B.J. Lisko’s Top Ten Albums Of 2021

B.J. Lisko’s Top Ten Albums Of 2021

2021 saw numerous quality hard rock and metal releases. As I’ve stated in best-of lists from years past, my own personal taste tends to skew more toward the melodic rock side of things, so by no means is this a definitive list, just my personal favorites. What were yours? Hit me up with them on Twitter: @BJLisko. (P.S.: I’ve contributed articles for the past few years to Web Is Jericho, and I’m now the resident music news/features writer. So expect to see plenty of music content in the coming year — and likely quite a few wrestling interviews/features, too). 

10.) KK’s Priest, “Sermons of the Sinner”: If “Painkiller”-era Judas Priest is your bag, then “Sermons of the Sinner” is the record for you — scorching heavy metal and a welcome return from Priest co-founder K.K. Downing. No one specifically asked for what basically amounts to a second version of Judas Priest, but we’re goddamned glad we got it. Vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens in particular shines in one of his best performances to date. Choice cuts: “Return of the Sentinal,” “Hellfire Thunderbolt,” “Hail for the Priest.” 

9.) The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, “One More Drink”: I don’t really know what The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs have been doing since their last full-length record in 2003, I’m just glad they’re back. “One More Drink” again highlights the power-pop/punk beauty of these Los Angeles rockers. It’s like Motörhead mixed with The Dead Boys but also with dashes of Cheap Trick and Donnie Iris (“Let Me Out” is literally “Ah! Leah!” reimagined, and it’s killer!). Choice cuts: “Ain’t It Summer,” “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For),” “Let Me Out.” 

8.) Danko Jones, “Power Trio”: Holed up in Canada for the pandemic, you can feel Danko’s rage bubbling just under the surface on “Power Trio.” Consummate road warriors, the band seemed to attack the material on “Power Trio” like three caged lions finally let loose. It’s still the well-crafted, catchy hard rock we’ve come to expect, but “Power Trio” feels just a little more urgent than normal. “Start The Show” is perhaps the perfect example of what Danko Jones is all about, and it’s also my song of the year. Choice cuts: “Start The Show,” “Ship Of Lies,” “Raise Some Hell.” 

7.) Velvet Insane, “Rock ’n’ Roll Glitter Suit”: Velvet Insane is basically what would happen if you crossed Backyard Babies with The Sweet, and “Rock ’n’ Roll Glitter Suit” might be the most danceable record of 2021. Foot-stomping boogie-woogie glam rock, Velvet Insane deliver their brand of rock with swagger and aplomb. Choice cuts: “Backstreet Liberace,” “Jaded Eyes, “Riding The Skyways.”

6.) Crazy Lixx, “Street Lethal”: Sweden’s kings of melodic hard rock and metal, Crazy Lixx returned in 2021 with a concept record. Yeah, it’s based on a fictitious ‘80s action flick, but the real concept here is to rock your f*cking face off. Choice cuts: “Rise Above,” “Anthem For America,” “In The Middle Of Nothing.” 

5.) Iron Maiden, “Senjutsu”: Some Iron Maiden records take a real level of commitment to truly appreciate. With four of its 10 tracks clocking in at nine minutes or longer, “Senjutsu” is one of those albums, but it’s worth the effort. Maiden could easily relegate themselves to best-of sets for the rest of their run, but instead their last two albums rank among the strongest of their career. Choice cuts: “Stratego,” “The Writing On The Wall,” “Days of Future Past.” 

4.) Houston, “IV”: Houston sounds like the reincarnation of Jimi Jamison-fronted Survivor, and most of “IV” teeters on morphing into “Eye of the Tiger” or “Burning Heart” at literally any moment. Super catchy AOR from another exceptional Swedish melodic rock band, this is the infectious, smooth rock record we needed in these crazy times. Choice cuts:“She Is The Night,” “Hero,” “Heart Of A Warrior,” “You’re Still The Woman.” 

3.) The L.A. Maybe, “Damn Dirty Tricks”: A bunch of tight-as-hell tribute act musicians and a singer who auditioned for AC/DC took a hand at doing their own stuff, and the result was pay dirt. The L.A. Maybe’s “Damn Dirty Tricks” was the best unexpected release of the year — a bonkers good rock record that ticks all the boxes. It’s fist-pumping, fun and catchy, and vocalist Lee Robinson shows exactly why he caught the ears of Angus Young. An amazing singer that’s equal parts Axl Rose, Jesse James Dupree and Joe Lesté. Choice cuts: “Mr. Danger,” “Sucker Punch,” “Peace of Mind,” “Up Next To You.” 

2.) Chez Kane, self-titled: When Crazy Lixx’s Danny Rexon was asked to do another project by Frontiers Records, he didn’t want to do something that sounded too much like his main gig. Brilliantly, Rexon hit up powerhouse vocalist Chez Kane, penned 10 tracks that sound like the catchiest parts of Vixen, Pat Benetar and Bon Jovi, and one of the most bombastic melodic rock debuts in history was born. Choice cuts: “Rocket on the Radio,” “Defender of the Heart,” “Ball and Chain.” 

1.) The Darkness, “Motorheart”: In the past half decade, The Darkness have sported a Motorhead-like reliability in their output releasing four solid full lengths. But not since their 2003 debut have these English rockers had such a slamming album from start to finish. Fun, furious and fanciful, “Motorheart” is a brilliant rock ’n’ roll record with massive hooks, witty wordplay and bar-room brawl intensity unmatched by any other record in 2021. Choice cuts: “Motorheart,” “Jussy’s Girl,” “Eastbound,” “Sticky Situations”

Also five more worth checking out: 
Album, “Barely Survived” (Hard-hitting Ohio heavy metal ala Manowar/Black Sabbath)
Midnite City, “Itch You Can’t Scratch” (Melodic, ’80s-style rock)
Cruzh, “Tropical Thunder” (Ultra-catchy, anthemic hard rock)
Candlebox, “Wolves” (Solid, well-crafted return from ’90s alternative rockers)
L.A. Guns, “Checkered Past” (Big hooks and heavy rock from ’80s staples)

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