State of the Vortex: Mid-year 2021

by Snyde

Tue, 13 Jul 2021

Read in 4 minutes

On and on it spins.

The inscrutable force known as the vortex moves at its own pace. Indifferent to the whims of the outside world, unbound by concepts such as ‘taste’, ‘trend’ or ‘culture’. Thus it has always been and thus was the case as of July 1st, 2021. From the 1854 releases logged up to that date, these are the one that managed to emerge from beneath the mire:

  1. Stortregn - Impermanence It’s strange to think that Impermanence is a rare sight in 2021, when only a few years ago, it would’ve been just a drop in the deluge of technical death metal that plagued the 2010s. It is, nevertheless a solid effort and one over which everyone can agree, having not received a single rate below 6 (higher than its DR score…).

  2. Mare Cognitum - Solar Paroxysm On a steady ascent in recognition and popularity since their inception, Mare Cognitum really jumped to the forefront of the atmoblack scene on the back of their split with Spectral Lore, Wanderers. The hype train for MC shows no signs of stopping. Though the genre is desperately oversaturated and inevitably divisive, Mare Cognitum rose above these limitations with purposeful pacing and epic stylings.

  3. Ad Nauseam - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse Shoe-in for winner of the “dissodeath album non-metal fans pretend to like so they can show their hipster friends how eclectic they are” of 2021 award, Ad Nauseam’s labyrinthian III has left most aghast at its complexity and depth. Not bad for 55 minutes of incoherent noise.

  4. Moral Collapse - s/t No doubt the most perplexing entry in this list, Moral Collapse (feat. Hannes Grossmann???) inexplicably made fans out of the rabble with its… unique use of vocalizations and atmospheric pitter-patter in the closing track. I can only hope I don’t have to talk about this album again at the end of the year.

  5. The Ruins of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires The good will that The Ruins of Beverast has accrued over its is 19 years of existence is nothing short of stunning. If nothing else, the fact that it’s enough to propel this latest offering to the top of the vortex is evidence that atmoblack fans get exactly what they deserve.

  6. Grey Aura - Zwart Vierkant Having listened to this album a fair few times, Zwart Vierkant as a holistic work has not yet clicked for me. Its parts are worth a curious listener’s time but their sum might leave a few cold.

  7. Thy Catafalque - Vadak/White Ward - Debemur Morti The recently released duo of Vadak and Debemur Morti share 7th place. The vortex’s love/hate relationships with both acts seem to be tilting a bit too far into the love side. We may be overdue for some course correction.

  8. Wreche - All My Dreams Came True/Spectral Wound - A Diabolic Thirst/Pupil Slicer - Mirrors A three-way tie has rendered this list a top 11. If I were a cynical man, I’d say it’s for the lack of decisive, groundbreaking, elite artistic achievements throughout these first six months. But I’m actually a fan of these three so I’ll reserve judgement, for now.

Here are some 2021 spreadsheet statistics (taken July 1st, 2021): Albums appraised: 1854 (>5 - 587, <5 - 678) Album rate average: 4.79 (4.93 weighted for # of votes per album) Individual rates average: 5.07

For more detailed individual statistics, feel free to visit the Vortexplorer.

That’s it from me. We end our 2021 mid-year state of the vortex with the inaugural edition of “Ferday’s Fortune”, where the great unicorn shares with us a nugget of his boundless wisdom:

2021 held (holds?) some sort of eerie mystique and hope. After the shitshow that started in 2020, there was an overwhelming urge to imagine 2021 as not only the end of the pandemic nightmare, but the hope that all of our favourite bands would have the time and emotional fodder required to inspire their greatest. Of course, what the vortex has unequivocally shown is that in all of the above, what 2021 has really brought is vague and impotent acceptance of the new scale of relativity, where what would have been of passing interest in past years is now good enough to top the greatest of music charts.

There should perhaps be some solace taken in the fact that the average has now achieved perfection at 5. It’s time, much like with the rest of the world situation, to learn to live with the new paradigm. The majority of music is average and uninspired, and not just atmoblack fans get exactly what they deserve. May the back half of this cursed year continue to glorify the median.


Long live the vortex.