With 2021 almost over, pretty much every major magazine and website has revealed their list of the best albums of the year. And while we believe The Pit’s list to be the definitive one — we’re truly baffled by how many of you guys slept on that Demiser record, the fuck is wrong with you — we love seeing the varying tastes of our fellow metal journalists and bloggers. So out of our curiosity, and for your convenience, we’ve decided to put all the Album Of The Year winners from across our favorite publications in one place.
Let’s start with the most important one…
THE PIT: King Woman, Celestial Blues (Relapse Records)
“Simply put, Celestial Blues is just one of the coolest fucking records we’ve ever heard. It’s creepy, it’s violent, it’s incredibly thoughtful and super satanic. Kris Esfandiari sounds like a strung-out Greek chorus singing about dead gods and angry red dreams. You pick up on new things in each song every time you listen to it; in fact, you keep revising your Favorite Song of The Record choice with each passing track. It feels blasphemous to look at this album cover while listening to these tracks. The record makes you a little afraid of it, which is the most a metal album can possibly be. A little scary, kind of forbidden, unbelievably cool.” Read the full list here.
DECIBEL: Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast)
Via Decibel’s website: “With nearly three dozen writers and staff members contributing to this year’s list, it’s amazing how much consensus was achieved. Our No. 1 record captured the AOTY crown in a landslide. Whereas albums by multi-generational legends and acts barely two years old were often championed in equal measure, making it difficult to isolate any trends from the Decibel electorate. This suggests a healthy metal scene. And the fact that you’ll be screaming about what albums we included, which ones we did not, and where we ranked the ones that made the final cut confirms that your passion hasn’t diminished a tick in the 17 years we’ve been doing this.” Check out the full list here.
REVOLVER: Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records)
Via Revolver’s website: Gojira’s seventh album is proof (as if any was needed) that the French eco-warriors are truly among the greatest, most progressive creators of heavy metal in the history of the genre. But more than just music, Fortitude is a vibe. Opener “Born for One Thing” sets the scene with its propulsive drum beat and guitar accents, before it pops off into Gojira’s signature slamming assault. What follows is a cinematic journey through pick-scrapped grooves (“Grind”), bouncy Sepulturan riffs (“Amazonia”), ambient chants (“Fortitude,” “The Chant”), hypnotic finger-tapping (“Another World”), knotty breakdowns (“Into the Storm”), uplifting choruses (“New Found”), rich atmospherics and more. For 20-plus years, Gojira have been perfecting their prog-death, groove-metal chops. But unlike other acts in that lane, bandleader Joe Duplantier and Co. haven’t sacrificed their humanity for technicality. The result is gripping, organic metal infused with an indefinable spirit: headbanging songs that hit you right in the gut — and the heart. Check out their full list here.
LOUDWIRE: Spiritbox, Eternal Blue (Rise Records)
METALSUCKS: Every Time I Die, Radical (Epitaph)
MetalSucks had multiple lists from their various writers and editors, so we included the top album as voted by their fans.
KERRANG!: Every Time I Die, Radical (Epitaph)
Via Kerrang!‘s website: “So, the question again: in a year of music as thrilling, creative, broad and articulate as this, how have a band two decades and nine albums in topped things, with a record that still finds them cutting a little deeper and pushing a little harder than previously? We don’t know. It’s a riddle without an answer. But they have. And they’re still doing the best version of themselves.” Read their full list here.
METAL HAMMER: Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner)
From Metal Hammer Editor Merlin Alderslade, via their website: “Gojira remain one of 21st century metal’s most creative, trailblazing and vital forces, so it should perhaps be no surprise that, even in a year with so many magnificent records, Fortitude was a runaway winner in this year’s Metal Hammer Critics’ Poll.” Check out the full write-up here.
CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND: Iron Maiden, Senjutsu (Parlophone)
From the site’s end-of-year-list: “Maybe it was because of the deprivation of releases caused by the pandemic — less touring, less album cycles — but Senjutsu felt like a vital moment in 2021. Even better, the album lived up to the seemingly insurmountable hype. If ever a metal band could play it safe and fall back on tried-and-true ideas, it’s Iron Maiden. But they push themselves on Senjutsu. There’s a welcome sense of variation from song to song, memorable riffs and melodies, and a cinematic finale of three 10-plus-minute tracks to close out the album.” Read the entire list here.
More as we update it, but congrats to all these awesome bands, and kudos to all these great websites and magazines for supporting them!
Words by Chris Krovatin