Saint Vitus Bar co-owner and booker David Castillo (who also makes music as Confines), reflected on his 2021 and made us a list of his favorite albums of the year, including records by Space Afrika, Dream Unending, Ekulu, Cerebral Rot, Dead Heat, Mortiferum, The Chisel, Frozen Soul, Carcass, Buggin, SZA, Quicksand, Mach-Hommy, Spy, Gatecreeper, and more. He writes:

As a club owner, I had the opportunity to reopen Saint Vitus after 18 months of closure. With the best partners and staff a guy could ask for, I was able to experience people enjoying the incredible artists we host and it put a lot into perspective. I am grateful for all the sacrifices and hard work it takes to create these live musical moments. No matter what the road ahead has in store for us, it's a great reminder that people crave what we do. Listening in other contexts is great, but there is nothing like being in it. These experiences really swayed my listening habits this year.

As a performer, Synthcide put out a record for my project Confines called Work Up the Blood. It was wonderful to see people dancing in a room again and feeling the positivity around the release. Getting on stage has always been one of the greatest thrills and seeing human reactions to my music has given me new ideas on where to take the whole thing.

Overall, 2021 was supposed to be a triumphant return for music, and although it didn't achieve the heights we all had hoped for, 2020's lockdown gave way to loads of great recordings. Here are the top 30 things I heard this year in no order. I want to thank all these artists for soundtracking this rollercoaster year and getting me through.

Space Afrika - Honest Labour
Dream Unending - Tide Turns Eternal
Kanga - You and I will never Die
Ekulu - Unscrew My Head
Cerebral Rot - Excretion of Mortality
Vain Warr - Maleficia Carnalia
Dead Heat - World at War
Korine - Sunshine
Mortiferum - Preserved in Torment
The Chisel - Retaliation
Benny The Butcher - The Plugs I Met 2
Kontravoid - Faceless
Frozen Soul - Crypt of Ice
Lamp of Murmuur - Submission and Slavery
Carcass - Torn Arteries
Tribulation - Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
King Woman - Celestial Blues
Xeno and Oaklander - Vi/deo
Buggin - Brainfreeze
SZA - I Hate You / Fue Mejor
Quicksand - Distant Populations
Mvtant – Gore + Mirrorshade
Hoverkraft - Schwebende Musik
Antichrist Siege Machine - Purifying Blade
Mach-Hommy - Pray for Haiti
Hante - Morning Tsunami
Spy - Habitual Offender
Youth Code / King Yosef - A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression
Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality
The Watcher - Your Turn to Die

*Honorable mention to Trace Amount + Qual's Alien Dust EP which I put out on FAKTOR this year. It is an absolutely crushing industrial EP and worth anyone's time.

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