This year has undoubtedly been one turned upside down by pandemic turmoil running amuck among the globe. Fortunately the music still flows, perhaps not as it would of been without covid. Having listened to less than usual this year, there was quite a few additional records I considered for the top list. Ordering out records is arbitrary anyways, Id say the top five here where the clear favorites that had defined some of the best music I encountered this year, although of course, this list only focuses on releases from 2020. Tomorrow I'll cover musical discoveries as is tradition.
(10) IGORRR "Spirituality And Distortion" link
As one of the more interesting takes on extreme music in recent memory, Spirituality And Distortion sets a landmark for once experimental ideas blossoming brightly into wonderful music. IGORRR has come a long way, evolving from a bedroom experiment into a band and now finding what ticks beyond the novel on a cracking record with little to fault.
(9) Plini "Impulse Voices" link
Its inevitable that a Plini record will end up on my top list. With such a high level of curation I will undoubtedly by engulfed by this Progressive Metal indulgence of melodic delight. Although little can surprise in terms of style and direction, Its always a masterclass in guitar and composition that I am a sucker for.
(8) Backxwash "God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It" link
Fantastic discovery this year with Canadian rapper Backxwash making a fine impression. This short record is concise, to the point yet wonderfully artist and dynamic, fusing the darkness of Metal with keen Raps and trendy percussion. A fantastic take on crossover between the two genres. One to watch out for in the coming year!
(7) Haken "Virus" link
Having followed Haken for a few years now, they had yet to really strike a nerve but this record did that! Having hit a stride on their last outing, Virus arrives continues in a similar vein as these now seasoned veterans deliver a Prog Metal masterclass! Riveting record.
(6) Deftones "Ohms" link
The Deftones will always muster excitement from me. Gore was one of those records that initially seems exciting and fresh but with time tired to sound like one of their worst. I'm certain Ohms wont suffer that same fate. Their pivot in tone and inclusion of retro synths yielded something fantastic and lasting. Its amazing how this band keep reinventing themselves.
(5) Zeal And Ardor "Wake Of A Nation" link
Zeal And Ardor have been one to keep a close eye on since their inception and this EP, despite being short, was a brilliant and fiery reflection on the racial movements spreading across the globe this year. The manifestation of anger and frustration into music darkness was simply brilliant and keeps me excited for whatever they will do next!
(4) Code Orange "Underneath" link
A force in the world of brutality, Code Orange return with a focused vision, steering into Industrial territory and terrorizing all who listen with their manic ferocity. Infused with synths and glitched production magic, this is a real meaty slab of aggression to pick apart. The songs behind its aesthetics and design have really lasted the year well.
(3) Tame Impala "The Slow Rush" link
Loving this synthetic fusion with Psychedelic Rock, the return of Tame Impala gave me exactly what I wanted, which was more of the Currents magic! These songs felt a little sharper and the reflective tone of the recording was endearing. Over the year the songs have really held up well.
(2) Myrkur "Folkesange" link
Utterly charming from the offset, this pivot to pure nostalgic Scandinavian folk tales was stunning. I let it simmer for a while and then binged again in the winter months. Amalie Bruun's voice is sublime and together with the instrumentation they conjure a vivid sense of rural, heathen life surrounded by natural beauty. Truly endearing, Vinter was a favorite to play during Christmas.
(1) Ocean Grove "Flip Phone Fantasy" link
Something felt special about this band right from the offset. Hailed as a Nu Metal, Rap Metal revival I had to check them out. What I found though blew me away. These guys are more 90s than the decade itself. The energy and nostalgic vibes are no tribute but a reinvention of old ideas channeled through a brimming wall of sound production that gives off endless energy. Initially it was my workout record, binging on it for months on end and since then I've been astonished at how its magic hasn't tired after so many repetitions. Even learning to play it on guitar now! Just makes it even better. Can't wait to see what they do next!