Coming off a year in which many acts held their albums due to the pandemic, 2021 gave us one of the strongest years for new albums in recent history. Rock and metal both thrived throughout the year, with a mix of top acts showing why they’ve had such staying power and newcomers stepping up to the plate and taking their place in forwarding the genre’s future.
In metal, we saw Architects, Gojira, Every Time I Die and Archspire deliver inspired work that continued to push boundaries, a hot selling standout record from Iron Maiden and the long awaited returns of Helloween, Exodus and Fear Factory. Plus acts such as Spiritbox, Sleep Token and SeeYouSpaceCowboy gave us plenty of hope for the future.
After years of mystery surrounding their next release, Limp Bizkit returned with their sixth studio album and a wave of support. Not bad for an album called Still Sucks. Foo Fighters, Rise Against, Chevelle and Evanescence continued to crank out quality releases, and The Pretty Reckless, Turnstile, Badflower and Royal Blood delivered albums that should further their respective ascents as the next generation of big bands. Add in breakout releases from Mammoth WVH, Ayron Jones, Maneskin and Holding Absence and you’ve got a pretty stacked year in rock.
So head down below as we reflect on the 45 Best Rock + Metal Albums of 2021, and be sure to check out our 35 Best Rock Songs of 2021, 35 Best Metal Songs of 2021 and 30 Best Rock + Metal Covers of 2021. Plus stay tuned for interviews with several of the artists who topped our respective lists for the year.
Contributors: Rabab Al-Sharif, Joanna Angel, Jordan Blum, Chad Childers, Joe DiVita, Graham Hartmann, Jake Richardson, Lauryn Schaffner, Philip Trapp, Yasmine Summan
The 45 Best Rock + Metal Albums of 2021
These are the 2021 albums we couldn’t stop listening to.