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 – Scarlet Aura / Genesis of Time (2021)

One of the best Romanian bands of all time returns like a Phoenix with the breathtaking last part of “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy, offering us all more of their flawless fusion of Heavy and Power Metal.

4.0rating

scarlet-aura-genesis-of-time-2021Chaos on Earth, uncertainty in life, plagues, disasters and once again the feeling that there is no one there to save the world. But from a distance there is always someone or something that watches humankind. Scarlet, partly Devil, partly Angel and most important, partly Phoenix, is there together with its sidekicks to set rights and wrongs. That’s what you’ll get in Genesis of Time, the third and last part of “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy by Romanian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Scarlet Aura, following up on their critically acclaimed albums Hot’n’Heavy, released in 2018, and Stormbreaker, from 2020. Mixed, mastered and produced by the band’s own guitarist Mihai “Myke D” Dănciulescu at Silver City Studio, and displaying a stylish artwork by renowned Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, Genesis of Time does not shy away from taking risks and introducing unexpected turns, new musical atmospheres and landscapes, bringing the perfect and balanced ending to the trilogy with its over one hour of undisputed music carefully brought forth by frontwoman Aura Dănciulescu, guitarist Mihai “Myke D” Danciulescu, bassist Rene Nistor and drummer Matthias Klaus.

The futuristic and epic instrumental The Book of Scarlet will instantly transport you to the magical world of Scarlet Aura, with Mihai taking the lead with his stylish and sharp riffs and solos accompanied by Rene and Matthias with their heavy kitchen, flowing into the Power Metal extravaganza titled Raw Power, a song that will put you to bang your head nonstop to the classic beast by Matthias while Aura mesmerizes us all with her soaring, metallic and absolutely melodic vocals until the very last second. Then a a cinematic intro morphs into more of their classic fusion of Heavy and Power Metal in Dark Lightning, where Mihai once again steals the spotlight with his razor-edged riffs and striking solos while Rene doesn’t stop smashing his bass; and Aura and the boys masterfully bring forward the Stratovarius-inspired tune Utopia, another powerful composition that lives up to the legacy of Melodic Metal without showing a single second of boredom. Quite the contrary, it’s utterly electrifying from start to finish, and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps delivering fast and melodic metal music for our vulgar delectation in Frostbite, with Matthias taking the lead with his kick-ass drums, whereas in The Black Roses the band slows things down a bit but keeping the heaviness of their core essence intact, with Aura declaiming the song’s lyrics with tons of passion and energy.

And the rumbling bass by Rene ignites their metal machine once again in Right Place, Wrong Time, also showcasing interesting background keys, and all of course spiced up by another sharp vocal performance by Aura, while in Human Obsolete they get back to a more metallic and thunderous sonority, with Mihai and Rene being in total sync with their respective riffage and bass jabs. It’s time for another Scandinavian Melodic Metal-like feast entitled In The Line of Fire, where Aura’s vocals are beyond impactful, supported by the old school sound crafted by her bandmates, whereas adding hints of the Doom Metal played by renowned acts like Candlemass and Black Sabbath to their trademark Power Metal they offer us all the heavy and sinister tune Saints Need Sinners, with over six minutes of groovy bass jabs, slashing guitars, pounding drums and dark vocals. Are you ready to fly high in the sky together with Aura and her henchmen? That’s exactly what Scarlet Aura deliver in the epic Wings of Light, a straight-to-the-point, in-your-face Power Metal tune showcasing all of the band’s heavy artillery, followed by the title-track Genesis Of Time, the most epic of all songs bringing forward nine minutes of sheer power and electricity, or in other words, a dense and imposing aria by the band that will please all fans of classic Power Metal, also presenting elements from Progressive Metal to give it an extra kick. Needless to say, the trilogy couldn’t have ended in a more climatic manner.

scarlet-aura-2021All good things must come to an end, which is the case with Scarlet Aura’s “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy with the release of the excellent Genesis of Time, and it’s impressive how the band managed to bring into being an even better opus than Stormbreaker, displaying a more mature, melodic and intricate sound that will undoubtedly be appreciated by metalheads from all over the world. Hence, if you want to know more about one of the best bands (if not the best) in the history of Romanian metal, you can follow the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on VKontakte, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their distinguished music and videos, stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and of course show your true support to the band by purchasing Genesis of Time from their own webstore or from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon sooner than you can say “scarlet”. Now that the trilogy is finally concluded, let’s see what Scarlet Aura will have for us fans with their upcoming releases. And despite the fact I doubt they can unleash upon us something better than Genesis of Time, I must also say that no one should ever doubt Aura and the boys, as just like a metallic Phoenix they keep coming back from the underworld spreading their fiery music to all four corners of the earth with each of their first-class albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Lightning, Utopia, In The Line of Fire and Wings of Light.

Worst moments of the album: The Black Roses.

Released in 2021 Universal Music Romania/Silver City Records

Track listing  
1. The Book of Scarlet 6:31
2. Raw Power 4:49
3. Dark Lightning 5:14
4. Utopia 5:02
5. Frostbite 5:46
6. The Black Roses 6:13
7. Right Place, Wrong Time 5:46
8. Human Obsolete 5:28
9. In The Line of Fire 5:46
10. Saints Need Sinners 6:20
11. Wings of Light 4:27
12. Genesis Of Time 9:06

Band members
Aura Dănciulescu – lead vocals
Mihai “Myke D” Dănciulescu – guitars, vocals
Rene Nistor – bass, vocals
Matthias Klaus – drums