2020 Picks

Thumbs up: +2
2019 was meh for me... Almost absent death metal, only borderline decent oldschool heavy.... A few good surprise along the way though, and mainly female fronted doom/noise/rock bands. But overall 2019 wasn't as generous as 2018. What about 2020 now?

Here's my first picks for this year...

So that's not metal, but Ben Levin blew my mind once again with his new EP:

let me remind you once more that Bent Knee's You Know What They Mean was one of the best releases of 2019

Created by: Ansercanagicus | 10.01.2020

1. Kvelertak - Splid
☆ punk hardcore but catchy and melodious. Every song is a banger with groovy and beautiful riffs, it's all very diverse, the guitar tone is a bliss, and some harmonic choices are very joyous and surprising
2. Lotus Thief - Oresteia
☆ experimental rock, with a heavy use of pitch shifted square waves, like in an atmospheric video game soundtrack, which I like a lot. The vocals are female and rather suave midrange, that's also something unusual that I dig. The music is some kind of atmo rock, sometinmes dark stoner or atmospheric black metal but still soft. There are some occasional growls, but the general tone is rock indeed.
3. Ben Levin Group - FAKE
☆ it's a... huh... hip hop with sped up guitar licks as texture. It's a 10 minute EP in three acts, and sets a new frontier for avantgarde.
4. Thy Catafalque - Naiv
avantgarde. This one has very little to do with black metal, right? it's all groovy folk mixed with metal and synthwave to give it punch. High energy music, very bouncy. The different sounds, being electronics, tradionnal instruments samples, or female vocals are all neat.
5. Bütcher - 666 Goats Carry My Chariot
speed blackened US power ? The main appeal to this music is obviously the upbeat tempo specifically designed to break thousands of necks. The riffing is reminding of Slayer's Show No Mercy, but with a heavy use of hammer/pulloffs. There's also a bit of Mercyful Fate. The guitar work is solid with great leads. I dig the blackened vocals a lot, the grossly raw and upclose mix, and the artwork too. This is a fun ride, maybe getting exhausting at some point. Not that the songwriting is bad, but songs go by without any moment to take a breath, and is quickly edging the listener's stamina. Some moments stand out as rather black, other rather heavy, or rather thrash, it's an interesting mix of genres.
6. Igorrr - Spirituality And Distortion
This album is a serious one a lacks a bit of fun. However, it is divided in face A / face B (name Distortion / Spirituality). All the teaser tracks were from face A, and it was underwhelming electro/death, like good, but unsurprising by Igorrr's standard. Face B on the other hand is way more interesting, an I understand why we didn't see it yet, for it's not really commercially appealing. It's a symphonic piece, for lack of a better term, putting baroque on the foreground, and tracks unfold and complete a whole 30 minutes of great music. And this is really worth, it's just a shame that the first tracks sound so little organic and fail to blow anyone's mind. So, DIstortion, meh, Spirituality good!
7. Spell - Opulent Decay
new wave of oldschool heavy, just like Cauldron and Haunt, but Spell's music is much more complex and less gimmicky. It throws a bit of doom and stoner influences here and there, and they keep a psychedelic but serious and almost dark tone. It's not overwhelming but I guess this album is a grower. You can tell these guys had an idea in mind when the wrote this. Look at this cover art, those song titles, and of course the ominous music.
8. Cirith Ungol - Forever Black
heavy/doom. Well, the new Cirith Ungol. The singer's voice has changed a bit but gained power and lows, while still tearing through the metal chunk. I also appreciate the modern-oldschool mix, which is clean but preserves the punch of all instruments. Some of the songs drag a bit, but hey, that's not unusual. Since they throw a couple of riffs and catchy songs here and there it's ok. They recycled some of their first songs, and I like the funny vibe in brings to this album. 'The Fire Divine' and 'Fractus Promissum' are especially great. I'm also glad to come accross numerous youtube posts of people stating they didn't know CU but really enjoy what they hear. So that's cool.
9. Lord Of Light - Morningstar
I usualy don't like power metal, and I'm even more reluctant when it pretends to be prog and overuses stupid synth samplers. I can't explain why this one is an exception, but it is. It has managed to create a special atmosphere. The songwriting also caught me offguard with a lot of surprising turns, like intense choirs, or brutal changes in syncopation.
10. Imperial Triumphant - Alphaville
11. Wailin Storms - Rattle
12. Purification - Perfect Doctrine
doom/heavy that is really crushing with heavyness, gritty saturated guitars playing slow and nice melodies
13. Grin - Translucent Blades
stoner/sludge. It's heavy, it's spacy, it's psychedelic, I feel I'm being eaten by a wormhole. Lost in a grooving jam of gritty saturation, echoing reverb and immensely low freqs. How? there's no guitars. Just bass, and a freaking massive bass. And also great cover art.
14. Caustic Wound - Death Posture
classic grindcore, with Carcass and Demelich as audible influences. The sound is great and especially the bass tone which is orgasmic. Musically there's nothing new but it's still very enjoyable.
15. Dukatalon - Involuntary Action
intense sludge with a clean mix, so the drums are really groovy. The guitars are also spacy enough to make it psychedelic.
16. Wake - Devouring Ruin
death black, quite atmospheric and focused on dissonance while being melodic
17. VoidCeremony - Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel
prog death/black
18. Esoctrilihum - Eternity Of Shaog
atmospheric black metal
19. Spirit Possession - Spirit Possession
black metal with riffs, sounding energetic and bouncy
20. Cauldron - Undercover Of Moonlight [Compilation]
Now that's real new wave of old schoold heavy metal. Covers of older songs, from various artist, so the album stays fresh and diverse through and through without hitting the wall of incompetent songwriting. I'm not saying this for Cauldron, but for NWOOSHM in general. The unmastered sound is also very pleasant and will teleport you straight to 1980. Cauldron's singer also tries to mimic the original singers, and he can deliver convincing impersonation. So if you don't like the habitual vocals, you can try this record to find out if it clicks. Hmm... this years sounds good for the oldschool.
21. Blood Star - The Fear
[EP] heavy/speed. I can't say these female vocals are too powerful, but they're quite engaging. Another cool oldschool heavy release to join the clique, I'm looking forward to hearing more from this band
22. Blizzen - World In Chains
at last! That's how I expect NWOSHM to sound like. The mix isn't faux-dirty but plainly sounds vintage. The singer isn't over the top or bad, but humble yet able. And the riffs are there, even if they're not unheard of. Cool enjoyable one. The 80s-like cover art is also a better impersonation than all the other 80s-like covers I've seen.
23. Black Swan - Shake The World
quite a cliché heavy/glam band from the oldschool. The songs drag a bit and could be shorter, but the singer is a great synthesis of 80s glam / hard rock bands, and the guitarwork is great too with a lot of major/minor switches typical from this era. Funny riffs and leads, even if it's not unheard of.
24. Lesser Glow - Nullity
25. Trepalium - From The Ground
short album of the prog band Trepalium, mixing their metal with limbo, walz, shuffle, etc... dancing stuff, and groovy licks.
26. Sightless Pit - Grave Of A Dog
noise. I really liked what I heard there, between synths, saturation, Lingua Ignota vocals and stuff, but this album is still experimetal in the true sense. Songs ain't writen well, the album has no structure... I hope I'll get see a more musical second release
27. Deranged - Deeds Of Ruthless Violence
funny death grind wth organic sound

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 4   Visited by: 25 users
12.01.2020 - 00:12
Disagree on 2019 being meh, but top notch pick for 2020 so far
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

2020 goodies
13.01.2020 - 00:49
Where's Poppy??
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

2020 goodies
13.01.2020 - 14:05
Lol. I really didn't like it. I can acknowledge that it is unique and breaks new boundaries, but I couldn't stand neither the polished sugar pop moments, nor the alt metal/indus Marylin Manson-like moments. The 4 songs I went through were really obnoxious.

If ever I'll come back to it (which is uncertain), and if I enjoy it (which is even more uncertain) I might add it to the list. For now it's a 1-entry list.
13.01.2020 - 14:16
JoHn DoE
2019 meh? I disagree, a lot of great album came out, at least for me (my taste that is).

I might have to listen to that Lotus Thief.
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.

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