Welcome to instalment number 16 of my 2021 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’. We’ve made it into the top 15, where the number order is far more prescribed and thought through. In fact, just like all the years before, the ordering from now on has given me sleepless nights, as I go backwards and forwards, trying to figure out who goes where. But whatever I choose, in whatever order, I will please some and upset others.

At the end of the day, this is MY list, MY subjective opinion, and MY website. Of course, I’d love to please everyone, but that’s not possible. So I’ve gone with my heart and the next fifteen days reflects this. Are you ready?

Just before I get on with it though, 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 16, as well as my lists from previous years too.

But now I shall get on with it I promise…

Number 15

Subterranean Masquerade

“Mountain Fever”

Sensory Records

Release Date: 14 May 2021

Score Of Much Metal: 94%

Even though I’ve been a fan of Subterranean Masquerade for several years, I tuned into their latest release, ‘Mountain Fever’ with modest expectations. All of their previous efforts have come with positivity, but a note or two of caution and personal quibble. I expected much the same with ‘Mountain Fever’ too.

But, right out of the gate, I was taken aback by the serious quality and enjoyment that ‘Mountain Fever’ delivered. And still delivers to this day. Every day I write these posts, I will have the album on in the background, and ‘Mountain Fever’ is once again providing me with huge amounts of entertainment.

What I love about this album is that it is an almost perfect blend of experimentation and memorability. No two songs are the same on here, yet there’s an undeniable link between them all; whether it’s a foray into more extreme metal environs, or something far more progressive, or even influenced by world music, all the songs are undeniably from the minds of this talented septet.

And the killer blow: Subterranean Masquerade are genuinely unique, carrying with them a certain magic and aura. The more I listen, the more I love it. Even those tracks that I didn’t immediately like, I now enjoy and understand better within the context of the album. I can’t wait to hear what comes next, I honestly can’t.

What I wrote at the time:

“Reviewing a Subterranean Masquerade album is never an easy task. The band seems to delight in creating music that can be the worst nightmare of any reviewer, simply because there’s so much going on.

All I ultimately care about is this: do I like the music that Subterranean Masquerade deliver, or don’t I? The answer just happens to be the most emphatic ‘yes’ that I have ever delivered to these guys. In the past, I have always enjoyed their output, but I have had the odd reservation here and there, as well as a niggling feeling that I admired them more than loved them. Well, based on ‘Mountain Fever’, the fourth full-length release of their 24-year career, I can safely say that this has all changed. I love this record…

 ‘Mountain Fever’ is a veritable feast of different ideas, different influences and variety. But, it also has to be said that ‘Mountain Fever’ is easily the most immediate and catchy of all of their albums. From the very first listen, I had a smile plastered on my face, I was singing along, and I itched for repeated listens.

…overall, this album is nothing short of brilliant. It blends the audacity and experimentation of progressive and World music, with some thoroughly gorgeous, almost radio-friendly melodies. But because it has been done with care, passion, and skill, the result is not contrived, or lacking focus. Instead, it is a fully immersive experience…”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

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:










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