David E. Gehlke Best-of 2021

Sunday, 19th December 2021

No particular order for the song list this year — it’s an arduous task trying to sort these suckers out. However, Helloween’s “Robot King” may be the best of the bunch for its audacity and sheer power metal bombast, but don’t sleep on Swallow the Sun or even Ashpyx, whose Necroceros should get some attention…

Emma Ruth Rundle – “Body” (from Engine of Hell)

Helloween – “Robot King” (from Helloween)

An Autumn for Crippled Children – “In Winter” (from As the Morning Dawns We Close Our Eyes)

Swallow the Sun – “Enemy” (from Moonflowers)

Gojira – “New Found” (from Fortitude)

Hypocrisy – “Bug in the Net” (from Worship)

Asphyx – “Mount Skull” (from Necroceros)

White Void – “Do. Not. Sleep” (from Anti)

Chelsea Wolfe (featuring Emma Ruth Rundle) “Anhedonia”

Hanging Garden – “Nowhere Haven” (from Skeleton Lake)

Biggest surprise: Marco Hietala leaving Nightwish. The long-running bassist and male vocalist of Nightwish announced he had enough of the music scene, thus bolting a band still atop the symphonic metal genre. Hietala’s vocals and personality will be missed — it’s unlikely Nightwish will find a suitable replacement.

Best newcomer: Iotunn. This Danish quintet’s Access All Worlds debut was a mesmeric blend of melodic and progressive death metal; perhaps the non-wintry extension of Wintersun with some nods to Be’lakor. Whatever it may be, it was the year’s best debut.

Biggest disappointment: Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu. Let’s be clear: The production kills this thing. Kevin Shirley either needs to go or someone needs to talk to Steve Harris to bring Maiden’s sound up to date. The whole thing is flat and dry, sort of listless, really. And, those long intros…haven’t we had enough of them by now?

Best cover art: Archspire: Bleed the Future. Few can hang with Archspire’s speed; the cover art to Bleed the Future only adds to their image as a forward-thinking, stimulating band with the propensity to leave mouths agape.

Best video of the year: Emma Ruth Rundle’s “Return.” No words are needed to properly express Emma’s infinite sorrow here. Visually, it’s captivating and soul-bearing and says more than any billion-dollar budget video could ever dream.

Most anticipated album of 2022: The Halo Effect. Can this live up to the “All ex-In Flames member” pedigree and billing? The first single, “Shadowlands,” was a promising start. Here’s to hoping the rest will harken back to those awe-inspiring Gothenburg melodic death metal days…

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