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 – Cradle of Filth / Existence Is Futile (2021)

A bewitching, fearless nosedive into the abyss masterfully brought into being by UK’s most infernal Extreme Metal institution of all ages.

All hope has disappeared into the void. The flames that flickered on the horizon for so long have reached our backyard, leaving endless fields of black ashes and smoke rising from the ruins of our lands. Yet, why shall we not enjoy a last ferocious soundtrack to our inevitable end? That’s exactly what UK’s own Extreme Metal institution Cradle of Fitlh has to offer us all in Existence Is Futile, their thirteenth studio opus and the follow-up to their critically acclaimed albums Hammer Of The Witches and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Produced by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studios and displaying another bestial artwork by Arthur Berzinsh, who took inspiration from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, Existence Is Futile is about existential terror, the threat of everything and the end of the world according to the band’s frontman and mastermind Dani Filth, all embraced by the grandiose metal music carefully brought into being by Dani and his henchmen Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda on the guitars, Daniel Firth on bass, Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka on drums, and newcomer Anabelle Iratni (who also plays with Dani on the Symphonic Gothic/Groove Metal project Devilment) on female vocals, keyboards, lyre and orchestrations.

The classic intro The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders is absolutely obscure, cinematic and epic, opening the gates of hell for the band to kill in Existential Terror, with all background orchestrations making Dani’s demonic gnarls sound even creepier accompanied by the sulfurous guitars by Richard and Ashok. In other words, it’s an imposing Symphonic Black Metal tune to properly kick things off, whereas switching to their trademark fusion of Gothic and Black Metal we’re treated to Necromantic Fantasies, where Anabelle proves why she was chosen to be the band’s new keyboardist delivering crisp, phantasmagorical keys for our absolute delight. The first single of the album, Crawling King Chaos, is a demonic creature in the form of extreme music where the heaviness of the guitars create an awesome paradox with the song’s whimsical keys, not to mention how infernal Marthus sounds on drums as usual; then it’s time to soothe our damned souls to the enfolding interlude Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby) before we face five minutes of sheer darkness in the acid Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, with Dani’s hellish screeches walking hand in hand with Anabelle’s clean vocals and the demolishing kitchen crafted by Daniel and Marthus. And Discourse Between a Man and His Soul is another dark and melancholic tune that matches perfectly with the band’s theatrical vibe, with Daniel bringing tons of heaviness to the overall result.

Cradle of Filth Existence Is Futile Mailorder Edition Box Set

Another massive wall of sounds will hammer your heads mercilessly in the sinister The Dying of the Embers, once again presenting the band’s trademark blast beats infused with more melodic and gothic nuances, followed by the Mephistophelian interlude Ashen Mortality, spearheaded by Anabelle’s somber keys and warming up our senses for How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?, a beautiful, old school Cradle of Filth composition that will sound amazing if played live. Furthermore, Dani is infernal on vocals as usual while Daniel and Marthus add endless groove and feeling to the music with their respective bass jabs and pounding drums; and a guest narration by Doug Bradley talking about how our rotten society is coming to an end quickly explodes into brutal and melodic Extreme Metal in Suffer Our Dominion, with Anabelle stealing the spotlight one more time. Us, Dark, Invincible, the last song from the regular version of the album, is as imposing and grim as its predecessors, with Dani roaring, growling and screaming nonstop for the delectation of all his fanbase while the band’s guitar duo adds sheer aggressiveness to the overall result. Lastly, if you go for the digital and deluxe edition of the album you’ll be treated to two amazing bonus tracks Sisters of the Mist and Unleash the Hellion, both extreme and demented, with Marthus smashing his drums ferociously until the very last second.

“Existence Is Futile is the apocalyptic conclusion of three years of Cradle of Filth’s world touring and is definitely our most severe album to date, reveling in existential dread, the fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of fate in a yawning cosmos and the meaninglessness of life also being the search for life’s meaning”, commented Dani about the band’s new album, also saying that “heavy stuff indeed and as a wise man was allegedly recently heard to say ‘The inevitable heat-death of the universe and subsequent closure of time and space itself, could have no better soundtrack than this album’.” If you want to join the almighty Cradle of Filth in their quest for extreme music and add Existence Is Futile to your apocalyptic collection, you can follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other sorts of witchcraft, and purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, including the stunning mailorder edition box set limited to 650 copies worldwide containing the digipack and the silver double LP version of the album, buttons, a flag, a necklace, a lyrics sheet and an alternate cover. A bewitching, fearless nosedive into the abyss, Existence Is Futile is the perfect album for these most imperfect of times, and if the world comes to an end before their next opus is unleashed upon humanity at least we’ll enjoy our afterlife knowing their ultimate howl was indeed a beast of an album.

Best moments of the album: Crawling King Chaos, Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, The Dying of the Embers and How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?

Worst moments of the album: Necromantic Fantasies.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders 1:37
2. Existential Terror 6:17
3. Necromantic Fantasies 5:40
4. Crawling King Chaos 5:27
5. Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby) 1:28
6. Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War 5:21
7. Discourse Between a Man and His Soul 5:30
8. The Dying of the Embers 6:08
9. Ashen Mortality 1:50
10. How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? 4:34
11. Suffer Our Dominion 6:22
12. Us, Dark, Invincible 6:26

Digital/Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
13. Sisters of the Mist 7:14
14. Unleash the Hellion 6:23

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Anabelle Iratni – female vocals, keyboards, lyre, orchestrations
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums, keyboards, orchestrations

Guest musician
Doug Bradley – narration on “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist”