The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

Album Review – Angelus Apatrida / Angelus Apatrida (2021)

Forged in turmoil but full of the hope that only music can inspire, the new album by the Spanish angels of thrash is indeed the pulverizing metal record that the whole world needs right now.

Brought into being in 2000 in Albacete, a city and municipality in the Spanish autonomous community of Castilla–La Mancha, Spain’s leading Thrash Metal institution Angelus Apatrida returns to the battlefield now in 2021 with their seventh full-length opus, self-titled Angelus Apatrida, celebrating 20 years as a band. Forged in turmoil but full of the hope that only music can inspire, the album is the pulverizing metal record that the world needs right now, showcasing all the dexterity of Guillermo Izquierdo on vocals and guitars, David G. Álvarez also on the guitars, José J. Izquierdo on bass and Víctor Valera on drums. Recorded by Juan Angel López at Baboon Records, mixed by Christopher “Zeuss” Harris at Planet Z Studios, and displaying an ass-kicking artwork by Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák (Hjules Illustration and Design), Angelus Apatrida features ten original songs that sound more determined, versatile and ferocious than ever before, inviting us all to slam into the circle pit to the band’s undisputed thrashing music.

And five seconds is all those Spanish bastards need to kill with a Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile”-inspired hymn entitled Indoctrinate, a brutal thrashing anthem to kick off the album on a high note, penetrating deep inside our minds with their wicked sounds and catchy-as-hell lyrics (“Indoctrinate / through fear then / dominate / Indoctrinate / one true faith / inculcate / Predominate / strong voices will be heard / Intoxicate / snake tongues to / indoctrinate”), whereas in Bleed The Crown the stringed duo Guillermo and David is ruthless with their razor-edged riffs while Víctor keeps hammering his drums nonstop, resulting in another bestial fusion of Thrash and Groove Metal. Then we have The Age Of Disinformation, with Guillermo viciously singing about our addiction to new tech, about the spread of fake news and how we’re forgetting to enjoy reality (“Slaves, dependents, victims of technology / Exposed to a world of lies / Living through the age of disinformation”), while José and Víctor make the earth tremble with the heavy kitchen; followed by Rise Or Fall, another song inspired by the golden years of Pantera with the band’s own Spanish twist where the quartet doesn’t stop blasting sheer violence and heaviness through their sonic weapons of mass destruction, spearheaded by the austere screams by Guillermo. And there’s no sign of slowing down as Angelus Apatrida fire another round of their high-octane, incendiary Thrash Metal in the form of Childhood’s End, showcasing an amazing job done by Guillermo and David with their sick riffs and solos.

In Disposable Liberty we’re treated to a solid instrumental led by the groovy beats and fills by Víctor, albeit not as vibrant nor as dynamic as its predecessors but still presenting tons of good elements like the low-tuned, metallic bass jabs by José, and back to a more frantic and vicious sonority the quartet offers our avid ears the headbanging tune We Stand Alone, perfect for slamming into the circle pit like a maniac while blending Bay Area Thrash with European Thrash and Groove Metal. Following such infernal tune, Víctor sounds like a stone crusher on drums, pulverizing everything and everyone that crosses his path in Through The Glass, while his bandmates extract endless aggressiveness and rage from their respective instruments. And there’s no escape from the thrashing madness blasted by Angelus Apatrida, as they keep smashing their instruments in the classic Empire Of Shame, with Guillermo, David and José being on fire with their intricate and thunderous riffs and bass punches, whereas closing the album they bring forward the menacing, sharp-as-a-knife Into The Well, presenting an awesome sync between Víctor’s wicked beats and their electrifying riffage throughout almost six minutes of first-class, contemporary Thrash Metal for the masses.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Thrash Metal or not, you have to admit Angelus Apatrida have outdone themselves in their newborn spawn, providing the heavy community another sensational display of their skills and their passion for heavy music, therefore sending a sound statement to all mankind that those Spanish metallers are far from calling it quits, having the sky as their limit. Hence, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, to stream all of their albums on Spotify, and of course to purchase their new album by clicking HERE, adding to your personal collection what’s by far one of the most exciting Thrash Metal albums hailing from Europe from the past decade. As already mentioned, this is the type of album our world needs right now, with the Spanish angels of thrash offering us fans a very good reason to slam into the pit and bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow while our rotten society crumbles into pieces.

Best moments of the album: Indoctrinate, Rise Or Fall, We Stand Alone and Empire Of Shame.

Worst moments of the album: Disposable Liberty.

Released in 2021 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Indoctrinate 5:39
2. Bleed The Crown 4:26
3. The Age Of Disinformation 4:42
4. Rise Or Fall 3:36
5. Childhood’s End 3:49
6. Disposable Liberty 4:21
7. We Stand Alone 4:11
8. Through The Glass 5:41
9. Empire Of Shame 4:17
10. Into The Well 5:47

Band members
Guillermo Izquierdo – vocals, guitars
David G. Álvarez – guitars
José J. Izquierdo – bass
Víctor Valera – drums