My best of 2020. It’s strange even writing that. Despite the obstacles and negative circumstances surrounding 2020 – and there were many – we were graced with a plethora of tremendous music that got released despite the fact the artists in question couldn’t perform live or tour behind it. That, in and of itself, has not gone under appreciated. Knowing that they wouldn’t reap the full economic benefits of dropping records now, but still did it anyway? What a show of integrity. For those about to rock, I salute you…,
5. The Ocean Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
The Ocean released Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic September 25th via Metal Blade Records and it needs to be heard. By everyone. That means you. This record is, and I don’t say this lightly, a masterpiece in vision, concept and the art of crafting music to song. The Ocean explores dreamscape and melody, heavy and harsh, traversing ambient and noize, fearlessly. The Ocean’s sound is best described as Tool meets Mastodon meets Gojira sloshing together inside a prog stew of ethereal heaviness that needs to be heard to be believed.
Buy Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic here
4. Benediction Scriptures
Benediction’s new rager, Scriptures, dropped October 16 via Nuclear Blast. The sound Benediction conjure up is both astounding and unholy in terms of how heavy this band is. Every song on this record is an earth shaker in terms of how aggressive and unrelenting each one is from a sonic perspective. Dare I say that Benediction are the reigning kings of U.K. death metal? Track seven, “In Our Hands, The Scars” cranks up the mosh intensity to inhuman limits and might be the heaviest song a band in this genre of music has made in years, a high velocity impact of atom bomb proportions, but louder.
Buy Scriptures here
3. Mr. Bison Seaward
Seaward, Mr. Bison’s fourth full length record, was released mid-October via Ripple Records in North America and Subsound Records in Europe. Mr. Bison, an Italian based power trio, have created a mesmerizing project equal parts 60’s heavy pysche, stoner rock and 70’s prog rock. Although only seven tracks, Seaward is a wrecking ball of eclectic musical perfection. Mr. Bison achieve desert rock perfection straddling a fine line between their masterfully interpreted Cream meets Argent meets Monster Magnet sound that’s framed against a moody backdrop of Phishy jam-band-noodling and heavy psyche-influenced-prog rock. Seaward is literal perfection in sound, concept and execution.
Buy Seaward here
2. Glacier The Passing of Time
Oregon’s old school metal titans Glacier dropped brand new vinyl on the metal world via No Remorse Records in October entitled The Passing of Time. For those not familiar, Glacier made its mark back in the 80’s but disbanded in 1990. The Passing of Time is their comeback LP after a 35-year absence. Glacier sound better now than they did 30-plus years ago. The Passing of Time captures the true essence of what NWOBHM / classic metal was and still is: Marshall stacked, and distortion driven with tons of swagger and melody. Lead singer Michael Podrybau’s voice is a wrecking ball of cold steel, while the band’s sound is nothing short of power metal perfection.
Buy The Passing of Time here
1. Thrust Helm of Awe
Thrust released what can only be described as an epic mountain of molten power metal entitled “Helm of Awe” which in this reviewer’s opinion, is the best record they’ve ever made. Track one, “Black River” is the heaviest, most lethal song Thrust has ever recorded. If you ever needed a reason to patch this band on your battle vest, both this record and this song are it. Thrust aren’t writing metal songs to fill a record, they’re writing anthems for their fans and the metal world in general.
Don’t be a poser, buy Helm of Awe here