2021 Album of the Year: Helloween’s HelloweenSaturday, 1st January 2022
It’s that day again! The first day of a brand new year, full of anticipation of what’s to come (and really, what is to come given the past few years). But now we take one look back at 2021 before moving forward, at the releases that were most favored among the DR staff this year. As always, here are the individual staff best-of pieces, in case you want to take a look or missed them first time around.
We pick our album of the year based on two factors each year. They have to make it on at least two writer’s individual lists, and we then look at the overall ranking within those lists. Lastly, a big heartfelt thank you to everyone who continually checks out this website. We are here because we love discussing metal, and are appreciative of the opportunity that this site provides for us.
1. Helloween – Helloween (Nuclear Blast)
Reunion albums are often dead-on-arrival, failing to live up to their lofty expectations. Helloween ran the same risk with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske back in the band, but their self-titled foray is pure gold. Not a dud in the bunch (not even a ballad, one of Michael Weikath’s prerequisites), and highlighted by a broad array of songs, both joyous and humorous as they are powerful and catchy. Happy, happy Helloween indeed – David E. Gehlke
2. Unto Others – Strength (Roadrunner)
New band name, new label – but still that same glorious metal meets gothic vibes that only Unto Others has mastered. More aggressive in points than their debut, but no less gloomy and melancholic, Strength boasts some incredibly memorable songs. Seemingly a theme this year in my list, Unto Others has a unique sound that hits into so many different genres and emotions. It can ride true with the older metal crowd, yet bring in outsiders with the catchy and approachable gothic feelings. The best of both worlds – Katarina McGinn
3. The Crown – Royal Destroyer (Metal Blade)
The Swedes continue to excel at taking thrash/death influences and putting in some punk, hardcore, and traditional elements to make it all their own. Eleven albums strong and still killing it – Matt Coe
4. Hypocrisy – Worship (Nuclear Blast)
There was mild concern that Peter Tagtgren was no longer interested in death metal and was willing to abandon Hypocrisy after Pain and his project with Rammstein’s Till Lindemann. Thankfully, the Swede resurrected Hypocrisy after an eight-year break on Worship, which, if we’re keeping score, is yet another stalwart affair – David E. Gehlke