2021 has been, without a doubt, one of the most memorable years in modern music history. The invisible elephant in the room was obviously COVID-19, which triggered the unprecedented year-plus blackout on nearly all live shows. Thankfully this spring's widespread vaccination rollout proved effective enough for the restrictions to lift, and by summer bands were finally able to hit stages throughout the country.
While we're not quite in "post-COVID" times just yet, the sheer joy of experiencing the cranked sounds and singular live energy of gatherings big and small — from sweaty Turnstile club gigs and raucous Slipknot road shows to massive Metallica-led festivals — has been beyond rejuvenating.
Plus, there's also been a bunch of killer albums released this year to keep us entertained in between mosh pits. Old-school heavies Iron Maiden, Carcass and At the Gates brought the heat, scene leaders Mastodon and Gojira upped the ante, Converge and Chelsea Wolfe dropped a bomb collab and a clutch of up-and-coming trailblazers — Spiritbox, Jinjer, Turnstile, Scowl, Portrayal of Guilt and more — pushed heavy music into exciting new territories. (See Revolver's 25 favorite albums of 2021 here.)
As we close the books on 2021, we're catching up with some of our favorite artists to get their picks for the best of the best of the past year. Below, Jon Donais — guitarist for Anthrax, Shadows Fall and Living Wreckage — shares his favorite shit: from Eighties rock-revival songs and salacious page-turning tomes to pro-wrestling exposés and beyond.
I love the Eighties pop vibe mixed with hard-rock guitars. Great songs and top-notch musicianship.
Back in the day I think Axl Rose had one of the best voices in hard rock ever. This tune reminds me of something off of the Illusion records and Axl sounds amazing on the chorus. It's nice to hear the classic Duff and Sash sound in there too. Slash is also one of my favorite hard-rock guitarists.
I love old-school wrestling and this show really opens up some behind-the-scenes stuff that's pretty heavy. Any wrestling fan should check it out.
I would listen to the audio version of this book while flying to Anthrax shows in the summer. Those Eighties rock and metal bands were larger than life and the stories in that book are amazing. Rock was so big back then and I was very young and impressionable. These bands were superheroes to me — it was all just so larger than life. I miss that excitement in rock and metal.
Spirit Adrift has some really cool stuff going on. One of my friends turned me on to them. I dig Dirty Honey too. Great rock singer and guitarist in that band.
Recording the debut album for Living Wreckage. Writing and recording this record really saved me from losing it completely during the pandemic. Also releasing the Living Wreckage EP, One Foot in the Grave, was a standout moment. It was also great to start jamming with Shadows Fall once again to get ready for our reunion show in December.
Releasing Living Wreckage's debut album through M-Theory Audio in the spring of 2022 and touring with Anthrax. I can't wait to get on a tour bus.