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I never know what to say at the top of these lists. Here are 15 records that I really enjoyed this year, and that I will most likely continue to listen to for a long time. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and maybe even discover a band that you will love for years to come through this list (or one of our lists this year).
What about Sweden and the riffs? What do they know, or what do they have, that gives them the supernatural Iommic capabilities? Who knows, but Spell Jammer clearly participates in anything. Abyssal journey is crammed to the brim with fat grooves, slow headbang guitars and distant vocals that flourish allowing the band to do what they do with ease. Now go prepare a bowl.
Green lung, man. They combine the vocal harmonies of Uncle Acid, the rock force of yesteryear Ozzy, the silver guitar of Iron maiden, the stoner-ness of every stoner band you’ve ever loved, and 70s prog organ keyboards in a behemoth of an album. Black harvest is excellent back and forth with lots of bulky riffs, huge sung choruses and quite a few face-melting solos. He reigns.
Blood moon: I is Converge’s new collaborative album featuring all of Converge, Chelsea wolfe and Ben chisholm of (Chelsea wolfe fame) and Stephen Brodsky (Collapse, Mutoid Male). The album is nothing short of the best possible elements of everyone involved, as it fluidly oscillates between scorching metal and moody atmospheric passages, reaching every point in between. Blood moon: I This is what a collaboration should look like – greater than the sum of its parts.
Hippie death cult is what appears to be a stoner metal band that tried to be both a psychedelic rock band and a death metal band, got stuck somewhere in the middle, then decided that everything was fine. Day circles will throw you for several loops, and each one will make you think “oh. That was a really cool choice. Where has it been all this time?”
Beyond the beautifully and strangely poetic lyrics on The smiling thrush family is the perfect blend of progressive trends, crispy mud, and truly weird melodic choices that never fail. Keloid pattern is a group which is instantly identifiable, and which seems to assert itself more and more with each album. I wouldn’t be shocked if Keloid pattern started to be dropped as influences in the next few years, if they haven’t already.
Hey look, another list with the new one Gojira album on it! Seriously, there is a reason Courage keeps popping up everywhere – that’s really good. Courage looks like a clarification of what Gojira was trying to do with Magma, but seen through the lens of their older, heavier equipment. Courage feels focused and well-written, with all of its meticulously planned little discrepancies throughout.
Genghis Tron comes back to us all for the first time since 2008 with a record that does not resemble the previous two. Change singer Singer mookie with a new singer Tony wolski and drummer Nick yacyshyn, Genghis Tron swivels from cybernetic death metal to a roomier, heavier keyboard rock sound, but in a less aggressive way. Dream weapon is a new chapter for Genghis Tron, and very exciting at that.
Ascension Codes comes as a result of the death of the two drummers Sean malone and bassist Sean Reinert. With the founding guitarist and singer Paul masvidal at the helm, supported by Trioscapes drummer Matt Lynch and synth player Dave mackay, Ascension Codes is a magnificent progressive record which pays homage to the heavy past of the group while looking towards a stellar progressive future. For everything Masvidal went through in 2020, he expresses it beautifully on Ascension Codes.
i really thought My lord reached the depths of despair with their 2019 album No comfort, but apparently that was just the beginning. Your time to shine feels like an oppressed doom for those already feeling particularly gloomy, and with incredibly slow riffs to match. In reality, Your time to shine Looks a lot like the album cover – not particularly dismal until you take a closer look at it. It is then that misery begins to mount.
Wheel find the perfect balance between Tool/Karnivool– Progressive metal complexity and wrap as many hooks and catchy passages as possible into one song. The Finnish quartet does a wonderful job with the rhythm of Human Resident thus, spacing out the longest songs and letting the record breathe with a handful of shorter (but equally great) tracks. In addition, the rhythm section of the drummer Santeri saksala and bassist Aki “Conan” Virta is really, really good.
Dream Theater is on a roll lately between 2019 Distance over time and this year A view from the top of the world. While the latter explores a more accessible metal version of the group, A view from the top of the world looks like a triumphant return to leaning harshly on the progressive side of things. If this record hasn’t made a believer in everything Mike Mangini-re opponents, then there is simply no convincing them no matter what.
To the other side of My lordthe oppressed misfortune comes Alastor, whose lyrics are as dark as hell but the music is a little more spicy. Well, “peppy” in this way it justifies a slightly faster slow headbang. Forward and down is a doom record for people who want a little more rock n ‘roll, albeit with those shattering doom volumes and plenty of riffs for everyone. Forward and down should also be the record that puts Alastor on everyone’s card, because come on, it’s too good not to.
Khemmis now has four records in his career and should, at this point, be considered a modern legend. Misleading only serves to drive that point even deeper, with its ebb and flow between soul crushing doom and triumphant heavy metal (looking at you on the latter, “The Astral Road”). Basically, if you’re looking for a playbook on how to do modern doom, just hit any Khemmis record – but maybe start here.
the buffalo king is a rare example of a band that is constantly releasing new tracks, and everything is fantastic. The burden of restlessness is the perfect blend of buzzing doom stoner and playful progressive, whatever song you’re listening to. This is the type of record that makes you wonder how no one has mastered this sound before. Even though it might be because the buffalo king was he not there to show them?
Gel* comes back with a progressive and rousing existential crisis in the form of Day and age. The result may be the most accessible Gel* album to date, and one that accurately captures the band’s purest progressive past while looking towards a simpler, yet incredibly experimental rock future. Although if sitting right in between is extremely captivating and can once again be written at that level of perfection, then Gel* should not feel any motivation to make other movements.
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