In the words the great David Coverdale, “Here I go again…” 2021 feels like Groundhog Day, although fingers crossed the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train. I do believe that every new year brings with it a sense of optimism and that many of us were expecting things to turn around much sooner than they did. But doom and gloom aside, some of our favourite artists didn’t let an upside-down world get them down and came through to deliver some stunningly good music. For many of us music is the tonic we need to cure the blues, and while we were working or isolating at home, some of our favourite bands were doing the same. New bands dropped some absolute bangers, while other metal legends continued to show why they are still at the top of their game after decades in the business.
So here’s how I saw 2021 musically, all the good, with none of the bad…
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2021
#10 – Mastodon – Hushed & Grim
#9 – Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage
#8 – Jerry Cantrell – Brighten
#7 – Iron Maiden – Senjutsu
#6 – Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories
#5 – Lord – Undercovers Vol.1
#4 – The Darkness – Motorheart
#3 – Shihad – Old Gods
#2 – Alien Weaponry – Tangaroa
#1 – Helloween – Helloween
TOP 10 SONGS OF 2021
#10 – Tempest Rising ‘Kingdom’
#9 – Powerwolf ‘Beast Of Gévaudan’
#8 – Jerry Cantrell ‘Atone’
#7 – Lord ‘To The Moon and Back’
#6 – Wildheart ‘Backburner’
#5 – The Darkness ‘It’s Love, Jim’
#4 – Sicksense ‘Make Believe’
#3 – Alien Weaponry ‘Buried Underground’
#2 – Shihad ‘Tear Down Those Names’
#1 – Helloween ‘Skyfall’
TOP 5 MUSIC VIDEOS OF 2021
#5 – Andrew W.K ‘Everybody Sins’
#4 – Mastodon ‘Pushing The Tides’
#3 – Shihad ‘Feel The Fire’
#2- Alien Weaponry ‘Tangaroa’
#1- Iron Maiden ‘The Writing on The Wall’
FIRST GIG YOU HAVE LINED UP POST-COVID?
Because I live in the Republic of West Australia, live gigs have been going ahead in various forms through just about all of the crazy times, albeit for locals only. But with the depth of talent we have here in the West, there’s been some killer shows. However, even in the Utopia of (at the time of writing) Covid-free WA, every music fan I know is champing at the bit to see some national and international tours. So, for me first cab off the rank is Kiwi legends Devilskin. Fingers crossed they’ll hit Amplifier on Friday the 6th of May bringing with them Shepherds Reign. Personally, Devilskin were a highlight of Download 2019 and I can’t wait to see a full headline set!
WHAT BAND/S GOT YOU THROUGH THESE PAST TWO YEARS?
I think my experience the Covid pandemic is probably very different to those parts of the country and world who were in lockdown. That said, it was hard not to get swept up in the absolute despair of its effects, but in the last two years I’ve leant on a few old favourites. Alice Cooper has been my go-to for years and the last two were no different. Old classics and new releases kept out the darkness. For me “Old Black Eyes” has the perfect mix of humour and the macabre. When things get really dark, songs about rainbows and unicorns don’t cut it. Give me monsters and serial killers any day of the week. But what really gets me through, and what always has, is just the music.
I know it’s only rock’n’roll, but I like it.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT YOU GOING INTO NEXT YEAR?
Creative output. Even though I kept myself busy writing, podcasting, renovating and dropping the odd video over the last year-and-a-half half I still let a few things distract me, so my output could have been much higher. I’m happiest when I’m writing and creating, so going into next year all those around me will see happy Ranga, busier but happier. I’ve got a bunch of ideas, some that I’ve been mulling over for a while, and most will hopefully end up here at Wall Of Sound. Others will be part of solo projects. Mostly it’s going to be pushing back against self-doubt. Almost everyone experiences imposter syndrome, and some of the most successful people I’ve met struggle with it from time to time. The trick – and most difficult part – is overcoming it. So take these words as my commitment: I’ll push the doubt into the shadows where it belongs and making 2022 my busiest year yet.
FAV NEW BAND/MUSICIAN DISCOVERED IN 2021
Bloodywood! Bloody hell! A friend sent me a link to their YouTube video ‘Machi Bhasad (Expect a Riot)’ and I was blown away – so were a lot of other people, given the 4.3 million views. The band played Wacken Open Air to a huge reception in 2019, despite not having an album to promote. Bloodywood blend heavy metal, rap and traditional Indian folk music in much the same way The Hu do with Mongolian music and metal. The band dropped the absolute banger ‘Gaadaar‘ on the 9th of November and with their debut album due February 2022. I see huge things for the New Delhi natives.
NEXT BIG AUSSIE ACT TO WATCH IN 2022?
Brisbane band act Wildheart have been there or thereabouts for the last few years. Here at Wall of Sound we’ve followed the guys pretty closely after they started gathering momentum from their EP release and appearance at Big Sound back in 2018. But after hearing 2021’s ‘Global Crisis’ I’m convinced these guys are heading for very big things. They have a great sound, combined with the sort of social conscience the world needs right now. Watch this space!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2022?
Is it too much to ask for things to get back to what used to resemble normal? I just want to see the Arts get back on its feet so not only can we get back to going to shows but get all those people who lost their jobs and income are back working and earning a living. Remember, the Federal government did very little to help performers and support crew across various industries. There were a lot of announcements but not a lot of substance, so the sector needs our support now more than ever! Legend in Chief Browny wrote a killer piece on it HERE, and as a great man once said ”we don’t reach for handouts we reach for those who are down”. So, let’s all dig deep, buy some merch, throw your favourite band a tip on Spotify or grab a ticket to a show. The world needs music and we need musicians.
Written by Gareth Williams @KiaOraRanga