2021 IN REVIEW WITH RICK HORTON (METALLIC ONSLAUGHT RADIO)

If you don’t know who this is, it is indeed quite possible that you have never been to a local metal show in Buffalo or Rochester, New York within the last ten or so years. If this is the case, kindly click through this blog, find a band you like, and report to their next show at a bar/venue nearest you!

Rick Horton is one of the longtime voices over at Metallic Onslaught Radio Show. You can also catch him introducing bands across Upstate New York on any given weekend, as he is probably the most frequently requested emcee for local metal gigs of all-time in this area. Rick and I have been going back and forth about the bands we love (big and small) for several years now. One of our yearly traditions is to discuss our favorites and least favorites at the end of each year. Only this time, I thought it would be way better if I published our thoughts here on the site.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in to some final thoughts on metal in 2021…

1. Name your undisputed album of the year if you have one. If you can’t narrow it down to one, talk about a few. (bigger bands)

Rick Horton:

Mastodon – Hushed and Grim

“15 tracks of awesome and no filler…”

Jinjer – Wallflowers

“I love this band. I know not everyone gets it. Sounds good to my ears.”

Between the Buried and me – Colors II

“Just as amazing as the first album…”

Mike Marlinski:

#1: Archspire – Bleed the Future

“The level of technicality and speed on this album is absurd, even compared to previous releases. They also still succeed again and again and creating memorable songs with great chorus hooks, guitar melodies, and grooves. It’s amazing that a band this technical and fast can remain one of the catchiest in the tech-death genre.”

Runner-up: Rivers of Nihil – The Work

“I’ve been listening to this band evolve ever since Monarchy dropped around 2014. They are even more so today, one of the most interesting and immersive bands I’ve ever heard. For those unfamiliar, they are a next-level progressive metal band, incorporating death metal, jazz, modern metal, melodic death, etc. The melodies soar, the vocals kill, the saxophone rages at times, and it’s just an impressive body of work.”

2. Do a list of 10-20 albums that really stuck out to you this year including your top dogs. (bigger bands)

Rick Horton:

“Here is a Top 20 list of albums that caught my attention so far. There are still a few more I need to hear.”

Mastodon – Hushed and Grim

Jinjer – Wallflowers

Between the Buried and me – Colors II

Cradle of Filth – Existence is Futile

Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Crypta – Echoes of the Soul

Evile – Hell Unleashed

Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos

Flotsam and Jetsam – Blood in the Water

Greenleaf – Echoes from a Mass

Invictra – Of Flesh, Steel and Stone

Juggernaut – Hollow Black

Yanari – Bottom of the Universe

Gravecarver – Spectral Carnage

Khemmis – Deceiver

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Vokonis – Odyssey

Yautja – The Lurch

Humanity’s Last Breath – Valde

Mike Marlinski:

Archspire – Bleed the Future (technical death metal)

Rivers of Nihil – The Work (progressive metal)

Spiritbox – Eternal Blue (modern metal)

Temperance – Diamanti (symphonic metal)

Inferi – Vile Genesis (blackened melodic death metal)

Demon King – The Final Tyranny (blackened technical death metal)

Omnium Gatherum – Origin (melancholic melodic death metal)

The Absence – Coffinized (melodic death metal)

At the Gates – The Nightmare of Being

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (no description needed, it’s Iron Maiden)

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (brutal death metal)

Helloween – Helloween (It’s Helloween!)

Times of Grace – Songs of Loss and Separation (melancholic metalcore)

Lorna Shore – …And I Return to Nothingness (melodic deathcore with insane vocals)

Insomnium – Argent Moon (melancholic melodic death metal)

Swallow the Sun – Moonflowers (melodic death metal fused with doom)

3. If applicable, talk about an album you wouldn’t have expected to like this year, but that really grew on you, and even turned you on to a style of music you weren’t expecting. (bigger bands)

Rick Horton:

Northtale – Eternal Flame

“I am usually not a huge fan of Power Metal. A lot of it sounds like 40 minutes of galloping on a horse. However, bands like Unleash the Archers, Helion Prime and Northtale have changed my mind on that.”

Mike Marlinski:

Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

“I usually talk mad shit about these “modern metal” or “djent” bands, but Spiritbox does it in such a way that I can really appreciate it. I’ll be the first to admit that Courtney’s vocals have a huge deal to do with this, mostly because I had a big industrial phase in my early 20s, resulting in an inexplicable love for The Birthday Massacre. I’m not too crazy about Spiritbox’s Singles album or the debut, but Eternal Blue has a certain sadness, and ethereal sound to it that really resonates with my younger self. So, is this all about the haunting female vocals and otherwise nostalgia for me? Probably, but I like what I like.”

4. Talk about a few album covers that really jumped out at you this year. (bigger bands)

Rick Horton:

“Cannibal Corpse usually has some interesting artwork. Hopefully, you have a strong stomach and good sense of humor for most of it.”

Mike Marlinski

“Dude, I love the cover of Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu. I’ll always think of Samurai Eddie when thinking back on 2021. It might be my new favorite Eddie next to the cyborg on Somewhere in Time.

5. List off some noteworthy local albums that really grabbed your attention this year, as many as you’d like.

Rick Horton:

“A lot of great local music this year. Here are a few that I have listened to a lot.”

Void Emperor (Syracuse)

Yanari (Buffalo)

Invictra (Leroy)

Acrylazea (Rochester)

Juggernaut (Buffalo)

Mass Casualty (Buffalo)

Mike Marlinski:

Mass Casualty – Death Count (brutal death metal)

Invictra – Of Flesh, Steel, and Stone (melodic thrash)

Hell Ever After – The First Circle (it’s a rock opera utilizing thrash, hardcore, and traditional heavy metal)

Diluted – *singles “Jackie Chandroid” and “Church of Latter Day Stank” (metalcore, also whatever you’d consider early Deftones to be)

Without Gravity – Navigate (really cool eclectic metal with trace elements of hip-hop and pop punk even, super well-done with impressive vocals, catchy riffs, and ripping guitar solos) “I did not expect to like this as much as I did.”

Rebel Scum – Ritual Sin (black ‘n’ roll)

The Long Cold Dark – There Are No Answers (eclectic metal)

6. Name your undisputed local album of the year if you can narrow it down to one. If you can’t, do a bunch of honorable mentions to go under your top local albums.

Rick Horton:

“Toss up between Invictra, Yanari, and Juggernaut…”

Mike Marlinski:

“Dude, it’s that Invictra album by a mile. Those dudes are way ahead of the game. If they are this proficient at their instruments, and this catchy already, imagine next year. I do however have to give a shout-out to Drew Celestino at The Long Cold Dark for their new album. He put a ton of time into it over the past couple years and he incorporated a number of guests that made it a super interesting listen.”

7. What awesome shows have you been to this year? Who really impressed you live? (local bands and bigger bands)

Rick Horton:

“I watched Cradle of Filth in Pa back in October. I hadn’t seen them since they had played at Ozzfest at Darien Lake in ‘03. Also, I had my first Local Show that I put on since the pandemic. All of the bands were great. Damages (Buffalo) I hadn’t seen with the current lineup. I thought they were really good.”

Mike Marlinski:

“I wasn’t able to make it, but I strongly urge everyone to go check out Hell Ever After live. They are putting on an incredible metal/rock opera that too many people are sleeping on.”

8. What are your thoughts on different venues having varying Covid restrictions, as well as some venues having no restrictions at all?

Rick Horton:

“A lot of different opinions on that. Honestly, I am just glad that shows are back. My vaccination came with a code for XBOX though (laughs). I haven’t owned a system since the Sega Genesis.”

Mike Marlinski

“It ruffles feathers, but I kind of just want everyone to get the shot so we can get on with our lives. I know a lot of people disagree and think it’s a violation of their privacy or rights, but I for one agree with venues mandating proof.”

9. Do you know of any local albums coming out next year that you’re really excited about?

Rick Horton:

“There are a few Local or unsigned bands that I would like to give mention to. Monochromatic Black release Vicissitude on 11/26. In the Shadows of Giants have a new album out on that same day. As far as next year goes, Revival have a new Ep coming out. New Mothers of Jupiter album and an Ep from Damages.”

Mike Marlinski:

“Yeah, bro. I talk to Lauren quite a bit and I was hoping to hear the new Damages this year. That being said, I’m really looking forward to Simulacrum when it drops. They’re one of the younger MDM bands I’m super excited for. I’m sure I’m glossing over a lot, but I’ll be posting as new things drop. I also want to give a shout to Bill Tash from Rochester for being one hell of a solo artist. Go watch his play throughs on YouTube. He’s great on guitar, bass, and drums. He has a new EP coming out at the end of December 2021 and it’s going to be sick.”

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