To say 2021 has been an epic year for new music is probably the understatement of the century. There have been so many new records smashing the metal genre, it’s been difficult, if not impossible, to keep up. Fine-tuning and tweaking my Top 10 Albums of 2021 took a lot of effort, frustration and screaming in to a pillow in absolute despair. Even now, as happy as I am with my list, I still feel like I am doing many, many other albums a complete disservice (I’m sorry Iron Maiden, but as much as I love Senjutsu, it just didn’t make the cut. I hope we can still be friends!)

So strap in, buckle up and join me on this wild ride that is my Top 10 Albums of 2021!

10. Hooded Menace – The Tritonus Bell

Hooded Menace single-handedly caused Metal Twitter to erupt in a unison of absolute insanity. To see this record explode and bring the community together was both heart-warming and mind-blowing. Drawing influences from old school 80’s Heavy Metal, The Tritonus Bell resonates King Diamond and Mercyful Fate vibes. Brutal vocals, powerful drums and crushing riffs, this record fast became a staple in my repertoire, particularly ‘Blood Ornaments.‘ That opening riff is catchy as hell and I couldn’t help but headbang away whenever it played. If you haven’t checked this record out, I highly recommend you do so!

Favourite Track: Blood Ornaments.

9. Voidfallen – The Atlas of Spiritual Apocalypse

I stumbled across this record purely by accident when I was driving and Spotify was riffing on itself with a random playlist it had generated based on my tastes. When ‘Remnants of the Heart‘ started playing, I had to pull over to find out what was going on. I will forever thank Spotify for it’s random playlist generator because it provided me with number 9 in my Top Albums of the Year list. Finnish Melodic Death Metal giving off atmospheric and dramatic vibes, this record is just absolutely stunning. If the videogame Skyrim was created in to a metal album, this would be the result. Just look at that album artwork! It definitely looks like an old, dusty spellbook you would find in the dark and dingy lower catacombs of an abandoned keep.

Favourite Track: Remnants of the Heart.

8. Wraith – Undo The Chains

This is definitely my favourite Thrash Metal album of the year. Wraith are straight to the point with this record and waste absolutely no time whatsoever in blasting you right in the earholes with old school thrash. It’s fun, it’s energetic, it’s loud. These guys are a band to watch out for as they are definitely going places. I can’t wait to see what they do next and I’ll be listening to this record for a long time yet.

Favourite Tracks: Gatemaster, Mistress of the Void, Cloaked in Black

7. Unto Others – Strength

Classic Metal meets Old School Goth Rock. This is both a fun and, at times, quite dark record however it is an absolute joy from beginning to end. This record will get you up on your feet and in the mood to party. This is probably the most chilled out record on my Top 10 list but it’s certainly not out of place. If you like Type O Negative, The Cure, Joy Division and Alkaline Trio, this is definitely for you.

Favourite Tracks: Heroin, Destiny, Hell is for Children, Summer Lightning.

6. Wardruna – Kvitravn

This was definitely the unexpected curveball of my list as it isn’t metal so to speak but it does have it’s metal connections in the form of Gorgoroth’s Einar Selvik being the main composer. Wardruna are a Norwegian group known for their innovative renditions of older Nordic traditions and their 5th studio album ‘Kvitravn‘ is no exception. If anyone watched the the live stream of This Day In Metal’s Top 10 Albums of the Year, you would have witnessed me attempt and fail miserably to pronounce this record correctly and then I abandoned ship on any attempt to pronounce the track titles as a result. Nevertheless, this record struck a cord with me and I listened to at least 2 or 3 tracks every day since the record was released on the 22nd of January 2021. I have tickets to see them live in March 2022 which I will be writing a review for so watch this space.

Favourite Tracks: Kvitravn, Skugge, Andvevarljod

5. Rivers of Nihil – The Work

Not only is The Work an absolute work of art, this album holds a very sentimental place in my list as it was the very first album review I wrote for This Day In Metal so it was absolutely certain to make an appearance. The record incorporates the perfect blend of technical death metal brutality and the intricate detailing of progressive metal. Plus there’s a saxophone, who doesn’t love a bit of saxophone in their metal??

Favourite Tracks: Dreaming Black Clockwork, Focus, The Void From Which No Sound Escapes.

4. Hypocrisy – Worship

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Peter Tägtgren upon the release of this record as well as writing a review. Rich in breakneck speed drumming, lightning fast shredding, demonic vocals and catchy hooks, this record exploded in to the metal world in the latter quarter of 2021. As always, Hypocrisy have presented a record steeped in conspiracy theory lore however this time, they sparked a bit more controversy than they normally do. Despite being written in 2018, ‘Chemical Whore’ opened the discussion surrounding the current worldwide climate and was often misinterpreted. Nevertheless, the track itself is one of the strongest of the record.

Favourite Tracks: Worship, Chemical Whore, Dead World, Children of the Gray

3. The Browning – End of Existence

This record moved from position 3 to position 2 and then back again multiple times over the last couple of weeks before it finally settled in it’s current position. This band was introduced to me by a friend of mine a few weeks back. I fell in love with 2018’s Geist (I highly recommend you check this album out too) and when I found out that End of Existence was being released (on my birthday no less!) I knew I had to save a spot for it in my Top 10 list. Industrial metal is my favourite subgenre and this record was an instant hit. Industrial, electronica, heavy metal and video game-esque elements all rolled in to an absolutely, brutally stunning record.

Favourite Tracks: Destroyer, Gott Ist Tott, Rage, Chaos Reigns

2. Hand of Kalliach – Samhainn

This atmospheric Celtic, melodic death metal record is steeped in absolute beauty and brutality right down to the album artwork. Hand of Kalliach have impressively incorporated a hauntingly gorgeous Celtic sound interwoven with ferocious death metal savagery. Drawing on Scotland’s vast plethora of myths and legends as the subject matter, they have proven that Celtic metal can be just as blistering and powerful. This record has maintained a strong presence in my daily Spotify playlist since it’s release and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Favourite Tracks: Cinders, Beneath Starlit Waters, Roil, Each Uisge

1. Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

It should come as no surprise that Fear Factory’s Aggression Continuum would be my Album of the Year. After having the privilege of interviewing Dino Cazares earlier this year, I have made it no secret that Fear Factory are my ultimate favourite band of all time. Having discovered them at the tender age of 12 years old (whilst watching the original Mortal Kombat movie when I wasn’t supposed to) I have followed them closely and over 20 years later they still have the same impact on me as they did when I was an adolescent. Despite the adversity and the drama surrounding the band, Aggression Continuum has absolutely smashed any doubts about the future and has paved the way to the next era in all it’s aggressive, firey glory.

Favourite Tracks: Recode, Disruptor, Aggression Continuum, Collapse, Monolith.