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|Best of 2020: dbizzles edition|
All bogus aside, 2020 delivered a wealth of great music. Some quick stats: I only rated 115 albums this year, down from 167 in 2019. However, I rated 42 albums at 4/5 or above, which is up from last year. I may have spent most of the year discovering existing discographies (blame Andy Stott and my quest for anything Travis Miller), but I still had plenty of new haunts to make my own; here they are for your viewing and listening pleasure. The ordering is... part alphabetical, part non-sensible, and they are not ranked at all until the top... 11 (4.5's) and even then... ehhh, I'm not one to split hairs over a good thing.
beatdown metalcore 4/5
This is the dumbest thing I've ever given a 4 and that's all you really need to know about it, to be honest.
The Lesser Key
blackened grind 4/5
This is what I expected (and didn't (exactly) get) from Serpent Column, artwork excepted. This EP is just a vicious little morsel and that it clocks in at just over 9 minutes of pure chaos makes it real easy to play again and again.
downtempo synthpop 4/5
Considering Two People's debut LP was #2 on my list last year, I had high expectations for a follow up and at first, I was sliiightly disappointed. But, now, I feel like this is probably on the same level and picking a favorite might just depend on the day. A Taste is likely the best pop song I heard this year.
Black Abomination Spawn
blackened tech death 4/5
Don't get scared by the tech death tag. Omegavortex are technical in the way a band like Thantifaxath is as opposed to those shitty bands that are just jerking themselves off. This album is dizzying and, honestly, terrifying; it's the type of anxiety I need in my veins. Feels like falling down the pit of hands from Labyrinth.
black metal 4/5
Just when I thought I wasn't going to get any thrashy black metal standouts this year, I was recommended Spirit Possession and immediately fell into this remarkable debut LP. Spirit Possession takes you back to the early days of spooky ass black metal, with the raw appeal of a band like Bathory melded together with the fun of a band like Horns & Hooves.
|37||Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou|
May Our Chambers Be Full
post sludge 4/5
Listen. This did everything everyone thought it would. It's Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou, no more and no less and it swells like a fucking ocean. The fact that the bar was set so high feels irrelevant now as the vision we all had has finally been realized.
avant death 4/5
I slept on Vile Luxury for a long time. And then one day it clicked. The same thing, more or less, happened with Alphaville. Went from feeling pretty 'eh' about it to considering it easily one of the best albums of the year. This album is suffocating and absolutely HUGE. Imperial Triumphant are operating on a completely different level.
blackened death 4/5
2018's Cosmovore kind of came and went for me, settling at an enjoyable but not exceptional 3.5 But, Ulthar has stepped it up with Providence. It's like they turned everything up a notch. The whole thing feels much more memorable and brings me back for more much more often. Good shit.
Songs To Yeet At The Sun
hardcore punk 4/5
Soul Glo doing Soul Glo things on this brilliantly named EP, providing that hip hop flavored hardcore punk that they pull off seamlessly. They scratch a very specific itch for me and this EP was a welcome addition to the year.
|33||The Soft Pink Truth|
Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?
ambient techno 4/5
What an experience this LP turned out to be. I've just been getting into ambient music much more over the last year or so, but, admittedly, I still don't know a whole lot about stuff like this. What I DO know is that this is captivating, enveloping, cathartic, and I'm all in on it.
blackened blackened death 4/5
Having spent many years as an apologist for whitebelt grind, I can't talk any shit about a black metal band naming their band after a fat, sleepy Pokémon. Luckily, there's much more to this debut LP than a silly band name as all 23 minutes absolutely rip.
Grave of a Dog
Do you like the ideas and sound surrounding... Lingua Ignota? How about Full of Hell? The Body? If I lost you at literally any point there, don't bother with this release because this is for mad men and women only- all others need not apply. If, however, you are in the sweet center of that venn diagram, you're going to love this as much as I did and already have a sense of what is in store.
black mathcore 4/5
I found Serpent Column's LP Kathodos to be underwhelming. The songwriting was great, but the production choices made it hard for me to really enjoy it and left a lot to be desired. Enter: this EP, which basically redeemed everything about it's predecessor, giving me exactly what I expected from the project after all.
|29||Seeds in Barren Fields|
Sånger som rämnar
black metalcore 4/5
Haters will say the genre tag is fake. But, this supreme slice of raw meloblack falls haphazardly into enough metalcore tropes that it may have some crossover appeal if it weren't for the perfectly nasty vocal performance. Recommend this to your core friends that you think are worthy of conversion.
Been getting into what one of my friends calls 'good' (read: UK) dubstep and was treated to this banger. Don't go in expecting something like Andy Stott, but something about the vibe of this reminds me a lot of some of his atmospheres- except it's dubstep. Really great EP that I'd recommend if you're interested in the genre and maybe hearing what Skrillex would be if he wasn't busy trying to make your ears bleed.
|27||Orphan Donor (USA)|
hardcore scramz 4/5
Just pasting my soundoff here, but Old Patterns feels a lot like an atmospheric Converge that merely trades in ferocity for exhaustion from time to time. I can't think of anything else that came out this year that sounds like this barnburner.
|26||200 Stab Wounds|
Piles of Festering Decomposition
death metal 4/5
It seems like every year I get some meat and potatoes death metal that does nothing to expand the genre at all, yet has me coming back for more and more. This debut EP has been in rotation since spring time and it hits just right.
All Hail Treachery
death thrash 4/5
I'm not sure why I didn't vibe much with the last Ninth Realm EP so I'll have to revisit it, but All Hail Treachery hooked me in immediately. Crossover doesn't typically do much for me, I feel like this checks off a lot of boxes for the type of metal I like to begin with and I'm down with anything that riffs hard without being corny. Every riff on this is a fucking blast and warrant repeated listens.
african electronic 4/5
This might not have a cover as cool as the bands' eponymous EP, but everything else is up to par. I don't know shit about East African music, but the percussion heavy techno at work here is absolutely mesmerizing. It's a drum circle in the middle of a desert on ecstasy and adderall.
death metal 4/5
Ayyyy! I think everyone knew exactly what we were going to get from Necrot and even though that takes a little way from the element of surprise, Necrot delivered. Another whip-banger with big replayability.
The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form
Always flirted with IDM, but just barely getting into it this year. I started listening to a ton of old (and some new) Autechre in October and they likely gave me a better appreciation for this. Maybe a 3-hour album wasn't the best sort of introduction, but the investment pays off and I'm excited to go through their discog. Great title, too.
Come and See
avant black noise 4/5
A lot of things with the avant-garde tag are huge misses for me, but this hits hard. Reminiscent for me of something like maudlin of the Well or, maybe more closely, Violent Magic Orchestra, but still with their very own identity. Just a terrific blend of the weird executed about as well as possible.
indie pop 4/5
This has 10 ratings between Sput and RYM and I'm two of them. Someone here recommended it, but I don't remember who. Thanks anyway. For fans of Two People, cover and all. Check Out: Eternal Sunshine.
At least Sputnik almost got this one right, because RYM's feelings about this are fucking tragic. I'm not sure if it was just a disappointment following Mental Hygiene or what, but I had no attachment to that album when I heard this so who knows. ANYWAY, if you want to hear the best shit grindcore has to offer right now, look no further.
The Black Moon
postgaze 4/5 (EPOTY)
This is a perfect follow up and superb compliment to the masterful 2018 release, Death Spell. I cannot wait for more Holy Fawn, but at least I've got this to hold me over for now. Go listen to their 2020 singles right now if you haven't already; an alternate version of their own 'Seer' and a re-working of Manchester Orchestra's 'The Maze.' Fantastic.
|17||Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist|
gangsta rap 4/5
I've been a fan of Piñata since the moment I heard it and thought Bandana was alright, but I wasn't exactly clamoring for new music and Alfredo actually took me until the last two weeks to really get into it. I was initially pleased with the overall sound but didn't pay attention to much else. Turns out this quickly became my favorite hip-hop AOTY, with Frank Lucas in SOTY contention (shout out to Benny the Butcher) and Something to Rap About right behind it- all about those second verses.
Echoes of Terror
death metal 4/5
Some more of that meat and potatoes death metal that absolutely bangs in the whip. This is the type of album you play in your car and blow your fucking speakers with no regret. 34 minutes fly by and make the album's replay value much higher than it should be.
Cat O' Nine Tails
hypnagogic pop 4/5
This feels like a companion album to What's Tonight. I didn't love this as much as it's predecessor, but the same terrifying vibe still looms over this entire album. If you like one, you're bound to like the other.
Skeleton Tree got you down? Not all that cozy inside the ethereal walls of Ghosteen? Maybe just kind of feel like having a drink, hearing a story, and forgetting everything else? Bambara has you covered. I can’t say how much the artists behind Bambara enjoy the southern gothic pieces of the Bad Seeds, but Stray gives me reason to believe that’s all for which they have been living. This is Henry’s Dream reignited with a wet match in the palm of your hand and I'm here for it.
Deus Qui Non Mentitur
black metal 4/5
As I revisited this album for the first time in a few months to collect some more defined thoughts, I found myself doubting how I came to give it such a high rating. But, by the time I hit the fourth of six tracks, I remembered how I was pulled me in to begin with as Bâ'a closes out the album with some of the best black metal tracks of the year.
|12||An Autumn For Crippled Children|
All fell silent, everything went quiet
Landing somewhere between Botanist's VI: Flora and Deafheaven and blackgaze's holy grail Sunbather, All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet finally sees one of the worst named bands in music realizing their potential as they step out of a crowded genre known for its homogeneity. The songs aren't overlong, the melodies are consistently infectious and memorable, and the the dissonance is actually, somehow, inviting. This album probably won't change the mind of any naysayers, but it is easily their best work.
avant psych black 4/5
Avant. Psych. Black. Yeah, you read that right, and I guess it's better that you read it now than never because Oranssi Pazuzu has been dishing this blend of blackened psych for years. But, this time they outdid themselves and a lot of people finally took notice. If you know, you know.
This is the kind of deathgrind that isn't afraid to slow down and instead embraces contrast. When these guys aren't blasting like Danny Devito, they are reminding you that a breakneck pace isn't always as brutal as being torn apart limb from limb. This is not pain, it is suffering.
Ode au Désert Suspendu
If you're like any other sensible metalhead, you have also been waiting up to 13 years for something similar to Ictus' Imperivm. How could you not? Relentlessly infectious riffs consistently break up an otherwise exhausting atmosphere, providing an emotional weight worth carrying. I am generally critical of melodeath, but I know a good thing when I hear it and the blackened melodeath served up here has been scratching an itch I forgot I knew needed to be scratched.
Stare Into Death and Be Still
time lapse cloud death metal
Expectations are always going to be high for Ulcerate. Thankfully, for everyone, these guys are absolute professionals and they are the most seasoned band when it comes to the style they play. For those that cried about the production choices of Shrines, rejoice, because the production on this is absolutely perfect. This is the behemoth we wanted and is, arguably, the best work of the band's career.
ambient house 4.5/5
I listened to this album so much this year. It's perfect for any mood. I listen to it during my commute, I listen to it when I take out my dogs, I listen to it while I work. Gidge achieves something I find rare, in that the album pulls you into its vibe without even having to pay it much attention. You don't have to lose yourself in it, but you definitely can if you'd like. This is probably the best ambient album I heard this year. Shout out to user Sniff for the rec.
Deep Dark South
bedroom spaghetti 4.5/5
This was actually my most-played album of the year according to last.fm, but they don't even monitor cassette plays. Pathetic. That statistic owes only partially to the fact that this sneaky little diddy is only 28 minutes. I say partially, because I'd have listened to it just as many times if it were 15 minutes longer. I want more. Who'd have thought I'd be clamoring for drunk farmhand diaries in the year 2020? Fucking Toy Story-core up in this bitch.
black metal 4.5/5
I think the world has collectively used every winter-related adjective to describe Paysage, so I won't try to describe the sound to you again. But, goddamn, Wintherr captured that type of atmosphere with Im Wald about as well as ever and if you ever thought that his sound was going to get stale, that the schtick would eventually fall flat, you were mistaken. Im Wald lands firmly among Paysage's best work and, for my money, is easily the best black metal album of the year.
blackened death 4.5/5
I do not like the term 'supergroup,' so I'm not going to use it to describe Black Curse. Nah. Black Curse is more along the lines of a ritualistic spell channeled and projected by members of Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice, Primitive Man, and Khemmis. This kind of collaboration has already been happening in Denver for years and shows no sign of slowing down. If you know, you know. Breakout group of the year.
Microphones in 2020
indie folk 4.5/5
I am certain there exists, already, an adequate amount of documented appraise for this Phil Elverum, this album, and the history behind all this so I won't go into specifics. What I CAN tell you is that whether I listened to this... thing... more or less than anything else on this list or not, nothing else made me the way Phil made me feel this year. This is the embodiment of nostalgia. And it's just amazing how the simple honesty of someone else's story can feel so real and dear to just some guy in Utah, but here we are. This album yields that rare punch in the stomach that actually feels... good; the kind that makes you feel alive in every way you ever have, all at once. An impeccable and inimitable classic.
What's Tonight to Eternity
hypnagogic pop 4.5/5
The odds of me having a hypnogogic pop album adorning the upper echelon of my year end list when this miserable year started were likely abysmal, but they'll never reach the black and white depths that this album has achieved. Just when you've been rocked to sleep, you notice the faces are all wrong and everyone is out to get you. At times a dream, at times a nightmare. What is 'What's Tonight to Eternity, Alec?' I think so. (Shout out to the best sample of the year in Lucifer Stand)
The Sanguinary Impetus
brutal death metal 4.5/5
For years, every time I thought about the most brutal band, the most punishing album, I always turned to Cryptopsy's None So Vile as so many others have and always will. Still, there's always been another bdm band I thought could match the primal ferocity of that album; and they may have with Passages in 2013. But, the latest offering from Germany's Defeated Sanity has rocketed the group to the top of the heap as quickly as Frankenstein's monster can bound a mountain. Is this better than NSV? Don't tell anyone, but it may well be.
|Was hoping to have this out by the end of the year, but better late than never, right?|
|correct #1. caustic wound rules too.|
|Can't believe I didn't know there was a new Nihiloxica |
Props for that Leisure Suite
wonderful list, lots of writeups im excited to read through. did you hear the new Mansions album this year? dont think i ever thanked you for showing me Dig Up The Dead a few years back and how it's now one of my top 3 favorite records
Thanks, Pots. Great album, needs some more attention.
Nah, Ian! I didn't know they even had one coming out, I'll be sure to check it. Dig Up The Dead rules.
|it's def their best record since DUTD, though steer clear of the acoustic version because unlike their other acoustic records, it literally adds nothing positive. Big Bad by itself though is super slept on|
|"Is this better than NSV? Don't tell anyone, but it may well be."|
haha idk about this but its for sure already one of my favorite dm albums ever
|That's my hot take lol I know a lot of people won't agree.|
Had to add a couple more albums, one I forgot somehow (Two People) and one that wasn't in the database, sadly (Rumination).
|Nice list. I love 1 but I think chapters and psalms are better and psalms is probably better than nsv|
In any case DS rule
|All fair opinions and any blessing from my boy, fordy, is accepted humbly :)|
|Great list man, and you're right about "A Taste". Also what is "hypnogogic pop"!?|
|Storm In A Teacup|
|Needs more Dbizzles solo rap songs|
|It’s kind of a broad term, Dewi. In this case it’s, fuzzy, lo-fi pop with psych elements.|
I couldn’t rap if my life depended on it, Storm lol.
|hypnagogic pop sounds like the music i want to make even though i dont think ive ever heard any of it lmfao|
|Interesting, it's the first time I heard of it so i will give a shot to that album, thanks dude.|
|Really great list! Some stuff that i haven't heard off but sound really cool|
|Delightful list bizzle|
|42 is the dumbest shit ive ever heard|
truly the most meatheaded hardcore
|For real, so why do I keep listening? lmao|
Ty for the love, everyone.
|Dope list D, loads of good shizz x|
Actually forgot about 10 weirdly, 13 also grew off me quite a bit. Will revisit 31 i never have that enough time and 38 sounds dope,missed that. Gonna have to check 42 arent I though for fucks sake..urgh..
|great write-ups mate x|
|Necrot album is so fun. Like it's not reinventing anything it just does lots of shit super well.|
|Cheers, everyone. Been too long, Wines!|
And, yeah, idk how we keep getting a ton of dm bands putting out predictable albums that are still worthy of high scores, but I am not complaining lol.
|shit football year, pretty good year for jams tho m/ featured|
|lol no kidding. What a shitty home stretch. m/|
|Rad list dbizz bb ily, peep my list too :3|
|Oh boy. I'll go look at it now. UuuuuwuuuuU|
|I've been on an east coast hip hop dive for the last two weeks and a few albums from 2020 would have made the cut here.|
Conway the Machine - From a King to a God
Boldy James & The Alchemist - The Price of Tea in China
Westside Gunn - Who Made the Sunshine