TPM Top 40 Songs of 2021


Before I proceed, I want to point out one thing. I did not include Earthside’s mind-shattering “All We Knew and Ever Loved” in this list, mainly because I assume the album is coming in 2022 and will be officially a 2022 release in my eyes. That’s how I roll, anyways. It would definitely be near the top here if I felt it were eligible.


40. Atravan – “My Wrecked House

I love this Floydian, melodic track from Atravan. The addictive chorus and especially the amazing keys throughout kept me coming back time and again.


39. Moonspell – “Apophthegmata

Moonspell brings the Gothic sound deeply here. The song trades back and forth between lumbering riffs and melancholy portions, and the effect is striking.


38. Epoch of Chirality

– “Pyramid Cybergod”

Electronic, spacey, and mysterious, this track from EOC kept me going last year. I love how it builds layer upon layer, but never becomes bombastic. It values the atmosphere it has created.


37. Keor – “Warlike”

Brash and frenzied at times, serene and spiritual in others, this is Warlike from Keor. This track is perplexing and soothing, violent and peaceful. It is amazing.


36. Nine Skies – “Porcelain Hill”

Pastoral and serene, this Nine Skies track features the great Damian Wilson. His voice is perfect for this song as he hits the gravy, yet subtle hooks wonderfully. This song is a real grower.


35. Mono – “Riptide”

Starting off peaceful and organic, but soon launching a full scale assault on the senses, Riptide is the opener from the new Mono record. It sees them at their heaviest on what is probably their most overall ambient album. It’s a play on contrasts, then, and beautiful one at that.


34. Ghost Echo – “Pitfalls”

This song gets better every time. Ghost Echo is an pop/prog rock/electronic duo, and this album closer is seriously haunting and eerie. It really works, though, and the vocals are outstanding.


33. Ignea/Ersedu – “Mermaids”

This spiraling, fantastical track from Ignea and Ersedu really captivated me. It is heavy and symphonic, guttural and gorgeous. Both bands did really well on the entire EP.


32. Michał Wojtas – “Learning Mode”

Whirling, as if in crystalline light, this cyberpunk electronic track from Amarok’s Michał Wojtas was frequented by me last year. I love the spiraling loops and the transition in the middle that soon gives way to even more cinematic flair.


31. Charlotte Wessels

– “Soft Revolution”

Featuring what is easily one of the best choruses of the year, this tune from Charlotte Wessels wormed its way into my mind almost immediately. I love the various hooks and tones that bring this song together.


30. Matelo Mantra – “Skylark”

This song almost always takes me by surprise. It starts with piano and a beautiful melody, but soon an ethereal ambience rises, and this little synth hook gets repeated, and I absolutely love it. Brilliant work.


29. Smalltape – “Hunger”

Hunger is both a perfect little track on its own, and also a great introduction to Smalltape’s overall sound. This track is breathy and stylish, with gentle synth lines and a building atmosphere that is simply beautiful. Soon, the hypnotic violins enter the fray, and the song only gets more massive from there.


28. Grorr – “Blackened Rain”

I listened to this song countless times last year. Its groovy and deep sound is perfectly punctuated by various bright instruments, and soon the whole song gets moving. It gets heavier and heavier, and I just love the build it has.


27. Sunnata – “God Emperor of Dune”

This Sunnata track has such a heavy atmosphere, even if the guitars themselves aren’t that heavy. It feels like an incense-soaked, ritualistic nightmare in the desert. I can’t get enough of it.


26. John Carpenter

– “Alive after Death”

I can’t say enough about this track. John masterfully weaves subtle and purposeful synth melodies with cinematic, haunting auras. It feels colorful and dark, mysterious and enlightened. I love the storytelling feeling, as well.


25. Empyrium

– “The Three Flames Sapphire”

Lumbering drums and ghostly flutes abound in the gracious track from Empyrium. I love the vocal technique and the shadowy feelings, especially as the song explodes into its metallic second half.


24. Justin Stewart Cotta

– “Just Enough”

Another song with an amazing chorus, Just Enough has been visited by me often. I love the soulful gait and the way Justin sings the verses. But the real payoff is the chorus, which is rich and incredible.


23. Steve Hackett

– “The Devil’s Cathedral”

What a song this one is! Hackett has produced one of his most malevolent, almost spooky tracks ever. Nad Sylvan sings on this one, and does an amazing job, and the organs and guitars just sound splendid. The real star of the show, though, is the song structure, which takes us from haunted to rocking to climactic. This one will be a breathtaking experience live.


22. Steven Wilson – “King Ghost”

This is maybe one of the most addictive songs of 2021. Steven uses his falsetto and does so beautifully, and the song is just a pure electronic, cinematic masterwork. My son requests this one all the time.


21. The Catafalque – “Móló”

This is one amazing song on one amazing record. This track starts out with beefy riffs, squirrely synth, and dark harsh vox, but transitions into an ambient electronic piece with filmic qualities and a fantastic synth tone. This song is pretty damn unique.


20. Mission Jupiter

– “Billion Miles Away”

This is the flashy opener from the new Mission Jupiter album, and it never fails to inspire. I love the dynamic drums, the loud-quiet stylings, and the immense vocals. The song is pretty short, but it has a major impact.


19. The Emerald Dawn

– “The Ascent”

This 22-minute epic from TED is truly a work of art. With subtle cinematic flair, a glorious central melody, and true patience, this song builds and weaves, muses and mutters. With a gorgeous vocal performance, distant guitar solos, and spectacular keys, this song just makes me feel more human, pure and simple.


18. Rose Riebl –

“An Ending, Go Back to the Beginning”

On a careful, pensive album, this song is maybe the most introspective and powerful of them all. I love its gentle beginning, which contains mere flickers of the fire yet to come.  As the song progresses, it builds and adds layers, and soon a torrent of melody and command erupts into a mighty climax that always leaves me breathless. 


17. Epica – “Seal of Solomon”

Choosing a favorite from the new Epica album is nearly impossible. This track, though, always sticks out in my mind for its liberal use of the choirs—those choirs really made the album something special. Add in the Middle Eastern vibe and the typical Epica production, and you have a spectacle that never gets old.


16. Cosmograf – “In 1985”

There is just something about this song that I love. It might be the slight classic rock vibe or the catchy chorus, or maybe the warm musical break in the middle that always sounds so good. I don’t know, I just love it.


15. RA – “Divided”

Sahaj sounds absolutely amazing on this track. Between the powerful guitars, monster chorus, and incredible vocal performance at the end, this song always leaves my ears ringing and my heart uplifted.


14. Michał Łapaj

– “Shattered Memories”

It’s difficult to beat Mick Moss’ voice on anything, but when you combine it with Michał’s fantastic keyboard instincts and a gravy chorus, things can only get better. While the single isn’t really representative of the rest of the album, and while some of the electronic tracks were perhaps better in my eyes, this is the song I find myself listening to the most.


13. Swallow the Sun

– “All Hallows’ Grieve”

Swallow the Sun + Cammie Gilbert of Oceans of Slumber is a true winning combination. Cammie has the emotive power that this song really needs, and the poetic and expressive chorus immediately embedded itself within me. What a song!


12. Amarok – “Hero”

Amarok songs are always soothing, and Hero might be one of the best of them all. I love the casual gait, the rising chorus, and the overall goodness of this track.


11. Remina – “Aeon Rains”

This song will be on the debut Remina album next year, I think. It released all the way back in July, so I chose to include it. Remina is Heike Langhans of Draconian plus Mike Lamb of Sojourner, and this Gothic, doomy track is darkwave and spacey to the core, and the flow is absolutely inspiring.


10. Thomas Bergersen

– “Dear Mr. Alien”

You know, there are several tracks on the newest Thomas Bergersen record that spoke to me in special ways. One Million Voices is a great example with its multiethnic palette. Yet, Dear Mr. Alien is what draws me the most. This song feels like a message of hope from Earth to the stars, but also a love letter to the idea of extraterrestrial life itself. Maybe even a fan letter to science fiction. There are so many nuances, and its subtle, yet immersive style tells the story so well.


9. ISON – “Waves”

Well, here Cammie Gilbert is again, this time with one of my favorite projects, ISON. This is yet another emotional, subtle, and intensely human song, one that connects with reality all around us. Fantastic track.


8. Bader Nana – “Star Born”

This might be the catchiest song on this list. Bader Nana knows how to write a strong hook, and I find myself singing this one all the time. It’s on a great album, too, but this song really stands out from the rest.


7. Candlebox – “Riptide”

When it comes to the new Candlebox album, you have the catchy ballad of Riptide or the proggy closer Criminals. I wasn’t sure which to choose, but something about the simplicity, wonderful vocals, and heartfelt emotions on this track has fixated me.


6. Kauan – “Ote” + “Hauta”


Two tracks, I know, but I consider them to be one. The entire album is basically one long track, but these two go together more closely. I love all the waves and ups and downs, the gritty riffs in some places, and the siren-like vocal melodies in others. It really is a spectral track, one that feels abstract and hazy, and there is no denying the strength of the writing.


5. Lucifer Ascending

– “Kingdom of Despair”

This was one of two songs from ex-Sybreed vocalist Benjamin D. M. Nominet and his new project Lucifer Ascending. It doesn’t appear that a full album is in the works quite yet, though. Anyways, I’ve been listening to this fantastic track. It is like a more laid back Sybreed with more melody and atmosphere. Ben has always been amazing at writing melodies, though, and he doesn’t disappoint here.


4. Evergrey – “Where August Mourns”

The new Evergrey album is perfect. This song is the one that I keep returning to the most with its in-your-face keyboard melody, amazing chorus, and fantastic guitars. The timing, the emotions, the lyrics—everything feels great.


3. Fragment Soul

– “A Choices Between Two Evils”

What I thought of as an odd track at first soon became one of my favorites. This dark and melancholic song features Heike Langhans in several parts, which is obviously why I initially took the plunge. But there is more than just her guest spot going on her. This song and album are progressive and doomy, beautiful and exquisite. Much of the song is downtempo and gloomy, but those moments are countered by rhythmic portions with great drumming. This song is a true gem.


2. The Paradox Twin – “Wake Vortex”

Explosive? Emotional? Dynamic? This lead single from the new album by The Paradox Twin feels truly momentous and overwhelming at times. As Danny’s breathy vocals groove through the verses, you can feel the build up, and then Nicole unleashes her voice for the chorus, and all is right with the world.


1. Ross Jennings – “Grounded”

I thought long and hard about my favorite song of 2021. And this one kept staying on the list. Ross Jennings’ debut solo album is everything from fun to emotional, and this song lands squarely in the emotional, introspective side. I love the Floydian interlude, yes, but it is the gigantic chorus, the way Ross sings it, and the fantastic lyrics that really make this my favorite song of the year.


3 responses to “TPM Top 40 Songs of 2021

  1. Hey, I created a Spotify playlist of this list, if anyone wants to check it out. It’s missing ISON and The Emerald Dawn, these don’t seem to be available on Spotify.


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