So rather than do another edition of Backwards Marathon this week, I wanted to do something special and talk about albums that have come out between January and March 2020. The past 3 months have been, to put it lightly, rough? So let's combat that with some killer music that can hopefully give you something to help you through the tough time we are all facing for the foreseeable future (Week, Month, Months, longer?).
Same basic usual as usual. Just studio LPs of original content (a cover or two is fine). This is in alphabetical order rather than ranked because rankings for the best albums of the year will come in December. A playlist featuring a song off each album will be in the Spotify playlist below. Now rad on and enjoy!
Dawn of Solace- Waves
FFO- Melodic Doom, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
This has potential to be the best album of the year for me. It is the perfect blend of doom, rock, metal and atmosphere that can be as haunting as it is beautiful. Tuomas Sukkonen is known best for the Finnish Melodeath band, Wolfheart; but as Wolfheart is getting fast, heavier and more extreme, he wanted to counterbalance that intensity with more melodic music and Dawn of Solace was reborn. Almost all clean vocals through the entire album (90%-10% screams used almost entirely as backups). I needed an album like this in 2020 and you might need this as well. Once listen is all it should take to suck you in and never let go.
Dead End Finland- Inter Vivos
FFO- Modern Metal, Melodic Death Metal
The band's first album in 4 years sees the band incorporating more modern metal flavoring to their melodeath sound and it works seamlessly. With the right mixture, it can combine the best elements of pop and metal and maker something truly unique. That's exactly what is going on here. Every song is as catchy as it is heavy and it's a true sight to behold. This is definitely one to keep your eyes out for towards the end of the year.
Imonolith- State of Being
FFO- Groove Metal, Hard Rock, Metalcore
Take 5 of the best musicians in Canada and have them form a band that doesn't sound much like any of their other bands and forming a sound that is truly their own. Some songs are so catchy they could be on top 40 rock radio, other songs are so heavy that they could fit in on any death metal show. This is truly awesome stuff that fits that void for rockers and metalheads to agree on a band from all sides. This will be one of the best albums of 2020 come the end of the year and if this is merely the debut album from this quintet; everything about this band will only get better and better. Jump on the Imonolith train now before it leaves the station (psst, this just came out today, go check it out).
Intronaut- Fluid Existential Inversions
FFO- Progressive Post Metal
There's a joke you could make that every Intronaut album sounds more and more like a Cloudkicker album with vocals on it. WHile it's not far from the truth; that is also a term of endearment. Since Valley of Smoke, Intronaut has only improved with every subsequent album and their unique blend of atmosphere, progressive riffs, post rock/metal arrangements and of course having Cloudkicker's Ben Sharp actually playing some guitar on this album, shows the band getting stronger and stronger. This is an album from the band I always wanted and I'm so happy we finally got it in 2020.
FFO- Black N Roll, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock
What an album to come out on Valentine's Day. This being the band's 4th album since their 2010 debut has only seen the band continue to shine not only musically, but across the world in popularity. Ever since Dave Grohl's ringing endorsement of the band, Kvelertak has been showing the masses what they are capable of and Splid is their best outing yet. Everything you could want in an album from black metal to pop punk to straight up rock and roll is here and then some. This is easily one of the most fun albums you'll hear all year. Go check it out and get a genuine smile on your face in these dark times.
Lost Symphony- Chapter 1
FFO- Instrumental Progressive Metal, Power Metal, Neo-Classical Metal
THis debut release is nothing short of majestic. featuring some of the greatest guitarists in the world being able to show off their skills on the fret-board from Marty Friedman to Bumblefoot to Jeff Loomis to the late Oli Herbert; this album just shreds as much as it feels like it is an electrified version of classical pieces composed centuries ago. This is incredible work and just like the name implies, this is only Chapter 1. There is much more to come and it will be totally worth it.
My Dying Bride- The Ghost of Orion
FFO- Melodic Death/Doom Metal
The legends of death/doom have returned with what may be their saddest release to date. This is a complete tearjerker of an album and that's exactly what makes this album stand out. Their melancholic tones, maudlin lyrics, and somber atmosphere is the perfect example of what this style is capable of accomplishing. This album also happens to be their most mainstream album as well, with predominantly clean vocals; which is a strange turn for the band, but it paid off. if you need an album that matches what many people are feeling right now, put this album on and let the cathartic feelings flow through you.
Psychotic Waltz- The God Shaped Void
FFO- Progressive Metal
The first 2020 promo I received and it's from a band I never imagined would return with new music. Before this, Psychotic Waltz was nearly lost to the ages in the US with their style of prog metal mixed with flute and beautiful songwriting. This return album is what you would want from a band of this caliber and it feels like they picked up right where they left us in 1996. If you want your prog metal not sounding djenty or just like everything else that's out there, check out what is one of the most underrated prog bands to graciously come back into our lives.
Sons of A Wanted Man- Kenoma
FFO- Blackened Post Metal
A band that I discovered only this year and they have become a band that I can't stop listening to over and over again. Hardcore, post metal and black metal making a great sense of how the post black metal genre should sound. Original and awe-inspiring. This is definitely an album that fits the overall vibe of 2020 quite well, just a few seconds of any song off this album should tell you all that you need to know. This is fantastic music.
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal, Post Rock, Cinematic
Best concept album of 2020 so far. This is such an uplifting album and a great message in these hard times. Don't give up, keep trying, and you will make it through. The music is so varied, yet flows together so naturally. The lyrics feel so natural and tells the story perfectly, and the songs are executed to perfection. While this record will go under a lot of people's radars, that needs to be remedied immediately. If you are a prog nerd, a music geek, or just a lover of good cinematic storytelling; Skyrunner has something for you. Simply jaw dropping music.
And there you have it folks, my personal list of the 10 best albums of 2020 in the first quarter. It's hard to believe that April is right around the corner and Qt 2 will begin. While time may feel like it is going way too slow during everything going on right now, remember that time moves by way too fast; don't spend this time miserable. Make the time for what you love, catch flicks at home, don't put off doing that hobby you love anymore, and if you are reading this, I can only imagine you dig metal and rock music, so why not check out these ten albums and see the rabbit hole you crawl into this year.
Until next time, this is That Drummer Guy saying, SEE YA!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)