09) Mastodon, Hushed And Grim (Reprise)
Mastodon’s Hushed And Grim presents loss, pain, and grief. You’re hooked after the first listen as you feel the loss of their friend and long-term manager Nick John. It is one standout and nearly flawless record that cuts open old wounds, digging deep into emotions many have difficulty expressing.
Key Track: “Pain with an Anchor”
08) Helloween, Helloween (Atomic Fire)
Pumpkins united, at last! Not only did we get to see this incredible reunion onstage, but we also received a fantastic record with the voices of Andi Deris, Michael Kiske, and Kai Hansen together! Helloween’s self-titled record is ultimately the best power metal album of the year, and it’s one strong record filled with nostalgia, the unthinkable, and ultimately, a masterpiece (check out my interview).
Key Track: “Fear of the Fallen”
07) Obscura, A Valediction (Nuclear Blast)
What a difference three years make between the pandemic and 2018’s Diluvium; Obscura has gone through a significant lineup change seeing the return of bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling and guitarist Christian Münzner, welcoming drummer David Diepold just in time for 2021’s A Valediction. According to the group’s mastermind Steffen Kummerer, the record is witnessing the German progressive/technical death metal outfit going through reincarnation. Regardless, the band’s new chapter is merciless and one of the best death metal records of the year (check out my interview).
Key Track: “When Stars Collide”
06) Omnium Gatherum, Origin (Century Media)
The pandemic has nearly killed Omnium Gatherum. Their fans saved them in 2020, and the band themselves found a way to pick up the pieces in 2021 when they went through a significant lineup change, more than once. They had two choices: to mull over their losses or push ahead. These Finnish melodic death metal giants chose the latter and wrote another incredible album about conquering through all sorts of tough challenges (check out my interview).
Key Track: “Paragon”