Welcome back, welcome back welcome baaaaack! (Too old of a reference now?) to That Drummer Guy’s Top 100 Albums of 2021. In today’s segment we finally hit the part where most publications focus on; A Top 40 or 30 or 25. For me. I feel like I would leave out way too many great albums if I did not bring up that many albums. Even last year doing a few albums (in comparison) as I normally do I felt like I left out so much. So, as I like to mention every chance I get, please check out every part of this list as any album on any part of this list could be a new favorite of yours. But of course having things get down to the end means that every album listed means more to me. Some will make sense to you as the reader, others will make you quite confused. Let’s see how this goes with Part V: 40-21. But first; 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, let's get into the Top 40
40.) Hammer King- S/T
FFO- Heavy Power Metal
This is seriously one of the heaviest power metal albums I’ve heard in quite some time. Every song feels like you’re in the midst of a godlike war. Superior songwriting, soaring vocals, and pure brutality. This is what I like in my power metal. If you’re like me and you just don’t ever have it in you to ever listen to Iced Earth again after this year and you miss those power driven riffs; please check out Hammer King. You’ll be very, VERY happy with what you hear.
39.) Urne- Serpent & Spirit
FFO- Metalcore, Progressive Death Metal, Chaotic Hardcore
This band’s debut woke me up so hard this year and upon every listen, it holds up more and more. It’s not often you can hear a band go from from furious as Converge to playing a melodic style Nevermore riff into showing off some Opeth style prog in the process with it all making sense. This is a band that is not afraid to see how far their sound can reach and that instantly draws me into the band and eagerly awaiting to see what will be coming next. This band will be huge in due time, I can feel it.
38.) Helloween- S/T
FFO- Power Metal
Comeback album of the year? Uhh….hell yeah it is! There’s two kinds of Helloween fans till this year. Ones that just love the Keeper of The Seven Keys albums or those that love the band’s whole career. This album brings back the love for both as every singer that’s ever been in the band is back sharing vocals and the rest of the band has written the finest riffs since those legendary albums. A comeback like this one is rare as most comeback albums are either ok or mediocre at best to actually pretty good in rarer forms. This blows those expectations away and actually delivers from start to finish. Even if this ends up being the last Helloween album; it may be the gr4eatest finale to a band ever. Seriously, this lives up to the hype and more.
37.) Ghost Bath- Self Loather
FFO- Blackgaze, Depressive Suicidal Black Metal
Hey, Ghost Bath wrote a song about me! What are the odds? In reality, it’s just a concept and an album that I can relate to well too well. This album boarders on the DSBM genre, but with far superior production (so does it count?). It hits home and all the feeling you get when you can sit down and appreciate this album are real. Life is not all sunshine and lollipops. Sometimes we live in darkness and have diabetes so we can’t take enjoyment in what life can offer. I also hope that feelings like this for anyone does not purist and anyone can find a way to escape those feelings, but don’t pass off those feelings, they are real and ignoring emotions can and will hurt you even more in the long run. This album sheer brilliance in it’s darkness. It won’t be for everyone, but for those that get it...you have a winner on your hands.
36.) Tribulation- Where Gloom Becomes Sound
FFO- Black N’ Roll, Occult Rock
Tribulation really found themselves with their sophomore album and they have been improving themselves ever since. While I’ve seen this album go more under the radar than others, it should not be skipped. It contains some of the best songwriting you’ll hear this year. While the band’s formula may change thanks to a lineup change, if this ends up as the last good Tribulation album, it’s one hell of a great album. I really doubt this will be the last great album from the band and I’m excited to see what the band will conjure up next for us.
35.) Cvlt ov the Svn- We are the Dragon
FFO- Occult Murder Pop
If the genre name confuses you, let’s say it’s a band that really showcases groove, industrial, metal, pop, and occult rock. With distinct vocals, tremendously catchy pop orientated metal songs and should be a hit for any and all that love a little bit of horror in their music, This has something for everyone and I know that the formula for the band will be even grander with every subsequent release. SO go check this out now and be a fan by the time the sophomore album arrives.
34.) Necronautical- Slain in the Spirit
FFO- Symphonic Blackened Death Metal
How to appropriate this right for those that are unfamiliar. With still being off the mark, let’s say this is what would happen if Behemoth and Fleshgod Apocalypse joined forces and relocated to the UK. The band touches on so much in it’s songwriting that it’s not afraid to be a rubber band and stretch out of what you would expect from a band like this and snap right back in to bring you exactly what you came for at the start of it all. This is such a great album and really gives off a fantastic soundtrack feel in its absolute hellish chaos. If you dig the extreme symphonic sounds, you check out this band and this album the first chance you get it. You’ll be rewarded with what it offers you.
33.) Wheel- Preserved in Time
FFO- Doom Metal, Occult Rock
While I talked about a band named Wheel earlier in this list, this band called Wheel hails from Ger4many and showcases that the likes of Candlemass and Cathedral still have a home in metal. This is the literal definition of a doom album and it makes me so happy to discover something like this in 2021. If you miss old school doom like I do; don’t fret, it never left, you just have to search for it...or let me search and present it to you like right here with Wheel. Now Go! Listen and enjoy!
32.) Thulcandra- A Dying Wish
FFO- Melodic Black Metal
A melodic black metal album produced by one of my biggest heroes Dan Swano. There’s not much I could possibly hope for as I know something like this could not possibly fail. And I was right. This is right where the band belongs in the height of it’s career enjoying the labors of it’s style created by the likes of Dissection, but take out all the atrocities associated with the Dissection (just go look it up,if you wish to) A Dying Wish is the band’s finest hour and it’s not even the only Steffen Kummerer to appear on my list this year. Again this album proves my point that 2021 has been a fantastic year for music (...and that’s about it).
31,) As Everything Unfolds- Within Each Lies The Other
FFO- Modern Metal, Metalcore
It takes a lot for me to like a band that has the connotations of more modern metalcore (it’s just never been my bag since 2007/2008) but As Everything Unfolds takes everything I thought about the genre and turns its on its ear. It’s emotional, it’s heartbreaking, it tackles issues that people still do not want to discuss (mental health). This album hits harder for me than almost any other album this year (well, if you wanna go by the list, there’s 30 others that do as well). I wish more bands associated with metalcore would take this more atmospheric approach, it works tremendously for the band and I know it will only be more refined and stronger with every upcoming release. Seriously, do not miss this.
30.) Pounder- Breaking The World
FFO- Heavy Metal, Speed
Take everything you love about late 70s to mid 80s heavy metal and you have Pounder. A trio fronted by Exhumed’s Matt Harvey combines a love for yesteryear while making it contemporary enough that any genre fan will love what’s going on. Breaking the World is the band’s 2nd album and it feels like they have not even begun to see the toip of the mountain. It’s only going to continue to get better from here and I’m here for the ride. You should be as well. It’s a good message for the world, Let’s all get pounded (or be the pounder)!
29.) Kayo Dot- Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike
FFO- Kayo Dot
Kayo Dot is….Kayo Dot. The literal definition of band that is impossible of repeating itself. With so many releases under their belt know expanding from anywhere from black metal to jazz to synth wave to post rock. They are like a gumball machine. You have no idea what flavor of gumball they will deliver to you next. I will say this is one of the heaviest Kayo Dot albums so far. While it doesn’t have the buzz saw blast beats like other albums; it really hits hard in the gothic, doom, and avant garde metal variations. There is no right answer as to what album you should check out first from the band as every album is so completely different in sound, but go on Wikipedia and read about every release and see what’s right for you. If you like the idea of the heavier side of the band, check out this album. They really are unlike anything else you’;; hear this year or any year.
28.) Chrome Waves- The Rain Will Cleanse
FFO- Post Metal, Blackgaze, Gothic Metal
This is the most commercial sounding release from the band so far. While previous releases showed off more of their blackgaze flavorings; The Rain Will Cleanse shows off more of their post side. So if you want more metal infused variations of The Cure or The Sisters of Mercy with minimal black metal thrown in, That’s what this album has and more. A true sleeper album this year that deserves so much more attention. If this sounds like it would be up your alley, give it a proper shot.
27.) Violet Cold- Empire of Love
FFO- Blackgaze, Free Love
When you think of a metal band, your mind does not instantly go to Azerbaijan to look for those bands, but Violet Cold is more than just an innovator of being a band in a country that’s right in the border of Europe and the Middle East. The band showcases on this album the idea that you should love anyone you choose love (obvious exceptions excluded) and be who you choose to be. An album for anyone that is in or helps promote the LGBTQ+ community and is truly a freedom call for the world to allow adults to date any other willing adults they choose and free to be who you truly are. It’s a beautiful sentiment that needs to be heard more and I could not be more in favor of what’s going on here. Amazing music with an amazing message...what’s not to love?
26.) The Five Hundred- A World On Fire
FFO- Modern Metal
One of the most perfect angry but uplifting albums you can hear this year. A sentiment that says we are screwed as human unless we get our collective stuff together and start to care. Its a message that should be appreciated (and will be ignored and laughed at by those that are actually the problem). The music on display is that right combination of heavy and mellow. Something like Intronaut have mastered since their inception. This band will continue to rise as long as they stay together. I hope the livability of Earth lasts as long as well.
25.) Times of Grace- Songs of Loss and Separation
FFO- Alternative Metal, Mental Health
This album breaks me. I can’t make it through a whole listen without tearing up or at least choking up a bit. Jesse Leech has a way with words that many other songwriters can’t comprehend when it comes to personal struggle and mental health. The music itself matches the tone set in the lyrics so perfectly that it’s hard not to feel something as you listen. Of course this not for everyone but if yo9u really give it a real chance, it may just grip your emotions the way it does for me.
24.) One Hundred Thousand- Zodiac
FFO- Modern Metal
A concept album about the pros and cons of every zodiac sign. A real yin-yang of an album that truly balances itself out. Even if you don’t believe in astrology; It’s an album about how wee all have good and bad to all of us and all we can try to do is make ourselves the best we can be. The music perfectly matches every sign talked about in both style and substance. Whether it gets extremely heavy, radio friendly, or just an emotional ball of stress. The potential in this band is limitless and it’ll only get better from here.
23.) Obscura- A Valediction
FFO- Progressive Death metal, Technical Death Metal
After an astounding 4 album concept cycle, where do you go from here? You make the start of a new trilogy where you show off the next chapter fo the band. Obscura has broadened it’s horizons and hitting areas that it simply did not touch before, whether it gets into slowed down Morbid Angel territory, acoustic leads that have never fit better, even sometimes into the power metal realms in some riffs. It’s an absolute delight to see where the band is right now and if this is the start of the trilogy, the next two albums are going to blo9w everyone’s minds on what is possible. I can’t wait.
22.) Subterranean Masquerade- Mountain Fever
FFO- Progressive Metal
The band had been inactive for so long, I gave up hope on them ever getting back together and I just felt like I discovered a band after they broke up. But thankfully in 2015, they came back with their second album and have been here to stay ever since. While there has been many lineup changes since their inception, they have been grounded to making this band a lifelong and lasting entity. Combining prog and their homeland’s musical styles in Israel; the band has one of the most unique sounds you’ll hear in prog and every album showcases that they are far from a one trick pony. This may be the4ir strongest album to date, there’s no reason to think it’s not as every song fits so perfectly well together and gives you an exceptional album experience like no other. I’m ho happy I live in the timeline where Subterranean Masquerade is still active and putting out amazing music. I have that feeling that they have reach their full potential and not even shown us their final form. I’m so excited for their future.
21.) Silver Lake- Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen
FFO- Melodic Metal
Combining the best singers in Scandinavia with one of the greatest musicians from Finland and you have a band an album that literally shows off the best of what Europe has to offer. The music is that perfect amount of heavy and melodic and has the right singer on every song whether you like Katatonia, Soilwork, Amorphis or others. It’s the most Finnish metal album that I’ve ever heard and I love it for that reason. Will this continue, will there be a second album? Will this become a full on band in Amorphis’ downtime? Well...time will only tell…
And there you go, we have reached the promised land and tomorrow will bring the big bad booty daddy of them all That Drummer Guy’s Top 20 Albums of 2021. Thanks for sticking around and see you tomorrow!