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.
Each year I take a break from writing about metal on this site to regale the 10-12 of you who read Blood Red with reviews on horror films from every corner of the globe. Different sub-genres, different themes…vastly different modes of execution.
Kinda like metal, no?
Anyway, I’ve managed to vaguely keep up with some of what’s been going on in the extreme metal scene a bit, with different sounds catching my ears when I wasn’t knee-deep in Evil Dead homages and terrible, terrible remakes of mediocre horror films. So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… I wanted to say a few (very few – I’m tapped at the moment after writing over 16,000 words on horror movies) words on some metal that wasn’t coveted here on the site, but managed to stick in my ears long enough to register as something I dug.
Welcome to another exciting edition of our weekly mixtape series. On deck for today: the new single from Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle’s collaborative album, one of my favorite Lantlôs songs, and some new Deftones for good measure. All this and more at the link below.