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 – Cannibal Corpse / Violence Unimagined (2021)

State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision is what you’ll find in the superb fifteenth studio album by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.

4.5rating

cannibal-corpse-violence-unimagined-2021Violence Unimagined. The title tells you everything you need to know about Buffalo, New York-based Death Metal titans Cannibal Corpse‘s fifteenth hellish opus. Comprised of eleven tracks, it is state of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher on vocals, Rob Barrett and Erik Rutan on the guitars, Alex Webster on bass and Paul Mazurkiewicz on drums, making for another flawless addition to what is inarguably one of the premier catalogues the genre has thrown up. Produced, engineered and mixed by Erik Rutan at Mana Recording Studios, mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music, and featuring another terror-infused artwork by Vincent Locke, Violence Unimagined is the band’s first album in nearly four years since Red Before Black, the longest gap between two records in their career, and the first studio album to feature Erik Rutan on lead guitar replacing Pat O’Brien. Not only that, already well known for the level of extreme technicality they bring to every record, on Violence Unimagined they have further upped their game, with the album’s titled, created by Paul Mazurkiewicz, “summing up what the band is about in every facet, and taking violence to another level of extremity.”

Their vile onslaught begins in full force in Murderous Rampage, with Corpsegrinder already barking like a rabid beast while Rob and Erik slash their axes furiously. Put differently, the album couldn’t have started in a better way, and the same can be said about Necrogenic Resurrection, a bestial creation by Cannibal Corpse where Paul hammers his drums while Alex extracts sheer insanity from his bass, and with its frantic vibe more than inspiring us all to crush our skulls into the circle pit. Then the title-track Inhumane Harvest (don’t forget to watch its sick official video below) showcases the band’s classic, visceral lyrics (“Twisted criminal underground / Subjugation of the victim / For complete control / Reaping vital body parts / Surgical precision taking / All that will be sold”) amidst a heavy-as-hell and extremely detailed sound; and it’s time to bang our heads nonstop to the demented riffage by Rob and Erik in another Death Metal extravaganza titled Condemnation Contagion, proving they don’t need to play at the speed of light to sound and feel absolutely insane. And their path of devastation and gore goes on in the superb Surround, Kill, Devour, with Paul dictating the pace with his trademark beats and fills, offering Corpsegrinder all he needs to thrive with his venomous guttural.

cannibal-corpse-2021There’s no time to breathe as our beloved Death Metal giants fire another massive tune entitled Ritual Annihilation, where the guitars, bass and drums make our heads tremble, overflowing sheer brutality and also showcasing wicked guitar solos, and you know it’s not a Cannibal Corpse album without a neck-breaking anthem the likes of Follow the Blood, where Alex proves once and for all why he’s by far the best extreme music bassist out there with his low-tuned, intricate and evil bass lines. Bound and Burned is another lecture in old school Death Metal where the band’s guitar duo is on fire with their riffs and solos, keeping the album at a high level of dementia and violence, whereas in Slowly Sawn the lyrics barked by Corpsegrinder seem as if they were taken from a slasher flick (“Bound tight to the table / Unable to scream / The blades of the sadist / Are all I see / Meticulous slaughter / A saw for each limb / Cuts through my flesh”) while the music will lacerate your ears just the way we like it in Death Metal. Then we have the fulminating Overtorture, and I must say I simply love this version of Cannibal Corpse, a straight-to-the-point, aggressive and infernal circle pit-catalyst tune where Paul is beyond ruthless behind his drums. Finally, the quintet darkens the sky once again with the hammering Cerements of the Flayed, spearheaded by the sick bass jabs by Alex and the always bestial roars by Corpsegrinder.

cannibal-corpse-violence-unimagined-artbook

Cannibal Corpse Violence Unimagined Limited Edition Artbook Set

Cannibal Corpse are by far the most violent and hardworking Death Metal band of all time, with Violence Unimagined not only representing another ass-kicking, top-of-the-line display of all their talent and passion for extreme music, but also showing a Death Metal band can indeed reinvent itself without selling out or sounding cheesy or tiresome at all. If you haven’t taken a listen at such masterpiece of extreme music yet, an album that will surely feature among the top metal albums of 2021, you can find it in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course I highly recommend you purchase it from the band’s official webstore in the United States or in Europe, or from Metal Blade Records, where you can find the link to the fantastic Limited Edition Artbook Set, containing a digipak CD, a 12” exclusive crimson red marbled vinyl, a patch, a sticker and a flag, and don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram to get updated on all things Cannibal Corpse. Needless to say, if you don’t do all that, you can’t even imagine the level of violence you will suffer.

Best moments of the album: Murderous Rampage, Inhumane Harvest, Surround, Kill, Devour, Follow the Blood and Overtorture.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Metal Blade Records

Track listing
1. Murderous Rampage 4:07
2. Necrogenic Resurrection 3:06
3. Inhumane Harvest 4:32
4. Condemnation Contagion 4:17
5. Surround, Kill, Devour 4:10
6. Ritual Annihilation 3:48
7. Follow the Blood 4:39
8. Bound and Burned 4:04
9. Slowly Sawn 3:30
10. Overtorture 2:28
11. Cerements of the Flayed 4:07

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Rob Barrett – lead and rhythm guitar
Erik Rutan – lead guitar, backing vocals on “Murderous Rampage”
Alex Webster – bass guitar
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums