Tuonela Magazine’s Annual Staff Picks (2021): Bear Wiseman’s Edition


Now that the year 2021 is coming to a close, we at Tuonela Magazine want to share the releases that we have enjoyed the most. Each of our staff members will share their own lists, so here is the list of our editor and head journalist, Bear Wiseman

As I approach my middle years, I find myself a little less impressed by all of the metal out there, especially from the big-name bands, and more and more interested in what the newbies in the scene are doing. From psychedelia to hard rock and even a bit of disco, the Finnish underground is a veritable playground of talent right now. So, I’ll let the others shout-out the big names… most of my picks are from the lesser-known talents that deserve a bit more attention!

Disclaimer: while I do put my favorites in the tops, these are in no real order, because the top few are usually mood-dependent.

Top 10 International albums

10. Between the Buried and Me – “Colors II”

9. Leprous – “Aphelion”

8. Charlotte Wessels – “Tales from Six Feet Under”

7. Dear Mother – “Bulletproof”

6. nervous_testpilot – “thank you for home listening”

5. The Vintage Caravan – “Monuments”

4. The Georgia Thunderbolts – “Can We Get a Witness”

3. Lucifer – “Lucifer IV”

2. The Tea Party – “Blood Moon Rising”

1. The Pretty Reckless – “Death by Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Read more: REVIEW: Leprous – Aphelion | REVIEW: Charlotte Wessels – Tales from Six Feet Under | REVIEW: Dear Mother – Bulletproof | REVIEW: The Vintage Caravan – Monuments | REVIEW: The Georgia Thunderbolts – Can We Get a Witness | REVIEW: Lucifer – Lucifer IV | REVIEW: The Tea Party – Blood Moon Rising | REVIEW: The Pretty Reckless – Death By Rock And Roll

Top 10 Finnish albums

(I had so many for this list that I feel compelled to shout out Thy Row, Lost in Grey, Red Eleven, Laurenne/Louhimo, Blame Me!, and Jess & the Ancient Ones too)

10. Cellomania – “Mania Unleashed”

9. Wheel – “Resident Human”

8. Oceanhoarse – “Dead Reckoning”

7. Bloodred Hourglass – “Your Highness”

6. Astral Bazaar – “A Sudden Realization”

5. Pihka Is My Name – “Everything Is In Between”

4. Auri – “II: Those We Don’t Speak Of”

3. Noora Louhimo Experience – “Eternal Wheel of Time and Space”

2. Luna Kills – “not to be bitter, but it helps”

1. Ember Falls – “Ruins”

Read more: REVIEW: Cellomania – Mania Unleashed | REVIEW: Wheel – Resident Human | PRELISTENING: Oceanhoarse – Dead Reckoning | REVIEW: Bloodred Hourglass – Your Highness | REVIEW: Astral Bazaar – A Sudden Realization | REVIEW: Pihka Is My Name – Everything Is In Between | REVIEW: Auri – Auri II: Those We Don’t Speak Of | REVIEW: Noora Louhimo Experience – Eternal Wheel of Time and Space | REVIEW: Luna Kills – not to be bitter, but it helps | REVIEW: Ember Falls – Ruins

Top 3 EPs

3. Temperance – “Melodies of Green and Blue”

2. Jo Below – “No Control”

1. Volymian – “They Never Come in Peace”

Read more: REVIEW: Temperance – EP: Melodies of Green and Blue | REVIEW: Jo Below – EP: No Control | REVIEW: Volymian – EP: They never come in peace | Interview with Volymian — “One single-celled being showed us that despite all we’ve achieved, we’re not necessarily at the top of the food chain after all.” | PREMIERE: Volymian – War Machines

Best livestream concert

Noora Louhimo Experience @ GLiveLab

Read more: 19.3.2021 NOEX: Noora Louhimo Experience Live Stream @ GLiveLab, Tampere

Most promising act

5. Shereign (alternative/metal)

4. Dirt (local) & Classless Act (international) (rock)

3. Nestruction (metal/game)

2. Vansidian (heavy metal)

1. Modern Day Alien (psytrance)

Read more: FEATURED SINGLE: Shereign – Losing Sight | SONG OF THE DAY: Classless Act – Give it to Me | Interview with Classless Act — “We just want people to be themselves…” | FEATURED SINGLE: Vansidian – Stormweaver | PREMIERE: Vansidian – Code of Shame | FEATURED SINGLE: Vansidian – Suppressed with Light

Top 5 music videos

5. Kuolemanlaakso – “Katkeruuden malja” ft. Lotta Ruutiainen

4. Classless Act – “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

3. Iron Maiden – “The Writing on the Wall”

2. Vansidian – “Code of Shame”

1. Imagine Dragons – “My Enemy” ft. JID

Read more: SONG OF THE DAY: Iron Maiden – The Writing On the Wall | PREMIERE: Vansidian – Code of Shame

Top 5 lyric videos

5. The Cog is Dead – “Can You Help Me”

4. Star One – “Lost Children of the Universe”

3. Auri – “Pearl Diving

2. Ember Falls – “The Wall”

1. Machinae Supremacy – “Empire of Steel” (Essenger & Scandroid cover)

Read more: SONG OF THE DAY: The Cog is Dead – Can You Help Me | FEATURED SINGLE: Ember Falls – The Wall; FEATURED SINGLE: Machinae Supremacy – Empire of Steel (Essenger & Scandroid cover)

Top 5 international songs

5. Iron Maiden – “The Writing on the Wall”

4. The Cog is Dead – “Can You Help Me”

3. Imagine Dragons – “My Enemy” ft. JID

2. The Pretty Reckless – “Only Love Can Save Me Now”

1. Machinae Supremacy – “Pendulum”

Read more: SONG OF THE DAY: Iron Maiden – The Writing On the Wall; SONG OF THE DAY: The Cog is Dead – Can You Help Me; FEATURED SINGLE: Machinae Supremacy – Pendulum

Top 5 Finnish songs

5. Pihka Is My Name – “+-“

4. Nestruction – “Cyber Shadow – chapter 1”

3. Luna Kills – “DEAD2ME” and/or “old blood”

2. Noora Louhimo Experience – “Sinner on the Floor” (or anything else off the album)

1. Ember Falls – anything off “Ruins” (esim: “Absinthe Children”)

Read more: REVIEW: Pihka Is My Name – Everything Is In Between | Interview with Pihka is My Name — “Nobody is just a zero or a one.” | 25.3.2021 Pihka is My Name Album Release Stream @ Pihkasound Studio | 28.7.2021 Luna Kills, Blame Me!, & Edge of Haze @ On the Rocks, Helsinki | 27.10.2021 NOEX: Noora Louhimo Experience @ YO-talo, Tampere

Top 5 best last-minute songs

5. Cyan Kicks – “Invincible”

4. Kuolemanlaakso – “Katkeruuden malja”

3. The Halo Effect – “Shadowminds”

2. Eye of Melian – “The Bell”

1. Ember Falls – “Absinthe Children”

Read more: SONG OF THE DAY: The Halo Effect – Shadowminds

Top 5 cover art

5. The Tea Party – “Black River” (single)

4. Bloodred Hourglass – “Your Highness”

3. The Halo Effect – “Shadowminds” (single art)

2. The Vintage Caravan – “Monuments”

1. Astral Bazaar – “A Sudden Realization”

Read more: 17.4.2021 Helsinki Psych Fest (online) @ Tiivistämö, Helsinki | Interview with Bloodred Hourglass — “We wanted to emphasize the importance of sounding modern and fresh.” | Interview with The Vintage Caravan — “We do well under pressure.” | SONG OF THE DAY: The Halo Effect – Shadowminds

Best collaboration


READ MORE: FEATURED SINGLE: Laurenne/Louhimo – Bitch Fire | FEATURED SINGLE: Laurenne/Louhimo – The Reckoning | REVIEW: Laurenne/Louhimo – The Reckoning

Top 5 most anticipated releases of 2022

5. Star One – “Revel in Time”

4. Shaman’s Harvest – “Rebelator”

3. Everfrost – EP

2. Classless Act – debut album

1. The Halo Effect – debut album

Want to share your lists with us? Comment below with your lists.

The whole Tuonela Magazine team wishes you an inspirational 2022 filled with a lot of new music to discover. We hope to see you back next year!