As is routine for me each year; below is a list of my favorite albums of 2020 with descriptions. In no particular order. Let me know if you agree with any of mine. Let me know some of your favorites of 2020 if I don’t have them included.
Nicumo – Inertia – This album is a melodic beauty. Nicumo blends gothic elements with melodic death metal in a very natural way. An atmosphere of sorrow is ever present in Inertia and it’s an atmosphere I thoroughly enjoy in my music listening experience. Nicumo has moments that will remind you of Sentenced and enough of their own identity to separate themselves from that shadow. This band was a new find for me this year and I’m looking forward to checking out their previous albums.
Dark Tranquillity – Moment – The veterans of Swedish goth metal delivered a masterpiece in Moment. A reminder to all fans of this genre that they are not to be forgotten or over-looked. They haven’t strayed from their original sound like In Flames has and are sure to appease every fan of the band with this album. You could argue it’s their best work yet. Moment definitely ranks highly in their discography. Perhaps the best offering since Character was released. This one is a constant in my rotation.
Paradise Lost – Obsidian – Another of these bands that has come full-circle. In the last decade Paradise Lost has put out some great albums more reminiscent of their earlier works like Gothic and Draconian Times. Obsidian is a great example of a band coming full-circle and improving on their style that stood them out to begin with.
Myrkur – Folkesange – I love folk music. I won’t lie. Myrkur impressed me with her album prior called Mareridt. Folkesange will send you soaring through the mountainside on the wings of a Griffon. It possesses the sort of magic to transport you into another world where your fears and troubles are left behind. Perfect for meditation and self-reflection, which is what happens to me when I listen. It’s rather healing and her voice is remarkable.
Testament – Titans of Creation – Holy what?! Testament brings the ruckus with this one! Killer riffs, solos, drums, and vocal performances. It’s a true thrash kick-in-the-gut that fit 2020 perfectly. Night of the Witch is one of my favorite songs to be released in 2020 and it’s the centerpiece of the album. Every song slays in its own way. My only con would be the instrumental to end the album as that feels a little out of place, but overall an absolute killer of an album.
Katatonia – City Burials – Timing is what made this album my absolute favorite of the year. City Burials was released during a time of transformation for myself. A time to grieve, a time for soul searching, and a time to stare at the future and ponder what am I going to do? This album has a very deep personal meaning and for that I’m very thankful it came out when it did. Lacquer was the favorite that really grew on me and I regret mentioning at one point I was disappointed in the song. I just needed time to fully appreciate it. City Burials is powerful from front to back with very emotional performances. A must have for any fan of the genre or band.
Trivium – What The Dead Men Say – I’ve been a fan of Trivium since Ascendancy came out in 2005. I, however, took a break when Vengeance Falls came out and lost interest until The Sin and The Sentence was released. I felt the band lost their identity until they found the right drummer in Alex Bent. What The Dead Men Say is definitely one of the top releases of their career. I’m not certain it can surpass the brilliance of Shogun but it comes real close. Powerful performances from every member of the band make it hard not to appreciate the musicianship these guys possess. I look forward to seeing how they progress from here.
Mors Principium Est – Seven – This band will blow you away with their technical riffs and their use of symphonic elements to enhance the music. I’m a fan of symphonic metal and actually hadn’t discovered this band until this year. I stumbled on their previous release Embers of a Dying World earlier this year and fell in love with it immediately. Not a month later this album was released and I was ecstatic! Really great musicianship with memorable guitar melodies and riffs. This one is on repeat quite often for me. It’s one of my staples for working out. If you’re unfamiliar just throw on A Day For Redemption or Lost in a Starless Aeon and you’ll see what I’m saying.
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape – Black Crown Initiate has a certain feeling of power in their music I tap into when I listen to this band. Not sure how to explain it otherwise. With that feeling and the progressive elements they infuse Black Crown Initiate will help you feel like you are experiencing the world as you’re conquering it. It’s a unique combination of emotion derived from a band. One of the reasons I’ve become a fan of them since 2016.
Wolfheart – Wolves of Karelia – Wolfheart never has disappointed me. Tuomas knows 7 or 8 songs is the perfect amount and doesn’t stray from that minus a bonus track here and there. Albums never feel long and there’s never a lull, or a feeling of a filler song here and there. Intricate performances. Very intense moments. All followed by sweet melancholic melodies and topped with bits of symphonic elements. Wolves of Karelia makes one certain Wolfheart has risen to the top of their game. Start here and work your way through their discography if you haven’t lent them your ears yet. You’ll be impressed.
Warbringer – Weapons of Tomorrow – Warbringer used to be a band of pure unwavering thrash metal. I feel they stepped up their game with this one and added some more elements to their music pushing them to the next level. On a side note, I was surprised I could only find this on Bandcamp when I was looking for it. Defiance of Fate is an absolute favorite song of 2020 for me and I recommend giving this album a good listen or four. It’s worth your time if you’re a fan of thrash metal.
Havok – V – Havok hit the nail on the head with Fear Campaign and Ritual of the Mind. Always this band is in-tune with the political agenda. V (Five) fits 2020 with the pandemic restrictions and now suddenly everyone feels how much control the government really has. Havok’s moment of glory in a sense. Not to mention they make great thrash music that is not to be overshadowed by politics and how accurate this is for 2020.
Votum – Duhkha – Votum was a new discovery for me later in this year and after the first few listens I’m hooked on the darker atmosphere present in the music. They also sprinkle in elements of electronic music giving you a more futuristic vibe but not taking away from the heaviness. It’s done really well. Check them out.
Descend – The Deviant – I was turned on to the band Descend with their 2014 release titled Wither. Descend feels like a younger Opeth for those interested in progressive metal. The group is emanating with talent and are demanding to be heard.
Harlott – Detritus of the Final Age – Harlott is an all-out assault of thrash metal. Unrelenting and unyielding brutality from start to finish. Flashy solos and groovy guitar melodies are present throughout. They’ve been accused of copying Slayer but I don’t see it. The vocal delivery is reminiscent of Slayer but they are not one-in-the-same. This album is aggression at its finest in 2020. A must have for Thrash fans!
Alestorm – Curse of the Crystal Coconut – It’s hard to be serious with metal all the time. You need to kick back and relax on the beaches of Tortuga or learn about the famous Scottish pirate Fannybaws. Alestorm brings the fun of Pirate Metal to your shores. With a gimmick like theirs you’d think they might run out of song ideas or something but if Disney can make four Pirates of the Caribbean movies… I’m certain Alestorm won’t run out of ideas for their music. What usually goes unnoticed with this band is their remarkable musicianship. These guys aren’t just fooling around and being silly. There is serious metal underneath their wet pirate hats and beards! Arrrr!!!