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The 12 best albums released in June 2021

The best rock and metal records released last month – from Rise Against to Garbage to De’Wayne and beyond!

Somehow, with 2020 seemingly lasting forever, 2021 is speeding by like a coyote strapped to an Acme rocket. We’re at the halfway point already and the killer records just don’t stop coming, as this delectable dozen prove. From mind-warping prog-metal to industrial carnage to CBD-soaked riffs, June gave rock fans a lot to dive into. 

Here are our picks of the best albums released last month. Listen to them all.

Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush

We said: Obviously, this won’t be an album for everyone. Indeed, with the wilful weirdness of tracks like Cecil Succulent (think Mastodon at their most proggily agitated) and Grendle (woozier than a fairground hangover) stacked side by side, that’s kind of the point. If you’ve stuck around long enough to get sucked into dizzying closer Flatt Controller, though, chances are you won’t be long checking in for a repeat trip.”

Read the full review here.

Rise Against – Nowhere Generation

We said: Musically they stick largely to their well-honed melodic hardcore. That means plenty of galloping bass runs and fast-paced verses, with huge anthemic choruses blooming like mushroom clouds. There’s a melodic sheen with just enough grit to prevent things from sounding too polished and there’s also the odd deviation. The lyrically nihilistic Sudden Urge borrows modern rock chops that could almost be the Foo Fighters, while the title-track sounds like an electrified campfire sing-along.”

Read the full review here.

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

We said: This incarnation of Fear Factory is bowing out with a tense, aggressive and satisfying final act. There are exactly zero signs of them adopting fresh approaches, but dissing them for this is like criticising chocolate for continuing to taste chocolatey. This cathartic blow-out leaves us with ringing ears and big smiles, plus the slightly edgy acceptance that Fear Factory’s dystopian portent may have been well founded after all.”

Read the full review here.

Garbage – No Gods No Masters

We said: Shirleys ability to fashion a variety of sharp vocal hooks within the course of the same song, without resorting to the obvious, remains a timeless gift. This is best illustrated by the Depeche Mode-meets-Nine Inch Nails stomp of Godhead, on which she’s both confrontational and vulnerable in the course of a whisper. This pours emotion, a welcome injection of anger chief among them, onto arrangements seemingly designed to be cold, which gives the been-there-done-that perspective of the lyrics even more bite.”

Read the full review here.

Tigercub – As Blue As Indigo

We said: This is an expansive and experimental record. The groove-laden sultriness of Stop Beating On My Heart (Like A Bass Drum) also starts with echoes of another time, but that’s quickly offset by dirty desert guitars that are as belligerent as Queens Of The Stone Age, but less bullish. Elsewhere, the solemn, string-laden lament of Funeral – a tribute to Jamie’s late grandmother – is followed by the blissful, Bon Iver-esque Built To Fall, a song for a departed friend.”

Read the full review here.

Soldiers Of Destruction – Cause And Affect

We said: There’s a blunt political message to Death Or Glory and Undefeated, while End Of A Rope and Also Gazes take a more inward look. And then there are the party songs. The boozy bluesy Drinking For Two and the suitably gabbling Amphetamines – featuring a guest appearance from former Kyuss and QOTSA animal Nick Oliveri – smell like three days of Rebellion Festival debauchery condensed into two minutes apiece.”

Read the full review here.

De’Wayne – Stains

We said: This ability to transform hard-bitten experience into joyous escapism wouldn’t work if, musically, proceedings weren’t compelling. Thankfully they are because they’re teeming with the best characteristics of other genres – the pace of pop-punk, the braggadocio of rap – and festooned with loveable idiosyncrasies (including what sounds like a sample from the old school Donkey Kong game during I Know Something).”

Read the full review here.

Amenra – De Doorn

We said: While this is certainly different from anything they have released previously, it is unmistakably an Amenra album – they’ve lost none of their razor sharp edge and are every bit as crushingly oppressive as they’ve always been. However, De Doorn has allowed for them to explore a much wider range of the emotional spectrum that their music is skilfully able to express and, as such, breaks down the boundaries that they have spent decades expanding on and pushing the limits of.”

Read the full review here.

Beartooth – Below

We said: The album’s larger-than-life tendencies are custom-tooled with a theatricality to serve Beartooth on ever-grander stages. There are blasts of airy euphoria cutting through the chaos even on the most metallic bangers like Devastation and Hell Of It. And Caleb certainly hasn’t forgotten his way around a chorus, with skyscraping pop-rock bangers I Won’t Give Up and The Past Is Dead packing enough exuberant woah-ohs and fists-in-the-air sing-alongs to light up arenas around the world.”

Read the full review here.

Urne – Serpent & Spirit

We said: With Urne rising from the ashes of respected metallers Hang The Bastard, the one thing that isn’t surprising is the fact that they’re handy with a riff. There’s a core element of chugging grooves holding the whole thing together, but beyond that all bets are off. The Devil speaks to me through my dreams,’ rasps Joe Nally on the opener and title-track, kicking off a series of nightmares and dreamscapes with a fractured theme of good and evil that could almost grace a Mastodon concept album.”

Read the full review here.

Stöner – Stoners Rule

We said: Stöner are neither original, nor pastiche. It’s just that they’ve been knee-deep in this stuff for 30-odd years, and have grooves running through their bones and jackets that will never lose the smell of weed. That they are still capable of doing something this good with apparently zero effort or fuss is all part of it, man. The name’s on the nose, but the title isn’t: Stoners Rule.”

Read the full review here.

Stone Giants – West Coast Love Stories

We said: There’s a warmth and colour to West Coast Love Stories which befits its title, a sensation of dappled sunlight that you rarely get from Amon’s near-contemporaries Aphex Twin or Squarepusher. Best Be Sure pits a hint of experimental 70s rock against finger-picked folk guitar, while Stinson Beach is a languorous helping of sultry ambience. Stone Giants aren’t just about sweetness and light, however; there’s a throbbing seriousness to A Well Run Road that lands somewhere between Mogwai and Boards Of Canada, while Metropole’s filtered vocals and ominous synth pulses are occasionally dunked into distorted static in a most unsettling manner, the end result not unlike an evil reboot of Laurie Anderson’s minimalist new wave hit O Superman.”

Read the full review here.

Posted on July 2nd 2021, 3:00p.m.
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