Ghost Cult Albums of the Year 2020 – Part 3 (20-1)


As we draw down (the moon) on our reveal of the top seventy-five albums of the year, as voted for by the cast, crew, and alumni of this fine rock, metal, punk, hardcore and indie-focused site, we can take a moment to reflect on the power of heavy music, and that every one of the seventy-five albums we are celebrating and acknowledging will have had a positive impact on several of our team and readers.

And we can be assured in the knowledge that whatever 2021 has to throw at us, the crutch that is heavy music will continue to be there for us, enhancing our lives with twisted aural delights.

You can find part 1 of our countdown (75-41) here and part 2 (40-21) here. So, without further ado, we present to you the top twenty albums that made the most impact on us as we conclude the Ghost Cult Albums of the Year 2020:

 

20. The Ocean Collective Phanerozoic II (Metal Blade)

“This is the album that we needed in 2020. A diverse journey into everything that is and composes The Ocean, truly one, if not the biggest musical inspiration out there. There is nothing that they cannot do. Call for catchy melodies, heavy riffs, black metal blast beats (Yes, listen to the second single ‘Oligocene’), and Phanerozoic II will have them all for you”. GC Review

 

19. Napalm Death Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (Century Media)

“In the heavy metal realm, we love to sit around and debate who’s the fastest, the heaviest, or the tightest playing. But now that I’ve had plenty of time to sit on my hands – seeing as the world has basically called it a day – I know that Napalm Death is the most important band in the genre”. GC Review

 

18. Wino Forever Gone (Ripple)

“As much as Wino deserves his doom godfather status for fronting groups like The Obsessed and Saint Vitus, there’s something to be said for his more recent singer/songwriter excursions. Whether going it alone or with such collaborators as Conny Ochs, the acoustic style suits him surprisingly well and the volume contrast brings a fuller perspective to his haggard lifer persona”. GC Review

 

17. Mr Bungle The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (Ipecac)

“For a reunited band with a couple of new members, this iteration of Mr. Bungle is air-tight and sounds like they’ve been playing in unison for years if not decades… I was excited to see another Patton project get the green light, but I wasn’t expecting this total shot of adrenaline”. GC Review

 

16. Code Orange Underneath (Roadrunner)

“Does [it] live up to the cacophony and the publicity? Well, if it doesn’t, Code Orange is going out swinging and using every musical tool and influence at their disposal. Is Underneath destined to be divisive? Hell yeah. Is it going to move Code Orange forward into some interesting directions? Absolutely”. GC Review

 

15. Paradise Lost Obsidian (Nuclear Blast)

“A contemplative atmosphere engulfs the listener with the elegantly stark sound on the opening number, ‘Darker Thoughts’. The agreeable acoustics crescendo when Nick Holmes‘ blunt cleans jolt into his severe screams. This sets up the grim gothic scene that remains throughout the rest of the album”. GC Review

 

14. Oranssi PazuzuMestarin Kynsi (Nuclear Blast)

Oransi Pazuzu is a band that actually lives up to the hype. Dedicated to advancing the genre, highly creative, and fully ensconced in their own little universe, seemingly oblivious to trends or contrivances other bands fall into in both Black Metal and Prog. On Mestarin Kynsi, the masters’ claw is truly in our hearts.

 

13. Primitive ManImmersion (Relapse)

Not only is Primitive Man the heaviest band on the planet musically, but their Eric doom riffs are also matched with agonizing howls that express their subject matter. There are few bands truly original, even on this list of great albums, but on Immersion, this band proves to be the most unique and special at creating their own path right now in metal.

 

12. AC/DC Power Up (Columbia)

“Any worries about the band’s age and health are dispelled right from the off. Brian is on top form, screeching at full capacity, hitting every note, [and] as always, it’s 65-year-old schoolboy, Angus, who steals the show with some of his finest solos for years, effortlessly recapturing the glory days of Let There Be Rock and Back in Black”. GC Review

 

11. Sylosis Cycle of Suffering (Nuclear Blast)

“For a band that just reformed last year and have worked their way through various personnel changes, this is some remarkable shit. Now all I need is to know what Sylosis sounds like on a more consistent schedule. If they keep this up, we may be looking at the uncrowned underground kings”. GC Reviews

 

10. Trivium What The Dead Men Say (Roadrunner)

“With What the Dead Men Say, it’s clear the band are past caring what other people think and are now simply out to please themselves. Vocalist Matt Heafy‘s vocals, whether clean or harsh, sound fantastic and Corey Beaulieu is surely one of the most underrated guitarists out there at the moment, some of the solos on this release among the best of his career”. GC Reviews

 

9. Katatonia City Burials (Peaceville)

Much like Paradise Lost earlier on this list, Katatonia is a band finding themselves getting better as they get further in their career. Their hauntingly sad vocals are only matched by amazing riffs and fresh melodies. never a band to repeat themselves, they are a shining example to our scene on how to keep true to your style but continue to evolve and improve.

 

8. Enslaved Utgard (Nuclear Blast)

“Over time Enslaved has not been afraid to dip into other genres like Prog Rock and Jazz. It’s encouraging to witness their ability to be undaunted by their explorations while still being true to their Viking roots. Their album, Utgard verifies their astute ambition of experimentation and expression. Huginn and Muninn would caw in approval at Enslaved’s thoughtful and powerful experimenting”. GC Review

 

7. Protest The Hero Palimpsest (Spinefarm)

“Some of the greatest metal or punk releases were born from a disdain/critique of the political establishment… all the piss and vinegar rightfully backed by some of the most epic sounding batch of songs Protest the Hero has crafted in a while. ‘From the Sky’ and ‘All Hands’ hit with smart-bomb impact yet carry the bravado and melody of a Broadway production”. GC Review

 

6. The Black Dahlia Murder Verminous (Metal Blade)

“Taking a firm stride forwards, TBDM have evolved into something a little different on this new record, but doing so without losing any of their intensity or razor-sharp cutting edge. Opening with the gouging brutality of the title track, the band prove they are in no mood for fucking around”. GC Reviews

 

5. Killer Be Killed Reluctant Hero (Nuclear Blast)

As we are fond of saying here at Ghost Cult, a lot of supergroups end up not being too super. Killer Be Killer is made up of members of legacy bands such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, Soulfly, Mastodon, and At the Drive-In, but it’s the sum of their powers combined that really make this album special. The band has built off of their debut release and further developed their ability to let everyone get their essence into each song, without taking away from the whole.

 

4. Emma Ruth Rundle / Thou May Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones)

“May Our Chambers Be Full manages to simultaneously embody several apparent opposites with grace and purpose. It is both monstrously heavy and beautifully delicate. It is abrasive yet also melodic. It is riff-laden but the music exists in support of the absolutely faultless songs. It often feels both bleak and euphoric.

The musical arrangements and dynamics are key to the success of this record. One stroke of genius is the way that Rundle’s voice – pure, melodic, and emotive – is often layered up with the harsh and feral screams of Thou’s Bryan Funck. The two meld together to create an otherworldly effect that is utterly captivating”. GC Review

 

3. Sólstafir Endless Twilight of Co-dependent Love (Season of Mist)

“For the most part, Solstafir’s seventh full-length album follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, 2017’s Berdreyminn. The songwriting still largely favors the band’s subdued side with influences ranging from Post Punk, Prog Rock, and Ambient greatly informing the Post Metal whole. But rather than completely giving way to that softness, Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love also sees flashes of the band’s heavier tendencies bursting through.

Overall, Solstafir’s melancholic post-Metal formula is at its most balanced and fine-tuned. While it does lean more on the restrained side, their melodic and heavier aspects are integrated smoothly. There’s a healthy distribution of moods across the album with healthy dynamic fluctuations that are strengthened by the top-notch musicianship”. GC Review

 

2. Elder Omens (Stickman)

“Laying on my back in the grass, seeing shapes in the clouds or constellations at night, that was pure happiness as a kid. I never really stopped chasing that vibe as an adult, because I still drift off and let my brainwaves go crazy. Expect nowadays my field is my headphones and a turntable, and the clouds my mind is chasing down are inside of my eyelids, and not the sky. If you are looking for the ultimate “drop out, tune in, and turn on” soundtrack for 2020, it is definitely going to be Elder’s new opus, Omens

Musically it’s a masterpiece of licks, and riffs clashing and coming together track after track. Jack Donovan’s bass playing is thoughtful and never oversteps. A perfect compliment to Georg Edert’s drumming. Sometimes it’s a stoner vibe, other times trance-like licks give off a post-Rock transcendental mantra, and of course, there are plenty of heavy riffs and quite a few headbanging moments too. There really is no best track here. They are all the best”. GC Review

 

 

GHOST CULT ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2020

Deftones Ohms (Reprise)

 

What a bang-up year for Deftones, despite the pandemic nearly derailing this release entirely. They celebrated the anniversary of their greatest album, White Pony with their fans, and finally released their dream project, Black Stallion, the remix album. But Ohms is the jewel in the crown for this band. The band postponed the summertime plans for the release and then stayed the course, dropping their latest masterpiece Ohms (Reprise) in September. The band was able to finish off the album, one that had the unenviable task of following 2016s excellent Gore album. Rather than rest on their laurels, the band continues to shapeshift their way through this era of their career, adding nuances and new layers to their own special genre of Deftones music.

As Ghost Cult scribe Meijin Bruttomessowrote in her review of the album:

“Genesis” leads the album with a floating introduction that quickly explodes with Moreno lamenting, “I reject both sides of what I’m being told // I’ve seen right through now I watch how wild it gets,” setting the stage for the album, sonically and thematically. “Ceremony” marches forward with a breathy, atmospheric sound that contrasts with its dystopian lyrics. Groovy and brooding, “Urantia” and unrelenting “Error” reflect a longing for both passion and freedom. “The Spell of Mathematics” soars with distortion and ebbs and flows between pummeling drums and dreamy vocals. The album takes a breath on “Pompeji,” with a more balladic temperament and swaying tempo, while “This Link is Dead” and “Radiant City” dive back into unstoppable ferocity and gripping guitars. The penultimate song, “Headless,” delivers punches with driving bass lines that juxtapose with buoyant choruses and haunting melodies, a contrasting dynamic that Deftones have mastered. “Ohms” briskly launches into expectedly joyous melodies with mesmerizing riffs and cathartic grooves, concluding the album on a much-needed, energetic high note.

In times of uncertainty, Deftones have risen to the occasion and offered listeners an outlet to channel their frustrations. Ohms shows that even with the ever-changing landscape, the band stands out and conquer with their creative prowess. Keep your eyes peeled for the new record out everywhere on September 25 and more news surrounding the release of a remix LP, Black Stallion, which will feature all-new remixes of White Pony tracks.

Buy Ohms here: https://deftones.lnk.to/Ohms

GC Review

Watch an in-depth analysis of the top 20 here:

See the entire list here:

 

PositionBandAlbum
75Zeal & ArdorWake of a Nation
74WolftoothValhalla
73AlestormCurse of the Crystal Coconut
72Nuclear Power TrioA Clear and Present Rager
71PallbearerForgotten Days
70Touche AmoreLament
69Bleed From WithinFracture
68AnnihilatorBallistic, Sadistic
67NothingThe Great Dismal
66EnsiferumThalassic
65DopelordSign of the Devil
64HatebreedWeight of the False Self
63Green CarnationLeaves of Yesteryear
62Dark TranquillityMoment
61HakenVirus
60BehemothA Forest
59High PriestessCasting The Circle
58LoatheI Let It In And It Took Everything
57King Gizzard & the Lizard WizzardK.G.
56MotorpsychoThe All Is One
55CreeperSex, Death & The Infinite Void
54Bruce SpringsteenLetter To You
53Body CountCarnivore
52The Devil’s TradeThe Call of the Iron Peak
51NightwishHuman II Nature
50Dawn of SolaceWaves
49PoppyI Disagree
48Demons & WizardsIII
47Biffy ClyroA Celebration of Endings
46The Acacia StrainSlow Decay
45Greg PuciatoChild Soldier: Creator of God
44HeathenEmpire of the Blind
43MyrkurFolkesange
42Pearl JamGigaton
41Forming The VoidReverie
40UlverFlowers of Evil
39Anaal NathrakhEndarkenment
38Armored SaintPunching The Sky
37Black Crown InitiateViolent Portfolio of Doomed Escape
36XibalbaAnos En Infierno
35Lamb of GodLamb of God
34Oceans of SlumberOceans of Slumber
33KvelertakSplid
32SvalbardWhen I Die Will I Get Better
31Elephant TreeHabit
30MidnightRebirth By Blasphemy
29Imperial TriumphantAlphaville
28Unleash The ArchersAbyss
27TestamentTitans of Creation
26NecrotMortal
25Spanish Love SongsBrave Faces Everyone
24Vile CreatureGlory, Glory ….
23SepulturaQuadra
22Run The JewelsRTJ 4
21Palm ReaderSleepless
20The Ocean CollectivePhanerozoic II
19Napalm DeathThroes of Joy In The Jaws of Defeat
18WinoForever Gone
17Mr BungleThe Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo
16Code OrangeUnderneath
15Paradise LostObsidian
14Oranssi PazuzuMestarin Kynsi
13Primitive ManImmersion
12AC/DCPower Up
11SylosisCycle of Suffering
10TriviumWhat The Dead Men Say
9KatatoniaCity Burials
8EnslavedUtgard
7Protest The HeroPalimpsest
6The Black Dahlia MurderVerminous
5Killer Be KilledReluctant Hero
4Emma Ruth Rundle / ThouMay Our Chambers Be Full
3SolstafirEndless Twilight of Co-dependent Love
2ElderOmens
1DeftonesOhms