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

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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 journalist Katha

2021… what could easily be seen as another year in the wasteland of the pandemic – still having its own unique challenges for each of us – also brought out overwhelming creativity from artists from all around the world. If 2020 had already been tough to keep on track with the high number of new releases, this year topped it by far and left me deeply impressed regarding the incredible variety and also high quality of what came out. An interesting phenomenon was all of the solo projects by different composers and musicians showing up – sometimes as “real” solo records, but also as great collaborations, often only made possible thanks to digitalization.

In the following, you can find some of those bands and artists that stood out for me this year and became part of my very special playlist. I hope you enjoy diving into their music!

Top 10 International albums

10. Nanga Parbat – Downfall and Torment: Inspired by natural forces, the Italian melodeath band takes us on a journey through real and rough emotions.

9. Khirki – Κτηνωδία: The Greek trio offers you their musical goblet with groovy, Anatolian-spiced rock’n roll.

8. Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever: A splendid prog record, melting various musical influences to a beautiful, new whole.

7. Paul Wardingham – Cybergenesis: The guitar wizard delivers another firework of cyber metal shredding.

6. Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn: Marvellous prog album with great singers about space travelling and the struggle to survive.

5. Aeon Zen – Transversal: On their final release, they share 30 minutes of prog magic with a splendid vocal performance.

4. Fotis Delinikolas – Alma: By melting a wide range of styles, this is a gem for fans of sophisticated and virtuoso guitar playing.

3. Astrakhan – A Slow Ride Towards Death: The Swedish proggers created an expressive piece of music and take the listener on an intense ride.

2. Turbulence – Frontal: The concept of this excellent, 2nd album by the Lebanese prog act is based on a true story.

1. Aeons – Consequences: Mindblowing progmetal from the Isle of Man, with thought-provoking lyrics, thrilling guitar work, and a rhythm section on fire.

Read more: REVIEW: Nanga Parbat – Downfall and Torment

Top 10 Finnish albums

10. Burning Point – Arsonist of the Soul

9. Ulthima – Symphony of the Night

8. NOEX! Noora Louhimo Experience – Eternal Wheel of Time and Space

7. Mercury Circle – Killing Moons

6. Omnium Gatherum – Origin

5. Oceanhoarse – Dead Reckoning

4. Antti Martikainen – Carmina Gloria

3. Wheel – Resident Human

2. Thy Row – Unchained

1. Ephemerald – Between the Glimpses of Hope

Read more: REVIEW: Ulthima – Symphony of the Night | REVIEW: Noora Louhimo Experience – Eternal Wheel of Time and Space | REVIEW: Mercury Circle – Killing Moons | REVIEW: Omnium Gatherum – Origin | PRELISTENING: Oceanhoarse – Dead Reckoning | REVIEW: Wheel – Resident Human | REVIEW: Thy Row – Unchained | REVIEW: Ephemerald – Between the Glimpses of Hope

Top 3 EPs

3. Mütherload – Ü (groove/thrash / death metal from the USA)

2. Novena – The Stopped Clock (prog metal from the UK)

1. Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage (Tasmanian stoner power metal)

Best livestream event

The Progspace Festival

Most promising act

This is indeed a tough question, as I came across so many great new bands this year. But since they delivered my album of the year, I’d go for AEONS.

Top 5 music videos

5. Altesia – Mouth of the Sky (taken from their second album “Embryo,” out October 16th)

4. Within Progress – Destructional (taken from their debut album “Inner,” out October 21st)

3. Exanimis – Cogs, Gears & Clockworks (taken from their debut album “Marionnettiste,” out March 5th)

2. Mütherload – The Visitor (taken from their debut EP “Ü,” out July 9th)

1. Aeon Zen – Transversal (mesmerizing video for their full album “Transversal,” out September 24th)

Top 5 lyric videos

5. Luna’s Call – Merced’s Footsteps (taken from their second album “Void,” re-released on April 30th)

4. Charles Soulz Project – Burn to Rise (taken from his debut album “Split Mind,” out October 22nd)

3. Seventh Dimension –  Black Sky: Into the Void (from their current album “Black Sky,” out June 18th)

2. Nanga Parbat – Demon in the Snow (taken from their debut “Downfall and Torment,” out March 23rd)

1. Astrakhan – Youtopia (taken from their third album “A Slow Ride Towards Death,” out April 30th)

Read more: REVIEW: Nanga Parbat – Downfall and Torment

Top 5 international songs

5. Pleximents – Mental Prisoner

4. Fierce Deity – Power

3. Aeons – Hades and Persephone

2. Turbulence – Madness Unforeseen

1. Astrakhan – Lonesome Cry

Top 5 Finnish songs

5. Noora Louhimo Experience – Valkyrie

4. Antti Martikainen – Divine Alliance

3. Ephemerald – Lost

2. Wheel – Movement

1. Thy Row – Road Goes On

Read more:REVIEW: Noora Louhimo Experience – Eternal Wheel of Time and Space | REVIEW: Ephemerald – Between the Glimpses of Hope | REVIEW: Wheel – Resident Human | REVIEW: Thy Row – Unchained

Top 5 best last-minute songs

5. Manimal – Armageddon

4. King Buffalo – Acheron

3. Eternity’s End – Arcturus Prime

2. Operus Diabolicus – Darkest Doom on the Brightest Day

1. Defecto – A Million Suns

Top 5 cover art

5. Sylvatica – Ashes and Snow

4. Iotunn – Access All Worlds

3. Coevality – Multiple Personalities

2. Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage

1. Vokonis – Odyssey

Best collaboration

Ignea Ersedu – Bestia: Connected by a long friendship, the two bands joined forces for an EP about Ukrainian mythology, told with symphonic melodic death metal by two powerful singers.

Top 5 most anticipated releases of 2022

5. Noveria – Untitled

4. Star One – Revel in Time

3. Threshold – Untitled

2. Poem – Untitled

1. Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds Pt.2

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!