Welcome Back! We are already to the half way point of the total list of 100 albums and 40 honorable mentions and it’s so hard to believe how fast time goes by. I hope you have given the first couple parts of this list a chance and maybe even checked out a new album or two. Today contains some killer albums that could be your thing. Let’s find out after we get into 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 now 80-61
80.)- Hooded Menace- The Tritonus Bell
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal
The six album from this masterful death/doom band is a complete showcase of how to do the genre right. It’s slow and haunting in the right moments and switches to more up tempo moments at the turn of a dime exactly when it needs to. With every release, the band gets stronger and it’s not a far cry to say this is their finest album to date.
79.) Alta Reign- Mother’s Day
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Doom Rock
The debut album from this band is jaw dropping to say the least. When you want your music of the 80s/90s prog metal variety but you want it updated just enough or 2021 and not afraid to try some new things out; you get Alta Reign. The closing track, Rise is a grand example of expanding the horizons with adding some great doom touches to the sound and it works so wonderfully well. This band has all the potential to grow (given the band’s schedule with other bands and projects). I can already tell the sophomore album will be one of the most superior albums of that year.
78.) Epica- Omega
FFO- Symphonic Metal
When you think of symphonic metal, Epica has to be one of the first bands you think of. They have made it their signature sound and may be the mightiest example of what you can do with symphonic and metal genres. Omega continues to this tradition of making the genre as catchy as possible while expanding into more prog territories and of course some contagious death metal elements in just the right spots. It’s everything you want in an Epica album.
77.) Wheel- Resident Human
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Wheel is an up and coming band that is not afraid to let their influences shine, all while making the music they create their own. Combine the best elements of Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and Tool and you get a unique sound that others try to replicate but no one else can duplicate. With thought provoking lyrics, and grand musical landscape and all the potential in the world, I can only see this band continuing to grow bigger and bigger. This is what I want in modern day prog.
76.) Running Wild- Blood on Blood
FFO- Power Metal
Running Wild is about one thing and one thing only...FUN! Blood on Blood has fun in all strides. Every song has that specialty Running Wild sound all while being unique enough to stand on their own. It’s a great album from beginning to end and has all the makings of being the strongest Running Wild album ever.
75.) Thyrfing- Vanagandr
FFO- Viking Metal, Black Metal
Viking metal has lived strong this year and there is no finer example of it than Thyrfing in 2021.Every song makes you feel like you are in the mountains or in the battlefield or about to enter Valhalla. When you’ve had enough of the same ol same ol from other bands in the genre, make sure to give one of the best names in viking metal a try.
74.) Portal- Avow/Hagbulbia
FFO- Experimental Death metal/Black Metal
Portal is a band that sounds like no other. It is the real soundtrack to hell to anyone who hates extreme metal. The band released two albums this year that I’m listing together as 1 because it just much easier this way (I’ll be doing this again later). Avow is more of the signature Portal sound while being arguably their most….catchy(?) album to date. It’s complete brutality but it is much more digestible than albums past. Hagbulbia is the bands more experimental release with sounding like a white noise assault to the senses. No real song structures, lyrics or anything resembling metal.It’s what I imagine the sound would sound like being sent to another dimension. Both releases are impeccable for the styles and not for the faint of heart. Portal in general is one of the most musically scary bands going today. The perfect band to listen to in complete darkness.
73.) Nervosa- Perpetual Chaos
FFO- Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Nervosa return with their greatest album to date. Not only being the catchiest release to date, it’s also the most devastating The lyrics are beyond visceral and the musicality has been stepped up to a new notch. A must listen for any death/thrash fans out there.
72.) Frost*- Day and Age
FFO- Progressive Rock
Frost* has always been on the cusp of being one3 of the most profound and respected bands of the genre. You really got to be up on your prog history to know what the band is all about. With Day and Age, you get more of their signature sound while continuing to push the boundaries of what they are capable of. It’s a strange mix of being the most commercial sounding while being one of it’s proggiest, and in some parts their heaviest work. Frost* deserves all the love it gets and this album proves they deserve so much more.
71.) Culak- Glass Sanctuary/Quiescent
FFO- Blackgaze, Piano driven instrumental
As I mentioned just a bit ago, I had to include more double LPs that came out this year and this time it’s Culak. Glass Sanctuary is everything you expect from the blackgaze band. Adding upon it’s signature sound all while adding more orchestrated movements throughout to really give the album more of a soundtrack feel than just an album. Quiescent on the other hand feels exactly like a dark soundtrack album. Piano and synth driven orchestrated music without any metal, lyrics and blackgaze to speak of. Just every dark, brooding, and emotionally driven music that is sure grab a heartstring or two. Both releases are tear jerking in their own ways. Go give both albums a shot and see why for yourself.
70.) Aborted- Drag To Me Hell
FFO- Brutal Death Metal
I( can’t imagine this is based off the movie in any ways (Unless it is, then Bravo!), this is just another killer album in the Aborted catalog. The music continues to not only get more musical and diverse, but it makes the most devastating moments feel even more brutal (that’s the power of dynamics, kids!). If you’ve never given the band a shot. I highly recommend giving this one as your first opportunity if you dare to experience the horror driven brutal death this band has brought upon the genre of metal for so many years now.
69.) Inner Missing- Deluge
FFO- Gothic Metal
This album is the definition of a tearjerking death metal album. Imagine if My Dying Bride embraced their gothic side instead of their doom side, and also mixed it either the likes of Porcupine Tree and Opeth. The lyrics just make you feel down in the dumps in the best way possible. And the music matches the ethereal messages perfectly. This album is going to be missed out on by too many people. I’m here to stop that. Check this album out for one of the most emotionally driven albums of 2021.
68,) And Now The Owls Are Smiling- Dirges
FFO- Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal
Dirges is one of the feel baa hits of the year. It can be looked at as the Acceptance of life and death, it can also be what the stages of a suicidal mind is truly like. I don’t think there is really a wrong answer here. Above all, the music matches the mood perfectly and while it has a raw tinge, it is more than clear enough in the murkiness of life. Make sure you are in the right state of mind before giving this one a shot. Just trust me on this one…
67.) 1914- Where Fear and Weapons Meet
FFO- Blackened Death Metal, Doom Metal, WWI
This is a new discovery for me and I’m completely blown away. Creating one of the darkest atmospheres I’ve heard all year that really describes the horror and atrocities of war, while combining blackened death, symphonic and doom metal elements in a way that has never felt more orchestrated (plus Nick Holmes doing guest vocals on a track); This is how you can look at the past and make it feel like the present, all while fearing the future. 1914 just nails atmosphere in a way no one else can.
66.) Coffin Rites- Human Erase
FFO- Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Grindcore
Minnesota’s own Coffin Rites has unleashed their sophomore album and it’s the only album this year that I did a full review for in 2021.If I actually take the time to do a review outside of the end of the year, you must know I like it. Coffin Rites has a senseability that is not found in other bands around this area with combining a love for death, grind, melody, and thrash to create a unique sound. Imagine Black Dahlia meets Carcass meets Repulsion. It completely works and should be celebrated for it. Give this album a listen and see what I mean.
65.) Carnifex- Graveside Confessions
When I interviews Scott Ian Lewis earlier this year, he said the band just wanted to keep being who they are...a deathcore band. I’ve always found Carnifex to be much more than just breakdowns and pig squeals as they incorporate very intricate songwriting and musicianship. This album, in particular adds a sense of orchestration that you just don’t hear in this genre at all. The album is quite haunting in the best way possible, and they make Korn sound better than ever with their cover of Dead Bodies Everywhere. Some bands are bigger, some are smaller, but Carnifex is not a band that you should look past no matter what kind of heavy music fan you ware. There will at least be something you enjoy on this album. I guarantee it.
64.) Evergrey- Escape of the Phoenix
FFO- Progressive Metal
The band has really been riding their current sound for quite a long time now and there’s no reason they need to change things up. It’s dark, it’s heavy, it’s catchy as hell. Escape of the Phoenix is just everything you expect from this era of the band rolled into a perfect package. I’ll always go to bat for Evergrey wishing they were the big band that they deserve to be, but they have a fanbase that could not be any more loyal and I’m glad to be a part of that. If you like your progressive metal dark, this is the band for you.
63.) Apathy Noir- At The Edge of the World
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Doom Metal
If it has not been clear in this list so far, not only am I fan of dark music; it’s also been a fantastic year for dark music. Apathy Noir combines such a great dark sensibility matched up with a haunting songwriting to create an atmosphere like no other. Though they did have to do a name change some time ago, they really did add the “noir” part of their name not just in a literal sense but also in the music and it just makes everything feel right. Absolutely incredible work.
62.) Every Time I Die- Radical
FFO- Mathcore, Post Hardcore, Southern Rock
ETID has been around for over 20 years now, which is just insane to think about. With every album, the band gets just a bit more exposure and a bit more commercial sounding, but not enough to turn away their diehard fanbase. With Radical, they found a sweet spot of being about to find the right heavy riffs and breakdowns, catchy choruses, and of course their quirky sense of humor. And for any wrestling fans out there, Guitarist, Andy Williams, is The Butcher in AEW. SO how could I not enjoy some heavy music and wrestling in one package/ Overall, just a great, fun record.
61.) The Night Flight Orchestra- Areomantic II
The band started off more hitting on flavors of the 70s pop and rock varieties, but lately, the band has been exposing their love of 80s music and they sound like the freshest thing to ever come out of the decade. They wear their influence4s on their sleeve, yet you can never truly pinpoint a moment where you can say they are ripping off anyone else. They are a band into itself and it captures everything to love about pop and rock of the former decades. Will the band go past the 80s and hit 90s territory? It’s too early to say, but until then, Enjoy this piece of 80s new age nostalgia.
And now we have concluded half of this gargantuan list. 80 albums down and 60 more to go, we return tomorrow with That Drummer Guy’s Top 100 Albums of 2021 Part IV: 60-41.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)