The Razor’s Edge – Album of the Year 2021

The Razor's Edge - Album of the Year 2021

It's been one hell of a year for us here at The Razor's Edge. Whilst the world is trying to recover from covid-19 and live gigs have started up again, new music being released on record has gone from strength to strength again this year!

All of our staff have sat and listened to literally hundreds of albums, bringing you reviews of some of the best new music, and some maybe not so good releases too. But now the year is drawing to a close, we've all sat down and drawn up our lists of our own top ten albums for 2021.

Cat Finch - Editor in Chief

Cat

1. Green Lung - Black Harvest
2. Carcass - Torn Arteries
3. Borstal - At Her Majesty's Pleasure
4. Evile - Hell Unleashed
5. The Dropkick Murphys – Turn Up that Dial
6. Mordred - The Dark Parade
7. Gojira - Fortitude
8. Bokassa - Molotov Rocktail
9. Exodus - Persona Non Grata
10. Spiritworld - Pagan Rhythms

It was another tough year for the music industry and it wasn't until the summer that venues started opening again and live music returning.

However, much like last year, 2021 went from strength to strength on the recorded format. BY far and away the best album of the year was Londoners Green Lung with their opus 'Black Harvest'. Taking the best elements from Black Sabbath, sprinkling a little bit of Ghost's magic on top and producing an album like no other! Stalwarts Carcass came close and new hardcore band - featuring legendary drummer Nick Barker - came close with the respective releases, but no one could touch Green Lung this year.

Tim Finch - Deputy Editor / Photographer / Interviewer

Tim

1. Tribulation - Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
2. Amenra - De Doorn
3. Spiritworld - Pagan Rhythms
4. Carcass - Torn Arteries
5. Green Lung - Black Harvest
6. Borstal - At Her Majesty's Pleasure
7. Evile - Hell Unleashed
8. Gojira - Fortitude
9. Dread Sovereign - Alchemical Warfare
10. Omnium Gatherum - Origin

2021 was a year that allowed many under rated bands to flourish whilst the "bigger names" stumbled releasing some absolute stinkers of albums (see Exodus, Iron Maiden).

It was tough to narrow it down to just 10; I include Spiritworld in the list as they released 'Pagan Rhythms' via Century Media last month. However as it was originally self-released with limited availability digitally in 2020 I kept it off the #1 spot. The top two were hard to split Amenra's De Doorn is just magical and Tribulation's 'Where the Gloom Becomes Sound' had my #1 early on in 2021 and in the end nothing could dislodge it.

With Ghost, Metallica and Megadeth all slated to have albums incoming in 2022, here's hoping the big names don't stumble next year!

Dan Barnes - Writer

Dan Barnes

1. Borstal – At Her Majesty’s Pleasure
2. Ricky Warwick – When Life was Hard and Fast
3. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Sticky
4. The Dropkick Murphys – Turn Up that Dial
5. Iron Maiden – Senjitsu
6. The Stranglers – Dark Matters
7. Cult of Luna – The Raging River
8. Dead Men Walking – Freedom: It Ain’t on the Rise
9. The Wildhearts – 21st Century Love Songs
10. Cruelty – There is No God Where I Am

2021 has been a bumper year for releases. Seems as though last year’s downtime has stirred up the creative juices and resulted in some monumental albums, many of which were in contention for a spot on my top ten list. Debut releases from hardcore new boys, Borstal and Cruelty demonstrated the wide-reaching possibilities of the genre without sacrificing the intensity. The Wildhearts continued their renaissance and Ricky Warwick’s new solo record showed him to be burning with that trademark passion. The Dropkick Murphys and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes got all up in your face with their new albums yet did so with a wry smile and a party invite. Punk legends The Stranglers finally followed up Giants, but Dark Matters carried with it the sorrow of Dave Greenfield’s passing last May. Other legends, Dead Men Walking showed themselves to be more than the sum of their parts in the acoustic renditions of some of punk’s classic tunes. Workaholic Cult of Luna popped out a five-track E.P. contained some gravity-colliding heaviness and Iron Maiden continued the post-millennial shift into more complex and challenging waters.

Carl Black - Writer

Carl Black

1. Ministry - Moral Hygiene
2. Carcass - Torn Arteries
3. Quicksand - Distant Populations
4. At the Gates - The Nightmare of Being
5. Elimination - Echoes of The Abyss
6. Exodus - Persona Non Grata
7. Møl - Diorama
8. Send More Paramedics - The Final Feast
9. High Desert Queen - Secrets of the Black Moon
10. Various Artists - Moshin' The Roof On Volume 2

Seasons greeting to all in The Razor's Edge land. It's that time of the year again where my merry-go-round that is my Top Ten albums of the year has to stop. Some of the albums have long been established in my black hole of a brain due to them being released earlier in the year. Some are just entering my psychic vortex and are yet to fully establish themselves. Looking at the list you could be mistaken that it's 1994, but the content is new, fresh and exciting. Special mention to the sublime Ministry Album, Moral Hygiene. Everything you'd expect in a Ministry record, samples, repetitive beats, thrash, punk, social commentary, distorted vocals and irony.

Huge thanks to Cat, Tim and all the writers at The Razor's Edge. They are doing a fantastic job. Look forward to more of the same in 2022. Until then, Bonjour…

Neil Bolton - Writer

Neil Bolton
1. Dvne - Eteman Ænka
2. Bewitcher - Cursed Be Thy Kingdom
3. Evile - Hell Unleashed
4. King Buffalo - The Burden of Restlessness
5. Urne - Serpant and Spirit
6. Hornal - Lake Drinker
7. Bokassa - Molotov Rocktail
8. Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
9. Helloween - Helloween
10. Mordred - The Dark Parade

The rigour of choosing a top ten this year was tough. There have been many excellent releases this year, including some from classic bands such as Maiden and Helloween. A quick look at my most played list will justify their inclusion. Although it may not be fair to call Mordred a classic band, their 2021 release was most enjoyable making me look forward to more live appearances soon, hopefully. The Bokassa album is as hooky and catchy as hell; it is far from commercial but it has many sing along moments contained within. Hordal and Urne have both released albums that are deep and good, with light and shade in the music, revolving around poignant and interesting lyrics. King Buffalo is an awesome album in the alt metal style while the Evile’s 'Hell Unleashed' is just an aggressive little monster. Bewitcher’s 'Cursed Be Thy Kingdom' is a riot of dark trad metal that never, ever, fails to bring a smile to my face or air guitar to my hands. This I discovered through this very site, and I am eternally grateful. At number one Scottish progressive metal Dvne have released an album that is not only top of my 2021 list, it will remain on my list of favourite albums ever. Recommended by a friend this album is gloriously heavy and interesting. It has a story and sound scape that makes this release stay fresh and important for a long time.

Paul Hutchings - Writer / Interviewer / Photographer

Hutch

1. Wheel – Resident Human
2. Carcass – Torn Arteries
3. Flotsam & Jetsam – Blood in the Water
4. Ghost Bath – Self Loather
5. The Vintage Caravan – Monuments
6. Soen – Imperial
7. Aquilus – Bellum I
8. Elimination – Echoes of the Abyss
9. Memoriam – To The End
10. Dread Sovereign – Alchemical Warfare

Wheel took top spot early and retained it throughout. Only Aquilus came close. Carcass showed that an old dog can do new tricks. Flotsam brought the best hybrid thrash of the year. Ghost Bath’s misery, hatred and darkness was illuminating. The Vintage Caravan brought epic riffs in a psychedelic blues rock frenzy. Soen’s progressive metal stripped back but retained their brilliance. Aquilus stole the show with an album that was just incredible. Elimination proved UK thrash could match the Bay Area. Memoriam brought album 4, variety and skull crushing riffage. Dread Sovereign forearmed Green Lung out of the final position with fuzzed up punk crusted Motörhead elements.

Danny Jewkes - Writer

Danny Jewkes
1. Mastodon - Hushed and Grim
2. Leprous - Aphelion
3. AFI - Bodies
4. Gojira - Fortitude
5. Converge - Bloodmoon I
7. At The Gates - The Nightmare of Being
8. Bossk - Migration
9. Cult of Luna - The Raging River
10. LLNN - Unmaker

In yet another year where uncertainty has prevailed, one thing that is certain is the quality and the quantity of great music we have been treated to by some of the worlds greatest artists. My top ten albums of the year list has been an easy one to compile. These bands are some of my all time favourites and I cannot thank The Razors Edge enough for giving me the opportunity of reviewing some of these releases.

Mastodon’s ‘Hushed and Grim’ is ultimately my favourite release of the year. Just a perfect record that gets better with each listen. Swedish Death Metal legends, At The Gates, once again prove that they can forge ahead without having to parody themselves. Cult of Luna took full advantage of time away from touring by launching their own record label, releasing an EP and recorded an album. They’re unstoppable! The mighty Converge enlisted Chelsea Wolfe and Cave In’s Steve Brodsky and released what I would consider one of their greatest albums ever! I could go on, but I’ve been asked to keep this short and sweet! So, if you’ve been living under a rock and these albums have passed you by, just remember, Christmas is coming. Go on, treat yourself!

Sam Jones - Writer

Sam Jones

1. Worm - Foreverglade
2. Hyperdontia - Hideous Entity
3. Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
4. Cerebral Rot - Excretion Of Mortality
5. Gnosis - Omens From The Dead Realm
6. Oxygen Destroyer - Sinister Monstrosities Spawned By The Unfathomable Ignorance Of Humankind
7. Wombbath - Agma
8. Reaper - Rebirth Of Chaos
9. Serpent Dungeon - World Of Sorrows
10. Demonstealer - The Holocene Termination

2021, for me, has been the year of surprises. Many records I was excited for didn’t live completely to expectations while others did, and some albums I’d barely known of completely blew my socks off. That was how the year started for me personally in regard to metal releases and I still believe some of the best yearly releases are found towards the back end of the year, 2021 has been no different in that case. Here I am proud to share with you my Top 10 Albums of 2021 with #10 belonging to Demonstealer’s E.P. The Holocene Termination, which also happens to be my top E.P. of 2021 as well.

At #9 we come to Canadian one man band Serpent Dungeon and their debut album World Of Sorrows. #8 gives us Reaper’s Rebirth Of Chaos, a re-recorded version of their 2018 debut album that presents audiences with everything that the band wished their first record could have been in the first place. #7 shouldn’t be written off merely because of its New Years Eve release date, Wombbath’s Agma is a record fans of European Death Metal may want to check out. #6 is none other than Oxygen Destroyer who, after releasing their stunning 2018 debut record, return once more with Sinister Monstrosities Spawned By The Unfathomable Ignorance Of Humankind. #5 is where things start heating up, with Gnosis and their third full length album Omens From The Dead Realm. #4 brings us to Cerebral Rot and their sophomore release of Excretion Of Mortality. At #3 we come to none other than Iron Maiden and their seventeenth album Senjutsu. #2 belongs to Hyperdontia, and their long awaited second album Hideous Entity.

But there must be a #1. For myself personally, my Album Of The Year for 2021, is Worm’s Foreverglade. This was a record I reviewed and couldn’t get out of my head for weeks, Worm have taken what they started with 2019’s Gloomlord and refined and perfected everything.

Robbie Maguire - Writer

Robbie

1. Panopticon - .....And again into the Light
2. Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
3. Code - Flybown Prince
4. Urne - Serpent and Spirit
5. Møl - Diorama
6. They Fell from the Sky - Decade
7. Turnstile - Glow On
8. Every Time I Die - Radical
9. Elimination - Echoes of the Abyss
10. Khemmis - Deciever

Hardcore titans Every Time I Die were as consistent as ever with the punishing visceral attack of ‘Radical'. Khemmis delivered yet again on the majestic doomed heavy metal of ‘Deceiver’. ‘Senjutsu' saw Maiden put out a gloriously epic double album whilst Turnstile dished out pop sensibilities riffs and countless ear catching moments on ‘Glow On'. A classic album that will appeal to the mainstream as much as the ardent hardcore fans. Huge choruses, hooks and infectious energy combined for the emotional, instant post hardcore triumph that was ‘Decade' by They Fell from The Sky. A captivating mix of Sludge, doom and progressive metal was served up by Urne on their debut ‘Serpent and Spirit' whilst fellow Brits Elimination upped the thrash metal ante with the gruelling ‘Echoes of the Abyss’, a ferocious, blistering monster of an album. Black metal appears to be in very good health and continues to evolve so creatively. From the shimmering, hypnotic brilliance and brutal vibrancy of ‘Diorama' by Mol to the more progressive and dramatic ‘Flybown Prince' from Code. An expansive, richly textured album which delves into more ambitious avant garde waters yet is gratifying sonically devastating.

A stark bleak aggression and jaw dropping beauty and brightness arises from ‘....Again into the Light' by Panopticon. Combining sheer unrepentant brutal power with soothing strings and relaxed folk, mainman Austin Lunn has created a unique sound that is characterful and simply stunning.

Richard Oliver - Writer

Richard Oliver

1. Amenra - De Doorn
2. Evergrey - Escape Of The Phoenix
3. Green Lung - Black Harvest
4. Night Crowned - Hädanfärd
5. Leprous - Aphelion
6. Soen - Imperial
7. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole
8. Hooded Menace - The Tritonus Bell
9. Mercury Circle - Killing Moons
10. Asphyx - Necroceros

2021 has finally seen some healing and repair to the music industry with the return of live music although tours from overseas bands are still very restricted. Being able to get together in venues and fields has been an absolutely joyous experience and one that we should definitely not take for granted again. It’s also been another stonking year for album releases with some absolutely killer albums. Narrowing this down to ten albums was a tough decision with some brilliant albums just missing out of my top ten list from artists such as Bewitcher, Harakiri For The Sky, Mercury Circle, Necronautical and Swallow The Sun.

Daniel Phipps - Writer / Interviewer

Daniel Phipps

1=. Atræ Bilis - Apexapien
1=. Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined
1=. Knuckledust - In Plain Sight
1=. Meshum - Enigmatic Existential Essence
1=. NecroticGoreBeast = Human Deviance Galore
1=. Nothing Clean - Disappointment
1=. Pyrexia - Gravitas Maximus
1=. Steel Nation - The Big Sleep
1=. Unfathomable Ruination - Decennium Runie
1=. Vomit The Soul - Cold

With 2021 the release quality has been stellar meaning ordering a list from 1-10 is an almost impossible task. However, I know the releases that need to be included and with no clear favourite I’m going in alphabetical order, so the list gets kicked off by Atræ Bilis. The Canadian band built on from an impressive debut E.P. with a tech death beauty in Apexapien. Now a big question for 2021 how would Eric Rutan influence the direction of the new Cannibal Corpse record? Well Violence Unimagined was their best record in 15 years so I’d say damn well. The term legend gets thrown around a lot however the UK’s Knuckledust are a legendary band worthy of the term and In Plain Sight saw the London 4 piece celebrate 25 years as a band in style. Turkish act Meshum delivered a high dose of pure brutality with Enigmatic Existential Essence (try saying that 3 times fast). Back to Canada and NecroticGoreBeast delivered a gut-wrenching display of brutality with Human Deviance Galore it was an utterly putrid release. Leicester power violence band Nothing Clean absolutely delivered a furious 34 track 24-minute assault with Disappointment, which was nothing of the sort. Pyrexia showed a new generation of terrible death core bands how you right punishing slamming brutal death metal with Gravitas Maximus. Pennsylvania’s Steel Nation delivered my favourite hardcore release of the year hands down with The Big Sleep proving great song writing trumps just trying to sound “hard” any day. Another U.K. band celebrating a milestone were Unfathomable Ruination and they celebrate with their 4-track offering Decennium Runie continuing the bands stellar legacy as one of the top bands in the Europe. Vomit The Soul made us wait a long time for a new record, but I tell you what Cold was worth the wait.

Gareth Pugh - Writer

Gareth

1. Elimination - Echoes Of The Abyss
2. Flotsam & Jetsam - Blood In The Water
3. Kenn Nardi - Trauma
4. Helloween - Helloween
5. Paradise Lost - At The Mill
6. Carcass - Torn Arteries
7. Green Lung - Black Harvest
8. Trapped in Purgatory - Damned Nation
9. Evile - Hell Unleashed
10. Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined

While 2021 isn't quite as much of a right-off as 2020 was, it hasn't exactly been brilliant, and while the last 2 years have been terrible in terms of the pandemic, politics, and the world in general, with people more divisive and the gap between rich and poor greater than ever. What we can be thankful for is that it's been fantastic for new music. Like last year trying to pick a top 10 has been incredibly difficult, some bands were well cemented in position, while others have been in and out like a dog at the fair. I could easily have made up a top ten of thrash, but I kept it to four, of which three are from the UK, all of which were making a return and or rebirth of some description. Evile made their long anticipated return after an 8 year gap, with a massive line-up change, Trapped in Purgatory rose from the ashes of the 80's with a massive debut, and Elimination released their third album 10 years after their second! Helloween also returned with a ridiculously OTT album with 3 vocalists and 3 guitarists, but lots of fun and a great feel good attitude. Anacrusis frontman Kenn Nardi released one of my favourites with his sophomore release 'Trauma', mixing lots of different styles into an album that rewards repeated listens, Cannibal Corpse also released probably their best album for over a decade as well, just edging out Memoriam for my Death metal pick. Green Lung were my surprise of the year, I missed them with their debut a few years back, but 'Black Harvest' is a wonderful rock and doom amalgamation, no doubt enhanced by it being recorded just up the road from me in beautiful Mid-Wales. I would just like to thank Tim and Cat for allowing me to rattle on about music, and to wish all my fellow reviewers and most of all the bands and all of you folks for reading. I truly wish you all a great Christmas and hopefully a brighter New Year for us all, where we come together as a race and make a better world for everyone.

The Bearded Monkey - Interviewer

The Bearded Monkey
1. Spiritbox - Eternal Blue
2. Urne - Serpent & Spirit
3. Twelve Foot Ninja - Vengeance
4. Gojira - Fortitude
6. Architects - For Those That Wish To Exist
7. Mastodon - Hushed And Grim
8. Rivers Of Nihil - The Work
9. Elimination - Echoes Of The Abyss10. Boss Keloid - Family The Smiling Thrush
My top album of this year is Spiritbox's fantastic debut 'Eternal Blue', this album has everything I need from incredible guitar riffs, huge catchy hooks, melodies that you find yourself humming along to at random points throughout the day and more. This album has been on constant repeat since it came out September and I don't see me getting bored of it any time soon.


A close contender for the top spot is genre bending Serpent & Spirit by Urne. Seeing Hang The Bastard a few times back in the day I was intrigued by the new project from bassist Joe and Guitarist Angus. I got to see Urne live at Bloodstock and met them for an interview the day before, they were brilliant guys to talk to and this solidified my love for the debut album.

Jon Wigg - Writer

Jon Wigg
1. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole
2. Darkthrone - Eternal Halls
3. Space Chaser - Give Us Life
4. Bewitcher - Cursed Be Thy Kingdom
5. Helloween - Helloween
6. Detritus - Myths
7. Void Vator - Great Fear Rising
8. Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
9. Elimination - Echoes of the Abyss
10. Carcass - Torn Arteries

What a year again for new music. Some of my favourite bands of all time released great new albums which I love - some of which didn't make my top 10 (Evile, Flotsam & Jetsam, Alice Cooper, Tribulation) while some great newer bands also suffered the same fate (Angelus Apatrida, Ravager, Morgul Blade).

Berlin's Space Chaser and their 3rd album Give Us Life, just made me smile. A proper thrash album that doesn't take itself too seriously, has plenty of variation in song style, tempo and sound, and delivers every time I listen. Darkthrone are far removed from their classic trio of Norwegian Black Metal albums from the early 90's but the sound is still there in Eternal Halls - it's almost classic heavy metal in the style of Darkthrone and I love it! My album of the year is from Sweden's avant-garde band Diablo Swing Orchestra. I was a massive fan of the band's first 3 albums when the opera singer AnnLouice Logdlund handled the vocals but 2017's Pacifisticuffs with new singer Kristin Evegard was disappointing. This had nothing to do with her performance which was excellent, but for me the band lost some of the madness that made them so appealing. But with Swagger and Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole, this is back in spades. Although not as heavy as earlier releases The Butcher's Ballroom and my favourite Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious, this is a proper journey down the rabbit hole of weirdness that DSO are all about. Mariachi inspired songs in Spanish, folk, disco and gospel themes, metal, funk, jazz, swing band - they are all here and made to sound massive by this 8-piece. This band and album are not for everyone, but if you like them, then prepare for a wild ride.

Matthew Williams - Writer

Matthew Williams
1. Animal Schoolbus - Going to Grammys House
2. The Generals - To Hell
3. King Woman - Celestial Blues
4. Urne - Serpent and Spirit
5. Ophidian I - Desolate
6. Crystal Spiders - Moreiris
7. Pupil Slicer - Mirrors
8. High Desert Queen - Secrets of the Black Moon
9. Memorium - To The End
10. Vried - Wild North West

I’m not going to lie, this has been an incredibly difficult decision to pick a top ten albums of 2021 list, as there has been loads of amazing music created this year across so many genres. We are lucky at The Razor's Edge, as we get to review so much content, and it’s been a pleasure to do so this year, but I’ve tried to pick stuff that I regularly listen to and enjoy.

The year started with some heavy hitters from the awesome Memorium and Norwegian band Vried, with Swedish stars The Generals pushing out a truly stunning album called 'To Hell'. As the year progressed, my surprise album of the year was released by Animal Schoolbus, epic on every level, a creative genius, this really made me smile and there was the return of Genghis Tron, with the awe-inspiring 'Dream Weapon'. Then there’s the batshit mental 'Mirrors' by Pupil Slicer, Demiser with their black/thrash metal offering “Through the Gate Eternal” and the amazing technical metal of Icelandic band Ophidian I with 'Desolate', but then came King Woman with 'Celestial Woman'and this simply blew me away, a truly mesmeric album from start to finish. London-based trio Urne released 'Serpent & Spirit', an album I can’t stop playing, as its just sheer class from start to finish, before my favourite label, Ripple Music, released a plethora of mind bogglingly brilliant releases from Crystal Spiders, High Desert Queen and Mother Iron Horse

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