I’ve heard some people say that because of the global pandemic there were fewer Metal releases in 2020. The statistics don’t actually support that theory or observation. There were just as many, maybe even MORE new, full-length, studio albums released in 2020, than in 2019. Ever since 2016, the number of full-length studio albums released each year has stabilized at about 8500, growing very slightly each year.
When you have that much selection there can never really be a ‘bad’ year from Metal. 2020 was no different with hundreds of enjoyable albums released in all sub-genres. No matter what your style or preferences there was something good to hear. If people say it was a bad year, they didn’t hear very many albums or they weren’t trying hard enough. This is what caught my ears and blew my mind in 2020.
TOP 20 of 2020
1. MAJESTICA-A Christmas Carol (Nuclear Blast)
This is no shock to me. For four consecutive years (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013) Swedish Speed Metal masters, Reinxeed placed very high in my annual Top 20 list, before taking a five year hiatus and then reforming as Majestica in 2019. Majestica was my #1 pick last year as well.
As for the sophomore Majestica album, A Christmas Carol, what can I say? Christmas rules. Swedish Speed Metal rules. Tommy Johansson rules. Therefore a combination of all three factors rules the most.
2. MEMORIES OF OLD-The Zeramin Game (Limb)
This brand new band from the UK snagged Tommy Johansson (Majestica, Sabaton, ex-Reinxeed) to sing and that pushed it over the top to take my #2.
3. VICTORIUS-Space Ninja’s From Hell (Napalm)
This album could have been bit happier, sillier and faster and had more guitar solos. Just kidding….
4. PERSUADER-Necromancy (Frontiers)
5. STRYPER-Even The Devil Believes (Frontiers)
6. AYREON-Transitus (Music Theories)
7. SKELETOON-Nemesis (Scarlet)
8. BLACK SWAN-Shake The World (Frontiers)
9. IRON MASK-Master Of Masters (AFM)
10. LEAVES’ EYES-The Last Viking (AFM)
11. FAIRYLAND-Osyrhianta (Massacre)
12. LUCID DREAMING-The Chronicles Part III (STF)
13. TERRA ATLANTICA -Age Of Steam (Pride & Joy)
14. ARCHON ANGEL -Fallen (Frontiers)
15. ALMANAC-Rush Of Death (Nuclear Blast)
16. FREEFALL-We Are The Night (Frontiers)
17. WOLFPAKK-Nature Strikes Back (Massacre)
18. HOUSE OF LORDS-New World, New Eyes (Frontiers)
19. MARY-ANN COTTON-Hallelujah (El Puerto)
20. ROYAL HUNT-Dystopia (Northpoint)
Best Metal DVD/Blu-Ray
This was the first year, in many, many years (decades!) that I did not purchase a new, hard copy, Metal DVD. I bought about 10 DVD’s of older material but nothing from 2020. Weird. I did however watch a few docs on streaming services. My honourable mention is Soaring Highs And Brutal Lows , the documentary about women in Metal, released back in 2015.
SOILWORK-A Whisp Of The Atlantic (Nuclear Blast)
A friend pointed out that at 36 minutes, this EP is still longer than REIGN IN BLOOD…
Best Remake Album
DIAMOND HEAD-Lightning To The Nations 2020 (Silver Lining)
Lots of piss and vinegar left in the old boys. This 40th anniversary re-recording is heavier, faster and has lots of bonus stuff including a number of cover tunes, including a respectable ‘tit-for-tat’ cover of Metallica’s , ‘No Remorse’.
Best Live Album
Audrey Horne-Waiting For The Night (Napalm)
Past and present members of Enslaved, Gorgoroth and Sahg made this melodic Metal band many years ago and they finally have released a Double Live album. Recorded in Bergen, Norway.
Best Covers Album
BPMD-American Made (Napalm)
Kind of a one-off project from four dudes (Blitz, Portnoy, Menghi, Demmel) who wanted to bust out some cover tunes of 70’s bands that influenced them. Word on the mean streets is that they ‘might’ do a Part II of European stuff.
Best Metal Book
The Book Of Heavy Metal by Snowy Shaw. (Wunderkind)
The way Metal autobiographies should be.
Best Concert / Best Live Streamed Concert
Ross The Boss (with Lunattack and Hrom) @ Dickens Pub. February 8, 2020
I only saw five bands (two live concerts) in 2020 for obvious reasons. RTB performed ‘Hail To England in it’s entirety. Magnificent!
Best New Band
MEMORIES OF OLD-The Zeramin Game (Limb)
My Favorite Discovery of 2020 was…
BURNING WITCHES-Dance With The Devil (Nuclear Blast)
I was aware of Burning Witches but this was the album that really caught my ear.
Best Comeback of 2020
After a slight mis-step with The Fiction Maze and a seven years wait, Persuader come roaring back.
Best Local Band (Calgary, Alberta)
HROM-Legends of Powerheart Part II (Hoovechild)
Disappointments of 2020:
1.) PYRAMAZE- Epitaph (AFM)
2.) VEONITY-Sorrows (Scarlet)
3. PRIMAL FEAR-Metal Commando (Nuclear Blast)
Did you have plans for a specific concert or festival in 2020 that were destroyed by the COVID-19 pandemic?
This one. I still weep bitter tears of eternal sorrow each and every day. My first (and maybe only) chance to see mighty Rhapsody in my own backyard for the first time ever…was ruined. I blame the Chinese! Kidding….
As a result of little to no live music in 2020, did you spend more or less money on albums this year?
A little less but I spent more on Metal books.
Hopes/Predictions for 2021:
-Blackie Lawless decides to release the mountain of archived W.A.S.P. footage (and the long-lost Japanese only video collection) in a cool, historical 3+ DVD box-set. Blackie also finishes his autobiography he has been rumored to have working on for years. (Carried over from 2010, again ten years running).
-New Manowar album.
-New Yngwie J. Malmsteen album.
Other Metal related things that still pissed me off in 2020.
-Metalocalypse is still in limbo with the conclusion to the series Metalocalypse: The Army of the Doomstar – The Final Chapter still incomplete.
-After six years Metalhead (the Icelandic movie) still has no release on DVD.
-Holliston Season Two is still not available on DVD.