Editors’ album pick 2020

Like every year, many of our editors have created a yearlist with their top albums of the previous year.
In the article below you can read about of 2020 favorites.
We don’t declare a ‘2020 winner’ because styles differ so much, but most mentioned in this article
Myrkur – Folkesange.

Yearlist Erik

Looking back on 2020 it was a very strange year, and with this I mean personally an musically.
The Covid kept all of us in a stranglehold resulting in lockdowns and cancellation of the majority of concerts and festivals. Luckily, I managed to grab a few concerts and festivals before my entire planning went through the drain. I managed to witness Schammash and Enthroned in excellent form on Hedon’s Zwaar Nieuwjaar, Dimmu Borgir and Wolves in the Throne Room in 013 and Sammath and Asagraum at Doc’s Blackfest in Arnhem, andd that’s, with exception of a few non-metal gigs, it. It’s a shame because concerts and festivals are a real passion and outlet for me.

On the other side the sheer quality of releases this year managed to keep my stereo going on and on.
With Inquisition, Abigor, Ulver and many more 2020 managed to surprise me with a lot of releases keeping the Covid-darkness at bay and letting musical darkness in. So despite the fact that 2020 was a real tough year, missing all the festivals and concerts, there luckily was plenty to discover, and we’re all in this together, aren’t we? I think a lot of people experienced the same thing. Let us hope that 2021 will change for the better. It will take a while but I have hope that we will be able to see some extreme music by the middle or end of this year. Meanwhile I will focus on all the releases because there’s so much offered in 2020 I haven’t got the chance to plunder all these gems.

So here we go for the yearlist of 2020. This is based on my taste of today, 3-01-2021. It could be just the case that tomorrow the ranking or even mentioning of bands could differ. All due to my own bad taste and mood set ;)

Yearlist:
1. Ulver – Flowers of Evil
2. Inquisition – Black Mass for a black Grave
3. Naglfar – Cerecloth
3. Akantha – Gnothi Seauton
4. Abigor – Totschläger – A Saintslayer’s Songbook
5. Clan of Xymox – Spider on the wall
6. Emyn Muil -Afar Angathfark
7. Dodenkrocht – The Dying all
8. Akhlys – Melinoë
9. Bezwering – Aan de Wormen overgeleverd
10. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi

Ingrid

As it has been for everyone, 2020 was a weird year for me. I haven’t visit a single concert in the entire year, I guess last time that happened, I was still a child.
Live reviewing and photography give me most pleasure of everything I do for metal-exposure, but also gives me a lot of joy in live in the first place. With all that been taken away, it’s been hard to keep motivated this year to write, no matter how much I love running this website.

Thankfully the year brought some real nice releases to keep me happy, and you can read my reviews about some of them on the website (and reviews by the other editors of some of the albums as well.
As you might notice, a lot of the albums are very atmospheric, preferably Black Metal. It’s been my favourite genre for years, and I developed a weak spot for Icelandic bands. The raw, pure sound they create have taken me to a whole new level, hence my number one album of the year, Audn – Vökudraumsins Fangi.
I’ve spun a lot of more folky atmospheric bands this year as well and am particularly fan of the newest releases of Myrkur, Forndom and Danheim.
Especially Myrkur was a big surprise for me, since I’ve never been a fan of the earlier releases, but through Folkesange, I’m starting to appreciate those as well.

My full list of top albums in 2020 is as follows:
Audn – Vökudraumsins fangi
Myrkur- Folkesange
Gaerea – Limbo
Finntroll – Vredesvävd
Naglfar – cerecloth
Forndom – faþir
Danheim – skapanir
Dark Fortress- Spectres from the Old World
Benighted – Obscene Repressed

Wouter

2020 was, by all standards barring outright war, a weird and hard year. Besides all the personal loss and health issues due to Covid-19, this year has been erosional and abrasive to any who enjoys the heavy metal life and associated live events.

Barring that, a lot of very good music has been released. As a side effect to the various lock-down measures, 2021 might be likely to become an awesome year in terms of anticipated releases. If 2020 is a prequel to that, I am willing to sit tight, brace myself for the first couple of sh*t months and enjoy the rest of 2021 with catching up on music and more importantly, live shows.

Below follows my top list, though I struggle to make it to a list of 10.

1. Myrkur – Folkesange

Beautiful, enchanting display of the musical genius that is Amalie Bruun. This album kept me (mostly) sane during the lock(downs).

2. Gaerea – Limbo

Limbo takes you down a mysterious, aggressive, hard and all-submersive path into purgatory and beyond. Brilliant new standard for black metal anno 2020

3. Mork Gryning – Hindenis Vrede

Much anticipated after the rejoining and an epic performances I was privileged to witness – and boy, did they deliver after fifteen years!. The spirit of Tusand Ar hat Gatt, with the addition of some well dosed epicness – love at first spin.

4. Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn

Probably the second most spun record of 2020 in the madness months – grand, bombastic and brilliant apotheose of the talent of Winterfylleths’ musical minds.

5. Ahklys – Melinoe

A nightmare can be a work of art. See if your heart rate doesn’t reflect your fear upon hearing the opening riffs of divine slab of fright.

6. Afsky – Ofte jeg drømmer mig død

Solid slab of black metal, laden with heartfelt despair and sorrow. Morning or evening, dusk or dawn, this album just kills it.

7. Audn – Vokudraumsins Fangi

It took a bit more listens than Fargevir Fyrndar to get hooked, but boy… musically Audn takes it a notch up, and happily traded this for some of the ‘easy listening’ feats I loved them for initially.

Well, that’s all folks; I say #fck2020 and see you out and about in 2021!

Aaron

Every year you always have your most anticipated releases, some fall short and some exceed expectations. Let’s look at my top 10 albums of 2020!

Honorable Mention goes to
Alestorm – Curse of the Crystal Coconut
Because who doesn’t enjoy being plastered drunk on rum, in a row pit, figuratively sailing around the world in search of booty and plunder!

10. Aborted – La Grande Mascarade (Death Metal)
This short EP was a bookmark on my album release calendar for this year because I have been a HUGE fan of Aborted for a handful of years now but unfortunately after their latest full length release “Terrorvision” their guitarist Mendel announced his departure from the band. In my opinion all of their releases featuring him have been borderline masterpieces and have pushed this group to new heights, so with this recent announcement I was curious to see how it would effect the writing process and how they would proceed musically. This EP DOES. NOT. DISAPPOINT.
9. Warbringer – Weapons of Tomorrow (Thrash)
Thrash has been barrier breaker of heavy metal for decades. The unfortunate truth to that statement is that it also has the potential to be stale and very repetitive since its very “simplistic” in its writing format. Thrash beats and trem picking! With that being said, Warbringer always finds a way to keep its listeners captivated and craving more with every release with some of the best guitar solos in the game. “Weapons of Tomorrow” falls right in line and pushes their catalogue forward with one of the best metal releases of 2020 and hands down the best thrash metal release of the year.
8. Carnifex – World War X (Deathcore)
Like my aforementioned album, deathcore can too be repetitive as a genre in my opinion. You can only have a deathcore breakdown happen so many ways, but Carnifex always delivers. Most specifically because they do such a good job of blending a blackened style of metal with todays chunky slammy version of deathcore. “World War X” was the highly anticipated follow up to this bands best work in “Slow Death”. World War X is packed full of killer features including metals best front woman, Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz. Also featured on this album is guitar masterwork Angel Vivaldi. World War X sets the deathcore bar of 2020 quite high and is absolutely with the listen.
7. Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering (Metalcore/Thrash)
British Thrashers Sylosis in my opinion are one of the more underrated bands in the metal scene. Often talked about but also unfortunately often forgotten as well. “Cycle of Suffering” is exactly the surge this band needs to stay afloat in the top tier conversation. Packed full of breakdowns, melodies and incredible lead lines produced by guitar prodigy Josh Middleton their latest release easily claims a spot on 2020’s top 10 albums.
6. The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous (Melodic Death Metal)
One of my favorite bands ever needing no introduction is The Black Dahlia Murder. The epitome of consistency, unparalleled hard work and dedication producing hit after hit, seemingly every single release lands on a top 10 album release list. Their newest addition “Verminous” continues the trend they’ve set for themselves. This one however has a slightly different spin on the typical black dahlia sound we all know and love. With new guitarist Brandon Ellis now comfortably rooted into the lineup and able to write for a full release his 80’s style of writing gushes forth on “Verminous”. A lot of fans didn’t like the new sound saying they sold out, or that they weren’t “Black Dahlia anymore” but to me this release just shows you how consistent and groundbreaking a band can be all while maintaining what makes them unique. They found a way to take another style of music and blend it with what makes them who they are and it just goes to show you why year in and year out they are one of if not the best group around.
5. Abysmal Dawn – Phylogenesis (Death Metal)
Abysmal Dawn has always been one of those groups that puts out solid material but somehow always ended up landing just short of that upper echelon of bands. “Phylogenesis” finally seems as if it will right the ship and propel them to that top tier. Known for their pounding grooves and blistering riffs Abysmal Dawn seems to get better and better with each release and Phylogenesis is exactly what you’d expect from a band that is continually progressing. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of Pantera sounding influence which easily makes this one of my favorite releases of 2020.
4. Lorna Shore – Immortal (Blackened Deathcore)
Making headlines for multiple reasons “Immortal” was one of the most interesting releases of 2020. Unfortunately, before the album even got off the ground there was some turmoil surrounding now departed vocalist CJ Mcreery. However, musically this album is a masterpiece. I’m going to be totally honest I wasn’t ever that big of a Lorna Shore fan but this album is one of those releases that you can’t not listen to. From r
3. Benighted – Obscene Repressed (Death Metal/ Grind)
Not to be fooled by their music’s angry destructive nature, Benighted is easily one of the most pleasant groups of people out there to associate with. I believe a lot of that standard of human nature goes into their rigid way of creating music. This band EASILY puts on the most intense show I’ve ever seen live. “Obscene Repressed” sets the bar even higher for Benighted. Go take a listen to the track “Nails” and you’ll find out exactly why these guys are one of the hottest death metal groups out there right now. Nobody matches the musicianship and intensity these guys bring. The fact that this album is 4th on my list shows you how good of a year 2020 was for metal music because this could easily have been #1 on many other lists.
2 Deeds of Flesh – Nucleus (Death Metal)
One of the most anticipated releases on just about everyone’s list of 2020 is the return of the mighty Deeds of Flesh. I will start by saying that this is probably one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in terms of production. It sounds almost perfect. The mix is amazing. “Nucleus” sets an entirely new standard on what production can be. Another noteworthy mention about this album is the amount of vocalists. There is some seriously legendary tenure on this release. Featuring John Gallagher (Dying Fetus), Bill Robinson (Decrepit Birth), Luc Lemay (Gorguts), George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Jon Zig, Matti Way (Abominable Putridity), Dusty Boisjolie (Spawn of Possession, Severed Savior) and Robbe Kok (Disavowed) this album brings the best vocalists of the last three decades together to create a masterful tribute to one of Death Metals most missed legends. Rest in Power to the founder of Unique Leader Records, Erik Lindmark.
1. Skeletal Remains – The Entombment of Chaos (Death Metal)
How do you claim the top spot on such a prestigious list of albums? Simple. Take the most raw, angry and downright disgusting form of death metal from decades ago, pull its rotting corpse from the bottom of your album collection, blow the dust off of it, revamp it and modernize it to fit todays musical standards. Skeletal Remains absolutely hit a homerun with “The Entombment of Chaos”. From the moment this album was released it has easily been my most listened to album of 2020 and its not even close. With pounding triplet grooves and addicting chorus hooks this is one of the musical master works of 2020. Dark, Dreary and angry there is NOTHING about this album that is disappointing. From the word go its in your face and relentless but I really like that they show you they can slow things down in the song “Eternal Hatred”. I just don’t think there was a better put together album this year than this. Easily my favorite album of 2020!

Ian’s Top 10 of 2020

(in no particular order)
2020 has been a year for the books, I prefer to call it “the great shake up” for the music industry and metal scene in general. We have witnessed bands fall apart, reform, become dormant or produce masterpieces. For me this year was about comfort, listening to familiar bands, sounds and genres. With that said, I was impressed by several bands that I had overlooked in the past, Ulcerate being one of them. As a drummer, witnessing the work of Jamie Saint Merat on “Stare Into Death and be Still” is amazing; this band is as dark as it is engaging. Another fun and engaging release is Macabre-Carnival of Killers, if you can get past the comedic edge that this band has, you will experience very talented musicianship as well as creative and untraditional compositions. As for something familiar, Naglfar-Cerecloth is the release I have been waiting years for, truly one of my favorite black metal bands. Speaking of black metal, one cannot leave out the mighty Audn-Vokudraumsins Fangi. This was such an emotional and atmospheric album while maintaining many of the natural influences that Iceland has to offer. I was lucky enough to open for these guys in Iceland and they are true gentlemen and phenomenal musicians. Some of my other favorite releases from 2020 are Cytotoxin-Nuklarth, Deeds of Flesh-Nucleus, Abysmal Dawn-Phylogenesis, Mutilatred-Mutilatred/Livid Split and Mutual Hostility-Sacred Propaganda. I am truly excited for so many releases in 2021 and while we’re at it, lets get back to shows and festivals! Cheers.

Bill

Well, 2020 was a real dud for live music, but not so much for album and EP releases. Some bands such as Internal Bleeding, Behemoth and I believe Devin Townsend all did a live stream of their sets, which is better than nothing. I watched the Behemoth and Internal Bleeding live streams, and even though it was super cool to watch. It didn’t give me my fix for real LIVE music. The best thing I got to witness in person was a Polka band at an Oktoberfest in Port Clinton, Ohio. It kind of helped my need for live music mainly because I was drinking like a fish, but no Mosh pits sadly. I’m hoping to get over to Czech Republic for Brutal Assault for my first ever outdoors metal festival in 2021 So, here’s to hoping 2021 has something better in store for us!

These are my Top Ten Albums for 2020 (not in order)
Benighted- Obscene Repressed
Aborted- La Grande Mascarade
Wardrunna- Kvitraven
Black Crown Initiate- Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape
Ingested- Where Only Gods May Tread
Deeds Of Flesh- Nucleus
Myrkur- Folkesange
Cytotoxin- Nuklearth
Vader- Solitude In Madness
Naglfar- Cerecloth

Michael

What a year 2020 was. I’m sure everybody will remember this year, but I hope not only for the negative. For me, I definitely miss live music and hanging out with friends, but there has been so much good music.
When I heard Ayreon was coming with a new record, I thought for sure that that would be my absolute number one record of the year. Even though the record is very good, there are some major drawbacks which make it drop a lot on my top ten. Mostly, it’s hard to listen to the songs just singularly. Because it’s a full story, with some songs being narrated in the beginning, it’s not that easy to listen to, just as a musical piece.

I almost forgot some records that were released this year, even though I listened to them a lot. Delain’s Apocalypse&Chill for example. That band just keeps on growing and “Masters of Destiny” is such a great song. The addition of Avatar to my list is a bit of a shocker to me as well, but that record has been listened to a lot. It’s just full of energy, heavier than previous work and just gives me a boost throughout the day.

But my clear number one has to be “Under a Godless Veil” by Draconian. Once they started releasing teaser songs before the record was out, I was already sold. “Sorrow of Sophia” has been my top track of 2020 and just the full record is stellar. Every time I listen to it, it gives me goosebumps and just a big variety of emotions.
Let’s hope that 2021 will be a year that we will finally be able to see our favorite bands live. I for one am also looking forward to the new records of Epica and Wardruna.

1. Draconian – Under a Godless Veil
2. Nightwish – Human :|: Nature
3. Avatar – Hunter Gatherer
4. Delain – Apocalypse & Chill
5. Dark Tranquillity – Moment
6. Katatonia – City Burials
7. Myrkur – Folkesange
8. Ayreon – Transitus
9. Conception – State of Deception
10. Kamelot: I am the Empire live from 013