2020 was a strange year for all of us – thanks COVID-19 – but for me personally from a music perspective, it was odd too. This year I was more into delving into back catalogues of older bands than I was in hearing a lot of new stuff. I don’t know if my ears are tired or if I’m just getting grumpy in my old(er) age but what can I say? It was what it was. Also, I was deep into hard rock this year too as you’ll see reflected in my list. With that in mind, there were a LOT of new releases this year that I simply didn’t have the time to check out…keep that in mind as you peruse my list. Have no fear – there’s still plenty of METAL to be seen and heard too!
Personal Top 20
|1. Unleash the Archers – Abyss
Like many fans, I was absolutely entranced with this Canadian band’s previous album, APEX. In comparison, ABYSS is more of a “grower” with more progressive passages, but once it unfolded it’s charms, I was just as hooked. Pure heavy/power metal goodness with a goddess-like vocals gets me every time. Unleash the Archers are ahead of the pack in delivering the goods this year.
|2. Harem Scarem – Change the World
I told you it was a hard rock year, didn’t I? Well, it never gets better than these long-time veterans of the scene. Their melodies, vocal hooks, and riffs are second to none in rock.
|3. Vega – Grit Your Teeth
U.K.-based hard rock masters Vega returned in 2020 with arguably their strongest album, a renewed sense of humour (check out the video for “Don’t Fool Yourself Again”)
4. Blue Oyster Cult – The Symbol Remains
5. Tokyo Motor Fist – Lions
6. Alestorm – Curse of the Crystal Coconut
7. Dark Tranquillity – Moment
8. Demons & Wizards – III
9. Nightwish – Human :||: Nature
10. War Kings – Revenge
11. Majestica – The Christmas Carol
12. The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
13. Stryper – Even the Devil Believes
14. Primal Fear – Metal Commando
15. Possessed Steel – Aedris
16. Bloody Heels – Ignite
17. Acerus – The Tertiary Rite
18. Magnus Karlsson’s Freefall – We Are the Night
19. Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
20. (Steve Riley’s) L.A. Guns – Renegade
Best Metal DVD/Blu-Ray
Eclipse – Viva La Victouria
Probably the closest I’ll ever come to seeing this phenomenal band live!
Best Live Album
Iron Maiden – Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City
Battle Born – Battle Born
This U.K. band cranked up the cheesy fun on this debut release and it’s killer power metal all the way.
Best New Band (debut full length was from 2020)
Greyhawk – Keepers of the Flame
These guys put out a killer E.P. in 2019 (RIDE OUT), and kept the true metal fires burning with this awesome debut full-length.
My Favorite Discovery of 2020 was…
Bloody Heels – Ignite the Sky
More killer hard rock from this year of great releases.
Best Local Band
These guys made my Top 20 up above for good reason: their progressive brand of classic heavy metal is intriguing and cool.
Disappointments of 2020
COVID-19’s b.s. and it’s impact on all of us personally and professionally. Lots of bands and businesses are struggling because of the pandemic’s impact on their revenue streams (live shows); it’s been devastating.
Hopes for 2021
The end of the pandemic! Enough is enough – we need live music! On that point, the continued evolution of live stream shows. I watched a few great ones in 2020 and they seem to be a viable option for bands.