1. Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix
This release grabbed me at the beginning of 2021 and never let go. With their latest offering, ESCAPE OF THE PHOENIX, Evergrey will no doubt become a permanent soundtrack to someone’s life and adhere the majestic music contained therein permanently to many souls. They have delivered their most personal and emotional album yet. Atmospheric and haunting, melodic and heavy, intense and emotional – each song takes you on a different journey that evokes all of these in infinite combinations.
02. Gus G – Quantum Leap
Every song on QUANTUM LEAP is a multi-layered, multi-textured masterpiece. At the heart of every song is a masterfully crafted melody. The melodies are then meticulously placed on top of driving riffs, creating the foundation for Gus’ remarkable lead work. This album is jam packed with stunning virtuoso guitar wizardry from start to finish
03. Exodus – Persona Non Grata
PERSONA NON GRATA makes a bold statement right from the start: Exodus are alive and well in 2021 and thrashing as hard as ever! This savage collection is delivered with the fire and fury of a starving up-and-coming band looking to sign that first elusive record deal. An unyielding modern thrash metal beating awaits you!
04. Helloween – Helloween
05. Crowne – Kings In The North
06. Anette Olzon – Strong
07. The End Machine – Phase 2
08. Todd La Torre – Rejoice In The Suffering
09. Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The World
10. Black Label Society – Doom Crew Inc
11. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu
12. Manimal – Armageddon
13. Accept – Too Mean To Die
14. Artillery – X
15. Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls
16. The Crown – Royal Destroyer
17. Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile
18. KK’s Priest – Sermons Of The Sinner
19. Rhapsody Of Fire – Glory For Salvation
20. Bloodbound – Creatures Of The Dark Realm
Best Metal Book
Ronnie James Dio – Rainbow In The Dark: The Autobiography
Just a sentimental favourite and a fantastic trip down memory lane with one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
Best New Band
KK Downing was on a mission to prove his relevance in 2021. He definitely succeeded!
My favourite discovery of 2021 was…
Crowne – Kings In The North.
I was totally blown away by this release! This album is a non-stop thrill ride of good old Swedish melodic heavy metal. As I have stated on many occasions, supergroup assembly can be a very tricky situation. When the creative chemistry is there, they work, and the resulting music can be magical. That is absolutely the case here!
Best Comeback of 2021
Exodus – Persona Non Grata.
After a seven-year hiatus, Gary Holt and company absolutely blew the doors off with their new release. A magnificent return to the glory days of Bay Area Thrash.
Favourite non-metal release of 2021
Crazy Lixx – Street Lethal.
This is fantastic hook laden driving melodic hard rock! The vocals are soaring. The guitars are meaty and crunchy. The lead work is fantastic. The rhythm section is pounding. Give these guys a shot!
Favourite female musician
Anette Olzon – Strong.
Her graceful and powerful vocals fit this brand of metal perfectly. STRONG is packed full of hidden melodic treasures that are just begging to be found. She has made a thundering statement with this release and will be a major force in the metal community for a very long time to come
Disappointments of 2021
Sunbomb – Evil And Divine.
I truly wanted to love Sunbomb. I listened to EVIL AND DIVINE a total of ten times to make sure it was given the attention it deserves. There are some noteworthy moments here and there, but they are just too few and far between.
Yngwie Malmsteen – Parabellum.
I just cannot listen to Yngwie sing anymore. Period. And, I simply cannot listen to the same diminished and harmonic minor arpeggios he has been playing since RISING FORCE.
Hopes for 2022
I have a feeling 2022 will be a banner year for metal. I’m anxiously awaiting and expecting absolutely stellar albums from Annihilator, Anthrax, Arch Enemy, King Diamond, Megadeth, and Mercyful Fate.