December 23, 2021

Trevor Proctor's Top 25 Albums of 2021.

Year end lists aren't for everyone, as I've mentioned previously some love them and others hate them but whether you like them or not there's no doubt they are a useful way of hearing new music and maybe catching up on releases you've missed during the year.
There are a few releases missing from this list, including Funeral MistGrave Miasma and Force of Darkness, due to the fact there were no digital promos and I won't get my hands on the physical copies until Christmas. In a year dominated by exceptional albums there are also a few I'd like to have included which made my selection of titles very hard - my initial selection was whittled down from close to fifty titles to this list of twenty five. As always I have a three way tie for the top position with three albums I found it impossible to separate or rank.
Despite Covid continuing to delay or cancel live gigs the underground continues to thrive and grow and my ties and connections to bands, labels and promoters have also strengthened - many thanks and appreciation to all of you who have continued to support The Lair of Filth during what's been another strange year. 
Also, due to extreme changes in my family life during the year I've had a LOT of my spare time greatly reduced and as a result I've posted much less than I'd hoped in 2021. This is the sixth consecutive year  I've been responsible for every post and it gives me immense pride and satisfaction to see The Lair of Filth continue to grow - so my eternal thanks go to you, the reader for your continued support, as always every post view and share etc. mean everything to me and hopefully 2022 will bring a lot more posts. Cheers also to Jude for continuing to trust me with the site.

As always my thanks and appreciation go to my wife Audrey for being a constant source of support and encouragement during a very challenging and difficult year.

Also, keep checking back to this page as in the coming weeks I'll be posting my Top 25 EP list for 2021 along with guest Top 10 release listings from PK from Iron Bonehead Productions, Ally Ripley (The Lash) and SS from Cyclopean Eye Productions.

Debut album from Poland's Upon the Altar, their only previous output was a digital release entitled Promo 2020.

22. Venefixion A Sigh from BelowIron Bonehead Productions.

Follow up to 2019's 'Passio Christi Part II / Necrophagous Abandon'  split EP which they shared with Possession, an EP that was placed at number three on my 2019 EP listing. The press release for A Sigh from Below stated, "Flexing the very same muscles as those celebrated short-lengths - rabid, red-eyed, fierce, feral, and exhibiting a startling sense of confidence and daresay swagger - here on the longer-form A Sigh From Below do the quintet reach for the epic: of the furthest reaches of the abyss, of the most clandestine corners of the taboo, of the very threshold of the human psyche. That their musings are now rendered in robustly 3D production simply makes their kiss of death that much sweeter; Venefixion can verily hold their own with death metal's biggest names as well as the underground's most lawless. Which is all to say that A Sigh From Below recasts the band in a grander light, one that's more the illuminating light of Lucifer as opposed to just never-ending darkness - the same band, but also different."

21. Drawn and QuarteredCongregation Pestilence  - Krucyator ProductionsNameless Grave Records.

Eighth studio album from Drawn and Quartered, Congregation Pestilence was initially released on CD, LP + digital formats by Krucyator Productions in June with a tape version released in October by Nameless Grave Records
The press release for Congregation Pestilence featured here and stated, "On the imminent eighth LP, Congregation Pestilence, Drawn and Quartered stick to their guns without de-escalating the branded frenetic motion, interminable aggression, cyclonic complexity, or unfathomable darkness, and legitimately, the death metal veterans consider it as their strongest studio offering to date. Having new songs written for a split that never eventuated and numbers already performed live, this opus oozes a primordial celebration of violence and devilry."

20. Portal Hagbulbia Profound Lore Records.

Released in conjunction with Avow in May this year.

19. Sorguinazia Negation of DeliriumIron Bonehead Productions.

Debut album from Canada's Sorguinazia, the press release featured here and stated, "It's very much in line with what the duo of Xolaryxis and Axczor presented before, but arguably in more brittle form here. Indeed, this almost-deliberate desiccation takes their ghoulish 'n' ghastly black metal to uncomfortable realms of sensory experience, that previously wobbly balance between beyond-the-shade mysticism and soul-flaying insanity now upended, and we are but below to witness its unsettling fallout. Put another way, this soundpool of gibbering, horrendous "notes" that somehow coalesce into rude yet strangely alluring shapes is faintly recognizable as being performed by humans, but the sonic-unto-spiritual dislocation is so strong that it thusly transports the listener far beyond the realm of man."

18. Pale MistThrough the Labyrinth and into Connectivity - Werewolf Promotion.

17. Serpentrance Akra TapeinosisGodz ov War Productions.

Debut album from Russia's Serpentrance and follow up to their 2015 debut EP 'The Besieged Sanctum' which I awarded 9/10 in my review which you can access here.

16. Carcinoma Labascation - Rat King RecordsBile Noire.

Another debut and Carcinoma's first new music since their Apanthropinization split with Abyssal. I had the privilege of an exclusive interview with Carcinoma in February, an article which remains one of  this year's most popular posts. Labascation is an exceptional debut album and I hope it's not long until we hear more from one of the U.K.'s most promising bands of recent years.

15.  Hate ForestHour of the CentaurOsmose Productions.

The Hate Forest studio album in 15 years was released on the 25th of December last year, well after my Top 25 for 2020 had been published, which is why it's included in this year's listing.

14.  Malakhim Theion - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Debut studio album from Sweden's Malakhim - their most recent release, the exceptional II EP featured on my Top 25 EP listing in 2019. The press release for Theion was published here, stating, "One could say, quite rightly, that the album is the pinnacle of orthodox black metal for the rest of the 2020s and leave it at that - and that one would be right. Yet, step deeper into Theion and find a majestic-yet-malevolent melodicism that harkens back to the ancient days of No Fashion and Solistitium; just as equally, that melodicism twists in unexpected ways, exuding a modernity that's palpable, palatable, and exceptionally multi-faceted."

13. Nekkrofukk Mysterious Rituals in the Abyss of Sabbath & Eternal Celebration of the Blakk GoatPutrid Cult.

This is the fourth studio album from Poland's Nekkrofukk and released by the Polish label Putrid Cult, a label and band definitely worth watching for future releases - this is one of two releases by Putrid Cult included here. The press release for Mysterious Rituals in the Abyss of Sabbath & Eternal Celebration of the Blakk Goat featured here and stated, "Demanding much from the listener but caring not one bit for one's comfort, the tongue-twisting Mysterious Rituals in the Abyss of Sabbath & Eternal Celebration of the Blakk Goat sees Lord K. taking Nekkrofukk in a direction that's both catchier and more evilly experimental."

12. Sijjin Sumerian PromisesSepulchral Voice Records.

Featuring two members from Necros Christos, Sijjin's debut release, Angel of the Eastern Gate, received widespread critical acclaim on it's release in 2019. 
Easily one of 2021's most anticipated albums, the press release for Sumerian Promises appeared here stating, "The Basque/German collaboration has proved extraordinary musicianship while recording all songs live as well as using full takes only: no cuts, no edits, no bullshit. Faithful towards the magic of the elder gods of death metal, Sijjin undoubtedly have managed to bring life unto death, or otherwise set death alive."

11. Portal - Avow Profound Lore Records.

Very few bands have the material, or the confidence, to release two albums on the same day but this is what happened with Portal at the start of May when they simultaneously released Avow and Hagbulbia. These albums are Portal's first original material since 2018's Ion which was also featured on my Top 25 album listing for that year.

10. The Ruins of BeverastThe Thule GrimoiresVán Records.

The Thule Grimoires is the sixth album from The Ruins of Beverast, another of the underground's most prolific and consistent bands.

9. Cult of EibonBlack Flame DominionIron Bonehead Productions.

Another debut album, this time form Greek band, Cult of Eibon. The press release for Black Flame Dominion stated, " Immediately, the listener is whisked to forgotten realms; the sorcery coursing through its atmospheres is potent, the heady, hazy potion pulsing with the same addicting, ageless black magick that made the early works of Rotting Christ and especially Varathron massively influential in Greece and far beyond. Indeed, THAT PULSE is what pulls the listener in and refuses to let go, that locked-in and hypnotic surge idiomatic of Hellenic classicism, as well as liberal layers of swelling synth to fully transport that listener to an archaic age. But, much as they mightily proved on Lycan Twilight Sorcery, Cult of Eibon's Black Flame Dominion is no mere work of replication: one must truly live this to be able to create it, and a bewitching, almost-(were)wolven identity all their own emerges. Or, put another way, the band's debut album is an authentically ancient-minded modern entry into that classic canon - no hyperbole, no trends!"

8. Autokrator Persecution Krucyator Productions.

This is the fourth album from Autokrator and their first full length since 2018's Hammer of the Heretics which also featured on my Top 25 album listing for that year. Autokrator is another band that has consistently improved from release to release and to me this is their strongest album yet. 
The press release for Persecution is available here and stated, "A trial fraught with danger, the album Persecution sees Autokrator entering into a new trajectory of death/black metal, shrouded by menacing, grotesque atmosphere. Musically, the suffocating six track record is the most intense and gnarliest offering by the duo thus far."

7. Trance of the Undead - Chalice of Disease - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Chalice of Disease is Trance of the Undead's debut album which was released independently on digital formats in 2020 though it reached a much wider audience when released on physical formats by Iron Bonehead Productions, which is why it's included on this listing. I hadn't heard of Trance of the Undead before Iron Bonehead Productions released this but it's a band definitely worthy of our attention.

There's no doubt whatsoever that Archgoat remains one of the underground's most consistent bands, since formation in 1991 they've continued to bring us music of a very high standard. Worship the Eternal Darkness is Archgoat's fifth studio album following 2018's The Luciferian Crown.

5. Caveman CultBlood and ExtinctionNuclear War Now! Productions.

Blood and Extinction is the follow up to 2016's debut album Savage War is Destiny and their first new music since 2018's EP Supremacía Primordial. The press release featured here and stated, "Caveman Cult produced and recorded this offering themselves, affording them precise artistic control and an undiluted ferocity. Relentless and suffocating, this is war metal in its truest sense: a simulacrum of the violence that controls and dominates our essence of being. Blood and Extinction is primal barbarity that knows no surrender."

4. Antichrist Siege MachinePurifying BladeProfound Lore RecordsStygian Black Hand.

Antichrist Siege Machine is a band that continues to go from strength to strength. 
Their 2018 demo Promo MMXVIII featured on my top 25 EP/demo listing for that year, their debut album Schism Perpetration was released the following year and was placed at number nine in my Top 25 album listing for 2019. Their next release was the demo, Filth of the World, which landed the number six placing on my Top 25 EP listing for 2020
The press release for Purifying Blade featured here and stated, "Sustaining the unhinged violence on display on 2020’s Filth Of The World EP Antichrist Siege Machine rises victorious in the temple assaulted; each track on Purifying Blade is a weapon wielded by wickedness and hatred directed at the heart of Christendom. Faces of black evil, shields hardened with the cracked ribs of the dead."

3. Malgöth Glory Through SavageryIron Bonehead Productions.

Debut album from Canada's Malgöth whose first release, Primordial Dawn, will also feature highly on my upcoming Top 25 EP listing. Malgöth's music was first brought to my attention when Iron Bonehead Productions gave Primordial Dawn a physical release in June this year.
The press release featured here stating, "The title really says it all: Glory Through Savagery is an infinitely bursting fount of feral frequencies and distorted delirium, ravaging body and mind, sanity and safety, through 10 attacking hymns of desolation. Where that debut EP utilized two vocalists to thrilling effect, here in full-length form, Malgöth mangle expectations by sending those vocalists screaming and bellowing from nearly every direction; truly, with the impossibly doubled low-end rumble and cutting-concrete riffing, Glory Through Savagery becomes a kaleidoscopic experience, a fever dream of war metal turned absolutely inside out."

2. Baxaxaxa Catacomb CultThe Sinister Flame.

Another debut album and the much anticipated follow up to 2020's Devoted to HIM EP which was placed at number nine on my Top 25 EP listing last year. The press release for Catacomb Cult featured here and stated, "Exquisitely OLD and proudly so, Catacomb Cult is everything a Baxaxaxa full-length should be: patiently hammering, ghoulishly atmospheric, and reeking of sulfur. But for as much as the album sounds like quintessential Baxaxaxa, the band prove they're not without surprises or at least subtle developments in their ever-uncompromising sound. For one, the production's clear and cutting, revealing every haunting nuance without sacrificing a whit of grit. For another, the songwriting across Catacomb Cult no doubt whips forth a fury at times, but equally so does it display a more doomed-out gait that gives depth and dynamics - and yes, a truly catacombed feel."

1. Lvcifyre The Broken SealDark Descent RecordsNorma Evangelium Diaboli.

Another return to form from another of the underground's most respected bands. The Broken Seal is Lvcifyre's first album in seven years and follow up to 2014's Svn Eater
The press release featured here and stated, "Calculating and cruel, steeped in an ambiance of controlled fury, the nine tracks offer a jarring journey through the haunted recesses of the mortal mind. They are violent and hypnotic, but also bring out the occasional demented melody to keep things unpredictable. The lyrics - manic demonological verses that read as the album sounds - are roared, chanted, moaned and snarled with equal parts conviction and possession. All combined, this results in a soundscape which, whilst firmly rooted in the death metal tradition, is thoroughly imbued with a theatrical vibe and spiritual depth more associated with black metal. The Broken Seal is a unique fusion of musical worlds, concocted to plague the reality of flesh."

1. Antediluvian The Divine PunishmentNuclear War Now! Productions.

Antediluvian's split with Heresiarch topped my Top 25 EP listing last year and rightly so as it was their first original material in more than five years which marked the return of one of the underground's most lethal bands. 
The Divine Punishment is Antediluvian's first album in eight years, the press release featured here and stated, "The Divine Punishment is not merely a return to form for Antediluvian, it reflects the band’s evolution from their inception, extrapolated, over the near-decade since their last album, to reveal a meticulously sculpted masterwork that continues to push boundaries, just as the band has done for the last 15 years."

1. Qrixkuor Poison Palinopsia - Dark Descent Records / Invictus Productions.

It's not often a debut album lands the number one position but for this release it's totally justified. 
An album as skillfully executed as it is ambitious. Poison Palinopsia features only two tracks, both of which span over twenty four minutes each - it's no easy feat for any band to hold your attention for this long but Qrixkuor do so twice on this release with ease.
Qrixkuor is a band I've supported since their debut demo 'Consecration of the Temple,'  but for me this is easily their best release to date and an album that will bring them further, much deserved attention within the underground. 
This is the second time Qrixkuor have topped one of my year-end listings as their previous release, Three Devils Dance was placed at number one on my Top 25 EP listing for 2016.

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