Alright kids, today's the day! I finally get to unleash the best of the best (of what I heard in a year where I had to cut my album rankings in half because...2020...) and try to show off some of the best music you should give a shot. This year will be flying by much faster as it's only 10 a day instead of the normal 20 a day, but this should still be a fun ride.
So here are the rules:
1.) The list is a Top 50 with 10 honorable mentions. I am really hoping to get back to the Top 100 in 2021. There are simply albums that I know are magnificent that I simply didn't hear, hear enough of, or give enough of a chance to really enjoy in 2020. I know they will be told to me and I know you'll have a great argument on why they should make the list somewhere; but I'm one man and 2020 got the better of me this go around. So enjoy the list as is. Thank you.
2.) The Top 50 must be LPs. No EPs live albums, compilations, rarities, etc. Simply a studio ALBUM released in 2020 before mid-December. If you have an album out after that. What can I tell you, you should have released it in January.
3.) The Top 50 are ranked from 50-1. Honorable Mentions are in alphabetical order.
4.) The entries include Artist Name, Album Name, and FFO (For Fans Of) section. Followed by my short thoughts on the release.
5.) The Top 50 will also have a curated Spotify list with a song off each album in order from 50-1. So you can enjoy the bands in countdown order; or put it on random and make your own ranking.
6.) These are just my own thoughts. No sponsors, no payola, no favors. Just my views. With that; If an album is at 50 does not mean it sucks compared to album 1. all 50 albums and 10 honorable mentions are worthy of praise and deserve to be talked about and any album talked about could be AOTY in someone's eyes. This is a judgement free zone. No negativity here. Just talking great music from beginning to end.
50.) Sodom- Genesis XIX
FFO- Thrash Metal, Black Metal, Speed Metal
The only reason this is not higher is because I've only had this album about a week or so and I'm trying to maintain some kind of honesty in my list order. This album is a return of form for the band, HEAVILY focusing back to their black metal riffs, but keeping things just as fast and thrashy as ever. The production is raw, the songs are rapid fire, and old school fans of Sodom should be all over this album as fast as they can.
49.) From Hell- Rats & Raven
FFO- Horror Metal, Heavy Metal, Death Metal
This was actually the last album that I did a full on review for in 2020 and it was worthy of me writing every word listed. If you want your horror metal in more of a thrashy, death metal inspired vain; From Hell absolutely delivers. From beginning to end you hear genre bending, sheer power and Hell-driven metal that is simply uncompromising. Just check it out for yourself!
48.) The Ocean- Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
FFO- Post Metal, Progressive Metal, Electronic
Part two of their concept of exploring the different ages of the world; Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic shows the band morphing from it's primal sludgy sound in the beginning of the album to more electronic inspired sound at the end. much like feeling like you traveled through the periods yourself. Of course the album is not a completely left of center album for the band, but it shows what the band is truly capable of given the time and resources...and that is creative. A sheer delight of an album. I can't wait to see what's next.
47.) The Black Dahlia Murder- Verminous
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Consistent, yet inspired. That describes TBDM to an absolute T. The band over the span of the last two decades has really shown how a band can find what works for the band, yet always find a way to outdo themselves in some capacity. On Verminous, the choruses and guitar tones are the shining lights of this dark and bleak album. Among the chaos, the harmonies and melodies that come through at the right moments just make you pay attention and see the band has always been more than just the brutality on display. The band never stops growing and this album proves that there is no chance of slowing down any time soon.
46.) Midnight- Rebirth By Blasphemy
FFO- Black N Roll, Thrash Metal, Speed Metal
Midnight strikes again with Rebirth By Blasphemy. Their consistent sound of the best of metal genres in the 80s mixed with the unique sense of timing and arrangement makes the band standout among so many bands of a similar style. If you want a relentless taste of evil aggression, Midnight is here for your devilish delight.
45.) Ad Infinitum- Chapter I: Monarchy
FFO- Symphonic Metal, Gothic Metal
Melissa Bonny is one of the most standout vocalists of the late 2010s and 2020 is proving that her shine is only beginning to grow stronger. In a band she completely formed on her own, Ad Infinitum showcases her vision of dark, symphonic metal that has some of the catchiest riffs and choruses you will hear in it's style. Bonny's voice, while not showing off her ferocious screams that she puts on display in Rage of Light, does show off every other talent of her sound with soaring highs, somber lows and ear catching mids that is just meant to grab you and not let go. The band is only getting started and the future is going to be darkly blessed with Ad Infinitum for years to come.
44.) Psychotic Waltz- The God-Shaped Void
FFO- Progressive Metal
Everything before March 2020 feels like it was decades ago thanks to to the last 9 months. This phenomenal album is one of the first 2020 albums I heard and it's miraculous that we live in a universe where this dangerously underrated band came back together to release such a dark, atmospheric, tribal, and melodic piece of progressive metal. The band has always been known in the prog inner circles, but The God-Shaped Void showcases that band deserves to break out and be known the world over. Everything about this album rules. Just listen for yourself.
43.) Armored Saint- Punching The Sky
FFO- Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Always known for their signature blend of crossing the streams of glam rock and thrash metal; Armored Saint has put out one of their greatest albums with Punching The Sky. Whether you like the ear candy rock songs, the heavy metal anthems or want to hear the band explore their prog tendencies; Punching The Sky has it all and then some. Armored Saint is here to stay.
42.) Falset- We Follow Or Lead The Way
FFO- Modern Metal, Progressive Metal, Hard Rock
The band is so much more than their lineage (of course, referring to James LaBrie's son, Chance LaBrie, drumming for the band). Falset's debut album shows a sense of modern metal that sounds so inspired and catchy. Adding just the right moments of prog and radio rock into their fused sound creates some of the catchiest metal songs you will hear this year. Imagine a bastard offspring of TesseracT, Alter Bridge, and Dream Theater and you'll get closer to what this band is all about. Their debut album shows the band is going to explore as much ground as they can while being jaw-droppingly catchy. Jump on the hype train now. These guys deserve it!
41.) Boris- NO
FFO- Thrash Metal, Crust Punk, Noise
By far the fastest BPM Boris album to date; The band never records the same album twice. In the past they've done everything from post rock to J-Rock, to noise collaborations with Sunn 0))) and Merzbow. This time around, the band is exploring their metal and punk roots with short, heavy, and crazy songs that is sure to bring out the circle pits when live shows come back into the world. The album only slows down just enough for you to get in a breath or two before pummeling you over and over again. This is easily the most fun Boris album and a great gateway album for heavy fans that want to see one side of the band's style.
And there we go folks; 10 down, 40 to go. The list will only get wilder, crazier, and hopefully even better from here on out. Tune in tomorrow for Part III: 40-31
- That Drummer Guy (Josh Rundquist)