It ended up being a good year for music. Lots of stuff written in quarantine by artists who couldn’t tour in 2020. Lots of women making bold statements. A typical blend of metal, hard rock, pop, and folk. I included a movie soundtrack for the first time since I started doing these lists on Tumblr way back in 2009.
10. Hans Zimmer – Dune
DUne was one of my favorite movies of the year, and it was in no small part due to its otherworldly and visceral score. It’s a perfect soundtrack for writing to, especially when unsettling horror is what you’re going for.
9. Amythyst Kiah – Weary and Strange
The whole album is solid, but “Wild Turkey” in particular is one of my favorite songs in a long time. It’s a raw, haunting, and vulnerable record. It’s got beautiful cover art to boot.
8. Garbage – No Gods No Masters
I’ll admit I haven’t listened to much of Garbage since Version 2.0, but I was immediately taken but the album’s title. No Gods No Masters really captures the strange and infuriating experience of the last two years.
7. Chevelle – Nirarias
What can I say about Chevelle’s latest? It’s exactly the sort of record I would expect from them. They’re remarkably consistent on sound, quality, and throwing in just enough variation to keep it from feeling stale.
6. Lil Nas X – Montero
I love how unapologetically gay this album is. Lil Nas X also deserves credit for delivering a truly versatile record with a wide range of styles. I’m getting old and things kids like these days are not always my curmudgeonly cup of tea, but Montero surprised me in the best possible ways.
5. Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power
I discovered Halsey earlier in the year and got into Manic, but that came nowhere near to the ambition of this record. If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power is such a fantastic title by itself. A major pop artist making a concept album with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is the last thing I expected this year, but I’m so glad it was made.
4. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Found out about Dua Lipa through Drag Race UK. This album is catchy as fuck with smart lyrics and fresh production. Her songs have found my way onto almost every playlist I’ve made this year.
3. Tremonti – Marching in Time
Mark Tremonti has delivered another solid collection of melodic thrash that will make you question why he ever let Scott Stapp sing in Creed. Seriously, this has all the heaviness and hooks I need to find my happy place. Marching in Time is right up there with Cauterize and Dust.
2. Gojira – Fortitude
As much as I love The Way of All Flesh, I also love the way Gojira’s sound continues to evolve. Their environmental message feels more urgent than ever. There’s some melody creeping into places where it wasn’t before, but I am never going to complain about that.
1. Evanescence – The Bitter Truth
I love music that is atmospheric, melodic, and heavy. Evanescence is all of those things, and The Bitter Truth boasts some of their best songwriting to date. It also features some of their best lyrics. It had a lot of anticipation to live up to being their first album of all-new material in 10 years, but I was not disappointed.
There are always a few that come close but don’t quite make the cut. And it usually comes down to minor technicalities; too many interludes, lacking variety, etc. But each of these albums could have made the top 10 if there was more room. I blame math.
Mastadon – Hushed and Grim
Hozier – Wasteland, Baby
Fancy Hagood – Southern Curiosity
Rise Against – Nowhere Generation
I’ve been around the sun enough times that I can stumble across some old favorite albums and have them genuinely surprise me, or take on a new life. This is my little space to honor them. Lots of high school throwback in this year of 2021.
Loudermilk – The Red Record
36 Crazyfists – Bitterness the Star
Dredg – El Cielo
Boy Hits Car – All That Lead us Here