Dubious Decisions in the Age of COVID: The AMG Staff Pick the Top Ten(ish) Records o’ 2020

2020 was a year unlike any in recent history. We suffered (and continue to suffer) under the heel of a global pandemic that forced us to isolate ourselves from friends, family, and life as we knew it. After nearly a year of social distancing and various lockdowns, it becomes hard to avoid feelings of alienation and disassociation and the world starts to feel very insular and small.

And what helped many of us get through it all? Music. Thankfully the music never stopped flowing and surprise, surprise, 2020 was a solid year for metal despite the world going off the rails. Most of the AMG staff are still semi-functional, so we will now commence our exhaustive, blatantly subjective, and highly ego-driven look back on the albums that impacted us this year. First up as always are the dreaded staff lists. We can’t promise quality, but we can guarantee quantity. Read thoroughly but sample carefully.


Doctor Fisting

(ish) Body Count // Carnivore
#10. Pulchra Morte // Ex Rosa Ceremonia
#9. Black Pumas // Black Pumas
#8. Malokarpatan // Krupinské ohne
#7. Arcade Messiah // The Host
#6. Spirit Adrift // Enlightened In Eternity
#5. Fates Warning // Long Day Good Night
#4. Psychotic Waltz // The God-Shaped Void
#3. Wytch Hazel // III: Pentecost
#2. Armored Saint // Punching The Sky
#1. Mr. Bungle // The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo – 2020’s releases have been pretty disappointing, so of course my top pick is an album of songs written back in 1987. Mr. Bungle‘s origins as a crossover thrash band should surprise exactly no one, and the addition of Dave Lombardo (Slayer) and Scott Ian (Anthrax) makes their return to this style feel powerful and authentic. Also, Mike Patton hollering stuff like “Perfect! Penis! In my pants!” is one of the very few things that has brought me joy during this miserable time. Have a great new year, everyone.

Honorable mentions:

Midnight // Rebirth By Blasphemy
Blue Öyster Cult // The Symbol Remains

Biggest Disappointment: Pain of Salvation // Panther

 


Akerblogger

#10. Barishi // Old Smoke
#9. Well of Night // The Lower Planes of Self-Abstraction
#8. The Reticent // The Oubliette
#7. Pyrrhon // Abscess Time
#6. Sightless Pit // Grave of a Dog
#5. Fluisteraars // Bloem
#4. Mamaleek // Come & See
#3. Deftones // Ohms
#2. Ulcerate // Stare into Death and Be Still
#1. Imperial Triumphant // Alphaville – During a year of grey, music—like days—mushed into a fatberg of formless joylessness. Futures: rotted. Cities once filled with maskless swine emptied for the greater good, so it goes. Enter Alphaville: a decadent beacon, an ornate art-deco tower, opulent amongst the tangled urban webs beneath. Alphaville arrived at the perfect time and continued to stand tall as a glistening triumph of avant-garde black metal. It’s a record that turned up the theatrics and stagecraft by infinity. The music—be it the bounteous basslines, the diverse vocal transformations, the fluid transitions—managed, somehow, to satisfy the grand dystopian concept of luxurious atomic decimation. Few bands are able to create such intricate and alluring worlds: Imperial Triumphant can.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Oranssi Pazuzu // Mestarin kynsi
Sarpa // Solivagus
Lesser Glow // Nullity
Benighted // Obscene Repressed
Dark Fortress // Spectres From The Old World
Heads. // Push
Narrenwind // I, Shaman

Song o’ the Year: Triptykon – “Grave Eternal (With Metropole Orkest)

Biggest Disappointment: KatatoniaCity Burials

 


Roquentin

(ish) Megaton Sword // Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire
#10. Ulthar // Providence
#9. Spirit Adrift // Enlightened in Eternity
#8. Wake // Devouring Ruin
#7. SUMAC // May You Be Held
#6. Haken // Virus
#5. Faceless Burial // Speciation
#4. Imperial Triumphant // Alphaville
#3. Expander // Neuropunk Boostergang
#2. Neptunian Maximalism // Éons
#1. Duma // Duma

Honorable Mentions:

ACxDC // Satan is King
Esoctrilihum // Eternity of Shaog
Oranssi Pazuzu // Mestarin kynsi
Vile Creature // Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!

Song o’ the Year: Andre Antunes – “Judgement on COVID-19 goes HEAVY METAL [Kenneth Copeland Remix] [I Demand]”

 


Emya

#10. Dark Tranquillity // Moment
#9. Aether Realm // Redneck Vikings from Hell
#8. Unleash the Archers // Abyss
#7. The Ocean // Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic 
#6. Myrkur // Folkesange
#5. Draconian // Under a Godless Veil
#4. Oceans of Slumber // Oceans of Slumber
#3. Dawn of Solace // Waves
#2. Haken // Virus
#1. Seven Spires // Emerald Seas – Without a doubt, Emerald Seas is the album which garnered the most plays from me in 2020. I don’t think the track ordering could be more ingrained in my brain at this point. You know when you’ve listened to an album so many times that when one song tapers off, you start singing the intro to the next without any prompting? Yeah, that’s where I’m currently at with Seven Spires‘ second full-length album. After racking up a so-so review from Eldritch Elitist in 2017, Seven Spires seemingly came out of nowhere (though really I was just plain ignorant, these guys and gals are Berklee College of Music grads) to easily snag my #1 slot. Albeit cheesy and laden with hopeful lyricism, Emerald Seas leap-frogs between harsh growls, lofty vocals, mind-numbingly catchy guitar riffs, and thoughtful orchestration. This album is a win that 2020 truly needed.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Slow Fall // Beneath the Endless Rains
Thurisaz // Re-Incentive

Song o’ the Year: Seven Spires – “The Trouble with Eternal Life”

Biggest Disappointment: Cancelled concerts. More specifically, missing out on seeing Seven Spires live due to Covid-19.


Management Addendum: The above choices do not represent the opinions, views, tastes, or preferences of AMG management, nor should they be held against said management in the marketplace of ideas.

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