BPMHILL’s Best Albums of 2020

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More than almost anything in a hellish year that we’ve all just had, music has been the glue keeping me together. No matter what mood I’m in, there’s a variety of great new tunes that can either help me feel better or conquer whatever problem is in front of me. I found that this year in particular I was not only listening to older records I’ve always loved but also exploring a lot of new artists I had previously not given a chance. I’m so glad I had some time to really dig into new artists as there were several great finds, some of which are on this list. Without further ado, here are my favorite Albums, EP’s and Live releases for the year.

Best EP’s:

I don’t always mention EP’s on my lists but when I do it’s because they’re F*#@in’ awesome so maybe check these out.

  1. Nuclear Power Trio – “A Clear and Present Rager”
  2. Soilwork – “A Whisp of the Atlantic
  3. Ihsahn – “Telemark” and “Pharos”
  4. Carcass – “Despicable”
  5. Thomas Giles – “Feel Better”

Best Live Albums/Virtual Streaming Shows:

Since mid-March in the US, artists had to start cancelling their tour plans and many bands either released killer previously recorded live albums or got creative and did a live streaming show (or both if you’re Devin Townsend).

  1. Devin Townsend – “Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Vol 1” (and all of his virtual shows)
  2. Katatonia – “Dead Air” (Live Stream/Album)
  3. Greg Puciato – “Fuck Content” (Live Stream/Album)
  4. Deafheaven – “10 Years Gone” (Live in Studio)
  5. Tesseract – “Portals” (Live Stream)
  6. Dream Theater – “Distant Memories: Live in London” (Live Release)
  7. The Black Dahlia Murder – “Yule ‘Em All” (Live Stream)
  8. Insomnium – “Winter’s Gate” (Live Stream)
  9. Imperial Triumphant – “An Evening With Imperial Triumphant” (Live Stream)
  10. Leprous & Ihsahn (Live Stream)
  11. Swallow the Sun (Live Stream)
  12. Iron Maiden – “Nights of the Dead: Live in Mexico City” (Live Release)

Best Studio Albums:

  1. Haken – “Virus”: The album I’ve listened to the most and has stuck with me through the year. Haken continue their upward trajectory with “Virus”, one of their best albums yet. Incredibly catchy vocal melodies and terrific musicianship. Do NOT miss. Songs to listen to: Canary Yellow, Prosthetic, Carousel
  2. Intronaut – “Fluid Existential Inversions”: Intronaut knocked it out of the park with their latest album. New drummer, Alex Rudiner, adds a new layer to the band and his work (along with the rest of the band) is very impressive. I keep coming back to this album and rotating my favorite songs as every single one is great. Songs to listen to: The Cull, Cubensis, Pangloss
  3. Imperial Triumphant – “Alphaville”: I know I’ve said it before but Imperial Triumphant are one of the best bands today and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t listen to their new album, “Alphaville”. Featuring some of the best musicianship this year or any other, they are not a band you simply put on in the background. This is a challenging, disgusting and truly rewarding listen. I can’t wait to see what the group does next. Songs to listen to: City Swine, Atomic Age, Transmission to Mercury
  4. Myrkur – “Folkesange”: I can always count on Myrkur to do something different with each new album and on this one, she does away with any trace of metal and instead embraces folk entirely and it’s beautiful. Songs to listen to: Leaves of Yggdrasil, House Carpenter, Harpens Kraft
  5. The Ocean – “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic”: Confusing album title aside, The Ocean continue evolving with one of their finest albums to date and one of the most enthralling works of art about (checks scribbled notes while listening to said album)…dinosaurs since “Jurassic Park”. Songs to listen to: Jurassic |Cretaceous, Triassic, Holocene
  6. Enslaved – “Utgard”: I’ll admit that this album took awhile to stick for me but when it finally clicked, I fell for it. I should never doubt Enslaved as every album is excellent. The band is at their creative best and have a seemingly endless amount of brilliant riffs at their disposal. Songs to listen to: Homebound, Storms of Utgard, Flight of Thought and Memory
  7. Greg Puciato – “Child Soldier: Creator of God”: If you’ve been reading my posts for a bit, you’ll already know I’m a big fan of Greg’s and thus two releases with him made my top ten. His debut solo album is absolutely stunning. On an initial listen, it might seem bi-polar in nature, bouncing between aggressive songs like “Fire for Water” to dark synth-wave tracks like “Temporary Object”. However, I found the more spins I gave it, the more it opened up to me and all the pieces came together to form a truly wonderful piece of art. Songs to listen to: Temporary Object, A Pair of Questions, Fire for Water
  8. Old Man Gloom – “Seminar VIII: The Light of Meaning & Seminar IX: Darkness of Being”: Old Man Gloom made a new double album and it’s both devastating and crushing. Aaron Turner has been one busy dude between this band, Sumac, his solo albums and multiple other projects but somehow every single release is top-notch. This release is one of the bands most varied and perfect for newcomers to start with. Songs to listen to: Death Rhymes, By Love All is Healed, The Bleeding Sun
  9. Killer Be Killed – “Reluctant Hero”: This insanely talented group have been secretly working on their second full length for a few years. The time since their debut has given the musicians a chance to stew on each track and it really paid off. This is even better than their first release and a must-listen for metal fans of all kinds. Songs to listen to: The Great Purge, Dream Gone Bad, Deconstructing Self-Destruction
  10. Finntroll – “Vredesvävd”: We’ve had to wait seven long, cold years in between albums but Finntroll made it count with their seventh studio album. Catchy and inventive, there’s no band that sounds quite like them and that’s a very good thing. Songs to listen to: Att Doda Med En Sten, Forsen, Mask
  11. Paradise Lost – “Obsidian”
  12. Ulver – “Flowers of Evil”
  13. The Black Dahlia Murder – “Verminous”
  14. White Stones – “Kuarahy”
  15. John Petrucci – “Terminal Velocity”
  16. Pallbearer – “Forgotten Days”
  17. Katatonia – “City Burials”
  18. Silent Skies – “Satellites”
  19. The Night Flight Orchestra – “Aeromantic”
  20. Sumac – “May You Be Held”

In case you missed it, here’s my list of top songs for the year. For more Best Albums lists check out FancyMemo‘s, and UndercoverSadGirl‘s lists.

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