There was no shortage of riffs, solos and screams in 2021, as heavy metal’s old guard went toe-to-toe with younger headbangers in the quest for hard-rock supremacy.

This year saw glorious return of Iron Maiden, who released their 17th studio album SenjutsuThe band's second consecutive double LP behind 2015's The Book of Souls was a moody, grandiose affair, full of swashbuckling riffs, progressive song structures and Bruce Dickinson's booming roar, which has only grown more magisterial with age.

Iron Maiden were not the oldest metallurgists to release a knockout album in 2021. That honor would go to the 73-year-old Alice Cooper, who paid homage to the sound and attitude of his native Detroit on his 21st solo album, Detroit Stories. Following closely behind was former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, who reunited with fellow ex-Priest bandmate Tim "Ripper" Owens to launch K.K.'s Priest, releasing the power-metal tour de force Sermons of the Sinner in October.

On the other end of the spectrum, Wolfgang Van Halen released his long-awaited debut album under the Mammoth WVH moniker. The 30-year-old bandleader handled all vocal and instrumental duties on the LP, living up to his family name with his dazzling chops but refusing to ride his father's musical coattails, instead opting for a combination of post-grunge, alternative and arena rock.

Other hard-rocking highlights from 2021 include the Darkness' campy Motorheart, Jerry Cantrell's country-fried solo LP Brighten and L.A. Guns' sleaze-rock extravaganza Checkered Past.

Read on to see our Top 10 Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 2021.

Top 10 Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 2021

There was no shortage of riffs, solos and screams in 2021.