Despite all the crap the music industry’s had to endure last year, and will probably have to suffer through for a while longer, we were still blessed with an incredible flow of quality releases. Just look at our reviews, editor’s top lists, and GRIMM’s top albums of 2020, which are all chock-full of amazing music. We therefor see no reason why 2021 shouldn’t enjoy the same blessing. One need only look at the records that have been announced and rumored so far and you know it’ll be a good year for music again even if live shows wouldn’t be happening yet. Here are some of our editorial team’s picks of the most anticipated releases of this month:
Flotsam and Jetsam – ‘Blood in the Water’
(4/6 – AFM Records)
Barely a month after Artillery‘s “X” and we are once again blessed with yet another new release from a veteran thrash metal band. While Flotsam and Jetsam might not be as successful nor as well-known as some of their American contemporaries emerging in the mid-to-late 1980s, this band has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence since the release of their self-titled 12th studio album back in 2016. Based on the first two singles (“Burn the Sky” and “Blood in the Water”), I expect their 14th studio effort to once again feature some aggressive yet melodic thrashing goodness, led by Eric “A.K.” Knutson‘s distinctive vocals.
Go Ahead And Die – ‘Go Ahead And Die’
(11/6 – Nuclear Blast)
It’s back to the basics with this one! Metal legend Max Cavalera joined forces with his son, singer, guitar and bass player, Igor Amadeus Cavalera as well as Zach Coleman (Khemmis) on drums, forming Go Ahead And Die and bringing a very raw and brutal mix of death and thrash metal. All of that influenced by early Celtic Frost and a DIY punk attitude and vibe you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a band put together by a couple of quite big names in the scene. Hard, fast and a dirty kick in your teeth, we’re a fan already!
Crypta – ‘Echoes Of The Soul’
(11/6 – Napalm Records)
What do you get when vocalist/bassist Fernanda Lira & drummer Luana Dametto (ex-members of the Brazilian thrash band Nervosa) combine forces with guitarist Sonia Anubis (ex-Burning Witches) and guitarist Tainá Bergamaschi (ex-Hagbard)? A particularly potent mix of death metal apparently, based on the first two singles (“From the Ashes” and “Starvation”) from Crypta‘s promising debut album.
Helloween – ‘Helloween’
(18/6 – Nuclear Blast)
To say that this release is highly anticipated by power metal fans, would be an understatement. Helloween‘s self-titled 16th studio album is a dream come true for long-time fans, as it will be the band’s first studio album in over 3 decades to feature both guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen and vocalist Michael Kiske. Back in the late 1980s, these musicians helped define the power metal genre as we know it today with the releases of “Keeper of the Seven Keys” parts I & II. Helloween is now a septet of united pumpkins, whose combined power can be heard on full display on the first single “Skyfall”.
Fear Factory – ‘Aggression Continuum’
(18/6 – Nuclear Blast)
Industrial metal legends Fear Factory are back! After 6 years, we’re finally getting a new album unleashed upon us. It did, however, not come without the necessary drama and troubles. Vocalist Burton C. Bell left the outfit in 2020 despite Dino Cazares having just announced the new album to be coming soon. The album is still featuring the original vocalist’s voice, so in other words, if it’s final this time around, this could very well be the very last Fear Factory work with Burton‘s pipes in it. No matter what, we can expect harsh and relentless industrial music with the classic combination of Dino‘s riffs and Burton‘s voice at least once more for sure and we personally can’t get enough of it.
Cerebral Rot – ‘Excretion of Mortality’
(25/6 – 20 Buck Spin)
When seeing the album cover art for the ucoming album Excretion of Mortality of U.S. death metal act Cerebral Rot, it reminded me of the eighties horror movie Cannibal Holocaust. The kind of horror that surrounds the album contents will give you goosebumps. Cerebral Rot managed to raise raw tonality and guttural belches and the sophomore album boosts the filthy quality of the riffs and gruesome vocals. Engulfing its foul air with cannibalism and gore the quartet are set to deliver an old school fashion of raw death metal.
Amenra – ‘De Doorn’
(25/6 – Relapse Records)
We couldn’t publish an article about the most anticipated albums without including the upcoming new release from one of Belgium’s most renown and loved bands it produced. The sludge/post-metal outfit Amenra is set to unleash their new collection of highly emotive and cathartic music and people all over the world can hardly wait. Much to our surprise, this time around the whole album features lyrics in their native tongue (Flemish/Dutch) and they broke with their ‘Mass‘ series. But going on the first single they released, we can still expect the same deep emotions of desperation and loss and the use of Dutch actually adds a whole new dimension to their music. An album not to be missed out on!
Fractal Universe – ‘The Impassable Horizon’
(25/6 – Metal Blade)
Having discovered these French guys as the openings band for the Obscura Europe tour, a new release from Fractal Universe is simply something to look forward to. In Helsinki they really impressed with their complicated and intricate music was a true pleasure for any progressive death metal fan and truly impressive for a band this relatively young. Through that show they got on our radar and this will be the second release they get to bring out as part of the Metal Blade family. From what we’ve heard already of the album, things haven’t gotten any bit simple and they seem to have matched the drapes with lyrical contents that handle not the easiest materials. A band that might have great things ahead in their career, be sure to check them out!
Light The Torch – ‘You Will Be The Death Of Me’
(25/6 – Nuclear Blast)
The name Howard Jones will for most people forever bring up memories of his epic tenure with one of the biggest metalcore bands around, Killswitch Engage. When he left that band, everyone knew that the amazing vocalist and artist he is, wouldn’t be able to be contained for too long. He resurfaced with his new project Devil You Know, that only truly started soaring when he released the first album under the new name Light The Torch. Seeing how positively the album and a bunch of tracks from it were received (to this day there are still certain songs that are a staple in the national rock and metal radio channel), it should be no surprise that there are a whole lot of people looking forward to the sophomore release of Light The Torch.
Hiraes – ‘Solitary’
(25/6 – Napalm Records)
As soon as the very first single ‘Under Fire’ of the new German melodeath outfit Hiraes hit us, we were sold. The fast, fiery and heavy track is everything that made us fall in love with the style of melodeath that for instance Arch Enemy made so popular. The quality of the music is really exceptional for the debut of a band, which in a way is not too surprising once you realize that Hiraes boils down to basically being Dawn of Disease with a new vocalist under the form of Britta Görtz. Combining that musical prowess of the 4 musicians with Britta‘s epic and impressive vocals, really turns them into a force to be reckoned with and a true powerhouse that will cause some damage in the metal scene for sure!
Stöner – ‘Stoners Rule’
(25/6 – Heavy Psych Sounds)
How could this not be featured here? Two prolific originators of the legendary stoner/desert rock band Kyuss got together and formed a new “supergroup”. Stöner is the creation of the godfathers of stoner Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri, complemented by drummer Ryan Güt. And what you get is music that is steeped in the traditional sound of the stoner/desert movement while bringing in a modern touch. This is music you simply cannot dislike.
Thy Catafalque – ‘Vadak’
(25/6 – Season of Mist)
Last year, the avant-garde outfit Thy Catafalque came on our radar with the highly impressive ‘Naiv‘. While being very eclectic in sound, that album somehow really fitted with the recent rise in popularity of neofolk bands like Heilung and Wardruna. Barely a year after that release, they are already back with another album. From the singles we’ve heard thus far, ‘Vadak’ still has that very eclectic and experimental vibe, but this time around it seems to feature a slightly more straightforward metal sound. But we’re all for it and it looks very much like this could be a strong contender for one of the albums of the year 2021.