2020 may be an overwhelming time in terms of our emotional, economical and probably even physical well being; luckily we always have great music to fall back on and fill the painful void this apocalyptic year has created.
Here are my favourite albums that have crept through the cracks of hell this year (so far)
Ordinary Man – Ozzy Osbourne
As I was digging through my liked albums on Spotify to gather a collection for this article, Ozzy’s Ordinary Man nearly flew past my radar several times because I refused to believe that it was released only a mere few months ago. January- March 2020 doesn’t feel like it’s a part of this timeline, so it took me a few minutes of googling to double-check that it did come out this year.
Despite there being a fair few criticisms about the use of auto-tune, that it’s not metal-enough, etc, I find this album to be an exquisitely composed honest record. Ordinary Man never fails to bring me to tears, and I’m so grateful that Ozzy was able to get it out before the world turned upside down. It’s an appropriate level of melancholy to the time we’re living in.
Splid – Kvelertak
Norwegian “Black’n’Roll” band released their 4th LP, Splid in early 2020. The album was recorded in Salem, Massachusetts and it is the band’s first album with new vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen and drummer Håvard Takle Ohr.
The album is exactly what you would expect when you hear the term “Black’n’Roll”, Splid has melodic classic heavy metal grooves, with moments of black metal inspired guttural screams. It’s fast-paced while remaining psychedelic, and has many moments of glam metal guitar solos that take you back to a time before the fear of COVID.
Sign of The Devil – Dopelord
Discussed previously in my Satanic Panic article, Sign of The Devil by Polish-Doom-Metal band has released one of my most favourite Doom albums in the last 8 months, and probably last few years.
The album is not only packed with tasty riffs, but it also gets to the point, which is often a problem when it comes to Doom Metal. Every song on the record has a purpose and every second utilized in this album doesn’t feel superfluous, as if they’re just trying to hit the over 6-minute mark for it to be considered doomy & sludgy.
Full Virgo Moon – King Dude
Not straining far from my home territory, Seattle’s Thomas Jefferson Cowgill (professionally known as King Dude) released one of my most favourite dark-folk albums of the last decade. Drawing on witty satirical tropes like Satanic imagery, Full Virgo Moon, possesses your ears and soul with it’s gorgeous gritty Johnny Cash inspired tunes.
Shadow of Life – Umbra Vitae
Umbrae Vitae is a metalcore supergroup with members of Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats (yes, my favourite), Job For a Cowboy, Hatebreed and Converge. Shadow of Life is the band’s debut album that respects the true sound of metalcore. It has everything a solid metalcore album would need, from its crushing heavy riffs, boisterous vocals and neck-breaking drums, this album is a superb hardcore album.
Black Metal – Witchcraft
Earlier this year, the Swedish Doom Metal band released their first album in 4 years. This album is not only long-awaited, but cleverly, and successfully, pissed off a lot of gatekeepers with this satirical album titled Black Metal. In a true Swedish sense of humour, the group released a 7 track acoustic album called Black Metal… Just because they can. The group, known for their masterful sludgy and psychedelic riffs, decided that they wanted to release a stripped-back album, that in my opinion, blows many other indie-singer-songwriters albums out of the water.
The album is honestly incredibly depressing, but just like the opening track it’s “elegantly expressed depression” and worth a listen if you’re into a slower candlelit jam.
The Bastards – Palaye Royale
Continuing the theme of using music to safely discuss dark topics, Canadian-American hot topic poster men, Palaye Royale, surprisingly nailed the balance of “depressing but fun” music.
Honestly, I never thought I’d see the day where I, not only, continuously praise the band but also put them on a “Top Album” list. Snobby opinions aside, this album is undeniably a record that I had on constant repeat earlier in quarantine, which therefore deserves a spot right along some of the latest and greatest (Ozzy & Lamb of God). This album is poppy in a fun way, depressingly dark in a realistic way, and heavy (also in a fun way).
Lamb of God – Lamb of God
This self-titled album is the legendary American-Metal band Lamb of God‘s 10th LP, and first album in 5 years, which marks the longest gap between albums in the band’s 31-year career. Therefore, there was a lot of high expectations when awaiting this record, it also didn’t help that the initial release was delayed to the good old’ virus.
To me, this album hit every expectation, although I don’t think Lamb of God has ever really made a bad album. This record has everything a 2020 album needs, it’s aggressively bringing light to topics like school shootings and racism, two pillar topics in the USA while giving the listeners solid heavy tunes.
This record is without a doubt a “blast it while driving down the highway to scream the lyrics out” album.
Of Darker Plains – Oliver Shaw (June 2020)
Psychedelic-English-Singer-Songwriter, Oliver Shaw, released his debut album earlier this year and it’s one of the most soul-nourishing records I’ve heard in a while. The record is whimsical and honest as the man that created it. Filled with Smiths’ inspired tracks, bluesy croons, it pays good homage to the true origin of Rock and Roll.
Fantasies of a Stay At Home Psychopath – The Blinders (July 2020)
It’s truly strange to acknowledge that I’ve only known of this band’s existence for 5 months, and yet, I’ve managed to write about them 4 or 5 times in that time frame. This record is truly a solid modern rock album.
Hunter-Gatherer – Avatar
The Swedish-Melodic-Death-Metal band, Avatar, never disappoints. Their 8th LP, Hunter Gatherer, is what I find to be one of the most accurate representations of the time we’re living in. It does feel like we’re reverting to our more savage way of living, in the time of Hunter-Gatherers, but at least we have great music like this album to play in the background.
Read the full review here.
The Great Flood – Rope Sect
Appropriately closing this article with what I find to be the best release of 2020 (thus far). Rope sect is a German-Post-Punk band that creates some of the most gorgeously haunting music I’ve heard in a long time. Their debut record, Personae Ingratae // Proselytes (2017) was one of my most favourite releases of the last decade, but surprisingly The Great Flood (2020) blows that out of the water.
Collaborating with one of my most favourite occult rock artists, Mat “Kvohst’ McNerney, brings these already talented musicians’ music to life. Furthermore, the mixing on this record, compared to their first, is so much better, thus allowing the album to seep into your soul as it should have always done.
I can’t stop listening to this album and I hope you all feel the same way about it.
This was just a quick little article to remind you all that 2020 isn’t that bad if we consider the fact that at least there’s been an abundance of great new music. At least, that’s what I try to tell myself when there are days, like today, when it’s excruciatingly hard to get out of bed.
Don’t forget to wash your hands, wear a mask & stay safe.
Until next time Interwebs! 🕸
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