The Best Ukrainian Releases of 2021

Without fanfare, we present to you the list of 2021 Ukrainian best albums and EPs according to Neformat.

You can listen to these releases on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer i Youtube Music.

The methodology for defining the top was the following: first, the editorial team together with active freelancers voted for the best albums and EPs via two separate lists, and second, based on the voting but taking into account additional factors, exclusively editors discussed the received list and selected the releases you see here.

Top of albums

1914 — Where Fear And Weapons Meet (death metal)

On their third LP, 1914 perfected their formula of war blackened death metal, this time generously seasoning it with orchestric and symphonic elements. Invited guests Nick Holmes and Sasha Boole spiced it up, and all this ultimately propelled the album into the tops of various acclaimed foreign music publications, apparently, even before its official release. We won’t argue with this and confirm that it is undoubtedly one of the best national metal albums of the year.



Твій Бог Сьогодні П‘яний — Голос Пітона (Your God Is Drunk Today "Python’s Voice") (rap)

This year’s album of Lviv band Tvii Boh Siohodni Piianyi “Holos Pitona” (Your God Is Drunk Today “Python’s Voice”) is one of the most interesting and best works in Ukrainian rap in the past few years. Music-wise, it’s the new-school rap with decent instrumentals and good rapping skills by the band’s members. Lyrically, the album is devoted to the life of Syhiv [a neighborhood in Lviv] drug addicts, the whole release is steeped in stories from the lives of these people that are truly interesting to listen to.

There are thought-out plots, characters change a few times on the very same track, it’s interesting to follow how things unfold in lyrics. The slang common to this marginal stratum is used, while the described situations are perceived as truthful as possible. At the same time, there is no romanticizing of drug use, and one would not want to get into the described events.



a noend of mine — Sanctuaires (post-prog)

Les’ Vynohradov writes really atmospheric and deep music in the spirit of David Sylvian and Toby Driver, and his last album “Sanctuaires” can be defined as atmospheric post-prog. It’s a genuinely rare work, which, in addition to the author's version of the ancient Greek language, gives a chance to hear the “secular version of spiritual music” according to Les’. Melancholic landscapes are merged with electronic pulsations and the artist’s calming voice, and also with musical collages that take you to “Yak Tebe Ne Liubyty” (“How Can I Not Love You”; the official anthem of Kyiv city) and Liatoshynsky’s symphony. Put simply, this album is for brave explorers.

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Andriy Kapusta — Planeta Kapusta. Shquarcore (hardcore techno)

We decided not to include splits or compilations in the top list but made an exception for the Pincet label and the special “shvarcore” of Andrii Kapusta, as this release hosts the artist’s works made from 2008 to 2020. Still, the final picture turned out integral, and such a difference in time is imperceptible whatsoever. Planet Kapusta is worth giving a listen because it’s our response to the relevant cultural and musical directions, for instance, Wixapol, but with a tangible Ukrainian atmosphere. After all, just high-quality and interesting gabber with hardcore techno is not as frequent a visitor in the Ukrainian musicians’ art as wished it to be.

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Artem Bemba — Fried Autumn Leaves (progrock)

While the previous album was mostly buoyant, this work has more shades to it. Material for this album may have taken years to take form but Artem managed to masterfully arrange it and piece together the parts of this tiny beautiful world. Here, the contemporary context, in which the songs are written, merges with the early 70s through sound, and the upbeat Ukrainian folk-pop of the “mustache funk” sounds along with the songwriter’s introverted psychedelic folk. This very addition of something of one’s own, Ukrainian, is what brings this prog album to our top chart.

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Azathoth Circle — Siaivo (metal)

The Azathoth Circle band has long been around, they lived periods of noticeable activity and moments they went out of sight. And now after another going off the radar, the band emerges with a fresh LP and releases perhaps the best Ukrainian-made metal album of 2021. Here, the listener gets cross-genre metal, noticeably blackened, with tightly nailed-together tracks, hit hooks, and a spooky atmosphere. Guitar skill on point, flawlessly laid-out voice parts, good Ukrainian lyrics. The only drawback of this album is probably the lack of a decent promo campaign, resulting in a part of potential listeners missing it. However, everything is excellent here as far as music goes. Excellent work to keep coming back to.

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Earmake — Cosmic Hero 3 (retrowave)

Somewhat undeservingly, we didn’t give enough attention to this artist’s releases in our previous top lists but Earmake is just one of those projects that decently represent Ukraine in its genre and is released on NewRetroWave, a large label in this scene. This is a top-notch retrowave that receives quite a lot of acclamation and support from fans all around the world. This year, the final part of the Cosmic Hero album trilogy came out, which as the previous releases of the series, deeply immerses the listener in the atmosphere of total neon and sci-fi films from VHS cassettes.



Këkht Aräkh — Pale Swordsman (black metal)

Pale Swordsman is one of the strongest and most conceptually consistent black-metal albums of the year in Ukraine and not only, note the sales amount on Bandcamp and the acclaim from abroad. The best description of this album — we’ve been waiting for it since 1993, as far from everyone can do it in 2021 like the founders of the genre but without self-repetitions and with unique peculiarities.

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Kurs Valüt — Kurs Valüt (synthpop, electronic)

This is the case when we don’t want to use big words but this band has undoubtedly set a high bar for the dark electronic scene of Ukraine. This release yet again showcases the artists’ skill regarding the technical part and confirms that the limits of the chosen concept don’t prevent from releasing an original and coherent album, almost without repeating the previous sound.

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MERZOTNA POTVORA — Halas z pekla (blackened thrash metal)

This release will be a real catch for the fans of orthodox metal forms. On their first LP, MERZOTNA POTVORA band releases a great deal of blackened thrash metal on raw feisty sound, with heaps of hit moments and great Ukrainian lyrics. The band’s approach to the material demonstrates well that these people know what they are doing and love it. I would single out “Metal Palaje”, which deserves to be nominated as the hymn of Ukrainian metal. It should appeal to the devotees of the black metal first wave or late Darkthrone of that period when they had not yet entirely dived into doom metal.

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Mortal Vision — Mind Manipulation (thrash metal)

This year a few thrash metal albums were released in Ukraine, all of them were quite decent but this one is the strongest. Mortal Vision from Dnipro release 8 top-quality tracks of first-class old-regime thrash in the spirit of early Sepultura. The album came out via a strong theme label Redefining Darkness, received loads of positive feedback from loads of field-oriented media and support from the genre’s fans from all over the world



NO — Fallen (post-black metal)

At first glance, the album may seem plain but it is worth listening to, and not once, as the release turned out truly interesting — post-black with quality sound but not too sweet. Orthodox black metal was more used here as a basis, but the musicians presented it in a modern disguise with a touch of various modern styles, which makes the album interesting for both lovers of the classical black and for a wider audience.



Odradek Room — Painted Mind (doom metal)

Albums of doom metal bands are not so common on the domestic scene, and new releases are a real gift for fans of the genre. It is especially gratifying when domestic bands release works of such a level as this year's Odradek Room’s album "Painted Mind". A strong mixture of doom death metal with atmospheric post-metal, well-thought-out compositions, and a dismal atmosphere are intertwined, and a really frightful work comes together with musical material setting a high bar. And, as is often the case with us, the album of the domestic band receives a lot of positive feedback from listeners around the world but not in the homeland. Even though this is virtually one of the strongest and most interesting Ukrainian metal albums of 2021.

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Serpents. — Serpents. (emo punk)

We are in the middle of the fifth wave of emo, musicians of which mix all the legacy together: from Embrace to Paramore, from emotional hardcore to molemo. At the same time, each band has its own peculiarities — some play with the jazz standards, some prefer ambient. Our Serpents. are like nothing else, and overall, everyone will find here just as many references as their knowledge of emo will let them do. A good example of how to be part of the wave when it’s only gaining strength.



Shiva the Destructor — Find the Others (psychedelic rock)

The album has a very mature and confident sound. Inventive transitions, moderate eastern influences, polyphony and rhythm make it quite non-trivial. One can call this multidimensional music or involuntary journey without actual change of place — both variations would be accurate.



Straytones — Magic Green River Swimmin' & Stunning Tarzanka Experience (garage rock)

Rockers from the capital Straytones released one of the most potent albums of domestic psychedelic rock. Really strong drive material, vintage sound and pleasant summer vibe — all this awaits the listener inside this release. Hit and easy to perceive material makes it accessible for as many listeners as possible. And what a cover! This picture full of interesting characters and details together with the album’s music will let you fully dive into the atmosphere of a careless summer.

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Svarog — Levitation (techno)

What can be objectively written about music in the genre of techno? First and foremost, it can be either powerful or not. Svarog is a bright example of eastern-European masterly and piercing techno which, once you’ve given it a listen at home, you’ll surely want to “feel with your body” at a rave party and dance to it gathering your last forces.



The COW — SHVYDSHE NIJ TRIP (psychedelic rock)

If one has a task to single out the most original album in the Ukrainian psychedelic scene of 2021, The COW will definitely own such a title. And the thing here is not only about the Ukrainian lyrics and well-chosen themes, although they undoubtedly also make the LP stand out among the competitors. The music itself that The COW writes is neither moving towards quiet, classical and verified sound, such as Shiva the Destructor’s, nor is it an echo of sweet indie such as Love`n`Joy’s, instead it really is a crazy trip with elements of psychedelics, garage rock, unexpected decisions and moves in guitar parts and vocals, in short, it’s better to hear it once than regretting your whole life about missing.



VARIÁT — I Can See Everything From Here (industrial)

It is challenging to produce a conceptionally original industrial release in 2021 but still possible to make atmospheric and interesting music in this genre. Variat is just the case. Furious, heavy and noisy — the album gives an unforgettable experience during listening.

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Vidmershiy Shmat — Khryp (black metal)

While recalling domestic black metal, bands come to one’s mind that predominantly play more atmospheric music, and with elements of folk. Something evil and unmelodic is in the appreciable minority. Here, in the rank of such a minority, something has emerged. At the end of the year, a young capital band Vidmershiy Shmat released their first full-length album Khryp. The material on it is a mixture of evil dark black metal with no less evil and dark post-metal. With two kinds of vocals, one of which is in the spirit of depressive suicidal black metal, and the other one is growling in the spirit of Neurosis. All this is spiced up with noise collages that alternate with regular tracks. A strong debut worth your attention.



Top EP's

0%Mercury — Stump EP (mathcore/metalcore)

The Ukrainian metalcore scene has been quite active recently, and we’d like to mark this movement with Kharkiv’s 0%Mercury EP on our top list. The team has matured a lot on this release and demonstrates technical metalcore in conjunction with complex structures of mathcore to listeners. There’s some hardcore vibe here as well, as the band’s videos can be found on the Hardcore Worldwide channel, and they are made with high quality, by the way. The picture is complemented by the magnificent vocal of frontwoman Elfi Elfman and the charisma the whole team demonstrates during live shows. A set of characteristics worthy of attention.

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Дело дрянь —.​.​.​Грязь Улиц Города Котов EP (Bad News — Street Dirt Of The Cat City)(hardcore)

Hardcore punk from Odesa loudly declares itself with the debut EP. Fast-paced, saucy and short-spoken material. Short tracks with spectacular accompanying videos, skateboarding, and Odesa. A really good start.

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Миша Лигуревич — Заговоры и песни EP (Misha Lihurevych — Incantations and Songs) (dark folk)

Original dark folk with intentionally “bad sound” but rather engaging presentation. The key narratives of the release — “life as roaming in a great steppe”, magic, paganism, and local mysticism — make the album bright, which is why it haunts you for a long time.

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ТУЧА — Токсік EP (TUCHA — Toxic)(techno)

Techno that you can really dance to coupled with lyrics about urgent social problems is something quite new for the Ukrainian music scene. Such a combination became possible thanks to the musical talent and principal feminist position of the project’s creator Mariia Tuchka. It’s worth adding that the lyrics are written in Ukrainian, the musician performs them with true sincerity, and also compliments the general picture with bright visuals. A release about social stuff that you really buy into.



ASKEt — Секта. Культ жиру EP (ASKEt — Sect. The cult of fat) (rap)

One of the brightest rap releases of the year. Transition to Ukrainian benefited ASKEt and added to the intentionally aggressive, well, “fat” presentation of the material, developed on the previous releases. The rapper sounds very lively and emotionally, and is called legit underground on thematic publics, so here it is on our top list. (But they could’ve well uploaded those few tracks onto streaming platforms).


Cios — Біль. Гніт. Бруд. EP (Cios — Pain. Abuse. Dirt.) (post-punk, reggae)

Skins play post-punk with reggae, even though they released street punk-rock earlier. Such a change is far from a new phenomenon for this genre, look back on the cases such as Blitz or Red London, but it is something new and quite bold for Ukraine with only a few active street-punk teams. What is more, Cios has come up with a dirty DIY sound, invited guests, and didn’t forget to touch on social problems in certain lyrics.


Demontag — Demontag EP (hardcore)

The new blood of Ukrainian hardcore. Lofi sound and lyrics covering the social issues of Ukraine’s industrial cities make this band stand out against the “old guard” of the domestic hardcore.

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drimandr — Амнезія EP (drimandr — Amnesia) (emorap)

drimandr is part of the Svitanok digital label, which is really active right now, and the artists of which make rather relevant music in Ukrainian. The label overall released quite many worthy works, more often singles, and the Amnesia EP stands out against them for the integrity of the storytelling and thought-out concept. This is light indie with a pleasant teenage vibe and melancholic music that makes you sincerely empathize with the author. A great addition to the Ukrainian doomer scene.



Furuvgerendufuroval — Behesadomatica EP (noise, black metal)

Black metal from the Carpathian lowlands. Evil and poisonous. With a minimal set of instruments. Only a drum machine, overloaded bass, and noise from a bunch of accessories, processors and vocals, which produces lots of disgusting and blasphemic lyrics, all interlaced together. Very negative work with sound, which is quite rare for the domestic black metal scene.


Guerilla Noir — Into the Void EP (metal)

The lockdown has immensely influenced the lives of many people around the whole world. A surprising amount of free time coupled with anxiety has turned out to be a strong stimulus for the self-actualization of many. So two members of a known Irish punk project O'Hamsters did not stay aside and assembled a new project to play cross-genre metal. The guys started with two strong singles, and later released their first EP. We have three completely different tracks on it that hold together well thanks to the common sound. Hardcore is mixed with black metal, turning into the modern variation of metalcore, and reaches final with a post-metal track. But despite the wide palette of genres, all this is coherent and interesting to listen to.

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Homesick — День За Днем EP (Homesick — Day By Day) (punk rock)

This iconic team from Odesa is coming back with a new release after a several-years-long break. At one time the band became one of those who brought punk rock back to hardcore, and through all these years, it has stayed true to the chosen musical vector. And so the material of this EP turned out almost predictable. Why almost? The release has a cover version of “По приютам я с детства скитался” (“I’ve been bouncing around orphanages since childhood”) from the «Республіка ШКІД» (“The Republic of ShKID”) film, and this is not the most typical move for a domestic hardcore release. The rest is no surprise but this is not a disadvantage because the band’s fans value it for that very familiar sound.

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Kingpin — Ultima Ratio EP (hardcore)

This year was rich with hardcore releases from Odesa. Just like Homesick, their city comrades Kingpin have come back with a new release after a years-long break. Here we have 4 strong hardcore tracks with melodic vocals of the 90s alternative rock. That is something bands like Leeway or Only Living Witness used to play. The material sounds rather confident and stylish.



Light Of Mine — Searching For The Light EP (hardcore)

Odesa and hardcore again but of a little different kind. The Light Of Mine has released a debut EP where it demonstrates its love for the US hardcore of the 90s. Three tracks under the influence of Against The Wall, Inside Out, Chain of Strength. Music made with knowledge of the matter and love for the original sources. As a result, we have one of the best domestic hardcore releases of the year and a good push to wait for the new records.

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Milktuth — Easy EP (dreampop)

On the topic of summer and good releases. “Easy” is 6 nice hit songs with a great mood that are easy to listen to and make you want to turn them on again. Music at the crossroads of dream pop and shoegaze made with good knowledge of the matter. This is not strange at all as the band’s members have years of experience behind them. Ai Laika! band alone is worth it! The softness of the sound, melancholic mood, summer vibe — all this has appealed to the fans of high-quality guitar music and more.



SMURNO — Скло EP (SMURNO — Glass EP) (post-punk)

SMURNO has released a quite predictable post-punk as if from the 80s slightly incorporating its own innovative moves music-wise. But they added non-trivial lyrics in Ukrainian that one wants to make sense of to this cold atmosphere and thus distanced themselves from such a phenomenon as the “Russian new wave”, which is definitely a plus. And that same predictability of the sound worked out quite well — it’s like an old friend with whom you always know what to expect and can fully concentrate on the essence of things.

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Subscum — Subscum EP (grindcore)

A new band from the capital and the people that have been in this business for a long time. Strong old-school grindcore with the right sound mixed with noise collages. The power of the material is felt both on the record and live. Overall, it seems that this marginal genre is now in some kind of revival — more releases come out, new bands emerge, and quite a lot of people attend thematic events. Subscum is at this point perhaps the most noticeable band in this process.


The Raw — Света нет EP (The Raw — No Light) (melodic hardcore)

Kharkiv's The Raw with their first singles were already giving hope, but they still didn't sound confident enough. However, their debut EP, which we are talking about here, immediately gave listeners that very melodic hardcore with good guitar solos, penetrating screamo and convincing emotions. One of the best thematic releases on the domestic scene that met expectations and sets even higher hopes for the future works of the band.

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thekomakoma — Альбом Київський EP (thekomakoma — Kyivian Album) (eurodance)

Almost the only representative of the hit, vivid eurodance in Ukraine. If the film Kids Turbo had been shot in Ukraine, this album would have had to be a soundtrack to it. thekomakoma's music is a bridge between the musical cultures of Kyiv, Berlin and Western Ukraine, and in the lyrics, consciously or not, the author quite subtly notices and conveys the reality that surrounds him. Listen now, because the artist is gaining momentum so fast that you probably won't see him in our next top list.

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Triple Jump — Kid EP (emo punk)

Emo punk as it should be. As though the early '00s are outside the window, Saves the Day will soon be playing in your city, with this very local band on support. On the one hand, Triple Jump has not brought anything new to the genre, but on the other hand, one also needs to be able to work with musical heritage. And this is just an example of a well-made EP, which successfully refers to the said Saves The Day or Tigers Jaw. Lovers of the genre approve!

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White Ward — Debemur Morti EP (post-black metal)

At this stage, it would be appropriate to say that White Ward has finally formed into an independent musical unit. Taking American post-black as a basis, adding dark jazz in various forms, and seasoning it all with the noir atmosphere of black-and-white films, these guys from Odesa show their unique sound on this EP, which we don't even want to compare with anyone. No wonder they got the attention of the Debemur Morti Productions, now we are awaiting the full-length album and the conquest of major European festivals if quarantine allows.

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You can find the best releases of the last year here. ©