It zipped past us like the stars around the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon as it jumps to Lightspeed, but 2021 - in spite of its fast and turbulent nature - was one heck of a year for achievements in music in our fair province. It's NSMZ's worst kept secret that my personal Elysium is Metal and its related genres, so it will come as no surprise at all that my top three picks for the year gone are rock steady players in that ball court.
3 - "Set To Flames" by Set To Flames
Hailing from the remote northern community of La Ronge, this absolute belter of an album was put out by duo Troy Patterson and Shelbey Savoie. It has a big sound that confidently walks a tightrope between the tail end of Hair Metal that gave way to both early Thrash and the makings of the modern era of Hard Rock in its guitar work (think Motley Crue) and Goth with Shelbey's powerful vocals that give tinges of Goth Rock in her emotive power. Big, sexy guitars and an evocative vocal range. Do yourself a favour and listen to Set To Flames today.
2 - "Spirit World" by FPG
Regina's FPG absolutely smashed it with this utter barn burner of an album. A cavalcade of Metal, Punk and Goth sub-genres duke it out in their sound here, that might sound like a mess and it would be in less experienced hands; but here, it's an absolute treat. The vocals are midway reminiscent of both Glen Danzig and Peter Steele, giving a big Goth vibe over a musical delight that fuses Punk, the post-1990s era of Thrash when speed and pummeling double kick drum was the name of the game, all topped off with big chunky guitar tones of the more metallic era of Hardcore that came 1990s and on. The concept theming of the album and lyrical content dropped a soul in to the already alive and kicking body of the album. Beauty!
1 - "The Denisovan" by Before & Apace
Wow. This album! Devin and team sculpted something very special with this album, it's heavy Prog at its absolute finest. Each song goes through a series of movements, it is purposeful and deliberate; sometimes leading to big emotive crescendos and other times to subtle simmerings. It has time signature changes and the whole nine yards you'd expect from a Metal-leaning Prog album. It's a full soundscape that you need to immerse yourself in, give yourself over to and, when you do, you'll find yourself awestruck by the sheer tonal range of this album.
2022 has a lot of hefty contenders to beat with 2021's offerings, but - boy - I cannot wait to see what it has in-store for us re-Saskatchewan's music.