Les 10 meilleurs albums de l'année Version Gus.
And the song remains the same… 2021 was just a copy-paste of 2020 with a little more depression. But this time, it became impossible to delay new releases any longer. Which lead to way too much stuff coming out and made it even harder to listen to everything.
It was especially impossible becuase every single album in my to 10 just caught my ear on the first listens and never let go. That what ultimetely made the difference. And even if GOJIRA, GREELEAF and others where in the running for a while, as months passed they eventually faded away.
And so, without waiting any longer : let’s rock mofos !
10 / POWERWOLF
"Call Of The Wild"
So we’re finally at this point. A top 10 finally opens with POWERWOLF.And I can finally come out as my true plebeian self : I adore this band.
Yes, it’s pretty much always the same. Simple immediate melodies, carried by a quasi-operatic singer which always ends up on bombastic organs and keyboards as well as choruses specifically designed to get into your ear on first listen.
Yes, they still have that same syncretic universe with holy warrior werewolves, sexy nuns and sexier rites, stuffed into a very esoterical and secular vision of religious codes.
But the truth of the matter is : they are to power metal what MOTORHEAD is to rock’n’roll.
Their work is always high qualitty, with wonderful production and I always take immense pleasure into singing and dancing on the anthems offered by the quintet.
“Call Of The Wild” still dares to innovate a little bit, like on the almost celtic sounding “Blood For Blood (Faoladh)” or the french version of “Beast Of Gevaudan” (sung perfectly, I must add).
POWERWOLF keeps going on the same road without looking to change what anyone thinks about them. And that’s perfectly fine for me.
Recommended tracks: “Undress To Confess”, “Alive Or Undead”, “Varcolac”
9 / KHEMMIS
We all have bands that we’re so fanatic about that everytime we talk about them, we sound like one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Since 2016, for me, it’s been KHEMMIS.
I got to say that with “Hunted”, the american quartet released of the the best heavy/doom metal record of the last 20 years, which is a sufficient reason for me to wait all their releases impatiently.
I admit I was a little scared when I heard about the departure of bass player Dan Beiers, given the importance of the rhythm section in the band. And I was half right, because his absence is sporadically felt. Which is why “Deceiver” is only a very very good album.
With 6 tracks for 41 minutes, KHEMMIS tries to find out a new balance and this places them on the perfect track for it. I was amazed buy backing vocals that hit harder than ever and allow the band to play even more on contrasts and rhythm changes. The riffs are pounding, the singing is impeccable and the songs just go perfectly one after another with a consistency and a logic that commands respect, to the point where you can put it on loop without even noticing it since the pleasure is permanent.
With “Deceiver”, KHEMMIS confirms once again that they’re a band you cannot miss, and I will continue spreading their word for a while.
“Living Pyre”, “Obsidian Crown”, “The Astral Door”
8 / ECLIPSE
So, the wind you just felt was only Shyanna sighing hard. Because when you talk about being predictable, ECLIPSE and their presence in my top 10 of the year is a surprising as a politician saying something stupid.
But what am I supposed to do ? I mean, when I’m served anthems by the ton, delivered by a band who not only mastered the recipe but keep a constant level while never repeating itself, how can I resist ?
“Wired is one of those records that you’re immediately humming without even noticing. It is full of foolproof choruses, killer melodies and built on a rhythm section that will have you tapping your foot in no time. As usual, the production is top notch, sounding both powerful and crystal clear and you can’t help but sing all of the hits along Erik Mårtensson while wondering when you’ll finally be able to see them live.
At this stage, just saying “this is an ECLIPSE record”, since the swedes dominate their scene head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. But that would erase the fact that without going too far from the high standards they created themselves, the swedes manage to never rest on their laurels or repeat themselves. And in the end, it makes ECLIPSE one of the essential band out here.
Recommended tracks: “Run For Cover”, “Poison Inside My Heart”, “We Didn’t Come To Lose”
7 / DANKO JONES
At this point, what’s left to say about the music of DANKO JONES? For the last 25 years, the canadians have been on the same motto: “Rock’n’roll baby !” And, what a surprise ! That’s exactly what “Power Trio” delivers.
Give or take, of course, a few adjustments here and there. For example, this last effort is slightly more blues oriented and heavier than its predecessor. And it’s much more coherent for my taste. But when taken in its entirety, it still remains a piece of craftsmanship that brings back the golden age of hard rock and remains a light to be followed by the rest of the scene.
The trio is impeccable from A to Z, JC Calabrese (bass) et Rich Knox (drums) are far from being the sidekicks of a charismatic frontman and together form one of the most accurate and powerful rhythm section out there.
“Power Trio” just screams at you that rock’n’roll is also about knowing how to have a blast while keeping it simple (while avoiding the easy way out). With the help of anthems, great singles and a continuous energy, this album confirms that DANKO JONES is one of hard rock’s great, whose discography will never go downhill.
“Flaunt It”, “Ship Of Lies”, “Get To You”.
6 / MAMMOTH W.V.H.
In 2008, when VAN HALEN announced that their new bass player was none other that Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son, I said “nepotism” and completely discarded him. In 2020, the single “Distance, written by Wolfgang in memory of his father legit made me cry for hours and forced me to review my judgment.
It came to a point where his first solo album, under the name MAMMOTH W.V.H. clearly became one of the records I listened to the most this year. Some critics put this record down because “he did not take any risks”. They will have to explain when offering a melodic hard rock that is powerful, fun, honest and full of killer choruses written with pinpoint accuracy became a problem.
The multi-instrumentist took care of everything (which is hilariously acted out in the “Don’t Back Down” music videp) and quite frankly I was forced several times to check that he, indeed, played everything because evething’s great here.
The drums are ultra precise, the bass is particularly clean and the riffs are just amazingly efficient.
With an already established identity and a capacity to offer a ton of variations while staying consistent, Wolfgang Van Halen delivers a great record and announces a great solo carreer that we will make sure to follow.
Recommended tracks: “Mammoth”, “Don’t Back Down”, “Mr Ed”
5 / AYRON JONES
"Child Of The State"
When one builds his top of the year list, there are two things to take into account : how many time you’ve listened to the album and how long after its release are you still listening to it. For “Child Of The State”, the answers are respectively 54 and 8 months after its release.
And even after all that time, I still am in love the the powerful and rich voice of AYRON JONES, his grunge laced blues and the emotional tsunami of songs like “Mercy”, “Take Me Away” or “Baptized In Muddy Waters”.
With an album as unique as it is personnal, the musician builds his own route, marrying styles to create a coarse and powerful blues that could only originate from his hometown of Seattle. But beyond the fusion of styles, the most important thing here is the quality of songs and every single listener will have its favourites without being able to accurately point at the slightly below average ones.
It’s this constant quality that elevates the level of “Child Of The State” and turns AYRON JONES into an artist that we must foloow very closely.
Recommended tracks: “Emily”, “Spinning Circles”, “Mercy”
4 / LORD OF THE LOST
If one day, Shyanna tells you that in my heart I am a 16 year old goth girls who drools in front of good looking guys with deep voices, know that she’s right and that she is talking about my love for LORD OF THE LOST. I mean, when we’re given a double-record of 104 minutes that just flies by and never feels too long and boring, it’s impossible to not be a fan.
Chris Harms finilly managed to find the balance between his caracteristic voice, the melodies, the electronic instruments and the majectic orchestrations, which was missing from the band’s discography.
Using the symbol of Judas in order to tell stories of damnation (disk 1) and redemption (disk 2), the band carefully crafts motifs that come back at the perfect time in order to paint an enchanting canvas, almost a relihious one that I would love to see on stage with the adequate production.
They also perfectlu use the clichés of all the styles they explore, the germans raise the quality of their music once again to finally deliver the record we know they could achieve.
“Judas” is a grandiose production that turns LORD OF THE LOST into the new flagship for all those who appreciate bombastic goth metal that is rich at every single level, as well as all the others.
Recommended tracks: “Born With A Broken Heart”, “The Death Of All Colours”, “Viva Vendetta”, “Argent”, “The Heart Is A Traitor”, “Priest”
3 / FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES
In 2020 FRANK CARTER achieved on of his dreams and opened up a tattoo parlor. Two weeks later, the world went into lockdown. Turns out, this made FRANK a little bit angry. So in order to get over it, Frank and his band decided to record on the most fun, uninhibited and freeing album of the year.
Sticky is the album of a punk who wears golden Gucci suits just because he likes them, gets hammered in clubs with his outcast friends (LYNKS, Joe Talbot of IDLES) cause it’s cool and ends the night driving at 180 of the highway throwing middle fingers to all the cops, because who cares, we’re fucking free.
It’s a record of pure fun and its 28 minutes 33 seconds go at lightspeed without a moment of relief. This opus just puts your brain at ease in the current chaos, because it’s a whirlwind of positive energy , full of anthems with banger choses and perfectly sharp writing.
With this 4th production, FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES persist, sign and emerge as a dominant force of the UK punk scene. A killer album that won’t leave you indifferent.
Recommended tracks: All of them.
2 / MASTODON - "Hushed And Grim"
MASTODON is now one of the greats. At some point, this truth need to be accepted by everyone. In their 20 years of existence, I even dare to say that they are one of the most influental modern band.
And “Hushed And Grim” is the crowning jewel of this greatness. That’s it. End of discussion.
Going away from the efficient and mighty sludge of the last couple of records, the quartet goes back to the prog experiments of “Crack The Skye” and even manages to integrate influences from their outside projects (you can hear some GONE IS GONE on a lot of songs).
The initial wall of sound then lets place to a complex and majestic web, rich with emotions, darkness and catharsis. To a point where the global concept of the album : a tree in which the souls of the dead go to seek refuge, is perfectly transcribed.
By experimenting more and more in its approach to music, MASTODON keeps expanding its confort zone and offer a double album of rare majesty, where everything holds up together perfectly.
Anything else there is to say, is expressed perfectly through “Hushed And Grim”. This is a great record that will serve as a milestone in the fantastic career of a major band.
Recommended tracks: All. No discussion.
And so, to the surprise of no one, for the second year in a rown, a record with no apparent connection to rock sits at the top of my ranking for the year. But this time, there is not tie, because it is impossible.
Ever since I first heard it, it became obvious than getting ahead of WARDRUNA would be extremely difficult. “Kvitravn” is a masterprice and I will overrule any objection to that fact. You only need to have ears to come to that conclusion.
By succesfully mixing the sound research of the “Runaljod” saga and the precise writing of “Skald”, Einar Selvik brings his music to new heights. This opus is a true initiation voyage, an invitation do guided meditation where you’ll meet the spirits and energy of nature itself.
Every song is a complete story and when put together as a whole, thris record transcends itself and offer a mystical and spiritual experience so beautiful and intense that it will overwhelm anyone able to let go and be guided by hte music.
Take an hour, close your eves and fill yourself with the peace and power of the almost religious music. What you will experience will stay with you for weeks to ensure that you cannot forget this album.
A unique experience, that you will relive each time as if it was the first.
Recommended tracks : All of them.
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