21’s 12: The Top 12 Albums of 2021

Here are my top dozen picks for the year.

Think of them as 21’s 12 (Rush pun intended):

Transatlantic, The Absolute Universe

Arc of Life, Arc of Life

Anneke von Giersbergen, The Darkest Skies Are the Brightest

Greta Van Fleet, The Battle at Garden’s Gate

Styx, Crash of the Crown

Big Big Train, Common Ground

Iron Maiden, Senjutsu

Yes, The Quest

Dream Theater, A View from the Top of the World

Damian Wilson, From Limehouse to Lechlade

The Darkness, Motorheart

Crown Lands, Odyssey Vol. 1

Crown Lands had quite the year. First, these Rush superfans paid tribute with “Context—Fearless Part 1”, and its B-side “Right Way Back”, back in March.

In May, they offered live versions of the same, recorded as jaw-dropping proof that they were not merely wizards in the studio, but also a dynamic live duo, the likes which we have not seen before.

Then, they unleashed the killer single “White Buffalo” (in 7/8 time, no less) and the 13-minute epic “The Oracle” back in July.

The creativity kept on coming, as September saw the addition of “Inner Light” and “The Witching Hour (Electric Witch)” to the previous two tracks on the stunning White Buffalo EP.

Crown Lands has beautiful vinyl editions of everything, but you can also get the latter four songs on a nifty White Buffalo CD.

The year ended with a grand-slam live performance of all their new 2021 music, plus select gems from earlier years, on Odyssey Vol. 1, which you can also view online.

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