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 – Trivium / In the Court of the Dragon (2021)

It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.

“In the court of the dragon
Death of gods and world
In the court of the dragon
You will know your worth”

After getting back on track with their two previous albums, those being the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, released in 2017, and What The Dead Men Say, released in the beginning of 2020, Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium continues to deliver their trademark fusion of violence, speed and intricacy with their newborn spawn, beautifully titled In the Court of the Dragon, the tenth studio album in their beyond solid career. Produced by Josh Wilbur and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, In the Court of the Dragon sounds and feels even better than its predecessors, proving the isolation during the pandemic was extremely productive for vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and drummer Alex Bent, who as I always like to say elevated Trivium’s sound to a whole new level after joining the band in 2017, and in their new album he sounds even more awesome than usual.

Composed and arranged by Emperor’s own Ihsahn, X is an epic, dark and cinematic intro that warms up our senses for the fulminating In the Court of the Dragon, where Matt begins screaming the song’s powerful lyrics (“In the court of the dragon / Death of gods and world / In the court of the dragon / You will know your worth”) accompanied by the headbanging riffs and beats by Corey and Alex, whereas an imposing start morphs into sheer adrenaline in Like a Sword Over Damocles, with Matt and Corey kicking ass on the guitars while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his bass jabs. Needless to say, Alex adds tons of intricacy and feeling to this already fantastic composition, turning it into my favorite of the entire album. Then we have Feast of Fire, the second single of the album and a solid, traditional Trivium song, albeit not as powerful as the rest of the album. Then it’s time for another frantic, high-octane creation by the quartet named A Crisis of Revelation, providing an excellent balance between their heaviest side and their more melodious, clean sounds, and if played live it will surely ignite some fun mosh pits during their live concerts.

In The Shadow of the Abattoir we’re treated to a gentle beginning to the deep, clean vocals by Matt, evolving into another complex Melodic Death and Heavy Metal feast spearheaded by Alex and his unstoppable drums and spiced up by their sick guitar solos; and more of their groovy sounds are offered to us all in the neck-breaking No Way Back Just Through, with Matt once again thriving with both his clean singing and enraged roars. A massive wall of sounds will hammer your head mercilessly in Fall Into Your Hands, even heavier and more detailed than its predecessors, where Matt screams nonstop from the bottom of his heart while his bandmates add elements from Progressive, Death and even Symphonic Metal to their core sonority. It looks like the guys form Trivium wanted to offer endless heaviness in their new album, and they more than succeeded in that as From Dawn to Decadence is another bestial Metalcore tune where Matt, Corey and Paolo are in absolute sync from start to finish with their infernal riffage and bass. Lastly, closing the album we face one final round of their trademark wicked lyrics in The Phalanx (“Within the thrill, amidst the kill / One against all, soon blood will spill / We cannot wait to make your pain / We are the burn inside your brain”) amidst a hurricane of heavy sounds that lasts for stunning seven minutes.

Trivium are a band that at the same respects their past while always looking towards the future, and In the Court of the Dragon (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify) is the perfect depiction of that, pointing to an even brighter future ahead of those four talented metallers who are becoming one of the most important bands of the current scene worldwide. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube for news, tour dates, and more of their sick music and videos, and if you want to add the majestic In the Court of the Dragon to your personal collection, you can purchase it from their official webstore, or click HERE for several other places where you can buy the physical or digital copy of the album. As the lyrics to the title-track say, “in the court of the dragon you will know your worth”, and if you’re there to the sound of Trivium’s new album, you can rest assured the “dragon” will provide you with exactly what you deserve.

Best moments of the album: In the Court of the Dragon, Like a Sword Over Damocles, A Crisis of Revelation and Fall Into Your Hands.

Worst moments of the album: Feast of Fire.

Released in 2021 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. X 1:26
2. In the Court of the Dragon 5:09
3. Like a Sword Over Damocles 5:30
4. Feast of Fire 4:18
5. A Crisis of Revelation 5:35
6. The Shadow of the Abattoir 7:11
7. No Way Back Just Through 3:53
8. Fall Into Your Hands 7:45
9. From Dawn to Decadence 4:08
10. The Phalanx 7:15

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Ihsahn – orchestration and synths on “X”