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The Rock Sound Albums Of The Year 2021

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 17 December 2021 at 17.05

Well then, it's been quite a 12 months, hasn't it? And throughout everything, music has continued to be a shining beacon. From returning heroes to world-shattering debuts, here, in alphabetical order, are some of the records that have made 2021 so inspiring, joyous and absolutely glorious.


Words by Jack Rogers and Maddy Howell

AFI – ‘BODIES’
Within a career defined by experimentation and reinvention and 30 years on from their inception, AFI prove they’re still stretching their sonic fabric. Signalling the latest chapter in their intrepid evolution, from the haunting post-punk of ‘Twisted Tongues’ to the luscious orchestration on ‘Begging For Trouble’, ‘Bodies’ was a defiant statement. (MH)



ANGELS & AIRWAVES – ‘LIFEFORMS’
Over the years, Tom DeLonge has proven that there are few creative endeavours he can’t excel in, and his band’s first album in seven years was further evidence. Ten eclectic songs brimming with nostalgia and littered with vast narratives surrounding humanity, ‘LIFEFORMS’ left the door ajar into the frontman’s wonderous mind. (MH)


 

 

 

ARCHITECTS - 'FOR THOSE THAT WISH TO EXIST'
Stunning, visceral, and at times brutally cynical, Architects’ ninth album saw them taking a furious swing at the causes of suffering in the world around them. Broadening their creative horizons amidst luscious theatrical soundscapes, chaotic synths and raucously crunching breakdowns, it’s an unpredictable beast that encapsulates the band’s magical evolution. (MH)

 

 

BADFLOWER - 'THIS IS HOW THE WORLD ENDS'
Coming into their own following their 2019 debut, album two found Badflower at their most confrontational and confident. Honest, reflective, and deeply human, from the empathetic self-analysis of ‘Stalker’ to the tongue-in-cheek humour of acoustic closer ‘My Funeral’, it’s a record that provides an antidote to the world’s ever-growing chaos. (MH)



BEARTOOTH - 'BELOW'
Combining the sheer brute force and catharsis of heavy metal with some of the darkest and most desolating accounts from the bottom of the barrel you’re ever likely to hear, ‘Below’ showcased everything that's so special about Beartooth whilst also serving as a true rallying cry that you’re not alone in any of this. (JR)



BIFFY CLYRO - 'THE MYTH OF THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER'
What started as a companion piece to last year’s ‘A Celebration Of Endings’ quickly turned into a beast all of its own as time continued to pass for Biffy Clyro. And the result of them diving even deeper into the abyss is some of their most deliciously odd and arena-ready anthems to date. (JR)



BLACK VEIL BRIDES - 'THE PHANTOM TOMORROW'
Concluding the story of the Wild Ones on 2018’s ‘Vale’, with their ambitious sixth album Black Veil Brides began building a new conceptual world. Detailing tales of hesitant heroes and dystopian fictions within flurries of cinematic rock flourishes and nail-biting riffs, ‘The Phantom Tomorrow’ showcased their flair for immersive storytelling. (MH)

 

 

CHASE ATLANTIC - 'BEAUTY IN DEATH'
Taking a step back and making music in the same way they did when they first started, ‘Beauty In Death’ ended up being Chase’s most thoughtful and thrilling record to date. From the hyped to the heartbroken, and with a little bit of humanity sprinkled in for good measure, the trio keeps on going from strength to party-ready strength. (JR)

DE’WAYNE - 'STAINS'
2021 was the year that DE’WAYNE really started to run riot, and the result is the most eccentric, electric and undeniably excellent collection of songs that the scene has seen in years. Heartbreakingly honest one minute and deliriously steamy the next, there is absolutely no other album quite like 'STAINS', and that is the way it should always be. (JR)



DON BROCO - 'AMAZING THINGS'
It's the year when Beckham ruled supreme. Stretching their songwriting wings into exhilarating new places whilst also keeping their unpredictable and outrageous personality at the forefront, it was ‘Amazing Things’ by name and nature for Broco on their fourth and finest offering to date. (JR)



EVANESCENCE - 'THE BITTER TRUTH'
On ‘The Bitter Truth’, Evanescence’s Amy Lee made an empowering statement of self-belief, a battle cry for redemption of epic proportions. Reigniting her band’s flame within pondering piano-pop ballads and hell-raising heavy anthems, it was a cathartic and timely reminder that even in life’s darkest moments, there’s always a light. (MH)



GRAYSCALE - 'UMBRA'
Taking everything they have learnt up until now and injecting it into a record that shimmers with as much euphoric soul as it does tear-stained heartache, Grayscale have never sounded more artistically liberated and joyously confident than they do on ‘Umbra’. A beautiful album in every sense. (JR)



HOLDING ABSENCE - 'THE GREATEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE'
Did anyone have a 2021 as triumphant as Holding Absence? Building on the foundations laid by their 2019 self-titled debut, and with the utterly anthemic ‘Afterlife’ and beautifully poignant ‘Die Alone (In Your Lovers Arms)’ to hand, they annihilated expectations with a record that radiates confidence and showcases the versatility of human emotions. (MH)


 

 

 

ICE NINE KILLS - 'THE SILVER SCREAM 2: WELCOME TO HORRORWOOD'
When it comes to sequels, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. In the case of their follow up to 2018’s ‘The Silver Scream’, Spencer Charnas and friends produced a bigger, bolder and bloodier tribute to the things that go bump in the night. A masterclass in savagery, suspense and storytelling. (JR)

 

MÅNESKIN - 'TEATRO D'IA - VOL.01'
Before the viral TikToks, before the worldwide acclaim and before the iconic Eurovision win, there was ‘Teatro d’ira – Vol.01’, a record solidifying all of the reasons why Måneskin are now a genuine phenomenon. Oozing attitude, sensuality and all of the best parts of rock and roll, this is a batch of songs that genuinely feel like the start of something truly mindblowing. (JR)


 

MOD SUN - 'INTERNET KILLED THE ROCKSTAR'
Stepping back into the euphoric sounds that he first fell in love with but with the mindset, charisma and skill set he possesses today, MOD SUN bares his soul in a way that is made to be screamed along to on ‘Internet Killed The Rockstar’. Next stop, world domination. (JR)

 

 

NORMANDIE - 'DARK & BEAUTIFUL SECRETS'
Allowing vocalist Philip Strand to express his past, present and future in ways he had never been able to before, Normandie’s third full-length was a punishing, pulsating and powerful look into what it means to own the things inside of you that make you who you are. (JR)



NOTHING,NOWHERE. - 'TRAUMA FACTORY'
Expressing every piece of who he is musically and emotionally across 15 varied, visceral and volatile tracks, 'Trauma Factory' finds Joe Mulherin expressing himself even more whilst producing truly unique sounds in the process. A real treat from an artist pushing outside of whatever label you may have for them. (JR)

 

 

PRESS TO MECO - 'TRANSMUTE'
Following up 2018’s ‘Here’s To The Fatigue’ would be a mountain to climb for most, but Press To MECO planted their flag on the summit with ‘Transmute’. Refining their anthemic alt. rock sound and adding new strings to their bow, it has cemented their position as one of the UK’s most forward-thinking bands. (MH)



SAVE FACE - 'ANOTHER KILL FOR THE HIGHLIGHT REEL'
As fiercely dramatic as it is romantically dark, ‘Another Kill For The Highlight Reel’ finds Save Face perfectly encapsulating the energy and ecstasy of a sonic period so many have tried and failed to and then takes it to another level of bombast completely. You need to hear this album, basically. (JR)



SEEYOUSPACECOWBOY - 'THE ROMANCE OF AFFLICTION'
Serving as a celebration of the most seething and sassy parts of post-hardcore and metalcore, SYSC’s second full-length is also a stark confession of love, loss, addiction, sex and the darkness that holds it all together. Quite simply one of the most vital and violently honest records committed to tape in the last 12 months. (JR)



SPIRITBOX – 'ETERNAL BLUE'
As intensely beautiful as it is gloriously brutal, Spiritbox took whatever pressure was on their shoulders, used it and silenced every single person who doubted that they could deliver one of the year’s most monolithic and awe-inspiring debuts. The very definition of anticipation being lived up to. (JR)

 

 

TEENAGE WRIST - 'EARTH IS A BLACK HOLE'
Adopting a brighter outlook and striving for experimentation, Teenage Wrist levelled up their blissful marriage of alt. rock and modern emo on album two. Integrating synths and drum samples into a tantalisingly distinctive sonic mix, they came into their own with a record that's equal parts reflective and restorative. (MH)



THE MAINE - 'XOXO: FROM LOVE & ANXIETY IN REAL TIME'
Heartfelt, emotional, and overflowing with sun-soaked melodies, The Maine’s eighth album came like a reassuring hand on the shoulder in uncertain times. Leaning further into their pop influences on a record of irresistibly optimistic proportions, the Arizonans once again reminded us that even throughout the planet’s chaos, everything is okay. (MH)

 

 

THE PLOT IN YOU - 'SWAN SONG'
Blending pop sensibility and post-hardcore ferocity in ways that nobody else would dare to, The Plot In You further perfected their decadent and delirious sound on ‘Swan Song’. A record that is designed to burrow deeper and deeper under your skin with every overwhelmingly affecting listen you allow yourself to experience. (JR)



THE PRETTY RECKLESS - 'DEATH BY ROCK AND ROLL'
Fuelled by grief and tragedy and executed with a snarling intensity, album four saw The Pretty Reckless serving up an epic banquet of rock ‘n’ roll brilliance. Assured and broodingly dark, Taylor Momsen’s powerhouse vocals took centre stage on a record that amplified the cyclical healing of art and suffering. (MH)



TURNSTILE – ‘GLOW ON’
There’s no band on this planet quite like Turnstile, and on their third album, the hardcore trailblazers ascended to new heights. Swerving between gritty riffs, Latin-esque grooves and slick fast-tempo punk at breakneck speed, ambition and intuition came together in an almighty celebration of what it means to be alive. (MH)



TWENTY ONE PILOTS – 'SCALED AND ICY'
Starting as an intense treasure hunt and materialising into a vibrant and colourful collection of modern pop tracks, ‘Scaled And Icy’ expanded on the deep intrigue that we have come to expect from Tyler and Josh whilst also showing off their insatiable knack for penning a dancefloor-filling anthem. (JR)

 

 

WATERPARKS - 'GREATEST HITS'
Whilst its title might suggest Waterparks were harking back to the past on album four, 2021 saw them marching to their own divergent beat. Charging off in countless sonic directions with a no-filter attitude ringing through each note, ‘Greatest Hits’ was a self-assured 17-track declaration that creativity has no limits. (MH)

 

 

WHILE SHE SLEEPS 'SLEEPS SOCIETY'
Tackling the ugly realities of the music industry, on album five, While She Sleeps reclaimed the power. Offering a redefined blueprint for musicians and fostering their counterculture, songs like ‘CALL OF THE VOID’ - complete with vocals from 250+ fans - proved that community is the lifeblood of their scene. (MH)



YOU ME AT SIX – ‘SUCKAPUNCH’
Fearless, ferocious and defiant, ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ took everything we love about You Me At Six and gave it a major revamp. From the mind-melting riffs of ‘Nice To Me’, through delicate slow-burner ‘Glasgow’ and dreamy R&B influenced ‘WYDRN’, it’s a pivotal record that proved the band’s story is far from written. (MH)

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