It feels rather redundant to preface this year’s celebration of the music that got us through what was annus horribilis maximus unprecedentius with much of a narrative of 2020 because we were all affected. We all lived through it. Some of us in un-splendid isolation. Some of us irreversibly overhauling the way we live, work, and support our dependents. Some of us welcomed changes we had to make while mourning the root cause behind them and that each and every person on this planet we call home was affected, impacted, and touched in a negative way by the events of a global pandemic and high-profile political situations.
So, this year more than any in the history of Ghost Cult, our end of the year review does feel even more of an acknowledgment and celebration of great music than those that came before; for these are the albums that gave us escape, relief, joy, involuntary hand/claw/grimace spasms, distraction, enjoyment, life… all that, and more.
We are thankful for the albums that sound-tracked 2020 and grateful for the emotions and responses they inspired.
While some artists plundered on and released material stridently and confidently even though there was no way to hit the road to promote it in the traditional fashions, others paused, delayed, or even shelved, album plans, All that said, the overriding take-home from this year is that heavy music is the greatest, and 2020 was the birth place of some great heavy music.
Thus, let the celebration begin. Here we present the seventy-five albums that form the Ghost Cult Albums of the Year 2020:
75. Zeal & ArdorWake of a Nation (Mvka/Bandcamp)
74. Wolftooth Valhalla (Cursed Tongue / Ripple)
73. Alestorm Curse of the Crystal Coconut (Napalm) GC Review
72. Nuclear Power Trio A Clear and Present Rager (Metal Blade)
71. Pallbearer Forgotten Days (Nuclear Blast) GC Review
70. Touche Amore Lament (Epitaph)
69. Bleed From WithinFracture (Century Media) GC Review
68. Annihilator Ballistic, Sadistic (Silver Lining) GC Review
67. Nothing The Great Dismal (Relapse)
66. Ensiferum Thalassic (Metal Blade) GC Review
65. Dopelord Sign of the Devil (Green Plague)
64. Hatebreed Weight of the False Self (Nuclear Blast) GC Review
63. Green Carnation Leaves of Yesteryear (Season of Mist) GC Review
62. Dark Tranquillity Moment (Century Media) GC Review
61. Haken Virus (InsideOut)
60. Behemoth A Forest EP (Metal Blade)
59. High Priestess Casting The Circle (Ripple) GC Review
58. Loathe I Let It In and It Took Everything (Sharptone) GC Review
57. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizzard K.G. (Flightless)
56. Motorpsycho The All is One (Rune Grammofon)
55. Creeper Sex, Death & The Infinite Void (Roadrunner)
54. Bruce Springsteen Letter To You (Columbia)
53. Body Count Carnivore (Century Media) GC Review
52. The Devil’s Trade The Call of the Iron Peak (Season of Mist)
51. Nightwish Human :II: Nature (Nuclear Blast) GC Review
50. Dawn of Solace Waves (Noble Demon) “It’s time to get another taste of this project’s gothic goodness… There is a prompt enticement on the opening track, ‘Lead Wings’. The amplified yearning in the guitar’s sound overwhelms and immediately immerses you into a sorrowful, yet wonderfully wistful world”. GC Review
49. Poppy I Disagree (Sumerian) YouTube artist and former bubblegum-Pop singer Poppy further continued her descent down the left-hand path with I Disagree, a stunning cocktail of twisted contemporary metal, alt. / angst breaks and sweetness and light.
48. Demons & Wizards III (Century Media) “Despite its rather uninspiring title, III still sits happily alongside the band’s best work. Cohesive, memorable, and above all, deliriously enjoyable”. GC Review
47. Biffy Clyro A Celebration of Endings (Warner) Eighth album and the Biff’ have rediscovered the joie d’vivre that propelled them to stardom with the one-two of Puzzles and Only Revolutions. Slick, hook-laden modern rock with heart and class.
46. The Acacia Strain Slow Decay (Rise) “… continues the momentum and skull-crushing aesthetic of It Comes in Waves [and] Unconventional release strategies aside, I’m genuinely curious if Acacia Strain is sitting on more of this good shit and when can the public expect it”. GC Review
45. Greg PuciatoChild Soldier: Creator of God (Federal Prisoner) With two releases in our top 75 (solo, and Killer Be Killed) and a third steller new album with Gone is Gone, Greg Puciato is at the peak of his creative power. Just like the rest of his career to date, his solo debut is immediate, impacting, and exploratory. With his Federal Prisoner entity less like a traditional label and more like an art-house collective, Greg may shower us with gifts like Child Soldier: Creator of God for years to come.
44. Heathen Empire of the Blind (Nuclear Blast) “A more cohesive and confident record than their previous release, Empire of the Blind features five musicians at the top of their game”. GC Review
43. Myrkur Folkessange (Relapse). “It’s the voice, of course, that draws you in. A siren song [that] eschews the usual harsh accompaniment: focusing purely on her Scandinavian Folk roots and delivering a set of softened, heartfelt songs”. GC Review
42. Pearl Jam Gigaton (Monkeywrench) “…a great record that richly rewards repeat listens, from restless rockers to the melodious and hook-filled, the story-driven to the slower and atmospheric”. GC Review
41. Forming The Void Reverie (Ripple) Fourth time is the charm as the psych/doom troupe ally Mastodon-ian heft with intricacy, melody, and Torche-esque sparkle to produce their finest hour (well, thirty-seven minutes) to date.
Ghost Cult Album of the Year 2020 countdown part II (40-21) will follow soon…