crushing heaviness and all at mostly a pummeling pace. This is really a monster of an album that puts a strain on the listener and there’s a good chance that you’ll experience a palpitating heart along this harrowing ride.

Mastiff – Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth

(10/9 – MNRK Heavy)

UK’s sludge outfit Mastiff released their 3rd full-length ‘Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth’ in 2021. An album that left us a bit without breath after getting kicked square in the chest by what felt like a massive sledgehammer. They fully embrace both sides of the sludge metal realm by at times having a more heavy, crushing slow doom sound and other times ramp up the speed of that crushing sound with absolutely relentless and unforgiving neck-breaking speeds that are clearly more rooted in the hardcore nature of sludge. With some tracks not even making the 2 minute mark, the pummeling they give us reaches just over half an hour and we’re honestly not sure if we’d be able to handle much more. Add to the monstrous music some frantic and ferocious vocals and you’re in for quite the ride. One of those albums that are so abrasive and harsh that you simply have to return to them regularly to get another punishment.

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