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Metal Insider’s Zenae Zukowski’s Top 50 Albums of 2020

Posted by on December 24, 2020

 

 

2020 kicked off with a bang. Beginning with another successful year at 70000tons of Metal to seeing Heilung, Vader, and Opeth live, what could go wrong? The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the music industry to the point that I don’t know where things will stand in a post-pandemic world. This year felt like a real-life science fiction novel, and we haven’t even reached the ending. While my music listening mainly happened during my commute to work, things had ultimately taken a shift when I ended up spending most of this year working from home. Therefore, I decided to do something different by taking the overboard method sharing my Top 50 albums of the year. These full-length records helped me get through this train wreck that is 2020, and the order was difficult because many of them deserve to be within the top 10, and I’m sure there’s even more, to discover, which you should check out Bram’s, Chris’, Zach’s, Matt’s, and Jeff’s picks. 

 

Check out my selects, and let me know what I missed:

 

50) Lamb of God, Lamb of God (Epic)

Before anyone wonders why Lamb of God is at number fifty, I tend to focus on artists other than those commonly seen on year-end lists. However, I wanted to give this record a nod for its tenacity and their overall ferocious comeback being their first album in five-years. 

Key Track: “Memento Mori”

 

 

 

49) Trivium, What the Dead Men Say (Roadrunner)

Another surprise to see on my list, Trivium’s What the Dead Men Say. What can I say? Watching the devotion this band has to their fanbase alone surpasses any level I have seen (look at Matt Heafy’s Twitch channel). Musically, this record is strong with a pristine production along with your Trivium-esque aggression. 

Key Track: “What the Dead Men Say”

 

 

 

48) AC/DC, Power Up (Columbia)

Between vocalist Brian Johnson losing his hearing to Malcolm Young’s death in 2017, things seemed nearly impossible for AC/DC to rise from the darkness of uncertainty. However, these legends have proven to revive and reinvent themselves, which we have seen for well over forty-five years. What would stop them now? Power Up is what you’d expect from an AC/DC record; it’s bluesy, heavy, and damn gritty. 

Key Track: “Witch’s Spell”

 

 

47) Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man (Epic)

Ozzy Osbourne went through hell in 2019. At one point, he didn’t think he was going to make it. While being forced to cancel his touring plans for 2019 in hopes to return in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, making the Prince of Darkness forced again to postpone his plans. Speaking of “postpone,” the artist created a spin on his material by blending genres collaborating with rapper Post Malone and Elton John. Given, this isn’t Ozzy’s best record to date, the legend managed to get up despite his challenges and record an album for his fans to hear, and he’s working on another! All in all, it’s a decent record, and well enough to make it to number forty-seven. Ozzy, I love you!

Key Track: “Ordinary Man” featuring Elton John

 

 

46) Kvelertak, Splid (Rise Records)

Kvelertak has this natural rawness that reminds me of the early 2000s with the White Stripes mixed with At the Drive-In but metalized. The Norwegian metal outfit continues to redefine metal as they bring a uniqueness that doesn’t go unnoticed, and Splid is no different. 

Key Track: “Crack of Doom” featuring Troy Sanders 

 

 

 

45) Amberian Dawn, Looking For You (Napalm Records)

Amberian Dawn’s style has changed over the years as they’ve moved towards a more upbeat eighties-esque vibe with cheerful keyboards that can get you to either love or hate them, and there’s no in-between. For me, I love it. It’s a break from the darkness and gives more of a positive spin to my daily metal dosage. This record is overall pleasant. 

Key Track: “Symphony No.1, Pt. 3: Awakening” featuring Fabio Lione

 

 

 

44) Amaranthe, Manifest (Nuclear Blast)

I have been disappointed in the last few Amaranthe albums. At some point, there was no chance the group would end up on my year-end list despite how much I love seeing them live. However, when I first heard Manifest, my first thoughts were “welcome back.” The band has finally found a formula that works since Jake E left, and they brought Nils Molin in for the male clean vocals. While their overall pop direction remains, they found a balance that works with the heavier beats.

Key Track: “Viral”

 

 

43) Avatar, Hunter Gatherer (eOne)

Avatar’s Hunter Gatherer is a 180 from 2018’s Avatar Country. They’ve progressed in a darker and more serious direction. And it worked, which showcases their diversity and success at taking risks.

Key Track: “Gun”

 

 

 

42) Sevendust, Blood & Stone (Rise)

When Sevendust have a new album out, expect it to be mentioned somewhere on my year-end list. While this isn’t their most substantial record to date, the band maintains consistency with their notable style that I have enjoyed since their 1997 self-titled debut.

Key Track: “What You’ve Become”

 

 

 

41) Wolfheart, Wolves Of Karelia (Napalm Records)

Wolfheart never disappoints. Despite being more attached to 2018’s Constellation of the Black Light, Wolves Of Karelia is another standout chapter for the Finnish melodic death metal outfit. 

Key Track: “Born of Fire”

 

 

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Categorised in: Lists, Top 50