Honorable Mentions of 2021

Lo! Here we are again. Another year has passed as we try so very hard to return to a life that has some semblance of normalcy as we do our best to reconnect with families, jobs, and, as is the case with many of us, music. I have only attended a single live show this year with it being a wondrous return by all standards, and I know damn well that many are still clamoring to go back to the festivals and local concerts like we used to, but it’s in the midst of such continuous adversity that the metal has never once ceased to flow like a raging river! It becomes fantastically apparent at the end of every year as we gather around yet again to talk about our favorite albums of the twelve months that have passed with all sorts of albums coming to light as we rejoice in the grandeur that they have presented to us.

It is now my turn to sift through the hundreds of albums that I’ve come into contact with this year and do my best to present them all to you in a listed form that you all can dissect, investigate, and, of course, judge without any mercy. But, that main course comes tomorrow on New Years Day proper as it is now the time to highlight my Honorable Mentions of 2021! As it is with every year and like how the title suggests, these are all albums that I prize very highly and were all up for contention in the Top 30 with every single one of them having more than enough that I gladly back them up 100% with the simple reality of them being on this list meaning I cannot help but recommend them to anyone interested. The typical variety is to be had as this was another glorious year for everything from metal to rock to even ambient, but, of course, I am just one person and these lists hold but a fraction of a fraction of all that is to be discovered out there this year and I know damn well plenty will be perturbed by the lack of some names on either list whether it be Exodus, Chelsea Wolfe and Coverge, Archspire, or literally anyone else. I simply don’t have the time to investigate everything, and that’s okay. I’d much rather have far too much to check out rather than never enough, and the metal scene as a whole has truly flourished with such a boon.

Like every single time we do this –  to listen to the album in question or a song from it click the album and band name. It has been another stupendous year for me behind the helm of Head-Banger Reviews with plenty of friends, opportunities, and fantastic excursions into the vast reaches of music and I absolutely cannot wait to see what 2022 has in store for us all!

Thank you, and, please, enjoy!


Legends of the Desert: Volume 2 – The Penitent Man & Cortége

“Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the second edition of “Legends of the Desert” to come around, and it’s yet again that we are given a terrific pairing of bands that results in a work that’s the definition of expansive.” (read full review here)




Under the Church – Total Burial

“…any news of fresh material from this band is always something that I celebrate with a fresh EP very much a qualifying slab of seething undeath that I wasn’t able to turn myself away from.” (read full review here)





Spaceslug – Memorial

“It’s the natural evolution of such a talented group that still has all the psychedelia, heaviness, and flavorful songwriting that one could ask for given the band’s previous work…” (read full review here)





Phrenelith – Chimaera

“…“Chimaera” is Phrenelith’s announcement to the whole of the underground that they are not merely a one-and-done band that is to be lost to the depths of time…” (read full review here)





Stormkeep – Tales of Othertime

“… I know very well this will end up very high on year-end lists for many people with such conviction being more than obvious and beyond justified.” (read full review here)






Intaglio – II

“…added to the halls of funeral doom excellence for all time as this is a work that simply cannot be ignored in any way for all that it brings to the table, dares to execute, and pulls off with true mastery.” (read full review here)




Khemmis – Deceiver

“Time has been possibly the greatest friend to this unit as they seem to have only gotten better with time, and that proves to be no different on their fourth full-length opus that has already left its mark on the scene…” (read full review here)




King Buffalo – The Burden of Restlessness

“There hasn’t been a single effort that they’ve dished out in just eight years that hasn’t been more than worthy of investigation or mass praise, and that proves to be no different with all that “The Burden of Restlessness” brings to the table.” (read full review here)




Ars Magna Umbrae – Throne Between Worlds

“Such a work like this can only be born from a mind burdened with true purpose to bring a singularly vicious and beautiful visage to life in a form that only music like this can embody in any capacity…” (read full review here)




Wraith – Undo the Chains

“A fast-paced, no holds barred, no fucks given performance is the exact kind of experience that many of us need more of in our lives that’s actually delivered by a capable act that can deliver on such a massive promise…” (read full review here)




Abiotic – Ikigai

“…the whole of “Ikigai” bouncing around all over the place when it comes to the lyrical content, instrumental prowess, untouchable musicianship, and rock-solid reputation that holds fast with this crowning achievement, Abiotic does no less than demolish so much of the competition…” (read full review here)




Devil’s Reef – A Whisper From the Cosmos

“My only lament for the whole of “A Whisper From the Cosmos” is how it is only five tracks in total, but anyone would be spitting in the faces of Devil’s Reef if they were to even insinuate that they didn’t use each of those tracks to maximum effect…” (read full review here)




Esoctrilihum – Urionhsol (Seven Demons)

“Very few acts are able to remain as consistent or relevant as Esoctrilihum across the whole of the underground while still having an air that is very much indicative of the underground where the band really does feel like a one of a kind find that we can’t compare to many other names out there if any.” (read full review here)



Windfaerer – Breaths of Elder Dawns

“The apex of a blend of two styles that can make for some of the most gripping music that all of metal can offer, Windfaerer doesn’t disappoint in the slightest yet again…” (read full review here)





Vahrzaw – The Trembling Voices of Conquered Men

“…Vahrzaw strikes a very alluring middle-ground. Never once do any of these seven tracks that are bookended by an acoustic that feels both decompressing and anxiety-inducing somehow feel as though Vahrzaw is content to give the listener just one end of the spectrum of extremes.” (read full review here)




Hand of Kalliach – Samhainn

“…it was their debut work that really caught me off-guard and still provides plenty of enjoyment to this day with not many other acts in the same vein being able to come close to what the EP achieved. With their first full-length, though, Hand of Kalliach has truly outdone themselves.” (read full review here)




Sadistik Forest – Obscure Old Remains

“…this is an effort that Sadistik Forest can absolutely call all their own without a shred of unnecessary pride for this is a creation to be extremely proud of, and it will be a true crime upon music itself should this EP go unheralded for the mini-masterpiece of intensity that it is.” (read full review here)




Domkraft – Seeds

“Doom like this cannot be understated in any form as works like this that truly stand the test of time and promise us greatness for the band that produces it, and it’s only fitting that a rising band like Domkraft would release an absolutely dominating release like this!” (read full review here)




Untamed Land – Like Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms

 “…all that the Old West was in all that it could’ve ever been but we get to see Untamed Land explore sonic territories the likes of which black metal rarely gets to visit if ever…” (read full review here)