Welcome one and all to part II and the true beginning of this mammoth list containing my favorite albums of 2021 cascading down from 100 to 1. If you checked out the honorable mentions back on Friday, you will have noticed that some pretty big hitters missed my list this year, which really says there was so much good music this year that it was hard to contain this to even a top 100, let alone 40 extra honorable mentions. As I will continue to repeat throughout this list; just because an album lands in this section of the list does not mean it’s bad or crap or not worth listening to. There's are my favorite albums of the year, not just a list of 100 albums I heard this year. So I encourage you to check out every part of this list and check out anything that seems interesting to you. Hell, maybe even new stuff you’d never try. You just never know what will stick with you in the long run. All of that said. Let’s get to the rules!
- These are 100 ALBUMS that I loved this year ranked from 100-1.
- No EPs, live albums, compilations, rarity albums, reissues, or any specialty releases. Just brand new LPs
- The list is broken down into 6 parts which I release Monday to Friday, 20 albums a piece, countdown style. Black Friday brings on the Honorable Mentions list, which is 40 albums that didn’t make my Top 100, but deserve just as much praise.
- There are many reasons that an album won’t show up on this list. I did not have enough time to hear it enough, I didn’t hear it, it wasn’t my bag...baby, and new for 2021; The band/Artist does something so stupid that I simply can’t support them anymore.
-While The top 100 is ranked, look at this as 100 albums you should check out and not 5 parts you can skip and just check out the top 20. Every album here is awesome and what may be album 100 or 72 or 47 may be your favorite album or discovery of the year. So give anything that gets your attention a spin. We live in the digital age, there’s no excuse to skip out anymore.
- These are my thoughts and my thoughts alone. No outside influences, no one asking me to put them on the list, no pressure from higher sources. Just what I dig and you just may dig as well.
- And most importantly...go discover some new music!!!
And let’s begin the top 100 albums of 2021`!
100.) Beast in Black- Dark Connection
FFO- Power Metal, Modern Metal
Ever since the beginning of this band, Beast in Black has just been known for putting out some of the most fun albums in metal. It’s that great blend of modern pop, electronic and industrial moments mixed in with power metal that really makes the music stand out for those not already into power metal and is more of a mainstream fan. The band does not reinvent the wheel on Dark Connection, but they don’t need to. It’s an absolutely solid album from start to finish and a fantastic album to put on at parties once they begin to be a thing again. Also, go see this band live if possible, you’ll be in for a grand time.
99.) Einherjer- North Star
FFO- Viking Metal, Black Metal
One of the strongest names in viking metal returns with one of their strongest albums to date. No matter the tempo, no matter the length; every song clubs you with it’s brutality. The production is quite raw on this album, but that makes the album stand out even more compared to it’s contemporaries. Einherjer has been here to stay and North Star is another example of why they are not going anywhere.
98.) Joel Hoekstra’s 13- Running Games
FFO- Melodic Metal, Hard Rock
Featuring an all star cast of musicians; Running Games brings back the true spirit of AOR music with just the right amount of more modern day tinges to make the music truly it’s own form. Hoekstra does not need to be an absolute shredder here to showcase what a brilliant guitarist and songwriter he truly continues to be. This is just a fun, rockin’ album and in 2021; sometimes that’s all you really need.
97.) The Absence- Coffinized
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
3 years since their modern day classic, A Gift for the Obsessed, Coffinized brings in a much more raw approach to make the songs much more visceral display, all while maintaining even more catchy moments in the band’s signature sound. Florida has always been known as one of the havens of the best kept metal bands in the world, check out out one of it’s finest melodeath bands here with an album that is more than worthy of your attention.
96.) Go Ahead and Die- Go Ahead and Die
FFO- Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Family connection is a great thing to have, especially is music runs in the family. Max and Igor Amadeus Cavalera combine their father/son musical abilities to really capture a true sense of what the world has become before during and what will be after the pandemic. Raw, aggressive, and carnal. A short and sweet album that kicks through this thing we call life and sheds the light on all of it’s horrendous modern day moments. The band will only get more vicious from here.
95.) Robin McAuley- Standing on the Edge
FFO- AOR, Hard Rock
With his first true solo album, McAuley showcases his legendary voice and in 2021, it’s arguably at it’s strongest in his career. The songwriting goes from nice and heavy rockers to emotional ballads and everything in between. This is the kind of album for those of you need that 70s/80s rock in a modern sense and it’s done to pure perfection.
94.) Moonspell- Hermitage
FFO- Gothic Metal, Progressive Metal
The proggiest album in the band’s history while still maintaining all that you know and love about the band is here and it’s a perfect balance. While the band has shifted their sound over the years, they have yet to lose their integral sound and Hermitage shines just as dark as ever. It’s a perfect gateway album for the band for newcomers far and wide with such a glorious back catalog to discover. Give this one a shot, if you like what you hear, keep going backwards and enjoy.
93.) Lucifer- IV
FFO- Occult Rock
Another band that does not need to change their formula in any way. If you want catchy, rockin’, and of course evil rock’ Lucifer brings it all in pure style. With catchy s0ongs from beginning to end and that overall sense of dread behind each track makes this for not only a great full album experience, but what I can only imagine is one hell of a great live show. Do yourself a favor and check out this band and see what all the evil is all about.
92.) Orden Ogan- Final Days
FFO- Progressive Power Metal
This album would be so much higher if given the time on my end. This is by far the band’s strongest work and that’s not even a question. It’s a breath of fresh air in the conceptual worlds of progressive and power metal. It’s the kick that genres have needed for a while and I can only hope more bands will follow suite and be as imaginative and fun as Final Days as come out to be. Seriously tremendous.
91.) Accept- Too Mean To Die
FFO- Heavy Metal
Germany’s premiere heavy metal band has had many highs and lows, peaks and valleys, & above all, some of the strongest material to every come out of Europe. Too Mean to Die continues the tradition of what works, solid, rockin’ metal with such singable choruses, killer riffs, and a sense that you just need to experience these songs in a live setting. Another fine chapter in the legacy of Accept.
90.) Burning Witches- Witch of the North
FFO- Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Heavy Metal
Burning Witches has gone through many changes in their short career, but all in that time, they have managed to refine the machine and become stronger with every release. Following the Nordic tales of Scandinavian gods brings Burning Witches with their evil tendencies to their finest point to date. The band is only going to be getting better from here with it’s perfected sound. Check this album out now and get on board before their next album of evil tales.
89.) Mercury Circle- Killing Moons
FFO- Gothic Metal, Doom Metal, Occult Rock
When you think of bands like Swallow The Sun and Children of Bodom getting together; you don’t expect the band to be going in a goth rock style, but then again, Finnish bands have a very refined taste. Mercury Circle’s debut is one that sounds like a high point in any other band’s career. If this mix of goth,occult, and doom is what the band is bringing to the table for the first time; their sophomore album is sure to blow even more people’s minds. This is how you show that you have a full array of styles up your sleeves and make it as enjoyable as possible.
88.) John Diva and the Rockets of Love- American Amadeus
FFO- Hard Rock, Sleaze Rock, Heavy Metal
The band’s sophomore album takes their signature sound of 80s sleaze and modern songwriting and adds a bit more class to kick your ass (hey, that rhymed!). The songwriting is even better, the songs are more fun to listen to and you just smile as you listen to every song from top to bottom. This is how you make an album that has that right sense of sophistication and ball busting to take any pretentiousness and just give you fun in 2021 (hey, I did it again!)!
87.) Sonny Vincent- Snake Pit Therapy
FFO- Punk Rock, Alternative Rock, Underground Rock
Legendary underground icon Sonny Vincent is back with his…I can’t even count how many albums the man has appeared on, but in 2021, you see him showcasing that his signature voice, songwriting and powerful style makes for such great songs. Whether its more rockin’ or more subdued, the man can do it all. If you’re not familiar, give this album a shot and simply enjoy!
86.) Blackbriar- The Curse of Shipwreck
FFO- Gothic Metal, Symphonic Metal
This band’s debut release is one of whimsical and fantastical power. With soaring, heavenly vocals matched on top of hell driven music makes this a dark, fun, adventure. Once you et sucked in, you’re there for the whole ride. This is an album and a band to check out and keep your eye on for the long run. IF this is the debut, the band is only going to continue to grow and grow.
85.) Ephemerald- Between The Glimpses of Hope
FFO- Symphonic Death Metal, Folk Metal, Black Metal
I can’t say it enough that Finland is one of, if not the BEST, area of the world to find new metal music. Ephemerald is another fantastic example of this sentiment. Containing a love of the folk, black, death and symphonic worlds; The band creates it’s own signature blend to create a melodic sense of dark destruction. Seriously, fi you love any of these genres, do yourself a favor and pick this album out immediately. It’s more than worthy of your time.
84.) Arc of Life- Arc of Life
FFO- Progressive Rock
When you take former members of Yes and you hear that they want to be inspired by the best of progressive rock; you know that you are going to be in for a glorious time. This has everything a prog fan would want and so much mrore. It’s catchy, it’s poppy, it’s proggy, and surprising heavy in certain dashes. Arc of Life is bringing in a new lifeblood into a style that is always up for seeing how far the genre can expand. You’re doing yourself a great disservice if you skip out on this one.
83.) Architects- For Those That Wish to Exit
Modern Metal, Progressive Metalcore
This is a band that I knew of but simply never checked out for one reason or another. No ill will intended, just some bands you never get a chance to hear until a certain point. Architects has put out a masterpiece of a album here with brilliant songwriting, beautiful choruses and dark, but uplifting lyrics that is sure to strike the right heartstrings to make you get hit right in the feels. A surprise album for me may be one you’ve been rockin’ since it’s release. Regardless, don’t forget about this one, it’s worth the time you put into it.
82.) Star-Lord- Space Rider (Music from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy)
FFO- Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
This album borders on the soundtrack category and maybe even arguably should not be on this list. That said, I look at this as a stand alone album from one of the best video games of the year and it’s a full on heavy metal album. The reason I include it is because there are licensed songs on the soundtrack already from the 80s, where as this release is all brand new material that is not out of place on any heavy metal list out there. And it’s my list so if you don’t like it...suck it, I guess? Anyways. This album is pure, unadulterated 80s inspired heavy metal. It’s cheesy on levels that even power metal can’t reach and that’s what makes it so wonderful. It’s a badass metal album from start to finish and it’s meant to be a REAL album. Check this out and go buy the game that features these songs. I can only hope there will be a sophomore album in my lifetime.
81.) Transatlantic- The Absolute Universe (Forevermore & The Breath of Life)
FFO- Progressive Rock
Arguably the most ambitious album of 2021. It is a double concept album over 3 three discs. Forevermore is 2 discs that contains everything the concept is about. The Breath of Life is an abridged version of the former with new ways to make it feel like it’s it’s own release while containing the same music and new interludes, beginnings, ends, etc to make it feel like a complete 1 disc concept. It’s odd on paper, but it works in execution. This is how prog is meant to be and it’s done in a way that you either love or see as pretentious, there’s no real in between. I for one, love it and you may too.
And there you have it, the first twenty albums down in this gargantuan list and 80 more to go. Tune in tomorrow for That Drummer Guy’s Top 100 Albums of 2021 Part III: 80-61
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)