While, sure, time is a flat circle, and dates are meaningless, we all breathed a deep, damn sigh of relief when 2020 was over, right? Hope is around the corner, and with that comes the chance for 2021 to be one of the best years in music in a long while. The music world was hit hard, with touring out of the picture and an uncertain future ahead. Thankfully, a host of awesome artists took the chance to be creatively productive during their time locked away. The list below highlights some our most-anticipated albums we think are coming out this year. Let us know what you are most excited about!
Architects – For Those That Wish to Exist (Epitaph)
These Brighton metalcore giants are hinting at a glorious, new sonic direction on their upcoming, ninth album. The two singles thus far—“Animals” and “Black Lungs”—hint at a greater emphasis on the electronic and post-rock elements that have thus far been in the background. Big hooks and bigger atmospheres feel like the perfect way to usher in 2021.
Andrew WK – TBA (Napalm)
We could use a big, damn party right now, so who better than Andrew WK to usher in a year of potential and optimism? Over the years, he has become less rock star and more phenomenon and a way of life. Motivational speaker, columnist, party aficionado: he has done it all. Now, he is taking his upbeat missionary work to Napalm Records for a big tent 2021 revival. 2018’s You Are Not Alone may be his best full record yet, so all is pointing to an excellent year to party hard.
Archspire – TBA (Season of Mist)
We’re never getting a new Necrophagist record, and that’s OK because Archspire carry on their legacy just fine. These Canucks proved on their last that they have mastered how to mix neo-classical flair and extremely tight tech-death. Music this fast and furious shouldn’t be this damn catchy, so here’s hoping 2021 brings new Archspire.
Baroness – TBA (Abraxan Hymns)
Baroness have ascended to become the best rock group in the world (an arguably dubious distinction, but whatever), and now, with their color-themed run of albums complete, who knows what’s next for the genre-fluid group aside from their best record yet? If Purple and Gold & Grey are anything to go by, we’re in store for something special and unique.
Candy – TBA (Relapse Records)
Last year’s “Super-Stare” seven-inch was a sickly-sweet tease for those like me who love chaotic, metallic hardcore. This Richmond, VA group have only been around for a few years, but their furious live show and unpredictable sound hint at a band who are about to break it big in 2021. Their Relapse debut should arrive sometime this year and be on many year-end lists by this December.
Citizen – TBA (Run For Cover Records)
These Midwest punks haven’t released the same record twice, evolving and refining their shoegaze/punk hybrid with each release. Their last record, As You Please, is my favorite of the grunge revival records (though stay tuned for Teenage Wrists’ 2021 release), so whatever Citizen have in store for 2021 should please.
Dare – TBA (Revelation)
Orange County, straight-edge, hardcore group Dare (I have to assume the hilarious name reference was intentional) have been teasing their Revelation debut since last summer, but 2021 will likely usher in what should be the best mosh record in a year when we could all use some damn live shows.
Dead Cross – TBA (Ipecac)
One of the best supergroups around, Dead Cross’s brand of thrash-y hardcore punk brings the furious energy of 20-year-olds with the chops of those let’s say more accomplished. Mike Patton always brings it, but God knows if we get a new Dead Cross record in 2021, they are going to have some mighty metaphors for assholes to shout about. I discovered this band late, but they are one of the most exciting forces in heavy music.
Emma Ruth Rundle – TBA (Sargent House)
I discovered Emma way back when she was a part of the long-forgotten, post-rock heroes Marriages, and her career has been a wonderful and wild ride ever since. Last year saw her haunting, collaborative album with doom legends Thou, so expectations are high for whatever Emma has in store for 2021. I’m awaiting a lovely dose of pensive, heavy folk, but the best part of her catalogue is the element of surprise.
Hail The Sun – TBA (Equal Vision Records)
Of all the progressive, post-hardcore bands to emerge in the wake of Dance Gavin Dance, it’s Hail The Sun who have become the leaders of the pack for one unusual reason: their songs are actually memorable. Amidst all the flashy musicianship and progressive songwriting, these Californians understand that almost prehistoric urge to hum along to music. Mental Knife was their best since Elephantitis, so it’s clear Hail The Sun are ready to capture their earlier magic and release their opus in 2021.
Kississippi – TBA (Triple Crown)
Zoe Allaire Reynolds’s indie-pop project has wonderfully evolved away from more folky tendencies towards something soaring and immediate. New single “Around Your Room” exudes a new wave cool without sounding like every 80s, neon-nostalgia project over the last decade. Kississippi are set to release their first for new label Triple Crown, and it feels like a big breakout is on the horizon for this Philly group.
Planes Mistaken For Stars – TBA (Deathwish)
There is good and awful news out of the Planes Mistaken For Stars camp. Vocalist Gared O’Donnell has esophageal cancer (best wishes and prayers go out to him and his family for a full recovery!). He and the group haven’t stopped the music train, though, as there is a new Planes record likely on the way in 2021. Their most recent record, Prey, showed their brand of post-hardcore was just as vicious after a ten-year hiatus. Here’s hoping for two doses of excellent news for these Illinoisans.
Regional Justice Center – TBA (Closed Casket Activities)
RJC are easily the funniest powerviolence group around, as their Twitter humor has been a nice respite from the shit sandwich of the last few years. Thankfully, they take their music a little more seriously, leaning into the violent part of the equation. The line between grind and fast hardcore is blurred here, but the band’s 2021 promises to be one of the most caustic records in recent memory.
Sincere Engineer – TBA (Hopeless)
The emo/punk vehicle for Deanna Belos has been a joy to visit when I want tight songwriting and memories of 90s/00s emotive punk. Sincere Engineer revel in songs that seem to just wash over you and get your toe tapping. Their first for new label Hopeless should usher in more fans for this fledging future star.
Succumb – TBA (The Flenser)
Cavernous death metal and classic literature don’t seem like the perfect pairing, but Bay Area group Succumb surprised many with their harrowing debut back in 2017. This year sees the band likely returning to the fray, angrier and more astute than ever. For those who like to headbang and cite Yeats—or at least pay attention to the lyric sheet—Succumb are sublime.
The Juliana Theory – TBA (Equal Vision)
If there’s a quintessential, ’00s band who should have been massive, The Juliana Theory are definitely in the running. They were one of the forerunners bridging emo, punk, and when being pop was uncool, and albums like Emotion Is Dead and Love still kick ass today. Their reunion album promises to carry on that innovative spirit, with lead-off single “Can’t Go Home” showing there’s lots of creative life left.
Other notable 2021 releases without a title or date:
Abbath – Season Of Mist
The black-metal Godfather returns for another dose of delightfully frosty metal.
Amenra – Relapse
Listening to Amenra is a religious experience, so surely the Belgian’s first Mass for new label Relapse will be another transcendental trip.
Fiddlehead – Run For Cover
The post-hardcore supergroup (Have Heart, Basement) are back and sure to bring the emotionally-charged goods.
Fucked And Bound – Quiet Panic
These Seattle hardcore giants skirt the line between bombast and chaos while managing to sound completely in control of their unique brand of metallic menace. Not for the faint of heart, but their latest can’t come soon enough.
Genghis Tron – Relapse
One of the most important experimental metal bands are finally back from a lengthy hiatus to remind us how to bridge the gap between extreme metal and electronic (that isn’t synthwave). Their newest is sure to perplex and amaze in equal measure.
King Woman – Relapse
The titans of doom-gaze are back to wreck your soul. Kris Esfandiari is astounding, so this is sure to be a highlight.
Midwife – The Flenser
Madeline Johnston’s ethereal goodness rises again in 2021. Forever is one of the most beautiful records I’ve ever heard, so whatever Midwife have in store will stun.
Rotting Christ – Season of Mist
Count me among those who think these Greek legends are only improving with age—2016’s Rituals remains a haunting listen, so surely whatever Gothic enchantments Rotting Christ have ready to go will deliver the devilish goods.