The best albums of 2021 so far…three months in

2021 has continued where 2020 left off. Many of us around the world are still locked down, prisoners to a pandemic that refuses to go quietly. In this respect, Covid-19 is very much like our beloved heavy metal; it endures in the face of adversity. Musicians the world over have basically raised two fingers to the pandemic and have found ways to continue to create new music, the music that we all love and respect. Without it, many of our lives would have been rendered even more miserable and futile, so we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the bands we love for not throwing in the towel when, to do so, would have been the easiest option.

It is no surprise then, that 2021 has seen a wealth of great new music from across the spectrum of heavy metal. In no particular order, I bring you my pick of the albums that I have heard so far this year.

Evergrey

Escape Of The Phoenix

AFM Records

Genre: Dark Melodic Progressive Metal (AKA ‘genius’!)

“To these ears, ‘Escape Of The Phoenix’ is damn-near flawless in every way. It is special. It is magic. And it contains the essence of what I love about heavy metal and what I love about this band in particular. There is no other possible conclusion – ‘Escape Of The Phoenix’ is a dark, melodic, emotional, and heavy slab of metal perfection.”

Check out the full review here

Ghosts Of Atlantis

3.6.2.4

Black Lion Records

Genre: Melodic Extreme Metal

“And what an album ‘3.6.2.4’ is. And it is made all the more special because I simply wasn’t expecting it. Ghosts Of Atlantis were not even close to being on my radar until the promo invitation dropped into my inbox. But now, I can safely say that this has been one of the biggest highpoints of the musical year so far. So, if like me, you’re a sucker for melodically-charged extreme metal with drama, depth, and real heart, ‘3.6.2.4’ by Ghosts Of Atlantis has to be your very next purchase.”

Check out the full review here

Soen

Imperial

Silver Lining Music

Genre: Progressive Metal

“‘Imperial’ is a supreme collection of brilliant songs that together create an even better album. It is an elegant, passionate and intelligent affair, one that also adds plenty of human emotion, eloquently wrought through music and lyrics. Progressive, beautiful, and deep, it resonates powerfully with me, to the point where I just don’t want to stop listening. Please don’t make me.”

Check out the full review here

Witherfall

Curse Of Autumn

Century Media Records

Genre: Dark Melodic Metal

“This sensational record is then rounded out by an acoustic cover of Boston’s ‘Long Time’ which is actually really good, and that’s coming from someone who’s not always a fan of cover versions. It caps a remarkable performance from a band that just seems to get better and better. In a live setting, I bet these guys slay and I sincerely hope that I get to witness this sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, we have another masterpiece to enjoy, in the form of ‘Curse Of Autumn’ – dark and properly heavy melodic metal rarely sounds this passionate or brilliant.”

Check out the full review here

W.E.T.

Retransmission

Frontiers Music

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

“As with each of the three albums before it, ‘Retransmission’ is simply a masterclass in how to write, perform, and record near-perfect melodic hard rock. As such, there is literally nothing that I can fault about it. Feel-good melodic rock has rarely felt quite this good; ‘Retransmission’ is a joy to listen to and a joy to write about.”

Check out the full review here

Iotunn

Access All Worlds

Metal Blade Records

Genre: Melodic Progressive Technical Death Metal

“I cannot believe that I nearly let this superb album slip through my fingers. With ‘Access All Worlds’, Iotunn provide me with a little bit of everything that I love about heavy music. It is technical, complex, atmospheric, engaging, melodic, and, frankly, magnificent. There’s nothing else I feel the need to say, except buy it, listen to it, love it.”

Check out the full review here

Warrior Path

The Mad King

Symmetric Records

Genre: Power Metal

“As I said before, there’s an impressive consistency across ‘The Mad King’ in terms of song writing and individual performances, meaning that there’s not a wasted minute anywhere. And when you add on a really nice production job from Bob Katsionis that feels warm, inviting and smooth, there’s a clear argument to suggest that we have a new contender for power metal album of 2021. ‘The Mad King’ will not disappoint in any shape or form. If you’re a fan of power metal, then Warrior Path have delivered an essential album for your collection.”

Check out the full review here

Epica

Omega

Nuclear Blast

Genre: Symphonic Metal

“Epica have delivered the album that has managed to find the near-perfect blend of extreme metal, symphonic majesty, and melody. As such, whilst the songs may be multi-layered and full of over-the-top pomposity, they remain completely listenable, enjoyable, and as addictive as a rush of adrenaline. Simply put, ‘Omega’ is almost certainly the best symphonic metal album that I have heard in a long time.”

Check out the full review here

Mariana’s Rest

Fata Morgana

Napalm Records

Genre: Melodic Death/Doom Metal

“‘Fata Morgana’ has, without question, catapulted Mariana’s Rest to another level. I fully expect their name to be on many more lips from now on and rightly so, because this is atmospheric doom-laden melodic death metal of the very highest order. ‘Fata Morgana’ is a magnificent body of work and worthy of each and every one of the accolades coming the band’s way.”

Check out the full review here

Orden Ogan

Final Days

AFM Records

Genre: Power Metal

“As melodic power metal albums go, I must concede that Orden Ogan have done it again with the masterful ‘Final Days’. They impressed me out of nowhere with ‘Gunman’ a few years ago, but in 2021 they have impressed me once again, despite having higher expectations this time around. The German quintet rarely put a foot wrong at any point on this record, delivering track after track of memorable and highly enjoyable melodic heavy metal that’s fully deserving of the ‘metal’ tag within the descriptor.”

Check out the full review here

2 Thoughts

  1. Great stuff! I find a lot of what I personally like here. The Everygrey album didn’t quite “do” it for me this time around. It was a bit too laid back. Ghosts of Atlantis was a very nice surprise and I enjoyed it muchly. I found Imperial by Soen just okay. I don’t know why I didn’t like Witherfall, there was just something that didn’t jive with me. Mariana’s Rest knocked my socks off and was a very nice surprise.

    I’ve seen lists of favorite albums pop up in January this year, and realizing I had no idea which albums were my personal favorites I decided to pay more attention. So, thanks to more time due to the pandemic, my personal project is to sample (or fully listen to) as many metal releases as I can for 2021. Resources like your blog really helps in this little project, so thanks for your reviews!

    My personal favorites so far this year:

    Empyrium – Über den Sternen
    Rådarna – The Fomorian Horde
    Stortregn – Impermanence
    Marianas Rest – Fata Morgana
    Ulthima – Symphony Of The Night
    Ephemerald – Between the Glimpses of Hope
    Epica – Ωmega – Symphonic Metal
    Ghosts of Atlantis – 3.6.2.4

  2. For me so far:

    Dvne – Etemen Aenka
    Paranorm – Empyrean
    Mastord – To Whom Bow Even The Trees
    Ghosts of Atlantis – 3.6.2.4

    The one to include on the next list for me will be The Stranger – Kaleidoscope for sure. Love all 3 singles so far and their previous album was one of my favorites from the year it released.

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