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Metal Storm Awards 2021

The timbers creak and the hinges squeak and the gate closes at last on the Metal Storm Awards 2021; as the sun sets on one year, it rises on another, and now you are all free to break your bonds and start listening to 2022 albums in preparation for next year’s gauntlet. Though it was still the same 28-day span as it always is (aside from those lucky leap years), the 2021 edition of the MSAs was our largest yet, boasting 26 main genre categories and all with a full roster of ten nominees. That’s a whopping 260 albums, plus our faithful dozen from the Clandestine Cuts, which brings us to 272 albums. If you listened to ten albums a day for the whole month, you could have hit them all, and we have to assume that’s what you all did. It would have been totally worth it, after all.

But even if you didn’t spend an agonizing amount of time meticulously perusing every single category, we want to thank you all for being around for this exciting season. Aside from hosting our most expansive bevy of nominees, this was our first outing as a nonprofit company. The site has been in fine form lately, which you’ll notice because you are actually able to read this text right now, and we’ve been improving all the time. We’ll take this chance to offer another round of applause to user conscientiousnes for the design of our banner, as well as barbarianlord and lemme for pitching their own ideas; it has been very nice over these last few months to feel a positive change coming over Metal Storm as we turn our focus more toward our community and bringing the website’s infrastructure into the 20th century (yes, the 21st may have to wait a little bit). Here’s to many more successful editions of the Metal Storm Awards (and how nice was it not having any technical difficulties this time around [mostly]?).

Well, enough about our feelings. Let’s get to the music. We’ll start with Metal Storm’s favorite genre, Melodeath: even though we purposefully refrained from predicting a winner when we opened the Awards, not a single soul out there is surprised to see Be'lakor walk away with The Crown. Sorry, they walked away with the crown. Carcass lies spraying vegetable blood from a not-so-close second, so perhaps victory was a foregone conclusion after all, but Melodeath never fails to be an interesting category; so many heavyweights, so little time, and we could easily fill a whole second category if only we allowed arbitrary second categories for the same genre. And speaking of Melodic Black, how about that Yoth Iria, huh? This was another tough battle, with dark horse Ethereal Shroud pitting a legendary epic against the sensational debut of Stormkeep, but in the end it was the combined powers of Greece’s black metal legacy that seized the day. In less surprising news, Power obviously went to ABBA, whose first album in 40 years saw the golden oldies dance right over and pocket the winnings – oh, no, wait a second. That was Helloween. Either way, not terribly unpredictable. Thy Catafalque naturally demolished the Best Thy Catafalque Album category, which is what we’ve decided to rename Avant-Garde/Experimental after the project’s monstrous fourth win.

As is sort of tradition, our three frontrunners for Biggest Letdown – Iron Maiden, Gojira, and Mastodon, in that order – each won their respective genre categories (and with a good amount of headroom at that), demonstrating an interesting division in opinions among fans. There’s something to be said for just being incredibly famous and well-liked and successful, we guess; winning is still winning, even if you’re winning at losing. We did spy a write-in for “Metal Storm – No drama”; we apologize for leaving you hanging without that perennial favorite, but we’ll try to cook something up for next year’s Awards that we feel we can live with. After all, 2022 is already rolling some hot metal news off the assembly line that is just begging to be torn apart. Speaking of things that deserve to be torn apart, there’s always got to be one out-of-place bandit that stalks the write-ins, and this year it was Travis Scott’s Astroworld that got punted into numerous categories without evident cause. Of course, nothing ever manages to be quite as sigh-provoking as seeing write-in votes for albums that were already nominated in that very category. Ah well. At least it means you listened to the albums, right? …right? One album we know you were interested in is Swallow The Sun's Moonflowers, which received so many write-in votes in Doom that it surpassed some of our actual nominees. That would have been great if we had nominated it in Doom, but we let it loose in Gothic, where it trounced everyone with 200% of the runner-up's votes, so don't get greedy. It seems that every year Swallow The Sun is your favorite band to nominate in half a dozen different categories, and it could maybe win one or two more if you all coordinated a bit with your write-ins. There were some pretty predictable variations with other artists - Yoth Iria in Black and First Fragment in Death we can hardly begrudge - but Carcass? In Grindcore? What is this, 1988? Did you even listen to the album?

Now for one last spotlight before we close: in what reality does Iron Maiden win Best Video? Who could have ever foreseen that kind of upset? Archspire are weeping headlessly beside their wallets. Perhaps that ought to win Biggest Surprise next year. But this is probably enough spouting about results for now; the rest you can read for yourself and discuss here! For our part, we still have some staff picks to attend to, so look forward to those soon... and otherwise, it's time to begin the cycle anew. We'll see you again in 2023.

The Best Alternative Metal Album

The Best Ambient / Drone / Noise Album

The Best Avantgarde / Experimental Metal Album

The Best Black Metal Album

The Best Death Metal Album

The Best Djent / Math Metal

The Best Doom Metal Album

The Best Extreme Doom Metal Album

The Best Extreme Progressive Metal Album

The Best Folk / Pagan / Viking Metal Album

The Best Gothic Metal Album

The Best Grindcore Album

The Best Hard Rock Album

The Best Hardcore / Metalcore / Deathcore

The Best Heavy / Melodic Metal Album

The Best Industrial / Cyber / Electronic Metal Album

The Best Melodeath / Extreme Power / Gothenburg Metal Album

The Best Melodic Black Metal Album

The Best Metalgaze Album

The Best Post-Metal Album

The Best Power Metal Album

The Best Progressive Metal Album

The Best Sludge Metal Album

The Best Stoner Metal Album

The Best Symphonic Metal Album

The Best Thrash Metal Album

Clandestine Cut Of The Year

The Best Album Artwork

The Best Cover Song

The Best Debut Album

The Best DVD

The Best Video

The Biggest Letdown

The Biggest Surprise