The Albums That Got Us Through 2020

50 Metal & Punk Musicians (And Industry Folks) Pick Their Favorite Albums Of The Year

If it were any normal year, this is right around the time that we would be on air counting down the Top 30 Metal albums from the past twelve months. But since 2020 has put a major halt on that, it's impossible to fairly create an official Metal Shop year end list. Keep in mind that these year-end best of lists for Metal Shop aren't just made up by personal taste, they are heavily weighted by requests and overall reactions of the listeners.

So instead, I called upon some friends of Metal Shop - members of the metal, hardcore and punk communities - to share their personal favorite albums of the year. Some chose to write a little bit about the albums, others chose to simply list their favorites. Some went through and numerically ranked their picks, others threw them at me in no particular order.

Hopefully you're able to discover some rad new music from these lists and realize that 2020 wasn't ALL bad. Just most of it.

I'll start. Here are my Top 20 albums from 2020 from within worlds of metal, hardcore and punk.

1. Hum – “Inlet”
2. Eternal Champion – “Ravening Iron”
3. Vaisseau – “Horrors Waiting in Line”
4. Unleash the Archers – “Abyss”
5. Xibalba – “Anos En Infierno”
6. Deftones – “Ohms”
7. Kirk Windstein – “Dream in Motion”
8. Katatonia – “City Burials”
9. Code Orange – “Underneath”
10 . Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – “May Our Chambers Be Full”
11. Paradise Lost – “Obsidian”
12. Spirit Adrift – “Enlightened In Eternity”
13. Internal Rot – “Grieving Birth”
14. Defeated Sanity – “The Sanguinary Impetus”
15. Touche Amore – “Lament”
16. Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin – “Stygian Bough Vol 1”
17. Napalm Death – “Throws Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism”
18. The Black Dahlia Murder – “Verminous”
19. Change – “Closer Still”
20. Necrot – “Mortal”

Cole Wicked (Leprotic Limb Records)
1.  Necrot – “Mortal”
2. Undeath – “Lesions of a different kind”
3. Skeleton - "Skeleton"
4. Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
5. Undergang – “Aldrig I Livet”
6. Of Feather and Bone – “Sulfuric Disintegration”
7.   Skeletal Remains – “The entombment of chaos”
8.  Funeral Leech – “Death Meditation”
9.  Generation Decline – “The Death of Hubris”
10. Gulch – “Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress”

Ryan “Fluff” Bruce (Dragged Under)
1.  The Weekend – “After Hours”
2. The Used – “Heartwork”
3.  Miley Cyrus – “Plastic Hearts”
4. Deftones - "Ohms"
5. Run The Jewels – “RTJ4”
6. Tame Impala – “The Slow Rush”
7.  END – “Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face”
8. Bitch Falcon – “Staring At Clocks”
9. AC/DC – “Power Up”
10.  Lamb Of God – “S/T”

Rah Davis (F'd and Bound)
1. Thundercat- "It Is What If Is"
2. Napalm Death - "Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism"
3. Jessie Wares - "What’s Your Pleasure?"
4. Primitive Man - "Immersion"
5. Lianne La Havas - "S/T"
6. Wake - "Devouring Ruin"
7. Royce Da 5’9 - "The Allegory"
8. Blu & Exile - "Miles"
9. Primal Fear - "Metal Commando"
10. ChloexHalle - "Ungodly Hour"
11. Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin Kynsi"
12. Immanuel Wilkins - "Omega"
13. Necrot - "Mortal"
14. Dua Lipa - "Future Nostalgia"
15. Vader - "Solitude In Madness"
16. Ulcerate – "Stare Into Death And Be Still"
17. Westside Gunn - "Who Made The Sunshine"
18. Temple Of Void - "The World That Was"
19. Fiona Apple - "Fetch The Bolt Cutters"
20. Thee Oh Sees - "Protean Threat"

Cynthia Nishi (Despise You, Gasp)
*No Particular Order*
Phantogram -  "Ceremony"
Khruangbin - "Mordichai"
Napalm Death -  "Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism"
High Contrast - "Notes from the Underground"
Best Coast - "Always Tomorrow"

Jay Middleton (Aurora’s Eyes)
20. The Ghost Inside – “S/T”
19. Machine Gun Kelly – “Tickets to My Downfall”
18. Polaris – “The Death of Me”
17. Ozzy Osbourne – “Ordinary Man”
16. Greg Puciato – “Child Soldier: Creator of God”
15. Four Year Strong – “Brain Pain”
14. The Amity Affliction – “Everyone loves you… Once you leave them”
13. Green Day – “Father of all Mother F’ers”
12. Fever 333 – “Wrong Generation”
11. Xibalba – “Anos En Infierno”
10. Puscifer – “Existential Reckoning”
09. Pearl Jam – “Gigaton”
08. The Acacia Strain – “Slow Decay”
07. Trivium – “What the Dead Men Say”
06. Lamb of God – “S/T”
05. Misery Signals – “Ultraviolet”
04. Ruston Kelly – “Shape and Destroy”
03. Mr.Bungle – “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”
02. Killer be Killed – “Reluctant Hero”
01. Kvelertak – “Splid”

Kyle Chapman (Aethereus, Blighted Eye)
1.  Ulcerate – "Stare Into Death And Be Still" - favorite track: There is No Horizon
2. Steve Von Till – "No Wilderness Deep Enough" - favorite track: Shadows that Run
3. Imperial Triumphant – "Alphaville" - favorite track: Transmission to Mercury
4. Our Oceans – "While Time Disappears" - favorite track: Face Them
5. Dessiderium – "Shadow Burn" - favorite track: Cosmic Limbs
6. Igorrr – "Spirituality and Distortion" - favorite track: Himalaya Massive Ritual
7.  The Ocean Collective – "Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic" - favorite track: Palaeocene
8.  Wormhole – "The Weakest Among Us" - favorite track: Ingswarm
9.  Sumac – "May You Be Held" - favorite track: Consumed
10. Ingested – "Where Only Gods May Tread" - favorite track: The List
1.  Ihsahn – "Pharos" - favorite track: Losing Altitude
2. Sutrah – "Alethia" - favorite track: Genèse
3. Inferi – "Of Sunless Realms" - favorite track: The Abhorrent Art
4. Alustrium – "Insurmountable" - favorite track: United in Enmity
5.  Serocs – "Vore" - favorite track: The Temple of Knowledge

John Pettibone – (Heiress)
*No Particular Order*
Choir Boy – "Gathering Swans"
Nick Cave – "Idiot Prayer"
Blaqk Audio – "Beneath the Black Palms"
Dragged Into Sunlight – "Terminal Aggressor II"
Serration – "Shrine of Consciousness"
Unreal City – "Cruelty of Heaven"
Soft Kill – "Dead Kids RIP City"
Change – "Closer Still"
Drowse – "Dance in the Decay"
Venom Prison – "Primeval"

Ace Stallings (Mutually Assured Destruction, Forum of Passion podcast)
1. Eternal Champion - "Ravening Iron"
2. Retaliate - "IV"
3. The Weeknd - "After Hours"
4. 21 Savage - "Savage Mode II"
5. Unreal City - "Cruelty of Heaven"
6. Riki - "Riki"
7. Destruct - "Echoes of Life"
8. Spy - "Service Weapon"
9. Lamb of God - "Lamb of God"
10. End It - "One Way Track"

Jessica Brasch (Sorcia)
1.  Hum - "Inlet"
2. Deftones - "Ohms"
3. Sun Crow - "Quest For Oblivion"
4. Vvarp - "First Levatations"
5. LáGoon - "Father of Death"
6. Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle - "May Our Chambers Be Full"
7. Mendozza - "Soul Nebula"
8. Yatra - "Blood of the Night"
9. Pallbearer - "Forgotten Days"
10. Woorms - "Twitching As Prey"

Danny Racines (Rat King)
1. Napalm death – “Throes of joy in the jaws of defeatism”
2. Oranssi Pazuzu- “Mestarin Kynsi”
3. Necrot – “Mortal”
4. Izthmi – “The Arrows of Our Ways”
5. Plague – “Portraits of Mind”
6. Incantation – “Sect of Vile Divinities”
7. The Black Dahlia Murder – “VERMINOUS”
8. Testament – “Titans of Creation”
9. Wake – “Devouring Ruin”
10. Stygian Bough – “Volume I (A Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin Collaboration)”

James Ballinger (Seattle Passive Aggressive)
20.  Living Gate – “Deathlust”
19. DeathCAVE – “Smoking Mountain”
18. Executioners Mask – “Despair Anthems”
17. Kesha – “High Road”
16. Nothing – “The Great Dismal”
15. Mrs. Piss – “Self-Surgery”
14. Napalm Death – “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”
13. Ulcerate – “Stare Into Death and Be Still”
12. City of Industry – “False Flowers”
11. Oranssi Pazuzu – “Mestarin Kynsi”
10. Raspberry Bulbs – “Before the Age of Mirrors”
9. Necrot – “Mortal”
8. Deftones – “Ohms”
7. IDLES – “Ultra Mono”
6. Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou – “May Our Chambers Be Full”
5. Mr. Bungle – “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”
4. Coriky – “Coriky”
3. Hum – “Inlet”
2. Run the Jewels – “RTJ4”
1. Dua Lipa – “Future Nostalgia"

Darin Wall (Greyhawk, Skelator)
1. Unleash The Archers – “Abyss”
Amazing album rooted in traditional power metal with great hooks and just enough experimentation to keep it interesting
2.  Primal Fear – “Metal Commando”This is a classic Primal Fear album.
Anthem after anthem. Impossible not to have a good time while listening to it.
3.  Armored Saint – “Punching The Sky”
I love anything with John Bush singing on it. The Saints always deliver the goods.
4.  Kirk Windstein – “Dream In Motion
”Surprise album of the year for me. Beautiful songwriting, and amazing production.
5.  Testament – “Titans Of Creation”
New album by my favorite thrash band is unsurprisingly awesome. They have never made a bad record.
6.  Pallbearer – “Forgotten Days”
Didn’t care for their last record so much but this one is triumphant return to form.
7.  Hyperion – “Into The Maelstrom”
My favorite pure power metal album of 2020, and label mates of us in Greyhawk. If you love power metal you’ll love this.
8.  Wino – “Forever Gone”
About one of the only guys who can put out an acoustic album and I’ll pay attention. Wino is the soul of rock and roll incarnate.
9.  Solicitor – “Spectral Devastation”
This one checks all the boxes. NWOTHM on the heavier, speedier, aggressive side. We need more like this.
10.  High Spirits – “Hard To Stop”
Have never been a huge fan before this album, but the Dan Swano production makes all the difference.
Honorable Mentions:
Fu Manchu – “FU.30 pt 1” (this would have made my top 10 but it is an EP)
Traveler – “Termination Shock”
Vader – “Solitude In Madness”
Demons and Wizards – “III”
Adamantis – “Far Flung Realm”
Glacier – “The Passing Of Time”

Mike “MexiMike” Torres (Section H8)
*no particular order*
Annie – "Dark Hearts"
DMA’s – "The Glow"
Midnight – "Rebirth of Blasphemy"
Chubby & The Gang – "Speed Kills"
Drakeo the Ruler – "Thank you for Using GTL"
Big Cheese – "Punishment Park"
Lions Law – "The Pain The Blood & The Sword"
The Chisel – "Deconstructive Surgery"
Retaliate – "4"
Bob Mould – "Blue Hearts"
Seed of Pain – "Flesh, Steel, Victory"
Dame – "S/T"
Dropdead – "Dropdead 2020"
Internal Rot – "Grieving Birth"
No Pressure – "No Pressure"
Pillars of Ivory – "Genesis"
Pillars of Ivory – "Exodus"
End It – "One Way Track"
Skinhead – "F*** Fake Skins"
Gridiron – "Loyalty at all Costs"

Jonny Larson (Kids On Fire)
1. Get Dead - "Dancing with the Curse"
2. The Drowns - "Under Tension"
3. Head Honcho - "Appetite for Distraction"
4. Tiny Dragon Split LP - with Caffiends, Heck Yes, Modern Advances and Pool Party
5. Generation Decline - "the Death of Hubris"
6. The Bombpops - "Death in Venice Beach"
7. Run the Jewels - "RTJ4"
8. Street jail - "Street Jail"
9. MGK - "Tickets to my Downfall"
11. Old Cross - "Daggers"
12. Power Trip - "Live in Seattle"
13. Idles - "Ultra Mono"
14. The Chats - "High Risk Behavior"
15. Suicide Machines - "Revolution Spring"
16. Deftones - "OHMS"
17. Higher Power - "27 Miles Underwater"
18. Loathe - "I let it in and it Took Everything"
19. Bad Cop Bad Cop - "the Ride"
20. Days N Daze - "Show Me Blueprints"

Mike Score (All Out War)
20. Sinister - "Deformation of the Holy Realm"
19. Vader - "Solitude in Madness"
18. Cirith Ungol - "Forever Black"
17. Kirk Windstein - "Dream in Motion"
16. Black Curse - "Endless Wound"
15. Hatebreed - "Weight of The False Self"
14. Incantation - "Sect of Vile Divinities"
13. Enslaved - "Utgard"
12. Dropdead - "Dropdead"
11. Tombs - "Under Sullen Skies"
10. Xibalba - "Anos En Infierno"
9. Midnight - "Rebirth of Blasphemy"
8. Eternal Champion – "Ravening Iron"
7. Benediction – "Scriptures"
6. Skeletal Remains – "The Entombment of Chaos"
5. Caustic Wound – "Death Posture"
4. Gaerea – "Limbo"
3. Necrot – "Mortal"
2. Wake – "Devouring Ruin"
1. Napalm Death – "Throes of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism"

Brandon Smith (7 Horns 7 Eyes)
1. The Ocean - "Phanerozoic II"
2. Ihsahn - "Pharos"
3. Drouth - "Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy"
4. Gaerea - "Limbo"
5. Ulcerate - "Stare Into Death And Be Still"

Angel Perry (Generation Decline)
*no particular order*
Misantropic - "Catharsis"
Bas Rotten - "Surge"
Gulch - "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress"
Will Sniff - "Threat In Obscurity"
Azijnpisser - "Mass Hysteria"
Mortality Rate - "Sleep Deprivation 2020"
Mass Extinction - "Never-Ending Holocaust"
Dropdead - "Dropdead 2020"
Anha - "Crimson Dawn"
City of Industry - "False Flowers"
Despairer - "Unburdened"

Brian Kim (Witch Ripper)
*no particular order*
Hum – “Inlet”
This album is an instant classic. Of all the bands from my childhood to make a comeback in recent years, Hum has absolutely been one of the most satisfying. Inlet doesn’t hold any punches, and picks right back up with the immensely heavy and melodic grooves that inspired a future generation of big riff rockers. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to this album more than any other released this year and I’m not even close to getting sick of it.
Favorite Track: Shapeshifter
Elephant Tree – “Habits”
This one was a bit of a surprise for me, as I’d never heard Elephant Tree before and checked this album out on a whim. I was immediately blown away by the sheer scale of this record. The production is masterful, catapulting my ears into the stratosphere, and the songwriting takes slow, reverb soaked stoner/doom riffs and polishes them into razor sharp diamonds.
This album is dynamic and engaging and carries an emotional weight that hits hard. Favorite Track: Bird
Deftones – “Ohms”
Deftones were one of the bands that got me into heavy music in my younger years, and with Ohms the band really takes me back. I absolutely love their more lush atmospheric work as well, and it’s certainly not absent on this album, but Ohms feels like it’s recapturing some of the raw edge the band had back in the day. The guitars cut deeper, the drums sound more explosive, and the overall sound has a more aggressive vibe that makes this one of the band’s strongest recent releases. Favorite Track: Urantia
Peace’d Out – “Feelings Blade”
Feelings Blade is a wild rollercoaster of riffy experimental post-hardcore, drawing influences from punk, black metal, and grindcore. One of my favorite guitarists, Steve Choi (RX Bandits, The Sound of Animals Fighting), really shines on this record, conjuring a neverending whirlwind of blazing hot riffs at lightning speed. This album hits hard and fast and keeps you guessing what’s coming next. Favorite Track: Trash Truck
The Ocean – “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic”
This album is massive. It’s a sprawling journey, spiraling through crushing heaviness and deep, lush, atmospherics, with plenty of proggy weirdness thrown in for good measure. There’s an expertly orchastrated depth of layers here, guided by a steadfast, albeit slightly meandering, purpose, that is entirely engrossing. Favorite Track: Jurassic | Cretaceous

Casey Nolan (Matriarch, Yellfire)
1. Fiona Apple - “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”
2. NØ MAN - “Erase”
3. Power Alone - “Rather Be Alone”
4. Sumac - “Two Beasts”
5. deathCAVE - “Smoking Mountain”
6. Year of the Knife - “Internal Incarceration”
7. Xibalba - “Años En Infierno”
8. Menzingers - “From Exile”
9. Hayley Williams - “Petals for Armor”
10. 156/Silence - “Irrational Pull”

Mike “Metal Mike” Chinn (Noroth)
*no particular order*
Full Lengths
Eternal Champion – “Ravening Ire”
Ceremonial Bloodbath – “Tides of Blood”
Of Feather and Bone – “Sulferic Disintegration”
Disavowed – “Revocation of the Fallen”
Perdition Temple – “Sacrements of Descension”
Skeletal Remains – “The Entombment of Chaos"
Necrot – “Mortal”
Gorephilia- “In the Eye of Nothing”
Stormkeep – “Galdrum”
Lamp of Murmuur – “Heir of Ecliptical Romantisism”
Impure – “Damned”
Church of Disgust – “Consumed by slow Putrefaction”
Gravesend – “Preparations for Human Disposal”
Walpurgia – “Alter of the Goat Baphomat”
Sentient Divide – “Haunted by Cruelty”
Mortal Wound/Gutless
Spectral Voice/Anhedonist

Void Dancer (Collective band list)
*no particular order*
Black Crown Initiate – “Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape”
The Ocean – “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
Igorrr – “Spirituality and Distortion”
Psychonaut – “Unfold the God Man”
Wake – “Devouring Ruin”
Hum – “Inlet”
Beneath the Massacre – “Fearmonger”
Aversions Crown – “He Will Come For Us All”
Soilwork – “A Whisp of the Atlantic”
Ozzy Osbourne – “Ordinary Man”

Leah Solomon (Northwest Terror Fest Production Manager / Sponsorship Liason)
*no particular order*
Necrot - "Mortal"
Vile Creature - "Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!"
Ebony Pendant - "Incantation of Eschatological Mysticism"
Caustic Wound - "Death Posture"
Many Blessings vs. Pain Chain - "Soul Terror (EP split on Somatic)"
Sentient Divide - "Haunted by Cruelty"
City of Industry - "False Flowers"
Megan Thee Stallion - "Good News"
Larry June + Harry Fraud - "Keep Going"
Charley Crockett - "Welcome to Hard Times"

Michael Freiburger (deathCave)
1. Necrot – “Mortal”
2. Primitive man – “Immersion”
3. Vile Creature – “Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!”
4. Black Curse – “Endless Wound”
5. Xibalba – “Anos En Infierno”
6. Ulthar – “Providence”
7. Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
8. Midnight – “Rebirth By Blasphemy”
9. Drouth – “Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy”
10. Boris – “No”
11. Soft Kill – “Dead Kids, R.I.P City”
12. Ilsa – “Preyer”
13. Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle – “May Our Chambers Be Full”
14. Oranssi Pazuzu – “Mestarin Kynsi”
15.  Bell witch and Aerial Ruin – “Stygian Bough Vol 1”
16. Eye Flys – “Tub of Lard”
17.  Eternal Champion – “Ravening Iron”
18. Undeath – “Lesions of a Different Kind”
19.  Worship – “Tunnels”
20.   Uada – “Djinn”

Vance Bratcher (The Devils of Loudun , Aethereus)
Full Length Albums
1.  Beneath the Massacre - "Fearmonger"
2. Ulcerate - "Stare Into Death and Be Still"
3. Protest the Hero - "Palimpsest"
4. Cytotoxin – "Nuklearth"
5.  Unleash the Archers – "Abyss"
6.  Roman Ring - "The Halogen"
7.   Igorrr - "Spirituality and Distortion"
8.  Myth of I - "Myth of I"
9.  Symbolik - "Emergence"
10.  Mors Principium Est - "Seven"
1. Inferi - "Of Sunless Realms"
2. Serocs - "Vore"
3. Ihsahn – "Pharos"
4. Blighted Eye - "Wretched"
5. Sutrah - "Aletheia"

Lisa Mungo (F'd and Bound, He Whose Ox Is Gored)
*no particular order*
Boris - "No"
Soft Kill - "Dead Kids, R.I.P. City"
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – "May Our Chambers Be Full"
Liturgy - "Origin of the Alimonies"
Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin Kynsi"
Yaeji - "What We Drew"
Dua Lipa - "Future Nostalgia"
Perfume Genius - "Set My Heart on Fire Immediately"
Gulch - "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress"
War On Women - "Wonderful Hell"

Brett Campbell (Pallbearer)
*no particular order*
Atramentus - "Stygian"
Autechre - "Plus"
Autechre - "Sign"
Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini - "The Illusion of Time"
Black Curse - "Endless Wound"
Bohren Und Der Club of Gore - "Patchouli Blue"
Drown - "Subaqueous"
Golden Retriever and Chuck Johnson - "Rain Shadow"
Hum - "Inlet"
Igorrr - "Spirituality and Distortion"
Clarice Jensen - "The experience of repetition as death"
Loma - "Don’t Shy Away"
Oneohtrix Point Never - "Magic Oneohtrix Point Never"
Steve Roach - "Tomorrow"
Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - "May Our Chambers Be Full"
Spirit Adrift - "Enlightened in Eternity"
Terminal Nation - "Holocene Extinction"
Robin Trower, Maxi Priest, Livingstone Brown - "United State of Mind"
Ulcerate - "Stare Into Death And Be Still"
Unwed Sailor - "Look Alive"

Dusty Peterson (Artist)
1 .Havukruunu - "Uinuos syömein sota"
2. Ironsword - "Servants of Steel"
3. Throne of Iron - "Adventure One"
4. Cirith Ungol - "Forever Black"
5. Midnight - "Rebirth by Blasphemy"
6. Ye Banished Privateers - "Hostis Humani Genaris"
7. Eternal Champion - "Ravening Iron"
8. Midnight Dice - "Hypnotized"
9. Brothers of Metal - "Emblas Saga"
10. Butcher - "666 Goats Carry My Chariot"
11. Anaal Nathrakh - "Endarkenment"
12. Uada - "Djinn"
13. Skeleton - "Skeleton"
14. Konvent - "Puritan Masochism"
15. Winterfyleth - "The Reckoning Dawn"
16. Fluisteraars - "Bloem"
17. Mare Cognitum/Spectral Lore - "Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine"
18. Grave Digger - "Fields of Blood"
19. Alestorm - "Curse of the Crystal Coconut"
20. Nite - "Darkness Silence Mirror Frame"

Woody Adler (Xoth)
*no particular order*
Igorrr - "Spirituality and Distortion"
Mr. Bungle - "The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny"
Enslaved - "Utgard"
Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin kynsi"
Benighted - "Obscene Repressed"

Jeremy Salvo (Xoth)
*no particular order*
Skeletal Remains - "The Entombment of Chaos"
Vader - "Solitude in Madness"
Hum - "Inlet"
Molchat Doma – "Monument"
DaBaby - "Blame it on Baby"

Tyler Splurgis (Xoth)
*no particular order*
Space Art – "Entresvues"
Zombi – "2020"
Carcass – "Despicable"
Static X - "Project Regeneration Vol. 1"
Blue Oyster Cult - "The Symbol Remains"

Travis "The Virus" Helton (Carnotaurus)
*no particular order*
Necrot - "Mortal"
Plague - "Portraits of Mind"
Midnight - "Rebirth by Blasphemy"
Katalepsy - "Terra mortuus Est"
Perdition Temple - "Sacraments of Descension"
Xibalba - "Anos en Infernio"
Incantation - "Sect of Vile Divinities"
Shredder 1984 - "Prophet of Doom"
Turian - "self titled"
Faceless Burial - "Speciation"

Madison Woodward (Fury)
*no particular order*
Healer - "Resurgence 7”"
This record is stupid, I think I lose brain cells every time I listen to it...
and it’s incredible and I love it. Power Violence, Beatdown, Samples and Groove: actual perfect blend of music. Hands down, best current band from CA.
Gunn - "Peace Love & Heavy Weaponry 7”"
Only band that could step to Healer. Young pissed off youth playing perfectly crafted OC hardcore/punk. Tracked on a 8 track tape machine and released on the actual best label Going Underground. Second Press still available if you’re tryna step.
Freddie Gibbs/Alchemist - "Alfredo"
Freddie Gibbs probably the only person having a good 2020. The hype is real on this one. This along with Bandana (2019) and the 4 Thangs single, man Gibbs recent output is nothing short of jaw dropping. He’s always been an amazing talent but this truly is his time to shine. Alchemist’s production on this thing is flawless.
Westside Gunn - "Pray For Paris"
Not sure why this didn’t get a Grammy nom? Probably his most cohesive release to date. Was the soundtrack to most of my Spring. If this really is his last year before retirement, respect to him. This record absolutely cemented him as one of the best to ever do it.
Kelly Finnigan - "A Joyful Sound"
Basically the only record I’ve listened to during December. Never thought I’d actively enjoy a Christmas themed album but it’s a testament to Finnigan’s songwriting skills. Perfect from front to back. In addition, I highly recommend checking out his last full length also out on Colemine.
Caustic Wound - "Death Posture"
The pit at the end of “Visions of Torture” would be reason enough to have this release on my list but this entire record smokes. Irresponsible riff writing on this thing. Shout out Bowman. Highly recommended.
Kommand - "Terrorscape"
Release is flawless to me, performance production and song writing, it’s all there. Didn’t buy many albums this year but had to step to this one.

Lindsay O'Connor (Coma Cluster Void, Eyes of Perdition, Catenation)
10. Xibalba – “Años En Infierno”
Pomona, CA’s Xibalba put out an absolute banger of an album with Años En Infierno. Savage at every turn, this album is the sound of an already scorched earth cracking in half, giving way for a brutal onslaught of unrelenting, pummelling, Doom-infused metallic hardcore.
9. Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
Possibly one of the best grind albums to come out in the last couple of years, Death Posture from the supergroup Caustic Wound (comprised of members from Mortiferum, Magrudergrind, and Cerebral Rot / Fetid) is a melange of brutal death metal and grind, marinated in gnawing noise and distortion; a wall of chaotic sounds that shatter all complacency.
8. Eye of Nix - “Ligeia”
Full stop, Eye of Nix is criminally underrated. The Seattle-based Doom band brings a host of sonic soundscapes on Ligeia. Joy Von Spain’s stunning vox, Nicholas Martinez’s sheering riffs, and Zach Wise’s surprising bass lines are underscored by Luke Laplante’s polyrhythms, giving Ligeia a symphonic quality that’s both new and classic, beautiful and brutal all the same.
7. Scour – “Black EP”
This EP surprised the hell out of me - I’ve long been a fan of the Scour boys’ individual projects (the venerable Philip H. Anselmo, John Jarvis, Derek Engemann, Adam Jarvis, and Mark Kloeppel), but the collective sum of their talents in Scour results in an explosively intense barrage of aggression and blackened Death Metal on their aptly titled Black EP. Anselmo, quite frankly, has found the next epoch in his vocal journey, as he’s really churning out guttural goods that astonish and upend. Really solid work overall.
6. Typecaste - “Between Life EP”
Long Island, New York / Boston, Massachusetts’ Typecaste put out a fresh and surprising banger with Between Life. The album is a breakdown-heavy study in dynamics - yesteryear hardcore with contemporary heart. I’m definitely dialed into what these dudes are doing, as they’ll no doubt break big in the coming year.
5. Greg Puciato – “Child Soldier: Creator of God”
No one could argue Greg Puciato is a master at creating mood and atmosphere - from his kinetic work with Dillinger Escape Plan, to his more sensual solo work, he manages to find a way to braid in the unhinged explosiveness of his previous incarnation as DEP frontman on his sonically pleasing Child Soldier: Creator of God. With electronic distortion and heavy guitars supporting his lurking rounds of breathy cleans and maniacal belting, the album is the synthesis of his versatility and vision.
4. Deftones – “Ohms”
I thought it would be hard to outdo the beautiful and sensually captivating Diamondeyes, but Deftones have managed to create an album of equal stunning quality with Ohms. Every turn of the Ohms tide presents new moments of aural candor - vulnerability and an overall heavy that calls in classic 90s Deftones to the fore, tempered by an evolved sense of timing and performance.
3. The Midnight – “Monsters”
Monsters is as polished, catchy, and yet deeply sensual as synthwave in the new millennium can get. With numerous standout songs, and lush, evocative soundscapes, Monsters brilliantly sounds so new and yet feels so familiar.
2. Code Orange – “Underneath”
Code Orange is one of the most prolific hardcore bands to come out of the 2000s, and they’ve transcended pretty much every genre limitation they could have gotten trapped up in. They’ve expanded on their baseline hardcore foundation by introducing well-timed noise, electronic inflections, 90s alternative sensibilites, and Metal’s intensity in their thoughtful arrangements and mature performances.
Make no mistake, though, on Underneath, Code Orange is still unabashedly brutal, unhinged and chomping at the bit to once again break through and launch into a new stratosphere of all things heavy.
1. Defeated Sanity – “The Sanguinary Impetus”
When it comes down to it, Defeated Sanity does Death Metal like no one else. The unrelenting intensity of this album is brazen, and yet so technically sound, that the sheer precision of Lille Gruber’s drums and guitars, Jacob Schmidt’s bass, and Josh Weismass’ boss vocals is a sonic flex few bands could ever hope to touch.

Brian Ortiz (Xibalba)
1.  Yaotl Mictlan – “Sagrada Tierra Del Jaguar”
2. Ulcerate – “Stare Into Death and be Still”
3. HUM – “Inlet”
4. Cult of Fire – “Moksha/Nirvana”
5.  Ixachitlan – “Eagle, Quetzal and Condor”
6.  Kirk Windstein- “Dream in Motion”
7.  Drowned – “Subaqueous”
8.  Gorephilia – “In the Eye of Nothing”
9.   Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum – “Wanderers: Astrology of The Nin”
10.  Funeral Leech – “Death Meditation”
11.  Panzerfaust – “The Suns of Perdition Chapter II: Render Unto Eden”
12.  Lion’s Law – “The Pain, The Blood and The Sword”
13.  Proscription – “Conduit”
14.  Saturno- “Menhir”
15.  Omeyocan – “Night of the Pale Moon”
16.  Malokarpatan – “Krupinske Ohne”
17.  Eternal Champion – “Ravening Iron”
18.  Vital Spirit – “In the Faith That Looks Through Death”
19.  Atramentus – “Stygian”
20.  Zulu – “My People...Hold On”

Curtis Parker (Witch Ripper)
*no particular order*
Intronaut - “Fluid Existential Inversions”
Weirdo prog metal. After taking a break I feel like these guys have put out their strongest album that combines the early and later sounds into a cohesive riff fueled banger. If you like off kilter but melodic crazy riffs and insane drumming (holy crap the drums) this is the band.
Favorite track: Contrapasso
Elder - “Omens”
A little less fuzzed out than their previous albums but what I love is the huge melodic layers they bring to each song and when they do decide to shred it hits that much harder. 70’s synths sounds? Check. Riff for days? Check. This is a divisive album for them but I really think it’s worth a listen. Favorite track: In Procession
Forming the Void - “Reverie”
Full disclosure. My band did a west coast tour with these guys in 2019, but I feel like even if I didn’t know the guys I would still love the album. It’s a great mix of modern doom with a touch of 90’s rock. Melodic droning vocals and weaving guitar lines define this spacey gem. These guys are great and great dudes! Favorite track: Onward through the Haze
Oceans of Slumber - “Oceans of Slumber”
So I’m a sucker for anything that “sounds like Opeth”. If you miss heavy Opeth, this album is a great scratch for that itch. Lots of big epic moments and a killer vocalist to tie everything together. Also check out their 2016 album “Winter”. It’s incredible. Favorite Track: Total Failure Apparatus
Pulchra Morte - “Ex Rosa Ceremonia”
Where to start with this. The bands roots are firmly planted in death metal but this album is so much more. Post death maybe. What makes this album so great is the layers and stylistic turns each song takes. Every listen I discover something new I like about this album.
Favorite track: In the Mourning Light
Irist - “Order of the Mind”
This band rules. There’d definitely a huge Gojira influence going on and I love it. Heavy with a lot of groove. Harsh vocals blended perfectly into the mix. Its just a great album to put on when you’re driving and want to head bang your way home. This is the bands first full length and I’m really excited to see where they go. Favorite track: Dead Prayers
Caligula’s Horse - “Rise Radiant”
God damn I love this album. It’s modern prog metal at its best. Melodic, layered, crazy time signatures and beautiful clean sections. This album has it all. They pull of the “technical” side of prog really well without venturing into the unlistenable shredding trap that so many bands fall into it. PLEASE CHECK THIS ALBUM OUT! Favorite Track: The Ascent

Lance Neatherlin (Locistellar)
1. Kvaen- "The Funeral Pyre"
2. Napalm Death -"Throws of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism"
3. Blood From The Soul- "DSM5"
4. Kvelertak- "Splid"
5. Midnight- "Rebirth By Blasphemy"
6. Killer Be Killed- "Reluctant Hero"
7. Tombs- "Under Sullen Skies"
8. Horisont- "Sudden Death"
9. UADA- "Djinn"
10. F’d & Bound – "Suffrage"

Jonny Myrick (Helles, Ghostblood, Toxic Reign)
1.  Killer Be Killed – “Reluctant Hero”
2.  The Black Dahlia Murder – “Verminous”
3. Skeletal Remains – “The Entombment of Chaos”
4. Gama Bomb – “Sea Savage”
5. Dethereous / Stench of Death – “Stench of Death” (Split)
6. Mindtaker – “Toxic War”
7. Gruesome / Exhumed – “Twisted Horror” (Split)
8. VHS – “Gore From Beyond the Stars”
9. Skeleton Pit – “Lust to Lynch”
10. Power Trip – “Live in Seattle 5.28.18”

Tom Sheehan (Indecision, Most Precious Blood, Colossus)
1.   Fiona Apple – "Fetch the Bolt Cutters"
2.  Touche Amore - "Lament"
3.  Pillars of ivory – "Genesis and Exodus Demos"
4.  Mindforce – "Swinging Swords, Chopping Lords"
5.  Drain – "California Cursed"
6.  Somerset Thrower – "Paint My Memory"
7.  Gulch – "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress"
8.   Colonial wound – "Self Titled"
9.  Skinhead - "F*** Fake Skinheads"
10. End it – "One Way Track"

*no particular order*
Jeremy Lawless
Medium - "Self-Titled"
Paranoid - "Out Raising Hell"
Wolfbrigade - "The Enemy: Reality"
Vengeance By Proxy - "Self-Titled"
Hellripper - "The Affair Of The Poisons"
Midnight - "Rebirth By Blasphemy"
Tony Rodriguez
The Chats - "High Risk Behavior"
Midnight - "Rebirth By Blasphemy"
Generation Decline - "The Death Of Hubris"
Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin Kynsi"
Paranoid - "Out Raising Hell"
City Of Industry - "False Flowers"
Wolfbrigade - "The Enemy: Reality"
Sect - "Blood Of The Beasts"
Power Trip - "Live In Seattle"
Alex Smolin
Unleash The Archers – "Abyss"
Intronaut - "Fluid Existential Inversions"
Mr. Bungle - "Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo"
Carcass – "Despicable"
Dark Tranquillity - "Moment"
Hatebreed - "Weight Of The False Self"
Wolfbrigade - "The Enemy: Reality"
Abysmal Dawn - "Phylogenesis"
Vader - "Solitude In Madness"
City Of Industry - "False Flowers"

Doug Reimer (Head Honcho)
1. PEARS: "s/t"
2. The Brass - "Mob Neutrality"
3. Proof - "Pick Your Poison"
4. Get Dead - "Dancing With the Curse"
5. The Shell Corporation - "Told Ya So"
6. Chance to Steal - "Do it Again, Do it Better"
7. The Drowns - "Under Tension"
8. DFMK - "s/t"
9. BoxcutterPNW - "Don't Panic"
10. Goodbye Viking - "Pilots"

Jay Tichy (Sidetracked)
*no particular order*
Raspberry Bulbs - "Before the Age of Mirrors"
Bone Awl - "An Obelisk Marks The Line"Captain Three Leg /Esmectatons split (Captain Three Leg side only)
Suppression - "Fractured Landscape"
Peace Test - "Uniform Repression"
Pressure Pact - "Negative Point of View"
Seized Up - "Brace Yourself"
Internal - Self Titled Lp collection
Sex With a Terrorist - cassette
Narrow Head - "12th House Rock"

Lord Kaiju (Oxygen Destroyer)
*no particular order*
Skeletal Remains – “The Entombment of Chaos”
Internal Rot – “Grieving Birth”
Undeath – “Lesions of a different kind”
Disembowel – “Echoes of Terror”
Warp Chamber – “Implements of Excruciation”
Necrot – “Mortal”
Volcandra – “Into the Azure”
Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
Void Rot- “Descending Pillars”
Skelethal – “Unveiling the Threshold”

Gordon McPherson (College Radio)
1.  Alkaline Trio - "EP"
2. Goldfinger - "Never look back"
3. Laura Jane Grace - "Stay Alive"
4. Dragged Under- "The World Is In Your Way"
5. Four Year Strong - "Brain Pain"
6. The Acacia Strain- "Slow Decay"
7.Green Day- "FoaM"
8. Nofx & Frank Turner- "West Coast vs Wessex"
9. Seaway- "Big Vibe"
10. Neck Deep- "All Distortions Are Intentional"

Brian McLelland (F'd and Bound, He Whose Ox Is Gored)
1. Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestaryn Kinsi"
2. Soft Kill - "Premium Drifter"
3. Haunted Horses - "Dead Meat"
4. Yaeji - "What We Drew"
5. Tame Impala - "The Slow Rush"
6 . No Man - "Erase"
7 . USA Nails - "Character Stop"
8 . Metz - "Atlas Vending"
9 . Yves Tumor - "Heaven to a Tortured Mind"
10 . Com Truise - "In Decay Too"

Ricky Racines (Rat King)
1. Sepultura – “Quadra”
2. Napalm Death – “Throes Of Joy In the Jaws Of Defeatism”
3. Izthmi – “The Arrows Of Our Ways”
4. Stygian Bough- “Volume I ( A Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin Collaboration)”
5. Mr. Bungle – “The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny (Demo)”
6. Omar Rodriguez Lopez – “The Clouds Hill Tapes”
7. The Black Dahlia Murder – “Verminous”
8. Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
9. Wake – “Devouring Ruin”
10. Death Cave – “Smoking Mountain”

Drew Smith (Tiny Dragon Music)
*no particular order*
DFMK - "S/T"
Goodbye Viking - "Pilot"
Bouncing Souls - "Vol. 2"
Pears - "S/T"
Generation Decline - "The Death of Hubris"
Street Jail - "STREET JAIL"
Mercy Music - "Nothing in the Dark"
Ricky - "Palm Trees"
City of Industry - "False Flowers"
Deftones – "Ohms"

Pete Lloyd (Replicant)
*no particular order*
Defeated Sanity - "The Sanguinary Impetus"
Ulcerate - "Stare Into Death And Be Still"
Pyrrhon - "Abscess Time"
Afterbirth - "Four Dimensional Flesh"
Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin Kynsi"
Bedsore - "Hypnagogic hallucinations"
Solothus - "Realm of Ash and Blood"
Sulaco - "The Privilege"
Thaetas - "Shrines to Absurdity"
Dumal - "The Confessor"

Grant Staab (NW Heavy)
*no particular order*
Hum - "Inlet"
Caustic Wound - "Death Posture"
Living Gate - "Deathlust"
Incantation - "Sect of Vile Divinity"
Gulch - "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress"
Nothing - "The Great Dismal"
Bell Witch/Aerial Ruin - "Stygian Bough Volume One"
Black Curse - "Endless Wound"
Spirit Adrift - "Enlightened in Eternity"
Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou - "May Our Chambers Be Full"

LJ Cline (The Devils of Loudun)
1. Mors Principium est - "Seven"
2 . Vredehammer - "Viprous"
3. Warbringer - "Weapons of Tomorrow"
4. Buried Realm - "Embodiment of the Divine"
5. Night Crown - "Impius Viam"
6. Michael Angelo Batio - "More Machine than Man"

Kevin White (FCON)
*no particular order*
Pears- "Self Titled"
The Spits- "VI"
Slift- "UMMON"
IDLES -"Ultra Mono"
Suicide Machines- "Revolution Spring"
Svalbard-"When I Die, Will I Get Better?"
Head Honcho- "Appetite For Distraction"
City of Industry- "False Flowers"
Deftones- "Ohms"
Knights of The Round - "Seven"
Generation Decline-"The Death of Hubris"
Strike Anywhere- "Nightmares of The West"
Classics of Love- "World of Burning Hate EP"
Horse The Band-"Your Fault EP"
Thrash Armstrong- "Guns, Germs, Steel, and Love"
Rotting Out- "Ronin"
BUGS-"Loaner EP"
Mercy Music-"Nothing in The Dark"