Top out of the box / otherworldly releases of 2020

After writing about music for over 15 years, releases rarely surprise us with their take on Metal music. However, every year there are a handful of albums/bands that are just ahead of their time or just bored with the status quo. This year’s selection includes some very weird and cool stuff as well as otherworldly albums that transport the listener with their unique craftiness.

Top Melodic Death Metal releases of 2020

As one of our favorite genres, Melodic Death Metal had some killer releases in 2020. This list represents some of the best ones we thoroughly enjoyed. Not that you might see some obvious ones missing, and this is due to them being on our main best albums of the year list. However, all these bands deserve recognition for their amazing releases.

Honorable Mention Hinayana - Death Of The Cosmic (2020)

Top Death/Technical Death Metal releases of 2020

This year we are combining both Death and Technical Death Metal into this list. Since we reviewed over 200 releases this year, and really enjoyed many of them, we will have separate lists for Progressive/Melodic Death Metal and Blackened Death Metal lists just in case you don’t see any releases in this category.

5. Cult of Lilith - Mara (2020)

Top albums that we didn’t review in 2020

As the year comes to a close, we are writing up a list of the albums we played and enjoyed the most that we purchased with our own money. These releases are worth mentioning on our site, but due to their label/PR companies not submitting them to use, we didn’t review them. With over 700 submissions in 2020, we focus on reviewing mostly (99.9%) albums we receive from our media partners.

Psychonaut 4 - Beautyfall (2020)


Hailing from Georgia, a place where we have only heard of a few bands, today we have deranged outfit Psychonaut 4 and their latest opus “Beautyfall”. As one of the weirdest and intense bands in Depressive Black Metal, this album showcases their maturity and intensity of their craft. We rarely review albums we didn’t receive for review, but this release is one that has been in constant rotation in our playlist and we believe more and more people should know about this excellent band.

The release kicks off in style with the pummeling opening of “One Man's War”, showcasing that this album will be heavy and yet feature a good dose of melody as the song evolves alongside dramatic vocal arrangements and solid guitar work. Our favorite track in this release, and probably one of our top 10 of the year has to be the emotive “Tbilisian Tragedy”. We particularly enjoy the eerie atmospherics and funky tempo changes, transmitting magical misery through its mixture of clean vocal passages and dramatic guitars.

Ceremonial Castings - Salem 1692 (MMXX) (2020)


Unleashing a cosmic onslaught of highly melodic/symphonic Black Metal, today we have Ceremonial Castings and the re-recording of their 2008 opus “Salem 1692”. As one of the most promising and interesting Black Metal bands in the USA, it was quite a surprise to see this release pop in our inbox as the band has been in hiatus(?) since 2014. With over 70 minutes of enthralling music, this release is a true gem in the crowded Symphonic Black Metal arena.

The release leads off with the dreamy atmospherics of “Beneath the Sabbath Moon”, a track that quickly triggered old-school Emperor and Tartaros flashbacks, but with an even more melodic spin. Jake Superchi and company have done a great job in improving the quality of this release, making epic tracks like “Where the Witches Waltz”, “Obsidian Spells of Hysteria”, and the eerie “The Devil in Salem” completely pop with an over-the-top lushness and crafty guitar work.

Abigor - Totschläger (A Saintslayer's Songbook) (2020)


Seemingly out of nowhere, recently we received Abigor’s latest opus “Totschläger (A Saintslayer's Songbook)”. As one of the most diverse and deranged Black Metal albums of 2020, this release unleashes 51 minutes of madness, ranging from traditional BM to more Symphonic/Atmospheric BM territories and a few visits into Avant-garde territories. If you like weird and yet masterfully crafted BM, this is one of those albums you can’t miss.

Opening with the theatrics of “Gomorrha Rising - Nightside Rebellion”, we get an early Emperor/Limbonic Art vibe from this intense track. Alongside the pummeling drumming, we get a nice variety of vocal styles and very chaotic guitars, both of which nicely bleed into the next track, “Silent Towers, Screaming Tombs”. For those looking for dramatic arrangements and a very regal/epic vibe, “Orkblut (Sieg oder Tod)” has you covered.

Iron Savior - Skycrest (2020)


Making this craptastic 2020 a little more lively, today we have Iron Savior and their superbly epic release “Skycrest”. Featuring nearly an hour of music, this release will excite all Power Metal fans thanks to its epic vocal arrangements and crafty instrumentation. Led by Piet Sielck, this band continues to get better and more refined with time, and this album showcases their best skills.

After the grandiose opening, the album title track sets a very exciting mood with excellent guitar work and very dramatic vocal arrangements. The epicness of the band’s sound is quickly established as tracks like “Our Time Has Come”, “Hellbreaker”, and “Souleater” perfectly balance catchiness, technical proficiency (crazy guitar solos), and a very ‘Heavy Metal’ attitude around a timeless old-school sound with no gimmicks and just power.

Imha Tarikat - Sternenberster (2020)


Hailing from Germany, today we have blistering Black Metal duo Imha Tarikat and their latest opus “Sternenberster”. Combining the melody and intensity of Mgła and Misþyrming, this release delivers over 45 minutes of expertly crafted music, split along eight crushing tracks. If you like well crafted and intense BM with a knack for high-quality production values and a pummeling attitude, this is one album you can miss.

From the incisive first minutes of “Ekstase ohne Ende”, the listener can appreciate the higher level of craftsmanship in this release thanks to a blistering guitar solo that leads to a brutal onslaught of a pummeling bass guitar line and hellish deep vocals. With this relentless attitude, the band blows past crushing songs like “Sturm der Erlösung”, “Kreuzpunkt der Schicksale”, and “Brand am Firmament”, while showcasing their diverse influences and crafty approach to songwriting alongside a ravaging tempo.


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