|With 2020 taking Game 1, we need to hone the resilience of MJ |
Oh 2020, where do we even begin? You were a year that kept devouring more and more for itself, but if you were good for anything it was making obvious the value of music. In a year where the world is on pause, escapism becomes a hot commodity. Movies and video games will always offer that to an extent, but there's something completely unique to letting music take you on its own journey. From desolate forests to the American Wild West, my favorites from this year took me to some pretty sublime places. Hopefully, they can bring you a little comfort as well.
Check out my favorites from this abysmal year after the break!
15. Proscription - Conduit
14. Nug - Alter Ego
13. Izthmi - The Arrows of Our Ways
12. Haunt - Mind Freeze
11. Barishi - Old Smoke
10. The Ocean - Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
9. Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better?
8. Paysage d'Hiver - Im Wald
7. Cloudkicker - Solitude
6. Deftones - Ohms
5. Gaerea - Limbo
top album of that year, I was very eager to check out whether these Portugese black metallers could continue to deliver. The inclusion of Limbo on this list should confirm that they do exactly that and more. What drew me to Gaerea in the first place is how they're like Mgla but with way better production value. Every piece of the band is so audible and loud in the mix that it feels like being as close to being at a live concert as you could possibly be. Limbo not only continues to capture that energy, but also brings a more dramatic sense to their songwriting. The majority of the album still is a barrage of deep growls, blast beats, and thunderous guitar distortion but there are times where slower, more ambient guitar notes are used to allow the listener to soak in the onslaught. Though a subtle change, it was enough to elevate Gaerea to a whole new level and makes me confident they will continue to impress in the future.
4. Lamp of Murmuur - Heir of Ecliptical Romanticism
3. Ulcerate - Stare Into Death and Be Still
interview from earlier this year that I had with drummer Jamie Saint Merat, Ulcerate steered into a more melodic direction with Stare Into Death and Be Still. Though, "melodic" is still a relative term in this case. Ulcerate's patented brand of dissonant death metal is still very much intact here but the melody is more apparent in the album's pacing. One moment may feature lightly tapped cymbals and lingering, soft guitar notes while the next can turn on a dime into a flurry of dizzying drum work, swirling guitar distortion, and cavernous growls. Stare Into Death and Be Still is a true masterclass in building and releasing aural tension, making it one of the most cathartic listens of the year. It's also a landmark album for Ulcerate, perhaps only second to The Destroyers of All.
2. Skeleton - Skeleton
1. Wayfarer - A Romance With Violence
It's a low bar to clear, but here's to hoping for better things from 2021. Stay safe and take care of yourselves.