Design a site like this with
Get started

Favorite Songs of 2022

CW: sick pet (terminal), near-death experience, suicide mention

2022 was one of the worst years I’ve had since I escaped from my abusive parents’ house. My beloved cat, my ESA B’Elanna, had a health crisis that I thought was caused by her diaphragmatic hernia, but I (and her regular vet) were wrong; B’Elanna has terminal cancer in her lungs. She was on chemo for a few months, but it stopped working a few weeks ago and now there’s nothing we can do but keep her comfortable. Oh, and I almost died too. That sucked. (Yes, really. Double pneumothoraces and cardiac arrest during a paraesophageal hernia repair surgery.)

However, there was a MASSIVE amount of great rock, metal, and punk that came out this year, and I mean a MASSIVE amount. It was hard as hell to narrow this list down to 15. I had to winnow it down from almost 30 songs. So these songs really are the cream of the crop as far as my tastes go, and except for the top spot, you can mostly ignore the ratings. These are all fantastic pieces of music.

Also, if you’re new here, be aware that this is meant to be a rock list. Well, rock, metal, punk, and maybe alternative or indie. Songs that don’t fit those genres aren’t eligible. Otherwise, “Surface Pressure” by Jessica Darrow (from Encanto) would be somewhere in the top five. “Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt and/See if she can handle every family burden…” Lin-Manuel Miranda, did you have to tear my heart out of my chest and then show it to me? Was that entirely necessary? And Jessica Darrow does an admirable job with the dense lyrics and huge range in the song, too. But again, that song is not on here, because it does not fit the criteria. Also, only studio performances are eligible for the list, otherwise Dolly Parton’s “Rockin’” song that she premiered at her Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction would definitely be on here.

One more thing: if you’re not new here, you know I often use math to rank songs for lists. I did not do that with this list. I ranked by one criterion: how much I loved any given song.

With that said, let’s get to the list!

Honorable mention 5: “This Hell” by Rina Sawayama

This is a phenomenal song. The production is great as always for Rina Sawayama, it’s catchy as fuck without being annoying, and it’s about how if queer people are going to Hell, we are going to make Hell a massive queer party. What’s not to love?

Well…this isn’t really a rock song. It’s not rock, metal, or punk. I wouldn’t even call it alternative or indie. It’s pop with a country rock flavor, especially with the inclusion of that guitar solo. But it doesn’t technically meet the criteria I use for this list, so it’s an honorable mention. 

Yes, I know I just said that songs that don’t meet the criteria don’t get on the list. I made an exception for the guitar solo. Die mad about it.

Honorable mention 4: “Angel of the Lake (Tribute to Alexi Laiho)” by Mute Prophet

The band Mute Prophet has been described as “Nightwish meets Children of Bodom,” but I think “Simone Simons if she could scream fronting Darkest Hour” is a little more accurate description. Full disclosure: I feel like I’ve heard better symphonic metal than Mute Prophet, even though vocalist Adrienne Odenthal is voice goals and it’s really cool that the bassist/keyboardist is also female. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing. Maybe I just am not a big fan of the prog influences in their music because I’m not a prog fan? Regardless, I still really enjoy Mute Prophet, especially their guitar solos and Adrienne’s voice. And this song makes the list for being not just a solid song with stellar vocals but also being a touching tribute to Alexi Laiho (z’’l), the guitarist and frontman of Children of Bodom, who passed two years ago at the too-young age of 41.

Honorable mention 3: “Blood Red Ink,” The Prize

Remember my favorite power metal singers blog entry? (If you don’t, it’s here:, and Magali Luyten was number 1 on that list. She’s currently fronting a band called The Prize. And when I first listened to The Prize, I was honestly disappointed because I wanted more Beautiful Sin. The Prize isn’t Beautiful Sin. They aren’t even power metal. They’re a straightforward hard rock band.

That said, they’re a REALLY FUCKING GOOD straightforward hard rock band. Magali is still a powerhouse, and she’s even using that scream of hers that I love more. There were a lot of great songs on The Prize’s eponymous debut album, but “Blood Red Ink” had my favorite screams. Yeah, I’m predictable as hell at this point. Okay, fine, I’ll say at least one other thing about this song: it’s delightfully spooky. I love the downright creepy air the opening guitar riff sets up for the song. This song also made it onto my Halloween playlist for that reason. Also, the chorus is a lot of fun to sing/scream along to (or it will be when I can sing again…I can’t sing or scream until 3 months after my surgery).

Honorable mention 2: “the kids aren’t alright,” Pinkshift

It about killed me to put a band as good as Pinkshift on the honorable mentions list, but there was just so much music I loved that came out this year. Pinkshift, if you aren’t familiar, is a Baltimore-based punk band influenced by grunge and aughties pop punk. The frontwoman, Ashrita Kumar, is immensely talented and charismatic, especially for fronting a band that just came out with its first LP. The other band members include Myron Houngbedji on drums,  Paul Vallejo on guitar, and Erich Weinroth on bass. Why yes, only one of the band members is white.

The entirety of Pinkshift’s album Love Me Forever is excellent. There were several songs on that album I could have put on the list. I eventually picked this song because of its kickass bass intro and incisive lyrics. Yes, Ashrita performs the verses in what I sometimes call the “artless punk yell,” which is when punk vocalists yell without any particular vocal technique behind it, and I don’t especially care for that style of vocals. But Ashrita sells it so fucking hard that I get over that weird choir geek preference of mind when listening to her holler. I will definitely be paying attention to whatever Pinkshift does next.

Honorable mention 1: “VICTORY OR DEATH (WE GAVE ‘EM HELL),” Anti-Flag featuring Campino

It also about killed me to put Anti-fucking-Flag, one of my all-time favorite bands—the only band whose logo I have as a tattoo—in the honorable mentions. But there were 10 other songs that I liked better than this one this year. That said, I love this song. It’s a slower track, and punk bands doing slower songs usually makes me sad and/or bores me, but I love the bittersweet, somewhat melancholy vibe this song successfully pulls off. The “whoa”s sound both catchy and wistful, and I cannot get the chorus out of my head. Not to mention the lyrics in this song are some of the strongest Anti-Flag have written, and there are a lot a lot a LOT of great lyrics on this album.

Also, Anti-Flag’s new album LIES THEY TELL OUR CHILDREN just came out and I can’t stop samealbuming it, so maybe a song from that album that wasn’t a single in 2022 will make the 2023 list proper. We’ll see.

10) “Bull” by Enter Shikari featuring Cody Frost

Kicking off the list proper is Enter Shikari, who have graced my favorite songs of the year list before; their excellent song “satellites* *” was number three on my list in 2020. “Bull” is not as good a song as “satellites* *”, but it’s still a damn good song. It’s something new from Enter Shikari: a song with more personal lyrics that don’t seem political or related to activism at all. Also, they don’t have features very often, and this song features Cody Frost, who…I’m afraid I was totally unaware of before this song. She has a really cool voice, in any case, and her voice works well alongside Rou’s and suits Enter Shikari’s sound super well. 

Speaking of Enter Shikari’s sound, this song sounds like a continuation of the sound Enter Shikari was exploring on Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible, especially with some of the vocal effects, but it’s less chaotic and clattery than the songs on that album, more like something off of The Mindsweep or A Flash Flood of Colour. The song definitely has that Enter Shikari energy that was missing on most of The Spark (I SAID WHAT I SAID) and unmistakably has their electronicore sound even with Cody Frost taking the lead on most of the vocals.

This song works great as a whole, but it also has some really cool parts, such as the percussion and guitars dropping out to leave just the driving bassline under Cody’s part in the first pre-chorus and Cody and Rou harmonizing in the second verse and second pre-chorus. And that drum fill before the instrumental break isn’t particularly complicated, but damn if it’s not effective. And that last chorus with both Rou and Cody going HAM on the vocals with the drums and guitars blaring in the background? Hells yeah.

I hope Enter Shikari continues this musical direction on their next album, and I may go check out more of Cody Frost’s music now.

9) “Riptide” by Beartooth

Beartooth? Writing a POSITIVE song!?


I mean, it’s the worst universe, but yeah, Beartooth wrote a positive song. And it still sounds like Beartooth, and it still kicks ass. There’s something surreal about hearing Caleb Shomo, who usually sings/screams things like “I’m nothing but sick and disgusting” and “Looking for answers, finding a rope” sing “I want to feel euphoria” and “Don’t want to sing another hopeless song,” but it works. It still feels honest and genuine, especially when Caleb screams “This is way too much” before the second chorus.

Caleb is still as strong a composer and performer as ever, and that bass riff in the verses absolutely kills. (Actually, there’s a lot of great bass work in this song, and readers know that I love cool basslines.) The simple but effective breakdown is great too. Something I really like about the instrumentation of this song is that while it still sounds like Beartooth, it also works with the more positive lyrics, particularly that nice guitar noodling that’s definitely in major but still fits with the rest of the song while Caleb sings “I’m done explaining my pain” after the breakdown.

Honestly, the only thing I’m not wild about regarding this song is the line “It’s the last time I romanticize the riptide that’s trying to drown me,” because…have people been accusing Caleb of romanticizing depression? Dude’s been extremely consistent about how debilitating and miserable depression and alcoholism are. The guy who wrote “It’s dark, it’s cold, my mind is not my home” and “When did my king start living in a glass bottle?” is not romanticizing jack shit. If Caleb thinks that speaking (er, singing and screaming) frankly about how hard it is living with depression and/or alcoholism is romanticizing, uh…he’s wrong. I know a lot of ableist fucksticks think that trying to combat saneism in any way—including open discussion of mental illness symptoms and experiences—is romanticizing mental illness, but it’s really not. (Oh, look, there I go talking about ableism on my music blog again.)

Anyway, this song is amazing, and I am excited to hear what else Caleb does for the next Beartooth album.

8) “Soul Revolution,” Fire From the Gods

Fire From the Gods keeps getting better and better. My favorite song from them may still be “Truth to the Weak (Not Built to Collapse),” but I feel like Soul Revolution is their strongest album overall. I had a hell of a time picking just one song from this album for this list, but I think I personally connect with this song more than the rest of the album. Also, AJ Channer’s scream on this song is absolutely brutal. I like. When he screams “chaos” at the end of the bridge, I literally get chills.

This song is about, well, a soul revolution; what happens internally when you realize that who you are as a person means that society’s boot is on your neck and that you want to dedicate yourself to fighting back. How the hell was I, an Autistic, multiply Disabled, queer, soon-to-be Jewish, female activist not supposed to relate to that? There are also so many good lines in this song. It might be one of the strongest songs lyrically that Fire From the Gods has ever written. I mean, there’s one section near the end of the second verse that goes “Labeled outsider, I’m the audio pariah/I set the world on fire/Fuck the New World Order, fuck fighting for oil and water/All power to all people, we are law and order/Fuck your bottom line, it don’t mean shit to me/’Cause your house is built on blood lines and hypocrisy.” I mean, g-dDAMN.

I also love Fire From the Gods’ sound, and this song is fairly typical of them; a heavy rap metal track with some touches of reggae. I have to say, though, that I think this song was a bit of a risk as a title track and a first track on the album. It’s heavy as fuck. I haven’t listened to a lot of older FFtG lately, but Soul Revolution feels heavier than their previous work. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but either way, this banger of a song is not only excellent in its own right, but it typifies the sound of Soul Revolution the album, which I think makes it a good choice for a first track. Even though bands going heavier sometimes loses them mainstream acceptance. 

Fire From the Gods won’t be your thing if you don’t like rap metal or similar, but seriously, if you are a leftist who has been missing Rage Against the Machine, maybe check out Fire From the Gods. I said this about FEVER 333 too, and neither FEVER nor FFtG have Tom Morello’s peerless guitar work, but trust me, they’re both amazing in their own right. Especially this song.

7) “Weapon,” Stick to Your Guns

You ever have a song grip you by the throat and demand you listen from the first notes? That’s what this song did to me. I’ve long felt like Jesse Barnett is one of the most powerful vocalists in hardcore, and his opening “MY HEART IS A WEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPOOOOOOOOOOOOON” is extremely effective to say the least. I also love the idea of one’s heart being a weapon when it comes to activism. This song’s message is similar to that of “Soul Revolution,” actually, albeit about the heart instead of the soul, but with the same idea: if society is going to oppress you for being who you are, make the person you are into a weapon against the oppressive forces.

This is also just a really fucking good song from a sonic standpoint. The intro I love so much has only a few guitar chords underneath the vocals, but then the percussion comes crashing in to introduce the “Whoa-oh” refrain (which, I might add, is catchy in the best kind of way), and if the song didn’t already have your attention from the opening, it does after that drum fill. Then the instrumentation becomes quieter for the first verse, and Jesse starting out on a lower octave when he sings “Torn between/You can’t grow from the apathy” in the first verse and then taking it up an octave when he sings those same lyrics in the second verse is a great way to increase the energy and urgency of the song, which can be a hard thing to do with hardcore songs that start out at fast tempos. The song has a fairly standard progression for a hardcore song, but it still sounds ear-catching, passionate, and ferocious; not in any way stale.

I’m honestly not sure what else to say about this song. I suppose I can say that this is the song I hoped Stick to Your Guns would make for this album when I heard “More of Us Than Them” last year and it only made the honorable mentions for that year’s favorite songs list. That bassline from “More of Us…” still kills, but I think “Weapon” is a better song than “More of Us Than Them.” Honestly, “More of Us Than Them” is my least favorite song on Spectre. Granted, Spectre is a no-skip album for me—with the exception of the intro track—but still.

6) “Rotoscope,” Spiritbox

Yes, I know a lot of Spiritbox fans—and metal fans in general—don’t like this song.

I do not care. I mean, come on, people, this song isn’t even that much of a departure from other Spiritbox songs. Electronic elements? They added those to “Sun Killer,” the opening track of Eternal Blue. A groove-heavy guitar/bass instrumental? Hello “Holly Roller,” which was one of Spiritbox’s most successful singles. A chorus that’s on the catchy, dare I say poppy side? “Secret Garden” and “Yellowjacket” from Eternal Blue and “Trust Fall” from Singles EP all have catchy choruses. A song with little screaming? “Constance” and “We Live in a Strange World” have no screaming, and “Constance” was a single! The rhythm of “Rotoscope” is the most danceable of any song that Spiritbox has released, sure, but did you catch the music video for “Belcarra”? Courtney dances in that one too! Tl;dr it’s a good song and the fact that you can dance to it doesn’t make it bad.

Honestly, I have always had a soft spot for heavy music that you can dance to.  “Zombie Dance” by Escape the Fate is on my Halloween playlist, and if you aren’t familiar with that song…well, honestly, you’re not missing much—unlike “Rotoscope,” it is not a good song—but it is a heavy song with a very danceable beat. I’ve always found music like that fun. So of course I like “Rotoscope.” It also has my favorite element of Spiritbox’s music (aside from the stimmy guitar work): Courtney’s vocals. Courtney’s vocal performance is unparalleled on this song just like it is in all of Spiritbox’s other work. Her lyrics are also great as usual. There’s a lot to love about this song, and I love it, and it’s number 6 on my list.

I realize I haven’t said all that much about “Rotoscope” as a song, but honestly I’m not sure what else I can say. It’s deliciously heavy and danceable, and Courtney’s vocals and lyrics are stellar as always. That’s the story, Wishbone.

5) “MONEY,” The Warning

The Warning, a three-piece Mexican rock band comprising three sisters (Dani on vocals and guitar, Ale on bass, and Pau on drums and backing vocals), released an amazing album, ERROR, this year. “MONEY” is not my favorite song from that album.

So why is it on this list?

Because I don’t have a favorite song from that album. Well, okay, “CHOKE” and “DISCIPLE” might be candidates for my favorites from that album—”CHOKE” because of that monstrous, catchy chorus and “DISCIPLE” because of that sick bassline—but both those songs were released as singles in 2021. “MONEY” was released as a single as well, albeit in 2022, and while it may not be my favorite on the album, it is the song that convinced me to listen to The Warning in earnest. You see, I first heard of The Warning about eight years ago when a college classmate showed me a video of Dani, Pau, and Ale (then 13, 11, and 9, respectively) covering “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. I didn’t realize until I wondered a few months ago “Hey, maybe the members of The Warning are old enough to release their own material now, wonder what that sounds like” after finding out that they had covered “Enter Sandman” for The Metallica Blacklist.

I searched YouTube, found “MONEY,” and the rest is history. Those who read my blog entry on my favorite bassists know that Ale is #3 on that list even though she is only 18. She’s that ridiculously talented. But let me talk about the song “MONEY” now. It’s catchy as fuck, it’s biting commentary on crapitalism, and all three sisters’ performances are top-notch. Okay, “MONEY” is not Pau’s most elaborate drum work, but it’s rock steady and very effective. I could say something similar about Ale’s slick bassline and Dani’s solid guitar work, and Dani has delivered more technically impressive vocal performances…but all three sisters are still kicking ass and sound fantastic together. Some The Warning songs have drum fills that make me headbang, basslines that give me chills, or vocal lines that make me unbelievably sad that I still can’t sing (doctor’s orders after my repaired diaphragm), and those elements stand out to me. Granted, those songs with standout elements are all amazing—ERROR is full of back-to-back gems—but on “MONEY,” everything comes together especially beautifully, even that little “cha-ching” sound effect. And that repeated guitar/bass riff under Dani’s cry of “HEYYYY, WHOAAAA” absolutely kills.

So, yeah, “MONEY” is an excellent song that deserves its spot on this list, but if you like it, you should probably go listen to the entirety of ERROR. I’ll wait.

4) “Black Sheep,” Dorothy

Yes, okay, this hard-rocking song sung by a badass female vocalist with grit for days about being an outsider is total Amaranthe bait. I admit it.

But come on; that first repetition of the first line of the chorus when the song starts grabbed you by the throat too. This is a really good song, okay? Dorothy probably has one of the best voices in straightforward hard rock right now. I’d even call her better than Lzzy Hale. (Yeah, I went there. If I ever write that blog entry on bands that do Halestorm better than Halestorm, I’ll be talking about Dorothy.) One thing I love about her voice is how effortless she sounds while belting out the massive chorus of “Black Sheep.” She’s not pushing on her larynx at all to produce that grit. Her technique is excellent. I also just really love her timbre.

Let’s talk about the most Amaranthe-bait part of this song: the lyrics. I mean, the first lyrics are “Hail, hail, the black sheep.” As someone who assuredly became the family black sheep (stealing the title from my oldest cousin, who not only has tattoos like me, but once cut off all her hair and bleached it) when she estranged herself from her shitty abusive parents, how am I not supposed to love that line? I also love the found family aspect of the song, which talks about how black sheep “are blood, we are family” and “from the streets to the gutters/we’re sisters and brothers.” (Okay, that lyric is a little exorsexist.)

And…okay, yes, some of the lyrics are…Xtian-y. The whole “pray the L-rd my soul to keep” thing…yeah, I could do without that. Although it may be a reference to “Enter Sandman,” which samples…a classic children’s bedtime prayer…sigh. I hate Christonormativity. But I do like most of the lyrics, which find inventive ways to talk about being an outcast (“the rules I broke/helped me build my throne”). The inventiveness is nice because there are so many I’m-an-outcast songs in rock, and some of them are kind of pedestrian. Even though I’m probably still a sucker for them.

I don’t want to ignore the instrumentals, either. The first repetition of the chorus a cappella works really well, and then the guitar, bass, and drums start off with a hell of a bang, and I love it. I particularly like the guitar and bass tones, the bass tone especially. I can actually hear the bass really well in this song, and if you’re reading this, you probably know how much I like a loud, present bass. The guitar line during the bridge is also nice; I like when instrumentals get more complicated during the bridge, and often write my own songs that way.

Okay, okay, I’ve gushed enough about this song. On to the next one.

3) “The Foundations of Decay,” My Chemical Romance

No, this isn’t the official video. I don’t like maggots. BUT I LOVE THIS SONG.

MCR IS BACK! HALLEFUCKINGLUJAH! And there was much emo rejoicing! Okay, okay, I know there’s some controversy over whether or not MCR is technically emo, and I used to be staunchly on the side of “not emo,” but now I can jokingly call MCR emo because I acknowledge I know fuckall about musical genres.

This song. Is so. Well. Crafted. I love how the tension and energy slowly build in the verses, leading in nicely to the chorus, and then the instrumentals drop out near the end of the chorus to set up the verses again without the transition feeling jarring. This is the sound of a band that has been in this for a long-ass time and they know what they’re doing. Especially that massive-sounding guitar chugging and expert drum work during the breakdown. The guitar line during the bridge sounds like it was ripped directly from The Black Parade in the best way. (If you missed Ray Toro’s guitar lines while MCR was gone, you’ll probably like this song.) And then the instruments drop out almost entirely for Gerard to softly sing the last “to lay in the foundations of decay” before coming back in to support Gerard’s scream of “Get up, coward!” This song is six minutes long and keeps your attention the whole time. It’s that good.

This may also be the most inspired set of lyrics Gerard has ever written. MCR has always been amazing at conveying a mood with their music, be it the peppy Crapsaccharine World sound of songs like “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” that use Lyrical Dissonance expertly or how “Welcome to the Black Parade” tells its story with the instrumentals as well as the lyrics. (More on “Welcome to the Black Parade” from 12tone’s excellent video: This song directly refers to the trauma of the 9/11 attacks (“the day the towers fell”), which, if you didn’t know, is the whole reason MCR formed. It’s a beautiful exploration of what aging feels like when you have trauma, and it also touches on Gerard’s struggles with alcoholism, as his relapse contributed to MCR’s breakup. He even discusses what might have happened if he had died by suicide during the height of MCR’s popularity (“and if by his own hand his spirit flies/take his body as a relic to be canonized”). 

By the end of the song, though, you realize it also has a message: “you must fix your heart.” It may comfort you much more to lay (it should be “lie” dammit Gerard) in the foundations of decay, but at the end of the day, that’s cowardly, and you should face your fears and your problems. The scream of “wake up, coward” also reminds me of the scream of “wake up” at the end of “Sleep” on The Black Parade, which makes me happy.

Honestly, I have barely touched all the layered meaning in the lyrics of this song. I could probably write a paper as long as my master’s thesis about all of the meanings in this song’s lyrics. But I have to keep going with this blog entry, so on to number 2.

2) “Aaj,” Bloodywood

Ah, hell yes, Bloodywood. I wrote about them in my most recent entry about how a shitty trashcore band opened for them at the show I saw and they ruined my concert-going experience permanently. Anyway, I think Bloodywood is one of the best new names in metal to come out in the last 10 years, and their debut, Rakshak, is a 10/10 no-skips album for me. Well, okay, I skip “Yaad” because it’s about pet death, and my ESA has terminal cancer, but you get it. As you may have guessed, it was unbelievably hard to pick just one song off of Rakshak to put on this list, especially because “Gaddaar” took the number 3 spot on my favorites list last year. (Honestly, it should have been number 2; I gave Rise Against the number 2 spot because I adore Rise Against, but “Gaddaar” is a better song than “Rules of Play.”)

Helping me choose was the fact that several of my other favorite songs on Rakshak were released as singles earlier than 2022 (specifically, “Jee Veerey,” “Machi Basad,” and “Endurant”). “Aaj” won out because it was the song that helps me drag my sorry ass to work on the days I have to go to the office. I do want to go to work in the mornings, but it’s hard to motivate myself to get my Autistic ass on a bus, especially when I was struggling to learn a new job (I’ve only been at my current job for a year) so I needed a song that would help me battle my brain raccoons in the morning. “Aaj” was that song this year. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog entry, Jayant Bhadula, the singer and screamer for Bloodywood, said in a live performance that that song is about how everyone has “dreams [that are] worth chasing.” The description of the music video for “Aaj” says, “We all have our demons, our reasons to be stuck in a rut of harmful patterns and our fears of trying something new. This track is meant to act as a spark to light a fire within the listener to overcome all of that, it’s about the fearless pursuit of the next level for as long as your heart continues to beat.”

“Aaj” is a very motivational song, and its sound is incredibly uplifting. It does sound a lot like other Bloodywood songs, seamlessly blending Indian classical elements with western metal sounds, but it also has those beautiful treble vocals and even a kickass flute solo. There are even some electronic elements, which are unusual for Bloodywood, but Bloodywood can make basically any combination of disparate sounds work. It’s not Raoul’s best performance—that honor goes to “Dana-Dan,” in which Raoul spits some of the fastest lines I’ve ever heard in metal—but it’s still a damn good one with a lot of passion in it, and some of his lines in “Aaj” are still wicked difficult to rap. Jayant’s vocals are impressive, too, especially his use of his higher range, and he screams some amazing patters too.

I feel like I should say more about the sound of “Aaj,” especially because…well, what am I even doing talking about an Indian folk metal band if I’m not talking about their sound? I guess I’m talking about how their sound is so well-suited to the message of this song. Just from the opening notes, I know exactly what this song is going to be about, and that was enough to get me to face another day in the clusterfuck that was 2022.

Speaking of songs that got me through 2022…

  1. “Father Said” by Red Handed Denial AND “Where Angels Fear to Fly” by Battle Beast (tie)

Remember last year when I said “”Eye of the Storm” is a great Battle Beast song, but Battle Beast has done better, particularly on their 2017 album Bringer of Pain” in my blog entry on my favorite songs of 2021? Well, “Where Angels Fear to Fly” is better. It’s my favorite song Battle Beast has ever released, and it may be one of my favorite power metal songs, period. Like “Aaj,” it helped get me through this year, and I can tell how uplifting it’s going to be from the opening notes. It came out in January, and I knew way back then that it was going to make my favorite songs of 2022 list.

And it’s tied with an intensely depressing song about being abused by a parent.

What did you expect? It’s me writing this list.

I’ll talk about the depressing one first so I can end on a positive note. The album that “Father Said” comes from, I’d Rather Be Asleep, is excellent, and I love every song on it. However, it was very easy for me to pick “Father Said” as my favorite song from that album. Not only is this song that kind of djenty metalcore that I find extremely stimmy, the vocalist of Red Handed Denial, Lauren Babic, is one of my favorite female screamers. (I didn’t know of her work when I wrote my blog entry on my favorite female screamers, so the list has changed.) Lauren’s performance on this song is masterful, demonstrating lots of range and dynamics with both her unclean and clean vocals.

But if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know the real reason this song made #1 on the list is because it’s about being abused by a parent. So, let’s talk about those lyrics. This is the chorus:

“For years I was locked in a cell/Pretending for your sake I was somebody else/Tormented for being myself/I came to terms with life in a personal hell”

I mean…I could have written that, specifically about the way my parents treated me. My mother was the main abuser with my father being an enabler, but still. The accuracy. Same with “My father’s calling me/To tell me I should change/He says it’s best for me/But I don’t feel the same.” Both my parents tried to force me to be the child they ordered instead of the person I actually was. For example, my mother did weird shit like insist that I couldn’t possibly like metal and that I should stop pretending to like it. But both my parents tried to convince me that I wasn’t queer and/or that my life would be easier if I just tried not being queer. I could write an entire blog entry just on all the facets of my identity that my parents tried to abuse out of me.

So when this song comes along, being extremely stimmy with amazing vocals and lyrics that I can relate to because my parents tried to abuse the Autisticness out of me, how was it not going to take the number one spot?

Well…it takes that spot, but it shares it with “Where Angels Fear to Fly.” This is because “Where Angels Fear to Fly,” while not being as relentlessly relatable or as stimmy, is sung by one of my favorite power metal vocalists, and also I could tell I loved it within the first ten seconds. The first four seconds, even. That opening riff with the backing vocals is just the most inspiring sound I’ve heard in a long damn time (don’t tell that to the rabbi who delivered the Rosh Hashanah service I attended in 2022). This song just spoke to me in a way few songs do, both instrumentally and lyrically. I love power metal, and power metal often sounds inspiring to me, but…I’ve been making favorite songs of [year] lists since about 2018, and while power metal songs often make my end-of-year lists, they’re never even in the top 5. In fact, the highest a power metal song has ever ranked on one of my year-end lists was “Killers With the Cross” by Powerwolf, taking the #6 spot in 2018. You see, while I love power metal, its lyrics are often too esoteric or goofy for me to connect to them enough to put a power metal song really high on a favorites-of-[year] list.

Until “Where Angels Fear to Fly.” I love this song’s lyrics so much that I changed one of my potential tattoo designs entirely. For the past…I want to say at least 10 years, I have planned to get a phoenix backpiece with text reading “Stronger than the flames,” which is a Tarja lyric. Now I want the text to read “Like the midnight sun I will be rising,” from the chorus of “Where Angels Fear to Fly,” and instead of a phoenix, I want a midnight sun. (I’ll do something with the design to indicate that it’s a midnight sun. Still figuring that out.) I just love that chorus so much. It manages to be inspiring and uplifting without being painfully cheesy or unoriginal. Speaking as a songwriter, that’s hard to do. I especially like the twist the song puts on the tired “darkest before the dawn” idea (name-dropped in the pre-chorus). Also, that mention of the glass ceiling in the bridge…does that make this a feminist anthem? I’m going to say yes. 

This song is the Platonic ideal of an amazing power metal song to me. The vocals are tremendous, which…of course they are; it’s Noora fucking Louhimo, but I feel like she especially kills it on the bridge, and during that last triumphant “where angels fear to flyyyy” that ends the song. I also have a huge weakness for songs that use the melody of the vocal line as the melody in the guitar part too, and not only does this song do that, there’s a kickass guitar solo. If you’re reading this, you probably know how I feel about kickass guitar solos. This song also has some really cool parts to it, like the Nightwish-esque backing vocals in the verses and that little cymbal hit right before the chorus hits. There is nothing about this song that I dislike or think doesn’t work. It’s just an exceptionally well-crafted song, and it got me through this year.

And that’s the list! I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you had a better 2022 than I did.

Eternal thanks to my wonderful Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, and Max! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them (and you’ll also get perks like seeing blog entries two days early and being able to vote in polls on my next entry topics).

The tl;dr of the list:

  1. “Father Said” by Red Handed Denial AND “Where Angels Fear to Fly” by Battle Beast (tie)
  1. “Aaj,” Bloodywood
  2. “The Foundations of Decay,” My Chemical Romance
  3. “Black Sheep,” Dorothy
  4. “MONEY,” The Warning
  5. “Rotoscope,” Spiritbox
  6. “Weapon,” Stick to Your Guns
  7. “Soul Revolution,” Fire From the Gods
  8. “Riptide,” Beartooth
  9. “Bull,” Enter Shikari featuring Cody Frost
  10. “VICTORY OR DEATH (WE GAVE ‘EM HELL),” Anti-Flag feat. Campino
  11. “the kids aren’t alright,” Pinkshift
  12. “Blood Red Ink,” The Prize
  13. “Angel of the Lake,” Mute Prophet
  14. “This Hell,” Rina Sawayama

Well, That Sucked: Reflections on Seeing One of My Favorite Bands Live

CW: suicide, sick pet

There’s nothing like live music. At a good live performance, the music feels more intense, energetic, and emotive than it does on an album. Nobody will ever convince me that this is not an objective fact. (I don’t say that because the music at a Rosh Hashanah service was part of what convinced me to convert to Judaism! No! Why would you think that? *sweats*)

For me, the axiom of “there’s nothing like live music” means that my rocker, metalhead, punk-ass self has had some life-changing and life-affirming experiences at rock concerts. Remember that Breaking Benjamin concert I went to in grad school that convinced me to stay alive? Yeah. (For those of you who are new to this blog, I was heinously depressed in grad school when I found out that Breaking Benjamin, a band I liked, was playing within walking distance of me. I had never been the biggest fan of Breaking Benjamin, but I bought a ticket anyway because I wanted something to do that wasn’t studying or thinking about suicide. My experience at the show, especially singing “I Will Not Bow” with the crowd, was moving enough that I realized that I wanted to keep living. I love live rock music THAT MUCH. I wrote about that here:

So it may surprise you to know that I have sworn off going to rock concerts permanently.

Last night, I saw Bloodywood, one of my favorite bands—a band I’ve praised many times on this blog, for that matter—live on their Nine Inch Naans tour. They were incredible. Their rapper, Raoul Kerr, was too sick to perform (not COVID), but their singer and screamer Jayant Bhadula carried off the show like a true professional. Every musician on the stage played with impressive skill and passion for what they were doing. Jayant was equal parts funny (“You know it’s hot when the guy from India says it’s hot”) and serious (“this song is about fighting the ghosts of depression”), speaking frankly about weighty topics like sexual assault, mental illness, and that everyone in the audience had “dreams [that are] worth chasing.” They played songs that seamlessly blended Indian folk elements with Western metal. Their lyrics lambasted classism, corrupt politicians, nationalism, right-wing propaganda, and patriarchy. The crowd was super into it, forming pits and walls of death, and singing along in English and even in some of the Hindi parts. Right before their song “Machi Basad,” I yelled the English translation of that song’s name, “Expect a Riot,” and Jayant heard me and screamed “EXPECT A RIOT,” which was a really cool moment. I also bought a tour T-shirt that has the greatest art I’ve ever seen on a band shirt.

But I couldn’t really enjoy it.



The opening band—who wasn’t on the roster, and the venue had said fuckall about that band performing that night, so I totally didn’t expect its presence—was called A Killer’s Confession. They were fronted by Waylon Reavis (formerly of Mushroomhead), who was wearing some kind of makeup that made him look like a mime who hadn’t finished getting ready that morning. (None of the other band members were wearing makeup.) Waylon is a skilled vocalist who was good at engaging the crowd…but he used that voice to scream “fuck your feelings” and yell at the audience “If you were offended by that last song, fuck you.” He then went on the most privileged rant I’ve heard in a while, yammering about how his band didn’t “give two fucks” and he wasn’t “on anyone’s side but [his] own”. Granted, my auditory processing disorder is so bad that I couldn’t make out the “fuck your feelings” lyric (or maybe Waylon’s diction just sucked…also a likely possibility), but still. What a dick.

The music wasn’t anything to write home about either. Their sound was really typical metalcore, just more samey-ness in a genre that is dying for some innovation. Even the one guitar solo I heard was meh. The best song they performed was a halfway competent Sepultura cover. Both the music and the attitude gave me very Attila/Emmure/King 810 vibes (although Waylon Reavis probably wishes he were as controversial as King 810’s David Gunn, who was at the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C.).

When Waylon thanked the crowd for cheering so much for his band—especially when he asked people to cheer if they agreed with his “fuck everyone but me” philosophy—he said “You guys are too nice. If I were you, I’d be like ‘get the fuck off the stage.’”


I wasn’t offended. I was demoralized. What the fuck kind of attitude was that to have? What kind of attitude is that to be spreading in 2022? Also, as much as I told myself that the crowd was cheering for Waylon’s bullshit out of politeness (or because they couldn’t understand what he was saying), my wife had an excellent point: Waylon was probably speaking for a lot of people in the crowd, which was why so many other people were unmasked. (Another concertgoer even said she had chosen to stand near me and my wife because we were both in KN95s, and we were some of the only people wearing masks.)

It jolted me out of the spell that live music usually puts on me. I had come to a concert expecting to hear songs about finding inner strength in the face of suicidal ideation (“Jee Veerey”) and standing up for social justice (“Gaddaar”) and this was what I was getting?

Why, pray tell, the unholy purple deep-fried flustered fuck were these puerile edgelords opening for Bloodywood? You know, Bloodywood! The band that has anti-bullying (“Endurant”) and anti-oppression (“Machi Basad”) music videos? The band that wrote the lyric “Fuck every man for himself, it’s every man for every man and everybody else” (“Dana-Dan”)?

Think about that for a second.

Bloodywood: “Fuck every man for himself, it’s every man for every man and everybody else!”

A Killer’s Confession: “I’m not on anyone’s side but my own!” (My wife noted this: did Waylon intentionally or subconsciously choose his words based on that Bloodywood lyric?)

Can you see why I was a bit thrown by A Killer’s Confession opening for Bloodywood?

Can you see why I, a multiply Disabled woman, was demoralized by a dipshit encouraging a crowd of mostly unmasked people to only care about themselves? It dragged me kicking and screaming into remembering how selfish ableds who want to get things “back to normal” are a huge part of why COVID isn’t over (despite Waylon making a comment about us being in a “post-COVID [era]” when telling us to open up a pit).

Can you see why this was distressing to experience during an experience I hoped to be life-affirming? I mean, I bet Waylon is the kind of person who unironically tells people “KYS” on Twitter.

So yeah, no more rock concerts. Because a mediocre trashcore band that wasn’t even on the damn ticket might show up and make me remember how the world is on fire and wants my Disabled ass dead.

See what I did there? I talked about ableism not on my disability justice blog, but on my music blog? Hey, this blog is called Rock, Roll, ‘n’ Stim. You had to know some disability stuff was going to show up.

Anyway, thanks for reading. If you’ve gotten this far, please stay a little longer to read that my ESA, my cat B’Elanna, has terminal cancer. (Her regular vet thought she was coughing because of her diaphragmatic hernia, but no—there are tumors in her lungs.) She saw the oncologist today (she’s doing well, thank HaShem) and it was expensive and I could really use some financial help. My PayPal is and my Venmo is ARZinzani.

Favorite Bassists

CW: drugs (cannabis)

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to my blog entry on my favorite bassists. Now, if you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know I love a good bassline. What you may not know is that I actually prefer writing music with complex basslines and simple lead guitar work to music with complex lead work and simple basslines (speaking of which, I am still working on Escape, I promise). I also love listening to music like that. So I felt it only made sense to write an entry on my favorite musicians who play those awesome basslines. As such, I let my Patreon supporters choose between this topic and a few others.

This entry was scored a little differently than most of my others. Yes, I scored the bassists based on an average of attributes, but I used a weighted mean. I graded the bassists on this list on how much I like their basslines, the presence of the bass in the mix (and my resulting ability to hear it), and the consistency with which the bassists produce basslines I like. But I weighted how much I like the basslines twice what I weighted the other attributes because it’s by far the most important attribute. Note: I’m generally pretty pants at hearing the bass in a song without the bass boost on in the EQ, and I wasn’t able to figure out how to use that feature on Spotify. I can generally only hear bass as well as most people when I’m high on THC. I’m not really sure if this is because of my auditory processing disorder or what, but please note that the “presence” scores may have to be taken with a grain of salt.

A few more things: I will only be including living bassists on this list. May Lemmy Kilmeister’s memory be a blessing, but I will not be talking about him in this blog entry. Also, I will only include bassists who are in bands that I enjoy/listen to. For example, Flea is a tremendously talented bassist, but I just don’t care for Red Hot Chili Peppers or Antemasque (or any of the other various projects he’s contributed to, really). And I know that Les Claypool is the G-d Emperor of the bass guitar, especially in metal, but I just don’t much like Primus (or Electric Apricot or The Claypool Lennon Delirium).

That said, onward!

10) Linh Le (Bad Cop/Bad Cop)

For those who are new here, Bad Cop/Bad Cop is an all-female feminist, leftist punk band, and I love the shit out of them. I’ll be real here, though: I have a hell of a time hearing the bass on Bad Cop/Bad Cop songs. It’s almost weird that I love Bad Cop/Bad Cop so much considering I have to be extremely blazed to hear Linh Le’s basslines. I guess their lyrics, vocal harmonies, and guitar lines are that good? That would make sense; they’re a kickass band. In fact, I saw them on tour a few years back, and they knocked my fucking socks off. 

One of the things that knocked my fucking socks off was how talented Linh Le is. I remember hearing her warm up on stage prior to the band’s first song and literally taking a step backward at how cool the lick she played was. I also had a pretty good view of her and could actually see her playing, and it looked like her fingers were coated in butter, the way she played so quickly and fluidly. And it seemed like pretty much every song had some interesting bass in it, too. Even when her basslines were more simplistic, she could play really damn fast. From what I can tell from listening to Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s albums on Spotify, my impressions were right. Linh is a very consistent and talented bassist. And, while I didn’t grade her with this in mind, she often pulled these basslines off perfectly while singing!

Am I basing my ratings of Linh’s attributes as a bassist at least partially on one concert, and not what I can hear on the albums? 

…yes. Okay, yes.

Is that fair, seeing as I haven’t seen any of the other bassists on this list in concert?

No, but I do what I want. And I say Linh Le is number 10 on this list. If you want proof that her basslines are fun and often fast as hell, listen to “Rip You to Shreds,” “Warriors,” “Retrograde,” and “Breastless,” especially if you can find live performances of those songs on YouTube.

Basslines: 7
Presence: 3
Consistency: 10
Total: 6.75

9) Mikey Way (My Chemical Romance)

I know that MCR is not a band typically known for their expert bass playing, but bear with me here. Maybe Mikey’s line work in verses tends to be a little basic, but come on, there’s no denying that attention-grabbing intro to “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid.” Mikey also tends to shine on instrumental breaks; for example, that driving bassline in the break before the last chorus of “The Sharpest Lives.” There’s also that fun, catchy line in the instrumental break before the last two choruses of “Teenagers.” Oooh, and there’s a great bass lick near the end of “The Only Hope for Me Is You,” one of my favorite MCR songs. It’s not just intros and instrumental breaks that Mikey can play nicely, though; I just fucking love that bouncy bassline on “Kill All Your Friends.” Even when Mikey’s bass work isn’t all that complex, it’s very effective; see (hear?) the bassline in “Planetary (GO!).”

But…I have a hard time hearing the bass on MCR’s albums. Yeah, that could be my fault, or it could be the mixing. It’s hard to tell. But usually when I’m high on THC, I can hear basslines way better, and that doesn’t happen for me with MCR. Is that my auditory processing disorder? Maybe, but regardless, I can’t give Mikey a high score for presence. But he does have kickass basslines on every one of MCR’s albums, even their first one—ever listened to the bass on “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”? It’s nice—so he gets a high score for consistency.

Basslines: 7.5
Presence: 5
Consistency: 9
Total: 7.25

8) Paolo Gregoletto (Trivium)

Ah, Trivium. So, full disclosure: I didn’t really pay attention to Trivium’s basslines until their most recent album when Paolo Gregoletto’s bass work was prominently featured in the single “Feast of Fire.” Because of that, I may not be giving him his due. After I heard “Feast of Fire,” I went back and listened to a bunch of my favorite Trivium albums while trying to listen for the bass, and I really liked Paolo’s basslines…stop me if you know where I’m going with this…when I could hear them. Maybe I have trouble hearing the bass when bands have two guitarists because there’s so much guitar going on, and (again) the auditory processing disorder acts up? But most of the time—even while I’m high, in fact—I have trouble picking out Paolo’s basslines.

But when I can?


One thing I really appreciate about Paolo’s work is his bass guitar tone. It’s so heavy and hard-hitting, perfect for Trivium’s music. Also, I like how catchy and ear-pleasing Trivium’s guitar lines are, especially for metal, and the same is true about the basslines. I get “Feast of Fire” stuck in my head with relative frequency because of that bassline. From the same album, In the Court of the Dragon, “The Phalanx” also has some really driving, impressively complex bass in it too. It’s not just those two songs, either, or just songs from that album; the song that got me into Trivium, “Silence in the Snow” from the album of the same name, also has a bassline I really enjoy. I remember first hearing that song and loving the way the bass growled along through the verses when the guitars weren’t playing. “Thrown Into the Fire” (from The Sin and the Sentence, possibly my favorite Trivium album) also has a pretty badass bassline, especially that intro. I love when the bass gets to shine early on in a song.

You may have noticed that I’ve already mentioned three different albums. I’m not the hugest Trivium listener ever, but it seems to me that Paolo consistently shows up to kick ass on every album, so he gets a high score for consistency. I can’t wait to hear what he does on Trivium’s next album. I just hope the bass is a little more prominent in the mix on that album.

Basslines: 8
Presence: 4.5
Consistency: 10
Total: 7.625

7) Jonathan Gallant (Billy Talent)

Unlike with some of the other bassists on this list, it actually didn’t take me an embarrassingly long time to realize how much I like the basslines in Billy Talent songs. It was actually the bassline for “Rusted From the Rain” that made me realize how much I liked Jonathan Gallant’s bass work; that song came out in 2009. I started listening to Billy Talent in 2008 when they opened for My Chemical Romance. My ex-father, who already resented bringing me and my sister to see MCR (he called MCR “ranty,” and to this day I don’t know what he meant by that), refused to bring us to the concert in time to see the opening act. I figured that since they opened for MCR, they must be pretty great, so I checked them out on iTunes and fell in love.

Jonathan’s basslines are often very melodic. What I liked about the bassline for “Rusted From the Rain” was that it followed the vocal melody so closely, and also that it’s a damn catchy melody. Sometimes Jonathan’s basslines directly follow the guitar melody, like in the verses of “Definition of Destiny,” another Billy Talent song with bass work that I love. I’m also a sucker for complex basslines, like the one Jonathan plays during “Devil in a Midnight Mass.” (Seriously, if you have a moment, look up bass covers of that song on YouTube. WHEW.) And then there’s my weakness for when all of the other instruments drop out, letting the bass shine, during an intro or a bridge, and that happens in the song I linked above, “Devil on My Shoulder.”

And hey, this is the first entry on the list for which I can actually say I can hear the bass in the mix without the aid of drugs! Yay! It’s not always super prominent, but it only took me a year to realize I really loved Jonathan’s bass work, as opposed to…I want to say 16 years to realize I really loved Mikey Way’s bass work. (Yes, really.) I can also say that I find Jonathan’s work very consistent; his basslines always do a great job serving as the backbones of Billy Talent songs. Even if they’re not always as complex or rapid-fire as they are in “Devil in a Midnight Mass,” they’re solid.

Basslines: 8
Presence: 6
Consistency: 9
Total: 7.75

6) Hunter Burgan (AFI)

Is it weird to call Hunter’s basslines “bouncy”? Because I feel like “bouncy” is a good word to describe his bass work, especially on more up-tempo tracks like “Miss Murder.” Even on slower AFI songs like “The Great Disappointment” and “Endlessly, She Said,” Hunter’s basslines are always interesting, sometimes rhythmically if not melodically. And sometimes they’re just blisteringly, impressively fast, like on “Sacrifice Theory.” 

I especially like it when Hunter’s bass carries the song forward while the other instruments (or at least the guitar) take a backseat, like the intro to “Death of Seasons,” or during the verses of “Days of the Phoenix” and “Totalimmortal.” Yep, even “Totalimmortal,” which is a song from 1999. Hunter has been kicking ass on the bass for a long time. Oh, and it’s also really cool when AFI songs have little interludes where the bass can shine, like between the first chorus and second verse of “Kiss and Control;” I love the bass lick there. 

What I’m not a fan of is when Hunter’s bass is buried in the mix. I mean, AFI’s last two albums were mixed like ASS. Sorry, Jade, but I don’t like your production work on AFI records. Even on some of the older AFI albums, I sometimes have trouble hearing Hunter’s bass. “Girl’s Not Grey,” for example, has an excellent bassline, but I can’t hear the damn thing. “The Killing Lights” also has a nice, catchy, bouncy (that word again…) bassline, but again, it’s really hard to pick out. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen all that often when you look at the broad scope of AFI’s extensive discography. Speaking of that extensive discography, I’ll be honest and say I don’t listen to all of it—I’m not really a fan of pre-1999 AFI or post-2013 AFI—but on the albums I do listen to, Hunter is there kicking ass with impressive consistency.

If only AFI didn’t suck now.

Basslines: 8.5
Presence: 7
Consistency: 8.5
Total: 7.875

5) Mike Dirnt (Green Day)

Okay, here’s the thing with Mike Dirnt for me: he has written some of my favorite basslines, period. “Longview.” “Welcome to Paradise.” “86.” “Stuck With Me.” “Castaway.” “Minority.” He writes some of the most bouncy, catchy, melodic, interesting basslines I’ve heard. He is capable of going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to providing the backbones of Green Day songs. I don’t think anyone who knows the first thing about bass (or even if you know fuckall about bass, like me) would try to dispute the fact that Mike Dirnt has chops for days.

But with some exceptions (“Dirty Rotten Bastards,” for example…which is a song I don’t even like, in part because Billie Joe uses the r-slur), Mike Dirnt’s bass work is just not nearly as interesting or complex as I know he can pull off from 21st Century Breakdown onward. Hell, even their 2004 album, which I adore (except for the ableist title and the r-slur in “Jesus of Suburbia”) isn’t Mike’s best showing. Okay, fine, that “Holiday” bassline does a really nice job supporting the song, but I can’t think of any other basslines from that album that stick out to me unless you count “Governator,” which is a bonus track.

So yeah, Mike Dirnt is immensely talented, and I really appreciate that Green Day’s albums are usually mixed so the bass is nice and present. But dude has been slacking recently.

Basslines: 9
Presence: 10
Consistency: 4
Total: 8

4) Emma Anzai (Sick Puppies, Evanescence)

Except for Linh Le, this list has been a little bit of a dudefest so far, yeah? How about we get some more women on here? 

Maybe it’s because I generally like Sick Puppies’ sound more than I like the sound of older Green Day, but I tend to like Emma’s basslines even more than I like some of Mike Dirnt’s. Yes, really. The bassline for “Longview” is delightful, but when push comes to shove, I’d rather listen to the bassline to “Anywhere But Here” or “The Bottom.” I’d even rather listen to the bassline on “Riptide,” although I hate the lyrics to that song (anti-vaxxers can fuck off). 

I also love the tone on her bass. It’s so punchy and heavy. It hits like a truck, especially in the intro to “Cancer.” It’s very appropriate for the music Sick Puppies makes, though, especially on songs like “You’re Going Down.” I can’t wait to hear how Emma fits in with Evanescence; Jen Majura, Evanescence’s guitarist, recently parted ways with the band, and their bassist, Tim McCord, is switching roles to become guitarist and Emma Anzai has joined as the bassist. Seeing as I LOVE Evanescence and Emma made number four on this list, I’m excited to hear whatever music Evanescence makes next.

You know what else I really like about Emma’s bass work? I CAN HEAR IT. Maybe it’s because Sick Puppies has only one guitarist, but so does AFI, and I can’t always hear Hunter’s bass. In any case, I love how present Emma’s basslines are in the mix on Sick Puppies’ albums. Well, I like that on Dressed Up as Life and Tri-Polar, anyway. I have no use for Welcome to the Real World, Connect, or especially Fury. (Maybe I should give Fury another shot, since when it came out, it was the band’s first album without Shim and my Autistic ass was all “They changed it, now it sucks!” despite the sick basslines on “Earth to You” and “Beautiful Chaos.”) In any case, Emma kicks ass.

Basslines: 9
Presence: 8.5
Consistency: 9
Total: 8.825

3) Alejandra “Ale” Villarreal (The Warning)

Alejandra Villarreal, more commonly known as “Ale,” has been a badass from a very young age. I first encountered The Warning, a Mexican band consisting of three sisters, when a friend showed me a video of them covering “We’re Not Gonna Take It”…eight years ago. Not long afterward, The Warning covered “Enter Sandman” and went viral after receiving praise from Metallica. 

Fast forward to this year, when I’m listening to The Metallica Blacklist, hear The Warning’s updated cover of “Enter Sandman,” and decide to look them up only to find that they’ve just dropped their single “MONEY.” I samesonged that and listened to their 2021 EP Mayday and their 2018 album Queen of the Murder Scene with borderline embarrassing frequency until their 2022 album, ERROR, dropped.

And one of the things I love about The Warning is how well I can hear all of the instruments clearly in the mix, because all three Villarreal sisters are amazingly talented, and I love being able to hear Ale’s skillful, interesting basslines. From the nifty riffs on “CHOKE” to the steady but driving line on “ANIMOSITY” to the rock solid, catchy as fuck groove of “MONEY,” Ale has serious chops. I can honestly say that there isn’t a single bassline on ERROR that I don’t love, even on songs like “KOOL-AID KIDS,” where the bassline is more functional than intriguing. This is partly because Ale always finds a few moments to shine; there are fantastic bass licks before the second verse and in the bridge of “EVOLVE,” for instance. And even on “KOOL-AID KIDS,” the bassline really helps set the ominous mood of the song. I have to say I really prefer The Warning’s more bass-driven songs like “Z” and “DISCIPLE,” but Ale kicks ass on every The Warning song I’ve heard.

Basslines: 9
Presence: 9
Consistency: 10
Total: 9.25

2) Misa (BAND-MAID)

Maybe Misa shouldn’t be this high on the list, seeing as I don’t listen to BAND-MAID as extensively as some of the other bands on here. I love the album World Domination and I like Just Bring It, but their two albums after World Domination, The Conqueror and Unseen World, don’t hit me quite as hard. The Conqueror was overall softer than I like to hear from BAND-MAID, and Unseen World…okay, maybe I should have given Unseen World more of a chance. I only listened to it a couple times to see if any songs from it would make my end-of-year list, and none did (although in retrospect, “Warning!” could have been an honorable mention).

But in any case, Misa’s basslines—with the caveat that I’m discussing Misa’s basslines on World Domination, Just Bring It, and Unseen World (which I listened to more as research for this entry)—are consistently BADASS. You may notice that I gave Misa a 10 for her basslines—the first 10 on the list for basslines—and I stand by that. Hell, the bass parts for “I can’t live without you.” and “No God” alone make me think that Misa’s basslines are 10-worthy

Something I haven’t talked about much (enough?) in this blog entry is tone. Like I said, I know fuckall about the bass, but I do know that Misa’s bass tone is extremely pleasing to my ear. It’s so thick and heavy and punchy. It perfectly complements how driving and solid yet catchy her basslines are. Her tone might be part of the reason I love Misa’s basslines so much. I also found out she uses a custom bass that has five strings. I don’t know enough about bass to comment on why that influences how much I like her work, but hey, it’s cool.

What else, what else…I don’t think I’ve listed enough songs on which Misa kicks ass in this section, but that’s hard because she seems to kick ass with great frequency. And I can actually hear her bass pretty damn well in BAND-MAID songs, so it’s hard to narrow down which of her basslines are my favorite. Let’s see…well, “Dice,” which I linked above, has an unbelievably badass bassline, and so does their latest single, “Sense.” Even some BAND-MAID songs that I don’t often listen to, like “Real Existence” (from their 2015 album New Beginning) have bass work that I love. “Real Existence” has some really cool bass solo sections; I love me some bass solos. My favorite BAND-MAID song, “Fate,” also has some delightful bass licks in moments where the guitar drops out.

*Overly Sarcastic Productions voice* So yeah. Misa kicks ass. 

Basslines: 10
Presence: 8
Consistency: 9
Total: 9.25

1) Chris #2 (Anti-Flag)

Listen to the bass in the song I linked. Holy shit, right??

I’m just in awe of how technical Chris #2’s basslines are. He plays in a straightforward punk band. He could get away with playing a bunch of root notes and fifths, maybe the occasional melody. But no, he plays these ridiculous complicated lines, and not slowly, either. You may notice that he and Misa are the only 10s I gave to basslines. I think it was the bassline of “Anthem for a New Millennium Generation” that earned Chris’s 10 for me. Well, and “No Future.” And “This Is the New Sound.” Oh, and “On Independence Day,” that one’s super fun and impressive. Okay, fine, there are myriad basslines of Chris’s that I think warrant that 10 rating.

Chris is also a very consistent bassist. He always shows up to turn out some badass bass work. Even on Anti-Flag’s latest album, there are basslines I adore, like the ones on “Hate Conquers All,” “It Went Off Like a Bomb,” and “Concrete Breeds Apathy.” His bass is also nicely present on Anti-Flag’s records. Even when the other instruments are going full blast, I can pick out the bass…even when I’m sober. 

Honestly, it was really hard to choose between Misa and Chris #2 for the number one spot. If not for the fact that I can hear Chris’s bass super well on Anti-Flag’s work, they might have been tied. And honestly, they’re both immensely talented. But I am slightly more comfortable giving Chris the number one spot (although it would have been hilarious if Chris #2 got the #2 spot) because I have been listening to Anti-Flag for much longer than I have been BAND-MAID, and I listen to Anti-Flag much more frequently than I listen to BAND-MAID because, well, Anti-Flag is one of my all-time favorite bands. And Anti-Flag wouldn’t be so high on my list of favorite bands without Chris’s amazing bass. These lists are only my opinion, but I think Chris deserves the top spot here.

Basslines: 10
Presence: 9
Consistency: 9
Total: 9.5

So that was the list! And it comes with an announcement: after July, I am closing down my Patreon. I am stretched too thin trying to maintain three blogs and make original music at the pace I have to for Patreon, especially while also trying to draft an original novel. I will still be blogging and creating Escape, and anyone who has supported me on Patreon will still get Escape for free.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me. Please make sure you cancel your pledges ASAP so you don’t get charged for August ❤

  1. Chris #2 (Anti-Flag) (9.5)
  2. Misa (BAND-MAID) (9.25)
  3. Alejandra “Ale” Villareal (The Warning) (9.25)
  4. Emma Anzai (Sick Puppies, Evanescence) (8.825)
  5. Mike Dirnt (Green Day) 8
  6. Hunter Burgan (AFI) (7.875)
  7. Jonathan Gallant (Billy Talent) (7.75)
  8. Paolo Gregoletto (Trivium) (7.625)
  9. Mikey Way (My Chemical Romance) (7.25)
  10. Linh Le (Bad Cop/Bad Cop) (6.75)

Favorite EPs

Content/trigger warning: murder mention, suicide mention, addiction mention

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a topic I’ve been hoping to discuss for a while: my favorite EPs. I’m usually an album listener, but a lot of bands drop EPs before their first albums or release EPs when they want to release something but don’t have enough material for an LP. Sometimes bands release EPs as teasers for albums and then just put all the songs from the EP on the album, which…I’m not fond of, if I’m honest. That sort of EP will not end up on this list. Actually, here is a list of rules for this list:

  1. No EPs that are comprised entirely or almost entirely of songs that later ended up on an album
  2. No EPs that are comprised entirely or mostly of covers
  3. No live EPs
  4. B-sides are allowed (what? I like B-sides)
  5. In the case of a tie, the EP with the higher lyrics score takes the higher spot

I have also returned to ranking things with math, which I haven’t been doing much recently. I will be rating each EP on vocals, lyrics, instrumentation/sound, and overall enjoyment, and I use the arithmetic mean of those scores to sort the list. With that said, onward!

10) The L.I.F.E. Project, The L.I.F.E. Project

Those who read my favorite songs of 2021 blog entry may remember that a song by The L.I.F.E. Project, “A World on Fire,” made it onto that list as an honorable mention. What was it that I said? Oh yeah, “The L.I.F.E. Project is a band spearheaded by Stone Sour guitarist Josh Rand and featuring Paralandra singer and guitarist Casandra Carson. Stone Sour-esque heavy, melodic, driving guitar riffs and a badass female vocalist? Yes please, inject that shit straight into my veins.” And the EP from which “A World on Fire” came was a debut. I’m always hella impressed when a debut is solid. I know and love so many bands whose debuts were, uh…rough, let’s say. 

Is The L.I.F.E. Project staggeringly great or anything? No, not really. It’s in the same realm as Halestorm or Cilver; female-fronted rock bands with tremendous talent and potential but the execution never rises above good. (Although I think, with the exception of a few Halestorm songs, Cilver has lived up to their potential better than Halestorm has. I said what I said.) But it is good. Very good, even. And, yes, it’s total Amaranthe bait, but still, I look forward to more original material from this band. In the meantime, those riffs on “Ignite” and “The Nothingness” are still killer and I am jealous of Casandra Carson’s timbre.

Vocals: 7.5
Lyrics: 6
Instrumentation/Sound: 7.5
Overall Enjoyment: 8
Overall Score: 7.25

9) Made an America, FEVER 333

Oh, hey, another band whose music has made it onto a favorite songs of [year] list! FEVER 333’s song “Supremacy,” from their EP WRONG GENERATION, made it onto my favorite songs of 2020 list. I also mentioned FEVER 333’s debut LP, STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS, in my entry on recent awesome debut albums. However, I’m not going to talk about WRONG GENERATION or STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS today. No, I’m going to talk about FEVER 333’s debut EP, Made an America.

Now, for those who are unfamiliar, the frontman of FEVER 333, Jason Aalon Butler, is not only one of my favorite vocalists who performs multiple types of vocals, but he used to front a metalcore band called letlive. And I was a huge letlive. fan. I wasn’t as devastated when letlive. disbanded as I was when, say, MCR broke up, but I was still disappointed, especially since the band seemed to be really finding themselves on their final album. So when Jason Aalon Butler came out with a new project that was very different from letlive., it already had an uphill battle getting me to like it. I was afraid that it was going to be a case of It’s Different, So Now It Sucks (a thing that my Autistic ass is very prone to thinking; I have a hell of a time dealing with change).

Fortunately, FEVER 333 blew my expectations out of the water. No, it wasn’t letlive., but it wasn’t trying to be letlive. It was something different enough that I was able to see it not as a change, but as an entirely new entity (which was the idea, I know, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see it that way). I’ve liked hearing rapped, sung, and screamed vocals over rock-esque instrumentation ever since my 13-year-old ass decided she loved Linkin Park, and FEVER 333 did a damn good job at that. But what impressed me the most about FEVER 333 was their lyrics. Fiery AND eloquent condemnations of injustices in the US? Absofuckinglutely, yes please! I think “We are the melanin felons/We are the product of/Plunder and policy that you gotta love/Casinos, amigos on forty acres, uh/They built this shit on our backs/Made an America” is particularly brilliant, and that’s literally the first verse of the first song. Talk about starting off with a bang. And the lyrics remained that incredible throughout the EP. Seriously, if you’re a leftist and a lyrics fiend, check out Made an America.

Vocals: 8
Lyrics: 10
Instrumentation/Sound: 7
Overall Enjoyment: 7.5
Overall Score: 7.875

8) Alpha//Survivor, Drown This City

All right, Drown This City. Number six on my favorite non-US bands list and fronted by number eight on my favorite female screamers list. Also, one of the only bands I really love from Australia since Shim left Sick Puppies and I found out what a dick the lead singer of The Smith Street Band is. Alpha//Survivor is Drown This City’s second EP, released in 2019, three years after their first EP, False Idols. It was False Idols that first put Alex Reade and her scream on my radar, but Alpha//Survivor really exemplifies everything I love about Drown This City: Alex’s fearsome growl—she can both false cord and fry scream, which is just impressive as hell—and her cleans that were vastly improved since False Idols, guitars that are both stimmy and heavy, and more than serviceable lyrics. I don’t think I’ve given Drown This City enough credit for their lyrics in the past, actually; they’re often about trauma, depression, and recovery, which I can naturally appreciate.

Drown This City really doubled down on those lyrical themes with their 2021 EP, Colours We Don’t Know, but…yeah, I wasn’t nearly as big a fan of that EP as I was Alpha//Survivor or even False Idols. Why?


The bassist, Toby Thomas, screams now, and Alex’s vocals are all clean. They did this with no explanation, too! I actually prefer Alex’s scream to Toby’s, and it’s not like Alex suddenly lost her ability to scream or even decided she didn’t want to scream anymore (as far as I know). I’m still going to continue supporting Drown This City in their future endeavors, but I have a feeling that unless they bring Alex’s screams back, Alpha//Survivor is going to be my favorite record that Drown This City ever releases. So I will just continue to still blast “Stay Broken” and “In Your Image” in 2022 even though Alpha//Survivor is three years old now and I mostly listen to newer music. It’s that good.

Vocals: 9
Lyrics: 7
Instrumentation/Sound: 9
Overall Enjoyment: 8
Overall Score: 8.25

7) A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crime, Anti-Flag

The chick with the Anti-Flag tattoo just had to get Anti-Flag on this list, didn’t she? Well, it’s a damn good EP. I’m especially obsessed with the bassline and the guitar solo on “Anthem for the New Millennium Generation,” which is seriously one of my favorite songs Anti-Flag has created. The basslines on this EP are particularly tasty, really, even though Chris #2 is consistently a great bassist. The lyrics are razor-sharp societal commentary as always—especially the line in which George W. Bush is encouraged to off himself if he wants to end terrorism—and the songs are hard-hitting while still being catchy and accessible in sound. I also love the fact that the EP was recorded as, well, a benefit for victims of violent crime, and that the band was able to create something positive in light of a tragedy. (For those who don’t know, bassist Chris #2’s sister and her boyfriend were murdered, and this EP was the band’s response.) It’s straightforward punk without any frills, but it’s some of the best fucking straightforward punk without any frills I’ve ever heard.

And it’s only number 7 on this list because I LOVE Anti-Flag, but at the end of the day, I’m still a choir geek. Punk isn’t about round vowels and crisp consonants and pretty timbres and all that shit, and Justin Sane’s vocals suit the style of music well, but I just don’t think the dude has a great voice. I tolerate it when he yells instead of sings, but I don’t love it, and I’m not the biggest fan of his timbre when he sings. Still, A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crime is one of Anti-Flag’s strongest offerings.

(Yes, there are live recordings on this EP and I said live EPs weren’t eligible for this list. Enough of the songs on this EP were original studio recordings that I decided it counted. Also, it’s my list and I do what I want.)

Vocals: 6.5
Lyrics: 10
Instrumentation/Sound: 9
Overall Enjoyment: 8
Overall Score: 8.375

6) All Hallow’s EP, AFI

Long-time readers of this blog will know that AFI’s The Art of Drowning was my introduction to the band. What I haven’t talked about is that after I decided I liked The Art of Drowning and the friend who gave me that album told me that AFI’s older stuff was better, I went searching on YouTube (and, okay, Limewire…fuck that was a long time ago) for more old-school AFI. I first found the music video for “He Who Laughs Last…” on YouTube, and it was a little too rough around the edges for me, but then I found the music video for “Totalimmortal,” and I immediately loved it and Limewire’d the rest of All Hallow’s EP. 

To this day, all four songs on that EP are on my Halloween playlist. When I have an AFI listening marathon in chronological order (what? I do that, and yes, it’s probably an Autistic thing, similar to samesonging), I start with Black Sails in the Sunset, because I’m not a fan of pre-Jade Puget AFI, but after Black Sails comes All Hallow’s EP. Sometimes I even eschew chronological order and listen to All Hallow’s EP first, because horrorpunk AFI is my favorite AFI, and while Black Sails was definitely the start of that era, I feel like All Hallow’s EP was the first release on which they perfected that sound. Also, I’m not sure how Davey pulled this off, because Black Sails and All Hallow’s EP came out the same damn year, but Davey’s timbre sounds a lot less whiny to me—a severe problem I have with pre-1999 AFI—on All Hallow’s EP than it does on Black Sails.

“Totalimmortal” may be short, but it crams more surprisingly poetic words into a couple of minutes than some five-minute songs, “Halloween” drapes the Misfits classic in AFI trappings, and “Fall Children” and “The Boy who Destroyed the World” are both strong showings. All Hallow’s EP was one of the first releaset with the band’s current lineup, and all four members are firing on all cylinders. Hunter Burgan (bass) and Jade Puget (guitar), the newest members of the band at that point, sound fully integrated into the band’s sound and are kicking ass. Jade plays some very nice guitar licks. Part of me wishes he had added a shredding solo to one of the songs on All Hallow’s EP, but other than that? My only complaint about the EP is that Davey Havok has never been my favorite vocalist, particularly pre-Sing the Sorrow (which is when I feel he really reached an apogee with his vocal skills, especially his scream). If I ever wrote a blog entry on records I wish could be re-recorded, All Hallow’s EP would probably be on that list, because horrorpunk AFI + Davey’s current vocal chops? Holy SHIT, that would be awesome.

Vocals: 6.5
Lyrics: 9
Instrumentation/Sound: 9
Overall Enjoyment: 9
Overall Score: 8.375

5) Delusionary, Blackwater Drowning

Oh hey, I get to talk about another favorite female screamer of mine: Morgan Mortality, number two on my favorite female screamers list! Morgan also snagged the number five spot on my list of favorite vocalists who perform multiple types of vocals.

But I focus on vocals too much, so let me talk more about the instrumentals on Delusionary for a bit. Blackwater Drowning is melodic death metal, and their sound isn’t too different from what you’d hear on an Arch Enemy or Darkest Hour album: lots of heavy riffing and double-kick drumming. Actually, I want to give a particular shout-out to Blackwater Drowning’s drummer, Chris Peavy. I know fuckall about drums, but I do know that the drumming on Delusionary (and all of Blackwater Drowning’s work, really) sounds very complex, and it’s also so. Stimmy. What can I say? I love that double kick thunder! Chris Peavy’s drums also always sound so crisp and precise. I can’t imagine the talent it takes to play like that. 

Regarding the rest of the instrumentalists, I admire the ability of the guitarists, Jeremy Bennett and Ron Dalton, Jr., to create riffs that straddle the line between heavy and melodic. I’m not usually into death metal—MDM bands have to lean pretty far into the “melodic” part of MDM for me to like them, or add lots of keyboards like Children of Bodom, or symphonic elements like MaYaN—but Blackwater Drowning is probably the least frilly MDM I really enjoy. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the band’s badass female bassist, Aria Novi! The backbone of a good heavy band is the bass, and Aria does a great job supporting the rest of the band with her playing. (I mean, as far as I can tell; we’ve established that I know very little about instrumentals beyond “I like how this sounds”). I say Blackwater Drowning isn’t frilly, but they also aren’t afraid to play with subtle electronic elements, especially on “Making Glass,” which might be my favorite song on Delusionary.

All two people reading this who know Blackwater Drowning may be wondering why I picked Delusionary, which came out in 2015, over Ruthless, the EP the band released in 2019. The answer is actually pretty simple: I love all of the songs on Delusionary, but there are a few songs on Ruthless that don’t really grab me. I was a little worried that Blackwater Drowning was out of ideas that I liked, but then they came out with the single “Saint” in 2019, and that’s my favorite Blackwater Drowning song. So I can safely say I’m looking forward to the band’s upcoming debut LP, Sonder//Satori, whenever it drops. Until then, I’ll keep regularly spinning Delusionary.

Vocals: 10
Lyrics: 7.5
Instrumentation/Sound: 8.5
Overall Enjoyment: 8
Overall Score: 8.5

4) Broken Bride, Ludo

When I made this list, I really thought this EP was going to top the list. I was a little surprised at how the math shook out, because this EP grabbed me by the collar and hauled me through a heartstring-tugging, tear-jerking, epic journey the first time I listened to it way back in high school. That was in 2005. Listening to this EP still gets me to fucking bawl. Yeah, to this day. It’s that affecting.

Let me back up: Broken Bride is a short rock opera told from the point of view of a man whose wife was killed in a car crash, and who worked on a time machine for fifteen years with the aim of traveling back to the day his wife died to save her. His time machine malfunctions and takes him to prehistoric times (the Jurassic period, presumably, based on the fact that he sees pterodactyls), then to the end of the world. There’s also a zombie apocalypse in there. I won’t spoil what happens, but like I said, it makes me fucking bawl. 

So why isn’t it topping the list? Well, to start, there’s Andrew Volpe’s voice. Broken Bride is fairly different, stylistically, from most of Ludo’s output. Ludo’s usual style is very…well, nerdy. It’s nerd rock. Andrew Volpe’s voice suits that style perfectly, but it’s not ideal for an epic story like Broken Bride (although Broken Bride is still pretty nerdy, with “the constant c, the speed of light” being referenced right in the first verse of the first song.) He’s a perfectly competent singer, but his timbre just isn’t my favorite for epic storytelling, especially as someone who listens to a lot of symphonic metal. If Joakim Broden or Magali Luyten were singing on Broken Bride, it’d be a different story. 

Ludo also doesn’t have my favorite sound out there. They have a Moog synthesizer, which is just cool, and it’s used to great effect on Broken Bride. But that aside, their sound is a fairly standard guitar/bass/drums/vocals setup, and they don’t do anything earth-shattering with that setup. They’re great at crafting fun, catchy melodies for their other albums, which have comedy-tinged songs with titles like “Cyborgs vs. Robots” and “Drunken Lament,” and while they did a damn good job adapting their sound to a story as dark and sweeping as Broken Bride, it remains…well, like I said, not my favorite sound out there.

I also had to take half a point off of the lyrical score, despite Broken Bride having some of my favorite lyrics ever written, for a reference to “Christ” in “Pt. 1: Broken Bride” and some very Xtian interpretations of the end of the world in “Pt. 3: The Lamb and the Dragon.” Sorry, Ludo, I’m pre-Jewish now. What? I don’t rank things by quality, I rank them by how much I like them.

Vocals: 6.5
Lyrics: 9.5
Instrumentation/Sound: 8
Overall Enjoyment: 10
Overall Score: 8.5

3) Spiritbox, Spiritbox

Oooh, fuck yeah, Spiritbox! My favorite difficult-to-categorize Canadian metalcore(?) band fronted by my favorite vocalist who can perform multiple types of vocals. Spiritbox’s song “Circle With Me” was number one on my favorite songs of 2021 list. Spiritbox has released a handful of singles, one album, and two EPs. I love everything Spiritbox has done, and I feel like they’re only getting better with time. So why did I  choose their self-titled EP—the first thing they ever released—over their second EP, Singles Collection? A couple of reasons: one, Spiritbox is more cohesive, with several songs (“The Mara Effect” Pts. 1, 2, and 3) all sharing themes, whereas Singles Collection is just…that. A collection of a few singles. Also, I like the songs on Spiritbox just slightly more than some of the tracks on Singles Collection. “Bleach Bath” and “Belcarra” in particular had to grow on me. 

Spiritbox is just excellent from start to finish: stimmy and heavy guitars, interesting melodic textures, and Courtney’s unparalleled powerful vocals. I also like the use of unusual song structures (“Aphids,” “Everything’s Eventual”) to keep things varied, especially the decision to start “Everything’s Eventual” with the chorus. The only reasons this EP isn’t number two or number one on the list is that Spiritbox’s lyrics are a little abstruse for me and that I think Spiritbox would go on to do even better with Eternal Blue. Still, “Aphids,” “The Beauty of Suffering,” and “Everything’s Eventual” remain some of my favorite Spiritbox songs, with “The Beauty of Suffering” holding a special place in my heart because it’s the song that got me into Spiritbox. 

Vocals: 10
Lyrics: 8
Instrumentation/Sound: 9
Overall Enjoyment: 8.5
Overall Score: 8.875

2) Recovery, Dream State

Have I mentioned that Dream State is filling the hole left in my heart when I found out that Lacey Sturm, former lead vocalist of Flyleaf, is homomisic as fuck?

Too many times to count?

Have I mentioned how devastated I am that the lead vocalist of Dream State, CJ Gilpin, has left the band?


Well, I am. (Even though I Tweeted at the band that I would be willing to audition to be their new singer/lyricist. Because of fucking course I did. Would you expect anything different from me?) Dream State is basically the band I wish I were fronting; a post-hardcore band influenced by mutliple heavy genres with lyrics about mental illness, fronted by a mezzo who mostly sings but can also scream (HI). I’ve talked about this before, though; what I haven’t talked about is that I think that the EP Recovery is the best thing Dream State has put out. Yeah, even better than their debut LP, Primrose Path, which I love.

Granted, I may be biased because Recovery got me into Dream State, but the biggest problem I had with Primrose Path (note that “problem” is a very relative term here; Primrose Path is still a 9/10 album for me) is that the guitars weren’t quite as present on that album as they were on Recovery. Recovery is a little heavier-sounding than Primrose Path to me, and of course I like that. Also, while there aren’t any songs on Primrose Path that I skip, there are a few that I think aren’t quite as strong as the album’s high points. With Recovery, on the other hand, I feel like every track is excellent. Yes, that’s easier to do with an EP than it is with an album, but I’d rather talk about how awesome Recovery is than quibble about that, so I’m just going to continue gushing.

“In This Hell” is my favorite song off of Recovery, but I can only say that because it’s on the list of songs that literally saved my life. Every other song on the EP is amazing. I want to give a special shout-out to “Solace” for having some of CJ’s best screams and some surprisingly effective speak-singing, a technique I’m not usually fond of. “Help Myself” delivers a gut check to the feels while also pulling off a mood of despair with a glimmer of hope, something I both find hard to do and try to pull off in my own music (see why I should be Dream State’s next singer?). “White Lies” is surprisingly catchy for a song about cocaine addiction in addition to being a typical Dream State emotional heavyweight banger, and “New Waves” closes out the EP with defiant optimism. 

So if I’m gushing so much, what could possibly beat this EP?


Vocals: 9
Lyrics: 10
Instrumentation/Sound: 8.5
Overall Enjoyment: 10
Overall Score: 9.375

1) The Black Parade B-Sides, My Chemical Romance

Yep. MCR.

What? You can’t be surprised. My Chemical Romance was saving my life long before Dream State was even formed. No, that’s not fair, but I think we all know my music tastes are stuck in high school, and The Black Parade came out when I was a junior. But seriously, it isn’t just bias that gets this EP of B-sides to the top of this list. Note: depending on which platform you listen on, this EP also has two live recordings, one of “Welcome to the Black Parade” and one of “Famous Last Words,” but the version I grew up with just had the studio recording B-sides, so that’s the version I’ll be discussing.

“My Way Home Is Through You” is my favorite song MCR has ever written, and even made it onto the list of songs that saved my life. That song still makes me feel less alone, even in my darkest moments. Not to mention it has a kickass guitar solo—y’all know I’m weak for guitar solos—and is one of my favorite MCR songs, if not one of my favorite songs period, to sing.

“Kill All Your Friends” and “Heaven Help Us,” the other two B-sides, are also among my favorite MCR songs. “Kill All Your Friends” has some awesome guitar licks, is ridiculously catchy, and employs one of my favorite rare musical tricks: using “la la”s, “na na”s, or “doot doo”s as lyrics…and actually pulling it off. Those little “ba ba ba, ba ba ba”s in the chorus are really fun to sing as well. I also love the slight modifications to each chorus, especially one of the tricks that I commonly use in my songs: replacing a two-syllable adjective that isn’t profane in the first few iterations of the chorus with a “fucking” in the last chorus. It’s just a damn good song.

As for “Heaven Help Us,” that song very nearly made it into my blog entry about songs that saved my life. Keeping it off that list hurt and, in retrospect, I probably should have gone ahead and included it. The catharsis that comes with belting out “heaven help us” in that chorus aside, it’s an interesting song musically, with some lovely signature MCR guitar noodling in the chorus, effective singing on the offbeats in the second verse, and really cool vocal counterpoint in the outro. 

I get why these songs were left off The Black Parade, which was a concept album that was already long enough, and these songs didn’t really fit on it. But I am SO GLAD MCR saw fit to release them, because fuck they’re good.

Vocals: 8.5
Lyrics: 10
Instrumentation/Sound: 9.5
Overall Enjoyment: 10
Overall Score: 9.5

And that was my list of favorite EPs! It was fun to write; EPs need more love. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! Reminder that it’s only $1 to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to all my blog entries AND free copies of every song from my album Escape. Oh, right, my album; I have two songs from it on Bandcamp so far: Please check it out 🙂 

Favorite Vocalists Who Perform Multiple Types of Vocals

Hello, dear readers! For this entry, I will be discussing a topic I’ve been interested in exploring for ages: my favorite vocalists who perform multiple kinds of vocals. This can include rapping, singing cleanly, singing with grit, fry screaming, and false cord screaming. Note: I’m not the greatest at distinguishing fry from false cord screaming, but I will do my best here. At times, it can be pretty impossible to tell for sure what kind of scream someone’s doing unless you’re looking at their vocal folds with a camera. Also, this list will be about artists who perform in rock, metal, punk, etc., so as in awe as I am of Dessa’s rapping ability and her lovely singing voice, she will not be on this list. She is amazing, though. Oh, and Janelle Monae! If this list included rappers/singers that were outside my usual jurisdiction, she’d be at the top of the list, and not just because she can also act, dance, and write.

ANYWAY. I tried figuring out how to rank these vocalists using math, and I couldn’t come up with anything; this will just be a list of vocalists who perform multiple types of vocals ranked by how much I like them. Note: I tried to rank the vocalists by how much I like their vocals, not how much I like the music they make, but there may be some bias involved in that regard. That said, let’s get to the list.

10) Lauren Kashan (Sharptooth)

Some of you may be surprised to see Lauren only coming in at number 10 on this list because she’s my #1 favorite female screamer. Well, this list is about vocalists who perform multiple types of vocals, and Lauren is almost exclusively a screamer. She sings very rarely. I think in the song I linked above, she only sings one line. Honestly, I would have picked a different song to showcase Lauren’s talents, but I’ve already shared the two songs in which she sings the most on this blog, and I don’t like to share the same song multiple times. (But in case you want to hear those songs again:

I honestly have a hard time telling what kind of scream Lauren does. I think it’s false cord, but regardless, she has fantastic control, and her range and stamina are also hella impressive. As for her singing voice, though…well, it’s certainly good, and she’s able to convey a lot of passion with her singing, just like with her screaming. She just does it so rarely that I feel like #10 was an appropriate spot for her on this particular list. I can’t even tell what vocal part she is; she’s likely a mezzo because she hits a low C in “The Gray,” but she could easily be a contralto. That’s just less likely because contralto is the rarest voice type. Anyway, she’s an immensely talented screamer, but her singing voice doesn’t seem nearly as tremendous as her scream, especially because she sings so little.

9) Jason Aalon Butler (FEVER 333, ex-letlive.)

I miss the fuck out of letlive., partly because my favorite thing Jason Aalon Butler does with his voice is scream. He still does that in spades in FEVER 333, of course, but he raps and sings more in FEVER 333 than he did in letlive. Yeah, you read that right. He screams, raps, AND sings. His delivery when he raps on up-tempo songs reminds me of Zack de la Rocha, and trust me, that’s a compliment.

So…why is he only #9 on this list, then? The answer is “personal preference.” I’m simply not a huge fan of Jason’s timbre when he sings. He’s not my favorite screamer, either. If I made a list of my favorite male screamers, he either wouldn’t make the list or he would be in the honorable mentions. Still, his technique is excellent throughout all his types of vocals. I also feel the need to point out that his diction is very clear, and maintaining good diction while you’re singing, rapping, and screaming is fucking hard; harder than I can pull off, and I was known in my choir for my consonants that had a Mohs hardness of 10. Jason is talented as all fuck. He’s just not my favorite multi-talented vocalist who is talented as all fuck; he’s my 9th favorite. I’d still see FEVER 333 live, though; I hear Jason is exceptionally dynamic live.

But I maintain that I miss letlive. And they broke up on my 27th birthday. That’s just rude.

8) Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist)

Ah, Alissa White-Gluz, the frontwoman I like of a band I don’t. Okay, that’s not fair; I like Arch Enemy fine. I just don’t go out of my way to listen to them. I’ll listen to them if they come up in a mix or my YouTube recommendations, but if I feel like listening to MDM…well, I said before that I’m more likely to go to MaYaN or older Children of Bodom (may Alexi Laiho’s memory be a blessing), although that’s less true now; my favorite MDM band at this point is Blackwater Drowning.

Anyway, Alissa White-Gluz’s low-pitched false cord scream is still just as stimmy to me as it was when I wrote my favorite female screamers blog entry. She still has a good range on her scream and impressive diction. And now I get to talk about her cleans! I love it when Alissa uses both her clean and guttural vocals, as she’s very talented at both. She has a lovely and unique timbre when she sings cleanly. She sounds just as powerful on her sung vocals as she does when she screams. I also like how both her sung and screamed vocals sound unique enough that I could probably identify them even if I didn’t know she was guesting on a particular song.

Speaking of which, as per usual, I tend to like Alissa White-Gluz’s work better when she’s a guest artist on other people’s songs. Like this song with Tarja, for example.

But like with Lauren Kashan, I don’t get to hear Alissa sing cleanly much. She might be higher on this list if I’d heard more of her clean pipes and could judge things like her range more accurately. So here she is at #8.

7) Sam Carter (Architects)

Okay, full disclosure: I don’t listen to Architects much, or at least I haven’t until recently. Was their album Holy Hell a spellbinding gut check to the feels? You bet. But I wasn’t always prepared for the onslaught of feels that listening to that album would bring, so I didn’t actually spin it much. Holy Hell also got me into Architects when I heard the glowing reviews of that album, and I haven’t really traversed their back catalog, which is large and intimidating. When they dropped For Those Who Wish to Exist, I checked it out, and it was excellent. I listened to it quite a bit during 2021, and one of its songs—”Black Lungs”—made my favorite songs of 2021 list, and I stand by that.

I love many things about Architects—their songwriting, their lyrics, their sound—but my favorite aspect of Architects is Sam Carter’s voice. His singing voice is immensely powerful, both when he’s singing with grit and when he’s singing cleanly. I’d kill to be able to sound that intense. His fry scream is also excellent. He also has a very flexible voice; he can switch from singing to screaming on a dime. I’m jealous as hell.

I also can’t overstate how effortless he makes all of this sound. I know I say this a lot, but as someone who can sing and scream, I’m extremely aware of how hard it is to 1) sound effortless when you do either and 2) sound effortless when you switch between those two things. It’s hard because you have to significantly change what your vocal folds are doing. That takes control, practice, and talent. This might be a hot take, but I feel like some people can take years and years of vocal lessons and not be as good as someone who naturally has pipes and has also practiced and learned a lot. Sam Carter sounds like one of those people who has bucketloads of natural talent. And, again, I’m jealous. As fuck.

Now I really need to listen to more Architects. They have something like seven albums I haven’t heard yet.

6) Lauren Babic (Red Handed Denial)

You know, Lauren Babic’s clean pipes had to grow on me. I thought her singing voice was too poppy for me at first. Now I like how unique she sounds compared to many other metal vocalists. I always loved her scream, though. Her fry scream sounds, to me, like the ur-example of fry screaming; i.e., when I think of how a fry scream should sound, what I imagine sounds a lot like Lauren Babic’s fry scream.

Lauren also has an absolutely incredible ability to switch from singing to screaming, not unlike Sam Carter if not better. She also apparently has more lungs than a Klingon, because she can hold screamed notes for an unreasonably long time. She also has a really nice range on her scream. It sounds a little like her lower screams are false cord, not fry, which would be extra impressive because that means can perform two different screaming techniques where a lot of screamers can only pull off one.

I’m not really sure what else to say here. Lauren has an excellent and unusual clean singing voice, a fierce fry scream, tremendous breath control, a sick range, and incredible flexibility. She’s top tier. The only thing left for me to ponder is whether or not that black ring she wears on the middle finger of her right hand is an ace ring. Because that would be beyond cool.

Okay, fine, I’ll explain why she’s only number 6 on this list. You guessed it: personal preference. I like Lauren’s clean pipes, but they’re still not my favorite, and I also tend to prefer the sound of false cord screaming over fry screaming. Lauren Babic is still #VoiceGoals.

5) Morgan Mortality (Blackwater Drowning)

Those of you who read my favorite female screamers blog entry have probably been waiting for this one: Morgan Mortality of Blackwater Drowning. Morgan has one of my favorite false cord screams period. I just love the sound of it. It’s so dark and rich and stimmy. I’m especially impressed by her stamina when it comes to false cord screaming. I can probably perform one Blackwater Drowning song before my vocal folds get tired, even if I’m really warmed up.

I also really love Morgan’s clean pipes. She reminds me a lot of Tsunami Bomb’s Kate Jacobi, who you may remember from my blog entry on bands that successfully changed singers. She has a surprisingly beautiful timbre, and it works really well with her band’s brand of MDM. She even uses vibrato sometimes, and as a choir geek, I can’t help but love some vibrato in my MDM. You know what else I like about Morgan’s clean singing? She sings quite a bit! Many songs by Blackwater Drowning have screamed verses and sung choruses. As much as I love, say, Lauren Kashan from earlier in this entry, Lauren only made #10 because this list is about vocalists who perform multiple types of vocals, and Lauren barely sings. Morgan’s exceptional screaming and singing land her at #5 on this list.

4) Jayant Bhadula (Bloodywood)

I’ve been super into Bloodywood lately—their first album dropped this month and it’s fantastic—and Jayant is rapidly becoming one of my favorite vocalists out there. He has a masterful false cord scream with incredible stamina. I really love the timbre of his false cord scream, even when he uses it in a low enough range that some might call it “Cookie Monster” screaming. (Note: “cookie monstering” is also a type of incorrect screaming technique in addition to slang for deep death metal growls. Right now, I mean the latter, which is usually not my thing, but Jayant is just that skilled.) Also, his ability to sing with grit is unparalleled. He can also sing without grit, and quite beautifully, I might add. But you know what really impresses me about Jayant’s vocals?

This. Guy. Can. SPIT.

Seriously, he has some patters that are Hamilton-level fast, and he’s fucking screaming them, AND spitting out those consonants like it’s nothing. I would bet that if I could understand Hindi, I would understand what he’s screaming on those rapid patters, his diction is so good. (Me being able to understand fast patters is harder than it is for most people, because I have auditory processing disorder. Note: yes, I’m Autistic with APD. You don’t need to be Autistic to have APD, and APD is not part of Autisticness, it is a co-occurring condition. This is an important distinction.)

I don’t really have much else to say about Jayant. He has a phenomenal ability to scream at a mile a minute and a kickass singing voice. Honestly, he might be higher on this list if I had heard more of his work, but Bloodywood is a young band with only one album under their belt. I mean, I wish I’d heard a little more of Jayant’s singing and had a better sense of his range. But at the moment, I think #4 is a fair spot for Jayant.

3) AJ Channer (Fire From the Gods)

And here we have another vocalist who can sing, scream, and rap. Oh yeah! AJ Channer has such a rich voice with so much character. Like Jason Aalon Butler from earlier, AJ Channer’s delivery can remind me a lot of Zack de la Rocha’s, and I mean that in a complimentary way. In addition to well-supported rapping with a lot of volume, AJ also has a strong singing voice and a solid scream.

One thing I like about AJ’s voice is how fluidly he switches between singing and rapping. Sometimes it’s hard for me to even pinpoint which technique I should call what he’s doing. Yet again, that is something that my choir geek ass cannot do and it makes me jealous. I’m also jealous of how powerful his singing voice is. Fire From the Gods’ music is (appropriately for their name) fiery and passionate, and AJ Channer is the perfect frontman for their sound. He doesn’t have to scream in order to sound loud and forceful; he can accomplish that with clean singing. Again, jealous.

AJ Channer’s scream is…good. It’s quite good. It doesn’t knock my socks off like some of the other vocalists on this list, but let’s face it, it’s probably still better than mine. I also feel like AJ doesn’t scream all that much, so I don’t have much opportunity to hear him scream. I have trouble telling what technique he’s using to scream, too. I think it’s false cord, but with his timbre, it’s hard to tell. And like I said before, sometimes the only way to tell which screaming technique someone is using is to look at their vocal folds with a camera. Anyway, he doesn’t seem to have the same amount of stamina some other screamers on this list have, but he still has a very powerful voice no matter what he’s doing, and again, dude can sing, rap, and scream. Which is why he’s #3 on this list despite the fact that I’m not blown away by his scream.

Oh, and one more thing. AJ Channer is actually Jamaican, or at least his father is (AJ was born in the Bronx). Interestingly, he also went to boarding school in Ghana, and has also lived in the UK. You can really hear the Jamaican influence on his voice in songs like “They Don’t Like It.” I kind of wish he would do that more, because it’s really cool, and not something you hear in a lot of metal. Cool accents also will get you high on this list.

2) Rou Reynolds (Enter Shikari)

Oh hells yeah, Rou Reynolds! He fronts the English band Enter Shikari, and he sings, screams, and raps, and he does all of those things frequently (with maybe slightly more of an emphasis on singing, especially on more recent albums), so I can hear how fucking good he is at all of them. It’s impressive as hell, and he has a really cool accent (remember what I said about accents getting you high on this list?). His rapping is crisp, his singing is impeccable, and his fry scream is fierce. He’s a g-ddamn powerhouse.

Enter Shikari’s sound is really diverse. It takes a lot of influence from metalcore, but also uses an electronic soundscape. One thing I really like about Enter Shikari is that I can listen to an album of theirs and each song sounds so distinct. (Well, except for The Spark, which was just slow and boring for the most part. Don’t @ me.) And the skill it takes to change one’s vocal technique up in order to fit with such a varied sound? Rou has that skill, and it impresses me to no end. In addition to being able to scream his head off and rap extremely well, he’s extremely skilled at dynamics when it comes to his sung vocals. He can sing softly and mournfully, or he can bust out a much fuller, louder singing voice.

And his diction is excellent. Whether he’s screaming, singing, or rapping, I can understand him really well, even with my APD-riddled brain. I don’t think I’ve ever had to look up Enter Shikari’s lyrics to see what Rou was singing/rapping/screaming. For those of you who aren’t familiar with how bad my APD is, that’s unfuckingbelievable.

I really can’t praise Rou enough. He’s one of the most talented vocalists I’m aware of.

So…why isn’t he #1?


1) Courtney LaPlante (Spiritbox, ex-iwrestledabearonce)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I’m predictable as all fuck, but readers, you know I’m a Courtney LaPlante fangirl. You may wonder why she is #1 on this list list, since she only sings and screams, whereas Rou Reynolds sings, screams, and raps.

Well, Courtney not only sings cleanly, fry screams, and false cord screams, but she has one of my favorite singing timbres and one of my favorite screaming timbres ever (both fry and false cord). Even if we’re talking skill, not personal preference, I have one word for you: control. Courtney has some of the greatest vocal control I have ever heard. Period. Her dynamics are varied and effective, her breath control is top-notch, and her ability to switch between singing and screaming is unparalleled. Everything she does sounds effortless and exquisite. Even the one-take videos of Spiritbox songs that are on YouTube are fucking stellar.

If I made a list of my favorite vocalists ever, regardless of genre, Courtney would probably be in the top 3 if not number 1. (Magali Luyten might beat her out for that #1 spot. Maybe. I might have to figure that out with math one day.) Her cleans are gorgeous, her screams are ferocious, her control is impeccable, and her talent is undeniable. She absolutely deserves to be #1 on this list.

And that’s the list! I hope it was enjoyable to read. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! Reminder that it’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, which includes seeing blog entries 2 days early and getting to vote in polls about blog entry topics.

The tl;dr of the list:
1) Courtney LaPlante (Spiritbox, ex-iwrestledabearonce)
2) Rou Reynolds (Enter Shikari)
3) AJ Channer (Fire From the Gods)
4) Jayant Bhadula (Bloodywood)
5) Morgan Mortality (Blackwater Drowning)
6) Lauren Babic (Red Handed Denial)
7) Sam Carter (Architects)
8) Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist)
9) Jason Aalon Butler (FEVER333, ex-letlive.)
10) Lauren Kashan (Sharptooth)

Favorite Songs of 2021

Content/trigger warning: weight talk, suicidality mention (brief), abuse mention


What a fuckin year, am I right? But a lot of music I loved came out this year. Seriously, I had a HELL of a time narrowing my list of favorite songs down to fifteen. I had someone jokingly suggest to me on Twitter that I should have 21 songs in this entry for 2021, and I easily could have done that. So many great albums, EPs, and singles that I love came out in 2021, and this is a list of my favorite songs, not my favorite albums, so songs from EPs and singles can count on this list (whereas many music reviewers and bloggers, especially in the rock/metal/punk world, tend to talk about albums in their year-end wrap-ups).

I didn’t use any math to rank these. This is just a list of songs ranked by how much I enjoyed them. Onward!

Honorable mention 5: “Flight of the Valkyries” by Burning Witches

Burning Witches’ current vocalist, Laura Guidemond, made the number 10 spot on my favorite power metal singers list. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that the vocals are possibly the most important part of enjoyment of music for me. You may also know that I also love shredding guitar solos. So a song with a shredding guitar solo courtesy of new guitarist Larissa Ernst and range-scraping, gritty vocals from Laura is, of course, going to be my shit.

Other than that, it’s…well, I’ll be real here, it’s kind of just another Burning Witches song. It’s old-school sounding power metal with lyrics about the occult and/or mythology. But I’m a sucker for Viking aesthetics in metal (side note, I need to listen to more Amon Amarth), and I also really like how the slower section at the beginning picks up and barrels into the faster rest of the song. And that solo still makes me happy.

Honorable mention 4: “Skin” by Beartooth

“I’m so uncomfortable with the skin I’m in,” sings Caleb Shomo in the chorus of this song. I’ve been dragging myself kicking and screaming into eating disorder recovery this year, and that has resulted in me gaining weight. I already had terrible body dysmorphia, but now it’s so bad that saying I think “OH G-D KILL IT WITH FIRE” every time I look in the mirror is only a slight exaggeration. So “The mirror’s telling me that I never win,” the second line of the chorus, also rings extremely true to me.

Aside from the lyrics hitting me right where I live, “Skin” is a pretty typical Beartooth song, if more melodic and less screamy than their music can get. In fact, I don’t think there’s any screaming in “Skin,” except for one half-screamed “yeah” in the bridge. If you like Beartooth’s more melodic moments and don’t care for Caleb’s scream, you might actually like this song, but in general I don’t think this song is going to win over people who aren’t already down with Beartooth. But I have loved Beartooth for years now, and when Below came out, I figured a song from that album would end up on this list. In fact, I was a little surprised that no songs on Below were higher up on this list, but…yeah, this year was absolutely bursting at the seams with music I liked. Below was still an excellent album.

Honorable mention 3: “A World on Fire,” The L.I.F.E. Project

Now, usually I hate Spotify’s autoplay feature, but in this case, it introduced me to The L.I.F.E. Project, so I can’t be too mad at it. I was listening to the band Plush, having found out that they toured with Evanescence, and I liked them okay. When Plush’s album was over, Spotify’s autoplay feature switched over to The L.I.F.E. Project, and damn if it didn’t get my attention way more than Plush did. (Sorry, Plush.)

The L.I.F.E. Project is a band spearheaded by Stone Sour guitarist Josh Rand and featuring Paralandra singer and guitarist Casandra Carson. Stone Sour-esque heavy, melodic, driving guitar riffs and a badass female vocalist? Yes please, inject that shit straight into my veins. This band has only one EP out at the moment, and I had a hell of a time picking just one song from that EP to make this list. Eventually I decided on “A World on Fire” because not only is it the catchiest song on the EP (in my opinion), the lines “I do the things I do/For me not you” really spoke to me this year. As I write this, my escapiversary—the anniversary of the day I escaped from an abusive household—was two days ago. It’s been difficult since then to try to do things for me and my mental health after so many years of just surviving as best I could. And the song ends on a defiant “I’ve got nothing to prove.” Hells yeah.

Honorable mention 2: “Eye of the Storm,” Battle Beast

Those of you who have been reading for a while may be surprised to see a Battle Beast song this low on the list. After all, Noora Louhimo, the kickass frontwoman of Battle Beast, was number 3 on my favorite power metal singers list. Well, Battle Beast may be fucking amazing, but they’re not always fucking amazing. They put out an album in 2019, No More Hollywood Endings, and the title track only made it to number 9 on my favorite songs of 2019 list. “Eye of the Storm” is a great Battle Beast song, but Battle Beast has done better, particularly on their 2017 album Bringer of Pain.

Still, Noora’s voice is top-notch here as always, especially on that last blistering “YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH.” And the lyrics about wanting a sanctuary in the middle of chaos are extremely relatable, especially as the pandemic drags on. Bonus points for understanding that the eye of the hurricane is the only calm part; many bands (*cough cough* SHINEDOWN *cough*) think the eye is the worst part. (That’d be the eye wall.) And there’s a nice guitar solo, which I love, and of course I’m a huge sucker for a good Truck Driver’s Gear Change. Nightwish isn’t the only power metal band that can pull that off.

Honorable mention 1: “More of Us Than Them,” Stick to Your Guns

Now here’s a band I wish I got to talk about more often! Stick to Your Guns and their album Disobedient got me through grad school. I’ve only mentioned them on this blog a couple of times; this is due in part to the fact that I haven’t been maintaining this blog very long and their last album was in 2017. Their song “Nothing You Can Do to Me” is definitely on my top 50 songs ever list, and it also made it into my blog entry on songs that saved my life ( I was overjoyed last year when I found out that Stick to Your Guns had released a new single, and…

…I was actually disappointed at first. It wasn’t as up-tempo as I expected for a Stick to Your Guns song, and I actually thought the lyrics in the chorus were a little subpar. But—thanks, auditory processing disorder—I was actually wrong about the lyrics in the chorus, and I noticed something about the song that I missed at first but how I love: that bassline. I fucking love a sick bassline. If I could play an instrument that would be suitable for a rock band…well, okay, it’d probably be the keyboard, but I also would love to learn the bass guitar. When I compose my own music, the bass part is often more complex and/or melodic than the lead guitar. Also, that breakdown is wicked. I believe Architects’ Tom Searle (z’’l) worked on this song, which just makes it more appealing to me. So yeah, this one was a grower, but I think it deserves an honorable mention, and it definitely has me excited for what I hope is new Stick to Your Guns music coming soon.

10) “Black Lungs,” Architects

I’ve mentioned that I’m not the biggest fan of metalcore. In order for me to like a metalcore band, it has to be really fucking good or somehow innovative. It has to have the sheer power and talent of Code Orange or have the virtuoso guitars and vocals of Glass Cloud.

Or it could be Architects.

I got into Architects with their 2018 album Holy Hell. It was the band’s first album without guitarist and songwriter Tom Searle (z’’l), who lost his life to skin cancer. It was an album of about facing down death, and as someone who has been suicidal since elementary school, holy hell (lol) did that album speak to me. So when Architects released their follow-up, For Those That Wish to Exist, I decided I had to check it out.

It wasn’t as good as Holy Hell, but that’s like saying that Against Me!’s Shape Shift With Me wasn’t as good as Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Of course one of the most gut-punching albums of the decade was a tough act to follow. Although one thing I will say about the whole album For Those That Wish to Exist is that the lyrics on it are almost as good as they were on Holy Hell, and if that sounds like damning with faint praise, it’s not. It’s high praise. I tried to pick just one lyric from “Black Lungs” to share, and it was a tough choice. I think I will have to go with “What would you do to stay alive if the planet was burning?” though. We’re heading into the third year of an unprecedented global pandemic. Climate change is causing “once-in-a-lifetime” weather events to happen within the span of a few years. Late-stage capitalism is crushing the life out of workers. “Black Lungs” seems to me to be about the younger generation(s) struggling to survive after being handed a hostile world.

And the song hits like a fucking sledgehammer. When Sam Carter sings “Good Lord, it’s enough to plague a saint” at the end of a surprisingly catchy chorus, it really sticks with me. While the lyrics and the melody of the chorus are both extremely appealing to me, I also have to discuss Sam Carter’s vocal delivery. The man is one of my favorite male vocalists who can both sing and scream, and he sings with grit like a champ too. And his scream of “Where were you when the gods clipped the wings of the phoenix” in the outro? Holy shit, way to end a song. It’s only this low on the list because there was SO MUCH OTHER great music this year.

9) “Feast of Fire,” Trivium

Trivium continues to fucking slay. As you may remember, Trivium’s song “The Defiant” made it onto my favorite songs of 2020 list. This song contains a lot of what I love about Trivium: a shredding guitar solo, Matt Heafy’s clean and unclean vocals in top form, and an ear-pleasing melody. But you know what else this song has that I absolutely love?

That. Fucking. BASSLINE.

No, seriously, go back and listen to the song again.

I’ll wait.

Wasn’t the bass on that song absolutely sick? Paolo Gregoletto has bass chops for days. I especially like how present the bass is in the verses and the bridge.

I also want to bring up the lyrics. Now, all genres can have bands with exquisite lyrics and bands with cringe-worthy, ham-fisted lyrics, but I feel like metal as a genre isn’t known for having deep, thought-provoking lyrics. I feel like there are metal bands out there whose lyrics I like better than Trivium’s, but Trivium’s lyrics are consistently strong. They work within the typical tropes of metal lyrics while putting their own particular twist on things, and I like that. “Feast of Fire” is no exception, even though I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in the song. (That might be because I have to listen to the rest of the album; Trivium said they were trying to create their own mythology with this record.) There’s a somewhat usual lyrical structure going on with “Feast of Fire,” too, that endears it to me.

I’m not sure what else to say about this song. I feel like it’s very typical of Trivium and won’t convert any holdouts who think Trivium is too mainstream or just doesn’t like their style, but it’s also one of the best singles Trivium has ever released, and it’s top tier Trivium and top tier metal however you want to slice it.

8) “Back From the Dead,” Halestorm

This is the song I’ve been waiting for Halestorm to make.

I said back in my blog entry on my favorite LGBTQIAP+ musicians that “I still feel like I’m waiting for Halestorm to live up to their potential and that Cilver is the band that I keep wanting Halestorm to be.” Hell, all the way back in my blog entry on my favorite covers, I said that “Now, Halestorm as a band frustrates the hell out of me. I feel like they have a lot of chops and potential, but the songs just…ugh, they aren’t there except for maybe one or two pieces. I feel like they are at their best at their fastest and heaviest, and many of their songs just feel kind of…held back.” 

“Back From the Dead” is the first song from Halestorm that I heard that didn’t leave me thinking that it didn’t live up to its potential. Well, maybe the second—”Black Vultures” fucking wrecks—but regardless, this song sounds like the best Halestorm can do. “Back From the Dead” has so much energy, like the recording really captured everything the band is capable of live (I’ve heard that Halestorm are much better live than they are in the studio and, having seen some live recordings, I’m inclined to agree).

I also am a sucker for survivor anthems (see: me also loving “Black Vultures”). Combine this with my love of jokes about how I am undead because trauma destroyed the person I would have been so completely and the song literally being called “Back From the Dead,” well. This song was tailor-made for me. In addition to the lyrics making this song total Amaranthe bait, though, they’re some of Lzzy Hale’s best. Lzzy is a powerhouse vocalist and a shredding queen, but her lyrics can be a little clumsy. And yes, okay, she rhymes “prisoner” with “oblivion,” but “Hell couldn’t hold me down” is one of the most raw lines she has ever written.

Like “Feast of Fire” by Trivium above, I don’t think this song is going to win over people who previously weren’t fans of the band, but it is the band at its absolute most kickass. “Back From the Dead” is unmistakably a Halestorm song, and if you don’t like Halestorm, you likely won’t be a fan. But if you do like Halestorm’s previous work, this song will knock your fucking socks off.

7) “Part of Me,” Evanescence

Evanescence making my best list two years in a row? YEAH. THAT’S RIGHT. IT’S MY LIST AND I AM RIDE OR DIE FOR EVANESCENCE. DEAL WITH IT.

Okay, yes, I do wish The Bitter Truth could be remixed. I’m not a fan of how the guitars sound. But not only do I not know enough about mixing and mastering to really care about that, if the songs are there, I’ll put up with some iffy mixing. And “Part of Me” really hits a mark for me, right from the moment the song starts with Amy’s powerhouse voice singing “NOT ON YOUR LIFE” with as much force and passion as she’s ever had. If I’m honest, it was the line “I will be more than my survival” that got this song on the list. As I mentioned before, I’m writing this almost three years to the day since I escaped an abusive household. Since then, it’s been hard to do anything but survive. But I recently landed my dream job (as a medical writer of cancer clinical trial protocols, working at a major research institution). I feel like I’m finally doing more than scrambling to keep my head above water while struggling with severe CPTSD.

This song is not groundbreaking. It’s probably going to be dismissed as just another overwrought, mediocre Evanescence song by critics. I cannot emphasize how little I care about that. I love the guitar riffs and harmonies in this song. Amy Lee kills her vocal performance as always. I love how the song gets quiet before the last chorus so Amy can really bring it home. And most of all, I love how the song is about surviving anything—”Set me on fire/I like it the way it burns”—and continuing to live your best life despite everything that has happened to you. How could I not love that, being me? 

6) “Ahi Ka,” Alien Weaponry

Oh hells yeah, who’s up for some trash metal from Aotearoa performed in te reo!?


WELL, YOU SHOULD BE. Because it kicks ass.

Now, being a huge fan of non-US metal, especially if it’s folk metal or uses traditional sounds or languages from its locale of origin, I’ve been on the Alien Weaponry bandwagon for a while. This is a very young band—the members are literally teens—but they know their shit and they’re good at it. The vocalist, Lewis, is only 17, and he sounds much better on 2021’s Tangaroa than he did on the band’s 2018 debut album, Tū. Honestly, he could still probably improve a little bit—I know damn well my voice hadn’t peaked yet when I was only 17—but he sounds much more forceful on this album than he did in 2018. The vocals sound (to me) more like haka than they do traditional Western guttural vocals or clean vocals, but that’s a feature, not a bug, and more importantly, it’s awesome.

Tangaroa is a strong album. There’s not a single song on it that I skip when I listen to it. It was damn hard for me to pick only one song from it for this list. I ended up going with “Ahi Ka” partly because of its meaning, and because of how creative it was for the band to include a recording of the Queen of England saying she felt “at home” in Aotearoa (which she refers to as “New Zealand”). This is creative—and chilling—because “Ahi Ka” translates loosely to “the burning fires of occupation” and the song is about how, in the band’s own words, “In 1952, in preparation for a Royal visit by Her Majesty the Queen, the Auckland City Council, in a misguided attempt to beautify the city, evicted the local Ngāti Whātua people from their village at Ōkahu Bay and burned it to the ground.”



That happened.

I can’t help but admire the way the band is using their music to spread knowledge of atrocities committed against the indigenous people of Aotearoa, especially when they’re doing it with such skill. This song just sounds so dark, foreboding, and eerie, especially with that kōauau (a traditional bone flute) at the beginning. It’s a really effective piece and I love the hell out of it.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may be scratching your heads, though, because you know I love lyrics, and songs with lyrics I can’t understand don’t tend to rank high on my favorites lists. Well, I think I’m growing out of that, especially when the bands who make non-English music are kind enough to provide translations or at least explanations of their lyrics, and Alien Weaponry did that for the songs on Tangaroa. So this song that’s entirely in te reo is my #6.

5) “Lush Rimbaugh,” Senses Fail

Senses Fail has only gotten better since Buddy Nielsen accepted his queer identity and began writing lyrics about leftist issues. He’s always been the beating heart of Senses Fail, too; he’s the only remaining original member. “Lush Rimbaugh” is about Buddy’s feelings about Rush Limbaugh’s death and his bigoted bullshit. “When I was young I used to hate myself/Because bigots like you were given pedestals” is such a cutting line that I don’t even care that “hate myself” doesn’t rhyme with “pedestals.” Honestly, I wish I could quote the whole song here, because there are so many good lines in it.

Also, can we acknowledge that it’s okay to feel glad when someone who wanted you dead or nonexistent dies? “Have some respect for the dead” my ass. So they’re dead. Everybody dies. It doesn’t make a bigoted piece of shit fucking special when they die. With “Lush Rimbaugh,” Buddy perfectly captured what it feels like for queer people when a famous, powerful, queermisic fuckbucket bites the dust. I don’t even believe in hell, but the line “there’s a special place in hell for you” still makes me happy.

The lyrics aside, this is a fairly standard Senses Fail song. It sounds like it came straight out of the heyday of post-hardcore (circa 2002, I’d say), but while it’s nostalgic, it also sounds more refined than many post-hardcore bands of that era because Buddy has been at this for so long at this point. There seems to be a theme to many of the songs on this list: “this song won’t convert non-fans of the band, but damn does it sound like the band is pulling out at all the stops.” It’s an exceptionally well-crafted post-hardcore song with catchy, heavy riffs, and Buddy’s clean and unclean vocals are top-notch. Now I’m counting down the days until Hell Is in Your Head, Senses Fail’s next album, comes out in July of this year.

4) “Breaking Point,” No Bragging Rights

This is a melodic hardcore song about a woman leaving an abusive situation and being called strong just for surviving the abuse.

Do I even have to say anything else? 

…okay, fine, I will. The song “Breaking Point” is like if “Face Down” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were musically harder and lyrically much more mature, and “Face Down” was a pretty good song. As for the band, No Bragging Rights is actually one of the only hardcore bands I listen to. I’m not super into hardcore. But their particular brand of social justice-oriented melodic hardcore is absolutely my shit. When I first found them—particularly their song “Outdated,” which is about how depression is a real illness and how NTs need to stop gaslighting people with mental illnesses—I described them as “the band I would be fronting if I had a band.” At this point I understand that my voice is more suited to symphonic metal than it would be to melodic hardcore, but still, I fucking love this band and relate to their lyrics way too much.

All that aside, is No Bragging Rights anything special, and is this song special? Well, yeah, I think so. Like I said, I don’t listen to much hardcore, but that’s partly because a lot of hardcore seems kind of…well, “boilerplate” might be the right word, but it’s also that I really do mean “a lot” of hardcore seems boilerplate. And I mean “boilerplate” in the sense of “mediocre” and also “lacking depth” and “mostly very similar.” I am probably stretching the denotation of that word, but whatever. Sharptooth did a biting critique of the lack of depth in hardcore with their song “Say Nothing (In the Absence of Content),” which includes lines like “Just regurgitate a couple concepts/And hope it all pays well” and “Generic mosh call/It must be nice to say nothing.” Actually, you know what, check that song out:

I’m not well-versed enough in hardcore or to say what, musically, makes No Bragging Rights special. But I can say that their meaningful lyrics are special, and those lyrics are rarely clunky or awkward. This is a band that has a lot of compassion for people who are suffering. This is a band with heart, and the song “Breaking Point” has heart too. It’s not just proud of the survivor for escaping, but for surviving the ordeal in the first place. And as someone who did escape but took years upon years to do that…yeah, that sentiment really appeals to me.

Okay, I could go on and on about this song, but I’ll move on.

3) “Gaddaar,” Bloodywood

Yep, another song with non-English lyrics! What is happening here!? 

What is happening is that this song fucking SLAPS (and, okay, Bloodywood is kind enough to provide an English translation of their lyrics in their music videos). Bloodywood hasn’t released a bad original song (I haven’t really listened to their covers), and this song is my favorite of Bloodywood’s original pieces. All of Bloodywood’s latest songs blend Indian folk music elements with metal, but I feel like that synthesis is done most effectively in “Gaddaar,” and that’s saying a lot, because all of their folk metal songs are great. This song has a fantastic groove and both vocalists are at their best. Jayant, the singer/screamer, has some of the most impressive patters I’ve ever heard screamed in this song. He’s on par with Henrik Englund of Amaranthe if not better. Raoul Kerr, Bloodywood’s rapper, sometimes has something of a pre-Rakim style when it comes to his flow and lyricism, and it can come off as a little clunky. But his work on “Gaddaar” is by far his best, I think.

“Gaddaar” also has a monstrously huge and catchy chorus that I often find myself singing to myself. (I have to be careful not to sing it around anyone who speaks Hindi, because there’s a “fuck” in there.) The verses are catchy, too. This is probably the catchiest song that Bloodywood has written. That chorus is just so anthemic.

Speaking of being anthemic, I also love the message of this song. It may be primarily about Indian politics, but its message about not being silent in the face of fascism’s rise is horribly relevant here in the States, too. So is Raoul’s verse about insisting that politicians enact the positive change that they promised before they were elected.

I could sing the praises of Bloodywood and “Gaddaar” all day, but instead I’m going to say I’m stoked as hell for their new album in February and move on.

2) “Rules of Play,” Rise Against

Okay, this song has me questioning whether Tim McIlrath is allistic, because “Rules of Play” is Being Autistic: The Song. I mean, the lyrics to the chorus go “Because this life is a game I don’t know how to play/So many lies and disguises I can’t tell what’s fake/But I can tell by the same sad look on your face/You and me, we are the same.” Granted, there could be a multitude of reasons, many of them related to societal oppression, why an allistic person might find life to be a game they don’t know how to play with so many lies and disguises they can’t tell what’s fake…but I swear to fuck those lines perfectly describe my experience of being Autistic and trying to navigate allistic society with all its arbitrary and nonsensical rules. It really is like playing a game whose rules you can’t make heads or tails of and nobody thought to give you the rule book, either.

That aside…I fucking love Rise Against. I have loved Rise Against for years, as those who have read my entry on songs that got me into bands will remember. Rise Against is a very consistent band, too, but this is probably the most ferocious they’ve sounded since Endgame in 2011. I love their sense of melody, I love their wall-of-sound approach, I love Tim McIlrath’s voice, and of course I love their lyrics. “Rules of Play” seems to not only be about struggling with life being a game you don’t know how to play but connecting with someone who feels the same, and that’s how I feel with pretty much all my close friends, and of course my wife. I could have ghostwritten this song (if I were as good a lyricist as Tim McIlrath, which I am very much not).

I’m not really sure what else to say about this song. Like many other songs on this list, it’s not going to win over people who weren’t already fans of the band that made it, but it’s some of the band’s best work. That really does seem to be the theme for this year, doesn’t it? 

1) “Circle With Me,” Spiritbox

I mentioned in my correction to my entry on my favorite non-US bands that my favorite Spiritbox lyric comes from “Circle With Me,” and that lyric is “I held the power of a dying sun/I climb the altar and I claim my place as G-d.”

Damn, Courtney.

So, okay, yeah, this isn’t in any way, shape, or form a surprise. I fucking love Spiritbox and I’ve shared this song on my blog before. And this song also fits with this year’s theme of “not going to win over new fans, but holy fuck, this is some of this band’s best work.” “Circle With Me” showcases Spiritbox’s heavy side and their melodic side, it has one of my favorite sets of Spiritbox lyrics, and Courtney’s vocal performance…I’ve called her “voice goals” before, but I swear, she’s one of the greatest to ever do it. I feel like this one-take performance of “Circle With Me” really demonstrates that even better than the studio version:

You hear how she fry screams the “all” in the penultimate and final “this could all be yours,” as well as the final “yours,” instead of singing it cleanly? But she switches easily back and forth between clean singing and the scream?




Take it from someone who knows how to both sing cleanly and scream, that shit is fucking difficult, and to pull it off as seamlessly as she did takes deity-tier talent. Courtney LaPlante is deity-tier. As a vocals nerd, how could I not make this song my number one of the year?

Okay, okay, yes, fine, there are many other songs on Spiritbox’s debut LP Eternal Blue that i could have picked. There’s not a slouch on the entire track list. There were four different songs from Eternal Blue that were on my “favorite songs of 2021” playlist when I was trying to narrow it down. I want to give a particular shout-out to “Silk in the Strings,” which I could have written about how my CPTSD has not fucked off despite escaping from the people who caused it. There’s literally a lyric in “Silk in the Strings” that goes “I escaped, but I carry you with me.” Here’s that song if you’re curious:

In the end, though, the sound of “Silk in the Strings” was just heavy throughout, and while I did love that, my favorite Spiritbox songs demonstrate the band’s softer side and their harder side in the same piece. Is that unfair? Maybe, but I’m not trying to be objective here. This is not a list of the best songs of 2021; this is a list of my favorite songs of 2021. And my favorite song of 2021, when it came down to it, was “Circle With Me” by Spiritbox.

And that’s the list! I hope you enjoyed it!

Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! Reminder that it’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, see blog entries two days before everyone else, and vote in polls to help me choose blog entry topics!

The tl;dr of the list:

  1. “Circle With Me,” Spiritbox
  2. “Rules of Play,” Rise Against
  3. “Gaddaar,” Bloodywood
  4. “Breaking Point,” No Bragging Rights
  5. “Lush Rimbaugh,” Senses Fail
  6. “Ahi Ka,” Alien Weaponry
  7. “Part of Me,” Evanescence
  8. “Back From the Dead,” Halestorm
  9. “Feast of Fire,” Trivium
  10. “Black Lungs,” Architects
  11. “More of Us Than Them,” Stick to Your Guns
  12. “Eye of the Storm,” Battle Beast
  13. “A World on Fire,” The L.I.F.E. Project
  14. “Skin,” Beartooth
  15. “Flight of the Valkyries,” Burning Witches

Bands I Want to Reunite

Content/trigger warning: mention of suicidality

Hello, dear readers! This month’s topic is bands that have broken up that I wish would reunite. I sorted these by one metric: how badly I want this band to reunite. No math this time. I think this is pretty self-explanatory, so, onward!

5) Glass Cloud

You know how I’ve talked about how I’m bitter that Joshua Travis, the incredibly talented guitarist of Glass Cloud, is now in fucking Emmure and playing guitar lines that I could probably replicate?

I’M STILL FUCKING BITTER. It’s nothing less than a tragedy. Imagine if Yo-Yo Ma started only playing cello covers of children’s songs in a band fronted by a total douche. (In case you aren’t familiar with Emmure…well, I’m jealous, because they’re heinous, but their frontman and only original member Frankie Palmeri? Yeah, he’s a piece of shit.)

In case you haven’t been reading my blog for a while and aren’t familiar with Glass Cloud, they were a djenty, progressive metalcore band that breathed new life into the metalcore formula with Joshua Travis’s virtuoso guitar playing and Jerry Roush’s staggeringly powerful cleans and screams. I actually got into Glass Cloud when I found their song “If He Dies, He Dies” on a list of the best screamers in metalcore, and I listened, and I found Josh Travis’s guitar breakdowns immensely stimmy. I found Glass Cloud’s sound weirdly comforting, and their album The Royal Thousand got me through grad school.

I’ve had people tell me that Jerry Roush is kind of an ass, so it’s unlikely Glass Cloud will reform, but there’s no way he’s a bigger ass than Frankie fucking Palmeri. So I hold out hope that Glass Cloud may reunite. I’m probably kidding myself, but dude, we only got one Glass Cloud LP. That’s not enough. The universe needs more Glass Cloud.

4) Krypteria

Krypteria is one of my favorite female-fronted metal bands; in fact, they were number 5 on my favorite non-US bands list ( Ji-in Cho’s unique voice and the gothic atmosphere of the music made Krypteria instantly memorable to me in a sea of Nightwish wannabes. They never hit it particularly big–their two last albums, My Fatal Kiss and All Beauty Must Die, both of which I LOVED, aren’t even on fucking Spotify–and in 2012, they went on hiatus. They reformed as And Then She Came (yes, really; has no one told these European rock bands to run their names by American middle schoolers to see if they giggle first?) in 2016.

And Then She Came has a lighter sound and more electronic elements than Krypteria. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it is just a thing that does not endear me to them. But what I really dislike about And Then She Came is that they seem to have forgotten how to write a catchy, pleasing melody. None of their music as And Then She Came sticks with me in any way, shape, or form, and I really gave it a fair shake. So they went from a band with a cool vocalist, a compelling, gothic soundscape, and spooky lyrics to a band I couldn’t give a fuck about. Is it any wonder I want Krypteria to re-form?

3) Delain

I bet some of you are surprised that Delain isn’t number 1 or 2 on this list. Well, you’ll see why, but I’m still devastated that Delain broke up. Charlotte’s solo work is…well, it’s damn good music, but most of it isn’t really my thing, even though Charlotte’s voice is lovely as always. Her voice is very soothing to me.

Delain made my all-time favorite bands list and was number 4 on my favorite non-US bands list. They were also number 10 on my guilty pleasures list, but if I’m honest, I only put them on there because so many people in the music reviewer sphere I was part of when I wrote that entry thought Delain wasn’t shit, calling them “Diet Within Temptation” and the like (that’s going to make me mad for the rest of my life, isn’t it?). I said in that entry that Delain “epitomizes ‘nothing special’” and I hereby retract that statement. Delain was special, at least to me. They had a good sense of melody, their lyrics were meaningful, and they wrote the song that got my wife to propose to me when I sang a modified version of it at an open mic night (“We Are the Others”).

I also feel like Delain wasn’t a band that was out of ideas when they broke up. I didn’t love Apocalypse & Chill as much as I loved Moonbathers, The Human Contradiction, or We Are the Others, but I still really enjoyed it and I thought that Delain still had several good albums in them…and then they fucking broke up.

So part of me wants to audition to be Delain’s new vocalist and live out my pipe dream of fronting a symphonic metal band, but most of me wants Delain back.

2) Beautiful Sin

Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember that Beautiful Sin snagged the number 2 spot on my list of 10 bands with only one album, but that album kicked ass. They were also number 8 on my list of favorite non-US bands. And if I were to make a list of my favorite female-fronted European metal bands, they’d rank high. REALLY high. The lead vocalist of Beautiful Sin, Magali Luyten, is also my all-time favorite power metal singer.

So why, Universe, did you give me only one Beautiful Sin album!?

I know, I know, Beautiful Sin is kind of a supergroup. They’re comprised of Helloween’s drummer and songwriter Uli Kusch, Masterplan’s Axel Mackenrott on keyboards, Pagan Mind’s Jørn Viggo Lofstad on guitars and Steinar Krokmo on bass, and of course, frequent Ayreon collaborator Magali Luyten on vocals. All of the members of the band have their own shit going on.

But AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH their one album, The Unexpected, was so fucking good! It was an excellent vehicle for Magali’s badass contralto voice in addition to being really damn solid power metal. Many female-fronted power metal bands out there are just trying to be Nightwish or Within Temptation, but Beautiful Sin was really out there kicking ass as themselves. If anything, their biggest influence was Helloween, considering Helloween’s g-ddamn songwriter was part of the band.

You may be wondering why Delain was number 3 on this list and Beautiful Sin made number 2 despite the fact that Beautiful Sin, unlike Delain, did not make my all-time favorite bands list. Well, that’s because the only reason that Beautiful Sin narrowly missed being on my all-time favorite bands list is that they only have one album, so I didn’t have as much music to love from them as I did the other bands on my list. Also, again, Beautiful Sin has only one album; I have six whole Delain albums I can revisit when I’m missing Delain, but I have tragically little Beautiful Sin music and I. NEED. MORE.

1) My Chemical Romance

Was number 1 on this list ever going to be anything else?

Do I even have to say anything?

MCR was one of the greatest bands to ever do it. Their musicianship was excellent and their music punched thousands of us members of the MCRmy right in the g-ddamn feels. Yes, okay, their debut wasn’t good–I’ll admit that–but they damn sure deserve a Most Improved award for the leaps and bounds they made between I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. And of course, The Black Parade exists in its own little pocket dimension of perfection. If it’s possible to get one’s ashes pressed into a CD once they die, I’m probably going to do that with The Black Parade. Also, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is underrated. It’s a fantastic album. I know a lot of fans were pissed that it wasn’t The Black Parade Pt. 2, but lightning was never going to strike twice on that one and I’m glad they didn’t try to make it strike twice. Granted, fewer songs from Danger Days kept me alive than did songs on The Black Parade–you may recall that “Famous Last Words,” the penultimate song on the bonus track edition of The Black Parade, made it onto my list of songs that saved my life–but I still loved Danger Days and will defend that album to the death.

I was looking forward to more fantastic music from MCR when they broke up. I literally bawled when I heard the news. I know they’ve released statements that they were out of ideas. Maybe it’s good that they broke up instead of churning out creatively exhausted mediocrity like, say, AFI. But I believe that a group of people that creative could have given us at least one more phenomenal album.

What else can I say? I brought them my bullets and took their love, I gave three cheers for sweet revenge, I marched in The Black Parade, I lived out the danger days with the fabulous killjoys. I am not afraid to keep on living, and they’ll never take me alive!

And that’s the list! Happy New Year if you celebrate! Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! If you want to be as cool as them, it’s only $1 a month to see my blog entries early and vote on entry topics.

Bands That Changed Singers Successfully

Hello, dear readers! Sorry there were no entries in November. I was NaNoing.

Anyway! Bands that changed singers and did well with it. Now, I have seen many lists like these. They tend to feature Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and other bands that are no longer active. And then sometimes there are bands on those lists that are financially successful but that I think suck musically, like Three Days Grace. So this list is going to consist of bands that are still active and whose music I think stayed equally good (or almost as good, or got better) after the singer changed. Also, some of these bands changed singers multiple times. I’m only going to talk about one singer change.

I used math for this one. I scored each band on how much I liked the bands before and after their singers changed and calculated the difference. I could go into how I scored the befores and afters, but I don’t think anyone cares about that.

Also, Nightwish is not going to be on this list.


Shut up.

Nightwish is not on this list. Tarja!Nightwish is the best Nightwish, Tuomas Holopainen never knows what to do with the first album with a new singer, and Tuomas has never been able to tailor Nightwish’s sound to Floor’s voice (not to mention their lyrics have had themes inspired by Richard Dawkins, who is antitheist, pro-eugenics, and transmisic, so all of the fuck that). Okay, fine, Imaginaerum was good. Very good. But one good album does not mean I think Nightwish has been good in general since Tarja was fired. (I could listen to Floor cover older Nightwish songs all day, though, especially “Ghost Love Score.” G-ddamn.)

I don’t have any honorable mentions, so let’s get to the list.

10) Killswitch Engage

Before (Howard Jones): 
After (Jesse Leach): 

Okay, this one’s a little weird because Jesse Leach was actually the vocalist for Killswitch Engage for their first two albums in 2000 and 2002, and then Howard Jones took over not long after the 2002 album Alive or Just Breathing and was featured on the 2004 album The End of Heartache. But Killswitch didn’t really have their heyday until HoJo joined, so many metalcore listeners who aren’t diehard Killswitch fans think of Howard Jones as the “main” Killswitch vocalist. I personally got into Killswitch Engage with their second self-titled, but around the same time that I started listening to that album, I started spinning As Daylight Dies as well. I even sang/screamed “My Curse” on Rock Band at a con that I attended. Interestingly, performing “My Curse” made me have more respect for Howard Jones, because that song is hard. 

Killswitch Engage is number 10 on this list because while I feel like Atonement was a damn good showing, I also feel like Disarm the Descent and Incarnate, the two albums that came after Leach’s return, couldn’t touch what Killswitch was capable of with Howard Jones. I even feel like Atonement wasn’t quite as strong as Killswitch Engage was capable of with HoJo. I mean, HoJo was pretty instrumental to the evolution of the band’s sound after he joined. He was a crucial part of the band, and he helped Killswitch Engage become a household name in metalcore.

I don’t have a lot more to say here because…well, full disclosure, I’m not the biggest metalcore fan. A metalcore band has to do something really special and unusual (see: Spiritbox) for me to really love them, so I’m a casual Killswitch listener at best. Still, Jesse Leach is doing a solid job at the helm of Killswitch, and I look forward to their next album.

Score with original singer: 8
Score with new singer: 7
Difference: -1

9) Tsunami Bomb 

Before (Emily Whitehurst): 
After (Kate Jacobi): 

Now here’s a band I wish I got to talk about more! I LOVE Tsunami Bomb. Horrorpunk is my shit, and it’s been tough out there for a horrorpunk fan like me recently since AFI lost their fire inside and Creeper totally revamped their sound into something I don’t care for anymore. So in 2019, when I found out that Tsunami Bomb, a band that was first active from 1998 to 2005 with a blip in 2009, had become active again in 2015 and had released a new album of original material, I was overjoyed. My enthusiasm was dampened when I found out that Tsunami Bomb had reunited without their original singer, whose voice I had loved; it had so much character and pathos, and seemed to me to be a pretty critical part of Tsunami Bomb’s sound.

Turns out Kate Jacobi is a damn good replacement, though! Her voice reminds me a bit of Amy Lee’s, so it’s perfect for spooky music. She seems to really get Tsunami Bomb’s sound and ethos, too, as shown not only on the original material but on re-recordings of Tsunami Bomb’s older music. Do you have any idea how good a re-recording with a new singer has to be for my Autistic ass to enjoy it? I hate change, even good change. If I first hear a song with a particular singer, then my brain wants to hear only that singer singing that song with that band, now and forever. In order for me to like a band’s new singer covering their older work, you have to be Floor Jansen covering Ghost Love Score. Or Kate Jacobi covering “El Diablo.”

So if Kate Jacobi is so damn amazing, why is Tsunami Bomb only number 9 on this list? Well, because she had such a tough act to follow, and because she does a thing that’s a major pet peeve for me: she tries to sing outside her range. I like it when singers know their limitations. The song “Dead Men Can’t Catcall” (off of the 2019 album The Spine That Binds), which otherwise is a great song, especially lyrically, is too low for Kate and it doesn’t sound very good when she tries to sing it. So that knocked Tsunami Bomb’s post-singer-change score down a bit. Still, I really enjoy Tsunami Bomb’s new work and hope they stay together and keep releasing new albums.

Score with original singer: 9
Score with new singer: 8.5
Difference: -0.5

8) Saosin

Before (Cove Reber): 
After (Anthony Green): 

This is another one like Killswitch Engage; singer A was fronting when the band first got together, singer B took over, and then singer A returned. And for both, I’m talking about singer A returning after singer B’s departure. This is especially because Saosin, a California-based post-hardcore band that deserves to be way bigger than they are, only released one EP before Anthony Green left and was replaced by Cove Reber. Cove was with the band for two albums, Saosin in 2006 and In Search of Solid Ground in 2009. I adored Saosin and wasn’t as warm toward In Search of Solid Ground, which had a slightly more accessible sound that I wasn’t quite as into, but I still liked it.

When Cove Reber was dismissed from the band for smoking right before shows (which fucked with his vocal ability), it took a while for Anthony to return…but Anthony did return, and when Saosin released Along the Shadow in 2016, their sound was almost identical to their work with Cove. Yeah, I really do mean almost identical. Fun fact: after Anthony and Saosin parted ways back in 2004, Cove Reber sent in an audition tape of himself singing Saosin’s song “Mookie’s Last Christmas,” and it sounded so much like Anthony that the band thought it was Anthony playing a prank at first. I say “almost” identical instead of “identical,” though, because Along the Shadow is screamier than Saosin and In Search of Solid Ground. I love screamed vocals, but the songs on Along the Shadow weren’t quite as appealing to me as the ones on Saosin, so I ended up scoring Saosin’s work with Cove and with Anthony exactly the same. Still, I love both iterations and hope Saosin releases a new album soon. I mean, come on, dudes, it has been 5 years!

Score with original singer: 7.5
Score with new singer: 7.5
Difference: 0 

7) Burning Witches

Before (Seraina Telli): 
After (Laura Guidemond): 

Ah, Burning Witches. Such a classic example of “Amaranthe loves power metal that isn’t from the US.” In this case, I saw a Burning Witches video show up in my recommended videos on YouTube, looked them up on Facebook and saw that they described themselves as “Swiss all-woman heavy metal band,” and immediately ran to Spotify to check them out. When I first started listening to Burning Witches, they were about to come out with their 2018 album Hexenhammer, and the title track ended up on my favorite songs of 2018 list.

About two years later, I was very disappointed when I found out that vocalist Seraina Telli, whose sick range and ability to sing with grit had won my heart, had left Burning Witches. But I decided to give the new vocalist, Laura Guidemond, a shot, and lo and behold I liked her voice. Hell, as I mentioned in my entry on my favorite power metal singers, Seraina Telli didn’t make that list and Laura Guidemond was number 10. It was a tough call, but I like Laura’s timbre just a little bit better than Seraina’s. In 2020, Burning Witches released their first album with Laura, Dance With the Devil, and none of the songs on that album made my favorite songs of 2020 list…but if I can be real for a second, that was a total oversight. If I could redo that list, I would swap out a song from Dance With the Devil–probably the title track, “Threefold Return,” or “Lucid Nightmare”–for “The Currency of Beauty” by Svalbard, which I haven’t revisited once. 

And in 2021, Burning Witches released another album, The Witch of the North, which was surprisingly solid for being produced in just one year. I’m having a hell of a time narrowing down my 2021 list to just 15 songs because so much music I liked was released this year, so we’ll see if anything from Witch of the North ends up on that list. Regardless, Burning Witches is still kicking ass with Laura fronting. Their sound of old-school-influenced power metal hasn’t changed, and I still love it, so Burning Witches lands at number 7 on this list.

Score with original singer: 7.5
Score with new singer: 7.75
Difference: .25

6) iwrestledabearonce

Before (Krysta Cameron): 
After (Courtney LaPlante): 

So…you know I’m not really into metalcore, right? Yeah…that includes iwrestledabearonce. I’m not a fan. Yeah, yeah, I know that iwrestledabearonce was a famously genrefucky band, but I also am not a big fan of the wild genre shifts–sometimes within songs–either.

So if I don’t even like iwrestledabearonce, why are they on this list?

Because I’m a raving Courtney LaPlante fangirl. She’s my number 5 favorite female screamer (and would probably be higher on that list if I chose to redo it), so of course a band that features Courtney screaming her head off is going to appeal to me more than a woman who didn’t even make the favorite female screamers list screaming her head off. (I did listen to iwrestledabearonce with Krysta for research for that list. She’s talented, she’s just…not Courtney. I especially wasn’t huge into her higher-pitched screams.) Also, Bjork was a major influence on Krysta Cameron when it came to her sung vocals, and…well, Bjork’s affectations work for her. I feel like they don’t work for anybody else.

I did actually try to get into iwrestledabearonce with their 2013 album Late for Nothing because I am a sucker for melody and a music reviewer who I was into at the time said it was more melodic than their previous work. So I gave it a few spins. I loved Courtney, but I wasn’t super into iwrestledabearonce’s musical style. Also, I know some people like when bands don’t take themselves too seriously, but I am not a fan of that, so iwrestledabearonce really wasn’t for me. Still, I could tell that I much preferred Courtney’s vocals to Krysta’s, and while the music wasn’t my thing, I could still appreciate that it was executed skillfully, both before and after Krysta’s departure.

Score with old singer: 6.75
Score with new singer: 7.5
Difference: .75

5) Arch Enemy

Before (Angela Gossow): 
After (Alissa White-Gluz): 

Awwww yisssss, MORE female screamers. My first-ever entry on this blog was about my favorite female screamers, and Alissa White-Gluz made it to number four on that list. Angela Gossow did not make the list, although if I’m honest, that’s because when I made that list, I hadn’t listened to Arch Enemy’s work before War Eternal, their first album with Alissa. Also, because pedants will get mad at me if I don’t mention this, Angela Gossow was not the frontwoman of Arch Enemy when they first formed; the band was originally fronted by Johan Liva. I could talk about that, as the band had significant success with Angela, who is talented as hell, but if I didn’t really listen to Arch Enemy with Angela Gossow, I really didn’t listen to Arch Enemy with Johan Liva. Also, it’s my list and I do what I want. Eat me.

I did listen to some Arch Enemy with Angela for research for this list. I can tell that her technique is good, but she just doesn’t have one of my favorite timbres out there, so I stand by leaving her off my favorite female screamers list. (I might regret putting Alissa higher on the list than Courtney LaPlante, but that’s a conversation for another day.) Their sound didn’t change much when Alissa took over; they were damn good MDM with Angela and they’re still damn good MDM with Alissa. They’re not my favorite MDM act–that honor goes to Blackwater Drowning–and, yeah, I’m still more likely to listen to Children of Bodom (may Alexi Laiho’s memory be a blessing) or MaYaN when I want MDM, but I can still acknowledge that they pulled off their change in singers extremely well. Not only that, I like them better with Alissa at the helm because I like Alissa’s timbre better than Angela’s. Her low-pitched false cord scream is just A+.

Score with original singer: 7.5
Score with new singer: 8.5
Difference: 1

4) Escape the Fate

Before (Ronnie Radke): 
After (Craig Mabbitt):

Oooh, boy, I bet I’m getting some weird looks for putting Escape the Fate, a band that is not good, at number 4 on this list. Those of you who have been reading for a while may even remember that Escape the Fate was number 2 on my guilty pleasure bands list last summer. So if Escape the Fate is a guilty pleasure that I’m aware is bad–especially their latest album, Chemical Warfare; fucking ouch–why are they number 4 on this list?

Because Escape the Fate with Craig Mabbitt is merely inconsistent, mediocre at best…but Escape the Fate with Ronnie Radke? My g-ds, they fucking sucked. Ronnie Radke is a competent screamer, but his singing voice sounds, to put it mildly, like ass. Craig’s timbre may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but at least he can sing! And Ronnie’s lyrics…okay, both Craig and Ronnie can be pretty embarrassingly bad, but at least Craig’s lesser lyrical efforts just sound like he’s out of ideas. But Ronnie’s bad lyrics? Woof. One of Escape the Fate’s biggest songs with Ronnie, “Situations,” has the lyric “I touched her ooh, she touched my ahh.” And the “ooh” and “ahh” noises he makes are the least sexy things I’ve ever heard. Granted, I’m gray-A, so I’m not the best judge, but still. Yikes. At least Craig’s songs with bad lyrics tend to be deep cuts! (Except, unfortunately, on their latest album. Honestly, Escape the Fate was even higher on this list before that album dropped. So bad, you guys.)

To sum up, some of Escape the Fate’s work with Craig is currently a guilty pleasure of mine, but before Craig Mabbitt joined the band, they weren’t even that. They were just ear poison. (Well, except for the guitar solos. Readers, you know I love shredding guitar solos, and Escape the Fate has always had those.) So Escape the Fate gets to be high on the list because of the sheer level of improvement Craig brought to the band.

Score with old singer: 3.5
Score with new singer: 5
Difference: 1.5

3) Northlane

Before (Adrian Fitipaldes): 
After (Marcus Bridge): 

Yep, more metalcore, even though I’m not big on metalcore. So how did a metalcore group make it to number 3 on this list? Okay, fine, this one’s a little weird because the group made major changes to their sound around the same time that the singer changed…with one not necessarily having anything to do with the other. And as I’ve said before, a metalcore group has to do something special for me to like them, and Northlane…well, they’re no Spiritbox or even Architects, but around the time Marcus Bridge joined Northlane, they changed their sound from bog-standard (but not bad) metalcore to a more melodic and djenty sound.

Whether or not you consider djent to be a genre (I personally do not give a fuck about whether or not it’s a genre), I tend to like music that gets called “djent” or “djenty.” This is mostly because I find djenty guitars stimmy. Glass Cloud was the band that first demonstrated that to me, but Northlane was another band that made me realize that I liked that sort of sound. This was especially true of the 2017 album Mesmer, but 2015’s Node as well. Not to mention that 2019’s Alien had the song “Bloodline,” which perfectly describes my relationship with my shitty abusive family, and holy shit did that song hit me in the feels. “Bloodline” is one of my favorite metalcore songs ever and only didn’t make my favorite songs of 2019 list because there was so much music I loved that year.

This list is about vocalists, though, so I’m going to talk about the vocalists now. I was never a big fan of Adrian Fitipaldes’ scream. It wasn’t bad by any means, I just personally didn’t like his timbre much. Marcus Bridge’s scream reminds me of Spencer Sotelo’s scream, and I fucking love Spencer Sotelo’s scream. As far as the cleans go, I feel like I didn’t hear Adrian sing cleanly very much. When he did sing, he had a perfectly fine timbre and often used grit, which I like, but he didn’t sing clearly very much. Marcus’ cleans weren’t always great, but I feel like he has only improved with time. Seriously, I had this blog entry written and was about to post it when I decided to listen to “Clockwork” and “Echo Chamber” (Northlane’s most recent singles) while blazed…and I was so impressed with Marcus’ cleans that I came back to this entry and deleted a sentence about his cleans only being okay.

Score with old singer: 6
Score with new singer: 8
Difference: 2

2) Helion Prime

Before (Heather Michele): 
After (Mary Zimmer): 

Hey, Helion Prime? It’s nitrogenous base, not nitrous base.

Still, Helion Prime wrote a song about Photo 51. How delightfully nerdy is that!? I’d have lambasted Watson, Crick, and Wilkins for fucking over my girl Rosalind Franklin more in the lyrics had I written them, but I still love this song. Unfortunately, I only found out about it in 2021, so even though it had come out in 2020, it was too late to put it on my favorite songs of 2020 list. Sigh.

Okay, okay, back on topic.

Helion Prime is a power metal band whose lyrics are inspired by science fiction but also real scientific discoveries, which is the nerdiest fucking thing ever and I love it. They have actually had three different singers, but I’m only going to be talking about their switch from Heather Michele to Mary Zimmer. Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Mary Zimmer’s voice. The woman’s not only a true contralto–the rarest voice type, and my favorite voice type–she can sing cleanly, sing with grit, fry scream, AND false cord scream. She either was blessed by a vocal deity or IS a vocal deity. She shows off her scream in this song:

That’s her fry scream. She showed off her false cord scream in Helion Prime’s cover of Nightwish’s “Pharaoh Sails to Orion,” which I’m not going to link because you’re probably yelling “We get it! You worship Mary Z’s voice!” at your screen. Which means you understand the point of this section; Helion Prime was awesome and nerdy and power metal-y before Mary Z joined, but when Mary Z joined, that basically made the band Amaranthe bait. Seriously, though, they are very talented and very underrated. If you like power metal, definitely give them a shot. Especially if you also like hearing figures like Rosalind Franklin, Gregor Mendel, and Katherine Johnson extolled in song. Helion Prime deserves more attention. 

Score with old singer: 7.75
Score with new singer: 9.75
Difference: 2

1) Battle Beast

Before (Nitte Valo): 
After (Noora Louhimo):  

So…I like power metal. This is known. It’s not hard to get me to like power metal, especially if the person singing is a soprano, mezzo, or contralto. And Nitte Valo isn’t a bad singer; not at all. Nitte’s voice is very much suited for power metal, and she sounds like she’s having a great time when she sings, which is perfect for fun/cheesy power metal like Battle Beast.

But Noora Louhimo? The woman has one of my favorite singing voices in power metal (as those of you who have read my entry on my favorite power metal singers will know). Hell, she has one of my favorite singing voices in general. What did I say about Noora before? Oh, right: “She can sing beautiful cleans and I love the gritty timbre she can also pull off. She can sing in a high register with grit and never sound grating or screechy. She also has an extremely commanding voice that makes all her sick high notes sound totally effortless.” I really do mean that thing about singing in a high register with grit without sounding grating or screechy, which is something that I feel like can happen with a lot of power metal singers. For example, the aforementioned singers of Burning Witches from number seven on this list; Seraina Telli can get a little screechy at times. Noora? Never. The woman sounds like she was born to sing power metal; she can sing her guts out but also has a great sense of control and dynamics, and her ability to sing with grit is unparalleled.

Battle Beast’s sound didn’t change much if at all after they changed singers. Their massive improvement following Noora joining the band is due entirely to Noora being such a fucking badass. And she is a fucking badass. I’m currently remembering Noora grabbing the mic and belting “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH” at the beginning of “Straight to the Heart” when I saw Battle Beast live. It damn near knocked me on my ass. I can’t praise Noora’s voice and stage presence enough.

But that would get boring, so I’m just going to end the list.

Score with old singer: 7.5
Score with new singer: 10
Difference: 2.5

Thanks for reading! And a special thank-you to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

The tl;dr of the list:

10) Killswitch Engage
9) Tsunami Bomb 
8) Saosin
7) Burning Witches
6) iwrestledabearonce
5) Arch Enemy
4) Escape the Fate
3) Northlane
2) Helion Prime
1) Battle Beast

Favorite Power Metal Singers

Hello, dear readers! This month I will be writing about possibly the most predictable topic for me ever: my favorite power metal singers. Ground rules:

  1. The singer has to have done vocals (guest vocals count) for at least one band that can arguably be called power metal
  2. The singer has to be currently active

I think that’s all the ground rules I have for this one. Regarding how I chose the ranking, I actually didn’t do any math this time; I tried to rank the singers by how much I like their voice, and nothing else. This was hard for me because I found myself biased towards singers whose bands I listened to more often, and I had to reshuffle the list a few times. But I think it’s pretty accurate now.


10) Laura Guidemond (Burning Witches, ex-Shadowrise)

I was devastated when I heard that Seraina Telli, the vocalist of Burning Witches, had left the band a few years back. However, I was overjoyed when I listened to Burning Witches’ music with the new singer, Laura Guidemond, and liked her timbre even better than Seraina’s. Granted, it’s a pretty close call, but Seraina’s voice could get a little grating to me; Laura’s less so. Yes, okay, Laura sounds very similar to Seraina, and her voice is definitely “standard power metal,” but she’s damn good at what she does. And that gets her the number 10 spot on the list. That and I’d kill to be able to sing with grit like she does.

9) Mike Mills (Toehider, Ayreon)

Mike Mills sings the intro and the first two verses of the song I just linked, and his part comes back later on in the song. You know what, this will make it easier to really get a sense for how fantastic this guy’s range is; here’s a live version:

Fucking amazing, right? I know, I know, I could probably make a list of my favorite singers just in that video (and some of them will come back, hint hint), but I don’t listen to Mike Mills’ band Toehider, so I decided to use an Ayreon song. Okay, fine, I did check out Toehider for research for this list, but I chose “Everybody Dies” because it displays Mike’s range so well. 

If you didn’t watch the video…well, you should, but what’s getting Mike on this list is his range. Dude has four octaves. FOUR. And he performs range-scraping songs like “Everybody Dies” on stage like it’s nothing. I thought he was two different people on the album The Source because his range is so fucking massive. Not only does he have a sick range, but I really like his timbre in his higher register, which is something I can’t say about many male singers (well, except for number 8 on this list).

Speaking of which…

8) Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast in Black)

Okay, you’ve got me: I don’t listen to Beast in Black. They’re very similar to Battle Beast, which I love–they were formed by an ex-Battle Beast member, Anton Kabanen–but they sound even more 80s than Battle Beast to me, and there’s only so much 80s I can take. But Yannis Papadapolous, their vocalist? The band’s name is a reference to the manga Berserk, not Yannis’ pipes, but the dude is absolutely a BEAST vocally. One of my friends showed me his cover of Nightwish’s “Ghost Love Score,” and even though I don’t care much for his main band’s work, his talent was so undeniable that I put him at number 8 on this list. Not only is his range ricockulous, he also is amazing at singing both cleanly and with grit. 

What I was most impressed by, though, is his control. He sounds like he has absolute control over every single nuance of his voice. Usually I’m not super into the high-pitched singing with grit that some male power metal singers do because it sounds like they’re just kind of shrieking artlessly or with little control. Yannis sounds like the polar opposite of artless shrieking. He’s one of the most artful singers I’ve ever heard.

Now cover more Nightwish songs, Yannis!

7) Joakim Brodén (Sabaton, Apocalyptica)

I feel like Joakim’s voice is so perfectly suited to power metal. He doesn’t have the stereotypical screechy high range–he’s a baritone–but his voice just sounds so fucking epic. I love his timbre. He just sounds so commanding. I also love when he rolls his r’s, even when singing in English. In short, his voice perfectly suits Sabaton’s topics, which are mostly about heroism in war. I’m a raving peacemonger–I have a pacifist Anti-Flag tattoo, as you may recall–but when I listen to Sabaton, I can actually enjoy the music primarily because of Joakim’s voice. Especially when he’s singing about the Night Witches, a badass all-female regiment that bombed the fuck out of Nazis. (I’m a Jewish conversion student, so of course I’m all about a song about women bombing the fuck out of Nazis.) Joakim is one of those singers who could probably sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and I’d listen to it as long as it was suitably epic, and Joakim could make it suitably epic.

6) Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)

No, Elize did not make this list because the band she sings for shares my name. She makes this list because I fucking love her voice. She also has a very commanding stage presence; I got into Amaranthe when I saw them open for Within Temptation back in October 2014, almost exactly 7 years ago (WHAT IS TIME EVEN). I immediately loved the way Elize worked the stage (and how, like me, she was constantly fixing her ponytail; I felt that). I also thought she absolutely killed her vocal parts live.

Elize is a soprano, and while I usually like big ranges and lower voices on women, the way Elize makes everything she sings sound effortless really wins me over. I also like her timbre and the way she always sounds like she’s having so much fun while singing. And she can false cord scream! Okay, fine, she does that only once, on Amaranthe’s silliest song ever (“BOOM!1”’), but I still think it’s cool that she can false cord scream, especially since fry screams are more common. I also think it’s cool that Elize had the pipes to cover for Anette Olzon one night in 2012 when Amaranthe was touring with Nightwish and Anette was ill. You know someone has pipes if they can sing Nightwish.

Speaking of which…

5) Floor Jansen (Nightwish, Northward, Ayreon, ex-After Forever, ex-ReVamp)

Yes, this is the second version of “Ghost Love Score” on this list. It’s my list. I do what I want. And I love that song. Also, fun fact: Floor has said it’s her favorite song to sing live!

Also, I feel like it’s one of Floor’s best showcases. Floor’s vocal part is sopralto* and her range is go fuck yourself, and I feel like nothing that Nightwish has written for her really showcases how talented she is. (I also hate…I’ve said something rather good about Nightwish’s recent lyrics, what was it…oh yes, the lyrical blowjobs that Nightwish has been giving that piece of shit Richard Dawkins. I can’t enjoy Floor’s voice when she’s singing about that shit.) I feel like Floor is at her best when she’s singing Nightwish’s stuff that was written for Tarja, oddly enough. Northward is…fun, and it showcases her rockier side, but it doesn’t really knock my socks off, vocally, and this list is about my favorite power metal singers. Also, Northward isn’t power metal.

ANYWAY. Floor Jansen is a g-ddamn powerhouse. I don’t think I even have to justify why she’s on this list. Her huge range, her phenomenal clean pipes, her ability to sing with grit and scream, her stage presence…she’s got it all. Actually, some of you might be wondering why Floor is only number 5. Well…it has to do with the fact that my favorite work of hers is covering Nightwish’s older stuff. I feel like nothing I’ve heard on a studio record has really showcased what Floor is capable of. Also, this is total personal preference, but she doesn’t have my favorite clean timbre out there. But game recognize game, and Floor Jansen is unbelievably talented.

*Technically Floor is a dramatic soprano, I think, but I’m being silly to make a point

4) Karsten “Attila Dorn” Brill (Powerwolf)

Awww yissss classically trained power metal singers are my SHIT. Yes, Attila Dorn is classically trained! His style is extremely operatic, and he sometimes sings with grit, a combination that is just A+ to my ears. He also has my favorite timbre of any male power metal singer. Joakim Brodén has an epic-sounding timbre too, of course, but Joakim can be a little bit…much sometimes. I feel like Attila Dorn has just the right amount of epicness in his timbre and delivery. 

Also, you know how I said that Joakim Brodén could sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and I’d listen to it? Well, Attila Dorn actually does sing shit that ordinarily I wouldn’t want to hear. I’m a semi-repulsed gray-asexual and Powerwolf has songs like “Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Undress to Confess,” and, I shit you not, “Resurrection by Erection.” But Attila sells those songs so fucking hard that I can’t help but listen and even dance sometimes when I’m listening to those songs. (I listen to Powerwolf a lot when I cook; it helps me keep up my energy.)

3) Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast, Pentakill)

Noora Louhimo is a fucking badass singer. She can sing beautiful cleans and I love the gritty timbre she can also pull off. She can sing in a high register with grit and never sound grating or screechy. She also has an extremely commanding voice that makes all her sick high notes sound totally effortless. I’ve actually run into people who didn’t know she was a soprano, she makes those high notes sound so easy! 

The two things I am most impressed about with regard to Noora is that 1) her voice is immediately identifiable and 2) she has very good dynamics. You hear Noora and you know it’s Noora. Yes, her voice is perfect for power metal, but she doesn’t sound like every other power metal singer. She’s also capable of toning it down at times; it’s impressive to blow people’s ears out 100% of the time, but it also gets old when singers do that. Noora can perform softer dynamics without sacrificing intensity, especially on songs like “Endless Summer” (which was maligned by many Battle Beast fans, unfairly so, in my opinion).

2) Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish, solo work)

Some of you may be surprised to see Tarja not in the number one spot. Well, I’ll get there. But still, Tarja is one of my favorite singers ever. I love operatic vocals from classically trained power metal singers, and Tarja has that in spades. I also love how unique but also gorgeous her timbre is. I mean, do I even have to talk about how amazing Tarja is? She’s Tarja fucking Turunen. She fronted Nightwish during their best years (Tarja!Nightwish is best Nightwish, don’t @ me). She makes ridiculous high notes sound effortless. She has a cool accent. And her solo career is totally underrated, if you ask me; that’s part of why I included one of her solo songs in this entry. (Speaking of Tarja’s solo career, hey Spotify, why don’t you have her album Colours in the Dark? It’s a good album!) She also does great covers; she has covered “Darkness” by Peter Gabriel, “Poison” by Alice Cooper, and “Supremacy” by Muse, and they all kick ass.

Could I be biased because Nightwish was the first power metal band I listened to, leading me to think of Tarja’s voice as the definitive sound for power metal? Maybe, but the fact that I’m biased doesn’t mean I’m wrong about what a vocal badass Tarja is. I’d never heard such an effortlessly powerful vibrato-filled voice in metal before, and I still don’t think I have since. 

1) Magali Luyten (Ayreon, Beautiful Sin, ex-Nightmare)

(Magali sings the chorus, and that’s also her going HAM at the end of the song)

Remember in my favorite non-US bands blog entry when I mentioned that Magali Luyten is one of my favorite singers ever?

Yeah, about that.

Look, Tarja’s a phenomenal talent with a spectacularly unique and powerful voice. But she’s a soprano, and at the end of the day, I’m all about women who can sing low. And Magali Luyten is a true contralto, not a mezzo-soprano who thinks they’re a contralto because they sing 4th in SSAA (like me until recently, lol); she can hit an A below low C. That’s rare as fuck. (And really hot, if you ask me. Yes, I may be biased because of my romantic attraction to low voices on women.) Magali also has one of my favorite timbres ever, and she has an amazing scream. She would have been a candidate for my favorite female screamers list if she used her scream more often. Remember that video of Ayreon’s “Everybody Dies” from the Michael Mills section of this list? That’s Magali in the badass studded jacket singing The Chemist’s part (“Then ominous skies materialize/And everybody dies”) and then some of the Diplomat’s part, etc. She screams on the second “And everybody dies” and I get chills, I swear. And she does that LIVE. She also has buckets of stage presence. I’d kill to see Ayreon live before I die, and Magali is a big part of why. She recently became the vocalist for a new band called The Prize, and you damn well better believe I’ll be listening to their first LP.

And that’s the list! I hope it was enjoyable to read, and I hope that if you like power metal and weren’t into Ayreon before, you are now. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

The tl;dr of the list:

10) Laura Guidemond (Burning Witches, ex-Shadowrise)
9) Mike Mills (Toehider, Ayreon)
8) Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast in Black)
7) Joakim Brodén (Sabaton, Apocalyptica)
6) Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
5) Floor Jansen (Nightwish, Northward, Ayreon, ex-After Forever, ex-ReVamp)
4) Karsten “Attila Dorn” Brill (Powerwolf)
3) Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast, Pentakill)
2) Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish, solo work)
1) Magali Luyten (Ayreon, Beautiful Sin, ex-Nightmare)