2021 was another weird year for metal. As the vaccine roll out ramped up speed (and caused more division among the masses) earlier in the year, metal bands slowly emerged from lockdown, hopeful to take to stages around the world once again to try earn a living after being financially disabled for way too damn long. But as we saw, this hope for normality has yet to fully realise worldwide. While some festivals and shows in countries like the U.S. and U.K. welcomed starved metalheads back within their walls, many other countries extended their lockdowns and/or put vaccination policies in place. And hell, even the bands that did get to perform live for fans experienced many issues including virus cases in their ranks, which resulted in cancelled/postponed shows or replacement musicians being drafted in to try to honour commitments.

Cautious optimism for life as we once knew it has surely been heavy on the minds of many in 2021. And while most years of the previous decade produced an unmerciful wealth of metal choices above and below ground, there was an underlying feeling after considering the often underwhelming weekly release schedules in 2021 that many bands and the independent labels backing them may have decided to sit the year out as much as possible. But who could blame them? Especially since musicians' primary earnings come from touring and merchandise sales. Thankfully for metal as a global movement, however, plenty of labels did still release art—and art worth your time and money—by new and established acts, and judging by the championable inclusions in our Top 50 of 2021 (sans blurbs this year), any fear of arriving in December without 50 records worth praising was fortunately unfounded.

As for the Cursed camp, we have been much quieter this year than we would have liked, thanks to numerous pesky life commitments which derailed our creative plans for 2021. However, we have reconvened, reassessed our capacity, and returned to consciousness with a more manageable mission for 2022. Our plan of attack is spearheaded by the launch of a new monthly metal round-up feature of our favourite releases, titled The Chosen Few. The opening instalment will be presented by the end of January 2022. In the meantime, our Twitter account (@cursed_zine) will be active in posting recommendations (from the past, present and future), and there’s plenty of great releases below to take your mind off current predicaments as we roll into the festive period!

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  1. UNIVERSALLY ESTRANGEDReared Up in Spectral Predation (Blood Harvest)
  2. HELLOWEENHelloween (Nuclear Blast)
  3. GHASTLYMercurial Passages (20 Buck Spin)
  4. GATECREEPERAn Unexpected Reality (Relapse)
  5. PARANORMEmpyrean (Redefining Darkness)
  6. WODEBurn in Many Mirrors (20 Buck Spin)
  7. APPARITIONFeel (Profound Lore)
  8. SILVER TALONDecadence and Decay (Salem Rose Music)
  9. SWALLOW THE SUNMoonflowers (Century Media)
  10. TRIVIUMIn the Court of the Dragon (Roadrunner Records)
  11. HULDERGodslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry (Iron Bonehead)
  12. TERRA ODIUMNe Plus Ultra (Frontiers Records)
  13. SUFFERING HOURThe Cyclic Reckoning (Profound Lore)
  14. SKEPTICISMCompanion (Svart Records)
  15. THE SILVERWard of Roses (Gilead Media)
  16. UNTO OTHERSStrength (Roadrunner Records)
  17. CYNIC Ascension Codes (Season of Mist)
  18. MARE COGNITUMSolar Paroxysm (I, Voidhanger)
  19. LVCIFYREThe Broken Seal (NoEvDia/Dark Descent)
  20. SPIRITWORLDPagan Rhythms (Century Media)
  21. IRON MAIDENSenjutsu (Parlophone)
  22. DORDEDUHHar (Prophecy Productions)
  23. AT THE GATESThe Nightmare of Being (Century Media)
  24. GREEN LUNGBlack Harvest (Svart Records)
  25. CEREBRAL ROTExcretion of Mortality (20 Buck Spin)
  26. YOTH IRIAAs the Flame Withers (Pagan Records)
  27. GOJIRAFortitude (Roadrunner Records)
  28. DOLD VORDE ENS NAVNMørkere (Prophecy Productions)
  29. FROZEN SOULCrypt of Ice (Century Media)
  30. PANOPTICON…And Again Into the Light (Bindrune)
  31. FULL OF HELL Garden of Burning Apparitions (Relapse)
  32. CANNIBAL CORPSEViolence Unimagined (Metal Blade)
  33. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOMPrimordial Arcana (Relapse)
  34. SUCCUMBXXI (The Flenser)
  35. WORMForeverglade (20 Buck Spin)
  36. TRIBULATIONWhere the Gloom Becomes Sound (Century Media)
  37. OBSCURAA Valediction (Nuclear Blast)
  38. STORMKEEPTales of Othertime (Ván Records)
  39. IOTUNNAccess All Worlds (Metal Blade)
  40. ENFORCEDKill Grid (Century Media)
  41. HOODED MENACEThe Tritonus Bell (Season of Mist)
  42. ARCHSPIREBleed the Future (Season of Mist)
  43. AMENRADe Doorn (Relapse)
  44. CARCASSTorn Arteries (Nuclear Blast)
  45. THE RUINS OF BEVERASTThe Thule Grimoires (Ván Records)
  46. KHEMMISDeceiver (Nuclear Blast)
  47. CONVERGEBloodmoon: I (Epitaph)
  48. RIVERS OF NIHILThe Work (Metal Blade)
  49. FEAR FACTORYAggression Continuum (Nuclear Blast)
  50. MASTODONHushed and Grim (Reprise)

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