Pattrick Ritter's Top 10 Albums of 2021

Date: January 10, 2022

Patrick Ritter’s Top 10 Albums of the year


1. Tetrarch


I have to confess: I have a soft spot for this band as they were my first in-person interview at WSOU and the first band I saw live at a WSOU show, but I think Unstable would top the list either way. There is something on Unstable for everyone. Songs like “I’m Not Right” and “Sick of You” are perfect for the head-banging nu-metal crowd, “Negative Noise” is perfect for the intense high-speed metalcore crowd, and the grooves on “Push Down” and “Take a Look Inside” can make any metalhead want to dance. 


2. Code Orange – Out For Blood (Single)


At the #2 spot we have the only single on this list. Code Orange may have been in the books as an industrial metal band for a while now, but “Out For Blood” really showcases the band’s ability to fuse the electronic elements of industrial bands like KMFDM and the heavy thrash-filled riffs of classic acts like Metallica and Anthrax. Whether it is the turntable effect on the vocals, electronic hi-hats driving the groove, or the irresistible heavy-riffing, Out For Blood is sure to make your head move.  


3. Beartooth – Below


Some of the best albums are ones where bands are able to find a balance between the strengths of their previous records without going too far in either direction. Below is this record for Beartooth. In each song there is a balance between the intensity found on Aggressive and Disgusting, along with their more melodic songwriting found on Disease. This album showcases Beartooth’s ability to write songs with passion and feeling without sacrificing their trademark heaviness.


4. Volbeat – Servant of the Mind


Volbeat has long been thrown under the “rock” umbrella by radio stations and streaming services. However, Servant of the Mind has certified them in my mind as a metal band. Their grooves are some of the nastiest of any album this year, and their heavy, chugging guitar riffs are sure to get your head banging. While the music on Servant is definitely on the heavier side, the band hasn’t lost their sense of melody and lyric-writing ability on the record. The songs are just as poetic and filled with emotion…just with a little more spice to back it up.


5. Memphis May Fire – Left For Dead (EP)


Left For Dead may be a five-song EP, but the songwriting versatility shown by the band in these five songs alone is more than you’ll find in some bands’ entire discography. You’ll find your classic metalcore habits, but each song has distinct vocal performances, riffs, and grooves that distinguish them from one another. 4 of the 5 songs on the EP were released as singles in 2021, which is probably what allowed the band to have such a unique approach to each song. Left For Dead takes the listener more places in 5 songs than some of the full-length albums of 2021. 


6. Red Fang – Arrows


Red Fang has always been a very riff-driven band, and Arrows is no different. But the songs on this album don’t have just your typical rock and roll riffs. There is much more experimentation with time signatures, keys and modes, making Arrows a true musician’s album. But don’t let this turn you away if you’re not a musician. Red Fang is still the same hard-hitting song machine on Arrows, and if you’re a music fan of any kind, you’ll want to crank this album to 11.


7. TheCityIsOurs – COMA


I was fortunate enough to interview Mikey, the lead guitarist from TheCityIsOurs, who told me about their unique songwriting process on COMA as opposed to their previous full-length record. He told me there was a lot of mixing and matching, taking ideas from each member of the band and putting them together to make one coherent song. It’s easy to see this concept come through in the album’s versatility. Songs like “Dangerous” and “COMA” have classic metalcore grooves and dirty vocals, perfect for the more intensity-driven listener. But there are also songs like “Death of Me” and “So Sad” that are more melodic and thoroughly composed. COMA is sure to strike a chord with each and every metalcore fan.


8. Thrice – Horizons/East


Horizons/East pulls from the best aspects of Thrice’s entire discography and balances them almost perfectly (there is no such thing as perfect) to create some of the band’s best music yet. The passionate lyrics and bright vocal melodies pull the listener in, but they are backed by heavy grooves and riffs that make you want to put on a mean face. Any Thrice fan is sure to rock out to these songs, no matter what era of the band they prefer.


9. Every Time I Die – Radical


Radical is an album full of surprises. The die hard Every Time I Die fans (see what I did there?) will appreciate their classic speed and intensity, but there are also songs like Post-Boredom that are more melodic and filled with vocal harmonies, and songs like Hostile Architecture clearly have a heavy punk influence. Every Time I Die sticks to their trademark sound on Radical while also branching out into new territory. 


10. The Bronx – Bronx VI


On Bronx VI, The Bronx fuses classic elements of punk with more thrash influences. The best way I could describe this album to a metalhead who has never heard of The Bronx would be a cross between Misfits and Anthrax. On this album you’ll find the repetitive hooks and simple chord progressions of punk, along with the heavy and groovy riffs of thrash. Any hard rock fan in general should turn this album up to 11 and listen front to back for just a straight up good time. 


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