There’s no doubt that many of the albums on this month’s list will appear on the Best of 2021 list. September was probably the strongest month of the year so far in terms of the quantity of excellent releases. Many worthy contenders had to be left off, but here are our choices for September 2021’s Best Heavy Metal Albums.
1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (BMG)
Iron Maiden’s last studio album, 2015’s The Book Of Souls, was a 90 plus minute double album. They look to the East on Senjutsu, another double album which has one fewer song and is about ten minutes shorter than The Book Of Souls.The album is a mix of streamlined songs and more epic tracks. The sequencing of the album flows really well. The shorter songs are mixed in with the longer ones, with a trio of the album’s lengthiest tracks wrapping up the proceedings.
The length of this album has been criticized, and 80 plus minutes is a lot to absorb, but when it’s Iron Maiden it’s much easier. They are able to write lengthy songs that avoid monotony and too much repetition. They have a lot of experience with epic songwriting, and know how to make it engaging. Plus, who knows how many more albums they are going to make? The more quality Maiden music, the better, and Senjutsu adds to their long legacy of memorable albums. It’s our pick for September’s best album.
2. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue (Rise)
A few years ago Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer left Iwrestledabearonce. They ended up forming Spiritbox and have issued a couple of EPs. They have released several well-received singles over the past year or so, whetting the appetite for their full-length debut Eternal Blue.
It’s an album of contrasts. There are smooth, rock/pop parts alongside intense metal. They embrace numerous genres from post metal to djent to prog to alt metal. Keyboards and electronics provide atmosphere, but riffs and groove drive the songs. LaPlante is a tour de force, mixing throat shredding harsh vocals with melodic singing. Of of the most accessible songs on the album is “Secret Garden,” featuring all melodic vocals and catchy hooks. It’s followed by “Silk In The Strings,” one of the album’s heaviest. The album is pretty evenly split between songs with exclusively melodic singing and those with both singing and screaming. Eternal Blue lives up to the hype, a varied album with memorable songs that should appeal to a wide cross section of metal fans.
3. Carcass – Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast)
Torn Arteries certainly has more than enough high expectations, following Carcass’ incredible 2013 comeback album Surgical Steel. Going right for the jugular the title track opens things off in a very death metal way. Jeff Walker’s vocal style joined by Steer’s riff work is vintage Carcass complete with returning drummer Daniel Wilding and newly minted member Tom Draper. Carcass can punish you and entice you within seconds allowing for a varied swath of emotions to envelop the listener within a four minute span.
Carcass have crafted another exemplary example of what it means to be both extreme as well as being integral to heavy rock music in 2021. Torn Arteries isn’t going to please everybody, but for those of us that celebrate the complete Carcass discography as a disjointed sewn together and bloody mess of melody and body parts, this will surely be near the top of many a list by year’s end.
4. Employed To Serve – Conquering (Spinefarm)
The UK metal/hardcore band Employed To Serve have made a couple of lineup changes on their fourth album Conquering, bringing aboard a new rhythm section of bassist Nathan Pryor and drummer Casey McHale.
Progressing and improving on each album, this is Employed To Serve’s most impressive effort to-date. Their technicality and musicianship is evident on songs like “Twist The Blade” and “The Mistake,” but they add melody and groove to the brutality as well. The vocals are split between Justine Jones and Sammy Urwin, and are mostly harsh screams and growls. There is some melodic singing on songs like “Mark Of The Grave” and closer “I Stand Alone” adding some catchiness and variety. The songwriting on Conquering is compelling, smoothly shifting from extremity to melody and back again.
5. Wraith – Undo The Chains (Redefining Darkness)
Black thrashing speed metal, you say? I thought we were lacking in this department in 2021 seeing as I hadn’t seen the name Midnight pop up in my newsfeed in a while. Wraith are a band of similar ilk who thrash hard and heavy, major emphasis here on darkness, leather and of course chains. There is the gruff vocal approach which brings to mind Toxic Holocaust frontman Joel Grind.
“Dominator” sounds like the best possible combination of Primal Future: 2019 and Rebirth By Blasphemy, ripping ferocious riffs and growls with the intention of summoning Satan. In playing their self-proclaimed “No b.s. speed and thrash,” the band keeps their rough exterior intact, ripping 12 tracks in a concise 33 minutes, enough for you Speedwolf fans to get in the left lane with your fellow werewolves for eternal runs. Undo The Chains is a fun album that showcases just how much fun this genre can be, speed thrashing, punk black metal.
6. Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls (AFM)
One of the best power metal albums of 2018 was Brainstorm’s Midnight Ghost. Thus it comes as no surprise that Wall Of Skulls, the German outfit’s thirteenth album in the past twenty-five years, has been highly anticipated since it was announced. But how does a band follow up the best album of their career?
Well, by releasing something slightly faster and heavier, and nearly as good. While twelve songs might be a bit much, Wall Of Skulls is still an album loaded with rousing choruses, shredding solos, and a ton of fun. It can be hard to pick out the best tracks here, but “Turn off the Lights,” “My Dystopia,” and “End of My Innocence” are all standouts.
Other 2021 Best Monthly Albums Lists
January 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
March 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
April 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
May 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
June 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
July 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums
August 2021 Best Heavy Metal Albums