2020. A year we will always remember. It can easily be said that this covid thing completely obliterated tourism and the music industry. And therefore, heavy metal bands are the most stricken financially. This isn’t a ranked list of the best albums of 2020. We’ll do that later. This is actually a playlist of some of the coolest stuff we’ve heard this year. The albums won’t be ranked at all. Consider this a fine excuse to buy some CDs and help all of these bands.
By the gods! Dissonant death metal masters, Thoren, are back in action! Gwarth II is a continuation of the madness this band brings to our ears! This is probably the only, and by far the best instrumental album on our Covid-19 playlist! If you’re looking for some mean, noisy chops, look no further than Gwarth II! This album is the closest you can get to a lunatic asylum without a straight jacket on! Pure schizophrenia! And what makes it even better is the fact that Thoren is a three-piece. The songs are very dynamic and chaotic. You never know what happens next. Thoren’s Gwarth II is an essential dissonant death metal album (without growls) that everybody should check out! Their music can be described as a perfect match of dissonant death metal, djent and jazz. And it even has two classical, avantgarde-sounding compositions that perfectly echoes the band’s eerie approach.
Annihilator is back! This is one of those thrash metal albums you simply can’t get enough! Ballistic, Sadistic marked the band’s comeback to the roots, with Alison Hell and Never, Neverland vibes going on throughout the record. Jeff Water’s vocals are on spot! And not to mention his merciless leads wrecking that his fretboard has to endure throughout the whole album! He has no mercy when guitars are in question! Production-wise, there is even a Cattle Decapitation moment going on the 2nd song lol. Ballistic, Sadistic is an album that made thrash metal relevant in 2020! This release has some brutal, thrash metal riffs in vein of “Phantasmagoria“...that kind of heavy!
BRING IT! Doom metal veterans Candlemass are keeping it real and doomy! This EP contains only one new track and a couple of demos. But still, that is an excuse big enough to include this release in our list! The demo tracks on this EP are unused songs from 2019 The Door to Doom album. “The Pendulum“ is a catchy song to say the least! The singer reminds me of Artillery.
Now this is a nasty grindcore release! Woke is so heavy that you’ll burn some calories just by listening to it! Within 18 minutes, Meth Leppard waged war against the whole world and won! Those riffs and rancid drumming will make you feel as if you are falling in meat cutting machine. And it’s good to note that Meth Leppard is a two-piece band! These Aussies are one of the most prominent names in grindcore if you ask me! The artwork featuring Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, nukes, clashes of civilians and police, a koala trying to save itself from Australian fires….JUST BRUTAL!
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
That’s right! This is easily one of the most original albums on this list! Everything is there! Death metal, Eastern vibes, classical music, dubstep, drum & bass, choral singing… you name it! Igorrr breaks the whole heavy metal paradigm. He’s brave enough to defy the rules and throw them in a trash can! You surely won’t be bored by this one! Spirituality and Distortion is a breath of fresh air for the whole metal thing! And yeah! George Corpsegrinder Fisher did guest vocals on the song “Parpaing“.
DAMN! Sepultura is growing stronger with every album they make! Quadra is a logical continuation of the path the band took with the previous album. Andreas Kisser’s virtuosity is unmatched when it comes to thrash/groove metal. Brazilian thrashers probably made THE BEST thrash metal release of 2020! The album itself is very dynamic, easy to listen and fun in general. Andreas Kisser brought some major riffage to the table with this one. Quadra is brilliant no matter what parameters are involved. This album has everything: thrashing brutality, the groove, dissonant, noisy riffs, stellar leads. Derrick Green sounds brutal as always! And Eloy Casagrande....well he is beating the hell out of these drums I’ll tell you that! They say that thrash is dead but Sepultura proves otherwise. Brazilian veterans are on top of their game! Quadra is one of the strongest candidates for the best metal album of 2020!
I said it before, and I’ll say it now, Titans of Creation is the best Testament album since The Formation of Damnation. Bay area thrash metal veterans are simply killing it. Titans of Creation is a magnificent piece of art. Loud bass? Check. Brutal vocals? Check. Heavy riffage? Check. Magnificent leads? Check. Chuck Billy, Alex Skolnick, Eric Peterson, Steve Di Giorgio and Gene Hoglan are a dream team that works like a charm! This is one of those albums that you can listen to at any given moment. There are few instances where Testament ripped themselves off but still, we are talking about a genuine, brutal album that out shadows both The Formation of Damnation and Dark Roots of Earth easily.
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New Zealand dissonant death metal boys are back with yet another striking release. Stare into Death and Be Still is, by far, Ulcerate’s most experimental album. It may take you some time to digest it, since it has more of a clean, melodic approach rather than being in full-on dissonant mode. But still, you’ll recognize it’s Ulcerate within 2 seconds from the moment you press the play button. Stare into Death and Be Still’s runtime is almost a full hour. And there are plenty of things going on this majestic release! What they did on this album kind of reminds me of what Nero Di Marte did with their latest one. NEAT!
This band is getting more avant-garde with every album they make! Abscess Time is a shining gem of dissonance! The vibe at the beginning of this piece of art reminds me of Arab on Radar for some reason. If you’re up for some unconventional guitar molestation, look no further than Pyrrhon’s Abscess Time! These guys never cease to amaze me! And yeah, that artwork is so damn good! Kudos for that! And yeah, as the time goes by, this dissonant death metal release is getting sicker and sicker! Some of you might feel like as if Pyrrhon’s instruments are falling down sets of stairs…but that’s exactly the way death metal SHOULD sound like! Crippling and bone-snapping!
One of the very few masked black metal bands that I like! Imperial Triumphant’s Alphaville is an avant-garde, dissonant black metal release that surely surpasses the traditional black metal formula. Just by looking at the covers Imperial Triumphant did: Voivod’s “Experiment” and The Resident’s “Happy Home” will make you know that the boys are after some out-of-the-box experimentation where the rules are thrown out of the window. And when you think that things aren’t weird enough, the video for Rotted Futures and Atomic Age will convince you that they are. WEIRD AS FUCK! And yes, this album includes some jazzy piano + trumpet takes. Pretty common for black metal, right?
What do we have here? One of the sickest, dirtiest bands you can find on the list. Graveyard’s The 6th Extinction will simply cut the audience in half, you’ll either worship them, or you’ll hate them! Either way, this album will split you in half! These guys threw the rulebook out of the window and delivered what they like to call “political death noise“. For all of you who want to hear a perfect mix of raw black metal, death metal & grindcore, packed in one single release, look no further than Graveyard’s The 6th Extinction! This is simply uncompromisable, DIY masterpiece that will get you out of your comfort zone! And what’s special about this album is that these guys predicted a lot of things going on in the USA (read the lyrics or our review and you’ll see what I’m talking about!) And make sure to buy it! Support the underground \m/
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Italian Progressive/death metal masters Nero Di Marte never disappoint! Immoto is the exact opposite of what the album title stands for (not moving). A dynamic, colorful album with lots of changes in emotions and intensity. It ain’t as dissonant as its predecessor but hell, you can’t please everyone! Still, Immoto is a beautiful album that will surely leave you speechless! And If I didn’t mention, it’s the band’s most experimental release to date! Nero Di Marte – Immoto. A must for all proggy people!
Album artwork of the year. I have no idea what it’s all about but it rocks! PERIOD! Today is the Day’s latest album is a pretty dynamic piece of art. It has tons of slow, melancholic parts but it also incorporates the more vile, sludgy and death metal vibe. Simply put, lots of twists and turns, No Good to Anyone will be more than good for quite a few of you out there. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with this one. Steve Austin is still killing it after all these years.
Melodic death metal masters are back with yet another striking release! The Black Dahlia Murder’s latest album Verminous takes no prisoners. The indisputable kings of melodic death metal keep on kickin’! The new album is brutal, catchy, melodic…what else can a BDM fan ask for? Brian Eschbach and Brandon Ellis really know how to make some memorable guitar leads. And when it comes to vocals, Trevor Stnard’s ghoulish approach takes the sonic aggression to a whole new level! All in all, this album will occupy your ears for years to come!
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Thrash till death! Warbringer’s 6th studio album, Weapons of Tomorrow is an essential thrash release you shouldn’t skip by any means! These riffs are like a huge wrecking ball. Bands like Warbringer still make thrash metal relevant as any other subgenre of heavy metal. Thrash ain’t dead, it just went underground! Weapons of Tomorrow is a thrash metal fix that every goddamn thrasher craves! More than a solid release, that’s for sure!
Yet another magnificent avant-garde release for 2020 - Hapeleptic Overtrove! It sounds as if the Behold the Arctopus were digging for some weirdest Krautrock influences for this album. Especially when it comes to nonsensical triangle + spoon + glass drumming. A breath of fresh air to say the least! And yes, the album contains all the technical stuff as on any BTA record. Arpeggios and guitar-fingering is around every corner! The songs are dark and dissonant enough to make your ears bleed! This is as if schizophrenia had a soundtrack. Close enough…close enough indeed. Behold The Arctopus’ Hapeleptic Overtrove sounds like bastard child of King Crimson and Primus. Left all alone…on acid.
Damn. Another brainchild of Colin Marston! Krallice’s Mass Cathexis is a great album! No doubt about that! And yes, one of the vocalists sounds like a very well done rip off of the Big Steeve Hurdle! On Mass Cathexis, there are no in-betweens, just a pure interstellar black/death metal assault. This album really made the previous one to Go be Forgotten. Better than that one, and better than the yogurt one (I mean Ygg Huur). Need I say how well produced this album is? Gotta love that full-scale apocalypse guitar and bass tone! This is actually one of the best albums of 2020!
Oh yeah, Kirk’s Windstein’s first debut album! Sludge Lord Almighty continues to spew his tasty riffage around in this soothing piece of art. Reminiscent of Crowbar, that’s for sure and it clearly won’t alienate Kirk’s fans at all. And yeah, Kirk, you totally bought me with this Jethro Tull cover “Aqualung“! Way to go! So, if you’re up for some sludge metal to ease your pain of everyday life, look no more than Kirk Windstein’s Dream in Motion.
Hell yes! Old school vibes are in the house! Biff Byford has resisted all trends and made things his own way for the past 40 years! His debut solo album School of Hard Knocks is a gift for all the rock n’ roll people! Pretty chill, laid back music that you can listen to any day, any time! And the songs are damn catchy, let me tell you that! This album actually took me by surprise! It’s so good! It will have a spot in my playlist for a while, that’s for sure!
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Bring it! Legendary Polish death metal veterans Vader are back with yet another stellar release! This time, Vader put things under 30 minutes (for your safety!). Gotta admit, this artwork is cool to say the least! Can’t make up my mind what’s better, Peter’s vocals or his pulverizing riffs? Not to mention the whipping blast beats and double bass that carry songs like an unstoppable force! Solitude in Madness is a merciless, state-of-the-art death metal that leaves no one indifferent! 29 minutes of pure lunacy! That may be the only downside of this magnificent release!
Vive la France! Benighted’s latest album Obscene Repressed is a bone crushing death metal release that will grind you down! Those black metal influences kind of remind me of what Cattle Decapitation has been doing lately! Those pig squeals remind me of that scene from Ridley Scott's Hannibal where that creepy wheelchair guy is thrown to the boars. The whole album is beyond brutal! Merciless drumming, punching guitar riffs, rancid vocals. Everything’s 120%!
THIS IS IT! I just can’t get enough of this band! Xibalba is apocalypse in the making! Everything about this band is striking! The riffs, the vocals, the drumming! And for the 3rd time, Dan Seagrave did an awesome job for creating the artwork for Anos en Infierno! This album has so much metal that you could rebuild the Twin towers with it! (love that joke lol). The vocalist sounds like the main boss from the Warhammer universe! The album incorporates doomy elements with all-out death metal brutality! In ancient Mayan mythology, Xibalba refers to “the place of fear“– i.e. The Underworld, which perfectly describes the claustrophobic & gargantuan nature of Xibalba’s music!
Did someone order brutal technical death metal? Abysmal Dawn’s Phylogenesis is as if you put Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus and Nile in a blender. And what are the odds for a band like this to be from Los Angeles? Error 404: no glam influences found. This album slays! Let me tell you that! Abysmal Dawn’s Phylogenesis is a sonic counterpart to cosmic implosion! It’s a definition of how modern brutal technical death metal should sound like! Abysmal Dawn also paid respect to Chuck Schuldiner and Sean Reinert by doing a cover of Death’s Flattening of Emotions! And its BRUTAL!
Go Finland! Their music is labeled as “psychedelic black metal” on Metallum. But it is even more than that! A real, trippy experience! Mestarin Kynsi is an extraordinary release, no matter what parameters are involved! Within 50 minutes, the band incorporated the best elements of avant-garde black metal mashed with psychedelics and electronics that contribute greatly to the whole thing. Oranssi Pazuzu’s Mestarin Kynsi is really great and unique album, that’s for sure!
Serbian thrash metal album of the year if you ask me! Quasarborn have released their 2nd album – A Pill Hard to Swallow. And it kicks some major ass! If you love thrash metal with high pitched vocals, this is the right thing for you! Excellent riffs, great solos! A Pill Hard to Swallow is the full package!
All-female-fronted melodic death metal! They call ‘em Serbian Arch Enemy for a reason! Nemesis’ The War is On is a must listen for all the fans of melodic death metal! These girls are killing it! Don’t believe me? Just type in The War is On on YouTube! What can be said about this album? Brutal vocals, kickass riffs, excellent drumming! And let me tell you this, their music has more balls than most present day metal bands! 38 minutes of deadly melodic death metal masterpieces! Give these girls some support! Highly recommended!
Now look at that artwork! A perfect representation of heaven turned to hell. Sinister’s Deformation of the Holy Realm is an album that splits the meat from the bones! Supersonic death metal savagery hailing from the very pits of hell! Truly an album you shouldn’t miss if you deem to call yourself a death metal fan.
Progressive thrash metal veterans are back! Mekong Delta have released their 12th studio album – Tales of a Future Past. Few seconds into the thing, and you’ll know that this is actually one of the better releases of 2020! We’re talking about 55 minutes of top-notch material! Ralph Hubert may be the only founding member, but this still IS MEKONG DELTA! The new lineup works like a charm! Excellent vocals, excellent instrumental, some Eastern influences! Just perfect!
Oh boy! This year Lamb of God released their 10th studio release! The self-titled album is a more than decent, 45-minute groove metal machine that will make you wanna mosh within seconds! This album features Chuck Billy of Testament and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed as guest vocalists! Pretty cool actually! Lamb of God’s Lamb of God is an adrenaline pumping machine! And when I say it, I mean it!
Good old Boris! Drone to the bone! NO is a pretty colorful album, ranging from stoner to classic rock n’ roll! Evil riffs, catchy tunes, everything’s there! And of course, there also some ambiental, noise and dissonant elements added to the whole picture! This album is an energetic wrecking ball! Too bad there aren’t any concerts around! These songs would keep the mosphits rolling!
From the very depths of Hell! Incantation’s 12th album Sect of Vile Divinities is an unavoidable death metal release of 2020! These guys bring forth merciless death metal carnage with some doomy elements added to the whole picture. This album will surely make you feel one step closer to the underworld! If I had a vodka shot for every pinch squeal on this album…I’d be dead after 3 riffs!
Finally, a grindcore band on the list! Venomous Concept seems to have released their finest album to date! The lineup on this album consists of Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth) on vocals, John Cooke on the guitar and Napalm Death’s Shane Embury on the bass and Danny Herrera on the drums. The artwork featuring a two-faced Donald Trump is kind of funny regarding the current political situation. And of course, since we are talking about grindcore, you couldn’t just put politics aside.
We know he isn’t one. But Ozzy’s new album Ordinary Man just had to be on this playlist! His latest album is terrific! Pretty catchy, dreamy and singable. The old man is still rockin’ after all the years of hard work! The album also features Slash and Tom Morello on some of the songs. Btw, the last track sucks and should’ve been left off the record!
Go U.D.O.! This one slipped under my radar! We Are One is one of the most uniquely sounding albums on the list! Especially due to the use of orchestral instruments that follow up this heavy metal odyssey! And Udo’s vocals never cease to amaze me! A fun album to listen to. Anytime, any place! Udo is keeping it real, keeping it heavy!
Napalm Death’s 16th album, Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is on par with the band’s best albums in the past 15 years! It’s the best one if you ask me! The band delivered a juncture of perfect, brutal grindcore, death metal and atmospheric black metal vibes added to the whole picture. The band is in their fifties and yet they sound full of energy and adrenaline! Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is absolutely one of the best albums of 2020, and it will surely get in top 10 on our 2020 list! The good news is that Mitch Harris wrote all these skullbreaking riffs! I hope that he will be touring with Napalm Death once this Covid thing gets away. In the end, Napalm Death is a plague that still rages!
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