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 – Nervosa / Perpetual Chaos (2021)

What happens when you put together four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece? A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos, of course.

Staying true to their roots while exploring new terrains with a revitalized international line-up now comprised of Brazilian founding guitarist Prika Amaral, Spanish growler Diva Satanica (of Bloodhunter), Italian bassist Mia Wallace (of bands such as Abbath, Triumph of Death and The True Endless) and Greek drummer Eleni Nota (of Lightfold and Mask of Prospero), the ruthless all-female Death and Thrash Metal powerhouse Nervosa is ready to attack with inexorable fury, pungently sharp riffs and aggressive vocals on the 13 massive tracks from their newborn spawn, entitled Perpetual Chaos, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2018 opus Downfall Of Mankind. Recorded at Artesonao Casa de Grabación Studio in Málaga, Spain, produced by Prika Amaral and Martin Furia at Studio Porino, and mastered by Yarne Heylen, Perpetual Chaos builds upon the turbulence, adding diverse musical elements to create an infallible new standout that will strike the listener in a way only Nervosa could, therefore placing the album as one of the best releases of 2021 hands down.

The unstoppable Prika ignites their thrashing machine with her flammable riffs in the brutal Venomous, sounding pulverizing from the very first second with Diva Satanica being a true she-demon on vocals while Eleni showcases all her skills and rage on drums, whereas in Guided by Evil the rumbling, obscure sounds blasted by Mia and Eleni are everything Diva Satanica needs to growl the song’s vile words (“Desire consumes you, blinds you, takes you off the line / But you go slowly cause all you do is lie / Every step taken, misfortune is your delight / Tormented by feelings, swallowed by quicksand”) in another ass-kicking fusion of Death, Thrash and Black Metal. Following such frantic start, People of the Abyss is perhaps one of the most infuriated and heaviest of all songs in the history of Nervosa where Prika will pierce your ears mercilessly with her classy riffs and solos accompanied by the devilish bass by Mia, therefore inflicting some serious pain in your neck due to the intense headbanging needed. And more of their demented and grim sounds is offered in the title-track Perpetual Chaos, with Eleni and Prika making a hellish duo and, consequently, providing Diva Satanica a solid base for her to haunt our souls with her otherworldly screeches and gnarls.

Featuring guest guitarist Guilherme Miranda (of Entombed A.D.), Until the Very End is a high-octane fusion of Death and Thrash Metal brought forth by those unrelenting women where Prika is once again phenomenal armed with her killer strings; and it’s time for Nervosa to smash our skulls mercilessly in Genocidal Command, with German thrash legend Schmier, from the one and only Destruction, making a demented vocal duo with Diva Satanica, always supported by the thunderous kitchen by Mia and Eleni. Slower but heavy-as-hell, Kings of Domination presents hints of Groove Metal added to the guitar lines by Prika and the bass jabs by Mia, resulting in the perfect sound for headbanging like there’s no tomorrow, while Time to Fight is another short and sweet display of their thrashing savagery, inviting us all to slam into the pit while Eleni pounds her drums in great fashion. If you think the girls from Nervosa are tired already of so much violence, you better get ready for more of their Stygian sounds in Godless Prisoner, showcasing a straightforward sonority led by Prika while Eleni dictates the pace with her solid beats, albeit not as powerful as the other songs from the album.

Blood Eagle gets back to a more ferocious and somber musicality, with Prika and Mia being in total sync with their stringed weapons while Diva Satanica adds her personal dosage of Death Metal to the band’s core Thrash Metal through her devilish gnarls; and Eric A.K. (of Flotsam and Jetsam) lends his trademark vocals to Rebel Soul, a Motörhead-inspired metal extravaganza that will invite you to raise your horns and bang your head like a beast, bringing forward Diva Satanica and Eric on absolute fire from start to finish. Never slowing down nor selling out, and always loyal to the foundations of Thrash Metal, the band offers us all Pursued by Judgement, with Mia hammering her evil bass accompanied by the crushing drums by Eleni, keeping the album at a high level of animosity before we’re treated to the closing tune Under Ruins, presenting disruptive words viciously barked by Diva Satanica (“I feel death coming / Getting lonelier everyday / In the cravings that consume me / Self destruction without limits”) while her bandmates make sure the electricity keeps flowing nonstop through their wicked instrumental.

To be fair, I was a little worried about the future of Nervosa after the departures of vocalist and bassist Fernanda Lira and drummer Luana Dametto last year, but the moment Prika announced Diva Satanica, Mia Wallace and Eleni Nota as the new members of her thrashing squad I was more than sure their new album would sound phenomenal to say the least based on their unique talent and background in heavy music. Well, let’s say those four metal ladies exceeded all expectations in Perpetual Chaos, delivering an album that’s at the same time brutal, melodic, thrilling and detailed. Hence, don’t forget to give the girls a shout on Facebook and on Instagram to let them know how much you enjoyed their newest creations, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their distinguished music and videos, to stream all of their catalogue on Spotify, and above all that, to purchase Perpetual Chaos from their own BandCamp page or webstore (America or Europe), or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream what’s by far one of the most exciting metal albums of the year. And before I forget… VIVA PERPETUAL CHAOS!

Best moments of the album: People of the Abyss, Genocidal Command, Time to Fight and Rebel Soul.

Worst moments of the album: Godless Prisoner.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Venomous 3:46
2. Guided by Evil 3:30
3. People of the Abyss 3:27
4. Perpetual Chaos 3:39
5. Until the Very End 3:18
6. Genocidal Command 2:56
7. Kings of Domination 3:41
8. Time to Fight 2:32
9. Godless Prisoner 3:19
10. Blood Eagle 3:41
11. Rebel Soul 3:17
12. Pursued by Judgement 3:27
13. Under Ruins 3:57

Band members
Diva Satanica – lead vocals
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Mia Wallace – bass
Eleni Nota – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Miranda – additional guitars on “Until the Very End”
Schmier – additional vocals on “Genocidal Command”
Eric A.K. – additional vocals on “Rebel Soul”