Album Of The Year 2021 – Number 10

Welcome to instalment number twenty-one of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’. And with it, I enter the top ten. This is where it gets very serious, as I reveal my ten favourite albums of what has been a surprisingly strong year. Thank goodness for music, because without it, the outlook for many of us would have been incredibly bleak indeed.

Another huge ‘thank you’ to those of you who have stuck with me since the beginning – I hope I’ve not bored you to tears just yet? And if you have only just stumbled across my blog, then you’re very welcome…and I apologise in advance to you too!

As always, forgive me as I want to give my normal reminder to anyone new to this series, to check out the links at the bottom of the post to find out who made the cut, from 30 down to 11, as well as my lists from previous years too.

Number 10

Leprous

“Aphelion”

InsideOut Music

Release Date: 27 August 2021

Score Of Much Metal: 95%

Leprous are one of the most interesting and intriguing bands on the planet right now. They are also one of the most talented and emotional too, releasing music that is technical, beautiful, and incredibly raw at times. The same can be said of ‘Aphelion’ too – the well is not even beginning to run low it seems, and that’s great news for those of us who are fans of the Norwegian progressive band.

Note that I didn’t add ‘metal’ or ‘rock’ to the word ‘progressive’, because these days, it is increasingly difficult to apply meaningful labels to Leprous’ music. They do have rock and metal elements to their sound, as well as a number of other elements and ingredients. But ultimately, Leprous just produce great music, full of depth and richness of sound.

No Leprous album is easy to digest on a first listen; it takes time and effort. But, as always, the effort is well worth it, because the music just gets better and better with every spin. Sitting here now, I can honestly say that ‘Aphelion’ is easily one of their best releases within a discography of great releases. It may have been an unexpected product of the pandemic, but it doesn’t compromise in any way – it is simply wonderful, and worthy of a place in my 2021 Top 10.

What I wrote at the time:

“Solberg talks about ‘Aphelion’ being more of a collection of songs rather than being anything akin to a concept record. And that’s certainly borne out of my listening over the past few days; ‘Aphelion’ simply follows its own path, exploring soundscapes at will, meandering where the inspiration takes it, or where the musicians’ inspiration leads. 

From a musical perspective, as I’ve alluded to already, ‘Aphelion’ is a very varied beast, displaying ingredients familiar to long term fans as well as plenty of new ideas as well; we have come to expect a little of the unexpected where Leprous are concerned, and this release is no different. 

…it is becoming more of a stretch than ever to be able to define Leprous as a band with overt metal credentials anymore; they certainly delve into those realms from time to time on ‘Aphelion’, but by-and-large, the output is less metallic overall, much more nuanced and multi-faceted.

If ‘Aphelion’ is an unexpected by-product of the global CoVid pandemic, then it is difficult to entirely hate the last eighteen months on Planet Earth. With this, their seventh album, the Norwegian quintet by the name of Leprous have delivered yet another incredible slab of modern progressive music. At this juncture, the band stand on their own, peerless, making music quite unlike anyone else.”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

Number 11

Number 12

Number 13

Number 14

Number 15

Number 16

Number 17

Number 18

Number 19

Number 20

Number 21

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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