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 – Coiled Around Thy Spine / From The Ashes (2021)

From the ashes these Italian metallers rise with more of their shredding guitar solos, blasting drums and soaring vocals in the form of their sophomore album, representing an evolution in their visceral sound.

4.0rating

coiled-around-thy-spine-from-the-ashes-2021Three years after the release of their fulminating debut album Shades, vocalist Daniele Rosso and guitarist and bassist Sergio Costa, supported by session drummer Tomonobu ‘Tomi’ Inoue and collectively known as Turin, Italy-based Melodic Death Metal outfit Coiled Around Thy Spine, are back in action with their shredding guitar solos, blasting drums and soaring vocals inspired by classic and new Death Metal in the form of their sophomore effort entitled From The Ashes. A true step up in their career, From The Ashes offers us listeners an evolution in the sound by the Italian duo from their debut album, being highly recommended for fans of renowned acts the likes of Arch Enemy, Death, Trivium, early In Flames and Megadeth, and above all, for anyone who enjoys a huge dosage of violence mixed with great melodies and a very good reason for headbanging like there’s no tomorrow.

And futuristic sounds arise from the underworld in the opening tune Paracosm, before Sergio and Tomi begin their respective riffs and beats attack, exploding into sheer Melodic Death Metal to the wicked roars by Daniele while all is carefully spiced up by a trademark guitar solo by Sergio. Then epic, Stygian background elements set the tone in the visceral tune Back To The Dark Dimension, with Daniele’s growls and screams getting even more enraged while Sergio continues to slash his axe majestically; and there’s no time to breathe as Coiled Around Thy Spine keep crushing our souls with their melodic and intricate Death Metal in Breath Of Existence, where Tomi is once again bestial behind his drums, not to mention the awesome job done by Sergio with both his riffs and bass lines. After such demolishing tune, a sinister and melancholic intro morphs into a mid-tempo Melodic Death Metal feast the likes of early Arch Enemy in Graveyard Of Thoughts, an excellent choice for breaking your neck to the pounding drums by Tomi.

The band keeps exploring darker paths in Burning Souls, another somber creation by Daniele and Sergio showcasing those piercing guitars that only Melodic Death Metal can provide us. It would have been more effective if a little shorter, though, whereas back to a more epic and violent mode it’s time for a fulminating metal onrush entitled Survival Instinct, with Sergio’s riffs generating a flammable paradox with the song’s background keys while Daniele and Tomi fire sheer animosity and hatred through their respective growls and beats. Then get ready to have your ears and minds pierced mercilessly by the scorching riffs by Sergio while Daniele keeps gnarling like a beast in Red Rising Sun, keeping the album as sulfurous and obscure as it can be, while the title-track From The Ashes closes the regular version of the album on a demolishing note, inviting us all to bang our heads and slam into the pit while Daniele vociferates rabidly nonstop. Furthermore, if you go for the special edition of the album you’ll be treated to two amazing cover songs as a bonus, those being Like Hell by Loudness and Bite The Pain by Death (and you can check the original ones HERE and HERE). Needless to say, Coiled Around Thy Spine simply kicked some serious ass with both versions.

coiled-around-thy-spine-2021In a nutshell, the guys from Coiled Around Thy Spine have outdone themselves in From The Ashes (which is available for a full listen on Spotify), delivering a thrilling hybrid of old school and modern sounds that will undoubtedly please any fan of Heavy Metal, even the ones who don’t enjoy extreme music that much. Hence, in order to show those Italian metallers your utmost support, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course, to purchase From The Ashes from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. And let’s all hope Coiled Around Thy Spine do not take too long to get back “from the ashes” with more of their sick and visceral music.

Best moments of the album: Back To The Dark Dimension, Breath Of Existence, Survival Instinct and From The Ashes.

Worst moments of the album: Burning Souls.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing      
1. Paracosm 5:51
2. Back To The Dark Dimension 4:59
3. Breath Of Existence 5:01
4. Graveyard Of Thoughts 6:05
5. Burning Souls 8:36
6. Survival Instinct 5:51
7. Red Rising Sun 5:45
8. From The Ashes 6:10

Special Edition bonus tracks
9. Like Hell (Loudness cover) 3:40
10. Bite The Pain (Death cover) 4:47

Band members
Daniele Rosso – vocals
Sergio Costa – guitars, bass, synth

Guest musician
Tomonobu ‘Tomi’ Inoue – drums (session)