Top 25 Albums of the Year

Top 25 Albums of the Year

By Punktastic

Dec 8, 2021 13:30

2021 has been another long slog but with the return of live events our spark has been somewhat reignited and with the bright lights, sweaty pits and speakers cranked to the max, we’ve found ourselves falling in love with music all over again. Of course none of this would be possible if it weren’t for our favourite bands dropping more phenomenal music and 2021 has been one hell of a year for album releases. Team Punktastic have once again reflected on the records that got them most excited this past 12 months and while whittling it down to 25 has been arguably more tricky than ever, here you have it - our top albums of 2021.

25. The Armed – ‘ULTRAPOP’

The Armed - ULTRAPOPHaving shed their mystique (we think?), The Armed continue to push the boundaries of hardcore with ‘ULTRAPOP’; serving as a sonic assault of the senses, the apparent octet provide their fair share of abrupt brutality and blissful harmoniousness throughout these 12 songs. The roaring ‘ALL FUTURES’ gives way to chaotic moments such as ‘A LIFE SO WONDERFUL’ and ‘AN ITERATION’, and though there are brief moments of relative calmness they are generally erupted by pounding drums, escalating guitars, and sheer distortion. Late album highlight ‘BAD SELECTION’ solidifies what The Armed do throughout ‘ULTRAPOP’; rooted in hardcore they brilliantly execute external influences, such as electronica, with precision. The end result is a sturdy, muscular record that is equally chaotic and euphoric. [Sean Reid]

Read our full review of ‘ULTRAPOP’

24. Deafheaven – ‘Infinite Granite’

It takes a special band to completely reinvent their sound and end up with a record that’s one of their best yet. That’s exactly what Deafheaven pulled off with ‘Infinite Granite’, however, as they turned their backs on the heavier parts of their signature sound which mixed black metal and shoegaze. What’s left is a stunning shoegaze record, filled to the brim with beautiful guitar, synth, and vocal melodies. The shrieked black metal vocals from previous releases are mostly gone, replaced with clean, dreamlike singing. Despite the radical changes from previous releases, the spectacular guitar work of Kerry McCoy makes this instantly recognisable as a Deafheaven album. All of this means that ‘Infinite Granite’ is far more accessible than any of their previous work. By removing the harder edges from their sound, Deafheaven have crafted a sonically gorgeous record that anyone can enjoy, while previous releases were more niche. ‘Infinite Granite’ is 53 minutes of pure sonic bliss, a luscious soundscape you’ll want to revisit again and again. [Ash Bebbington]

Read our full review of ‘Infinite Granite’

23. While She Sleeps – ‘Sleeps Society’

Approaching their latest album, While She Sleeps said they were going to change the way that albums were released. After much speculation about what they were up to, they revealed the Sleeps Society, their fan community and title for their latest album. With the title track, and first taster of new music, frontman Loz Taylor directly addresses the fanbase as he screams: “Welcome to the Sleeps Society”. Throughout this album is a sense of togetherness, as fans from the Society contribute to the gang vocals on the penultimate track ‘Call Of The Void’. This sense of togetherness is also conveyed through the lyrical content on the album and the numerous guest features on the album, including stand out track ‘Nervous’ featuring Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro. Guests aside, WSS are still the centre point of their album, delivering some of their strongest work to date in the Prodigy inspired ‘Systematic’ and the aforementioned title track. A headlining appearance at Slam Dunk Festival later in the year thoroughly showed off the strength of this album and reinforced the message and unity of the Sleeps Society. [Glen Bollard]

Read our full review of ‘Sleeps Society’ 
Read our live review of While She Sleeps at The Underworld, London

22. twenty one pilots – ‘Scaled and Icy’

Fans of twenty one pilots have high expectations for their favourite band; they don’t just want catchy music they can relate to, they also want a strong narrative to unravel; one that ties together old chapters with the new, leaving them discovering easter eggs until the time comes for new music to be released. The band’s sixth studio album ‘Scaled and Icy’ more than stepped up to the challenge. This vibrant and catchy record is, on face value, the most fun twenty one pilots have ever been, but don’t mistake that for being shallow. There is so much to delve into here that goes beyond the funky foundations and while it’s up to the individual as to how far they delve, there is something exciting to be found at each and every level that sits beneath the surface. With their ever-increasing popularity, it would be easy to lose what made them so special in the first place, but with every album, twenty one pilots only become more exciting. Whether you’re just looking to dance and sing your heart out, or you fancy learning more about Trash the dragon, there’s something in ‘Scaled and Icy’ for everyone. [Yasmin Brown]

Read our full review of ‘Scaled and Icy’ 
Read our review of twenty one pilot’s live stream

21. Beartooth – ‘Below’

Beartooth always make it to our AOTY lists in grand fashion, and ‘Below’ is just another great example of why. Sheer energy is the name of the game for their fourth record, a feat made even more impressive when considering their previous release, ‘Aggressive’, also stood to step things up a notch from their older outings. That’s not to say things can’t still get melodic: for every urgent punk anthem like the frantic energy of ‘Fed Up’, there’s a bouncy, get up and dance track like ‘No Return’. More than anything, there’s a touchingly introspective side to the record in moments such as ‘I Won’t Give It Up’, and the instrumental ‘The Last Riff’, and it’s here the fourth record separates itself for the rest of the band’s previous discography. Highlighting such a self-awareness and growth while remaining skull-splittingly heavy is no easy task, and it propels this hard-hitting record from great to excellent, once again cementing Beartooth’s place on this list. [Fiachra Johnston]

Read our full review of ‘Below’ 

20. Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes – ‘Sticky’

Frank Carter has started to mellow in recent times. Gone is the angry punk who needed to see blood at every show, whether that be his own or in the crowd. Instead, in recent years he’s become more of a British rock icon. ‘Sticky’ is his fourth record with the Rattlesnakes and is easily their most accessible. Recorded during the pandemic, this record is all about fun. It’s a short burst of energy which aims to get the party started and with songs like ‘Go Get a Tattoo’ and ‘Off With His Head’ they’ve written material that fits seamlessly into their live set. With a smile on his face Carter is still able to deliver the riffs and choruses that will be sung around festival sites across the summer of 2022. ‘Sticky’ might be the quintessential Frank Carter record, pulling influences from all over his career and life, this record can’t be missed. [Adam Rosario]

Read our full review of ‘Sticky’

19. The Dirty Nil – ‘Fuck Art’

Everything about this record feels tongue in cheek. The title, for one, but also the fact that they released it on New Year’s Day – hardly a typical album release day. Most of all, thought, it’s the snotty witticisms of vocalist Luke Bentham that are peppered throughout ‘Fuck Art’ that give it such playful energy.  All of this is to say that The Dirty Nil seem like they’re having the time of their lives on this album, and that kind of enthusiasm is infectious. Throw it on for a few minutes, and you’ll be right there with them, nodding along with a huge grin on your face. Sonically, ‘Fuck Art’ builds on the blueprint the band laid out on their last record, 2018’s ‘Master Volume’, a mix of punk rock sneer and classic rock bombast. The band sound more confident than ever and the songs are some of the best they’ve written. Away from music, 2021 was a year to forget, but a record as straight-up fun as ‘Fuck Art’ is made it far, far brighter. [Ash Bebbington]

Read our full review of ‘Fuck Art’

18. Press To MECO – ‘Transmute’

Fuelled by curiously atypical instrumentation and dappled with gorgeous three-part harmonies, Press To MECO’s dynamic is entirely unique. With ‘Transmute’ they continue to experiment and diversify while making music that is fundamentally enjoyable to listen to thanks to their ability to spin a stellar chorus bolstered by infectious hooks. ‘Gold’ is truly the crowning jewel here, with its mind-blowing breakdown driven by a dizzyingly twisted riff providing the album’s exemplar sonic champagne moment. In truth, it’s one of many highlights that occur throughout the record, whether that be the brassy grandiose of ‘Sabotage’ or the newfound aggression injected by the vocals of bassist Jake Crawford on what is his maiden outing as a member of Press To MECO. Challenging in a number of ways, the payoff with ‘Transmute’ is palpable; it’s a record that demands to be listened to many times beyond initial discovery. [Aaron Jackson]

Read our full review of ‘Transmute’

17. Ice Nine Kills – ‘Welcome To Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2’

We mentioned when it was first released that the sequel to INK’s original horror concept album started at a disadvantage, being the sequel to a theme album, and the third of its kind from Spencer Charnas and his Boston butchers. Yet given some time with the record, with its infectious energy and unmatched love for horrorcraft seeping into its every facet, it’s now clear that was never going to hamper it that much, if at all. The various cinema pastiches, genre experiments, and guest features make for perhaps INK’s most diverse full-length release, going from jagged industrial-tinged metal in songs like ‘Wurst Vacation’ to full on romantic-era inspired epics in ‘Farewell II Flesh’. Even if you don’t have an interest in scary movies, the genuine excitement on display throughout, plus some truly underrated vocals from Charnas himself on the growling tracks of ‘Funeral Derangements’, ‘Take Your Pick’, and more, will be enough to perk interest in even the most easily spooked of us. [Fiachra Johnston]

16. Employed To Serve – ‘Conquering’

UK heavy music titans Employed To Serve were already walking the path to greatness but the dazzling precision encased within ‘Conquering’, a balls-to-the-wall metal record, has rapidly turned that walk into a sprint. Their signature brand of relentless rage and daunting ferocity has remained completely intact, but it’s presented in a way that morphs them from a rabid beast into a deadly assassin. Right from the off it’s immediately clear that this is a special record, the band tightening up all their screws and pushing their sound into more expansive, colourful territory. The epic rises and falls of ‘Universal Chokehold’, the balanced force of ‘Twist The Blade’, the riff-centric onslaught of ‘We Don’t Need You’ – the album may have some lighter elements than the band we’ve come to know, but the punch it delivers is more bone-shattering than ever before. This is Employed To Serve at their most dominant, and we are HERE for it. [Dave Stewart]

Read our full review of ‘Conquering’

15. Boston Manor – ‘Desperate Times Desperate Pleasures’

Despite everything, 2021 has been a good year for Boston Manor. They’ve seen themselves on countless festival lineups across the UK and touring the US with Neck Deep, and after a pandemic-induced creative block have reignited their chemistry. This chemistry has been channelled into a brand new, surprise EP, ‘Desperate Times Desperate Pleasures’ – five tracks of pure brilliance that we never even knew we needed. These tracks see Boston Manor at their very best, combining clever lyrics with accessible yet heavy music that you can’t help but play on repeat until you wake up with the catchiest snippets relentlessly spinning around your head. With a full UK tour (finally) coming up in February, we can’t wait to experience these songs in an environment that breathes even more life into them but beyond than that, we can’t wait for a full-length record that builds on these songs, elevating this incredible band to even greater heights. [Yasmin Brown]

Read our full review of ‘Desperate Times Desperate Pleasures’
Read our live review of Boston Manor at The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes

14. Sugar Horse – ‘The Live Long After’

You often wonder what goes on in the depths of Bristol. It seems impossible to talk about Sugar Horse without thinking about Doctor Frankenstein and how he sewed together dead bodies to make a monster. Their debut album ‘The Live Long After’ pillages elements from post-rock and black metal, and forces them together with noise rock in unexpected ways; it’s challenging and difficult and not so much an album as a satanic jigsaw puzzle begging to be solved, defying classification by not so much contrasting elements as aggressively swinging them in one direction then the other. While last year’s ‘Drugs’ EP laid the blueprint, here they have had the time to explore their ideas properly, fleshing everything out onto individual canvases which only make sense as part of an exhibition. The result is extremely rewarding. If you’re looking for one of the year’s most beguiling and dazzling records ‘The Live Long After’ is for you. One moment it’s horribly intense, the next it’s soaring away with the clouds. The blast-beats and screeching that define ‘Shouting Judas At Bob Dylan’ are totally absent from the shimmering shoegaze of ‘Phil Spector In Hell’ and yet the two compliment each other perfectly. It’s a mix of different styles that makes no sense at all, and shouldn’t work, but it does. Post-rock, shoegaze, a smattering of black metal, it’s hard to say what it is. We’ll stick with ‘brilliant’. [Ian Kenworthy]

Read our full review of ‘The Live Long After’

13. Manchester Orchestra – ‘The Million Masks of God’

Anytime Georgia’s Manchester Orchestra deliver new music we welcome it with open arms. Considerably one of indie rock’s most consistent bands, their sixth album ‘The Million Masks of God’ doesn’t disappoint. Clouded in grief, the chief songwriting duo of Andy Hull and Robert McDowell continue to craft compelling and cinematic songs and while 2017’s ‘A Black Mile to the Surface’ thrived on the trusted quiet-loud-louder trait, this time out the quartet nicely reign things in. Songs such as ‘Annie’, ‘Way Back’ and ’Telepath’ are intimate and timid, complemented by intricate, layered instrumentation. Elsewhere, the pairing of ‘Keel Timing’ and ‘Bad Head’ provides two of ‘TMMOG’s most melodic moments. [Sean Reid]

Read our full review of ‘The Million Masks Of God’

12. Hyena Kill – ‘A Disconnect’

The Hyena Kill - A Disconnect‘A Disconnect’ isn’t exactly a hopeful album. Written during a particularly bleak period in Steven Dobb’s life, he admitted the sophomore The Hyena Kill album has “no happy endings or moments of clarity”. While on that basis it might sound like an overly difficult listen, it’s built with reflective pain and eye popping openness allowing for just a mere glimpse into his suffering. Adding Sam Jones and Charlie Seisay on guitar / synths and bass respectively has allowed The Hyena Kill to maintain their expansive and ethereal sound, letting layers of fuzzy distortion and delicate melodies play around Dobb’s vocals and Lorna Blundell’s frankly underrated drumming. Tracks like ‘Close Enough’ and ‘Passive Disconnect’ include sturdy riffs and huge hooks while ‘Thin’ and ‘Glass Scene’ show they’re able to create balladic, slow building songs that’ll pull on the heart strings. All in all, ‘A Disconnect’ is a hugely affecting, atmospheric powerhouse that builds on heavy riffs and leads into a slower, more defined peak. It feels as if The Hyena Kill are finding both their feet and their own definitive sound; a sound that’s as distinctive as it is listenable. [Andy Joice]

Read our full review of ‘A Disconnect’

11. You Me At Six – ‘SUCKAPUNCH’

Ahead of releasing their seventh studio album, YMAS faced the question: “Do we still want to do this?”. Early in January they dropped their latest album ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ which quashed any doubts and reignited the fire. In this record, YMAS have merged their rock sound with more electronic influences and tapped into a sound that is almost as at home in a night club as well as in a mosh pit, most evident in the title track, and the closing track ‘What’s It Like’. The band also stick to what they know and build on it with gut-punchers like the intro track ‘Nice To Me’, the anthemic ‘Beautiful Way’, and the emotional tear inducing ‘Glasgow’. The album hit number one in the charts, and gave the band its much needed reigniting Suckapunch to remind them that Sixers never die. [Glen Bollard]

Read our full review of ‘SUCKAPUNCH’
Read our live review of You Me At Six at O2 Forum, Kentish Town

10. Spiritbox – ‘Eternal Blue’

There might not be anything within this debut LP that will change the face of metalcore as we know it, but who cares when the Spiritbox are just so damn good at what they do? Eternal Blue’s consummate mixing of nuclear heaviness and gut-wrenching sincerity stems from the Canadian four piece’s mastery of the metalcore basics: stellar vocals, both clean and rough, by Courtney LaPlante that capture EB’s most savage and vulnerable moments, a keen but clean production in the otherwise oft warped and distorted electric strings from guitarist Mike Stringer and bassist Bill Crook, and Zev Rosenberg getting a full workout through his absolutely heart pounding drum lines. Whether they’re stripping the paint off the wall with the sharpness that is ‘Yellowjacket’ (featuring Architects’ Sam Carter), or striking profoundly melancholic notes in ‘Halcyon’, Spiritbox have raised the bar for metalcore to a new level with this debut and tantalising as it will be to hear future works by the quartet, it’ll be just as exciting to see how other bands within the genre rise to meet the challenge. [Fiachra Johnston]

Read our full review of ‘Eternal Blue’

9.Møl – ‘Diorama’

Everyone says their new album is heavier and more melodic than the last but Denmark’s MØL have taken this old cliché and really delivered. Their promising debut ‘Jord’ was an enticing foray into blackgaze but the follow-up is so much more, in equal parts crushing and achingly beautiful. It’s a listening experience akin to diving off a cliff, bouncing down the rocks and then being washed out to sea. For every hefty riff there’s an unforgettable melody and the overall effect somehow manages to be both intimate and majestic. ‘Diorama’ is a perfect name for this record, you can see so much in it – every moment delicately constructed and yet simultaneously punishing. The music effortlessly flows between an ocean of riffs and wide soundscapes, all overlain with vocals you could use to scour barnacles from the underside of a whale. As though that isn’t enough the interlaced, ethereal cleans from Norwegian singer Sylvaine add a delicate panache to the experience. It’s a journey that’s breath-taking from start to finish and the closing track that leaves you both crushed and heartbroken. The word masterpiece keeps being thrown around, and we absolutely understand why. [Ian Kenworthy]

Read our full review of ‘Diorama’

8. Trivium – ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’

Just when you think that Matt Heafy and crew can’t possibly have any more tricks left up their sleeves, they reveal ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’ and leave us all glassy eyed, gazing at them in awe. It’s a stunning career-spanning journey, paying homage to their thrashy melo-death influenced beginnings and weaving it into their present day anthemic metal allure. Classic ‘Ascendancy’ era heavy-hitters like ‘A Crisis Of Revelation’ and ‘Fall Into Your Hands’ breathe an all-encompassing fire and serve up an almost nostalgic rush of adrenaline, and tracks like ‘The Shadow Of The Abattoir’ and the epic title track show just how elegant and masterful their songwriting has become. Regardless of whether you’ve been with this band from the beginning or are only just joining the party, there’s no way you can view this record as anything less than magnificent. You aren’t in the dragon’s court; you’re in theirs. Kneel before the kings. [Dave Stewart]

Read our full review of ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’

7. Don Broco – ‘Amazing Things’

Very aptly titled indeed, Don Broco’s fourth album is their best to date. The Bedford quartet’s discography is stacked with quality, with each record improving on the previous one and in ‘Amazing Things’ they’ve raised the bar even higher. Challenging and besting genre conventions from the off with the brutishly confrontational ‘Gumshield’, what follows is an endlessly expansive exploration of just how far this band can diversify their sound. For some outfits, an album this ambitious could present an intimidating challenge but Don Broco’s unfaltering confidence and infectious swagger makes for a perfect execution which comes across in the final product. Don’t miss this record, particularly the bizarre-yet-genius ‘Bruce Willis’ which you can hear on our featured playlist. [Aaron Jackson]

Read our full review of ‘Amazing Things’
Read our live review of Don Broco at O2 Academy Brixton, London

6. Architects – ‘For Those That Wish To Exist’

The decision on whether or not to adapt your sound as an established act is always a gamble and in Architect’s case this is a calculated risk that ended with no downside. The Brighton powerhouse have kept their relentless energy intact with the addition of more soaring choruses and anthemic singalongs – a recipe that gives the best of both worlds (a feat so many bands fail to accomplish) and really proves to be a cocktail of incendiary metalcore that will make the biggest of rooms shake with the vibration of instrumentation. There is variety throughout these 15 tracks; ‘Animals’ showcases their ability to write a captivating and infectious hook (doomed to remain as an ear worm for weeks after listening) while ‘Impermanence’ features one of the heaviest breakdowns of the band’s whole discography (shoutout to Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall for a crushing feature). Record after record this band mature their sound and set themselves a bar to reach with their next release. As time goes on Architects will start to see themselves as the veterans in the scene but their sound has never lost its freshness. [Will Scott]

Read our full review of  ‘For Those That Wish To Exist’
Read our live review of Architects at Pryzm, Kingston

5. Holding Absence – ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’

We always had our suspicions that these Welsh lads could pull something truly special out of the bag so it’s no surprise ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’ sees Holding Absence building on the momentum their eponymous debut provided, and then some. Undoubtedly, it takes the Cardiff quartet to the next level. Thriving with emotion from the moment Lucas Woodland declares “I’m alive!” on ‘Celebration Song’ to the heartbreaking titular closing number, ‘TGMOML’ is a rollercoaster of grief, doubt, joy, love and more. While singles such as ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Beyond Belief’ highlight Holding Absence’s infectious and cinematic quality, when played alongside tracks like ‘Drugs and Love’, ‘Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms) and ‘In Circles’, they simply add heartfelt brushstrokes to the personal picture Woodland and company paint. It’s an album that demands to be played in order to be truly appreciated. By honing in on their favourable traits, and combining it with organic maturity, Holding Absence have created an album that cannot be ignored. [Sean Reid]

Read our full review of ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’
Read our live review of Holding Absence at Electric Ballroom, London

4. Biffy Clyro – ‘The Myth Of Happily Ever After’

Just a little over one year since the release of ‘A Celebration of Endings’ and Scottish megastars Biffy Clyro have wasted no time during lockdown as they return with another triumphant album ‘The Myth of Happily Ever After’. The trio have continued their modern magic formula of turning the most musically ambitious, time-signature changing and often bizarre song structures conjured up from their deep down post-hardcore hearts into some of the most accessible mainstream rock anthems on the planet. Biffy Clyro’s trademark world-conquering sound can be heard in spades throughout. ‘A Hunger in Your Haunt’ has a manic riff and kick in the gut gang vocals with Simon Neil’s instantly recognisable accent at the forefront. Both James and Ben Johnston’s pool of creativity is still just as breathtaking as always, like on the epic ‘Witch’s Cup’ which takes you on a euphoric journey that only Biffy Clyro can lead. ‘Holy Water’ begins with a sombre acoustic start to an extreme metal tinged crescendo as Neil continues to show off his songwriting knack of making hearts melt one moment and heads bang the next, as the true craftsman that he is. ‘The Myth of Happily Ever After’ features everything you’d expect from the world class band they are, adding plenty of new fan favourites to their already massive arsenal of anthems. Mon The Biff! [Louis Kerry]

3. Foxing – ‘Draw Down The Moon’

With the release of a fourth album, it would be easy for a band to tread familiar territory, utilising a formula that’s tried and tested. For Foxing, their fourth album, ‘Draw Down The Moon’, mildly steps away from delicate melodies to more synth driven, beat-led disco party. That’s not to say the charm and poetry has been stripped, quite the opposite in fact. Loss, depression, sexuality and love are all themes leaned into, however using upbeat tempos and major chords, they’re largely given a sheen of acceptability. It’s reflective and pensive, but observed through a sheen of bright colours. Tracks like ‘Bialystok’ and ‘Beacons’ are fine examples of this, with high impacting beats and deceptively open lyrics – the sort of tracks that will tear up any silent disco. Contrary to this, ‘At Least We Found The Floor’ and ‘Speak With The Dead’ have a more “traditional” Foxing sound – slower paced, almost whispered vocals and prose as deft as Keats. ‘Draw Down The Moon’ embraces all Foxing’s previous releases and intertwines it with a contemporary twist, creating a final product that’s as complex and layered as it is fun and listenable. [Andy Joice]

Read our full review of  ‘Draw Down The Moon’

2. Turnstile – ‘Glow On’

Turnstile - GLOW ONCrossing a multitude of genres and working with producers and guest musicians with no previous traditional involvement in the hardcore scene, it’s not hard to see why ‘Glow On’ has been Turnstile’s most widely-lauded releases yet. Shoegaze reverb, dreamy pop hooks and melodies, and even a latin-infused samba beats all somehow worm their way into the quintet’s third record, but despite all that ‘Glow On’ never feels like it isn’t punk as hell. Weaved in are your traditional harsh gang vocals, thrashing guitar riffs, and blistering aggression; this is still a TS record through and through, but one that pushes the group to greater limits, exploring dynamic new soundscapes to produce a selection of songs with remarkable depth and substance to them . It’s 2021’s most ambitious record and the pay-off from Turnstile shooting for the moon is enough to mark it down as close to the best album of the year. [Fiachra Johnston]

Read our full review of  ‘Glow On’

1. Every Time I Die – ‘Radical’

How do you begin to talk about a band like Every Time I Die? Since their inception in 1998, they have been constantly pushing the boundaries of metalcore, a genre in which it seems easy to become trapped by convention and cliche. From the unbridled chaos of ‘Hot Damn!’ to the booze-soaked southern rock of ‘The Big Dirty’ and everything in between, the boys from Buffalo have had a steady rise, rather than being a flash in the pan, and have used that time and experience to build a rabidly loyal fanbase and a sound that is unmistakably theirs.

In 2016, 18 years into their career, Every Time I Die released ‘Low Teens’, and somehow exceeded everyone’s already high expectations of them. The album was generally pretty experimental by the band’s standards, and they threw their fans a couple of big curveballs in the form of the band’s most scream-free songs ever (‘Two Summers’ and ‘It Remembers’), as well as the most juxtaposing guest spots possible: Brendan Urie from pop-rock megastars Panic! At The Disco and Tim Singer from ’90s cult metalcore legends Deadguy. Now, five years later with the release of ‘Radical’, no one would blame you for wondering if Every Time I Die have any surprises left up their sleeve.

Well, wonder no longer because once again Every Time I Die have proved that they are the best band in their field. From the second the album opens with squealing feedback and Keith Buckley’s unmistakeable roar of “Spare only the ones I love, slay the rest” it’s clear that ‘Radical’ is not fucking around. The following one-two punch of ‘Sly’ and ‘Planet Shit’ hit equally hard, with the latter featuring some of Buckley’s most sardonic lyrics to date as he bemoans America’s seemingly heartless social and political landscape. ‘Post-Boredom’ gives the first real moment of respite from the pummelling of the first three tracks; packing an infectious bass groove and some of the catchiest vocal hooks the band has ever delivered. This track will clearly become a mainstay in the band’s live set, as it will sit perfectly among other party bangers like ‘We’rewolf’ and ‘The New Black’.

Something Every Time I Die have always been good at is picking the most perfect guest vocalists. This album is no exception, with the incredible ‘All This and War’ taking a break at around the two minute mark to introduce the unmistakable screech of The Chariot / Norma Jean / ‘68 vocalist Josh Scogin, who builds his vocal assault alongside nothing but screaming feedback that sounds like the world’s angriest boiling kettle, before the rest of the band kicks back in and he and Buckley trade lines til the song’s conclusion. The track that follows this is perhaps the band’s most experimental song ever. If you’d said back in 1998 that one day ETID would release a song that sounded like Radiohead jamming with Coheed & Cambria you’d have been laughed out of the dive bar, but that’s exactly what we get on ‘Thing With Feathers’, a stunningly haunting number that features the soulful croon of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull.

While you could argue for days about what the best Every Time I Die album is, there’s no doubt whatsoever about ‘Radical’ being a career best for vocalist Keith Buckley. Who else in heavy music can go from the scorching screams of ‘A Colossal Wreck’, to the wild-eyed preacher we meet on ‘Desperate Pleasures’, to the stadium rock-meets-Deftones vocal arrangement on ‘White Void’, all whilst expertly delving into serious topics, both personal and pertinent to current affairs, and have the whole thing still feel completely cohesive? No one, that’s who. No one but Buckley. That’s not to say that the other members of the band don’t also have an absolute blinder on this record. New(ish) drummer Clayton ‘Goose’ Holyoak is an absolute powerhouse, and the six-legged riff machine that is Jordan Buckley, Andy Williams and Steve Micciche is on fine form as always.

If you’re already a self-proclaimed ETIDiot, you’re likely already obsessed with this album and ravenous to hear these new songs in a live setting. If you’re just a regular idiot and have never gone in on Every Time I Die, this record does a tremendous job of showcasing all the different aspects that have made up their sound over the years, as well as a few new ones, so there are definitely worse places to dive in. Either way, ‘Radical’ is a must listen for all fans of alternative music, as there’s something in here for absolutely all of you. [Liam Knowles]

Read our full review of  ‘Radical’