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 – Lady Beast / Omens EP (2021)

Bang your head nonstop to the straight-to-the-point new EP of pure Heavy Metal by this fantastic Pittsburgh-based band, sprinkling a dust on the poisoned path from which they summit.

The stunning Deborah Levine and her bandmates Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler on the guitars, Amy Bianco on bass and Adam Ramage on drums, collective known as Pittsburgh, United States-based Heavy Metal outfit Lady Beast, are back in action now in 2021 with a short and sweet EP entitled Omens, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2020 album The Vulture’s Amulet, featuring four original tracks plus a very special cover song that transpire pure Heavy Metal throughout the EP’s almost 20 minutes of music. Sprinkling a dust on the poisoned path from which Lady Beast summit, Omens is highly recommended for admirers of the NWOBHM combined with the badass music and rockin’ attitude by Motörhead, Thin Lizzy and Mercyful Fate, among others, providing newcomers to their metallic realm a very good sample of what the band has been delivering to their fans since their inception in 2009, and of what we can expect from such talented crew in their future releases.

The Poisoned Path already brings pure Heavy Metal to our avid ears, with its old school lyrics declaimed by Deborah (“I go out in the dark, / I whisper to the night… / A voice, it soon replies… / Secure a candles flame, / and sharpen up your blade. / Follow me down the poisoned path I’ve made.”) making things even more exciting, while Amy kicks some ass with her low-tuned bass. Then it’s time for more of the band’s melodic sounds in Reaper, with Andy being on fire with his riffs and solos accompanied by his guitar comrade Chris, feeling utterly inspired by the classic music by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest; and they continue to travel through the golden years of rock and metal in Blood For Blood, with Adam smashing his drums in great fashion while Deborah mesmerizes us all once again with her sharp and captivating vocals. After such powerful tune, Lady Beast pay a high-octane tribute to the one and only Rainbow with their electrifying rendition for the undisputed classic Kill the King (you can check the original song HERE), with Deborah and the boys (and girl) being on fire from start to finish, specially Andy and Chris who deliver together sheer awesomeness through their guitars. Last but not least, let’s bang our heads once again to the pounding drums by Adam in the thrilling The Fool’s Journey, showcasing incendiary riffs and solos supported by the rumbling bass by Amy, therefore providing Deborah all she needs to shine on vocals.

If you want to give Omens a spin, you can find the EP in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your true support to underground Heavy Metal you should definitely purchase a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Reaper Metal Productions’ webstore in regular CD format or as an ass-kicking 12″ LP on screen printed black/white splatter vinyl that comes with a 11×11 two sided insert with band photo and lyrics (and as side A is the only playable side, on side B is a screen printed image in metallic silver ink). Also, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their first-class music and stylish videos. I guess I don’t need to explain that the omens found in Lady Beast’s new EP are all beyond good, but just in case you don’t believe me, simply hit play and let this fantastic beast from Pittsburgh show you how heavy music should be played. I bet you’ll instantly fall in love for their music.

Best moments of the album: Kill the King and The Fool’s Journey.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Reaper Metal Productions

Track listing
1. The Poisoned Path 3:26
2. Reaper 3:50
3. Blood For Blood 3:34
4. Kill the King (Rainbow cover) 4:17
5. The Fool’s Journey 4:25

Band members
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Amy Bianco – bass
Adam Ramage – drums