SPOILER: Here Are Decibel’s Top 40 Albums of 2021

Most readers and subscribers do not have the January 2022 issue of Decibel yet. But every year, that doesn’t stop some enterprising dork from obtaining an early copy of our year-end issue and posting our annual Top 40 Albums of the Year on a number of message boards (yes, those still exist), blogs (those, too) and virtually every social media platform. For the last seven years, we’ve been forced to beat them to the punch. So, if you’re actually a Decibel subscriber and prefer remaining in suspense until the USPS eventually delivers your copy, please read no further!

The rest of you are likely to ask yourselves, “Where’s Mastodon? No Gojira? Uh, At the Gates?” while perusing our annual Top 40 Albums of the Year list. “Wait, WHERE THE FUCK ARE AT THE FUCKING GATES?” Sorry, that last one was me.

With nearly three dozen writers and staff members contributing to this year’s list, it’s amazing how much consensus was achieved. Our No. 1 record captured the AOTY crown in a landslide. Whereas albums by multi-generational legends and acts barely two years old were often championed in equal measure, making it difficult to isolate any trends from the Decibel electorate. This suggests a healthy metal scene. And the fact that you’ll be screaming about what albums we included, which ones we did not, and where we ranked the ones that made the final cut confirms that your passion hasn’t diminished a tick in the 17 years we’ve been doing this.

Still, in a year where “getting back to normal” was perpetually pushed as the flawed narrative, Decibel happily welcomes back fervent-but-considered pre-pandemic reader rebuttals such as, “dying over no Havukruunu,” “it’s only November!” and, of course, “Ulcerate?” Clearly, nature is healing.

40. Rivers of Nihil, The Work, Metal Blade

39. Darkthrone, Eternal Hails……, Peaceville

38. Body Void, Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth, Prosthetic

37. Frozen Soul, Crypt of Ice, Century Media

36. Mare Cognitum, Solar Paroxysm, I, Voidhanger

35. Silver Talon, Decadence and Decay, M-Theory

34. Spectral Wound, A Diabolic Thirst, Profound Lore

33. The Ruins of Beverast, The Thule Grimoires, Van

32. Enforced, Kill Grid, Century Media

31. Knoll, Interstice, Self-released

30. Archspire, Bleed the Future, Season of Mist

29. Dungeon Serpent, World of Sorrows, Nameless Grave

28. Exodus, Persona Non Grata, Nuclear Blast

27. Hulder, Godslastering Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, Iron Bonehead

26. Craven Idol, Forked Tongues, Dark Descent

25. Deafheaven, Infinite Granite, Sargent House

24. Rudimentary Peni, The Great War, Sealed

23. Stormkeep, Tales of Othertime, Van

22. Genghis Tron, Dream Weapon, Relapse

21. Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality, Closed Casket Activities

20. Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined, Metal Blade

19. Worm, Foreverglade, 20 Buck Spin

18. Unto Others, Strength, Roadrunner

17. Full of Hell, Garden of Burning Apparitions, Relapse

16. Cerebral Rot, Excretion of Mortality, 20 Buck Spin

15. Amenra, De doorn, Relapse

14. Lingua Ignota, Sinner Get Ready, Sargent House

13. The Silver, Ward of Roses, Gilead Media

12. Skepticism, Companion, Svart

11. Fucked Up, Year of the Horse, Tankcrimes

10. Wolves in the Throne Room, Primordial Arcana, Relapse

9. Iron Maiden, Senjutsu, BMG

8. Lamp of Murmuur, Submission and Slavery, Self-released

7. Converge, Bloodmoon: I, Epitaph/Deathwish Inc

6. Hooded Menace, The Tritonus Bell, Season of Mist

5. Panopticon, …And Again into the Light, Bindrune

4. Apparition, Feel, Profound Lore

3. Tribulation, Where the Gloom Becomes Sound, Metal Blade

2. Khemmis, Deceiver, Nuclear Blast

1. Carcass, Torn Arteries, Nuclear Blast

Now, if you’d actually like to read editorial on these releases (for, you know, context), interviews with the artists who rank near and at the top of the list as well as dozens of entertaining, contributor-conceived year-end Top 5 lists, a cover story on the Converge Bloodmoon collaboration record and a Hall of Fame on Arcturus’ black metal weirdo classic Aspera Hiems Symfonia, you can grab a copy of the full issue here. It comes with a brand new exclusive Portrayal of Guilt flexi disc.