Welcome back, Worm-fiends, to our hallowed annual ritual, where the degenerates of Wormwood post their favorite albums of the prior year. Now these choices have to be new material released during 2021...no comps or cover albums allowed. As always, it’s a highly eclectic melange of material, so strap yourselves in and get ready to dive...


  1. APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE "Until the Darkness Goes"

Indianapolis’ AoS has always featured first-rate musicianship alongside Charles Brown’s increasingly strong lyrics and "Until the Darkness Goes" may be the band’s peak.

  1. L.A. GUNS "Checkered Past"

Phil Lewis and Traci Guns return with one of the band’s strongest “reunion” era releases. Songs such as “Cannonball” and “Dog”, among others, pack a wallop.

  1. THE LIMIT "Caveman Logic"

Bobby Liebling teams with Sonny Vincent to deliver a career highlight for each. Liebling, in particular, sounds reborn, freed from his past.

  1. DEEP PURPLE "Turning to Crime"

Rock Hall of Famers surprise everyone with a covers album. It’s an eclectic set chosen from the band’s personal favorites and sparkles with imagination.

  1. NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE "Way Down in the Rust Bucket"

Culled from a live “rehearsal” preceding 1990’s Ragged Glory tour, Neil and “the world’s third best garage band” rip through a jaw-dropping cross-section of songs including rarities such as “Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze” and the culinary-themed “T-Bone”.

  1. IRON MAIDEN "Senjutsu"

MAIDEN returns with another double album. This album reeks of ambition and largely delivers on its promise. It’s a loose baggy monster, unapologetically so, and you can’t help but appreciate its audacity.

  1. MAMMOTH WVH "Mammoth WVH"

Wolfgang Van Halen’s debut is a lot of things. The unifying theme, however, is a superb set of songs demonstrating widespread creativity. He demands to be taken seriously.

  1. MONSTER MAGNET "A Better Dystopia"

The list’s second covers album. There’s a theme unifying this release as well and, rest assured, MONSTER MAGNET never resorts to the obvious. Far more than a placeholder until the next studio album.

  1. GEORGE LYNCH "Seamless"

George Lynch’s first solo release since 2015’s "Shadow Train". It shows Lynch continuing to ride the crest of late period surge in creativity; his guitar playing is as impassioned and imaginative as ever.

  1. THE COLD STARES "Heavy Shoes"

Midwesterners THE COLD STARES’ "Heavy Shoes" is their best album yet. The pairing of Chris Tapp and Brian Mullins produce slaughterhouse blues that gives no quarter.



  1. GRETA VAN FLEET "The Battle At Garden's Gate"

  2. THE CYBERIAM "Connected"

  3. SWALLOWS "In the Shadow of the Seven Stars"

  4. LAURA MEADE "The Most Dangerous Woman in America"

  5. THE MASTELOTTOS "A Romantic's Guide to King Crimson"

  6. SWEET "Isolation Boulevard"

  7. ALEX CARPANI "L'orizzonte degli Eventi"

  8. SYNDONE "Kama Sutra"

  9. DOS COBROS "Misadventures In Dystopia"

  10. STYX "Crash The Crown"



  1. 1914 "Where Fear And Weapons Meet"

  2. ENFORCED "Kill Grid"

  3. WHEEL "Preserved In Time"

  4. FLOTSAM & JETSAM "Blood In The Water"

  5. TERMINALIST "The Great Acceleration"

  6. SPECTRAL LORE "Ετερόφωτος"

  7. WITHERING SOUL "Last Contact"

  8. IRON LIZARDS "Hungry For Action"

  9. NEKROFUKK "Mysterious Rituals In the Abyss of Sabbath and Eternal Celebration of the Blakk Goat"

  10. DRAWN AND QUARTERED "Congregation Pestilence"

    HONORABLE MENTION to: THE QUILL "Earthrise", RUNNING WILD "Blood on Blood", ASSAULT "Aevum Et Illustrata", ASPHYX "Necroceros"


1. MORDKAUL "Dress Code: Blood" - Best album in the melodic death genre since 'Slaughter of the Soul.' Period. I shouldn't have to say more to get you to want to go check it out, or to justify it being at the top of this list. Could not stop playing the record since it came out at the beginning of the year!

2. CREYE "II" - Zero bad songs on this awesome, catchy, poppy rock album that harkens back to the glory days of JOURNEY, HARDLINE, GIANT, and other bands of that ilk.

3. GIZMACHI "Omega Kaleid" - 16 years away gave this band plenty of time to write an epic follow-up to their debut, this time with Speed Strid from SOILWORK on vocals but still with the jackhammer riffage of 'The Imbuing." I couldn't get enough of this record and it helped me through some angry moments this year.

4. HURTWAVE "Night Therapy I" - A few guys from screamo and pop-punk bands decided to invest in some synths and created a hell of a vibe! Awesome, calming record with catchy hooks and perfect to relax to.

5. MØL "Diorama" - It came later in the year and honestly might be even worth placing higher on my list. Thus far, I can't get enough of this record! It takes the post-black-metal genre I have grown to love and eschews the dragging songwriting and pansy-ass-ness this genre has gotten a bad rap for. Post-blackened-metal for folks that still want plenty of metal in this style!

6. NOCTAMBULIST "The Barren Form" - Extreme, pummeling, angry, and unrelenting death metal. Blasts and shrieks abound, but the band is not afraid to embrace dissonance as an effective tool to build tension...and keep it there!

7. SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL "Kostolom" - The band might be best known for YouTuber Alex Terrible and his vocal stylings, but goddamn if they aren't incredible and they definitely serve to anchor probably the most incredible deathcore record we've had in many years.

8. CRYPTA "Echoes of the Soul" - Ex-members of NERVOSA and BURNING WITCHES came together to craft probably the best OSDM record of the year in a year chock full of killer OSDM records. Fans of BOLT THROWER, BENEDICTION, and BLOODBATH will find a lot to love here!

9. GRIMA "Rotting Garden" - The atmospheric black metal twins' last record was an exceptional piece, but this record is just mindblowing-ly great! Great hooks and melodies to latch onto without ever sacrificing extreme black metal performance for the sake of it!

10. ARCHSPIRE “Bleed the Future” - you don’t go into a record from these guys looking for subtlety. They play so much faster than everyone else you can actually hear a bit of whimsy in the riffing, and fun heaviness is often the best kind!

Honorable Mentioned for an Unsigned Band: GRAVECARVER “Spectral Carnage” - this band has seemingly come out of nowhere with not much notable pedigree that I can find. Yet here on their debut, self-released record they pop out a ridiculously incredible old school death metal record! Unrelentingly heavy riffage, great performances, and really flying the flag for this style and with a killer mixjob to boot. Keep an eye out for more from these guys!



  1. EVERGREY "Escape of the Phoenix

  2. IRON MAIDEN "Senjutsu"

  3. DREAM THEATER "A View From the Top of the World"

  4. ACCEPT "Too Mean To Die"


  6. POVERTY'S NO CRIME "A Secret To Hide"

  7. TODD DE LA TORRE "Rejoice In the Suffering"

  8. THE DEAD DAISIES "Holy Ground"

  9. K.K.'S PRIEST "Sermons of the Sinner"

  10. ALICE COOPER "Detroit Stories"


  1. HELLOWEEN "Helloween". For me personally, this record was a return to form in both sound and band lineup. “Skyfall” is the best single they’ve released since “Halloween” and “I Want Out.”

  2. MOONSPELL "Hermitage" MOONSPELL is the indie band version of IRON MAIDEN. Their songs are epic and cut a musical swath a mile wide. "Hermitage" is MOONSPELL’s "Piece Of Mind".

  3. KK’s PRIEST "Sermons Of The Sinner". Finally, KK picks up his guitar and drops a PRIESTrecord that puts JUDAS PRIEST to shame. It’s fast, it’s heavy, and it’s pure steel. KK’s PRIEST embodies the grit and spirt JUDAS PRIEST used to have.

  4. HAMMER KING "Hammer King". Pure epic, ass kicking metal. That’s it. Everyone should be listening to this record and "Poseidon Will Carry Us Home".

  5. INHUMAN CONDITION "Rat God". The best way I can describe this record is, it’s head punching, prison riot, death metal. Thank god it’s exciting original music and not some Lovecraftian rehash crap.

  6. DEMISER "Through The Gate Eternal". Heavy, thrashy, attitude driven, metal. Patch ‘em on.

  7. SPIRITWORLD "Pagan Rhythms". Aggression personified. Music to bare knuckle fight to.

  8. ASPHYX "Necroceros". Old school death the way it was meant to sound. Where some classic metal bands shuffle on, ASPHYX picks up a baseball bat and beats your ass with it.

  9. BE’LAKOR "Coherence". Complex, often proggy death metal that’s as brutal as it is complex. It wouldn’t surprise me if the band moved towards a deathly-doomier direction (ala OPETH) with future records.

  10. CRADLE OF FILTH "Existence Is Futile" CRADLE OF FILTH never lets you down and this record kills. I guess in a way they’re the AC/DC of blackened-symphonic-thrash – you always know exactly what you’re getting. I’m still holding out hope for an ALICE COOPER / KING DIAMOND / CRADLE OF FILTH tour to happen.



  1. WOMBBATH "Agma"


  3. LUNA'S CALL "Void"

  4. EMPYRIUM "Uber Den Sternen"

  5. DREAD SOVEREIGN "Alchemical Warfare"

  6. ALASDAIR ROBERTS Og VOLVUR "The Old Fabled River"

  7. GAAHL'S WYRD "The Humming Mountain"

  8. DUNGEON SERPENT "World of Sorrows"

  9. BIZARREKULT 'Vi Overlevde W"

  10. A STICK AND A STONE "Versatile"


1. WEREWOLVES “What A Time To Be Alive”

2. JARHEAD FERTILIZER “Product of My Environment”

3. INFEX “Burning In Exile”

4. BLACK MASS “Feast At The Forbidden Tree”

5. PSYCHO “Vulture Church”

6. GENOCIDE PACT “Genocide Pact”

7. LOCK UP “The Dregs of Hades”

8. AEON “God Ends Here”

9. MALIGNANT ALTAR “Realms of Exquisite Morbidity”

10. DELPHIAN “Somnambulant Foregoer”



  1. RUNDGARD "Stronghold of Majestic Ruins"

  2. SKEPTICISM "Companion"

  3. LÄJÄ ÄIJÄLÄ & ALBERT WITCHFINDER "Centuries of Youth"

  4. MOONCITADEL "Onyx Castles and Silver Keys"

  5. TEDDY HORSE- "Songs of Spring"

  6. TEDDY HORSE- "Night Blue"

  7. PALANTIR "Treasure Keeper"

  8. MDRUD "Memories of an Imprisoned Mage"

  9. GREENLEAF "The Book of Revelations"

  10. UMBRIA The Entombed Wizard"


That closes the book on 2021. Usually there are some common picks amongst the writers, but not this year, with only IRON MAIDEN and KK'S PRIEST showing up more than once. That guarantees a pretty diverse collection, which is a good thing in this Dr.'s opinion.