Before I get into the actual list here are some honorable albums that didn’t make the list but definitely deserve a huge shoutout too because I listened to them a lot this year.
Plague Years – Circle Of Darkness [eOne Heavy]
VoidCeremony – Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel [20 Buck Spin]
Mil-Spec – World House [Lockin’Out Records]
Hexer – Realm Of The Feathered Serpent [The Crawling Chaos Records]
Terminal Nation – Holocene Extinction [20 Buck Spin]
Decoherence – Unitarity [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]
Beltez – A Grey Chill And A Whisper [Avantgarde Music]
Tithe – Penance [Tartarus Records]
Kommand – Terrorscape [Maggot Stomp]
Toadeater – Bit To Ewigen Daogen [Revolvermann Records]
Gulch – Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress [Closed Casket Activities]
Cryptae – Nightmare Traversal [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]
25 – Fluisteraars – Bloem [Eisenwald Records]
The Dutch black metal scene has been one of my favorites for quite some time, but Fluisteraars Bloem has been the highlight of their work for me this year. I couldn’t get away from the dreamy, nasty sound at the beginning of 2020, and the track “Eeuwige Ram” has become an absolute favorite with me. Fluisteraars have found the nearly perfect combination of natural folk elements and dense black metal.
24 – Perfect World – War Culture [LDB Records]
Perfect World manages to combine classic NYHC with crossover riffing and some more modern elements of Hardcore. War Culture is currently the living proof that the streets of the US metropolis can still sound as dangerous in 2020 as they did musically in the early 90s when they were conveyed by established scene heroes. If you are looking for a suitable soundtrack for your nightly way home through bad neighborhoods, where you prefer to bare your teeth you will find the right radiation with this record.
23- Kruelty – A Dying Truth [Profound Lore Records]
Kruelty knock out a true treasure of mosh-driven Metal. A Dying Truth is a hybrid combining gloomy Death / Doom with Beatdown Hardcore elements. This is underpinned by brutal breaks that are introduced with sinister halts in speed and concise guitar solos and thus operate absolutely violently while simultaneously animating kickbox moves at home already and definitely a worthy sparring enemy!
22 – Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! [Prosthetic Records]
Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! the newest spawn of Vile Creature took a few tries to ignite, but once it did, this sludge/doom chunk had me hooked throughout. The sound that this record roars out of the speakers is gloomy, versatile and above all beautifully melancholic. Besides remarkable melodies and massive drumming, I was especially enraptured by the strong vocals here. Like a tsunami that slowly but surely drowns everything that stands in the way.
21 – Siege Column – Darkside Legions [Nuclear War Now! Productions]
If you think modern death metal is often too slick and clean, no matter how dirty it wants to sell itself, you should check out Siege Column, because what this duo offers on Darkside Legions is disgustingly good and shows that even in 2020 the death metal of the early days can still be beaten up in an excellent and authentic way. A record that just rumbles in absolute old school garb and pushes the nastiest elements you can imagine into your skull.
20 – Scalp – Domestic Extremity [Creator-Destructor Records]
There were quite a few spectacular releases from California this year, but what Scalp delivered with Domestic Extremity simply stood out from the rest for me. The mixture of deathgrind, hardcore and powerviolence just blew me away. From merciless blastbeat parts to nauseating vocals and bitter breaks, this album delivers everything a die-hard mosh fan’s heart could desire. In addition, some of the tracks are real earworms that you can not get out of your head that quickly.
19 – Realize – Machine Violence [Relapse Records]
Realize moves somewhere between incredibly dark industrial metal, punishing grindcore elements and impresses with very strong basslines. The vocals also fit seamlessly into the rest of the mechanic foundation of Machine Violence and make this record an exciting miscellaneous album that resembles a dystopian future. When robots take over the world someday, it will sound about as abstract and disturbing as here, I’m convinced.
18 – Afsky – Ofte jeg drømmer mig død [Vendetta Records]
Afsky play similar black metal as Fluisteraars, but are again significantly darker on the road and bring dense Scandinavian sound into the game with Ofte jeg drømmer mig død, which can cause a furor from beginning to end. Ingenious melodies, extremely strong songwriting with an intensive atmosphere and oodles of individuality ensure that you can’t forget this album, let alone put it down. Those who loved the predecessor will want to marry this record, I promise.
17 – Diabolic Oath – Profane Death Exodus [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]
With Profane Death Exodus, the first album of Diabolic Oath, the band offers a simply unbelievably brutal, apocalyptic and anarchic sound to lure the listeners’ sweat out of their pores. This record is a horrible chunk with incredibly evil atmosphere and definitely one of the most interesting releases that the crusty Black/Death genre has eradicated this year. Here you will get merciless and authentic music to accompany the end of the world in its purest form!
16 – Neptunian Maximalism – Éons [ I, Voidhanger Records ]
One of the biggest surprises for me this year is the debut album Éons by the Belgian collective Neptunian Maximalism. With avant-garde drone/noise/free jazz, the record lasts over two hours and is divided into three parts, which differ musically and let the listener dive into a dark story that sounds so crazy as ingenious, that the playing time seems to pass in fast motion and permanently captivates. If you like experimental sound with depth and variety, you should not miss this release.
15 – Thin – Dawn [Twelve Gauge Records]
With Dawn, Thin certainly deliver one of the fastest albums released this year, packing ultra-aggressive grindcore with Skramz elements and tons of exciting riffing. The record also offers a certain space touch due to its technically high-quality level and scores above all with its strong songwriting, which can assert itself despite tightly measured tracks and ensures a lasting impression. Sounds as if Majority Rule and The Locust would have joined forces and recorded a longplayer on meth.
14 – Gag – Still Laughing [Iron Lung Records]
With Gag we have the living proof that Punk is still not dead in 2020 and can be lived in full passion because the band released their latest LP Still Laughing, which conjures up one bad-tempered Hardcore Punk anthem after another. If you are looking for puking out sounding music, you finally have come to the right place. Gag are the appropriate sarcastic, musical companion for the crazy year 2020 and they give it a resolute attitude – which is called Still Laughing!
13 – Hanging Fortress – Darkness Devours [Redefining Darkness Records]
If you want to have Cannibal Corpse-core with a psychopathic knife-stabbing attitude, you should definitely listen to Hanging Fortress, there is no question about it. Darkness Devours is a true soundtrack for the last fight with yourself, where you just want to let out all the shit you carry around with you in your everyday life. In short, an absolute must listen record for all fans of hardcore death metal especially because of it’s sensationally good drumming!
12 – Bas Rotten – Surge [Raging Planet]
With their inimitable mix of grindcore, hardcore punk and crossover, the Portuguese around Bas Rotten have released an explosive record with Surge, which, in addition to catchy melodies and distinctive vocals, especially scores with its flair. Several samples, breaks and parts to sing along with are also included of course and have made many hearts of blastbeat lovers beat faster. If you are into Fuming Mouth but they don’t sound crusty enough for you, the songs of Bas Rotten will definitly thrill and blow you away.
11 – Bedsore – Hypnagogic Hallucinations [20 Buck Spin]
Due to a really massive production, that is clear and expressive in any case, which suits the sound very well, Bedsore takes us into distant worlds of sound with their atmosphere on Hypnagogic Hallucinationseasily, which we want to surrender to again and again, because many “secrets” can only be discovered after several runs. Bedsore will be able to hold the spearhead of modern Prog-Death Metal bands in the long run, which I personally have no doubt about, considering the current quality.
10 – Of Feather And Bone – Sulfuric Disintegration [Profound Lore Records]
Of Feather And Bone have released new material that immediately rolled away everything that stood in their way. Sulfuric Disintegration knows no mercy, rages from start to end and delivers a musical hurricane, where especially the furiously fast drumming and the bitterly evil saw melodies remain in the ear. The sound is terrifyingly dark and incredibly hard and thus exactly the right thing to get through anger-distorted, sleepless nights. This is definitly not for the faint of heart, but perfect stuff for everyone who’s full of hate.
9 – Gall – 17:21 MIN [Heavenly Vault]
The sound terror that Gall is spouting on their album 17:21MIN is not for the meek, but this band is probably the most innovative that the German scene has to offer in terms of heavy music and blastbeat stuff. The experimental, noise-laden Powerviolence hits like a bomb and leaves craters unlike anywhere else. A blending of various noises that sound deliberately overloaded, underlaid with fulminant drumming and intense screaming provide you some of the best ear bleeding that can be found at the moment.
8 – Dearth – To Crown All Befoulment [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]
With their debut album, Dearth definitely bring one of the best Death Metal albums of the year to the market, which has the potential to still cause a sensation in a few years time and be celebrated just like it was shortly after its release. To Crown All Befoulment is fascinatingly wicked, incredibly massive and teaches everyone who listens to it the sheer fear. Turn off the lights, dive into the nightmare and get fucked up by this nightmarish monster.
7 – Wayfarer – A Romance With Violence [Profound Lore Records]
In terms of black metal, A Romance With Violence is one of my crystal clear favorites for the album of the year. Not just because of the fusion of Western and Metal but mainly because of its excellent combination of many elements without being chaotic or overloaded, which gives the record an unmistakable character and reinforces the long-lasting and catchy factor. Wayfarer sounds like the gritty offshoot of Red Dead Redemption, but comes with literally no bugs and tons of playing time.
6 – Sweven – The Eternal Resonance [Ván Records]
The Eternal Resonance by Sweven has become a true masterpiece in terms of prog-death metal. Especially the complexity and the songwriting stand out here, whereby the superior voice must also be mentioned. This album mixes old school death metal with 70’s progressive rock and keeps building throughout its length. Thanks to the many influences, you can discover new parts for yourself with every run-through, which enrapture the listener and emerge as a highlight. A record to which you can dream away and which provides a perceived eternity of listening pleasure.
5 – The Fight – Endless Noise [Triple-B Records]
If you like raw, dirty NYHC of the 80’s and also love UK street punk to sing along, you shouldn’t miss The Fight and their debut album Endless Noise. The Sound is incredibly hard, hits the listener into the face and just makes you angry. To these songs you want to fight, spit and scratch and more importantly, you just can’t get sick of it. “Their New Aesthetics” seems to be one of my favourite hardcore punk songs of recent years in terms of lyrics and music. As a fan of stomping Punk, you will be able to feel this record and gonna miss shows even more this year.
4 – Black Curse – Endless Wound [Sepulchral Voice Records]
Much has been written and talked about Black Curse and I can just join these praises. Probably Endless Wound is the darkest and at the same time most brutal Black/Death record that has seen the light of day this year. A hurricane of impossibly aggressive stringing together that you can’t escape once you’ve dived in. From vicious blasts to bloodcurdling vocals and furiously fast, evil distorted riffs, everything is here to teach the listener fear. Music as hellish, scary and sinister as the cover artwork already suggests.
3 – Xibalba – Años en Infierno
[Southern Lord Recordings]
I wouldn’t go that far to say that Xibalba have completely reinvented themselves with Años En Infierno, but after expecting another release in the musical direction of the previous ones, I would never have thought that the band would transform itself so brilliantly. If you found the last two albums of the band a bit disappointing, you should convince yourself of the opposite with the new one and let the flaming love for Xibalba be reignited.
2 – Chepang – Chatta [Nerve Altar]
With Chatta, Chepang have released one of the most innovative and at the same time most authentic Grindcore records of the last few years because this album is pure anti-music just the way it has to sound. Due to its own abstract dynamic that runs through the whole record Chepang creates an inimitable balance between repulsive and attractive music. For my taste Chatta is just another progressive blastbeat masterpiece by this fascinating band.
1 – Caustic Wound – Death Posture [Profound Lore Records]
If any album this year has managed to capture the widespread fear and destructiveness of Covid-19, it has been Death Posture by Caustic Wound. The record sounds incredibly mangy and nauseating, chasing sheer horror across your face and feeling like 3 years of being buried alive, dug up again and still not wanting to wash. Here you will get disgusting, ultra dark deathgrind that is composed of outstanding drumming, nasty distorted guitars and inimitable basslines. If you haven’t heard this sick piece in 2020, you can go right back to digging in.