At this point, what more is there to say about what happened in 2020? I could echo the sentiments of so many others, on this blog and otherwise, but I think we get the idea. I could take this time to lament about the struggles around us, our unsustainable societal structure and all that, but that rant should probably be for another time and place. For now, I’ll just say that my hope is that we can all reflect on the events of 2020 and recalibrate what we prioritize as a society… but I’m not optimistic that will happen. And to all the calendar watchers out there, 2021 won’t magically be better just because it happens to not be 2020. Want things to be better? Make change. That applies to all of us. Status quo sucks anyway.
Enough of that, let’s spin the narrative a bit. As the world continues to burn around us (literally and figuratively), I need to express unrelenting gratitude to all the artists and musicians that continued to perfect their craft over the past several months. Without concerts, and as album sales continue to serve as minimal revenue at best, pausing these pursuits in search of other enterprises would have been understandable. In a year with so much negativity, and so much time away from friends and family, the music I absorbed in 2020 resonated on a deeper level than it has in years. So, thank you, for offering an escape from the daily chaos. A (completely self-induced) pressure to absorb more and more music had taken over in recent years, and as a result my connection to individual records was hindered. A basic quantity over quality concept in listening experience, I suppose. This past year, however, that wasn’t the case. I still consumed an aggressive amount of new music, but the exploration was more curious, and more genuine, than in years past. The result? A stronger attachment to the 2020 releases… which I’m certain will resonate long after we start our 2021 discussions. If there is a bright side to 2020, it’s the realigning, or rediscovering, of our passions and finding new ways to pursue them in the day-to-day. And that’s a mentality I hope to take into the new year.
So let’s dive into my 2020 picks. As always, nine favorites and nine honorable mentions. Side note: I can’t remember a year in which it was this hard to separate a few albums from the greater pack, and that’s probably the result of offering myself the opportunity to truly embed myself in these albums. There was just so much quality presented this year, and delivered over such an expansive spectrum. Just another part of the ridiculous journey that was 2020, I suppose. Anyway…
If you’re reading this there are two possibilities at play, either of which warrant a hearty congratulations:
It’s the end of the year, and you found the strength, courage and forbearance to get through the infested muck that was 2020. Congratulations! I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but let’s put the future aside for a moment and just revel in survival, and talk about some great music.
It’s an indeterminate time in the future, after the apocalypse, and the collective hive mind has integrated into the data streams and come across this post in a random search string query to ascertain various data points about the distant past. Congratulations! I’m not alive to know what the Time Lords have in mind for the future, but let’s put that aside for a moment and just revel in whatever constitutes life in your existence, and talk about some great music.
How many of you are still in food coma mode? It happens. For me it was turkey day with tons of food then yesterday was some amazing BBQ at a small place up in the mountains about an hour away. And that’s the thing; during these insanely off the wall times, it’s the small things that can make all the difference for your sanity even if it does lead to a small food coma, or two. Anyway, it’s Saturday and time for another 9C mixtape of what we’ve been blasting ’round the back office. Me, Chris and Corey had a laaaate night Thanksgiving eve discussing Katatonia so obviously I’m leading off with a cut from Dead Air, then Vince has some Spirit Adrift and Inexorum, Ian gives us a great Wayfarer cut, Chris lays out a Raspberry Bulbs track, Zyklonius offers up some Drouth, and I double down with a new Akhlys track. All that and so much more awaits, hit the play button below and enjoy.
Something about summer. I always find my tastes changing a bit during the hot months, and layer on month four of working from home, never going to stores or seeing friends, and I find myself less and less drawn to the depressing and soul crushing metal that is normally my utter jam. So this month it’s a little more upbeat, a little more positive, a little more energetic, and of course, angry. Because there’s still so so much to be angry about.
I don’t think anyone expected the world to be where it was when 2020 kicked off. To even attempt to put into words the surge of feelings around a global pandemic that refuses to go away, a wretched history of systemic racism, brutality, and ignorance being exposed and reckoned with in the streets all over the world, and everything else the first six months has brought to light is reckless and futile for me right now. I continue to watch, listen, and learn as much as I can: to actively be part of a solution instead of passively being part of the problem.
In the moments between there is music, and if there’s even a glimmer of light right now, it’s in how good 2020 has been with regards to metal. So let’s see where my penchant lies as we cross the halfway mark of year that feels like forever. Continue reading →