Album Of The Year 2021 – Number 3

Welcome to Day 28 of my 2021 Top 30 countdown of my favourite albums released this year. Some will write a simple list, others will offer a list with some explanation, and then there’s me. The idiot, the masochist. Every day, I put together a post that shines the spotlight one last time on one of the 30 best albums of the year as I see it. I try to explain my reasoning, offer quotes and a link to my original review, and embellish it all with artwork & an embedded track, different from the one chosen for the review. And so far, the feedback for this year’s list has been great – thank you all.

But now we’re into the final three; the bronze, silver, and gold medal places are revealed over the next three days. I’m excited and expecting to hear all sorts of views about my choices. But I can’t stress more strongly that this list has nothing to do with popularity; it’s a reflection of what I have enjoyed this year – simple as that. All hail the subjectivity of music!

As always, for any newcomers, there’s just time for the usual reminder to check out the links at the bottom of the post to find out who made the cut, from 30 down to 4, as well as my full lists from previous years too.

And now, to the bronze medal for 2021…

Number 3

Witherfall

“Curse Of Autumn”

Century Media Records

Release Date: 5 March 2021

Score Of Much Metal: 97%

I haven’t seen this record in as many lists as I was expecting, but the fact remains that ‘Curse Of Autumn’ from Witherfall is one hell of an album, deserving of many an accolade. Heavy, riff-hungry, melodic, emotional, and with a hint of a progressive edge…it is a powerful ride from start to finish, and one that I refuse to tire of. In fact, I connect with it more deeply now than I did back in February when I first started listening to it.

Growing up and getting into heavy metal for the first time, my immediate love was for big crunchy guitar riffs and solos. Yes, solos. Those things that the mainstream seems to have abandoned. Such heresy. But happily, Witherfall never got the memo and so ‘Curse Of Autumn’ is littered with sensational guitar work and loads of solos. It’s the kind of thing that I lap up, and have done over the past few months, returning to it on a very frequent basis. And moreover, this is an album that reminds me of why I developed a love for heavy metal in the first place.

Naturally, the emotional depth of this album also has an impact, and takes things to another level of intensity. There’s no doubt in my mind that these guys are living and breathing every moment. No-one is phoning this in from the back of the studio, and you can tell; it’s rather exhilarating actually, and has the effect of pulling me deeper into the music.

There isn’t much else to say at this point other than reiterate just what a worthy addition to my 2021 list ‘Curse Of Autumn’ is. I hope many of you will agree.

What I wrote at the time:

“…as much as I was looking forward to hearing new material from Witherfall, I did wonder slightly whether the band would produce something as powerful and emotional with the ghost of Sagan looming slightly less large over their collective shoulders. 

…on the evidence presented within ‘Curse Of Autumn’, Witherfall will seemingly always be a band that refuses to shy away from confronting their emotions and lacing their songs with poignancy. On this album, there’s a strong thread of anger and frustration, two intertwining emotions that the band, particularly vocalist/keyboardist Joseph Michael and guitarist Jake Dreyer, have experienced over their careers…

…a 57 minute thrill ride into some of the best and darkest melodic heavy metal since…well, since ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ if I’m honest.

…it is hard to argue against the suggestion that all members of Witherfall deliver their ‘A’ game on ‘Curse Of Autumn’, in many cases even pushing their abilities even further than before in the process.

Witherfall come out of the blocks all guns blazing. Michael sounds like a man possessed as he spits out his diatribes with urgency and unquestionable passion. And then, signalled by a gloriously dirty and heavy open guitar chord, the chorus bursts into life, delivering more disgustingly marvellous guitar notes and effortless-sounding high-pitched vocal melodies.

In a live setting, I bet these guys slay and I sincerely hope that I get to witness this sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, we have another masterpiece to enjoy, in the form of ‘Curse Of Autumn’ – dark and properly heavy melodic metal rarely sounds this passionate or brilliant.”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

Number 4

Number 5

Number 6

Number 7

Number 8

Number 9

Number 10

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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