I think we can all agree 2020’s been total shit for the most part. Between the pandemic, skyrocketing global unemployment rates, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, genocides, diplomatic incidents and myriad political debacles, it seems we’ve lived through one hell of a year. You’d think the apocalypse were just around the corner. Music too has suffered in 2020. And although most of us have had to forget about concert and festivals, the flow of new albums surprisingly hasn’t suffered the same hiatus. I can honestly say I hardly noticed any drop at all. And looking back at everything I listened to, the quality of this year’s releases was almost unparalleled. I think this top 10 has been the toughest I’ve ever had to make. But after some tough love, I managed to narrow it down to ten favourites. Read on, my fellows.
10. Leeched – To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse
Dissonant music usually draws my immediate attention. I find the idea of creating anti-melodies simply fascinating. And this is precisely why Leeched‘s ‘To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse‘ deserves a spot in my favourite albums of the year. Released in January, the UK trio’s third full-length is one of this year’s most brutal hardcore records. If aggressive sludge with lots of feedback is what you’re looking for, look no further. This is the band for you.
9. Beneath the Massacre – Fearmonger
Best comeback album of the year, if you ask me. I only kind of listened to Beneath the Massacre back when deathcore was still in fashion. I only got into their sound much later due to their technicality being too intricate for my young and innocent ears. Shortly after it seemed they’d never drop another record. Then a few years ago, all these bands from my younger years were rising from the grave, BTM being one of them. And they proved that they still have what it takes to be counted among the great ones by unleashing the monstrous ‘Fearmonger‘ last February. With some of the fastest and most brutal riffing, drumming and singing ever, the musicianship here is jaw-dropping. I’d go so far as to say they’re possibly only topped by fellow tech death countrymen Archspire. Check out my detailed review, if you haven’t already.
8. Terminal Nation – Holocene Extinction
This one came out of nowhere. Terminal Nation have apparently been around for a while and have a few EP’s and demos to their name. Nothing exactly major, you’d say, and you’d initially be right. But then in August the Arkansas death metal/hardcore five-piece unleashed this absolute beast of a record upon the world, which has never been the same since. Everything on ‘Holocene Extinction‘ is great. It is a gritty, unforgiving, pummeling ride steered on by caveman riffing, befitting of the infernal year that was 2020. Fans of Gatecreeper, Outer Heaven, Genocide Pact, Creeping Death, Coffins and colleagues should really check this out.
7. Scaphoid – Absent Passages
Boy, has this year been good to instrumental releases. While I used to stick with the odd track here and there, I never really got into entirely instrumental records (apart from movie and video game soundtracks, naturally), so I’m not going to pretend to be a specialist. This year however I decided it was time to tackle the genre and to dig around thoroughly. In doing so I found some truly memorable marvels like the Polish Distant Dream or Hecla from Canada. But the absolute best instrumental record of 2020 has to be Scaphoid‘s ‘Absent Passages‘. These Texans have created a rather unique metallic ambient sound, which balances celestial escapism and adventurous riffing perfectly. I highly recommend this one if you ever need to recuperate from a bad day with something a little softer.
6. NINA – Synthian
I mainly listen to synthwave and derived genres for their 80s element. Whenever I hear those analog melodies, nostalgia hits hard and I feel like a carefree kid again. There were many remarkable releases in that particular area this year, especially from lesser known synth artists. But none could have ever beaten NINA‘s ‘Synthian‘. The German UK-based singer gives an entrancing angelic performance, while the music created by Argentinian instrumentalist virtuoso LAU is some of the most memorable I’ve heard so far. This one is just hit song after hit song. If you thought their previous record, ‘Sleepwalking‘, was good, just wait ’till you hear this one.