Best of 2020: Cristóbal Torres

Spread the metal:

Top 20 Studio Albums of 2019

1. Alethea – Aquaria

The greatest and most important comeback not only of the year but the whole decade (or even more) in the power metal scene. Since 2007, when Aquaria released its last known album: SHAMBALA (2007), the entire latinamerican power metal fans kept waiting and waiting a new album from this band. ¡Thirteen years! My god, it was so much! But it was worth it. Through all those years we witnessed how other bands (like Angra) slowly died, however, ALETHEA maintains that holy spirit which made Aquaria one the most epic acts in the region two decades ago. This is an awesome album, so nostalgic, so necessary and so well developed that it is my pick for the best release of the year (and beyond!).

2. Grave Digger – Fields of Blood

If this is not Grave Digger’s greatest masterpiece, we can at least say that it is the best work that Axel Ritt has done in the band since its inclusion 11 years ago. The band has evolved and delivered a melodic album without letting go of the devastating power that has characterized the band from its very ancient beginnings. Just when it seemed like the band was doomed to release the same album over and over again, this new work gave them an unusual shine.

3. Saurom – Música

Saurom is today one of the flagship bands not only in Spain but in all metal that is sung in Spanish. The evolution that this band has shown at the production and composition level saw its climax in SUEÑOS (2015), leaving the bar very high for their next album. Fortunately MÚSICA (2020) not only maintained that rising level, but also meant a true oxygen tank for hundreds of thousands of fans eager to feed their souls in such dark times. With this album Saurom not only shines on a musical and lyrical level, it also confirms that they are aware of the role their music plays in the lives of many people.

4. Wings of Destiny – Ballads

Wings of Destiny - Ballads
This is not a consecrating album, because it is already the fifth time that Wings of Destiny has shown its enormous musical talent both on a compositional and technical level. However, it is pleasantly surprising how the band has maintained the level at the highest point, despite being a little known band not only in the region but in the power scene in general. BALLADS is the album that confirms to us how the spirit of this band beats in an authentic way, without seeking fame or fortune; simply for the fun of expressing themselves through the beautiful language of power metal.

5. Ambush – Infidel

This is a consecrating album. With this work Ambush was destined to finally share the stage with the great bands of the genre. Although the world situation canceled their tour, the album was strong enough to take root in heavy metal fans and make Ambush a consolidated band. The songs on this album crystallized a unique style in the group and have made Oskar Jacobsson the great spokesperson for the genre for the next decade.

6. Traveler – Termination Shock

Traveler - Termination Shock
Traveler is the great heir to the legendary Canadian heavy wave that bands like Skull Fist and Cauldron started ten years ago. The history of this group is another perfect example of musicians playing for the joy of expressing themselves. This second album showed us that Matt Ries can be the composer of new classics. We will remember this year for being the year Traveler released: TERMINATION SHOCK.

7. Lords of Black – Alchemy of Souls Part I

Tony Hernando has launched his life’s work, which is saying a lot since we are talking about a musician with a long and very interesting career. However, the brilliance of this album achieves a lot of merit. The quality of their compositions finally opens the eyes of many skeptics (myself included) who thought that the success of this band was due to the presence of Blackmore’s anointed: Ronnie Romero. Tony Hernando managed to build pieces that take us back to the times of SECRETOS Y REVELACIONES album. This full lenght allows us to witness a musician connected with that sacred fire of inspiration in its purest form.

8. Energema – The King of the Giants

Nicolás Waldo is not only one of the greatest talents of South American power metal, but he is also the architect of one of the greatest feats that can be tell in the region: having a band and releasing five albums in five years, and each one of them with an excellent quality. The King of the Giants is the sequel to the best story that Colombian power metal has been able to tell in the last five years. The compositional and technical level that Energema displays in this album makes us feel happy that bands like this one exist in Latin America.

9. Primal Fear – Metal Commando

The best album the band has released in so many years. In this work we will find songs that can again be sung live alongside old hymns of the caliber of “Metal Is Forever” and “Angel in Black”, something that had not happened for at least 15 years. Songs like “I Am Alive”, “Halo” and their incredible magnum opus: “Infinity”, make this album the best we have heard from Primal Fear in over a decade.

10. The Lightbringer of Sweden – Rise of the Beast

One of the biggest revelations of the year occurred in Sweden with the work of Lars Eng, who emerged completely from the most hidden depths of the underground scene to release an album that in just its first days of release exhausted all its stock. Although the presence of Herbie Langhans gave a very interesting boost to this album, the truth is that not even that manages to overshadow the enormous merit of Lars at the time of having a dream and making it come true.

11. Halén – Idleness

Anyone who claims to be a fan of power metal should be ingratiated to learn that one of the best songwriters in the genre released an album with the same sacred 90s vibe. IDLENESS is an album that revives that decade in which Europe was plagued (in a good way) with bands born to create alternate realities. IDLENESS is a true love letter to the genre as Ola Halén did absolutely everything (he sang, played, recorded and mixed all the instruments) to release an album that feeds our spirit as only the best power metal is capable of.

12. Helion Prime – Question Everything

Helion Prime - Question Everything
The album confirms what we knew for almost five years: the United States is home of one of the best power metal scenes today. With this work, Helion Prime is positioned as the spearhead of this movement since it has been the most constant band and has managed to maintain the quality of its work both at a compositional and production level.

13. Roadwolf – Unchain the Wolf

Anyone who wants to hear one of the best heavy metal songs of the year should listen to this album. “Unchain The Wolf” (I mean the song) is one of the best pieces of heavy metal that could be heard throughout the year. The best thing is that the album maintains the same level of composition, making UNCHAIN THE WOLF one of the best debuts of the year, as it took almost ten years of hard work for the band to crystallize it.

14. Lovebites – Electric Pentagram

I still don’t know who is the corporation behind this brand, however, I must admit it develops a very well crafted power metal. This is nowadays one of the most profitable brands in the scene. Musically speaking are awesome and this albums proves it (again!).

15. Cacería – Cacería

This album should be a paradigmatic work for the entire Mexican scene as it shows that it is not necessary to have all the members of a band to release an album. Ariyuki and Dante showed an unwavering will to give birth to a work that accurately reflects the caliber of their spirit. If many Mexican musicians would followed this example, there would be an extremely interesting wave of power metal and heavy metal.

16. Thunderslave – Unchain the Night

The best debut this band could have. Beyond the controversy, Thunderslave gave us one of the best Mexican heavy metal albums of recent times. This debut will age like the best wines.

17. Night – High Tides – Distant Skies Night

This band has crowned a retro and vintage style. This album was an unusual oxygen tank in the midst of so much distortion and a shower of riffs (many of which are beginning to show signs of stagnation in the genre). Rarely can you hear the seductive power of a good melody as in the songs on this album.

18. Alogia – Semendria

Choosing the best guitar duo of the last 20 years is a simple task if you listen to Alogia. The Branković brothers are a marvel of talent from Eastern Europe and they reflected it to the full in SEMENDRIA. Despite not being his best work to date, its quality remains well above countless groups of the genre today.

19. Jet Jaguar – Endless Nights

Fortunately, the most anticipated album of recent years in the entire Mexican scene did not disappoint. Although several pieces had already been released through singles, what they let us hear was a great demonstration of talent, power and patient will.

20. Ultimatum – V3

We started the count with a comeback and ended with another comeback, the most important in the last 30 years on the Mexican scene. Ultimatum’s latest album is very special as it also marked the return of legendary vocalist Brenda Marín, whose voice has not been diminished at all during these decades. Definitely one of the albums that will make us remember this year in the time to come.

Best Metal DVD/Blu-Ray: Lovebites – Five of a Kind
Best Remake Album: Return to Port Royal: Definitive Edition
Best New Band: Witchspëll
Best Comeback of 2020: Aquaria

Disappointments of 2020:

Veonity – Sorrows

I’m being very unfair, but I definitely thought that this album was going to establish them as the best power metal band of their generation. It didn’t happen like that. It’s a good record, but my expectations were too high.

Hopes for 2021: I really want to hear the new Helloween album. The world cannot explode until then.