January's almost over but it's not too late to take a long, lingering, riff-laden look back at 2021. Here, then, better late than never, are Revenge of Riff Raff's own Edwin Oslan's top ten albums of 2021! Yes, girls, this is how he actually looks (so form an orderly queue)!

I know it’s a little late to compile a list of the best albums of 2021, but I saw the ten best lists come through my feed from some of my friends, and not only are they all pretty similar, but they all consist of either the same legacy bands, OR side projects of the same legacy bands, which makes it clear that, to the majority of music fans, “top ten of any given year” means “the ten albums I bought by favorite artists any given year.”

So I scoped out some of the YouTube channels and blogs, specifically the Sea of Tranquility and Wyattxhim channels, and the Angry Metal Guy website, to get the boomer vs. zoomer perspective on some of the albums I might have missed in the past year. As a result, I found out about a few more albums for consideration. And, I have to admit, that should I eventually hear the new BILLY GIBBONS solo album, the new album by THE DEAD DAISIES with Glenn Hughes, the new HOLLYWOOD BURNS album, the new one from FIRST FRAGMENT, or new releases from whatever weird experimental black metal Wyattxhim is into, I might actually check ‘em out, and possibly replace some of the items on this here list. 

In the meantime, I arbitrarily chose ten albums I really liked among the ones I purchased and/or heard that came out in 2021. 

Honorable mention goes to the latest ALICE COOPER album Detroit Stories. I’ve been called an Alice Cooper apologist, but I actually really enjoyed his newest album and it's a total throwback to the golden era of 70s rock. However, I’m sorry (not sorry), but any album featuring a song as putrid as “Hanging by a Thread (Don’t Give Up)” will NEVER make any list, unless it’s a list of things that suck. No, Alice; I do not have “7,000,000,000 brothers and sisters”, and putting the number for the suicide hotline at the end of the song seems more like a condescending joke than an actual attempt to help people. Those of us who know what’s going on don’t need advice like that. 

Another honorable mention goes to the new CIRITH UNGOL EP Half Past Human. Cirith Ungol is one of the best bands ever, so any album they’d have released would make a top ten list. But Half Past Human isn’t an album; it’s a four-track EP. Also SAXON and DEEP PURPLE, two bands I love, released albums in 2021, but Inspirations and Turn to Crime are covers albums. And treating an EP or a covers album like a real album is like treating a woman like a real person, so that won’t do. 

And the latest albums from ALCATRAZZ, HELLOWEEN, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, THE THREE TREMORS, and HAWKWIND are no slouches either, and perhaps, if this were a top 20 list, those might have made it too. But, it’s not, so they don’t.

So, here, with a few vids that YouTube will probably take down for various reasons in the months ahead, are the ten picks...


When I stood inside the dinky ass club I got into with my dubiously obtained Covid passport wearing my UNSANE t-shirt and motorcycle jacket as one of the three people there to see the main act, all I could think was, thanks to the wave of paranoia and virtue signaling that has cleaned out the music underground, I get my own personal performance from this awesome heavy rock band in a nearly empty club; save for the ten or so hipsters who were there to support their friends’ bands. Human Impact is a “noise rock”/avant-garde metal  “supergroup” featuring Chris Spencer, guitarist/shouter for UNSANE and the CUTTHROATS 9, Phil Puleo and Jim Coleman, drummer and keyboardist for COP SHOOT COP, and Chris Pavdica, who played bass for SWANS. Their excellent self-titled album came out last year, and while EP01 might be called an EP, it’s got eight songs on it and is about 40 minutes long. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the second Human Impact album, even if several of its songs were released online first for download before being compiled onto a record with a few other tracks. In a way, Human Impact is also kind of a progressive rock band with their oddball, non-4/4 time signatures, groovy/funky bass lines, heavy riffs, spacey noises, and creepy ass little melodies. Their music is the sound of social collapse and urban decay, and is the musical equivalent of the “this is fine” meme. It’s also really catchy and fun, and I feel bad for my friend for catching ‘em in Detroit, where they didn’t have a screen behind them, while I got the fully immersive, audio-visual experience.  Though I do think it’s pretty ironic that they called the final track on EP01 “Subversion” while requiring us to show our passes at the door. 

9. K.K.’S PRIEST – Sermons of the Sinner 

It’s bizarre to think people actually like the new IRON MAIDEN album Senjutsu, which is slow and boring, and then claim that Sermons of the Sinner is somehow “derivative.” Y’all iz stupid. I’ve already reviewed Sermons of the Sinner and given it a thumbs up with the caveat that I think K.K. Downing should have chosen a different name. Sure, he has the right to call his band K.K.’s Priest, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. But, what’s in a name, right? Tim “Ripper” Owens reunited with K.K. Downing after he was initially bounced from Priest in 2003 and pretty much established himself as the most prolific and recognizable journeyman singer in metal, having stretched his vocal chords for ICED EARTH and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, among many others. And, ironically, in the decade since K.K. Downing left the actual JUDAS PRIEST, the group has thrown their own credibility down the shitter by replacing him and then Glenn Tipton with Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap, and then deciding to tour as a four-piece band with only one guitarist before quickly reversing that decision at the behest of their fans. Anyway, as I stated in my review, Sermons of the Sinner “sounds like Judas Priest in an alternate reality, in which the group never jettisoned the progressive elements from their 70s albums, and then made Defenders of the Faith; just without that ‘doof’ echo-y gated drum effect and as a fully-realized and complete album.” Furthermore, for the people who claim Iron Maiden is “prog-influenced” because their songs are long, "Metal Through and Through" and "Return of the Sentinel" are eight and nine minutes respectively, and have a bunch of different parts in them; head banging parts, slower marching parts, even acoustic parts, in contrast to songs on Senjutsu, which just have one drumbeat for ten straight minutes. One of my buddies told me it will grow on me. Sure. That’s just code for, “I’m a mindless fan who has to find a way to squeeze as much enjoyment as I can out of this album and rationalize why I bought the damn thing in the first place.” And, although it took Downing a solid decade to assemble a band and release an album, apparently K.K.’s Priest is already working on a new album for release in 2022!

8. PERTURBATOR – Lustful Sacraments 

First of all, vinyl neophytes, make sure to play this here thang on 45 RPM rather than the standard 33. Otherwise, you’ll think the latest release from James “Perturbator” Kent sounds a little slow. Secondly, synthwave aficionados might consider my choice of Lustful Sacraments to be a bit pedestrian. I must admit that I’m not fully immersed in the world of Blood Music, though I’d like to be. I just really enjoy Perturbator and the fifteen or so other synthwave artists I’m aware of. The only other synthwave album that came out in 2021 I even heard was the Blood Machine soundtrack from CARPENTER BRUT, and I like Lustful Sacraments more; though I am meaning to check out that new one by Hollywood Burns. For those who don’t know, synthwave is literally just the bouncy synth score you hear in low budget 80s action, fantasy, and science fiction pictures. If you thing John Carpenter scores or the music in the opening sequence to Equalizer 2000 is the best music you’ve ever heard, here’s an entire genre of that; I guess it’s pretty cool that Kent is also a metal guy. However, on Lustful Sacraments, Kent has gone the goth route, so you get fake drums, synths, Blade Runner-esque VANGELIS type sounds, and a gothic night club vibe like the BAUHAUS scene in The Hunger for an entire album. On top of that, there’s quite a bit of guitar on Lustful Sacraments. As a result, a song like “Excess” isn’t really synthwave at all, but just straight ahead 80s gothic new wave like SISTERS OF MERCY or Night-Time-era KILLING JOKE, and “Secret Devotion” could pass for TEARS FOR FEARS. I’ll know Perturbator jumped the shark if their stuff gets accepted by the trench coat crowd in lieu of the 80s low budget movie loving geek crowd. Not as if these two audiences can’t overlap, mind you. Thankfully, quite a bit of Lustful Sacraments still sounds like the soundtrack to The Terminator or some low budget Italian rip-off of The Terminator

7. THE LIMIT – Caveman Logic 

I consider Caveman Logic the sleeper of 2021. Almost none of my rock or metal loving friends heard of the album, and none of the bigger blogs have talked about it. My guess is this is because of certain allegations against lead singer Bobby Liebling, who a decade ago was considered the king in various underground circles, and whose band PENTAGRAM could do no wrong. Apparently, this is no longer the case, and he’s been soft-cancelled. Okay, so shoot me, but this is the second “supergroup” on my list; the Limit consists of Bobby Liebling, lead singer and sole original member of long running doom metal Gods Pentagram, Jimmy Recca, who played bass in THE STOOGES during their 1971 “I Got a Right” era, that is between Fun House and Raw Power, Sonny Vincent, guitarist and singer for New York punk legends THE TESTORS, and two other guys from some other band on second guitar and drums. This just rocks from start to finish. Although Liebling hitched his wagon to the metal world, he typically considers himself just a rock ‘n’ roll guy from an era when long haired kids in denim jackets would just as likely be listening to the Stooges and MC5 as they would SABBATH and ZEPPELIN. And, hawt damn, does Liebling have a great voice for this stuff, as his guitarists play just great riffs and leads in these hooky and energetic songs. I guess there’s a bit of a melancholy vibe throughout the album; “Kitty Gone” bemoans his failed marriage, one that was initially the happy ending of the Pentagram documentary Last Days Here from ten years ago. There’s also a bit of surf-spy riffing on “Human vs Nature” and a lotta introspection and complaining about how everything sucks now, which I suppose is reasonable, considering how things have been going for the last couple years. 


I have no idea why Immortal is by the Michael Schenker Group as opposed to MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST or MICHAEL SCHENKER's TEMPLE OF ROCK; other than maybe Nuclear Blast insisted that’s the name he use for Immortal. Or maybe he just likes the MSG logo; I dunno. Because, as anyone who follows Schenker’s highly prolific career knows, Schenker just randomly assembles musicians to play on his albums, and then arbitrarily slaps a name onto the group. So, who’s on the new MSG album? Well, first of all, you have no less than seven different vocalists, among whom include Ralf Scheepers of PRIMAL FEAR and AOR legend Joe Lynn Turner. And, you have a slew of keyboardists, bassists, and drummers. But, regardless of all that, opening track “Drilled to Kill” might be my favorite song of 2021. It’s just fast head banging metal with a great keyboard solo from Derek Sherinian. Now, if the new Iron Maiden Senjutsu, which is 82 minutes long and consists of ten songs, were to be played in double time, like literally if the tape was sped up to twice the speed, cutting the album’s run time in half, it would be quite a bit more listenable. And, what do you know? Here’s virtually the proof of that, as Immortal consists of ten songs and is 40 minutes long, and just knocks out one great song after another, allowing the musicians to show off their proficiency on their instruments, yet doesn’t overstay its welcome and makes you want to hear it again. I guess part of that is helped by MSG covering “In Search of the Peace of Mind” by THE SCORPIONS from their first album, which Michael Schenker played lead guitar on half a century ago. I also love the heck out of “Sangria Morte” and its galloping metal with a Western theme. More traditional metal should have Western themes as opposed to fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Oh yeah, and Bodo S. is on this album. Remember him from the second U.D.O. album? You go, Bodo!

5. Accept – Too Mean to Die

One of my friends had the daftness to claim that Accept “borrowed” the concept of three guitarists from Iron Maiden. I too have wondered why they felt compelled to add third guitarist Philip Shouse to the lineup when Wolf Hoffman has always been the sole lead guitarist. Shouse stood in for Uwe Lulis when he was sick, but I guess Hoffman and crew liked him so much, they just said, “eh, let’s have him too.” But, what’s even crazier is that longtime bassist Peter Baltes, who had been on every Accept album before Too Mean to Die, left the band, and Martin Motnik took his spot, ultimately leaving Wolf Hoffman as the only original member of Accept. What Accept didn’t borrow from Iron Maiden was making an overly long, ass boring album that sucks ass. Now, I’ve stated in my review for Too Mean to Die, that if Accept went on tour and only played Mark Tornillo stuff, I’d be fine with that; especially now that it’s been revealed that Udo himself will continue to play classic Accept songs. To be honest, what I really want to see is a three hour concert where the Mark Tornillo Accept opens the show, then U.D.O. plays second, and then finally Accept is joined by Udo Dirkschneider for a full set of nothing but material from their self-titled debut through Russian Roulette. How much money do you think I’d have to shower on all the parties involved to put on such a concert? As for Too Mean to Die, since Blood of the Nations came out in 2010, Accept have released one monster metal album after another; as I said in my initial review of the album, “if you have a guitarist named Wolf Hoffman ripping neoclassical or -- in the case of the album closing instrumental ‘Samson and Delilah’ -- Middle Eastern guitar solos out of his Flying V, you’re in pretty good shape”, and Mark Tornillo does his best Udo impression while his social and political outlook bleeds through his lyrics (“No One’s Master”). I still think it’s disturbing that Tornillo thinks we need to “kill them one by one” in “Zombie Apocalypse”, when the zombies in question happen to be people addicted to cell phones. 

4. RUNNING WILD – Blood on Blood 

Singer/guitarist Rock’n’Rolf is back with the first Running Wild album in five years! And lead guitarist Peter Jordan, who played on the previous three Running Wild albums, is right there by his side. On top of that, for what’s worth, bassist Ole Hempelmann and drummer Michael Wolpers have graduated from session players, as they were listed on the group’s previous effort Rapid Foray, to full band members on Blood on Blood. Running Wild has been on this whole pirate trip since they released Under Jolly Roger way back in 1987, and it is kind of ironic that one of the group’s running themes is “all for one, one for all, brothers until the end”, when the group cycles through members at a fairly rapid pace, and Rock’n’Rolf is the only original member. But, as far as killer metal goes, Rock’n’Rolf and whoever he’s playing with know their way around simple yet stupidly catchy and uplifting melodies that make every one of their (his?) albums a joy to listen to. And, like the skilled craftsmen they are, they find that perfect balance between showing off their technical ability and just rockin’ the heck out. Also, thankfully, unlike novelty “pirate metal” goofballs ALESTORM, Running Wild keeps the pirate motif limited to the album art and only a handful of songs. Other tunes deal with war, corruption, and various historical events; there’s also the optimistic, darkest before the dawn anthem “One Night, One Day” and a good time song about goin’ to a rock ‘n’ roll show on a Friday night called “Wild, Wild Times.” Though one wonders just how “wild” a time a person could have at a nearly empty venue that requires proof of vaccination to get through the door. And, like the K.K.’S PRIEST album and unlike the new Iron Maiden album, the ten minute track “The Iron Times (1618 – 1648)” is actually compelling rather than slow and boring. And, geez, with only ten songs and a paltry runtime of 56 minutes, you’d think the band is actually trying to entertain you rather than put you to sleep!

3. The Stranglers – Dark Matters

R.I.P. Dave Greenfield. It’s a shame he passed away before the Stranglers released what will most likely be their final album, Dark Matters, and then go on their final tour. It’s also crazy to think that, if the Stranglers started out today, they would immediately be cancelled by our hyper-sensitive PC culture. Sure, nearly half a century ago, the Stranglers got plenty of shit from the late 70s equivalent of the blue-haired feminists for their irreverent sense of humor, but there was enough of a countermanding force, allowing the Stranglers to pull off stunts like inviting strippers onstage during their performance of “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy.” Of course, those days are long, long gone, but like THE DAMNED, BUZZCOCKS, VIBRATORS, SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS, DICTATORS, and WIRE, the Stranglers were still plugging along, relevance or crowd size be damned. For the record, I’ve seen all of these bands in clubs of various sizes, and it’s great to know they’re still putting out albums. Anyway, Dark Matters is the first Stranglers album in nine years, following Giants from 2012, and it appears it will be their last. With Greenfield’s passing, Brian “Jet Black” Duffy having left the group a few years ago, and, of course, Hugh Cornwell having not been in the band since 1990, bassist/singer/guy-who-beat-up-Jon-Savage-for-giving-the-second-Stranglers-album-a-less-than-stellar-review Jean-Jacques Burnel remains the only member from the original lineup. Although Greenfield did play on most of Dark Matters, and guitarist/singer Baz Warne has been in the band since 2000, so there’s that. But, man, the song “This Song” should be an easy indie hit. It’s just such a great and catchy piece of circus-y garage rock. In general, it’s hard to pigeonhole the Stranglers. Dark Matters has echoes of their science fiction, conspiracy-tinged Men-in-black-era, and there’s a song with a post-punk disco beat called “White Stallion”, and there’s the “Golden Brown” style Euro-sophisticate adult pop of “If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might as Well Be Love)”, complete with a snazzy trumpet for good measure, and “No Man’s Land” is just straight-up herky-jerky weirdness. But the whole thing has a bittersweet quality about it, not least of all because of Greenfield’s death or the fact that the Stranglers are going on their final tour, but also just because it just seems as though the circumstances allowing a group like the Stranglers to have existed in the first place are moribund as well. Or, as the Stranglers sing in “The Last Man on the Moon”, “the ultimate new horizon/but we’re still losing the race.” 

2. U.D.O. – Game Over 

Fitty Weinhold left? He played bass on every U.D.O. album from Solid way back in 1997 to Steelfactory in 2018! How the hell will U.D.O. recover from that? We thought U.D.O. already had their trial by fire when guitarist Stefan Kaufman left the group in 2012! But, as evidenced by the albums Steelhammer (2013), Decadent (2015), and aforementioned Steelfactory (2018), the great Russian hope Andrey Smirnov helped the Teutonic metal machine recover from the near death blow of losing Kaufman and unleash a trio of slamming albums... oh, what the hell am I talking about? U.D.O. has always been as consistent as MOTÖRHEAD, where all the albums kinda sound the same to neophytes and normies, but are all so damn good. And, I’m serious! Thus, Game Over, which unintentionally borrowed its title from the first NUCLEAR ASSAULT album, is just a continuation of that; in spite of, of course, replacing longtime bassist Fitty Weinhold with Tilan Hudrap and adding second guitarist Dee Dammers. It’s also pretty damn cool that Udo’s son Sven is now the drummer. Sven actually looks like a better looking version of his dad, which means that the woman who Udo shacked up with to create Sven must have been really smokin’ hot to offset Udo’s, shall we say, "niche charm." But, damn, does Game Over rock! First of all, it’s got 16 songs on it! That’s more than any other previous U.D.O. album. And, it would have been more had this been the Japanese version; and it really does annoy me, that in an era where hardly anyone buys music, record companies still play “Japanese bonus track” shenanigans. But even if it’s short a song or two, it’s still long as heck and jam packed with scorching METAL. A few interesting highlights include “Kids and Guns”, which sounds like if AC/DC had Helen “won’t someone PLEASE think of the children” Lovejoy as the singer! Funny and odd bit of social commentary, but still rocks my balls off. You’ve got the stupidly catchy “I See Red”, which does this neat start-stop kinda thing. There’s a speed metal song called “Like a Beast”, a pair of songs with the word metal in the title, and a throwaway schmaltz ballad called “Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye”, which I’d easily trade for the bonus track on the Japanese version. There’s other stuff too, but you get the point. And, for an album that’s 69 minutes long and with so many damn songs, it just moves along at a brisk pace; unlike the new album by a certain British metal band that has ten songs on it, clocks in at 82 minutes long, and moves slower than an Antonioni film. I’m smart and cultured. 

1. Warfare – The Songbook of Filth

CRANK IT UP, YOU BLOODY WANKERS!!! The new Warfare release, The Songbook of Filth, is a three disc set of rarities, demos, live versions, and alternate recordings, that’s full of the balls out, nasty, filthy rock ‘n’ roll we’ve all been missing since LEMMY left the building. From the mid-80s to the early/mid-90s, Paul “Evo” Evans was the proverbial Lemmy figure of Warfare, except he was the rare case of a drummer who is also the singer. Warfare were signed to Neat Records alongside VENOM, TANK, RAVEN, AVENGER, ATOMKRAFT, and a few other key bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and were on the proto-thrash, punk-metal side of the genre rather than the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden mainstream-ish side. And, with album titles like Pure Filth, Metal Anarchy, Mayhem, Fuckin’ Mayhem, and A Conflict of Hatred, along with songs like “Burn Down the Kings Road”, “Atomic Slut”, “Noise, Filth, and Fury”, and “Rape”, it’s clear that Warfare weren’t aiming for subtlety! Well, I guess their tribute to Hammer horror movies called, er, Hammer Horror is a nice and classy homage to the British company that resurrected gothic horror in the late 50s, but otherwise, Warfare is about as classy as a band that gets banned from a venue for throwing pigs’ blood on the crowd can be. But, regardless of all that, in addition to hearing Evo with former Warfare members Gunner on guitar and either Falken or Zlaughter on bass performing live and alternate versions of classics like “New Age of Total Warfare”, “Metal Anarchy”, “Rabid Metal”, and their amusing cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” with the lyrics re-written as “Addicted to Drugs”, the real selling point to people unfamiliar with Warfare will probably be the guest appearances. Evo attempts to correct history by uniting Motörhead and FASTWAY guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke with UFO bassist Pete Way on the song “Misanthropy”, as the two were originally in Fastway together before Way quit to join OZZY OSBOURNE; while Clarke is also on a track called “Cemetery Dirt” with bassist Tom Angelripper from Teutonic thrashers SODOM and makes a third appearance on a different recording of “Misanthropy”, which has Paul Gray from the Damned, EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS, and also UFO on bass (He plays on Misdemeanor and Ain’t Misbehavin’, in case you were wondering. Read my UFO reviews, jackass!); along with a few spoken lines from Nik Turner of HAWKWIND. If that ain’t enough, Fred Purser from TYGERS OF PAN TANG, Cronos and Mantas from Venom, Wurzel from Motörhead, Algy Ward from Tank, and Lips from ANVIL all appear at various points across the three discs as well. And, though The Songbook of Filth is technically a Warfare release, it also includes one track each from MAJOR ACCIDENT, THE BLOOD, and ANGELIC UPSTARTS, the three punk bands Evo played in before starting Warfare, because, why not? Obviously, these songs are a detour from what is otherwise a metal album, but in the end, it’s all just rock ‘n’ roll, innit? 

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
28th January, 2022

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  1. I just bought that Cirith Ungol EP. I’ll give it a listen soon

    1. It's great! Too bad it wasn't a full length album.