Welcome everyone! Part 4 is upon us and rather than make a whole big speech in the middle of this list. Let's get right into the reason your here. Albums 30-21 of my list of the best albums of 2020.
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.
30.) Magic Dance- Remnants
FFO- AOR, Melodic Rock, Heavy Rock
Magic Dance, had I had more than a few days to listen to it, would be so much higher up on the list. But the band loves releasing their albums in December and I can only do so much. The band has gone through so many different eras and genres since their inception, yet it always sounds like the same band. Be it synth wave, AOR, or even on Remnants, heavy hard rock. And I am here for the whole ride. Remnants starts to see the band really showing off their heavy sides by incorporating a short burst of double bass and heavy guitar soloing; yet, the band doesn't stray from what brought people to the (magic) dance with their 80s flair and modern substance. Since discovering the band with their Vanishings album; I have been enjoying the band more than one maybe even should and I find that to be a great thing. Magic Dance is pure ear candy and if you can enjoy what came out of 80s music, you'll definitely agree.
29.) THEM- Return to Hemmersmoor
FFO- Horror Metal, Heavy Metal, Power Metal
The name, the style, the conceptual ideals, the voice; come on. Don't make me spell out who the band has been heavily influenced by. THEM has released their 3rd album in the storied saga of KK Fossor and it's more than evident that the band is continuing to forge their own path in what horror metal can really be. Every album is connected, yet stands out on it's own accord and Return to Hemmersmoor just may be their best work yet. Dive in and check out why THEM should be on your radar.
28.) Let us Prey- Virtues Of The Vicious
Let us Prey is a band that is more than hard to describe just using words. They are a band that is not afraid to play...well...EVERYTHING! You can hear them go from metalcore riffing to power metal melodies to hard rock sensibilities to death metal to progressive metal all on the turn of a dime. Here's the kicker; it all fits seamlessly. The songs are very chaotic and sporadic, but that's what makes it work and flow together so very well. Your first listen will grab you and make you pay attention an d every subsequent listen, you'll start to unpack the layers of everything that's going on musically and lyrically. I love when a band has instant replay value and that's what you get with Let us Prey. You need to find out why for yourself.
27.) Trivium- What The Dead Men Say
FFO- Metalcore, Thrash Metal, Heavy Metal
Trivium lit a fire under themselves that I have seen a band light in a long, LONG time. Fates Warning is the last long standing band I can think of that out of nowhere started putting out the best albums of their career decades into the band. What do you like about Trivium? It's on this album. What do you wish Trivium did more on an album? It's on this album. The band is at their most mature when it comes to songwriting abilities throughout this release and it more than shows that they just want to keep putting out great music. I can't wait to see what's next.
26.) Lik- Misanthropic Breed
FFO- Old School Death Metal
The legendary guitar tone, the drumming style, the vocals, the song lengths. You can tell that Lik has a passion for old school death metal that is unrelenting and pulls you into the grave with it's melodies, harmonies, soloing, and songwriting structure. Simply put, Lik proves that the patented European death metal you know and love is undead and well. Every release is a sheer horrific delight to listen to; go check these guys out!
25.) Protest The Hero- Palimpsest
FFO- Mathcore, Progressive Metal, Symphonic Metal
Protest The Hero has come back to the LP format in a huge way with this release. Not only do you get the Protest The Hero you know and love. Their style is uncompromising and makes your jaw drop trying to comprehend how they pull it off. Not only that, but you get a new sense of symphonics on the album that I was not expecting on this album. If Protest The Hero wasn't already at the top of their game, they write a new concept album that really makes you appreciate the art of the LP in 2020 and shows that albums are here to stay. Even if they weren't your thing in the past, this album may change your mind.
24.) Witch Taint- Sons of Midwestern Darkness
FFO- Black Metal, Comedy Metal
Witch Taint has brought back the 90s black metal in full force with their debut album. The guitar tone has the raw aggression that made the music stand out. They've always decided to incorporate different genres throughout the album that I will not give away in this release (it'll ruin the fun). If you are a metalhead and you can take metal not so seriously, I mean it with all of my dead, black heart; go pick this album up and enjoy the love that is presented before you.
23.) Macabre- Carnival of Killers
FFO- Macabre, Murder Metal
I can't describe Macabre any better with the FFO than that. They are a band onto it's own. Some of the most insane riffs about some of the worlds most insane serial killers and then out of nowhere you start hearing songs like Wheels on The Bus or other children's songs and you start wondering what the hell is going on. That's more than the Ted Bundy charm here and makes you want to attend the carnival. It's as serious as it is silly and the album cover is simply Album Cover of the Year. Just...just go check it out. My words can only do so much to entice you.
22.) Winterfylleth- The Reckoning Dawn
FFO- Black Metal, Folk, Atmospheric
Winterfylleth has been a long time favorite black metal band for me with their sense of nature inspired music that really makes you appreciate the world around you. They are also a band that can take you into the bowels of the underworld with a song like Absolved in Fire that feels like the music score of a horror movie. The band truly stands out among it's contemporaries with their unique songwriting sensibilities. The Reckoning Dawn continues this trend and they only get stronger and stronger with every release. Kick back, listen, and enjoy!
21.) Imonolith- Imonolith
FFO- Groove Metal, Heavy Metal
You can tell that 2020 has been a great year when this was Album of the Year for me for so long and now it's pains me to see it at number 21. That is not indicative how the quality of this album among others as this album SLAYS. Sometimes you don't need to write the most chaotic, odd time signature, epic metal masterpiece. Sometimes you just need to write some crushing riffs, bring a sense of groove that's been missing in a lot of metal as of late and hey, why not throw in Jens Kidman of Meshuggah for a guest spot on a song. Imonolith is labeled as an All Star Metal Band and don't get me wrong, everyone in this band is more than worthy of living up to an All Star moniker. The problem is most supergroups tend to...let's say...not live up to the hype as often as you'd want? Imonolith does not need that label as the band stands out on their own even if you don't know their past work. Go pick this one up for one of the catchiest, heaviest, grooviest and ill say it, BEST albums of 2020!
And there you have it folks, 40 albums down! In past years this would be the beginning of the end of the list as it would normally be the top 20 done in just one segment. But tomorrow you are getting Part V: 20-11. The enticement continues, hope you stick around.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)