Luke's Favorite Releases of 2021
Coming up with ten releases that stood out with a release date of 2021 was a murderous task that I failed miserably to complete. I tried desperately to recall everything that seduced my musical tastes and had me coming back again and again. There was a myriad of great releases in 2021. I did my best to not include too many reissues, compilations, or anthologies and of course I sort of failed again. It would have been a long list of punk and hardcore releases over thirty to forty years old getting yet another lease on life in the physical form. Such bands as Rudimentary Peni, Vatican Commandos, Neon Christ, Negative Approach, Personality Crisis, and Zouo all had their classic material reissued. In addition to all of the punk stuff, The Black Queen, Absolute Body Control and Kindest Cuts all had some of their material re-issued in different formats and new designs. So where does one draw the line? Who knows? I do know what moves me and below are just some of the best releases I have heard that came out this year in no certain order.
Trial : "Für Zwei". As the mighty Trial rides off into the sunset, they leave us a bestial statement from their inception to their last stand. Everything from the remastering to the elaborate packaging is exceptionally done. The release includes classic material, live material, new and previously unreleased material. Also, a visual experience on DVD featuring several shows with selected tracks from Trial's iconic and captivating shows. I enjoyed revisiting the early works of Trial as well experiencing the live aspect on the DVD.
Tobias Bernstrup : "Petrichtor". Tobias Bernstrup is the modern-day master of taking synthpop to the crossroads of Italo disco. I completely immersed myself into the beautiful arrangements, thoughtful lyrics, addicting melodies, the artistic expression all the way to the magenta vinyl and packaging.
Pyrroline : "Struggling". Every three or four years, Pyrroline emerges from the shadows with an intelligent powerful onslaught of complex multi-layered electronics that shatter expectations each and every time. The slow-burning ritualistic vibe pulls me into the dark worlds that Pyrroline explores and dominates. Few can breathe this rarified air.
Verbal Assault : "On/Exit". One of my favorite hardcore bands from the 80's. From the ripping guitars to the chantable choruses, Verbal Assault always delivered live, as well as on their studio records. This LP is a reissue of two EPs that I hold close to my heart as it reminds me not only of great music, but all of the great times of going to punk shows in Albany, NYC, RI, and CT. Atomic Action always ensures each release is well designed from the artwork, sleeve, vinyl variants to extras. I'm looking forward to their reunion shows this spring.
Nuovo Testamento : "New Earth". Every song on this album could be the lead single, that's how good it is. Overall, New Earth is an intoxicating harmonious blend of melodic synthpop and Italo Disco. The synthpop foundations have a darker feel and yet they merge flawlessly with the warmer vibes of the Italo influences making this a spectacle to behold and cherish. Besides obtaining this album, I was fortunate to catch their Brooklyn gig at Saint Vitus. Wow! What an amazing performance.
Chain Cult : "We're Not In This Alone". Chain Cult is at the top their game on this 7". They are a hardcore band from Athens, that fuse some post-punk influences into their sound. The result is awe-inspiring ripping hardcore laced with plenty of melody and plenty of aggression. I find myself playing this 7" and every previous release on a regular basis. I was truly bummed when they had to cancel their US tour due to Covid 19 ravaging the world in 2020. Chain Cult rules!
Pink Turns Blue : "Tainted". Any band that names themselves after a Husker Du song must be awesome right? Well, Pink Turns Blue has been releasing great albums since I was in high school in the 80's. 1987's If Two Worlds Kissed is as timeless as an album can ever be. The beautiful darkwave/post-punk rhythms paired with mesmerizing vocals is a recipe the band followed for all these years. Tainted is yet another stunning masterpiece.
Andi / Randolph & Mortimer : "Torque Force". Mecanica has an interesting roster that's all over the place. Andi and Randolph & Mortimer both deliver their signature sounds. Andi's songs are instantly satisfying. There is no warming up to the sound. It's awesome immediately. Randolph And Mortimer are known for their EBM prowess laced with techno and other assorted influences. Both artists come together to pay tribute to the New Beat sound made famous in Belgium in the late 80's. I think I smiled the entire time I played this through. The highlighter yellow vinyl is a nice touch.
Neos : "Three Teens Hellbent On Speed". Raging fast garage hardcore band from Canada. I always loved the band's raw edge played at a million miles per hour. Bands like D.R.I., Minor Threat, Bad Brains, M.D.C. and several others played fast in the early 80's. Neos were faster and certainly had their own style of lightning-fused fury and did it before bands like Napalm Death and Siege became primary influences for next wave of speed merchants to emerge. Supreme Echo reissued their back catalogue with a 22-page booklet that takes you on a killer journey through the history of the band. Everything about this reissue is mouth-watering. Punk history in 45 second bursts.
Rago & Farina and Italoconnection : "Rago & Farina vs Italoconnection". This is a star-studded collaboration amongst some of the bigger names in the Italo Disco realm. What could be better than Gianluigi Farina, Franco Rago, Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti reworking and remixing each other's classic Italo tunes from the hey days of Italo Disco to modern times? This is pure bliss in every way. There is also a guest appearance by none other than the master of the mix Flemming Dalum. This is certainly an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent.
Girlfriends And Boyfriends : "Fallacy Of Fairness". Goofy name, but don't let that stop you from hearing an amazing synthpop album blessed with great instrumentation with hooks and choruses to die for. This was an early 2021 release that stayed with me all year. Synthpop/electropop/new wave fans dug this so much a second pressing was needed.
Various Artists : "Fright S/T". With the apocalypse in full swing, I have had a yearning for a lot of heavy powerful music. Music that scares the hell out of most people and summons the demons within. Fright is anger and aggression personified and is just what the doctor ordered. A blistering blast of merciless mayhem with roots in hardcore and thrash metal. Fright features members of Citizens Arrest, Devoid Of Faith, Down In Flames, Das Oath, Monster x and Ramoms to name a few. Right from the opening track the sonic terror is mainlined right into your veins to ease the burden of the lingering mess the world is in due to the pandemic. The layout and artwork go great with the vampire red wax. Music to pummel people to at its finest.
There were many other releases I thought were worthy of recognition from Naked Raygun, Sturm Café, Old Moon, Ritual Veil, New Today, Private Hell, True Faith, BITWVLF, Forest Circles, Choke Chain, Amyl And The Sniffers, Paradox Obscur, Kontravoid, Day Room, Cemento, Alligators, Winter, Rat Cage, Deranged, Fïx8:Sëd8, Lazerhawk, and Pictureplane. This is why small lists are so difficult.
Jan 09 2022
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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