This year has been, to put it lightly, absolute shit. You know it. I know it. The world knows it. The biggest heartbreak for me this year is watching shows for bands I have been waiting YEARS to see get canceled one by one. However, I am a firm believer that there are bright sides to everything, even in 2020. In the wake of show cancellations, I have watched bands become more innovative and continue to push forward, creating so much new and exciting music! Here are my favorite albums of 2020:
10. ALTARS OF REBELLION
Capital Phase of Karma
Altars Of Rebellion encompasses death metal and black metal, part melodic and symphonic, with a devastating burst of extreme drums, fast riffs, a deep and heartbreaking guttural voice. For their most recent album, the band worked on a conceptual theme based on the seven deadly sins, with each song having its own artwork, exploring the ideology behind each sin, creating a piece of black metal perfection!
Listen to Capital Phase of Karma in its entirety here.
9. AFTER SMOKE CLEARS
Combining groovy rhythms and hard-hitting core elements, British Groove/Metalcore (Groovycore?) are relentlessly aggressive and high adrenaline. This album, combined with the cinematic story of their videos, After Smoke Clears paints a dark and unsettling scene filled with imagery of gluttony and paranoia, and the degradation and rot of our society.
Listen to Edification in its entirety here.
Respire has written the soundtrack for 2020, but in a good way. Black Line encapsulates the trials, rage, and even some of the love, as well as the upheaval and uncertainty this year has given us. Respire is a band that can’t be simply broken down into one genre, pulling together elements of screamo, post-hardcore, black metal, and death metal using various vocal styles and employing brass and piano. Black Line borders on pure mayhem, without crossing the line into unintelligent chaos.
Listen to Black Line in its entirety here.
Is progressive-blackened-deathcore a thing? If it wasn’t before, it is now! Aeon is sheer brutality unleashed, with a ton of layers and a variety of different sections swirled in with their unrelenting style of heaviness.
Listen to "Aeon" here.
Manifesto is the hellish return of Loudblast. It has been 6 years since Loudblast released an album. Not as long of a wait as some, but still too long for my liking! But Manifesto was well worth the wait. Loudblast doesn’t ease into this album at all, kicking the door in from the first notes, but also weaving in atmospheric and sinister tones.
Listen to Manifesto in its entirety here.
5. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS
If you're looking for one-of-a-kind songwriting, this is it. Pineapple Express continues the innovative trend of the Desi progressive scene with this EP. They take the term “fusion” to an entirely new level by combining Carnatic, metal, experimental, electronic, and progressive elements making the highly complicated look effortless. The result? A breath-taking circus of sound that keeps you on your toes.
Listen to Passages in its entirety here.
4. DEATH SCYTHE
Descending Into Xibalba
Technical without being overly complicated, Death Scythe bought one of the most captivating pieces of melodic death metal of 2020. The album features a mix of intricate guitar, galloping drums, and blistering vocals that all tie together in a powerful mix.
Listen to Descending Into Xibalba in its entirety here.
Season of Mist
Limbo is a fiery amalgam of black and death metal. Gaerea is such a compelling addition to the black metal scene and Limbo was one of my favorite black metal albums of 2020. The album offers up a variety of songs that don’t adhere to any specific formula, keeping you engaged from beginning to end.
Listen to Limbo in its entirety here.
I’m not sure what they’re putting in the water over in the Desi metal community, but the prog scene is phenomenal! Progressive metal/djent Takatak from Lahore, Pakistan, features some of the most cutting edge guitar work I heard all year long. Metal is one of the best genres for experimenting with anything and everything and Takatak’s inspirations range from death metal to pop in a way that just works. And, seriously, look at that freaking album art!!
Listen to Acrophase in its entirety here.
Akiavel is a must-listen for any melodic death metal fan. Every time I show someone an Akiavel video, they’re blown away by Aure’s vocal intensity and Akiavel’s compositional chops. V is formidably deep and showcases the band’s immeasurable drive to succeed wonderfully. The pandemic definitely crushed their touring goals this year, but they did not let that slow them down, putting out a myriad of exceptional videos. I can say with absolute certainty, that this album kicks ass and my absolute favorite album of 2020.
Listen to V in its entirety here.