Top 20 Metal Albums of 2020
As always, the top albums of the year are for full albums (no EP’s or demos) released in 2020. They are new studio albums for the year, not re-recordings, re-releases, cover songs, or live albums. Below the combined top 20 you will find links to each individual staff members’ personal “best of” lists which besides their top albums contains such things as best new band, best DVD/Blu-Ray, best metal book, disappointments of the year, greatest hopes for 2021, personal metal discovery of the year, and various other categories. Needless to say, 2020 was a whacked year for so so many reasons that we don’t need to get into. So we included a few categories and questions for the staff lists that we haven’t had before.
1. Testament – Titans of Creation
With a commanding majority of points, Testament took the #1 spot easily with more than double the points of the #2 album of the year. Was there any doubt?
The reigning Bay Area thrash metal gods Testament unleashed their 13th full length studio album “Titans of Creation” in 2020 and it was while more of the same awesomeness, in some ways it was even more awesome, if that’s even possible!
“Titans of Creation” is a breathtaking, relentless record from these heavy metal heavyweights, that doesn’t let up until it’s over. Everybody involved is firing on all cylinders as they have a career highlight on their hands, filled to bursting point with mountain-sized riffs, explosive and melodic solos, powerful vocals and one of the best rhythm sections in the genre.
Testament have preserved the thrash metal formula that kicked off their career, while at the same time spreading into new territories and sounds that were previously unexplored. This is a front-runner for metal album of the year, without question. Testament prove themselves to be the true titans of creation. (Review)
2. Annihilator – Sadistic Ballistic
Annihilator offer a superb thrash metal album by one of Canada’s finest. From the opening riffs of “Armed to the Teeth”, right through to the very last note, Water’s & Co. have set out to show the music world what technical thrash metal is supposed to sound like. It comes off a little more aggressive, pissed off and to the point. (Review)
3. Primal Fear – Metal Commando
Metal Commando is the thirteenth studio album by the German metal gods. Primal Fear is one of the staple bands here at Metal-Rules.com. When we got going all those years ago the staff were excited to discover and enjoy bands like Primal Fear whose career got going at pretty much the same time as we did. We have supported them over the years. The band has been releasing albums every two years, like clockwork since Day 1. Musically, Primal Fear is still superb and any of their last five albums are virtually interchangeable, and that is a high compliment. Once again they deliver the goods. (Review)
4. Armored Saint – Punching the Sky
Armored Saint’s 12th studio album is not only a testament to the band’s longevity, but it’s placement this high in our list is proof that they are as good as, if not better than, ever before. The songs are short, concise, powerful statements from a band who are, without a doubt, having the time of their lives and are truly at the top of their game. There are straight forward pedal to the floor barn burners, groove focused rockers with magnificent rollicking bass lines, mid-tempo atmospheric thought provokers, metal riffage in spades and tasteful, never overindulgent guitar solos. (Review)
5. Stryper – Even The Devil Believes
Here we have the 13th studio album from these metal soldiers under god’s command. Clearly the band has been embraced by many in of the metal community, even those of us who profess no religious affiliation. There musical talents are undeniable and have them still churning out great music all these decades later. (Review)
6. Demons & Wizards – III
Demons and Wizards is the side-project collaboration between Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kursch and Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer. III comes fifteen years after their previous release, and perhaps recognizing the long gap, the band has given us sixty-four minutes of music to digest. (Review)
7. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist
There are a few 80’s bands that have had a career resurgence later in life and Onslaught certainly meets that category. GENERATION ANTICHRIST is relentless and fast the whole way through. There is not much breathing room, which is a good thing for a thrash album. This is as good or better than anything the band ever did, but the weight of nostalgia and being a heritage act can be a heavy cross to bear. Set all that analytical crap aside and check out what Onslaught now. You will be blown away. (Review)
8. My Dying Bride – The Ghost of Orion
The Ghost of Orion is the thirteenth studio album from the this long-running doom metal band.
9. Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Obsidian is the 16th studio album by U.K. gothic metal band Paradise Lost. The band dropped off many of our radars after their 90’s glory years but have since more than redeemed themselves with a string of strong albums of which this new one more than solidifies their place.
10. Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
“Ordinary Man is a solid release, and one that Ozzy Osbourne and co should be extremely proud of. There’s plenty to love here, from nods to early Sabbath (‘Goodbye’ opens similarly to ‘Iron Man,’ whilst ‘Eat Me’ is reminiscent of ‘The Wizard’ with it’s blues harmonica), well-crafted rock songs that will be stuck in your head and great guitar work. I’m sure purists will lament the lack of Zakk Wylde on a new studio effort, but the album came together so quickly there was no time. Maybe Wylde will be back, maybe there will be another record down the line, maybe his No More Tours 2 tour will actually go ahead once Covid-19 goes away, but one thing is for certain: Ozzy Osbourne will absolutely not be dying an ordinary man.” (Review)
11. Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night
12. Katatonia – City Burials
13. Iron Savior – Skycrest
14. Sepultura – Quadra
15. Enslaved – Utgard
16. Heathen – Empire of the Blind
17. Lucifer – Lucifer III
18. Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
19. Eternal Champion – Ravening Iron
20. Nightwish – Human. :II: Nature.
21. Vader – Solitude In Madness
22. Benediction – Scriptures
23. Persuader – Necromancy
24. Communic – Hiding From The World
25. Tokyo Motor Fist – Lions
26. Majestica – A Christmas Carol
27. Midnight – Rebirth By Blasphemy
28. Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
29. Dark Tranquillity – Moment
30. Unleash the Archers – Abyss
Best Non-Metal / Rock Releases
The below releases were in a lot of our collectives lists and deserve a mention separate from the metal list in which they didn’t fit.
1. Harem Scarem – Change The World
2. AC/DC – PWR/UP
3. Blue Öyster Cult – The Symbol Remains
4. Deep Purple – Whoosh!
Staff Top Lists