Free Flush Vol 14: Top Picks Of 2021
Here’s my AOTY list combining some of my favourites from previous Free Flush volumes from this year, but also some others I haven’t yet covered on here! I’ve already written about most of these albums so I’ll quote myself, but making new entries for ones I have not yet covered. You probably wont know the difference unless you read everything I write on every website I write for like some kind of sicko. These albums may be name your own price but do not make the mistake of assuming that means lower quality! These are massive albums by some of the coolest new bands around. These are all worth spending money on, some bands just prefer accessibility to their music over cash. There is merch available for many of these.
Independent | Premiere
Everything Gary touches is ridiculously good. This year alone he released the following albums that would all have ended up in this top 10 so they share a combined spot. These projects jump across genres like post hardcore, electronic, math, black metal, tech death or whatever other bullshit he comes up with. All of these projects and their albums are distinct and have striking album art making for one of the most impressive single year portfolios in the underground music scene. It’s ridiculous really. Sudden Deluge by Gonemage
Mystical Extraction by Gonemage
Stasis Cocoon by Sallow Moth
Phase Out by Cara Neir
Pain Gel of Purification by Cara Nier
Huntress of Stars – Endless Landscape of Grim Carnage
ONCE INSIDE, A CHILL WIND DREW ME FURTHER DOWN, DESCENDING INTO THE BLACKENED DEPTH. I don’t honestly know if I’ve covered this album already but I certainly covered their last one. They’ve really nailed down a guitar pedal-fuelled combo sound of stoner sludge and hardcore that comes through in more subtle ways than most other albums on this list. Huntress Of Stars always delivers a whimsical style of songwriting that is as pretty as it is abrasive. I don’t know why they keep dropping great albums with awesome cover art for free without any real press but I’m glad I’ve firmly got my finger on their pulse now so I won’t miss any in the future. No idea who is behind it but they clearly put a lot of care into their writing and sound like they might be a musician experienced in other bands or projects. It’s quite simply a joy to listen to and reading the lyrics provides a good insight into some of the magical elements at play here. Some real curses and fantastical places described.
Frontierer – Oxidized
Absolutely fucked. Frontierer has always been about pushing musical boundaries with their hectic combination of metallic hardcore and noise. I believe they have somehow managed to continue pushing this boundary with their latest album Oxidized that will bewilder you whether because it’s all too much or because you haven’t quite heard noise played with this way. It will prick your ear repeatedly with its experimentation and absolutely obliterate your insides with the heaviness factor. This was an exciting release for me and I am not disappointed in the slightest, it rips. Members from Frontierer are also involved with another NYOP favorite of mine from 2018, the equally as hectic but darker sounding Sectioned, and I gotta ask, will we get more Sectioned? Please?
Tromblon – Je me fiche d’être Français
An explosive and heavy as fuck screamo album from sad French boys Tromblon. I know a lot of metalheads are put off by that tag but like most genres, there’s so many hugely popular bands who took the spotlight away from a slew of really talented underground screamo artists who were doing really cool shit with heavy and sincere music. Give it a go, especially if you’re hesitant. It really is one of my favourite releases out of this entire year. The album name translates to “I don’t care if I’m French”, a statement of lament towards French nationalism and the general shitty state of the world making it harder to find love. They shift between hardcore styles seamlessly, sometimes sounding more chill beat poet like La Dispute and sometimes completely bouncing off the walls with Birds In Row style emoviolence.
Snuffed On Sight – S/T
This is some bonkers shit ya’ll. Some heckers deathcore slam beatdown hardcore type shit from Cali featuring Foghorn and 200 Stabwounds. It’s a small EP with just 4 tracks but fuuuuuck it comes packing. The third track has a phenomenal breakdown with the band Foghorn that just shreds entire arse. You’ll know it when you hear it because as the music stops, so will your life. “Blunt Cough” has a hilarious sample that speaks to the weed-smoking side of this beatdown band. The squeals on this album are fucking stupid fast and high-pitched. By the time this little pocket rocket of an EP ends you’ll be gagging for more of that Bay Side shit. Forget what you know about moshing, this is music for those cavemen motherfuckers to kill each other to. So fucking ignorant.
Blind Equation – Life Is Pain
You’re probably wondering, cybergrind? Isn’t that a ridiculously fast meme-y video game-sounding genre with programmed drums? How can that be emotional? Well it turns out it very much can be, thanks to the connective tissue that is the synths and one hell of a vocalist. The synth does an admirable job of allowing the pace to slow down without losing any of the cybergrind “vibe” and the percussion is organized really well around the pacing too. The vocals are very expressive and very harsh, it gets skramzy but it also gets mathcore, depending on whether the vocalist is straining for inflection or raging for bombastic screams. They manage to communicate a world of tenderness, frustration and desolation amongst a chaotic instrumental backdrop. It’s absurdly palatable.
Deeformis – No Heartbeat
Some of you may remember me talking about Deeformis last year when I covered their album Stranger on here and also in the top 5 of my end of year list. Well solo artist Alona Dee is back at it with some brand new bleak depressing black metal riddled with her impressive screams and cinematic instrumentation. It’s such an epic sound, especially my favorite track “Wear My Doom” which soars like a motherfucker and has soul-crushing high range vocals. They’re very underground at this point and I’m very excited to watch them continually grow and reach more parts of the metal community.
Rage Of Devils – Life Of Horror
It’s just groove after groove and it has handfuls of hooks. My favorite moment off the record is on “Here To Do The Devils Work” with the vocal delivery on the lyrics “Here to kill/ Here to rip/ Here to tear/ Here to do the Devil’s work”. There’s a very bass-heavy doom vibe to a lot of the tracks, like speed doom or a black metal Black Sabbath. I enjoyed the low pitch synths on the intro which make a return for the closing track, and yes I was baked out of my mind. Another good antifascist black metal project to support.
Serpent Column – Katartisis
Serpent Column are back on their bullshit with more of that high art raw black metal twisted with prog and grind elements that run amok inside of a harshly chaotic production. Don’t ask me what it’s about, some esoteric Lovecraftian stuff no doubt. Menacing stuff that may be difficult to listen to for some production crybabies. Sonically dangerous, musically explorative.
Seed – Dun Pageant
A huge aggressively queer experimental doom album from American band Seed, who have great control of energy on Dun Pageant. A lot of the time you’ll be lulled into a kind of beautiful dirge with clean vocals spewing poetic, and other times you’ll be snapped out of it by an assault of chaos where the vocalist Lux is holding your dumb ass by the throat and screaming. Whatever path the music chooses, it will engross you with its changes and measurements. There’s bits of dissonance and jazz but they’re melded so adeptly into the music that it never sounds overpowering, it’s creating layers. The guitar does some very interesting things with the high end and tones while the bass fills the room whenever it enters. The drummer keeps it all together like glue. A patient listen that is very rewarding.
Hellish Form – Remains
Here’s a new funeral doom album featuring people from Body Void, Keeper and various other bands so you know you’re in good doomy hands. As you might expect from trendsetters in blackened doom, this is far more of the extreme abrasive death doom variety than fancy pants melodious funeral doom. That artwork by Cauê Piloto is really something huh? There’s not a whole lot to say because it’s a bloody no-brainer for angry miserable bastards like you.
NaKhArA – The Procession
A tight debut EP from what is a solo side project of guitarist Saïmon (Simon Thevenet) that packs a stupefying amount of guitar fiddling death and a cool folksy atmosphere provided by a variety of instruments and approaches. While it’s an EP it’s huge in its scope at a 37 minute runtime that shits all over the regular slew of mid-tier death metal we’re constantly being told to listen to. There’s a good balance between vision and mastery on The Procession that should have no trouble keeping your interest. It’s one of those death metal albums that is easy to keep on as it’s not terribly overbearing and actually contains a kind of journey rather than a random selection of songs.
Lucifungus – Clones
These cunts are so stoned they put on their Bandcamp that they recorded the album in February 2022 and it releases December 2022 but I’m going to include it because it’s available to listen to now in 2021. Was this an accident? Or maybe intentional and even thematic? Perhaps, but most likely they are just funny Australians making the weed music. They do a good job of it at least, with that typical for our area heavy as fuck raw stoner doom sound with the loud drums and muddy guitars. On one track there’s a huge ass bong rip and I gotta wonder, did they get that in one take? Or did they sit there trying to make the PERFECT bong rip?
Choking Game – This Time It’s Personal
GRAB YOUR HEELS, GRAB YOUR BATS, CUZ TONIGHT WE ATTACK, HOMOPHOBES WATCH YOUR BACK. Aggressive hardcore that shouts about equality and trans issues. Done so with an uncompromising anarchist grit that values the message over how people feel about said message. I found Choking Game via a 4-way split called 20925 Split that I highly recommend (although I cannot find the side of one of the bands still!). The This Time, It’s Personal EP is a grimy, muddy experience with heavily distorted guitars, blast beats and relentless powerviolence screaming. I love the lofi production where they sound raw as fuck but everything is still quite clear in the mix, it sounds perfect for cassette. It’s a short experience but it’s a lot like a stab in the stomach that pours forth blood in a quick gush leaving you lightheaded on the floor by the end of it.
Forlorn Sky – Of Loss And Decay
Forlorn Sky are from Switzerland and this EP is hectic old school metalcore full of breakdowns, deep growls and pig squeals. Very brutal shit, none of that modern melo sound at all. It has a very raw black metal kind of production to it that sounds like the bass amp is going to explode from the level of distortion. The first track “Old Wounds” absolutely floored me. Wild and succinct.
Where Waves Rest – Monuments, Epilogues and Isles
Powerviolence by way of metalcore and post hardcore. Comparisons could be made to Botch and The Number Twelve with how spicy this sound can get. Filled with little instrumental post- detours and flashy bits and bobs thrown in with the power and the violence. It’s a soundscape that will wash over you in measures of bitterness and sweetness. Two supporters on Bandcamp somehow, check this debut release out.