GBHBL’s Top 20 Albums of 2020 – Part 1 (20-11)

It’s this time of the year again! 2020 comes to a close and what a year it’s been for music. One of the strongest we’ve seen in some time. To the point where narrowing our lists down to just 20 albums seemed like an impossible task. Yet, here we are. We managed it. What troopers we are.

As always, the two main music writers (Carl and Brendan) have combined our personal lists into one article. You will find both our choices for numbers 20 – 11 with part 2, numbers 10 – 1 coming shortly afterwards!

Enjoy. We sure have.

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20 – Carl’s Choice
The Oneira – Injection (Rockshots Records)

Led by the Greek multi-instrumentalist Filippos Gougoumis, The Oneria is a multi-cultural project with members from across Greece, Italy, and Germany. Injection was released on March 13th 2020.

One of the most unique albums of the year. It’s ability to lift the mind and soul can’t be understated. So very engaging, The Oneria fill the soul up with light across 9 wonderful tracks.

You can read our full review of the album here.

20 – Brendan’s Choice
Leeched – To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse (Prosthetic Records)

Leeched - To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse

Leeched don’t mess about. This is straight up aggression and force. Music that cannot be ignored and should be respected, even if it isn’t your normal taste. I don’t normally go too in on hardcore but this I can get on board with. It is recorded chaos. Every screech, crunch and bit of feedback joins together to form the wall of sound designed to encompass your very being in an album that should shake up the scene along with your bones.

You can read our full review of the album here.

19 – Carl’s Choice
Carach Angren – Franckensteina Strataemontanus (Season of Mist)

The Dutch masters of horror returned with their most flamboyant album so far. On ‘Franckensteina Strataemontanus’, Carach Angren resurrect the gruesome story of troubled soul ‘Conrad Dippel’; the inspiration of Mary Shelly’s novel ‘Frankenstein’. It was released on June 26th 2020.

We expect splendour, theatrics and a sense of magical majesty with Carach Angren but on Franckensteina Strataemontanus they may have outdone all their previous efforts. What we have here is fantastical and gothic horror-laden dark trip into the twisted world of the black metallers.

It should come as no surprise to fans of Carach Angren to hear that Franckensteina Strataemontanus is an immaculate listen. One where everything can be heard clearly, and the layering of symphonic elements work perfectly alongside the rougher and tougher metal.

You can read our full review of the album here.

19 – Brendan’s Choice
Rick Massie – Eclipse (Self Released)

Rick Massie Eclipse Album

Canadian Rick Massie is a supreme talent and this release is really strong. It certainly made a fan of me and, with all due respect, I didn’t know much at all about them artist before the start of the year. A nice mix of music and genres keeps the album fresh and exciting throughout and when he wants to, man can he turn up the heavy. I love the guitars and the seamless transitioning between different musical elements throughout the album. Moments of beauty lead to moments of dreaminess and then on to a release of aggression. It keeps you on your toes in the best way possible.

You can read our full review of the album here.

18 – Carl’s Choice
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn (Candlelight/Spinefarm Records)

The Reckoning Dawn, the sixth full-length from the pioneers of British Black Metal Winterfylleth, marked the return of the UK’s most important 21st century extreme act, with a very relevant record for current times. It was released on May 8th 2020.

It’s so good to have Winterfylleth back with their more traditional sound. What we have here is 8 scorching, distinctive, atmospheric and magnificent black metal tracks. An invigorated and evolved Winterfylleth that builds on everything we’ve come to love about the band while adding even more depth and soul to their sound. Confirmation that Winterfylleth are as important and relevant as ever.

You can read our full review of the album here.

18 – Brendan’s Choice
Red Method – For the Sick (Century Media Records)

The debut album from the intense and aggressive band really does leave a mark. Its powerful with songs based around mental health that will stir up emotion. Simultaneously it manages to bring a cleanish production to the mix while remaining intensely heavy. I really like this band a lot and this debut is a fantastic start to the ex Defiled and ex Meta-Stasis members new venture. Released way back in February, it remains as potent as ever, maybe more so with what the following months brought and still gets regular spins from me.

You can read our full review of the album here.

17 – Carl’s Choice
Rick Massie – Eclipse (Self Released)

Rick Massie Eclipse Album

Rick Massie is a metal musician/solo artist from Whitehorse, Yukon. His musical projects are based in progressive hard rock/metal, and include a wide variety of musical styles and ideas from many genres, including black metal, death metal, prog, pop, avant-garde, cinematic music, electronic, and more. His debut album, “Eclipse” was released on May 1st 2020.

From being utterly gorgeous with its melodies and haunting vocals, to the heavier moments that produce phenomenal sounds. To peacefulness that is interrupted by catchy guitar rhythm before
transcendent beauty with a wonderful post-metal edge proves the initial wow factor was not a fluke.

To monumental efforts that scatters epic elements in and around some savage heaviness. Wow. Rick Massie is a talent. Eclipse is not one to be missed.

You can read our full review of the album here.

17 – Brendan’s Choice
Mushroomhead – A Wonderful Life (Napalm Records)

A Wonderful Life by Mushroomhead

I did not expect a Mushroomhead release to make it into any of my top lists when I first started listening to it, for reviewing. Man did I underestimate how much I was going to like this album. It is a little cleaner than my normal listen (okay, a lot) but so many songs on A Wonderful Life caught my imagination and excited the hell out of me getting played over and over and over again since release.

You can read our full review of the album here.

16 – Carl’s Choice
Dark Forest – Oak, Ash & Thorn (Cruz Del Sur Music)

Dark Forest marries traditional metal glory with tales from the heart of England’s long and storied past. Oak, Ash & Thorn was released on April 24th 2020.

Quickly on this album, it becomes crystal clear that Dark Forest have crafted a near-perfect slice of glorious metal glory. With plenty of pomp to the bombastic beat, it’s an energetic and smile-inducing album all the way through. Such grandness should never end and few will want it too.

You can read our full review of the album here.

16 – Brendan’s Choice
Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment (Metal Blade Records)

Anaal Nathrakh’s 11th album, Endarkenment, was released on October 2nd 2020 and is an absolute fiery beast of an album. You don’t listen to these guys and expect ballads and they don’t disappoint. It is extreme, violent and unrelenting. But, hidden within the horror and savagery there are more than few elements that show a band still growing and still evolving and I love that about them. After all these years, they refuse to stand still. Never compromising on their force but never afraid to grow. Respect.

You can read our full review of the album here.

15 – Carl’s Choice
Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance (Eclipse Records)

Glare of Deliverance is the third full-length album from Italian symphonic death metal masters, Genus Ordinis Dei. The album is a series of ten individual songs, each with its own music video/episode. These “episodes” combine in sequence like a short film or television series that tells the story of a young woman named Eleanor who is persecuted by the Holy Inquisition. It was released on December 4th 2020 via Eclipse Records.

Absolutely nailing the grandiose concept that they are sharing, Glare of Deliverance is a monumental symphonic metal release. Something to close out the year with a bang, or in fire and flames at least.

The story told here, Eleanor’s treatment at the hands of the Holy Inquisition is fascinating and even more impressive, easy to follow. From her initial peace disturbed by the arrival of the Inquisition, through to her capture, torture and being judged as a witch to her eventual fiery fate. It’s as epic as it should be and Genus Ordinis Dei tell the story through their expansive symphonic metal sound.

The elegance of the orchestration is put to good use here, always prominently placed but not so much that it overshadows the metal side of the band. Although with such oopmh to their sound, it would be near impossible to do that anyway.

You can read our full review of the album here.

15 – Brendan’s Choice
Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos (Loma Vista Recordings)

Marilyn Manson We Are Chaos

Mushroomhead and now Marilyn Manson. Whatever next and what year is this? Honestly, I am not even that big a fan of Manson generally but when I do get on board is when he gets dark, slow and ballady and We Are Chaos is musically a whole album of it. I’m a big fan of this album and it now easily has some of my top ten Manson tracks of all time.

You can read our full review of the album here.

14 – Carl’s Choice
King Dude – Full Virgo Moon (Ván Records)

For the past few years King Dude has been one of the most misunderstood voices in folk music. He’s been accused of everything under the sun; to some he is a violent psychopathic Satanist, to others he is a charlatan-left-leaning coward… And that’s just scratching the surface. Beware and be aware, King Dude is a force to be reckoned with. Full Virgo Moon was released on March 13th 2020.

Poignant and with a vein of menace, an emotional yet dark style of folk. Full Virgo Moon is a deeply moving and darkness covered album. Don’t be put off by the ‘folk’ tag, King Dude is an artist who has created a wonderful soundscape that will stay with you long after it is over.

You can read our full review of the album here.

14 – Brendan’s Choice
Carach Angren – Franckensteina Strataemontanus (Season of Mist)

The Dutch horror metal band released my favourite album of theirs this year. Carach Angren really do have a unique take on black metal and their concept this time around Conrad Dippel, the inspiration behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstin is a mature effort but still holds the darkness and mystery the band are known for. Mixing nicely between insanely heavy songs and songs that are a bit more grand, or epic, in nature. I found the whole album to be a mesmerising listen that I return to regularly still.

You can read our full review of the album here.

13 – Carl’s Choice
Dakesis – Fractures (Self Released)

Brummie Progressive Metal band Dakesis released of their third full-length album “Fractures” on the 28th March 2020.

This feels like a big moment for Dakesis. They’ve been solidly and steadily building their reputation within the UK underground scene and now, with Fractures they are ready to burst out into the light and grab the attention of the mainstream. Simply put, it’s time to start paying attention to Dakesis as Fractures proves to be their finest work to date.

Fractures is a wonderful release and should go down in history as the moment Dakesis rose up to become giants of the scene.

You can read our full review of the album here.

13 – Brendan’s Choice
Midnight – Rebirth by Blasphemy (Metal Blade Records)

Midnight Rebirth by Blasphemy

Released way back in January, this still gets plenty of play for me. It is fast, dark and heavy, or Fucking Speed and Darkness, as Midnight himself may say. It has a raw edge to it but it isn’t amateurish in any way. The guitars sound fucking amazing, The songs have loads of variety too. Despite the hails of speed and brutality, that isn’t anywhere near the whole story. There is a lot more depth on offer on this brutal blackened death record. Not bad for a one-man band eh?

You can read our full review of the album here.

12 – Carl’s Choice
Saarkoth – Cult of Nature (Self Released)

Once again Saarkoth explores subjects such as the relationship between Humanity and Nature, the rapid decaying of the Earth and the Human Mind. Cult of Nature was released on November 14th 2020.

Saarkoth have met the expectations of fans and in some cases, on certain tracks, gone above and beyond. The end result is an album that is at its core, black metal (the vocals, the pounding drum beat, the violent riffing) but layered with entrancing, beautiful, haunting, emotional and lavish melodies and effects. This is Saarkoth properly announcing themselves.

You can read our full review of the album here.

12 – Brendan’s Choice
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn (Candlelight/Spinefarm Records)

The Reckoning Dawn is a brilliant release. Weird that for me, this is my favourite of their releases. Don’t get me wrong, I like passed albums a lot but generally it is those golden days that are spoken of so fondly. For me, this is the album that clicked 100% from start to finish. The British Black Metal masters, Winterfylleth, smashed it out of the park with The Reckoning Dawn.

You can read our full review of the album here.

11 – Carl’s Choice
Thirteenth Sign – The Ashes of a Treacherous Silence (Self Released)

Melodic death/thrash based in Nottingham, UK. Thirteenth Sign’s new album ‘The Ashes of a Treacherous Silence’ was released on October 2nd, 2020!

It’s a beast of an album that Thirteenth Sign have for us here and certainly shows their ambition. 14 tracks long and coming it at around 70 minutes, this feels like such a big moment for the Brits.

A moment that they’re grasping with both hands and proving that the UK is producing some of the world’s best metal. the neck muscles will be working over-time to keep up with Thirteenth Sign. This is the sort of album that can confidently be called a ‘game-changer’.

You can read our full review of the album here.

11 – Brendan’s Choice
Ba’al – Ellipsism (Clobber Records)

This is one hell of a debut full length from the UK blackened post metal band. Its one of the heaviest releases listened to this year in regards to an album just draping you in a shroud of darkness. Nit just in regards to brutality and speed. The mixes of melancholic soundscapes and intense brutality really is soul consuming. Ellipsism left a welcome scar on me and as a whole record, it really is perfectly balanced between the darker onslaughts and the more thought provoking sombre moments.

You can read our full review of the album here.