So with the end of the year fast approaching and a whole host of albums already announced for the next (a few of which you can check out here), we thought it was about time to look back on the last year and how amazing it has truly been for rock music. While the live music scene is still a little stop start, there have been some tremendous studio releases over the last 12 months. Heck, we’ve reviewed a lot of them! So, given that it is still 2021 for another week or so, we thought it was only fitting to bring you a list of 21 of the best rock albums of 2021.
P.S. these are in no particular order, given that we couldn’t really decide on one together!
Offspring: Let the Bad Times Roll
A return after nearly a decade from the pop-punk icons saw a real return to form, too. With fantastic singles like the title track and ‘Coming For You’, the band felt reinvigorated for the first time since Rise and Fall. Add into it a great, stripped back rendition of ‘Gone Away’ and you have an awesome album! It got a 7.5/10 from me!
Florida Georgia Line: Life Rolls On
Okay, so technically not a rock album (there may be more), bro-country mega-stars Florida Georgia Line released a damn solid album this year. It’s just rock enough to qualify for this list and while yes, it’s mass produced radio-country, just watch the video below and just try to tell me it isn’t catchy. Check out the album if you like country at all! I gave it an 8/10
Unknown Refuge: From the Darkness
Our good friends from Unknown Refuge put out their debut album this year, and it was amazing. It was straight forward heavy metal with just a tinge of metalcore and it worked perfectly. From ‘To the Light’ to ‘Battle Hymn’ to ‘Palace Walls’ the album is brimming with awesome stuff, hence why it makes this list with ease! It’s an 8/10 from me!
Jerry Cantrell: Brighten
Another album with slight country leanings, although it is definitely more rock than FGL. The Alice In Chains guitarist has always had leanings towards this style of music, just look at Jar of Flies. However, I would argue this does it even better than that record. Cantrell’s vocals sound as fantastic as ever and really fit with the lighter, blues-drive music. An awesome record for any light rock fans out there! It got a whopping 9/10 from me!
Foo Fighters: Medicine at Midnight
A definite grower for me. The album came out before Overtone became a thing but there is a review of it floating around on my laptop still. It received a pretty harsh 4/10 from me, when in actual fact I’d probably bump it up to a solid 6.5/10, maybe a 7 at a push. My main critique at the time was that it wasn’t as heavy as I like Foo Fighters being. I think that still very much stands, but there are still some good tracks on here regardless, like the fantastic one below!
Bullet For My Valentine: Bullet For My Valentine
The title for most creative album title they will not be winning, but for comeback of the year this is definitely up there. It’s a return to heaviness for the Welsh quartet after a commercially panned lighter previous album, and it works perfectly. Highlights are the singles but honestly there isn’t a bad track on it. I gave it 8/10
Florence Black: WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
Another smaller band that put out a phenomenal debut album this year. Welsh NWOCRers Florence Black showed the world this year that they have what it takes to be the next big thing. Tracks like ‘SUN & MOON’ and ‘ZULU’ are amazing and a big reason why it got an 8.5/10 from me!
Rise Against: Nowhere Generation
It should surprise no-one that the modern-day punk icons Rise Against put out another great album this year. The veteran band have been on a fantastic run of albums all the way back to 2004s Siren Song, in this writers opinion, and Nowhere Generation adds to that lineage very well. Tracks like ‘The Numbers’ and ‘Forfeit’ really show off the bands range, and while it is a formula and sound they use every album, it has somehow not yet got old.
Bo Burnham: Inside
Another album that is not at all rock, but how could I exclude it? For anyone who is a fan of music, comedy or drama I cannot recommend watching the Netflix special enough, but the music in of itself is fantastic. The story of Bo finally feeling confident enough in himself after a 5 year absence in order to perform again and then locks himself alone in his small pool house for months on end, slowly going from confident, wacky and glad-to-be-back comedian to a manic depressive terrified that the world will still judge him is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s hilarious, heart-breaking and mesmerising all at the same time. See this out and watch it ASAP, even if you’ve already seen it before. 10/10.
The flag-bearers of a new wave of nu-metal, Tetrarch put out their second album earlier this year. Unstable is full of huge riffs, catchy vocal melodies and enough breakdowns to keep even the heaviest of metal fans going. If they keep going like this they will be one of the biggest bands in the future of metal, hence why I gave them an 8/10.
Thunder: All The Right Noises
Whoever says they don’t like Thunder is lying to you. The band have put out some of the best glam/sleaze rock out there, they just had the disadvantage of hitting their peak in the UK in the 90s. However, I would put All the Right Noises up there with Backstreet Symphony, it is really that good. Tracks like the opener, ‘Destruction’ an ‘You’re Gonna be my Girl’ are infectiously catchy and some of the highlights of a solid album. Check this out if you liked any of their other stuff! 8.5/10