30 Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2021

Coming off one of the toughest years for music, 2021 promises to be a big one for heavy metal and hard rock

2021 Most Anticipated Heavy Albums

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).

–Spencer Kaufman
Managing Editor, Heavy Consequence

Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight

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

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

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

Melvins - 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

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

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

Rob Zombie - Lunar Injection album art

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

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

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

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


Click “next” for more anticipated metal + hard rock albums.

Greta Van Fleet – The Battle at Garden’s Gate

Great Van Fleet - The Battle At Garden's Gate Album Cover
Release Date: Apr. 16th via Lava/Republic Records

Why We’re Excited: Greta Van Fleet achieved huge success upon the release of their first single, “Highway Tune” in 2017. The three young Kiszka brothers and drummer Danny Wagner played sold-out shows across the globe, releasing their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, in 2018. While the band took off like a house on fire, they quickly faced backlash for a sound deemed by many to be too similar to Led Zeppelin. If initial singles “My Way, Soon” and “Age of Machine” are any indication, the Michigan rockers haven’t abandoned their retro sound, but the rest of their new LP, The Battle at Garden’s Gate, will arrive with much anticipation, as the spotlight shines on the evolution of the band. –Spencer Kaufman


Amigo the Devil – Born Against

Amigo the Devil - Born Against

Release Date: Apr. 16th via Liars Club/Regime Music Group

Why We’re Excited: Amigo the Devil (aka Danny Kiranos) is neither heavy metal nor hard rock, but he’s included on this list due to the spirit of his music, a dark Americana folk sound that has been embraced by headbangers. Amigo set a strong foundation with his 2018 debut, Everything Is Fine, and returns with Born Against, inspired by legends like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. First single “Another Man’s Grave” offers a taste of what to expect, with sharp lines like, “Itʼs a quarter to two and the bars are all closing, nobody looks how they think / The guy in the corner with spit in his beard wearing more than he drank of his drink.” —Spencer Kaufman


Royal Blood – Typhoons

royal blood typhoons album art 30 Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2021

Release Date: Apr. 30th via Warner Records

Why We’re Excited: UK rock duo Royal Blood hit it big with fans and critics alike with their first two albums, delivering a brand of hard rock that sounded impressively grand for an outfit featuring just two members. Their upcoming effort, Typhoons, will arrive nearly four years since their last album, 2017’s How Did We Get So Dark? Now, as the first two singles — “Trouble’s Coming” and “Typhoons” — indicate, Royal Blood are embracing more of an alternative dance-rock sound on the new album, a bold change of pace three albums into their discography. —Spencer Kaufman


Every Time I Die – TBA

Every Time I Die

Every Time I Die, photo by Chuck Abbott

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Every Time I Die have been going strong for more than 20 years, having formed in 1998 in Buffalo, New York. They’ve been one of hardcore’s mainstays of the 21st century, combining elements of metalcore, punk, and even Southern rock. It’s been more than four years since Every Time I Die’s last studio LP, Low Teens, but they graced fans with two new singles — “A Colossal Wreck” and “Desperate Pleasures” — at the end of 2020, offering a crushing preview of what to expect from their upcoming ninth album. –Spencer Kaufman


Gojira – TBA


Gojira, courtesy of Elektra Music Group

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Gojira have been slowly working on the follow-up to 2016’s Magma, and last year they offered the perfect tideover in the form of “Another World”. The excellent single hinted at what’s to come, following Magma‘s progressive metal style while injecting plenty of melody and sci-fi imagery. Based on previous updates from the Duplantier brothers, a 2021 release for the new album seems very possible. —Jon Hadusek


Ministry – TBA

Ministry 30 Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2021

Ministry, photo by Lior Phillips

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Everybody’s favorite uncle, Al Jourgensen, had begun working on a new Ministry album in early 2019, with plans to quickly follow-up the band’s politically charged 2018 LP, Amerikkkant. After being sidetracked with the chance to open the final leg on Slayer’s farewell tour in late 2019 and a global pandemic in 2020, it appears that 2021 will be the year for a new album from the industrial pioneers. Ministry gave us a taste of new music with the track “Alert Level”, appropriately released at the beginning of the pandemic, so expect more timely tunes from Jourgensen and company on the new album. –Spencer Kaufman


Mastodon – TBA

Mastodon new album Adult Swim set

Mastodon, photo by Jimmy Hubbard

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Mastodon have been one of metal’s most consistent and critically acclaimed bands of the past 20 years. Drummer-singer Brann Dailor told us that the Atlanta-based foursome had more than 30 new songs heading into the studio and that they were “really zeroing in on the stuff that’s definitely gonna make the album.” As with their previous LPs, expect a central theme, influenced by the tragic 2018 passing of their longtime manager, Nick John, among other events. –Spencer Kaufman

Megadeth – TBA

Megadeth new album


Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Megadeth’s follow-up to their Grammy-winning 2016 effort Dystopia has seen its stops and starts, with frontman Dave Mustaine battling throat cancer and a pandemic further impeding the recording. With Mustaine beating cancer, the band made great progress on the album in 2020, with bassist David Ellefson saying in April that it’s “written and ready to be recorded.” Then, in September, Mustaine then joined Heavy Consequence via Zoom from the band’s Nashville studio, where the legendary thrashers were putting the finishing touches on their 16th album. —Jon Hadusek

Ghost – TBA

Ghost 30 Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2021

Ghost, photo by Philip Cosores

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Perhaps no other band impacted metal in the 2010s as much as Ghost. The band rose from intriguing curiosity to arena headliners, thanks to a combination of mystique and infectious songs. After releasing four strong albums in the past decade, the Swedish act will return in 2021 with their fifth LP, which frontman Tobias Forge likened to Metallica’s “Black Album”, not so much in sound but rather the next step of their career. As with any new Ghost album, Forge will take on a new guise, this time retiring Cardinal Copia and becoming Papa Emeritus IV. –Spencer Kaufman

Judas Priest – TBA

Judas Priest

Judas Priest, photo by Steven J. Messina

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Judas Priest are currently working on the follow-up to 2018’s critically acclaimed Firepower, and according to vocalist Rob Halford, the songs might be informed by the harsh realities of the pandemic. “I’m sure it will filter through me as the songwriter for Priest,” Halford told the Phoenix New Times. Halford said he’s been holed up in Arizona being “super careful” with public health guidelines and that he’s stayed busy writing. —Jon Hadusek

Click “next” for more anticipated metal + hard rock albums.

Cannibal Corpse – TBA

Cannibal Corpse recording new album

Cannibal Corpse, via Metal Blade

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: In June of last year, death metal pioneers Cannibal Corpse were, in their own words, ready to “enter the crypts” and begin recording their 15th studio album. When vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher shared an in-studio photo from the recording sessions, noticeably absent from the hashtags was troubled guitarist Pat O’Brien, who’s future in the band remains uncertain after a bizarre incident involving many guns in 2018. –Jon Hadusek

King Diamond – The Institute

King Diamond

King Diamond, photo by Kevin RC Wilson

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: After announcing The Institute and sharing the magnificent single “Masquerade of Madness” in late 2019, we heard little from King Diamond throughout 2020. We can only hope that means the legendary metal singer is finishing up his next concept album, which like previous epics Abigail and Them, promises to be an ambitious narrative experience. –Jon Hadusek



AFI two new songs

AFI, photo by Jacob Boll

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: AFI have been going strong for roughly 30 years, evolving from a teenage hardcore act in the ’90s to a hit-making hard rock band in the early 21st century. Singer Davey Havok and company have always achieved a nice balance of infectious hooks with heavy riffs, and their two new singles — “Twisted Tongues” and “Escape From Los Angeles” — are no exception. Guitarist Jade Puget said of the upcoming LP, “Anyone who knows our catalog knows that no two records really sit together,” so expect the next step in the long-running evolution of AFI. –Spencer Kaufman


Iron Maiden – TBA

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

Release Date: TBA
Why We’re Excited: The pandemic resulted in a premature conclusion for Iron Maiden’s epic “Legacy of the Beast” tour. On the bright side, the metal legends have begun working on new music perhaps sooner than they would have, given the downtime. After a producer hinted that the new record could come out in 2020, a 2021 release seems more likely, but the question remains: Will Iron Maiden release an album if they can’t safely tour? –Jon Hadusek

Rammstein – TBA

Rammstein In Studio

Rammstein, photo by Jens Koch

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Rammstein were set to embark on a huge 2020 stadium tour in support of their untitled 2019 album, but the pandemic put a halt to those plans. While fans will have to wait to see one of rock’s most explosive live acts visit a city near them, it appears the wait for another new LP won’t be as long as the 10-year gap between Rammstein’s two most recent LPs. With their tour on hold, the German industrial-metal veterans hit the studio in 2020. Whether it results in a new album in 2021 remains to be seen, but the band’s social teases have certainly stirred up some excitement. –Spencer Kaufman

Ozzy Osbourne – TBA

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne, photo by David Brendan Hall

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Despite a series of health setbacks, including an ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease, Ozzy Osbourne delivered the solid solo album Ordinary Man in early 2020. Inspired by his sessions with Andrew Watt, the metal icon rejoined the producer for another round of recording during the pandemic. Much like Ordinary Man, the upcoming album will feature an all-star backing band, with Metallica’s Robert Trujillo on bass and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith sharing drum duties. If Ozzy’s farewell tour ever resumes, he’ll have plenty of new material to draw from. –Spencer Kaufman

Black Label Society – TBA

Black Label Society

Black Label Society, photo by Amy Harris

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Despite rejoining Ozzy Osbourne’s touring lineup, Zakk Wylde was left off the Prince of Darkness’ 2020 solo album, Ordinary Man. The guitar virtuoso should be heading into the studio with a plethora of mighty riffs as Black Label Society create their 11th studio album. The band earned strong praise for its 2018 effort, Grimmest Hits, while Wylde continued to hone his skills with his Black Sabbath tribute band, Zakk Sabbath, who released a song-for-song re-creation of the metal godfathers’ debut album in 2020. –Spencer Kaufman

Guns N’ Roses – TBA

Guns N' Roses postpone summer US tour

Guns N’ Roses, photo by Amy Harris

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Ever since the band welcomed back Slash and Duff McKagan for a monster tour, we’ve been getting tidbits of info regarding new music from Guns N’ Roses. Most recently, Slash revealed that he’s been working with bassist Duff on songs for the next album, with eyes on a 2021 release. It’s been 30 years since GN’R have released a studio album of original material featuring Slash, Duff, and Axl Rose, and it can’t come soon enough. –Jon Hadusek

Nine Inch Nails – TBA

Nine Inch Nails, photo by Lior Phillips

Nine Inch Nails, photo by Lior Phillips

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Nine Inch Nails fans may have lost the chance to see them on tour last year, but they’re set to gain a new album instead. Last May, frontmant Trent Reznor shared that he had imminent plans to do a “deep dive” into new material and hopefully resume touring in 2021. While further information hasn’t surfaced yet, knowing the new batch of songs could be heard live before the year’s end leaves plenty to look forward to. –Lindsay Teske

Metallica – TBA

Metallica 30 Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2021

Metallica, photo by Herring & Herring

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Despite lockdowns and quarantines, Metallica were able to jam together and perform remote concerts throughout 2020. The band took its time making Death Magnetic and Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, but bassist Rob Trujillo previously said that the next album would come sooner. This was before James Hetfield returned to rehab and many other events, so a new LP in 2021 might be wishful thinking. That said, Lars Ulrich revealed in November that the band was a month into “some pretty serious writing” for the new LP, although he followed that up recently by saying they were working at a “glacial” pace. –Jon Hadusek