Saturday, December 18, 2021

Albums of the Year 2021

Delighted to point out that, we have now graciously realized Arson Cafe’s 500th post. Some have been lost along the way, yet it was planned and delivered to match this milestone with the most important entry of 2021.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Top 10 EPs of 2021

"An extended play record, usually referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single but fewer than an album or LP record. Contemporary EPs generally contain four or five tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well." (Source: Wikipedia)

10. Obscure Skuadron - Mysterious Existence

An EP as obscure as its name, these guys have an awesome thick wall of noise and a nerdy obsession with aliens, as one can tell from the titles of the tracks. Short and sweet, Mysterious Existence makes me wonder if it's an one time event, because I would enjoy a full release like that quite a lot. Screw variety.

9. Grinning Death's Head - Cataclysm

Blood War was a masterpiece, that I found too late. The first new move after four years, Grinning Death's Head new two tracks are equally menacing, and with delightful barbarity. This project doesn't need much to impress, and it's unquestionably energetic and in your face. Gotta love the extra, slight background synths too. It's a must to check out.

8. Spiral Staircase – Cellar Dream

You would say Cellar Dream is the first extended release of Spiral Staircase, not for its length but because it is the first EP after demos and splits, and with two years of space between their previous work. Apart from the fact that I'm fully into this name, logo and cover color, the bleached out fuzziness of this EP for some reason, totally calmed down my soul.

7. Serpent Column - Katartisis

This should need no introduction, especially after a series or really successful releases by this project. By now, you might already expecting what to listen to from Serpent Column, but once again it's equally strong, and reeks of talent and great musicianship. A lot of notable, tickling melodies and dried out riffs here. Pretty technical as always.

6. Somme - Prussian Blood

In case you were thinking that we have too many posterized, pixelized black and white lo-fi black metal projects in the last few years, you were right. In case you were thinking they all hide behind the fuzzy production without really having a solid musical idea, you were right. In case you were thinking they are all the same, they are. Somme from Finland come to teach us the actual meaning of playing "raw black metal", with a proper lo-fi attitude, out of truthful intention and not smugness. Impressive work, I loved every last slice of it.

5. Nocturnal Effigy - The Night's Sorrow

At this state, releases like these get sold out at the blink of the eye. The manpower behind this project is also responsible for some of the most treasured acts in the dungeon synth / raw black metal scene, therefore it's almost guaranteed it will be another treat for the ears: harsh, ominous guitar riffs and an even harsher sound, excellent instrumental pieces and more slower / melodic tracks make up for a wonderful release that forever belongs in the underground.

4. Ûkcheânsâlâwit - Alaskan Escape

Listening to Alaskan Escape, the name of Ildjarn is obviously the elephant in the room. Completely stripped down, repetitive, hypnotic black metal with raspy vocals and a middle finger to all that is nicely produced and friendly. The lyrics are as glacial-cold as you think, there's hardly any turns, but in the end it's so good. I could listen to this pummeling beating for hours, especially riffs like in "uanatshu". It doesn't have to be more complicated than this really.

3. Forsmán - Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma

If you're into Icelandic black metal, then you must already know this new band. If not, then you must listen to them and their debut EP, right away. Professionally made, Forsmán know the groundworks of their country's scene very well and present another piece of huge compositions, massive riffs, powerful vocals and guitar lines and excellent sense of composition. The best Icelandic release this year, with Mannveira closely behind.

2. Kvadrat – Ψυχική Αποσύνθεση

This mini-release alone saved the year for me when it comes to new extreme metal from Greece. Enjoyable and complex, with several exciting turns and unusual melodic structures, excellent aesthetics (and a unique logo!), Kvadrat picks up the label of "dissonant" and ultimately doesn't exhaust the listener with it. Ψυχική Αποσύνθεση (Greek for mental decomposition) is a great first sign from this band, which moved on by being part of a neat split with Moeror and Human Serpent later in the year. I can't wait to see a full length release from them now.

1. Lorna Shore - And I Return to Nothingness...

I never expected that my interest in deathcore would ever be considerably revived, but this EP made too much of an impact to ignore. While being aware of the previous Lorna Shore material, the change to a new singer has brought new light to the band, which could quite frankly reinvent the way the genre is played, especially in the breakdown sections. Epic symphonic parts go along proper doses of heaviness, and the fact that listening to "To the Hellfire" has such a reaction trend, means the band broke through. For better or for worse, this was by far the EP I enjoyed the most this year.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Top 10 Greek metal albums of 2021

Usually, there are a handful of releases from Greek bands that I fully endorse every year, however for 2021 I didn't find such an equivalent. In fact, I was not fully into some albums I expected to be, and newer stuff was not revolutionary. I'm still missing listening the new Diablery and Agnes Vein records because they come out next week, but it's anyway a legit wrap-up of the year from my side. Having decided to put all these lists a bit earlier than usual this year, it is what I get.

Arson Cafe's
top 10 Greek metal albums of 2021

10. Human Serpent - Heirlooms Eternal
9. Shattered Hope - Vespers
8. Eldingar - Maenads
7. Rapture - Malevolent Demise Incarnation
6. Spectral Lore - Ετερόφωτος
5. Caedes Cruenta - Of Ritual Necrophagia and Mysterious Ghoul Cults
4. Mystras - Empires Vanquished and Dismantled
3. Drakon Ho Megas - Drakon Ho Megas
2. Nihilism - Cataclysme vers l'ascendance
1. Yoth Iria - As the Flame Withers

Friday, December 10, 2021

Top 20 dungeon synth albums of 2021

Discreetly, I have been following the modern, digitalized dungeon synth scene since the early 10's with Lord Lovidicus and early Erang. Elffor releases fell on my lap almost as early as black metal, and I have enjoyed a lot of the known Wongraven, Burzum and Summoning material. The most distinct was Depressive Silence, but now there is almost a saturation of popping projects, yet I think the DIY community and the authenticity of the artists, is for the underground, unmatched at the moment. I listened to more dungeon synth (forest synth, winter synth etc... all included) than usual this year, so here's 20 cookies.

Arson Cafe's 
top 20 dungeon synth albums

 20. Ghunjul – Freezing Breath
19. Forest Temple - Spectral Threads of a Cosmic Dream
18. Kyvon – Frozen Grimoire
17. Fridfull - Fridfull
16. Adrasteia & Celestial Sword – Split
15. Gelure – The Candlelight Tomes
14. Abholos – Where Cold Shadows Dream
13. Necrocachot - Forest Of Bones
12. Coniferous Myst & Erythrite Throne - Northern Stories of Frost
11. Knights of the Stygian Order – Strength and Valor
10. Oublieth - À l'Ombre du Royaume en Cendres
9. Mörka Skogens Vindar - Trollens Återkomst
8. Druadan Forest & Old Sorcery - Split
7. Trädvarelse - Cave
6. Redhorn Gate – Sires of Old
5. Varvitos – Forbidden Lost Lore
4. Snowspire – As if Wandering in a Dream...
3. Forlorn Kingdom - Alpine Black Magick
2. Ulk – Shellbound
1. Wallachian Cobwebs – Night Sobbed a Potion Diseased

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Top 10 non-metal albums of 2021

I always like to fool myself that I'm diverse but I'm not. I tried to make a mixed list with all my music listens back in 2015, and only one non-metal album made it to the top 20, namely mouse on the keys' The Flowers of Romance, which I still listen to today, so it was well placed. After that, it was a Merzbow album at #47, so yes it wouldn't make sense for me. I listen to such albums at different times, but the real problem lies in that I can't properly compare all releases together, under the same perspective. Anyway!

Arson Cafe's
top 10 non-metal albums of 2021

10. Jess and the Ancient Ones - Vertigo
9. MONO – Pilgrimage of the Soul
8. Fire! - Defeat
7. Maybeshewill - No Feeling Is Final
6. Foudre! - Future Sabbath
5. Filmmaker – Vlad Tapes
4. Iceage – Seek Shelter
3. CHVRCHES – Screen Violence
2. cursetheknife – Thank You For Being Here
1. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Top 10 demos of 2021

There is a certain fixation to the demo format, and as I have tried to follow the mindset of full albums only, a lot of releases of truly great music are completely missed like that, especially in the underground. However, I have to admit I still don't spend as much time as in releases of longer duration every year, yet there's always some space for a newcomer's unfiltered and more spontaneous work. 

Arson Cafe's
top 10 demos of 2021

10. Μνήμα – Flesh Prison
9. Vel’HAR – Letania
8. Moortrieder – When Death Appeared
7. Blood Sorcery – Chapel of Blood Part I
6. Skeleton – Ordainment of Divinity
5. Gråinheim – Hexndeifl
4. Eternal Sword - The Cursed Land
3. The Suns Journey Through The Night – Demo  II
2. Necromantical Invocation – Dogme Et Rituel De La Haute Magie
1. Moon – On the Other Side of Daylight