Already at the Top 20 of 2020. This is where things are going to get quite...controversial. I say that because as I've stated in the rules so far, I did not get to every album I could this year and there are, what I'm sure are, juggernauts of albums that I've missed out on. Once again, I hope things can get back to plan in 2021, but until then, let's show off the best of 2020 in my eyes with only 10 more albums to go for tomorrow.
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.
20.) Wolfheart- Wolves of Karelia
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Nearly 41 minutes of unrelenting melodeath chaos. This is BY FAR the fastest Wolfheart album to date. The blasts on this album are at an insane BPM, the orchestration and songwriting are in top form and Wolfheart continues to prove why Finland has the best melodeath in the world. The album is not all about speed, it can slow things down and crush you beyond dust with it's riffs and heart-aching melodies and harmonies at the same time. For sheer melodic brutality, you need to pick this one up immediately!
19.) Long Distance Calling- How Do We Want To Live?
FFO- Mostly Instrumental Progressive Post Metal
Long Distance Calling has been that meant so much to me over the years; releasing some of the very best albums of the 21st century. Now that the band is 7 albums deep in LPs; the band is bringing new and older flavors to their latest release to make for some of the best work they have ever done. A great mix of soundscapes, atmosphere, sound-clips, and songwriting make this album stand out in the best of ways. Eric A. Pulverich showcases his voice on the song Beyond Your Limits (the only song with singing on the album) and the break from the spacey soundscape fells like a welcome change and proves that you never know what to expect with the band. With every subsequent listen, I love this album more and more and I can only hope that you';ll give it the time and check it out for yourself. There is so much to love here, don't miss out.
18.) Amiensus- Abreaction
FFO- Melodic Black Metal, Progressive Black Metal
Amiensus is a treasure in the world of black metal. Even with only 3 albums to their catalog, the band is solidifying their importance to the genre going forward. Constantly proving that music is ever evolving, Abreaction showcases the band evolving themselves with many different genre bending moments that especially hit in the 2nd half of the album. I dare say the song All That Is Unknown has a very uplifting riff in it that you don't expect to hear for a great example. Minnesota has been getting some amazing black metal bands in the 2010s with Panopticon and Obsequiae. Amiensus, once touring is back to normal, will be taking things by storm, without a shadow of a doubt.
17.) Paradise Lost- Obsidian
FFO- Doom Metal, Goth Rock
Paradise Lost is back showing off how versatile of a band they truly are. Known for their legendary death/doom metal of yesteryear, their industrial and goth rock middle age and their mixture of both in today's age; Obsidian showcases both sides of the band to the best of their abilities. No matter what you like about the band, it's showcased somewhere on this album and it makes the album so much more diverse and spectacular to listen to. They are as somber as ever, but the band makes you happy that they are as strong as ever.
16.) Toehider- I LIKE IT!
Let's get it out of the way *ahem* I LIKE IT! Toehider has that sensibility of songwriting, genre bending, quirkyness, and all out fun that you are just not going to experience anywhere else. Go Full Bore is a great example where they song is so fast, thrashy, catchy and lighthearted; then out of nowhere you hear a segment of late 80s/early 90s inspired black metal completely out of nowhere before going back into its fun, cheerful, Maiden(?) inspired riffing. The whole album if filled with emotion be it happy or somber. It's an album that I really think you will....(sorry for this)...LIKE!
15.) Mr. Bungle-The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo
FFO- Thrash Metal, Experimental
I contemplated putting this release on the list. Don't get me wrong, this is thrash metal album of the year, without a single question otherwise. But as it is labeled as "demo" and I am a stickler for just having LPs on this list; i gave up the notion on this one when I saw every one else referring to this as the 4th Mr. Bungle album and I'll be doing you, myself and anyone else who reads or shares this list a gigantic disservice if I don't put this album in. Taking out the fluff of the original demo (which, never got to have many *bunny* ears checking it out) This album is pure, unadulterated thrash metal just as the original demo showed off, just updated for modern audiences. It helps that Scott Ian of Anthrax and Dave Lombardo of Fantomas, Suicidal Tendencies, and formerly of Slayer help round out the Bungle lineup to make this the thrash masterpiece that it is. So many people look at Reign in Blood or Peace Sells or Master of Puppets as the best thrash albums ever made, if not the best metal albums ever made. I hope in time, people get to hear this album and discover what you can REALLY do with thrash.
14.) My Dying Bride- The Ghost of Orion
FFO- Death/Doom Metal
This album can and will bring you to tears with it's sorrow. It's the most commercial (if that's even the right word to use) album of the band's career with the most clean vocals shown off by the band and the growls/screams used very sparingly. Seriously, when you understand what Tired of Tears is actually about; you'll feel your heart ripped out of your body. This is another emotional wreck of an album in the best way possible. Just make sure you have something to wipe your eyes with as you really listen to the album; you will have to. Phenomenal...PHENOMENAL album.
13.) Fates Warning- Long Day Good Night
FFO- Progressive Metal
This absolutely would have been a top ten album had I just had the time to listen to this album more before it was list time. That's not even an option. The fire got lit under Fates Warning with their previous album and the band has kept that fire lit as strong as ever. This is some of the best progressive metal you will hear in 2020 and ina year like this, that's more than you could ask for. Just check it out for yourself!
12.) Dawn of Solace- Waves
FFO- Melodic Doom Metal
When Tuomas of Wolfheart wanted to make Wolfheart heavier, faster, and more aggressive; the other side of his songwriting was not going to be properly used. So he resurrected Dawn of Solace to show off his melodic doom metal side. No screams or growls here, this is purely focused on melodic singing and songwriting while having that HEAVY doomy side fully intact. It makes this album nearly a poppy doom album, if such a thing could ever exist. This was another album I swore was going to be number 1 Album of the Year winner. This is a must listen for anyone reading this list.
11.) Haken- Virus
FFO- Progressive Metal
In the past decade, the band has put out 6 of the finest quality progressive metal albums you could ever expect from a band in the style. It's how I imagine people felt when Dream Theater broke through in the 90s and they released amazing album after amazing album. Virus continues on from the concept of Vector, which of course continues on the story of...actually no. The story needs to be dissected for yourself so I'll let you do that if it intrigues you further. Virus, musically, is the heaviest Haken album by far, showing off progressive metal with sides of blasts and thrash metal with some drop tuning goodness. This is how you make a progressive metal album stand out in 2020. Haken is only going to continue to grow bigger and bigger into the world's next progressive metal icons, that is, if they haven't already established that fact.
And there you go, everyone. 40 albums down, 40 albums that deserve your attention, and hopefully a couple you actually WILL check out Tomorrow is the Big Bad Booty Daddy of them All, The Top 10 Albums of 2020. Hope to see you there.