Well that sure was one whole, entire year, wasn’t it?
Like many on this website, 2020 changed a lot of the ways in which I consume new music, and not for the better on my part. The constant thrum of anxiety coursing through my body and mind made critical music listening often difficult, and yet the albums I found this year that I love are some of the best and most affecting music I’ve heard in several years worth of doing this. I went over all of these picks in the end of year episode of our Audio Thing, which I would highly encourage you to listen to here, or wherever you consume podcasts; fair warning that it is a rather long episode, but we worked hard on it and had a lot of fun, so I’d appreciate it if you took the time to check it out. You can consider this main list a companion piece of sorts to the podcast episode. You can listen to me go into detail about the how’s and why’s of my main picks there, but I thought it would be fun to catalog them still, and I threw in some honorable mentions for good measure. Read along after the cut, and a very sincere thank you for another year of readership. I don’t do this for clout and I certainly don’t do this for money, so it means all the more that people take an interest in the things I am passionate about.
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…
Welcome, one and all, to another edition of our Saturday morning mixtape series. This week, we’ve got a ton of new singles from the likes of The Ruins of Beverast, Tribulation, and Emptiness, plus a new Two Minutes to Late Night cover, some classic Arsis, and even a little garage rock for good measure. Take a listen down below.
It’s the beginning of the end. Of the year. This shitty, terrifying, mind-screw of a year. But you know what? It’s also the beginning of list making, which by now (if you’ve been reading me over the last four years) you realize I relish even as I qualify and condition every list I make. As per usual I kicked it off with a list of great albums that – for various reasons – didn’t make my main lists, but that didn’t make them any less special. Every album does that for me: even the ones I don’t connect with tell me something about how I connect with music, and sometimes that’s just as important as finding an album that does make that connection. Continue reading →
Monday. A chance at a new week, new beginnings, or just more of the same. You decide. It’s all about perspective, I guess. Anyway, for new metals this week we’ve got Tombs who return with a gritty and extreme triumph over their last effort, Fuck the Facts astonish with their intense yet moody grindcore, Nader Sadek stay at the top of death metal even with an EP, and Stormkeep stoke the medieval black metal fires with some high horsepower members (do your research). 2020 will be gone before you know it but it appears we’ll be riding it out with quality releases so dig in below and find a new favorite.