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Metal Insider’s Matt Brown’s Top 10 Albums of 2021

Posted by on December 22, 2021

 

In 2021, I spent as much time listening to podcasts and audiobooks as I did music, a first for me. That doesn’t mean I deprived myself of good albums (obviously, because I wrote a whole list about them). Like last year, I avoided scrambling last minute to listen to any albums I might have missed, choosing instead to revisit the albums that either left a great first impression or just worked their way back into my Spotify queue.

 

10) Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner)

Over the years, Gojira have tweaked their sound here and there, slowly eschewing the death metal touches earlier in their careers. But when you sit down to listen to them, you know you’re listening to Gojira, no matter which album. Such is the case on Fortitude, which builds upon the foundation laid by Magma. The lyrics are as environmentally charged as ever, and the riffs are still groovy and infectious. “Amazonia” is the standout on the first half of the album, but the album finale “Grind” is sure to be a setlist staple.

Key Track: “Grind”

 

09) Leprous, Aphelion (Inside Out)

Leprous continue to refine their particular progressive metal/rock brand on Aphelion. While their previous album Pitfalls was a bit of a slow burn for me, Aphelion roped me in right away with the catchy opener “Running Low.” Once again, Einar Solberg steals the show with some of the best vocals you’ll hear in the prog scene. “Castaway Angels” is the best example of Leprous’s ability to carefully craft a song with gorgeous melodies that begin quietly and build in a slow crescendo to the heavier bits.

Key Track: “Castaway Angels”

 

08) Panopticon, …And Again into the Light (Bindrune)

I’m a simple man: I see an album by Panopticon, I hit play. Austin Lunn, the one-man black metal band mastermind, graced us with yet another excellent dose of what I can only describe as a blast of winter winds in sonic form. And Again into the Light is harsh and brutal but is still marked by melodic flourishes. “Rope Burn Exit” is a perfect example of how Lunn manages to successfully meld the dissonance of black metal with beautiful strings.

Key Track: “Rope Burn Exit”

 

07) Lingua Ignota, SINNER GET READY (Sargent House)

Lingua Ignota blew everyone away with CALIGULA in 2019, and she’s still going strong on her fourth album. SINNER GET READY is as devastating of a listen as you’d expect. Imagine walking into a church and hearing someone deliver a gut-wrenching sermon about straight-up murdering a guy. That’s what it’s like listening to “I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASSES.” If you missed out on Lingua Ignota last time around, now’s a good time to get on board.

Key Track: “I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASSES”

 

06) Iron Maiden, Senjutsu (Sanctuary)

As I’ve said many times, I’m a Maiden fanboy through and through, and I’m always psyched for a new release. How the album stacks up to the rest of the band’s discography is irrelevant to me. Senjutsu is ultimately a slower, more cinematic album akin to The X Factor and A Matter of Life and Death. I love Maiden’s more epic, contemplative songs, so I’m all about it. There’s some experimentation on here, like the southern twang on “The Writing on the Wall,” nods to old favorites like “Death of the Celts,” all finished up with the 11 minute “Hell On Earth.” Rest assured, Maiden are as good as ever.

Key Track: “Hell On Earth”

 

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