2020 was the most painful year of my life, but these albums made it bearable as my 15 most listened to of the year.
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Gautier Serre and co. mastered the gift of sound on the last album, but learned to harness it in an all new musical journey with their 2020 release, Spirituality and Distortion. It’s A romantic stroll through the mystical African desert during an acid nightmare after eating a truck stop burrito. The imagination is limitless.
O'Brother – You and I
I’ve talked about O’brother extensively on Metal Injection over the years, and as one of my all time favorite bands, it brings me pleasure to watch them continue their growth inward as the band produces heart swelling deep jams that cause existential perspective with every listen. If music could harness the feeling of falling in love, it’d be called O’Brother.
AA Williams – Forever Blue
My love for AA Williams is no secret since the moment I saw her very first show a couple years ago. Since then she’s kept her self incredibly busy producing an EP, a cover series during the pandemic, and the greatest gift, her full length debut Forever Blue. Although her music falls shy of “metal” her dark and melancholic melodies hit harder and heavier than most bands you’ll find on any list this year. A truly beautiful experience front to back.
Envy – The Fallen Crimson
The Japanese masters of screamo post-rock returned this year with another emotional ride titled The Fallen Crimson, and it quickly grew to be one of my favorite releases from these veterans. It contains all the meaningful introspective music I love from the groups discography, but demands a sense of immediate attention that you fall into like a great therapy session.
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
From the first few notes on the album you’re already invited into a world of bleak gothic tones that claw into your heart and continue to hook through the course of the record. As a band I’ve adored for over 30 years, I can honestly say Obsidian is a magical record that embodies the many stylistic changes of the band over the course of their career and reaches opus levels for these doom legends. A record that’s as tremendous as their tone.
Vredehammer – Viperous
If you like your blackened music relentless with more catchy melodies and hooks than you know how to handle, you ought to dive into this monster record that is a guaranteed head bobbing, claw inducing good time.
Intronaut – Fluid Existential Inversions
Intronuat was never a band to conform, and with their latest release Fluid Existential Inversions, the band goes even further down the rabbit hole into an even more dynamic version of themselves. It has all the Intronaut flavor I fell in love with back in 2005, but with more notes, more intricate structures, and more 'naut.
Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?
I’ve been raving about this English post-metal band since the beginning, and now on their 3rd full length release, it’s an amazing ride to watch the band flourish into a heavy hitter for the heart and mind. Never a band to shy away from important topics, they mix their brand of hardcore with etherial qualities and incredible chops you’d find in a range between post-screamo, black metal, and groove metal to form something you can really only call… Svalbard.
END – Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
With members of Fit For An Autopsy, Shai Halud, Counterparts, and The Dillinger Escape Plan you’ve got to expect to hear something unique, but as the everything bagel of hardcore, END truly embodies the sum of their parts on Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face. Abruptly moving between beatdown hardcore and etherial melodies, and even a guest spot from O’Brothers’ Tanner Merrit, you know you’re in for a ride that not only goes up, but comes down on you like a sledgehammer.
The Ocean – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic / Cenozoic
The band with the easiest name and hardest song titles are back with part two of their land before time concept, and pick up where part one left of in terms of beautiful but deadly passages that make it easy to fall in love with hard songs. The playing and songwriting chops on the album are one of a kind, and worth every minute of your experience.
Lamb Of God – Lamb Of God
They may be the “safest” band on this list, but truth be told, their self-titled release was a freight train of melodic grooves from these reinvigorated veterans plowing through the year, and turned out to be my favorite from this beloved band since their 2004 release, Ashes Of The Wake. Yes, that’s me saying it’s the most exciting LOG release in 16 years, but that’s my $0.02 of course.
Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos
Like a slap to the face with a brick comes the new Skeletal Remains album, The Entombment of Chaos, an album that reminisces the days of the old-school death metal scene like Morbid Angel and Grave, when it was all balls and brute force instead of electronic troubleshooting.
Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
Endarkenment picks up with the same blistering intensity you’ll find on former Nathrakh releases, with more hooks that sink into your skull long enough to hum and want to hit that repeat button. Tread lightly, this wall of sound is so strong you may hurt yourself.
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Containing all the chunky fun flavor I love about The Black Dahlia Murder, Verminous might be the band’s most dynamic record in the collection and show’s a charismatic growth in their creation, proving you can teach dirty dogs new tricks.
Gargoyl – Gargoyl
I always enjoy a band that colors outside the lines, and Gargoyl is just that. Whether you call it alternative, avant-garde, or prog, we can all agree it’s nearly impossible to define and leaves the listener eagerly curious about what the band can do next.
Cadaver – EDDER & BILE
Cadaver’s first full length after 15 long years is nothing short of a triumph and everything you’d want from this blistering raw group that embodies fast pummeling, slick riffing, and grim vocals that more than keeps up with the band’s younger years. Edder & Bile is raw and dynamic and possibly the grossest sounding thing on my list in the best possible way.
Other great albums further on the most-listened list:
Spirit Adrift – Enlightened In Eternity
Code Orange – Underneath
Abysmal Dawn – Phylogenesis
Midnight – Rebirth by Blasphemy
Crippled Black Phoenix – Ellengæst
Solstafir – Endless Twilight of Codependent Love
HÄG – HÄG
Azusa – Loops of Yesterday
Fotocrime – South Of Heaven
Ihsahn – Pharos EP
Carcass – Despicable EP