Friday, December 31, 2021

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2021

We have needed heavy music more than ever this year. This is the culmination of all the other metal lists. Yes, I have done other metal lists for other blogs, and I seem them as being a refining process for when I make this list. So, while result may have varied, this is the final word.  I know many of you are ready for 2020 to be over with. Hate to break it to you but nothing is getting better next year. At the very fact these bands made it on the list means they are the cream of the crop so it's not a slight that the number 8 album is above the 9th album, there is something that just gives it an edge that makes me want to listen to it more. After all we can try to look cool and pick the hippest bands for a list, but at the end of the day what makes an album the best is that it makes you want more, you look forward to listening to it again. Sure, you can bitch and complain about your favorite band not being on the list. However, I listen to five new albums a day so yes, I heard your favorite album and was not impressed. No, I do not care what you think about it. I   hope you can find your next favorite on this list and have included links to reviews of these albums if you want to check out audio on these guys. Anyways here are the top 10 Metal albums of 2021

10-Hooded Menace - "the Tritonus Bell" 

 This band from Finland never struck me over the course of their careers so far as being as creative in the song writing department as they have so midway into the first song of this album. The have really paid more attention to their guitar melodies without becomes cheesy melo-death. The low guttural vocals could always turn into the one-dimensional element that shoots this inspiration down as the album progresses so we will see.   


9- Ruin - "Spread Plague Death " 

They come back nastier and grimmer on the title track of their new album. I really love "Human Annihilation". It had a very tangible hate to its sound. In the time of metal growing kinder and gentler I need it to be more hateful. These miscreants deliver. It is not until a few songs in that things pick up into the faster pounding most death metal is known for. They have not gotten any softer and it is still just as effective when they go from the jack hammer into a more deliberate crunch. All too often heaviness seems to sacrifice a willingness to care about song writing yet here we are with the most dismally gurgled vocals and the songs still have me engaged.  Perhaps this meanness is the only edge they have over Hooded Menace, it is almost too close to call. 

8- Flotsam and Jetsam- "Blood in the Water" 

These guys are the masters of power thrash. The album is way heavier than expected, but the songs are hooky, and Erik's voice sounds great, so what else can you ask for these guys, who keep surprising us with some of their best work coming this late in their careers. Songwriting is what beats out the brutality of Ruin. 

 Abysmal Hymns: Flotsam & Jetsam : "Blood in the Water"


 7-Glassing- "Twin Dream" 

At first you think ...ok this is a sludge album with a great deal of post rock atmosphere, not an uncommon sub-genre these days. As this album unfolds your ears are bathed in a great deal of powerful heaviness that hits you outside the sonic scope of sludge. Angular twists and turns as well as sections that pound at you like an angry hard- core band, or I suppose screamo since that tends to blend its sonic texture more in this direction. Darker a more powerful emotionally than Flotsam's more headfirst assault.

Abysmal Hymns: November is Doom - Glassing - " Twin Dream"

6-Witnesses - 'the Collapse"

They bravely follow up to "Doom II " which was such a perfect album, In my head this bar they set for themselves, they did not make the same album twice. Instead, they approached this more another angle. Perhaps, not as desolate and dark in the way it occupies sonic space as their previous album. But after a couple days of playtime, it is clear the guitar melodies are as equally haunting. I think in doing so for this album they have allowed the vocals to convey a similar emoting with more subtle flow as the take on a rawer edge. Heavier and more metallic it works in its own way.  Riffs are what beats out Glassing. 

Abysmal Hymns: November is Doom- Witnesses : "the Collapse"


5-Converge & Chelsea Wolfe - " Blood Moon "

I like these two artists almost equally it brings out Converge's best side as I prefer their dark creepy melodic stuff over when they are just a total punk rock freak out the album leans in more of a sludge direction though by the highly experimental definition of that sub-genre, Wolfe's solo work had those elements previously, so this is not a surprise. They work together in a masterful way to create heavy music that is still beautiful in different ways. The range of sonic colors beats out Witnesses. 

4-Hypocrisy- "Worship"

The 90s never left. This is the vibe I get from the first album in over a decade from one of Sweden's best death metal acts. I first got into them back in 1994 with the 'Fourth Dimension" album. They were ahead of the curve when it came to lyrics dealing with alien conspiracies. Their experience as song writers prevails and makes this better than what a younger band eager to prove how heavy they are would do. Lyrically it is very fitting for the past year so wish it had come out earlier but will take it. They impressively beat out Converge and Ms. Wolfe's collab as these songs hooked me in more. 

Abysmal Hymns: Hypocrisy : " Worship"


  3-Bloody Hammers - "Songs of Unspeakable Terror"

What gave these guys the edge is that this album came out back in January and hung tough as an album I would return to at least once a week or so. An impressive feat when you consider how much new music I ingest. This time the band leaned into the punk side of their influences, and it works much better. It is not total Danzig as the Elvis side of the coin is toned down. The vocals are great and very catchy. I can appreciate how this is married to an almost edgy cock rock side of 80s metal, but all horror anthems which earned their place at the top of this list. They beat out Hypocrisy because I just got a little more mileage out of this one. 

Abysmal Hymns: Bloody Hammers : "Songs of Unspeakable Terror"

2- Iron Maiden- "Senjutsu" 

There is no real filler on this album, the first single is the weakest song on the album and that is a relative term as it is still better than anything another band trying to be them could do, and a solid song in its own right even if it is not just what I showed up for, If this is their last album it is a fine summary of their legacy.  They beat out Bloody Hammers, because well this is Iron Maiden and they do not just stick to one riff no matter how cool it is their songs are an adventure. 

Abysmal Hymns: Iron Maiden : "Senjutsu"

1- Portrayal of Guilt - "We are Always Alone"

This time around they brought the more sonic kind of heavy I love. They are pretty deliberate using very chilling chord structures.  From the first listen I knew that this was going to be the fucking album to beat this year this shit kicks your face in and is a beautiful dark mess, just what the world needs right now/The parts that did not tug at me right away grew on me, making this an almost perfect album and the best of the heaviest. Beating out Maiden because they took more chances.      

Abysmal Hymns: Portrayal of Guilt : "We Are Always Alone"


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