Riley’s Top 15 Metal Has No Borders Albums of 2021 (and more!)

The gears at Metal Has No Borders are still rotating and despite a bit late, we’re excited to unveil our favorite releases that dropped during 2021!

As always, the choices listed reside in regions of the world under-represented by mainstream Western media, which include bands from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, South America, etc. on this site. The albums chosen are my personal favorites from my subjective musical taste and if you have others that weren’t included that you personally enjoyed, we’d be excited for you to share such in the comment section.

With Covid still affecting all industries on a global level, there was an understandable, but somber feeling of less releases this past year. Nonetheless, there still were some killer records that surfaced from all sides of the metal music spectrum. Metal Has No Borders aims to include a variety of choices, both in country of origin and style. Below you’ll discover deathcore, prog, folk metal, metalcore, blackened post-rock, melodic death metal, and other groovy or extreme variations. Enjoy!

15. Slaughter to Prevail – Kostolom

We thought it’d help to start off with a recognizable face. Slaughter to Prevail gained much hype with the help of their titanium-heavy deathcore debut album Misery Sermon as well as their devil demon mask and bold Russian imagery. In this follow-up, the group dabble with nu-metal / metalcore fusion resulting in a more outstanding variety throughout the album. The vocal delivery is not only impeccable, but also diverse and I’m looking forward to the future of this band considering the impressive new standard they have set.

Based in Russia / Released via Sumerian Records / Listen to “Baba Yaga” below:


14. Osiris – Meanders a Soul…

Egyptian aesthetics is a perfect new route for the blackened death metal subgenre. Osiris stirs in influence of At the Gates, Behemoth, Opeth, and others to craft an extreme but melodically driven album. Although the top-notch guitar licks and wicked vocals dominate the music, the inclusion of piano and further orchestration really brings this record to the next level.

Based in Egypt / Released via Cannibal Natives Distro, Satanath Records / Listen to “Of Hate, Passion and Eternity” below:


13. Aeons – The Rotten Unknown

In the current oversaturated progressive metalcore market, it’s difficult to catch attention. Aeons bring a distinct style to the table, merging ambient soundscapes, peculiar vocals, and djent all together. The hooks are comparable to recent releases by Born of Osiris or Make Them Suffer. Considering the potential showcased on The Rotten Unknown, I predict this band blowing up once they strike gold on a future single.

Based in Estonia / Self-Released / Listen to “Deathwaves” below:


12. Jinjer – Wallflowers

Ukrainian progcore superstars continue to deliver the bangers on this latest album. While Wallflowers doesn’t exactly take any major risks as a follow-up to Macro, there’s some enjoyable experimentation shown on the grungy “Disclosure” track or technical-deathcore piece “Copycat.” Jinjer are a beacon of light for modern gateway metal and I’m glad they’re still pumping out energetic tunes to add to their live set.

Based in Ukraine / Released via Napalm Records / Listen to “Disclosure!” below:


11. Gexerott – Hallucinetic Violet Ignition

Black metal is always expanding, with Gexerott‘s ethereal and progressive take as a prime example. Although this subgenre can provide an exhausting experience, the exceptional pacing on Hallucinetic Violet Ignition helps keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. I love the acoustic flairs and other enhancing musicalities throughout the record and am hoping for further greatness from this act.

Based in Colombia / Released via Exhumed Records, Satanath Records / Listen to “Ketagnosis” below:


10. Desalmado – Mass Mental Devolution

Sometimes all you need is straight-forward, satisfying metal. Mass Mental Devolution boasts some really solid death and thrash intensity. While normally this approach would be a tad too old school for my taste, Desalmado‘s dynamics, grooves, and occasional experimentation paves the way for a memorable, headbanging experience.

Based in Brazil / Released via Blood Blast Distribution / Listen to “Across the Land” below:


9. Trna – Istok

The exploration between pro post-rock and black metal has been truly breath-taking as of late. Trna‘s organic post-metal flourishes through repetition and evolution. Each track is poetic, exhibiting an emotional heaviness. There’s an unfortunate sense of elitism tied to purity in the black metal community, so I hope albums like Istok, which push the boundaries of the aforementioned subgenre, can be given the respect it deserves.

Based in Russia / Released via Candlelight Records / Listen to “Shining” below:


8. Varmia – bal Lada

Lately, black metal has proven to be an actively evolving genre. The folk instrumentation and whimsical, yet suspenseful passages through Varmia‘s bal Lada shows how beautifully a band can manipulate the foundation of black metal. The vocal range and sheer ferocity within these songs are quite notable amongst the eccentric tonal directions the band takes.

Based in Poland / Released via M-Theory Audio / Listen to “Upperan” below:


7. Nine Treasures – Awakening from Dukkha

A fresh start is unveiled for Chinese folk metal project Nine Treasures in this new re-recorded compilation. Awakening from Dukkha shows fresh takes on material previously released on their full-length albums: Arvan Ald Guulin Honshoor, Nine Treasures, and Wisdom Eyes. All twelve tracks are groovy and representative of the band’s unique folk fusion.

Based in China / Self-Released / Listen to “Three Year Old Warrior” below:


6. Chaos Over Cosmos – The Silver Lining Between the Stars

From Rings of Saturn to Archspire, the parameters of progressive / tech death metal are evidently limitless. Chaos Over Cosmos display a mighty amount of guitar virtuosity in this new record while also conjuring up seriously interesting hooks. Although the vocals are stellar, they never take the full spotlight over the stunning balance between melody and shredding guitarwork.

Based in Poland / Self-Released / Listen to “Control ZED” below:


5. Kauan – Ice Fleet

The most successful post-rock / metal releases transport you to a new destination. Explosions in the Sky can take you away to an isolated cabin where Isis has the power to instill the anxiety of a prison. In Kauan‘s latest effort, Ice Fleet, the post-metallers flesh out the environment and moods of a ship in the cold sea. The sounds of a creaking vessel in turbulent, freezing waters creates a suspenseful tone and allows for even more jarring, blackened vocals to creep in.

Based in Russia / Released via Artoffact Records / Listen to “Taistelu” below:


4. Alien Weaponry – Tangaroa

It’s been a delight witnessing this young New Zealand-based trio bloom. While they’ve only released two albums, Alien Weaponry have well deservedly blown up. Their fusion of indigenous musicalities and language from their Māori culture provides a wholly unique twist to their groovy thrash jams. Plenty of moments throughout Tangaroa were reminiscent of Gojira due to the tight musicianship connecting brothers Henry and Lewis de Jung as well as the newly joined bassist Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds. I look forward to the next album from this on-the-rise and full of potential band.

Based in New Zealand / Released via Napalm Records / Listen to “Tangaroa” below:


3. Hyperomm – In My Own Spaceship

Personally, melodic death metal isn’t my cup of tea, however there’s a few releases within that subgenre that have caught my eye. Hyperomm‘s slighly progressive shift for In My Own Spaceship proves to be a worthy new transition for the Russian project. Everything from the guitar riffs and licks to the drum fills and vocal lines are far more dynamic and impactful than before. Oh, and the astronomy theme creates an engaging plot to follow and was the cherry on top.

Based in Russia / Self-Released / Listen to “E Pur Si Muove!” below:


2. Midhaven – Of the Lotus & the Thunderbolt

India was the initial country that opened my mind to the concept of metal music’s globalization as I discovered acts such as What Escapes Me, Bloodywood, and Demonic Resurrection. Their emerging metal scene keeps growing strong and Midhaven is extremely evident of such. This Bombay-based group presents bold and tenacious prog-metal in this record chock full of solid riffage and experimentation.

Based in India / Self-Released / Listen to “Primal Song” below:


1. Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever

On their fourth full-length album, Subterranean Masquerade brings forth an equally ambitious and adventurous musical journey. Their heavy emphasis of fusing Middle Eastern instrumentation and musicalities is a wholly delight to the ears. You can expect compelling progressive metal to be accompanied with varieties of percussion, strings, horns, and a choir, all raising the well-crafted compositions to above and beyond heights. It’s clear there was a lot of blood and sweat put into Mountain Fever and the pay-off is riveting.

Based in Israel / Released via The Laser’s Edge, Sensory Records / Listen to “Somewhere I Sadly Belong” below:


EPs:

5. Venomous – Tribus (killer melodic death metal with plenty of character)

Based in Brazil / Released via Brutal Records, Risky Music / Listen to “Eerie Land”

4. Hranice Abyss – Apagy (an astounding blend of deathcore and death metal on the shoulders of Cattle Decapitation and Suicide Silence)

Based in Brazil / Released via Blackletter / Listen to “Pathfinder”

3. Falsegiver – Инсомния (nu-metalcore coated in Sworn In-like distortion and energy)

Based in Russia / Self-Released / Listen to “Инсомния”

2. Ignea / Ersedu – Bestia (a sublime execution of folk metal mixed with a little bit of everything relevant in this collaborative split)

Based in Ukraine / Self-Released / Listen to “Mermaids”

1. 0%Mercury – Stump (an inescapable amount of angst and musicianship is packed in this dynamite EP)

Based in Ukraine / Self-Released / Listen to “Stump”


Honorable Mentions:

Elixirore – Enervate (an exploration of the modern progcore style with heaps of potential)

Based in India / Self-Released / Listen to “Guardian Down”

Scaffold – Codex Gigex (if you miss the “good ole days of death metal,” this will be right up your alley)

Based in Serbia / Released via The Ritual Productions, Satanath Records / Listen to “Five Circles in Barbed Wire”

Godless – States of Chaos (an equally nasty and satisfying showcase of experimental death metal)

Based in India / Self-Released / Listen to “Netherworld”

Sterbefall – Verlorene Zeit (blackened post-metal as if Neurosis collaborated with Panopticon is beautifully showcased here)

Based in Russia / Self-Released / Listen to “Verbogene Gras”

Flying Cupid – All Turns to Dust (an absolutely terrific cluster of modern progressive metalcore compositions with a great cast of features including Veil of Maya’s vocalist)

Based in India / Released via Abstract Reality / Listen to “Storm”


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