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 – Black Hole Deity / Lair Of Xenolich EP (2021)

This new American entity comes ripping with their debut dimension-altering listening experience, overflowing their supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal.

When you put together past and present members of ruthless metal acts like Chaos Inception, Malignancy, Fear Factory, Cruelty Exalted and Calcemia, the result is obviously going to be demolishing to say the least. That’s exactly what vocalist Chris White, guitarists Alec Cordero and Cam Pinkerton, and renowned drummer Mike Heller, collectively known as Birmingham, Alabama-based Death Metal horde Black Hole Deity, have to offer us all in their debut EP entitled Lair Of Xenolich, highly recommended for fans of the likes of Nocturnus, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and Deeds of Flesh, just to name a few. Produced and mixed by Mike Heller at Heaven and Heller Studios, re-amped and mastered by Lasse Lammert at LSD Studios, and featuring a blasphemous artwork by Chris Kiesling from Misanthropic Art, Lair Of Xenolich is a dimension-altering listening experience, bringing to our ears supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal, sounding progressive yet dark and brutal throughout its intense 16 minutes of music.

Mike showcases all his brutality and skills behind his drums in the fulminating opening tune Razed Earth Edict, where the band goes straight to the point, with Chris’ demented roars complementing their razor-edged riffs flawlessly. Then in Railgun Combat we’re treated to venomous lyrics barked by Chris (“Incandescent / Blaze through steel corridors / Priming our armaments / To sear their flesh / Break the covenant / Carnage in the church of Nihilanth / Bursts of plasma, claims their souls”) while Alec and Cam continue to kill with their stringed axes in another bestial Death Metal exhibit by the quartet, and featuring guest violinist Ally Storch, Hypersleep Dementia is a melodic and introspective interlude that will penetrate deep inside our psyche before the band comes ripping in Multiverse Incantations, with Mike hammering his drums mercilessly accompanied by the obscure riffage by Alec and Cam, resulting in a headbanging extravaganza with absolutely no shenanigans nor any artificial elements. And lastly, the title-track Lair Of Xenolich will offer your avid ears three minutes of top-of-the-line Death Metal, with Alec’s soulful solos and Mike’s crushing beats adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, therefore putting an amazing ending to the album.

After all is said and done, although we’re talking about just 16 minutes of music, let’s say the dexterity, rage and intensity those four horsemen of Death Metal put into the making of the EP make it sound like a full-bodied album, pointing to an exciting future ahead of them full of wicked, multi-layered releases. Hence, don’t forget to show Black Hole Deity your appreciation by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing Lair Of Xenolich from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (and soon from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon), keeping the fires of underground Death Metal burning bright and, of course, inspiring us to slam into the pit like true metalmaniacs to the furious sound of their top-of-the-line sci-fi inspired creations.

Best moments of the album: Razed Earth Edict and Lair Of Xenolich.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Razed Earth Edict 4:22
2. Railgun Combat 3:28
3. Hypersleep Dementia 1:49
4. Multiverse Incantations 4:10
5. Lair Of Xenolich 3:03

Band members
Chris White – vocals
Alec Cordero – lead guitar
Cam Pinkerton – rhythm guitar, bass, backing vocals
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musician
Ally Storch – violin on “Hypersleep Dementia”