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 energy of live in-person gatherings big and small — from sweaty Turnstile club gigs and raucous Slipknot road shows to massive Metallica-led festivals — was 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, Anthrax's Scott Ian shares his favorite shit: from Mastodon's stunning "edifice of melody and pain" to Ted Lasso's "kindness" and beyond.
It's a beautifully constructed edifice of melody and pain. Just stunning. Thanks guys!
Yes, it came out in 2020. And yeah, I played on it but so what? It's Mr. Bungle and it's the song I listened to the most.
Only Murders in the Building — Steve Martin and Martin Short in a brilliant dark comedy murder mystery. It's like they made this show just for my sense of humor. Also, Mare From Easttown — a brilliant meditation on loss, grief and bad choices, and a murder mystery. Also Ted Lasso — a brilliant comedy based in kindness. It's smart and uplifting and not a murder mystery … yet.
I liked Shang-Chi a lot. I liked The Sparks Brothers a lot. Summer of Soul was great. And I'm looking forward to Matrix: Resurrections and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
City of Thieves by David Benioff: winter 1943 Leningrad, a city frozen and starving under siege by the Germans. Two Russian boys are sent on an impossible mission behind enemy lines. The book is from 2008, but I read it in 2021.
Turnstile are certainly not a new band, just new to me. They popped onto my very short-range radar with their new album Glow On. It's like a happy version of Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come. I really like their vibe.
I have two. The first was playing my first show with Anthrax after being off for 20 months at Rock Fest. Stepping out onstage after not knowing when we'd ever play again was a powerful moment. The second was watching my son's band Honeybee record their first album at Studio 606. They worked so hard writing and playing throughout the whole lockdown, woodshedded three years of work into one crazy year. To see and hear all their hard work come to fruition was extremely inspiring.
A few things: a new Motor Sister album [Ian's side project with Mother Superior's Jim Wilson] and shows. Recording a new Anthrax album. Anthrax U.K./Europe 40th anniversary tour in the fall. Traveling with my family. Fun.