As we roll into 2022, it’s time that I jot down my year end top album list. I’m a little bit later on this than usually and due to lack of free time, this isn’t going to be as in depth as I would normally go, but I wanted to take a little time to list my favorite albums of the year.
The End Machine
April 9, 2021
The End Machine released their second album, Phase 2, via Frontiers Records on April 9, 2021. The band features former Dokken and Lynch Mob members George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, and Robert Mason along with Steve Brown, brother of “Wild” Mick Brown. This record is a must have for any fan of Dokken and Lynch Mob.
September 17, 2021
Candlebox? The same Candlebox that hit the scene in ’93? They’re still around? Those were my first thoughts when I saw that they had a new album in 2021. 28 years after they hit it big with hits “Far Behind,” “You,” “Change,” and “Cover Me,” Candlebox is back with their seventh studio album, and first since 2016’s Disappearing In Airports. Wolves is solid from start to finish. It’s great to see that these guys are still putting out some killer music. I have to go back and check out albums 4-6 because until now, I haven’t heard anything since 1998’s Happy Pills.
Leave A Scar
July 30, 2021
The original SMF himself, Dee Snider returned in 2021 with Leave A Scar, which was released via Napalm Records. This is hands down, Dee’s best solo effort to date, and is his second release since he was challenged by Jamey Jasta to record a “True” metal album. That challenge led to 2018’s For The Love of Metal. Thank you, Jamey for making Dee’s retirement very short lived. Without you, we may not have had these last two albums. SMF FOR LIFE!!!!
October 1, 2021
Wage War returned in 2021 with their fourth full length release, Manic, which was release via Fearless Records. The album was the first by the band to be recorded in Los Angeles, and was produced by Drew Fulk. For any metalcore fans, this is a must have. By far, Wage War’s best effort to date. You can catch Wage War on tour with Falling In Reverse in 2022.
Icon of Sin
April 16, 2021
Iron Maiden didn’t make my top 21 of 21, but the second coming of Bruce Dickinson did. Icon of Sin is a traditional metal band from Brazil. Vocalist Raphael Mendes eerily sounds like Dickinson in his prime. Their debut album was release via Frontiers Records. I highly recommend this album. If you like Iron Maiden, you will more than likely love this album, possibly more so than Maiden’s latest release.
Light The Torch
You Will Be The Death of Me
June 25, 2021
Metalcore masters Light The Torch (formerly Devil You Know) returned with their fourth release in 2021. Led by former Killswitch Engage vocalist, Howard Jones, Light The Torch released You Will Be the Death Of Me via Nuclear Blast. This is an instant classic for any fan of metalcore. The album really gets the blood pumping and makes you want to band your head and jump into the pit. Speaking of Jones’ former band, Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch can be seen on tour with them in 2022 along with August Burns Red. Can’t wait for this tour.
Hushed And Grim
October 29, 2021
Mastodon returned with their eighth studio album, Hushed And Grim, via Reprise Records. As any fan would expect, you can hear a unique blend of progressive, sludge, stoner, and alternative heavy metal on this album. The album hit #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Album Charts two weeks after it’s release. Much deserved, indeed. European fans can check out Mastodon on tour beginning in June.
Dreamers And The Dead
September 3, 2021
One may ask, “Who is Doctor Smoke?” Well, I’m going to tell you. Doctor Smoke formed backed in 2012, just west of Pittsburgh, PA, in The Ohio Valley. They released their debut in 2014 and have played with the likes of Brimstone Coven, Ironflame, Neverwake, and Horehound, to name a few. Doctor Smoke’s sound is an astonishing mix of doom, stoner, classic, dark, and melodic metal. Dreamers And the Dead is leaps and bounds ahead of their debut and shows amazing progression compared to their debut. The current lineup consists of Matt Tluchowski, Steve Lehocky, Jeff Young, and Cody Cooke. Best wishes from one valley musician to 4 others. Keep rockin’ bros.
Temtris Ritual Warfare
April 30, 2021
Temtris comes in at number 13 with their sixth release, Ritual Warfare. Temtris is a traditional, melodic, power metal band based in Australia. The album includes a stellar blend of powerful vocals, melodic guitars, and backed by a solid rhythm section. Do yourselves a favor a give this album a listen. You won’t be disappointed at all. You will also hear what is quite possibly the greatest scream in the history of metal on the title track.
Against The Wall
March 5, 2021
I reviewed this album back in March. Instead of diving back into it, you can check out my full review on the album at the link provided.
June 11, 2021
Enter Wolfgang Van Halen and his debut S/T release with Mammoth WVH. This album has everything a true rock music fan can ask for. All the grooves, melodies, hooks, and solos can be found within this extraordinary album. Wolfgang stands apart and on his own, as he should. He has recruited an amazing group of musicians and they have put the music world on notice. Mammoth WVH is the future of rock n roll. Look for Mammoth WVH on tour with Dirty Honey in 2022.
Better Noise Music
October 29, 2021
Bad Wolves return with their latest album, Dear Monsters, the first to feature new vocalist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this album. New album. New singer. Who knows what to expect, right? However, I was instantly hooked and feel that this new breed of Bad Wolves far exceeds their previous efforts.
Marching In Time
September 24, 2021
Marching In Time is the fifth release from former Creed and current Alterbridge guitarist, Mark Tremonti’s powerhouse band, Tremonti. I’m gonna make this one short and sweet. Everything Mark Tremonti touches is gold. Should be platinum, if you know what I mean. As always, Tremonti amazes with powerful riffs, melodies, vocal harmonies, and hooks that will have you begging for more. You can catch Tremonti with Bad Wolves on some European dates beginning in January followed by some rescheduled dates with Daughtry beginning in February.
The Witch Of the North
May 28, 2021
Swiss quartet, Burning Witches, released their fourth full length album, The Witch Of the North, via Nuclear Blast in late May. Included on the album are thirteen new tracks plus a stellar cover of “Hall Of The Mountain King” from the mighty Savatage to close out the album. This album is essential for all power metal fans. Look for them out on the road in 2022 with The Iron Maidens.
In The Court Of The Dragon
October 8, 2021
Trivium have been unleashing metalcore masterpieces since 2003’s Ember To Inferno. In 2021, Trivium brought their tenth studio release, In the Court Of The Dragon. As expected, this album is packed full of metalcore, thrash, and progressive metal elements. This is an instant classic that you’ll regret not giving a listen. As of right now, Trivium is expected to tour on the first leg of Iron Maiden’s tour beginning in September.
BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd.
March 26, 2021
Iron Maiden made the list after all. Oh wait. It’s just one of their guitarists. Adrian Smith teamed up with Richie Kotzen on this album packed full of blues infused rock n roll. As I mentioned with Mark Tremonti earlier, everything Richie Kotzen touches is gold. In addition to this full length release, Smith/Kotzen also released a four track EP, “Better Days” in 2021. I highly recommend both for your listening pleasure.
The Pretty Reckless
Death By Rock And Roll
Goin’ Down Inc.
February 12, 2021
Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless returned with their first album since 2016’s Who You Selling For with a rock n roll masterpiece. Death By Rock And Roll is packed full of straight forward rock, acoustic, and bluesy oriented classics. This album garnered TPR Rock Artist of the Year at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. The album peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and #28 on Top 200 charts, as well as hitting #1 on UK Rock & Metal Albums (OCC). This album is an instantly classic. The Pretty Reckless will be hitting the road with Shinedown beginning on April 1, 2022.
Sand Hill Records/Cuhmon Records
August 13, 2021
Coming in at #4 is quite possibly the hardest working independent band in the world, Blacktop Mojo. BTM released their self-titled album back in August. This is their 4th full length release. The band classifies themselves as Texas Grunge. Well, Texas grunge includes elements of metal, blues, heavy southern rock and straight forward rock n roll. From the backbone of the band, Nathan Gillis’ bone crushing drums, to the groovy basslines laid down by Catt Murtis (Matt Curtis), the amazing guitar arrangements and shredding solos of Chuck Wepfer and Ryan Kiefer, and the powerful vocals of Matt James, every element of Blacktop Mojo’s music leaves you wanting more. Take it a step further, they are even more impressive live. I’ve had the opportunity to both see them live on several occasions, and also share the stage with them. Their live show is packed full of nonstop energy as they engage The Mojo Nation from start to finish. I highly recommend checking out their entire catalogue and checking them out at a venue near you as soon as possible. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Curse Of Autumn
March 5, 2021
LA based progressive power metal band, Witherfall, comes in at number 3. Formed in 2013, Witherfall released their second major label release, Curse of Autumn, via Century Media back in March. This album is packed full of catchy riffs, melodic vocals, tempo and time signature changes, and has definitely been on repeat for me throughout the year. There isn’t a weak track on this album. Look for big things to happen for these guys in the years to come.
Rejoice In The Suffering
Rat Pak Records
February 5, 2021
Rejoice In The Suffering is the debut solo effort from Queensrÿche vocalist Todd LaTorre. If you’re expecting a Rÿche album, you get that and then some. Todd shows off his dynamic range more so than he would on a Queensrÿche album. This album has elements of traditional, power, progressive, and straight forward heavy metal. From the melodic vocals, amazing harmonies, to the piercing highs and lowest of the lows, Todd LaTorre’s name should be up there with best of the best of the greatest metal vocalists of all time. He’s gotta have one of the top 5 vocal ranges in the business. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s number 1. We need to find out this information. His voice is undeniably one of the best. You can catch Todd with Queensrÿche on tour with the mighty Judas Priest in 2022.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Bullet For My Valentine
November 5, 2021
Welsh metalcore masters, Bullet For My Valentine, returned in late 2021 with their highly anticipated seventh album. The self-titled release is a much appreciated return to form for the band. Bullet For My Valentine is like a modern day Poison, and is undoubtedly the most brutal, technical, and heaviest release to date by the band. With a strong contrast compared to the bands previous release, Gravity, in which the band experimented with different styles musically, BFMV is around a 60:40 ratio of aggressive vocals compared to clean vocals. This is something the band has never done before, even on their brutal early albums. Although the album has only peaked at 153 on the Billboard Top 200 (the lowest of their storied career), BFMV is without a doubt, their best album to date. LET THE MADNESS BEGIN!!!!! The band released four singles prior to the release of the album beginning in June with the brutally heavy “Knives.” They followed this up with lead album track “Parasite” in July, another brutal track “Shatter” in September, and the hauntingly catchy “Rainbow Veins” in October. Despite the heaviness and brutality of the album, Bullet, as always, include some of the hookiest vocal melodies around. This has been a signature for the band since the beginning. Other tracks include the haunting “My Reverie,” and the hook laden and heavy “No Happy Ever After.” “Can’t Escape The Waves” is probably the most melodic of the heavy tracks from the album and includes a groovy bassline. This could be an instant hit if released as a future single. “Bastards” is an absolute anthem (FUCK ‘EM ALL). “Paralysed” is thrashy metalcore masterpiece. The album closes with the riff heavy and hook driven “Death By A Thousand Cuts.” All in all, BFMV consists of 10 technical metalcore masterpieces coming in at just under 48 minutes. This album is so tight and masterfully executed. European fans can catch Bullet For My Valentine live throughout 2022. Hopefully the pandemic eases up and we can get some Bullet dates here in the USA really soon. ICHIBAN