Archspire - Bleed the Future: I touched on it in the Inoculation entry, but Archspire really let me down this year. I noted at the time that The Lucid Collective could technically be classified as pornography since it was the type of thing you'd completely lose interest in once you finished masturbating, but Relentless Mutation just utterly trounced every expectation I could've possibly had for any modern tech death album in 2017 and to this day I still regret snubbing it on that year end list. In 2017 they put out a modern masterpiece that stands against and even at times surpasses the undisputed classics of their genre, and in 2021 they seemed to revert right back to making porn. I dunno, maybe their viral fame has shifted their priorities too much and now Dean is too busy focusing on memes and streaming to focus on writing a song as good as "Involuntary Doppelganger" again, but the end result here is that Archspire went from being kings that proved a dying genre still had some life left in it to just reminding me why I stopped listening to tech death so much in the first place. What a bummer.
Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined: This album isn't actually bad really, but I do think it signals a future that I'm really not interested in for the band. Obviously, Pat is out of the band after his mental break a few years ago, and to the surprise of nobody he wound up replaced by Erik Rutan, who is a perfect fit based on chemistry alone. The problem I have is that Erik's writing is just far less interesting than Pat's, despite being a perfectly capable guitarist. Pat's songs had a more manic and technical edge that nobody really brings to the band anymore, so now their fifteenth album here is one of the very few where I really have no counter to the "it all sounds the same" criticism they normally get. It's not a bad album, but they've homogenized their sound even more and I think it's time to admit they'll never be truly great again.
Running Wild - Blood on Blood: Normally, since it hasn't been the early 90s for nearly thirty years now, I wouldn't have any expectations to dash in the first place when it comes to Running Wild. But I do admit, there was a part of me that was genuinely excited to hear this after Rapid Foray was so surprisingly decent. Neither I nor any other self respecting metalhead was expecting them to crank out another Death or Glory or Pile of Skulls after 40+ years, but after surprising everybody last time, Rolf put on his best songwriting cap and instead cranked out the most boring and inconsequential album in Running Wild history, which is no small feat considering that history contains shit like Resilient. Guess it was a fluke after all.