Album Of The Year 2021 – Number 21

Welcome to Day 10 in my ‘Album of the Year 2021 Top 30 Countdown’. Exactly a third of the way through. How on Earth did that happen so quickly? And how come I have barely heard a flicker of dissention to any of my choices thus far? You’re all far too polite it seems!

If you’re new to this series, I’d like to remind you that this list represents my favourite 30 albums of the year, regardless of genre, technicality, or notoriety. If it made me smile or bang my head enough, it’ll be right here among the thirty. And between 16 and 30, there’s no real order to my picks – they all deserve to be in the list, so solid placings don’t appear until the half-way point.

And also, if you’re new to my series, you can check out the other picks so far in this year’s series at the end of this post alongside the entire lists from previous years.

Number 21

At The Gates

“The Nightmare Of Being”

Century Media Records

Release date: 2 July 2021

Score Of Much Metal: 94%

I remember that ‘The Nightmare Of Being’ was the last new album I listened to before I stepped away from the website for three months for personal reasons. I liked it, but it got shelved along with all music while I sorted myself out emotionally and physically.

When I returned at the beginning of October, it was one of the first albums I gravitated towards, as I was absolutely determined to publish my thoughts on it. The great thing about this was that the music had time and distance to mull around in the back of my mind. And when I did return to it, my thoughts remained the same.

As you’ll see below, in my review, I made the bold statement that ‘The Nightmare Of Being’ is the best At The Gates record since ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’. I still cannot find any evidence to change my mind on that score, even if the Swedes do dabble with a saxophone in one song, much to my utter disgust. They’ve matured and learned a few new tricks, but with At The Gates, the future of melodic death metal is in good hands.

What I wrote at the time:

“I’m going to dispense with any smoke and mirrors or ambiguity right from the outset and declare that, without any doubt, ‘The Nightmare Of Being’ is easily the best album that At The Gates have released since the seminal ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ back in 1995. There, I’ve said it, and I mean it.

What comes next, however, is a word of warning, because ‘The Nightmare Of Being’ is a significantly different beast to the aforementioned ‘classic’ and indeed, it’s different from everything that has been released prior or since. 

All of the trademark sounds you expect to hear from At The Gates are present and correct…However, ‘The Nightmare Of Being’ is a much more nuanced, varied, and mature affair all-round. Not exactly ‘experimental’, it does however play around with some different ideas throughout…

Returning to it after a few months of listening to almost no music at all, I can confirm that it still packs the same punch, raises the eyebrow in the same way, and ultimately delights me as strongly as it did at the outset.”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

Number 22

Number 23

Number 24

Number 25

Number 26

Number 27

Number 28

Number 29

Number 30

‘Honourable Mentions’

Also, if you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here:

2020

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

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