2021 is the year where heavy metal came back. Sure, 2020 had some gems, but nothing from that year compared to the quality and quantity of great heavy metal we had in 2021. Classic bands saw their grand returns, new favorites emerged, and we even had some Crazy Lixx to work with.

At the end of the year, all that’s left is some heavy metal thunder and plenty of great choices. These are the five best metal albums of 2021.

5. Accept – Too Mean To Die

Accept’s renaissance in the 21st century is almost improbable. They returned with Mark Tornillo as their vocalist and somehow got even better as a band. This one came out in early 2021; but could have been the best album of the year if not for superb efforts later in the year. The singles “Zombie Apocalypse,” “The Undertaker,” and “Too Mean To Die” all lead the album, and from top to bottom, this is an absolute smash for the German heavy metal kings.

Accept is on an absolutely legendary run starting with 2010’s Blood of the Nations and up to this album. You can’t get much heavier, and you can’t get much better than this.

Buy from Nuclear Blast or wherever you get your music.

4. Running Wild – Blood On Blood

Another German band, this time it’s pirate-power metal. Yes, the boys from Running Wild are back with Blood On Blood, and they’re up to some classic material here. It’s their first album since 2016’s Rapid Foray, and for fans of albums like Blazon Stone or Black Hand Inn, this is a return to form for the band. It’s highlighted by tracks like “The Shellback” and “The Iron Times (1618-1648)”. The former is an epic that they’ve been known for in this later stage of their career.

It might’ve released the latest in 2021, but Blood On Blood is well worthy of the title as one of the best metal albums of 2021.

3. Trivium – In The Court Of The Dragon

Trivium combined the best of their sound in one package with In The Court Of The Dragon. The melodic thrash/death sound here combines with an absolutely flawless composition. It’s all power and force with songs like “In The Court Of The Dragon,” “The Phalanx,” and “Feast Of Fire.” Metal has been looking for a successor to the old guard; Trivium proves they’re already here with this album.

It’s gripping, it’s engaging, and with the speed of the recording from the previous album, What The Dead Men Say, this is a masterpiece from Trivium. This is the next evolution of the band’s sound that continues their ascent to the best of the best among metal bands.

2. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

If you know me, you know this was an excruciating decision. Iron Maiden is the greatest heavy metal band in history, and this album continues that legacy. However, they’re just barely edged out by Helloween for the top spot of the year. Senjutsu came out of nowhere and wasn’t actually recorded in 2021 (they did it on a break from touring in 2019). However, this album stands tall among the greats of their career. It is almost impossible for a band this deep into their catalog to release something of this quality.

Senjutsu strikes a chord with themes that directly impact society and humanity today. Iron Maiden are absolutely on point with their music and lyrical themes. Songs like “Senjutsu,” “Writing On The Wall,” “Stratego,” “The Time Machine,” and the trio of epic tracks by Steve Harris to round out the album are all classics. “Hell On Earth” is among the greatest songs the band has ever recorded. If you’re not a fan of Iron Maiden’s “new” style, this album won’t register for you. But for those out there who have the patience to listen multiple times, you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

Check out the full review of Senjutsu here. And buy the record from Iron Maiden directly here.

1. Helloween – Helloween

The battle for the top spot was a close one, with Helloween unleashing what could be their finest effort since The Master of the Rings or Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II. Helloween reuniting with Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen was on par with Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan coming back together. In the grand scheme of reunion albums, this one joins Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers, Iron Maiden’s Brave New World, and Judas Priest’s Angel of Retribution as the best. You can read our review of Helloween right here.

It’s not every year when a band this deep into their career like Helloween creates an utterly perfect album, but they did it here with Helloween. Tracks like “Out For The Glory,” “Fear Of The Fallen,” “Robot King,” “Down In The Dumps,” and the epic “Skyfall” all add smash-hit songs to their catalog.

Fighting through a field of incredible albums, Helloween rises to the top of the heap. This is the best metal album of 2021.

Grab the record from Nuclear Blast or wherever you get your music.

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