14) Therion, Leviathan (Nuclear Blast)
Mastermind Christofer Johnsson continues to push through limits and challenges, which we saw in the ambitious opera 2018’s Beloved Antichrist. Unfortunately, the pandemic didn’t give anyone a chance to see this opera live. However, that didn’t stop the next Therion chapter. Leviathan is just the first of three, and it instantly made it to my top albums of the year. While the record is more or less safe for Therion fans, it’s a remarkable comeback to something a little more familiar while also endlessly entertaining (check out my interview).
Key Track: “Palm of Retribution”
13) Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast)
Consider the top fifteen, a top-five of some sort. Cradle of Filth’s new album, Existence Is Futile, is one of their strongest records in recent years. Anabelle Iratni’s vocals fit right in as parts of this record take me back to Dusk and Her Embrace.
Key Track: “Unleash the Hellion”
12) Seth, La Morsure du Christ (Season Of Mist/LADLO)
Selecting this year’s best albums wasn’t easy, and Seth’s La Morsure du Christ is technically in the top five. This record is raw, ruthless, and the best black metal album of 2021.
Key Track: “La Morsure du Christ”
11) Soen, Imperial (Silver Lining Music)
Soen’s Imperial is probably one of the first albums released in 2021 and one of the last I listened to in full. I’m glad I didn’t skip it altogether, as it’s one incredible, soul-crushing album. You will need a box of tissues after each listen.
Key Track: “Illusion”
10) Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner)
Gojira’s Fortitude may be number ten on my list but also number one in terms of the most disappointing albums of the year. And I mean well when I say this because it’s a phenomenal record. After 2016’s Magma (I will not compare it to anything earlier), I expected more. Half of this album is incredible, but it did fall flat throughout the middle. So, why is it still on my list? Overall, the production quality and some fantastic songs make some of the “bad” disappear. There’s still plenty of Gojira magic, and I hope we will hear more of it on their next record. The pandemic has also given many bands a chance to explore and do something different. Gojira definitely did that, and they get extra points for it (check out our Headbangers’ Brawl review).
Key Track: “Another World”