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…
For this episode we go all in with most of the staff for our best of 2020 picks. We hit the high notes of what tickled our fancies for the year that was a shitstorm and even welcomed in a new member to the family. So, buckle up for an epic episode that has a wealth of stuff you may have missed and be sure to take notes, artists we mention need your support so open up those wallets and purses.
In the meantime, 2020 looks to be tumultuous as well, but things are looking up, as I have music to look forward to and scream about at some point. Maybe, at the end of the year, I can tell you if I have succeeded in making more selective choices in music.
2020 gave us a roundhouse kick to the collective bollocks, didn’t it? In my case, it kicked me in the face and didn’t let me listen to anything – this pandemic has been bad for my mental health, and it didn’t help that grad school has continued to essentially take all my time and joy away from me. After September of this year, I just went off the radar musically and I found – much to my detriment – that I could only listen to albums I had originally invested a lot of time in. As such, my favorite albums this year are all touchstones of comfort, albums that I enjoyed heavily throughout the year. However, there is an album that made its way through these touchstones and was able to move to a spot that I didn’t think it would reach.
Welcome back to the pit of despair that has exacerbated my depression EOY list season!
I could wax for paragraphs on how 2020 leapt into the toilet in March and continues to swirl, deeper in, teetering just on the edge of complete obliteration, but that would be news to no one. In a year when bands could’ve easily went into hiatus based on no way to tour or support themselves—and honestly no one would’ve blamed them—we are damn lucky to have any music at all much less any best of lists. Thankfully the bands turned it up, tuned low, and cranked it out anyway, despite the thought of any sort of monetary return. In short, metal freakin’ ruled this year and kept me sane while the world crumbled and hope was fleeting at best. My music collection grew like my headphone time at dangerous volume levels (according to my apple stats) and I loved the fact that bands sounded angrier and louder, experimented more, stretched thin genre lines to the limit, and generally laid their balls on the chopping block in a way we haven’t heard in a long time. That chopping block bit was one of ten rules I made for my 2020 list back in January and all the artists that made my list did just that in one way or another but my picks this year were also about the albums that really stuck with me for either the long haul or made a fast impression. So, keep reading and maybe one, or more, of these will hit you the way it hit me.
Greetings everyone, and welcome to Best of 2020 season! I know we are all anxiously awaiting another calendar turn, but before we start dealing with Decaying Society: Episode 2021, we have some highlights from the metal world to discuss. And let’s face it, despite the absurdity of 2020 in every sense of the term, there were still plenty of monster releases that graced our ears in the last 12 months. Before we roll into our individual lists, we’re kicking the season off with our combined staff list. First a reminder of how this all works…
Like last year, each member of the Nine Circles staff (well, most of them), chose their nine favorite albums (inclusive of EPs), listed in order, and up to nine honorable mentions. Obviously, branding counts. A scoring system was applied to the rankings. For example, one person’s first place album received 10 points, the second received 9, so on and so forth… and all honorable mentions received 1 point. Then, combining the scores between everyone’s lists, we have ourselves a Nine Circles ov 2020, brought to you by, well, everyone.
One change to it this year, however, is that we’ve also crowned a label of the year, using the same scoring process as above. Clearly the highest honor in the industry. Who claimed this title for 2020? You’ll have to wait until the very end.
Anyway, that’s all simple enough, right? Right. Enough reading, let’s get into it…