|DavidYowi's 2020 Ranked|
This took too damn long to make. My twisted and tubular takes from the tumultuous time of 2020.
|67||Six Feet Under|
Nightmares of the Decomposed
Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
Most overrated release of the year. Ass-numbingly tedious and limp prog metal with atrocious vocals that sound like they came out of a post-L.D. 50 Mudvayne record. The album’s tone is the worst of both worlds; not self-aware enough to have a sense of humor but is not self-serious enough to give the material any sort of grandeur. I’m so sick of melodic prog being so fucking modest all the time. I don’t listen to metal to hear a bunch of guys act so damn reasonable for 50 min. The Phanerozoic albums end up making an entire eon feel like nothing.
Fluid Existential Inversions
Whatever edge the riffs bring is immediately negated by the awful cleans. It’s yet another melodic prog metal album where I’m left wondering who the target audience is. Not heavy enough to be a fun metal album, but one whose melodies are too obtuse to be accessible.
|64||Protest the Hero|
Definitely the harshest drop-off from when I first heard it to now. In a genre that is (let’s face it) predominantly white guys, it’s nice to see an openly feminist and anti-racist prog metal band going as big and loud as it can. But man the music and the vocals are a massive headache.
|63||Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou|
May Our Chambers Be Full
Extremely not my thing. Thank god my first exposure to Thou was a 36 minute collaboration and not one of their 70+ minute albums.
I liked it better than their previous record, but Elder are very emblematic to why I found most metal in the 2010s to be so plodding and sleepy.
Maybe it’s because I couldn’t understand the lyrics, but musically I had trouble finding the connective tissue holding it together.
How I'm Feeling Now
Is it me or am I hearing a 100 Gecs influence?
May You Be Held
This was something that I almost loved, but man there’s something about the way Aaron Turner writes music that I don’t think I’ll ever jive with. There is so much useless noodling that only exists to project an overbearing level of self-satisfied sophistication. But fuck me if this didn’t have some sublime moments of jazz metal. I don’t know why this album isn’t just the two 20 min songs, there’s already enough negative space in those songs to warrant it to be labeled post metal.
Divorced dad representation. Relies on how much enjoyment you get from Taylor being an absolute cornball, which I found kind of endearing.
Untitled (Black Is)
Hate to say it, largely due to the political message, but this album is kind of a mess. Some of the music choices here are touching but it feels like it only exists to justify the spoken word interludes.
The deconstruction of the “bad boy”.
Bouncy fun but it takes longer than it should to get to the meatier parts of the album.
Enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s a bit monotonous and the production plays it a bit too safe, but there’s definitely a lot of emotion in the songwriting.
The songwriting is kinda weightless but I’m a sucker jangly 90s alt-rock, and it scratched that itch admirably enough.
Origin of the Alimonies
Like if someone made a black metal album out of Morbid Angel’s instrumental interludes. Some nice moments but black metal doesn’t really seem like my thing, seems like a lot of build up to very little payoff.
The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny
For a band whose sole purpose is to fuck with the audience, there’s something very genuine about these dudes remaking songs they wrote in high school. However, it does make you realize why thrash went away while death and black continues to thrive.
Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress
It’s pretty fun but I still don’t know how this isn’t more than a glorified EP.
The All Is One
Grating “why can’t we all get along” political sentiment aside, this is some luscious prog rock that rides a fine line between jamming and structure. Some of the most tasteful acoustic guitar work I’ve heard all year.
Some nice n’ crusty death metal. I like how British these guys from Oakland sound.
Not a fan of current mainstream pop, but while this doesn’t transcend that sound, it is definitely the best possible version of itself.
I give a lot of shit to most melodic prog metal, but I do have a soft spot for Caligula’s Horse. They fully commit to their melodies and they are a better band for it. Way too overproduced for my tastes but still a solid outing. Jim Grey is still the best vocalist in melodic prog.
A Hero's Death
*Points to Brain from Pinky and the Brain* That’s a televised mind. Might bump my rating up in the future, but I wish more post-punk bands were Echo & the Bunnymen level weird.
I Let It In And It Took Everything
Very much going for the Deftones formula, and while it lacks the balance of Deftones, Loathe do enough outside of the Deftones framework to keep things engaging.
Props for being a death metal band with a single foot pedal drummer, as it requires the drummer to get creative with their playing. Would be higher if the songs were shorter, 7 min OSDM songs is just a bit too much.
Loop of Yesterdays
Kinda does what Jinjer is doing but better. Azusa are on the verge of figuring out their sound, I feel their next album will be killer.
Perhaps a bit overhyped, but there’s not much to complain about a death metal album this solidly built.
Guy very earnestly works through his feelings, trauma, and past mistakes: emo edition.
The best melodic prog I’ve heard all year. Combines polish, heaviness, hooks, and even some humor in a way that never feels at odds with each other.
Unfold the God Man
Hell of a debut, I see great things in this band’s future.
|36||Killer Be Killed|
Some nice dumb fun that just wants to bring good ass riffs. I love they way Puciato, Sanders, and Cavalera interact with each other.
Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
Has enough forward momentum to keep things engaging with a strong vocal chemistry between the two members. One of the few doom metal albums I can get into.
Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional...
haha fretless bass go *BWOM*
27 Miles Underwater
90’s alt-metal is back babey! How the fuck did nothing off this album show up on the soundtrack to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater remasters?
Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
You know, for a band that’s most known for making metal that is the musical equivalent of a muscle spasm, Napalm Death have a lot of tricks up their sleeves.
Weaves the themes of racially motivated police violence with its music a helluva lot better than Black Is. Has tons of groove and righteous fury while also imbuing weariness that keeps the album grounded.
Lesions of a Different Kind
Some gloriously braindead death metal that never overstays its welcome.
Listening to this on a Monday morning has inspired me to start more of my mornings with jazz.
|28||Open Mike Eagle|
Anime, Trauma and Divorce
Guy very earnestly works through his feelings, trauma, and past mistakes: depressed weeb edition.
The Sanguinary Impetus
Props to any tech death band that can write a song under 3 min. Also features the most brutal cover art of the entire year.
In The Eye Of Nothing
When a band makes a better Morbid Angel album than anything Morbid Angel has put out in a decade, can you really discredit them for being derivative? The production here puts 90% of the stuff released on Nuclear Blast and Metal Blade to shame.
|25||All Them Witches|
Nothing as the Ideal
The first time I heard about these guys was when they opened for Mastodon and Primus a couple years ago, and they were really solid. Normally you don’t think too much of an opener, so I was pleasantly surprised to know that not only do All Them Witches have a respectable following, but they also put out the best stoner release of the year.
Stare Into Death and Be Still
Dissonant tech death mixed with the lumbering grace of post metal but without any of the boring parts where nothing happens for 5 minutes? Sign me the fuck up!
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
As someone with a weird relationship with physical affection, there’s so much about Michael Hadreas’ fleshy and vivid portrait of gay male intimacy that I found soothing.
|22||Run the Jewels|
2020’s musical middle finger. “You hate Run the Jewels, you don’t love the troops.”
The Great Dismal
I haven’t listened to a lot of shoegaze, so it only took me until recently to realize how heavy it can be. The final three tracks are transcendent.
We live in bleak times when one of the most uplifting album of 2020 came from a man cut down before his prime. Going through his discography this year made me realize how unparalleled his career arc is. You get a sense of growth not only as an artist but as a person, always examining his relationship to himself and others and removing what’s holding him back. The fact that the final album he made is the one where he sounds the most at peace with himself is deeply assuring.
I just gotta praise the sheer gumption of these guys going “nu-metal is good actually” and dropping one of the best nu-metal albums of all time. I really want this band to stick around and evolve their sound, because their aesthetic of femme-coded Disney villain by way of nu-metal is incredibly fascinating.
Fetch The Bolt Cutters
Managing to find mutual support and even thrive against the trauma of abuse and living under patriarchy. I usually can’t stand baroque pop because it sounds too cloying and twee for my tastes, but there’s some teeth to this album that I really appreciated. Believe the hype.
Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
The most brutal 33 minutes of hardcore you’ll hear all year, one that includes a surprisingly empathetic look at deteriorating mental health.
The album of 2020 that most sounds like it was discovered in decrepit swamp miles from civilization. Having the only merch for this album be a cassette that has sold out is such a deep commitment to the aesthetic.
God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of I
I really hope Backxwash becomes one of those rappers that’s huge with metalheads, in fact I think that’s already starting to happen. It’s aggressive, ominous, very indebted to occult imagery, and is emotionally brutal; all attributes that make for a great metal album.
Now THIS is future nostalgia. Modernizes Max Martin pop with some nu-metal thrown in for good measure, with western fetishization of Japanese culture being a prominent lyrical theme. The fact that Sawayama barely made a dent into the Billboard Hot 100 is further proof that the Billboard charts are a useless metric for finding good pop music.
Goth cowboy jams. Has a hell of an atmosphere commanded by Reid Bateh’s unique Nick Cave x Mark Sandman drawl.
There’s something about the phrase “masculinity is a prison” that rubs me the wrong way. It’s intended to push back against toxic masculinity, but at best it’s used condescendingly, and at worst it’s a slogan on a t-shirt worn by EDM producers who distribute revenge porn. It’s just seems unhelpful, as it implies that masculinity is and will forever be inherently bad. As someone who has fully embraced their feminine side, seeing phrases like that getting thrown around for woke brownie points makes me feel like I have to shed any masculine aspects I want to hold onto. So thank you Moses Sumney for writing an album about “masculinity is a prison” as a concept while still being empathetic, sensitive, and personal.
I was expecting this to be just another Deftones record, but I wasn’t expecting this to be the MOST Deftones record. It takes the core essence of the band’s sounds and maxes it to 100. Easily my favorite Deftones record.
Peaceful As Hell
Desperately trying to be positive and promote friendship while constantly on the verge of losing your shit. A delightful clusterfuck of hyperpop and trans angst. RIP to this wonderful band, and fuck stan culture for breaking them up.
Visions of Bodies Being Burned
Rides the spookiest vibe for 53 min and never lets up. Top notch production matched by Daveed Diggs droning yet fluid flow makes it an instant Halloween classic. “Eaten Alive” is bayou rap.
One of the most inventive portrayals of incessant wealth consumption all year. It retains the opulent futuristic film noir aesthetic of the movie it’s based on, but when filtered through Imperial Triumphant’s blackened avant-garde riffs, the albums classy aesthetic ends up feeling like Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut by way of Brian Yuzna’s Society. The decorum of Alphaville has no function, it’s only there to spite you.
The Slow Rush
Kevin Parker goes Hawaiian. Really glad people started coming around to this album after it was first released, as he’s still the king of maximalist introverted pop. Perfect album for the summer, or when you’re extremely sick and you’re longing for summer (maybe that’s just me). Honestly I’d put this above Lonerism.
Child Soldier: Creator of God
This is everything Puciato is good at drenched in the most immersive atmosphere he’s ever been involved with. It’s rare to find an album this measured with its approach and so assured in its pacing.
What's Your Pleasure?
Mixes Chic-esque disco and 80s synthpop to create the most transcendent pop album of 2020. In a year where reflecting on our world and our place in it was a constant, listening to this album makes you feel the world melt away, where all you’re left to do is get lost in Ware’s soft yet powerful voice. “Soul Control” is 100% a nod to Pointer Sisters.
It Is What It Is
Manages to take everything that made Drunk a masterpiece and condenses it to just over 30 min. Thundercat’s albums are so full of life; there’s always room for songs about love, identity, depression, loss, and fucking in a Dragonball Durag.
I think the the final tracks of Downward is Heavenward and Inlet reflect off each other very well. DIW ends with The Scientists, a song about desperately trying to save a disintegrating relationship and failing. The closing words of the album, and the band at the time, are "Too much, you're too late". Inlet ends with Shapeshifter, which features the narrator going through a solitary metamorphosis, then returning home to find a long lost lover/friend/etc. "Suddenly me just here back on the land/Reaching for you, finding your hand”.
I know so many people on sput fucking hate this band, but I couldn’t care less. Code Orange put out one of the most batshit insane and addictive metal albums in years. Everything this band does is delivered with unwavering intensity. Even the album’s sillier moments are presented with the utmost conviction, giving it an extra layer of camp that is SORELY missing from a lot of recent metal. While it lacks the menace of Forever, it more than makes up for it by being vastly more technical. Even the most accessible songs on the album, like the title track and “Who I Am”, contain interesting rhythmic changes and syncopation that keeps the music weird. Above all, Code Orange is one of the few metal bands that has the drive to become one of the biggest metal acts in the world, and with their boundary-pushing livestream concerts, they have what it takes to pull that off. Staring into your new god’s soul indeed.
The most violent and revolting release of the year. Abscess Time is the rare avant-garde metal album that can ignite a mosh pit. An unholy hybrid of tech death and noise rock that features an endless amount of grimy grooves that cause an insatiable urge to Fuck Shit Up. To think these lyrics were written pre-COVID is a testament to COVID being the deciding blow to an already precarious foundation. This and Alphaville would pair nicely as a double album. Both are skronky, jazzy avant-garde metal albums about capitalist greed, with Alphaville portraying the perverted pleasures of the ruling class, while Abscess Time details a self-cannibalizing world overrun with dehumanizing wage labor, landlords, environmental decay, and police brutality. Despite writhing in dissonance, each individual element has a purpose that flows with the album’s internal logic. A masterpiece in every way, I’d be surprised if anything in 2021 manages to top this.
WE MOURNED YOU BEFORE YOU WERE BORN