December 31, 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, it has once again been quite a year for music. With 2020 seeing a cataclysmic change in the landscape ‘thanks’ to a global pandemic; the world became a different place, live music all but disappeared, albums were delayed and bands that lived in different locations could not travel to be together. Whilst the world still remains in the grip of a pandemic, live music has returned to a degree with UK festivals early in the year such as Glastonbury being cancelled and Download became a ‘pilot’ with a reduced capacity. Later in the year, Sheffield’s Tramlines managed full capacity and in August Bloodstock was totally sold out. There were other festivals that did take place such as New Day and other live shows did happen but at the same time, many tours have throughout the year moved to other future dates. Bands did find other ways to maintain a presence and embraced live streaming to great effect.

On the other hand, the amount of albums appeared to increase and even though there may have been limitations in being physically present, once more bands utilised technology in order to be able to create. It may not have been a tremendous year in the live arena but in terms of recorded music, 2021 has been a standout year and it is here that Velvet Thunder presents the writers and contributors choice as to their top albums of the year.

Thank you for the support in 2021 and see you in 2022!


Lee Vickers

  1. Phantom EliteTitanium (Frontiers Music)
  2. Souls Of DiotimaJanas (Rockshot)
  3. ExodusPersona Non Grata (Nuclear Blast)
  4. TholaSomewhere (Art Gates)
  5. EvanescenceThe Bitter Truth (Sony/BMG)
  6. Flotsam & JetsamBlood In The Water (AFM Records)
  7. Laurenne/LouhimoThe Reckoning (Frontiers Music)
  8. VenuesSolace (Arising Empire)
  9. HelloweenHelloween (Nuclear Blast)
  10. Cradle Of FilthExistence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast)

Steve Pilkington

  1. Mostly AutumnGraveyard Star (Mostly Autumn Records)
  2. Amanda LehmannInnocence And Illusion (Self Released)
  3. The Emerald DawnTo Touch The Sky (Worlds End Records)
  4. Lee AbrahamOnly Human (F2 Music)
  5. Iron MaidenSenjutsu (Parlophone)
  6. Steve HackettSurrender Of Silence (InsideOut Music)
  7. Blind GolemA Dream Of Fantasy (Andromeda Relix)
  8. Jack O’The ClockLeaving California (Cuneiform)
  9. Checking For Echo ProjectLife And Other Short Stories (Self Released)
  10. The Flying CaravanI Just Wanna Break Even (Paella Records)

Lorne Murphy

  1. JordsjøPastoralia (Karisma)
  2. TusmørkeNordisk Krim (Karisma)
  3. AgusaEn Annan Värd (Kommun 2)
  4. SKEInsolubilia (Self Released)
  5. Bernardo LanzettiHorizontal Rain (SnV)
  6. AuriThose We Don’t Speak Of (Nuclear Blast)
  7. CiccadaHarvest (Bad Elephant Music)
  8. Peter HammillIn Translation (Fie! Records)
  9. Tillison Reingold TirantiAllium: Una Storia (Reingold Records)
  10. The WatchThe Art Of Bleeding (Self Released)

Richard Proctor

  1. The Damn TruthNow Or Nowhere (Spectra Musique)
  2. Witchwood Before The Winter (Jolly Roger Records)
  3. Jade Like The StoneSeven Roads (Independent)
  4. KatatoniaMnemosynean (Peaceville/Snapper)
  5. Mountain CallerChronicle1: The Truthseeker (New Heavy Sounds)
  6. Sinoptik The Calling (SINOPTIK)
  7. When Rivers MeetSaving Grace (One Road Records)
  8. Eddie TattonCanons Like Flowers (Stunted Records)
  9. The Tea PartyBlood Moon Rising (InsideOut Music)
  10. The Ellis Mano BandAmbedo Mind (Jazzhaus Records)

Stoyan Tsonev

  1. The Night EternalMoonlit Cross (Ván Records)
  2. Iron MaidenSenjutsu (Parlophone)
  3. Flotsam and Jetsam – Blood In The Water (AFM Records)
  4. Funeral MistDeiform (Noevdia)
  5. The Necromancers UnionFlesh Of The Dead (Petrichor)
  6. HateRugia (Metal Blade Records)
  7. FrightfulSpectral Creator (Awakening Records)
  8. At The GatesThe Nightmare Of Being (Century Media Records)
  9. MemoriamTo The End (Reaper Entertainment Europe)
  10. WoundSerpent Crown (Ván Records)

Terry Craven

  1. The Three TremorsGuardians Of The Void (Steel Cartel Records)
  2. DurbinThe Beast Awakens (Frontiers Music)
  3. Lake Of TearsOminous (AFM Records)
  4. Resurrection KingsSkygazer (Frontiers Music)
  5. BrainstormWall Of Skulls (AFM Records)
  6. Legions Of The NightSorrow Is The Cure (Pride & Joy Music)
  7. WitchwoodBefore The Winter (Jolly Roger Records)
  8. Rhapsody Of FireGlory For Salvation (AFM Records)
  9. KK’s PriestSermons Of The Sinner (EX1 Records)
  10. Gary HughesWaterside (Frontiers Music)

Paul Whimpenny

  1. Hex A.D.Funeral Tango For Gods & Men (Fresh Tea)
  2. Lee Abraham Only Human (F2 Music)
  3. Osmo Vänskä/Minnesota OrchestraMahler Symphony No.10 (BIS)
  4. DordeduhHar (Prophecy Productions)
  5. Flying CaravanI Just Wanna Break Even (Paella Records)
  6. Amanda LehmannInnocence And Illusion (Self Released)
  7. Himmellegeme – Variola Vera (Karisma Records)
  8. Karmamoi – Room 101 (Karmamoi)
  9. The HawklordsTime (Hawklords)
  10. Ken HensleyMy Book Of Answers (Cherry Red)

Graeme Stroud

  1. Joe BonamassaRoyal Tea Live From The Ryman (Provogue)
  2. ArielleAnalog Girl In A Digital World (Arielle)
  3. Eric BibbDear America (Provogue)
  4. Joe BonamassaTime Clocks (Provogue)
  5. Robert Jon & The WreckShine A Light On Me Brother (Robert Jon Music)
  6. Starlite Campbell BandThe Language Of Curiosity (Supertone Records)
  7. One Thousand MotelsGet In Where You Fit In (Universal)
  8. Kitt WakeleySymphony Of Sinners And Saints (Independent)
  9. JumpThe Myth Remastered (Caerllysi Music)
  10. When Rivers MeetSaving Grace (One Road Records)

Laurence Todd

  1. TransatlanticThe Absolute Universe (InsideOut Music)
  2. Nad SylvanSpiritus Mundi (InsideOut Music)
  3. KansasPoint Of Know Return: Live & Beyond (InsideOut Music)
  4. Langan Frost WaneLangan Frost Wane (Goldstar Recordings)
  5. Frost*Day And Age (InsideOut Music)
  6. Paradox TwinSignals From Silence (White Star Records)
  7. Liquid Tension ExperimentLTE3 (InsideOut Music)
  8. Neal Morse BandInnocence And Danger (InsideOut Music)
  9. Steve HackettSurrender Of Silence (InsideOut Music)
  10. CaravanIt’s None Of Your Business (Madfish)

Sebastian Vickers

  1. City StateViolent Bodies – (Famined Records)
  2. ErraErra (UNFD)
  3. Ice Nine KillsWelcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2 (Fearless Records)
  4. While She SleepsSleeps Society (Universal Music)
  5. Silent PlanetIridescent (UNFD)
  6. Brand of SacrificeLifeblood (Bloodblast)
  7. Born of OsirisAngel or Alien (Sumerian Records)
  8. Don BrocoAmazing Things (Sharptone)
  9. Darko USDarko (Independent)
  10. VEXEDCulling Culture (Napalm)