Santtu Pesonen’s Top 10 of 2021

Another year approaches its end, and you know what that means – it’s time to share my Top 10 of albums I listened to, games I played, events I witnessed etc.

2021 was a pretty chaotic year. Between all of the COVID stuff going on, Internet bullshit and the death of one of my drumming idols, there’s been no shortage of questionable things happening. But with that said, 2021 was personally a good year all things considered. At least two of the points listed below should tell you as to how.

At any rate, here’s my Top 10 of 2021.

10. Steven Wilson – The Future Bites

Out of all the albums that came out this year, Steven Wilson’s The Future Bites may not be the strongest offering, but I’m all for artists expanding their horizons and trying something new. Which is why I ended up liking the British musical prodigy’s latest solo effort. Personal Shopper is largely the standout here, but that’s not to say the rest of the album is bad in any way. If anything, it’s just less memorable.

9. participating in my first game jam

Early in the year, I participated in Mini Jam 74, a game jam with a theme of “chaos”, and made my first successful game jam submission. The resulting game was Nijun, an infinite runner where you deflect shurikens by kicking or punching them. It faired surprisingly well, nearly placing in the top 25% of all games submitted during the jam. And the experience itself was very fun.

8. Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal was one of only two movies I saw in the entire year of 2021 and a damn good one. The story of a drummer who loses his hearing is told wonderfully well, and the cinematography is top-notch. Not to mention the cast of actors/actresses and how they did their job with admirable dedication. It also sends an important message to aspiring musicians – to protect your goddamn ears.

7. Leprous – Aphelion

Leprous’s latest studio effort is an interesting offering. The only way I know how to describe it is that it sounds very familiar and very new at the same time. It isn’t their most memorable album, but it does offer a few standout tunes, namely Running Low and Castaway Angels.

6. Devin Townsend – The Puzzle

It’s difficult to talk about The Puzzle, simply because it’s so chaotic and deviates so heavily from Devin Townsend’s “usual” style. But I’m no stranger to chaotic music, and that’s why I enjoyed this half of Devin’s latest musical creation. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but The Puzzle definitely scratched the itch I have for the kind of music at display here. That said, I struggle to name any standout tracks.

5. The Vicious Head Society – Extinction Level Event

Out of the new bands/artists I was introduced to this year, the prog band The Vicious Head Society is among the most promising. Their debut album, Extinction Level Event, is on the level of the likes of Dream Theater when it comes to musical prowess. The 10-minute instrumental title track is a magnificent opener, and On a Silver Thread is a highlight-worthy composition that gives me some Aquarius-era Haken vibes.

4. Wheel – Resident Human

The Finnish prog quartet Wheel became one of my favorite bands very quickly with their debut album Moving Backwards, and the follow-up Resident Human is no less impressive. Perhaps some of the most compositionally solid efforts of the year, the album is an incredibly fun ride all the way from the opening track Dissipating to the closer Old Earth. The bass and guitar tones deserve a special mention.

3. Gojira – Fortitude

Gojira has soared in popularity over the past few years, and it’s no wonder why that’s the case. The French metal quartet’s latest studio effort, the follow-up to 2016’s Magma, is quite possibly their finest work thus far. The tasteful combination of brutality and groove is something I greatly enjoy, especially in the opening of the closing track Grind – the words “holy shit” have never been more suitable than to describe it. Other notable highlights include Born for One Thing, Sphinx, New Found and Amazonia.

2. Literalism and its Cacoward mention

My first Doom community project, 3×3, was a delightfully surprising success. So much so that I hosted two more throughout 2021, one of them being Literalism. It ended up being so popular that the roster was filled out in less than 48 hours, and even some moderately big names in the community expressed their interest. The project did run into a hurdle or two, but the end result is very likely my proudest Doom community achievement yet – especially since it received an honorable mention at the Cacowards this year.

1. getting a job (that wasn’t arranged by my parents)

Getting a job has always been a very troublesome process for me. I was never able to land even a summer job despite my efforts, and the few short stints I did get I always got through my parents. In June, I finally lucked out in that field – I was offered a job I’d sent an application to earlier in the year, and when I had my job interview, the contract was made pretty much on the spot. There are not enough words in the English language – or any language, for that matter – to describe how good it feels to be an actual productive member of society.

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