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. If your band/label is featured in this list, you can contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to send us promos for review in the upcoming years.
All releases are in no particular order:
As one of Finland's best kept secrets, Kaunis Kuolematon delivers excellent Melancholic/Melodic Death/Doom Metal in the vibe of Swallow the Sun, Insonmium, etc. All songs are in Finnish, but the album unleashes 52 minutes of killer music.
Needing no introduction, Ayreon always delivers on all expectations and “Transitus” was no exception. While we are still reeling from attending the “Into the Electric Castle” shows last year, this album continues Arjen Anthony Lucassen musical legacy with another lush Space Rock Opera.
Considerably better than their 2019 effort “Hospodi”, this release returns back to the dark and doomy sound of their first release. Regardless of all the drama and BS that follows both versions of the band, this is a solid EP that goes very well with the first album.
This is one of the bands that got us into Death/Doom Metal back in the late 90’s and this release perfectly captures that timeless sound in over 60 minutes of music.. Their ‘Doom Era’ boxed set with vinyl versions of this album alongside “Solar Lovers” and “Forever Scarlet Passion” was one of our favorite purchases of 2020 as these releases capture an excellent moment in time when this band was developing their sound.
First album in over 10 years marks the return of Darzamat and their crafty Gothic Metal sound. Another band that continued exactly where they left off in 2009, this release is superbly crafted, catchy, and very retro sounding for those that liked Gothic Metal in the mid 2000’s.
Blending to very unique styles into a monolithic slab of heaviness, this release was just what the doctor ordered in this superbly shitty year. The pummeling atmosphere of Thou and the emotive singing of Emma Ruth Rundle perfectly work in unison to deliver one of the most auraly oppressive and yet pleasing releases of 2020.
While there are tons of killer Black Metal releases this year, Gaerea’s “Limbo” is one of those that grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Being just their second full-length album, this release features over 50 minutes of vicious music combining the piercing brutality of Behemoth with intricate elements from bands like Misþyrming and Nordjevel.
We always enjoy a good album full of crazy guitar wizardry and insane shredding onslaughts. John Petrucci delivers his latest solo album just after 15 years have passed since the last one and it is as good as you can expect it. Nearly one hour of lush and jazzy compositions that go beyond just prodigious guitar wanking just for the sake of it.
Originally a one-off collaboration for Roadburn, we were super excited when this release was announced. Featuring members of The Devil’s Blood and GOLD among others, this collective unleashed one of the most engaging Psychedelic Rock/Metal releases of 2020, masterfully led by Farida Lemouchi and her hypnotic vocals.
Another one of our favorite bands finally released something new in 2020 and we loved it. Playing an interesting mixture of Atmospheric Death/Black Metal, this band has always created lush atmospheric passages filled with dreamy clean+harsh vocal arrangements. Hailing from Belgium, this release again delivers magical atmospheres and very mellow doomy passages, all tied up together with a brilliant production.
Of course we were not going to leave one of the most expected albums of 2020 out of our lists! The Nordic wolves returned with another intoxicating album of dark synthpop. We thought that “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” was going to be hard to match, but this release almost does and further expands the band’s musical horizons.
We like very weird stuff and usually Thy Catafalque is lurking in these territories. While we didn’t care much for “Naiv”, this EP featuring re-recorded songs from “Tűnő idő tárlat” was more appealing due to its crazy intensity and lush atmospheric. If you like weird things, this is definitely for you.