10 Albums Worth Waiting for in 2021

We’ve turned the page from the ugliness that was 2020, but the pandemic is still here and live music is still (mostly) on hold. In the meantime, bands continue to put out studio releases, hoping to keep listeners content and making some much-needed cash — all as they try to bridge the gap until venues can start filling with fans again (please get the vaccine when it’s your turn!). Though the status of new music is volatile, with release dates getting pushed back regularly, we’re pretty confident we’ll hear full-lengths from these 10 artists sometime in 2021. Needless to say, they’ll be worth waiting for once they arrive.

Architects – For Those That Wish to Exist (February 26)

It was not a matter of if but when Architects was going to commercialize their sound, and they’re going all in on For Those That Wish to Exist. The new record from the English metalcore outfit is their attempt at pulling a Bring Me the Horizon. On first single “Animals,” vocalist Sam Carter opts for mainly clean vocals, and the band plays along with a crushing riff and big hook. They seamlessly slipped three new songs into last year’s livestream at Royal Albert Hall, proving their new sound still brings the goods without escaping their ferocious technical side. Complementing their broadened musicality is a lyrical focus on global uncertainty, assuring their metallic urgency isn’t going anywhere.

Beartooth – TBA

Beartooth vocalist Caleb Shomo confirmed his band’s new album is fully recorded, so now all we’re waiting for is a release date. It’s the longest we’ve waited yet between releases for the metalcore mainstay, but the wait will be worth the wait if it’s as good as Shomo has hinted (“This is my best work,” he boasts). 2018’s Disease brought the band into more accessible territory than ever, dabbling in alternative and hard rock with some of the biggest choruses of their career. But it sounds like Beartooth is aiming to round out their more melodic turn with some nasty riffs and heavy parts on album four (as the frontman hinted back in November), and it has us excited.

Every Time I Die – TBA

It’s been a slow and steady wait for the new Every Time I Die album, and it didn’t help that vocalist Keith Buckley has hyped it out of this world (“16 of the best songs the band has ever written,” he said). Unfortunately they’ve been sitting on the LP for a while, arguing that it deserves touring to support the new material. But as the pandemic continued to quash future aspirations of live music, the Buffalo natives eventually released several songs — coinciding with a hilarious (and off-the-wall) holiday telethon. If the remainder of the record is as impressive as “A Colossal Wreck” and “Desperate Pleasures,” then it’s time we label ETID fine wine — they only seem to get better with age.

Foxing – TBA

Last year, Foxing said they’re working on “more than 20 new songs” for a third full-length. Here’s to hoping we get to hear the actual release sometime in 2021, as the Midwest emo trio (guitarist Ricky Sampson left the band last fall) looks to transition from promising up-and-comers to staples of the alternative music scene. Nearer My God already made some of that progression palpable, with enough experimentation and grandiose songwriting to make Radiohead proud. The outfit has a lot to live up to, not only the expectations they’ve set, but also the eagerness they’ve procured in the music world — many other publications list them in their most anticipated records of 2021.

Holding Absence – The Greatest Mistake of My Life (April 16)

Holding Absence appeared on the scene in 2019 with a self-titled record that brought immediate comparisons to Being As An Ocean and Dayseeker. But what made them stand out among their melodic hardcore soundalikes was a knack for writing stellar rock songs. After all, they’re a rock band inspired by the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars. They haven’t skipped a beat since their debut, cranking out an additional two singles last year to bridge the gap between album one and album two, due out this April. Neither “Gravity” nor “Birdcage” will be on The Greatest Mistake of My Life, but they show the growth we should expect to see on the full-length: better production, stronger vocal patterns, and more memorable songwriting.

Julien Baker – Little Oblivions (February 26)

After 2017’s Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker put her primary solo project on the back burner in favor of other ambitions. For one, the Tennessee singer-songwriter went back to school, finishing a degree she originally paused following her 2015 surprise breakthrough, Sprained Ankle. She also teamed up with Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers for the indie rock side project Boygenius, a dream collaboration that left us with an EP and some great tour packages. Baker is making her triumphant return with a full band surrounding her on Little Oblivions, due out in February. Nothing feels out of place on lead single “Faith Healer,” which steadfastly maintains the intimacy of her solo work despite a bigger and fuller sound.

Kendrick Lamar – TBD

Kendrick Lamar hasn’t put out an LP since 2017’s DAMN., but that doesn’t mean the rap star hasn’t been busy. He produced the soundtrack for Black Panther, then made an acting splash in the Starz series Power. While we heard rumors throughout 2020 of a new album, it appears Lamar now has music coming “very soon.” In fact, his engineer, Derek Ali, claims he has enough material for six albums. What the next record truly sounds like is still unknown, but there’s a good chance it has more of a rock sound than his previous works. This would be another fresh turn for the Compton native — To Pimp a Butterfly was a jazz-influenced work, while DAMN. returned to more modern hip-hop production.

nothing,nowhere. – Trauma Factory (February 19)

When nothing,nowhere’s Joe Mulherin collaborated with Travis Barker for 2019’s Bloodlust EP, it was clear he was going in the pop-punk direction. But for fans of his emo rap side, this shouldn’t be a disappointment, as he’s clung hard to his root vocal style and hip-hop production tendencies amid the progressions. This February, we’ll see his first full-length effort since the Vermont native began evolving (and his first full-length in general since 2018’s Ruiner). Fortunately, Mulherin has satisfied the palettes of eager listeners, releasing a whopping six singles in 2020 — all of which feature impressively different musical dynamics and all of which will be on Trauma Factory. For the rest, we’re eagerly awaiting next month’s release date.

Silent Planet – TBA

When metalcore songsters Silent Planet released “Trilogy” in early 2020, it seemed a new album may be on the way soon. But as we reached the end of the year, the realization set in that this is a standalone track to bridge the gap between record cycles. After all, vocalist Garrett Russell wrote the song on a whim to capture the raw emotions of dealing with mental health issues, which caused the band to take a break a little over a year ago. It’s a mental health anthem that showcases the band at their most urgent and destructive, and it sets the bar high for album four. It’s unclear when the LP will get here, but for now, Silent Planet has a livestream next month to stay up with their fans.

Turnstile – TBA

Turnstile has been one of the most electrifying names in hardcore over the past half-decade, so anytime they put out new music is a reason to rejoice. There’s hope the next musical output is coming in 2021, three years after Time & Space imprinted the band not merely as scene mainstay, but perhaps even legends (if you’ve ever seen the group live, you know the East Coast hardcore legacy they’re living up to). With members Brendan Yates, Pat McCrory, and Daniel Fang still busy with punk-acoustic project Angel Du$t, it’s still unclear when this year another record could come — or if it will happen. But three years seems to be the average wait thus far, and the mosh will be on when it drops.

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