2021 has been, without a doubt, one of the most memorable years in modern music history. The invisible elephant in the room was obviously COVID-19, which triggered the unprecedented year-plus blackout on nearly all live shows. Thankfully this spring's widespread vaccination rollout proved effective enough for the restrictions to lift, and by summer bands were finally able to hit stages throughout the country.
While we're not quite in "post-COVID" times just yet, the sheer joy of experiencing the cranked sounds and singular live energy of gatherings big and small — from sweaty Turnstile club gigs and raucous Slipknot road shows to massive Metallica-led festivals — was beyond rejuvenating.
Plus, there's also been a bunch of killer albums released this year to keep us entertained in between mosh pits. Old-school heavies Iron Maiden, Carcass and At the Gates brought the heat, scene leaders Mastodon and Gojira upped the ante, Converge and Chelsea Wolfe dropped a bomb collab and a clutch of up-and-coming trailblazers — Spiritbox, Jinjer, Turnstile, Scowl, Portrayal of Guilt and more — pushed heavy music into exciting new territories. (See Revolver's 25 favorite albums of 2021 here.)
As we close the books on 2021, we're catching up with some of our favorite artists to get their picks for the best of the best of the past year. Below, Beartooth bassist Oshie Bichar shares his favorite shit: from the year's most "refreshing" new metalcore to an "overlooked" Star Wars installment and beyond.
I've always enjoyed Wage War, but touring with them gave me a new appreciation. Few current bands combine technical instrumental skill, vocal talent, and songwriting like this band do. Manic is a seamless example of those three things all wrapped up in a fun metalcore package.
Erra put out a fantastic self-titled album in 2021, and this is my favorite song from it. It's one of the more vibey, slower, more ballad-y songs on the record, and it feels very refreshing on a listen-through. The use of dynamics between the chorus and verse is very effective, and the vocal hook in the chorus is infectious.
It's no secret that I love Star Wars. A lot of people overlook the animated series' because they think it might be for kids, but in my opinion it's a great medium for telling some of the best stories in the galaxy. The Bad Batch is no exception. It's nice to have Star Wars content like this that unites the fandom rather than divides it.
I haven't played through any new video games this year aside from the HD remake of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which was fun to revisit. I mostly play Apex Legends, which I think is the best battle royale game out there. Catch me playing it on Twitch.
Alpha Wolf is probably my most-played, newly discovered band of 2021. Their songs … and accompanying music videos were shown to me by a friend and I really dug them. Just really solid, fun, refreshing hardcore/metalcore.
We were one of the first bands of our genre to be able to get back on tour in 2021. It was a big relief to finally get back on the road again, but also stressful wondering if we would make it through the whole tour. A lot of our peers had their eyes on us to see what would happen. We were fortunate to be able to complete the entire tour with no canceled shows. It feels really good to have accomplished that after everything that everybody has been through.
2022 is going to be very very busy promoting our new album, Below. If we haven't played near you yet, there's a very good chance we'll be coming your way very soon. I can't wait to get back on a regular touring schedule and see some of my favorite cities again. Oh and also, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.