JRO's Community Best of 2021 🎄

JRO's Community Best of 2021

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It’s about that time of the year all the music websites start putting together their lists of what the best releases of 2021 are. I think it would be fun if we did a crowd-sourced version of the same. If you’re interested in participating, there are a few simple guidelines to follow below:

  • You can include any release from 2021. That includes singles and mini-albums as well as full albums and compilations. If it was released at any point in 2021, it’s fair game.
  • It is not limited to just visual kei but it is limited to Japanese releases only.
  • You can include as many releases as you want, but if I get a big enough response I am planning on creating a final list of the most popular releases sometime in January. To make it more manageable, please select a “Top 5” and put it next to the release and artist name in your post. That way, I know that’s the one you want me to choose.
  • Please include the name of the release and artist, a sentence or two on why you like it so much, and maybe a music video or a song.
  • You can also talk about releases that disappointed you, although I won’t consider those for the final list.

I’ll keep this open until about January 7th or so for submissions. After that, the topic will still be open but I won’t be accepting any other releases. So make sure you submit all of your choices by that date!

EDIT: I was an idiot and the topic was locked. It’s open now!

14 Likes

I put on these.
Because these bands are doing amazing :smiley:
Their music hits always any melody.

麗麗(REIREI)
2021.09.17
DIGITAL SINGLE
CLIMAX CITY NAGOYA

i.D.A
2021.02.03
1st EP
「Paradoxical」

2021.07.23
DIGITAL SINGLE
ドラマチックチルドレン

NETH PRIERE CAIN
2021.02.10
SINGLE
「救いの為に、神罰を。」

2021.09.08
1st MINI ALBUM
「予言の夢、終末の黙示録」

5 Likes

I gotta add a few myself. Might come back later and edit.


NAZARE - BEFORE COMMON ERA
2021-07-27

I was pretty sad when NAZARE announced disbandment as they were quickly becoming one of my favorite heavier bands. But before they disbanded they released a single and a best-of containing almost all the essentials. More bands should do this. If you haven’t heard NAZARE and don’t know where to start, I think here is pretty good.


キズ - 仇
2021-04-07

Another best-of album, but what can I say it’s a banger? I got a rule that I don’t get into newer bands until they’ve established themselves with a few releases, maybe an album. So Kizu announcing Kataki got me interested pretty quick. They seem like a pretty expensive band to follow though. ¥20,000+Tax? Sheesh! But the album is solid from beginning to end!

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The GazettE - MASS
2021-05-26

I’ll be completely honest and admit that I do not remember this album. I remember listening to it several times and writing a review, but no melodies or tracks besides BLINDING HOPE come to the front for me. That’s sad, considering I was a huge fan of NINTH, both before and after seeing it live. Maybe MASS is one of those albums that will need to grow on me.


Petit Brabancon - 刻 / 渇き
2021-12-24

A late but welcome contender to my rankings for this year. I was sold after one spin of their first single. It’s old-school MUCC meets VULGAR-era Dir en grey in the best way possible. I will not get tired of this single anytime soon.

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I will add my two cents into this
My favorite release this year is the new ARTiCLEAR mini album.
https://youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mDMJfaYDokpvjax1hknSHCKPYP77eGOT4

Also I agree with @zeus about Before Common Era and Kataki. But since both of these are best ofs I am hesitant to call them my favorite releases this year because I’ve heard majority of the songs before.

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Petit Baconcroissant single >>>>>>> everything else in major VK from this year

Angelo - circle (album), Nightmare - Sinners (single), Merry - Strip (album), and D - Zmei (album) are all worth mentioning as the major releases I’ve listened to a fair bit

UNDER FALL JUSTICE - 執拗なまでに君に執着する僕 (mini) as my fav. indie release of the year

Dexcore - Self Hatred / 18 as another indie thing that 2021 was good for.

I’m warming up on the articlear mini, but I didn’t like it most of it.

for non-VK Japanese music my favorite 2021 thing is DIMLIM ending their struggle

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Sable Hills, Earthists., Graupel - BIRTH [Split EP]
I had all three songs running on repeat already.
Also the lyrics of Graupels song Apathy didnt need to hit that hard near home :sob:
Adding the three songs from the single here

Sable Hills - Crisis

Graupel- Apathy

Earthists. - Overvision

The original CD all bands covering each others songs. I am a bit sad that they never released those covers on Spotify or elsewhere digital.

Sable Hills - Messiah [single]

I love the mix of screaming and clean vocals in the refrain. Also its that song that made me tingle further into more metalcore bands than Nokubura and abstracts.

Earthists - Home [digital single]
Ever heard a ballad with emotional screaming? No? Then you should listen to that song. Its good, i promise :relieved:

I am seconding @zeus on Kizu’s Kataki album
I think without the best of album i wouldnt have checked out Kizu, so i do love the album.

I dont think anyone is surprised that Kizu is the only VK band on here for me.

Edit: i edited everything a bit, and added some links to musicvideos

6 Likes
  1. RIM - NEW ROMANCER
  • Kamitsubaki Studio was my musical obsession this year and this album is my second favourite release from them behind KAF’s 2019 album. RIM and her main songwriter, Sasagawa Mao, are in perfect harmony for this cynical and slightly edgy soft alt-rock album which contains a lot of variety while remaining stylistically similar throughout. The more alternative tracks fit really nice between the poppy soft rock stuff and the songwriting is strong all the way through. Vtubers are making good music now and this label are at the forefront. KAF and Isekaijoucho also released great stuff this year too.
  1. AMANO JACUSHI - 慟哭
  • this was my favourite thing in VK this year. They sort of fill the gap that Nazare and old Dimlim left but this is the first song they’ve released that has gotten close to that quality. Easily the best song they’ve done, but it would be nice to get more than one song next year.
  1. Ado - 踊
  • one of the best electropop songs I’ve ever heard. Giga and Teddyloid combine they’re talents to make something that’s incredibly catchy, over the top, and almost unhinged. Crazy stuff, and Ado’s vocals are also amazing.
  1. ARTiCLEAR - 仮現の月読
  • I feel like they get better with each release. The riffs on this mini are very catchy and very beefy and I still like Jin’s vocals.
  1. nurié - 拝啓、二千二十年へ
  • my favourite VK album from this year. nurié bring a sincere and catchy brand of alt rock to this album which has lots of great songs like 晴天に吠える, 百鬼夜行, and 人として人で在る様に. RIP Takanashi Yahiro.
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I’m giving DEXCORE’s -18- a few spins and I gotta say absolutely brilliant. Love the new melodic metalcore direction in the new songs Who’s fault, One day, living hell, and 20. Their removing pretty much any traces of deathcore. A tid bit in One day. But over all this release is solid as fuck. Not really been listening much this year but this release stood out for me. Not what I was expecting from DEXCORE even given the somewhat different direction that they had been taking with Red eye, Self-Hatred, and EARTHWORM. If you haven’t heard 20 yet check it out it’s a great example of what to expect from the rest of the album.

Edit:
I’ll also recommend SWARRRM’s new album from early this year ゆめをみたの(Yume wo Mita no) - I Dreamed… - (2021.02.26) has some really great post-hardcore, grindcore, kind of Envy or killie esque sections. Very nice progression from them. Every album seems to be a progession of this experimental version of grindcore that SWARRRM has always claimed be exploring and ignoring all the traditional strict rules normally abided to in grindcore subculture. Excellent album. Check it out on Bandcamp idk if it’s on Spotify or anything else. https://swarrrm.bandcamp.com/album/i-dreamed

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I wouldn’t say these are the “best” releases of 2021, but they’re the ones that appealed to my very specific aesthetic the most. :sweat_smile:

G:nt - Melt on my Seaside

G:nt was a new discovery for me this year, and it was the video track from this EP that first caught my attention.

He’s technically a rapper, but he’s got this kind of hoarse rock n roll singing voice, which is something I’m a total sucker for, and his music has a sort of sulky, scrappy suburban kid energy that I like as well.

SKY-HI - Hachimenroppi

I’m a big SKY-HI fan, and I feel like mentoring all those kids from his audition show did wonders for him, since, IMO, this is one of the strongest albums he’s put out. You can really feel his enthusiasm on this one.

REIKO wasn’t my favourite contestant from THE FIRST, but I thought it was really sweet that they used this track and MV to give his story from the audition a more satisfying conclusion.

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Here it goes, I think this would be my TOP 5 pretty much…

  1. cali≠gari - 15
    The boys did not disappoint! After the somewhat lukewarm previous full-length they delivered an album that I’ll proudly list among my favorites in their long discography. Catchy, multifaceted, creative new wave-y fun times.

  2. 鐘ト銃声 (Kane to juusei) - 【小林アキヒトの一生:序】(Kobayashi Akihito no isshou:jo)
    The secret weapon of underground visual kei in 2021 for me. Kooky unhinged menhera tunes with a charmingly low-budget production, kinda like the current generation’s Kagerou Jr. A very enjoyable and energetic mini album.

  3. NEHANN - New Metropolis
    These guys came out of nowhere for me, and immediately filled the hole left by Lillies and Remains. If you’re familiar with that band name, you will know exactly what to expect from this surprisingly well-rounded debut album: kickass post-punk with a melancholic edge that will stick in your head.

  4. CROW-SIS - 受胎告知 (Jutai kokuchi) -Annunciation-
    I can’t help but love a good unexpected comeback. CROW-SIS started out in 1993 and quietly fizzled out by the time 1997 rolled around, but that didn’t stop the members this year from dusting off some old songs they couldn’t properly release back in the day. The result is bursting with '90s hyper-melodic vk charm, even on a noticeably limited budget.

  5. DEATHRO - up"d"ates
    I fell for this guy’s music hard this year. There is nothing special about it, just good ol’ retro beat-rock with a simplistic punky delivery, but it sure hits the spot for me. The audible enthusiasm is what carries it over into greatness. This album contains re-recordings from previous DEATHRO releases, so it’s perfect for newcomers.

Some other strong releases without any particular order:

ARTiCLEAR - 仮現の月読 (Kagen no tsukuyomi)
The strongest of their mini albums yet! Melodic, elegant but also crushing when it needs to be.

Călătorie - SINGLE COLLECTION 1995~2010
Misleading title aside, this is a delightful collection of mainly 2019 singles from someone who clearly knows his visual kei history. Each song is a little contained universe of its own style, drawing influence from all across the board.

毒蛾 (Dokuga) -『0』
This mini album almost made my top 5. If you wanna hear a young vk band recreate the feeling of early girugamesh (with a dash of early DEZERT) then this is the place for you. Shame that they became inactive in a blink of an eye…

Sick² - Esquivalience
This album was also a top 5 contender and just barely missed out. Not much to say, if you’ve enjoyed this band so far, then you’ll most definitely like this full-length. Hyperactive modern vk with heaps of kitschy electronics and lots of energy.

Sonic Flower - Rides Again
A new EP from the groovy psychedelic side-project of Church of Misery’s bassist mastermind?? Well, yes and no: this release only features leftovers from their first EP’s recording sessions. With such solid musicianship tho, that means it’s still plenty cool.

And last but not least, let’s not forget some bangin’ singles:

アルケミ (ARCHEMI.) - 南無阿弥陀仏 (Namu amida butsu) & 般若 (Hannya)
There’s no stopping the Japanesque numetal kei train! Two solid singles provide the proof.

emmurée - Days
This is an emmurée single, that basically says everything. Dark, melancholic, a tinge of hope.

Paledusk - WIND BACK & BLACK ICE
Easily one of the discoveries of the year for me. Two batshit crazy singles with unlimited bops.

Petit Brabancon - 刻/渇き (Koku/Kawaki)
I can’t believe Miya locked away all his best compositions from MUCC all these years… but finally they can be free. A magical meeting of minds, a perfect closer for the year.

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You might have already seen my extensive top album/ep/single list for this year, but as a comglomerate of the three here’s my top 5 for 2021.

01 DEXCORE / -18-
DEXCORE

My favourite active band right now, and this new ‘mini-album’ is an incredible way to see out the year. From the excellent single tracks we’ve already heard to the powerful lead track 20, this release sees a further refinement of that trademark DEXCORE blend of brutal metalcore riffs and powerful high-toned choruses with some more modern sensibilities. So far in my eyes this band can do nothing wrong.

02 | CVLTE / praystation 2
CVLTE

This band hailing from Hokkaido came out of nowhere for me this year and hit me hard with its well-produced and highly stylized mix of grungy guitar, trap beats and emotional pop-rock melodies. It’s also great to hear some not only accurate but natural English lyrics courtesy of ha-fu vocalist Aviel. This album has been on repeat since I discovered it and I’m gutted I just missed the window to get a physical copy.

03 | NEMOPHILA / REVIVE
NEMOPHILA

These girls really know how to rock and their first full album was good enough to warrant an artist of the year award from Tower Records despite only dropping this month! The amazing composition and musicianship, powerful vocals from Mayu and above all the sheer energy and enthusiasm in each performance definitely earns them that accolade.

04 | アイナ・ジ・エンド / THE ZOMBIE
AiNAZ

AiNA THE END has been prolific this year since launching her solo career, releasing not one but two full albums. While THE END back in February also made my top album list, it’s this second one where I think the quirky artist with her inimitable husky tones really comes into her own. Regardless, AiNA is definitely a legendary songstress in the making and I hope she continues down this path even after BiSH disbands.

05 | キズ / 仇
KIZU

Despite being a sorely priced, glorified best album, it’s undeniable that Kataki has been one of my most-listened to releases this year. There’s simply no better way to get into Kizu, the stylish and highly-produced tour-de-force that has been pumping out quality releases consistently in bite-sized format and finally gets a compilation to entice new listeners. Each and every track on here deserves to be there and the excellent new songs are the icing on the cake. New single Strawberry Blue is definitely worth a listen too.

HONORARY MENTION
DEATHNYANN / illumina
DN

I just have to leave this here because I can’t get it out of my damn head. Vocalist Minami Hoshikuma from Wagamama Rakia launches a solo project with the help of Paledusk guitarist DAIDAI and it’s about as crazy as you’d expect. The chorus is absurdly catchy and ever since the PV dropped it has been lingering at the back of my consciousness ready to burst forth when given the opportunity (and often without).

4 Likes

1. mama. – 業 (karma)

Probably my favourite song from this year, it has managed to be intriguing each time I listen to it. It’s threaded through with so many elements that you pick up on something new each time and it all works together so perfectly. It also took me a little by surprise as I wasn’t expecting something like this from mama. – don’t get me wrong, it sounds exactly like a mama. song but it’s not the song I imagined it to be.

2. Hitchcock – 未定 (mitei)


This single certainly provides a strange listening experience but mannnnn was it worth the replays upon replays upon replays – each track was unique and memorable yet fit together perfectly.

3. Jigsaw – アカツキ/トランスリッパーなら仕方ない。(akatsuki/transripparnarashikatanai.)

What a great pair of songs – the first a departure from Jigsaw’s usual style but so well executed the change didn’t seem so out of place. And the second!! Yes please! My most binge-listened-to songs probs; it’s fast and slightly wacky and manages its energy in the best possible way.
Jigsaw’s other single, 黒い家族 (kuroikazoku), was also highly enjoyable and came out not long after!

4. ARCHEMI. – 般若 (hannya), 南無阿弥陀仏 (namuamidabutsu)
hannya

namuamidabutsu
Absolute crunchy deliciousness in these two singles that I don’t think I’ll tire of anytime soon.

5. REVIVIAL OF THE ERA – Lilith

Not only did this single have a banger of a main track, but ‘Crew’ served as an excellent atmospheric transition into the heavier ‘Five Determinations’ to round off this neat little release.

special mentions:

  • RAN – REM: Truthfully I wasn’t expecting much from this but boy did I misjudge; RAN definitely took a step up with this release, with each song pretty darn solid (‘kinsennifureru’ in particular).

  • kizu – ストロベリー・ブルー (Strawberry Blue): Melancholy and pleasantness, despite the contentious ‘Lemon Tea’, a wonderful listening experience.

  • DEZERT – RAINBOW: I liked it ok .__. For a more mellow album it was cool and had some great standout tracks.

  • AMANO JACUSHI – shrieking: Even if the production isn’t tip top, I like its concept and delivery.

  • DEXCORE – EARTHWORM: With every relisten I end up liking it more.

  • kaneto juusei – 【小林アキヒトの一生:序】([kobayashiakihitonoisshou:jo]): Weird and resolute, I like the direction this is pointing them in and is a release you can keep coming back to.

  • 戮 (Riku) – 鱗粉 (rinpun): Gorgeous, basically.

  • HONMONO – ニセモノ (nisemono): Oh, almost forgot this one. Love it to bits.

8 Likes

My favorite release this year is Egomaniac feedback - Toru Kitajima
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He has collected a lot of old stuff here. I was super exited because TK is one of my favorite musicians for a long time. The album is so long… 27 songs that’s too long for me, but aside the album is great. Some tracks are from 2010, some from 2014 an It is great to listen his musical journey. But unfortunatelly he released only 2 new song for the album. One of them is for the 15th unnivesarry of Code Geass and I’m happy for that he sings for another anime.
The only thing that I didn’t liked was that he doesn’t include my favorite song Tsuro no shikaeshi in, but this is too personal (like my entire review on this album :laughing:).

The others in no particular order:
MASS-The Gazette
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Not a big fan of the stile for this album, but the tracks are AMAZING! DAKU is really good and NOX cached my interest first and I really enjoyed listening to them. I didn’t expected something like this from them but they never dissapoint.

Shippaisaku-Xaa Xaa
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The songs sounds pretty much the same but the album catched me and I keep replay it over and over. I like the whole mannequin thing and the band sounded really different from what I remember… FRESH! My favorite song from here is probably 消去 (I can’t even read this but the song sounds really god :joy:)

Madmans Esprit-Garden of Skeletons
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(the thing I imagine every time I read the name :cry:)
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The instrumental is perfect for me Kyuho’s voice is good (as always :laughing:) and the lyrics too. This is probably the song for the year for me :upside_down_face:

These are my top releases for this year. These are the only albums (and a song :smiley:) that I liked from the first track to the end without exeption.

6 Likes
  • David – Gothculture

Good thing this got releasead this year so I can include it in the list. I think the songs compliment each other well, it has great songwriting, I love the lyrics (at least what I could understand of it) and IMO Sui is just a great singer. Bonus points for including the piano version of Joshou, probably better than the original. I also really like all the looks and artworks associated with this release.


  • David – Hexagramearth

Same as above, really. David might be my favorite VK act right now.


  • AMANO JACUSHI - みつどもえ (Mitsudomoe)

I discovered this early december and it has been on repeat ever since. Reminds me of early Dimlim, the kind of heavy but varied stuff I needed. The singer kicks ass too. The album art is really cool too.


  • DazzlingBAD - The beginning of the END

I love this band’s style. Most memorable newcomers this year.


  • Under Fall Justice - 異常なまでに君に執着する僕と君 (Ijou na Made ni Kimi ni Shuuchakusuru Boku to Kimi)

I’m just a fanboy for this band. Though, to be fair, this is an outstandingly good release from them IMO. Probably my favorite since Boku igai…


  • ARTiCLEAR - 仮現の月読 (Kagen no Tsukuyomi)

I just discovered this band and fell in love after listening to this release.


  • Madmans Esprit - 백골의 정원 (Garden of Skeletons)

OP said Japanese releases only, but someone already mentioned this, so I will too. Outstanding single.

6 Likes

Yeaaah I realized that after I write the whole thing. I forgot about that rule(?) and wrote about everything that caught my attention this year… I will leave It wrong :smiley: .

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This was a hard one… VK seems to have been hit very hard by Covid, because it still survives mainly on live concerts and physical releases, imo there weren’t as many outstanding releases. In the end I spend most of my time listening to non-japanese music, so it’s a bit tricky for me to write down my faves… but I’ll try:

XANVALA - 我慾之幕 流通盤
Until a few years ago I wasn’t a big fan of Metalcore-ish bands. XANVALA are kinda in a middle ground between that style and “regular” contemporary VK (of the non-loud variant). Bands like these have piqued my interest in that style. There’s just something about their music writing that really appeals to me, they are also a very solid band. Even at their worst I find them more enjoyable than most of what other indie bands put out.

NETH PRIERRE CAIN - 救いの為に、神罰を。
I consider them a heavier Megaromania, if that makes sense. A band I really liked so I am glad this exists. Their recent singles are all pretty decent. Haven’t listened to their mini album that much though, so can’t formulate an opinion on it.

R.I.P. - 失楽園-Scattering greed-
Amano Jacushi’s alter-ego band. And honestly I like their style more, probably because I don’t care so much about the Dimlim-derived style.

Jigsaw – all 2021 singles (黒い家族, アカツキ, トランスリッパーなら仕方ない。)
I agree with Ezra, these singles are great. Jigsaw in general is a wonderful yet underrated and overlooked band. They combine the early to mid 00s style with contemporary VK and it sounds so good and effortless. Def my fave current band.

The Reveude - 女神転生 and Dear… Pain&Roses
One of my faves, they sadly didn’t live long enough to make use of their full potential .___. At least they went out with a banger single.

sukekiyo - Salus
Love the 80s vibes of the main song Candis and the fact that we get some nice clean singing from Kyo makes me happy. I like his extreme vocals, but I miss him singing like he used to do in the early Diru days. The second track Creeper is very interesting composition-wise.

Petit Brabancon - 刻 / 渇き
Agree with zeus’ notion that this is pretty much early MUCC’s style mixed with Nu Metal-era Diru. I can also sense some sukekiyo in there, so that project’s basically a mix of all of Kyo’s projects and I feel it does work very nicely.

鐘ト銃声 - 小林アキヒトの一生:破
Kaneto-juusei keep delivering solid 00s VK worship material and this EP is no different. Full of wonderful tracks that transport you back to the UCP and CLIMAX Enterprise label days. Probably the best “homage” band atm.

Hitchcock – 未定 and スタンリーホテルと白い毛の猫
Another wonderful old-schoolish homage kei band. They, along with Jigsaw and Kento have become my current faves. Hope they continue to grow.

I haven’t properly listened to ARTiCLEAR’s mini except two songs, but so far it seems good, also need to catch up on UNDER FALL JUSTICE. Wasn’t too impressed by DazzlingBAD… They are not bad, but not as great as many make them out to be, imo.

Didn’t really listened to much non-VK music from Japan either this year…

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oh, ty!!

they flew out of my head entirely, but they all are very slept on here (maybe not hitchcock, but the other two)

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Albums:

the GazettE - MASS
No matter all things I criticized about the album I still love it a lot and therefore it of course gets to my list of most favorites.

NUL. - Tribrid Archive
I really hope further releases by them will keep up with this one because I loved it from the first second I listened to it.

キズ - 仇
I didn’t really listen to their stuff before and immediately loved the album which to me was almost only new songs. That album got the band to the 2nd most listened band for me in 2021 (from the PC only).

There are some more releases but categorizing doesn’t make much sense then, think.

MUCC - GONER/WORLD
I really like these two songs and also think the third track is nice.

DaizyStripper - 音楽が消えた日
I’ve just seen the PV when they finally put it out publically (like two weeks or a month after the release) and really liked the song. It’s not totally overwhelming but something typical for them. I just wished they put it on for digital purchase.

(the GazettE - BLINDING HOPE)
I put this one into brackets because they named it single and sold it digitally in March but it wasn’t put out like their usual singles. I love this song a very lot and therefore didn’t want to not include it.

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I’m going to share my thoughts about 2021 (albeit a little too late).

Was 2021 strong for VK and jrock in general? Did anything make me stop listening to pre hiatus LUNA SEA on repeat? Is there any cool left in these scenes? Well, yes and mostly no.

The GOOD. The BAD. The UGLY of 2021

GOOD

  • DEXCORE - 18

Probably the only (newish) band I can say is really cool right now.
With the sub-sequential release schedule of -18- DEXCORE were, at least for me, at their absolute top. Writing on -18- is impeccable; a perfect blend of creative, brutally heavy and melodic.

DEXCORE is a love letter to the loud rock and metalcore scene in Japan. They took everything it has good and built upon it to take it even further.

If things don’t go VK, DEXCORE might just as well be the first band to properly break into the western scene, and all it would have taken was good music, and just being a cool band (/sorry Yoshiki)

Stand-out tracks: Self-Hatred, 20, EARTHWORM, the whole mini album, even the karaoke version of Self-Hatred lol

  • Diaura - R.I.P.

Following the style of the delightful ENVY maxi (like seriously have you seen this VK perfection?) R.I.P. presents a beautifully aged DIAURA, fully grown into their own sound. Nostalgic yet not dated whatsoever. Tasty lead work, kote rhythms with some of the catchiest DIAURA choruses I have heard to date.
Stand-out tracks: back to back Hidden cry and RED ROMANCE, 乖離性イデオロギー.

  • DARRELL - The Clowder

Finally something that isn’t rehashed DEATHGAZE. Banger tracks that lean on the traditional heavy metal side. From slow paced thrashers like D.D.I. to anthemic chuggers like PHANTOM.
A very delightful surprise
Stand-out tracks: PHANTOM, D.D.I, Elizabeth Mess.

  • Fukuro (梟)/THE MADNA

The mere existence of these two bands explain the DADAROMA disbandment more than any long twit from the band members could.
Fukuro no Mori was an overall very enjoyable experience. I think there is a big absence of art kei type bands, and the world would just be a whole lot better if there were more bands like Fukuro and less like DDRM.
Beautiful Inferno kinda took me by surprise. After the catastrophic reveal with the song MADGAME I would have never given any much more attention to this project. Turns out it wasn’t that bad (if you discard MADGAME). A fun pop mélange of NEVERLAND with some girugämesh edge and a little 2012 MUCC sprinkled in.
Stand-out tracks: paranoia, graffiti days., Hikyoumono no ROMANCE.

There is nothing better than a DaizyStripper ballad. 音楽が消えた日 has some of the tastiest SUGIZO inspired lead work to date.

On a stark contrast new Crystal Lake is definitely on the nastier and darker side. I’m very curious to see this transpose further into a new LP.

I’m glad we didn’t see more disbandment in the scene (RIP Her Name in Blood) and these guys managed to release new music. Graupel and Sable Hills did their thing as always but I’m madly enamored with Earthists’ new sound!

Honorable mention:

XAAXAA

While not bad per say, I felt like XAAXAA’s second LP was a little underwhelming, at least compared to the EP they released prior. It’s XAAXAA, nothing new, nothing bad.

DIMLIM - Lets talk about essence live

I enjoyed this live a whole lot better than the standard LP version. It shows what a live off the floor recording can do to a performance. It was almost like it had wholeheartedly breathe into it some new -essence-

I was actually looking forward to DIMLIM not ghosting their whole fan base - only to come back and announce their disbandment.

Nocturnal Bloodlust - The One + special live

I liked NB’s return last year, and their approach to more traditional metalcore rather than deathcore. The One is a decent song, more on the Crystal Lake side. Compared with Cazqui’s work in Nekomanju, new NB is miles ahead.

sukekiyo - Salus
Candis was something else. Very cute, thanks Uta! Never knew I needed this but now I’m waiting for the colab with Tatsuro Yamashita.

BAD

  • JILUKA
    This was straight up bad. Terrible songwriting, allover the place with some of the most grotesque use br00tal breakdowns I have ever seen. It’s almost like whenever they didn’t have a proper finish to a section they would just throw in another breakdown. Also this was 100% mixed into someone’s bedroom and the fact that I could tell is not a good thing. Not cool.

  • キズ / Kizu
    Imagine waiting for Kizu to finally release something and it’s a best-of. Then wait half a year for them to maybe release something new and it’s STRAWBERRY BLUE. insert kekw

  • The Gazette - Mass
    I didn’t even expect anything and I was still let down.

  • Deviloof: very boring, dated, and frankly lazy death metal.

Meh

Nightmare - cry for the moon and Sinners:

The Desperado - Gerbera: listens to Lorna Shore once

Dir En Grey - Oboro: Kyo getting born to the soundtrack of an unfinished DEG b-side

Petit Brabancon - Koku/Kawaki: don’t really understand why were people that hyped for the three songs that this supergroup put out. Sure, it brought adidas tracksuit Kyo back and there is some good groove on Koku - but frankly it was underwhelming. Maybe they got some more for '22.

Ugly

  • nurié accident and death of bassist Yahiro

Completely devastating news to end the year (read more about it here).

  • DIMLIM announce disbandment/ South American tour drama

If you’ve been here (or on MH) long enough you know DIMLIM has the best threads. Now, what happens when they (to no one’s surprise lol) announce their disbandment? You get new dirt from under the rug get pulled and new drama unfolds. Comedy gold, right here.
Thank you retsu, very cool.

  • GACKT announcing going on indefinite hiatus due to a nervous system disease and dysphonia.

I wish my favorite magnum ojiisan a full and speedy recovery!

  • lynch. announcing ~a temporary suspension of activities~

Apparently hazuki realized he’s been recycling the same riffs for the past 10 years so he decided to temporary stop (finally). If 2022 picks up and the world somewhat returns to normal, we will see them back for that sweet sweet live cash.
Hope he’ll just do his solo thing instead, 'cause I really loved -FUNERAL-.

There have been quite a lot of releases in 2021 (just look at all the entries in vk.gy) and I’ll have to thank @Rize for his playlist on Spotify to help me get an overall feel of how things went for the scene.

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