Welcome back, metal heads, to Metal Shop. I’m Mr. Gray. The end of the year has come and gone. 2021 gave, and it took away – most notably, it took away Betty White. Fuck 2021. Anyway, what did it give us? Metal! Quite a bit of it, at that. Wow, what a great segue! Now I’m gonna type some more stuff, and you read it.
We’ll get the meat of this out of the way first, and talk about album releases. I could sit here and just list a bunch of shit, but Wikipedia does the same damn thing. That, plus adding links to literally everything would make me hate doing this, and make it long. Once again, I’m not going to talk about live albums, remasters, re-releases, or compilations. That’s cheating. This will also be subjective, because there’s stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t, and stuff that I don’t really pay attention to. So with all of that in mind, the first ones really out of the gate this past year were Band-Maid, who you may remember from my last Metal Shop entry, Japan Rocks! Absolute legend Alice Cooper dropped Detroit Stories in February to not a lot of fanfare. Rob Zombie brought us The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy in March. I gave this one some plays, but this was about the point in the year where everything went fucky with work for me. April was the month where some of the bigger stuff started to drop. Cannibal Corpse (Violence Unimagined), Tetrarch (Unstable), and Gojira (Fortitude). May brought us stuff from Panopticon (… And Again Into the Light), The Devil Wears Prada (ZII), and Gwar (The Disc With No Name). Fair warning, the Gwar release is acoustic, so add that to the list of shit Gwar has done that will fuck with you. Cool? It’s also considered a “single.” Okay, more after the break.
Alright, June is where we started getting into some of my favorite stuff, including my favorite album drop of the year from KISS! Okay, but seriously, June brought us Aggression Continuum from Fear Factory. Oh, and Machine Head released an EP. July was kind of quiet, but the beginning of the month had both At the Gates and Born of Osiris putting out new stuff. August was another big month, and we got albums from Slaughter to Prevail (Kostolom), Between the Buried and Me (Colors II), and Jinjer (Wallflowers). Admittedly, I was late to the game on Kostolom, because I was still fangirling over Aggression Continuum, but it’s actually my pick for album of the year. That’s the only review you’ll get here. September was another trio, with another legendary name in Iron Maiden (Senjutsu), along with Alien Weaponry (Tangaroa), and Spiritbox (Eternal Blue). Spiritbox got a FUCK TON of exposure around this release, which was nuts. Another break, and we’ll get into the 4th quarter, mostly because October was fucking insane for releases.
Alright, fuck it, I’m just gonna start listing. Asking Alexandria, Ministry, Wage War, Trivium, The Agonist, Ice Nine Kills, Cradle of Filth, Dream Theater, Every Time I Die, Archspire, Black Veil Brides, Mastodon, Whitechapel, and Limp MUTHAFUCKIN Bizkit. Okay, that’s 14 bands just for October, and that’s just the ones I really give a shit about. I’m not going to link every full album here, because that’s a LOT of music. I will, however, be adding a BIG ASS Spotify playlist at the end of this entry, which will include something from all of those bands. Okay? Okay. Moving on. November is here. We’ll just say December as well, because I can’t honestly think of anything that I even remotely give a shit about in December. “Oh, but Volbeat,” no. There’s also Devin Townsend, but the two albums he released in one day are not metal albums. Anyway, Diablo Swing Orchestra starts us off here with Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole. If you haven’t given these guys a listen, do so. Keep them in mind as well, because I’m tentatively thinking about looking at big band/ska/swing/other avant-garde metal for my next entry. Bullet for My Valentine dropped a self-titled album (yeah, I just said no to Volbeat, but BFMV shows up. Get fucked, I have a lot of nostalgia from when I was in England and listening to them a lot), Exodus gave us Persona Non Grata, and Black Label Society had Doom Crew Inc.
As far as major losses go, the year began with the announcement of Alexi Laiho passing away. The frontman for Children of Bodom actually passed away in December of 2020, although the announcement came later. Luckily we stayed light on the number of names leaving us in 2021, although the names were huge, as the next big one was Joey Jordison. The former drummer for Slipknot left behind a massive legacy. I wrote something about Joey back in July which you can revisit here, and the Mr. @diminishedsrini666 had a tribute to Alexi, which you can find here.
Although the metal gods taketh, they also giveth. 2021 saw the reformation of Mudvayne. I make fun, but they hold a bit of a special place for me. Mudvayne started in Peoria, IL, a scant 40-ish miles from my home. In fact, they played a little joint called the Tie Dye Theater in my home town a few times when they were just starting out. Imagine having seen a local band in a shitty local dive, then seeing them a couple years later on MTV.
So what else happened? Well first of all, Rob Halford turned 7000 years old. Hmm? 70? That’s it? Oh well, whatever, he’s a metal god. Tommy Vext from Bad Wolves left because of politics. Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth stormed the US Capitol like a moron, and got arrested for it. Apparently Dave Ellefson is a piece of shit, but that’s fine, because it meant we got Jim LoMenzo back in Megadeth. Also, Download Festival was supposed to come back, but Covid fucked it up again.
Overall it was a fairly low-key year. There were some really good album releases, a couple of really tough losses, and “other”. Although I guess the biggest thing is that y’all got me, so there is that. Anyway, no homework so to speak, as this marks the end of the “semester” for metal shop class. No worries, though. I’ll be back soon enough to enlighten your lives with more heavy metal topics of interest. I’ve curated two playlists for you all in the meantime. The first includes music from the artists and albums that I talked about above, which can be found here. The second is my top metal music from the past year. It’s not all new, but it’s all good. That playlist will be here. While you’re at it, the boss lady has her own playlist of top tracks for the year, which you should DEFINITELY go listen to so that I don’t get fucking fired. I’ll put that one right here. You have your materials. Now go throw horns, air drum, and growl responsibly. Until next time, I’m Mr. Gray. Class dismissed.