The year 2020 was a devastating one for not only the music industry, but the entire world. While we’re very much still in the thick of a pandemic, 2021 brings with it new hope, thanks to a vaccine rollout and a new administration in the White House. The new year also promises a plethora of highly anticipated metal and hard rock albums.
The albums expected to be released are a combination of works that would have surfaced in 2020 had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic and LPs that had been planned for this year, regardless. It’s fair to say that albums by Mastodon, Megadeth, Evanescence, Gojira, Ministry, The Pretty Reckless, and others would have all arrived in 2020 had those bands been able to tour in support of their latest efforts.
Instead, those bands join such noteworthy artists as Foo Fighters, Ghost, and others who are set to grace us with new albums this year. In addition, our list of anticipated albums includes a “hopeful” selection of legendary acts who’ve been in the studio but with no guarantee that a 2021 release is in the cards. Those acts include Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, and even the mighty Metallica.
And who knows? We may even see the first original Guns N’ Roses studio album featuring Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan in 30 years.
Just like last year, there’s no certainty that all of the following albums will see the light of day in 2021, but you can bet most of them will be unleashed to open arms and open ears. See our list of the 30 Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2021, beginning with the albums that have already been announced and followed by those that haven’t yet (in order of likeliness of a 2021 release).
Managing Editor, Heavy Consequence
Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight
Release Date: Feb. 5th via Roswell Records
Why We’re Excited: After having their 25th anniversary celebrations scrapped by COVID-19 in 2020, Foo Fighters aren’t wasting any more time getting started on their next quarter-century. Beginning with the Foos’ reemergence on Saturday Night Live last fall, we’ve gotten a steady drip of singles in support of Medicine at Midnight. Judging by those tracks, the band’s 10th studio album should have something for every kind of fan; whether you prefer the smoky tautness of “Shame, Shame”, the straight-ahead rock of “No Son of Mine”, or the acoustic introspection of “Waiting on a War”, the album should tide you over until Dave Grohl and company can hit the road again. –Tyler Clark
The Pretty Reckless – Death by Rock and Roll
Release Date: Feb. 12th via Fearless Records
Why We’re Excited: The Pretty Reckless have had a heckuva run in their first decade as a band. Singer Taylor Momsen and company have had five songs hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart, offering a nice balance of sing-along choruses and down-and-dirty riffs. This time around, The Pretty Reckless have recruited some of their rock friends to contribute to their new album, Death by Rock and Roll, among them Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil. –Spencer Kaufman
Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories
Release Date: February 26th via earMusic
Why We’re Excited: Detroit Stories is Alice Cooper’s love letter to his home turf — a breeding ground for gritty rock ‘n roll in the ’60s and ’70s. Cooper lived it, and his upcoming album is a concept record about the Motor City. From the musicians to the chosen songwriters, each track on Detroit Stories has a link to the city and its rock pedigree. —Jon Hadusek
Melvins 1983 – Working with God
Release Date: February 26th via Ipecac Recordings
Why We’re Excited: The Melvins have reunited their 1983 lineup for a new record that’s as hilarious as it is crushing. Culled from the teenage comedy songs of their youth, Working with God includes such gems as the desecrated Beach Boys’ cover “I F**k Around” and “Bouncing Rick”, a tribute to an eccentric junior-high biology teacher. –Jon Hadusek
Chevelle – NIRATIAS
Release Date: Mar. 5th via Epic Records
Why We’re Excited: Chevelle have been going strong for a quarter century now, and have been a staple on rock radio for the past 20 years. Fusing progressive metal with infectious melody, the Illinois outfit has been as consistent as any hard rock act in the 21st century. The band is now a duo of brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler, but if the first single, “Self destructor”, from their new album, NIRATIAS, is any indication, they haven’t lost any of their musical muscle. — Spencer Kaufman
A Day to Remember – You’re Welcome
Release Date: March 5th via Fueled by Ramen
Why We’re Excited: It’s been more than four years since A Day to Remember’s last album, Bad Vibrations, but the band has been previewing their upcoming effort, You’re Welcome, with a series of singles since mid 2019. ADTR have built up a huge following in nearly 20 years of existence, creating their own Self Help festival along the way. If the latest single, “Brick Wall”, is any indication, the Florida rockers’ new LP will continue their wide-ranging sound that ranges from infectious pop-punk to crushing metalcore. –Spencer Kaufman
Rob Zombie – The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy
Release Date: Mar. 12th via Nuclear Blast Records
Why We’re Excited: After nearly five years since his last release, we’re finally close to hearing the album that Rob Zombie has called his best yet: The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy. If its leading single, “The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition)”, is anything to judge by, we’re in store for something that’s totally unafraid to go big, dark, and delectable — in other words, it’s sure to be well worth waiting for. –Lindsay Teske
Eyehategod – A History of Nomadic Behavior
Release Date: March 12th via Century Media
Why We’re Excited: A History of Nomadic Behavior is the first album in seven years from NOLA sludge vets Eyehategod. Since then — and as the album title insinuates — the band has been touring the world for most of that stretch. Road-tested and tour tight, Eyehategod’s swinging doom sounds as kinetic as ever on singles “High Risk Trigger” and “Fake What’s Yours”. —Jon Hadusek
Evanescence – The Bitter Truth
Release Date: Mar. 26th via BMG
Why We’re Excited: It’s been 10 years since the world was blessed with a proper Evanescence studio album, and the anticipation only escalated when the band delayed the release of their new effort, The Bitter Truth, due to the pandemic. However, singer Amy Lee and company gave us a nice sampling of the LP in the form of four singles released during 2020, including empowering anthem “Use My Voice”. –Spencer Kaufman
Tomahawk – Tonic Immobility
Release Date: Mar. 26th via Ipecac Recordings
Why We’re Excited: Any Mike Patton project is worthy of high anticipation, and the case isn’t any different with his supergroup Tomahawk. Adding to the anticipation is the eight-year gap between their last effort, Oddfellows, and the upcoming Tonic Immobility. While Patton is the marquee name, the lineup also features guitarist Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard), bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle), and drummer John Stanier (Battles, ex-Helmet). The bass-heavy first single “Business Casual” is noise-rock barnburner, setting the table for an intriguing album to come. –Spencer Kaufman
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