Let’s welcome this new year with the finest of 2020!
As we all know already the year 2020 will be remembered as a year of sickness & death, lockdowns, and few to none shows.
And 2021 could go in a similar direction before we can all relax and enjoy some heavy & fuzzy shows together.
But until then let’s focus on something positive like this list of albums that made my year despite all the misfortune.
It doesn’t really matter if you’ve heard them all or just a few, you certainly gonna agree or disagree.
But if one album will make someone’s life a little bit better in these times then the list was worth it. 🙂
Last year I did a fun top 20 which was split with the first half being grounded with vocals while the second was leaving earth for some instrumental trips with different kinds of spaciousness.
This year however my 20 albums are 14 fuzzy ones while the other 6 are no fuzz but still top-tier musicianship. 🙂
The reason is that I got into the fuzzy scene quite late and for many years prior I was a “metalhead” to the core and soaked up the major genres one after another, everything between black, death, folk, gothic, and classic heavy metal.
So this time I wanted to give praise to 6 albums that deserve a top 5 spot in my book. 🙂
With that out of the way let’s rock out, freak out, and psych out!
- Fuzzy 14 of 2020
- No Fuzz 6, Yet Bangers
Fuzzy 14 of 2020
14: Iglesia Atomica – La Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo
One of the best out of Puerto Rico who knows how to space out with their psych rock.
Gran Muro De Coma which was released in 2018 got plenty of spins back then and I didn’t even know until November that they had released La Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo.
But it’s another awesome record full of intense heavy psych with atmospheric passages and they can jam as good as the best of em’ in the scene.
Just listen to the opener called Chamán and try to tell me I’m wrong. 😉
Favorite track: Chamán
13: I, Captain – Livets Hårda Konstskola
I had this one for months in my wishlist at Bandcamp until I finally got around to listen to it in December.
And god damn it’s good, the album title drew me in which means The hard art school of life.
It’s such a heavy album mixing catchy stoner rock with doom metal and heavy psych parts full of guitar effects.
Favorite track: Hyperackumulator
12: Hymn – Breach Us
First one on my list which I reviewed and it’s still one hell of an amazing and heavy album.
Part heavy sludge with screamed vocals of aggressiveness which rivals Mantar, Lord Mantis, and Indian.
The second part has more doom and post-metal vibes in the veins of Kongh and Cult of Luna.
Check out my review for more in-depth thoughts.
Favorite track: Exit Through Fire
11: Ball – Like You Are… I Once Was… Like I Am – You Will Never Be
Another one of my reviews which is an amazingly fun listen and you can check out the review to know more about it.
They mix the 60´s and 70´s rock with a splash of satanism and modern psych-rock.
Worthy to mention that right now you can pre-order a new version with Swedish lyrics and a guest singer.
Definitely curious to hear it when my LP arrives. 😀
Favorite track: Death Deals A Hand
10: Turtle Skull – Monoliths
Another band I had not heard of before and their psychedelic doom metal is a trip.
It’s a varied album where the songs change throughout in a proggy way, there’s never a dull moment in tracks like Who Cares What You Think? where they have an awesome main melody which everyone works around.
Other tracks like Rabbit has a similar vibe to Elder’s newest album but with the difference that the clean vocals really adds to the sound.
Which they also do on the whole album.
Favorite track: Who Cares What You Think?
9: Tsiolkovski – Molniya
This is a late find just like I, Captain and it blew my mind from the very first track I heard.
Tsiolkovski will make you drift away in their huge wall of sound which is filled with doomish heavy psych.
The opener Voskhod starts slow and builds its momentum until the final note while tracks like Molniya rock from the start.
And watch out for LMC X-3! It will let you know the spaceship has left and there’s no turning back!
Favorite track: LMC X-3
8: Korb – Korb II
This recommendation from Mr. Stone was an amazing mix of space rock and krautrock.
Every song stands out and I wish I found it earlier so I could get a copy of the LP.
I won’t say much more than it got synthwave vibes like an 80’s soundtrack or a dark cybernetic future.
A must listen and absolutely amazing!
Favorite track: Tape to Tape
7: Kimono Drag Queens – Songs Of Worship
This debut album got my attention straight away with its psychedelia meets world music.
The sound doesn’t stray too far between the tracks but what makes it so awesome is all of the amazing melodies which you can hear in each song.
Sometimes it’s just the guitars, then bongo drums add to it and then the vocals give another layer of beauty.
I hope Kimono Drag Queens gets a spot at Freak Valley Festival when covid is over and we can all enjoy some festivals because here we got only killers, no fillers! 😉
Favorite track: Hunters In The Snow
6: Lowrider – Refractions
It’s pretty weird that I had never heard of these guys even though they’re from my home country of Sweden.
In my youth, I got into every kind of Swedish metal except power metal, yet I never heard of Lowrider.
But maybe two years ago Mr. Fuzz mentioned them and I thought Ode to lo was good.
But to me, Refractions is soo much better!
They recorded a few songs like they never left at all, it doesn’t sound outdated, instead, it sounds fresh and exciting.
Just listen to the amazing guitar work and vocal melodies in Pipe Rider!
Favorite track: Pipe Rider
5 : Elephant Tree – Habits
Elephant Tree must be one of the most unique bands next to Elder in recent years for our scene.
Since their S/T album, you can instantly hear their sound and no one sounds like em’ and it took me two chances until I really fell for them and it’s all thanks to Mr. Fuzz before I even started writing here.
Here on Habits they kept their sound yet getting a bit more progressive, it’s not as heavy, and took me a few more listens to get into it but they surely still make some of the most intriguing music in recent years.
I was the most surprised by the violin in The Fall Chorus and Bird being my favorite which shows them on their most melodic beauty to date.
Favorite track: Bird
4: Robot God – Silver Buddha Dreaming
This debut by Robot God never lets you down with its heavy psych/stoner rock of utmost quality.
We get riffage which kicks major ass together with steady drums and punchy bass in the best trio way possible.
From the Elder‘ish of Silver Buddha Dreaming to the Earthless’ness of Sky Fire.
On a few tracks, they add vocals, like Volcano Bleeds and it adds a bit more of a stoner vibe to it.
It could have sounded out of place on a record of mostly instrumentals but they really add diversity to an already awesome album.
Favorite track: Peyote Sunrise
3: Lightning Orchestra – Source And Deliver
This psychedelic rock album full of intense afrobeat and wind instruments is so damn awesome.
It gives off a happy vibe of jamming til’ the sun sets, I imagine if Curtis Mayfield and Jimi Hendrix joined a crazy jazz band this could be the outcome.
But if you like Here Lies Man and Brownout’s Black Sabbath covers you might as well dig it!
Favorite track: White Tiger
2 : Øresund Space Collective – Experiments In The Subconscious/Four Riders Take Space Mountain
Two albums for spot nr. 2 because the spacelords in ØSC released 2 amazing albums which are quite different.
I reviewed Experiments In The Subconscious back in February and that album is a varied one mixing their brand of space rock with Afrobeat, Latin vibes, and occasionally a bit of heavy psych intensity.
The songs are more focused than their usual affair which makes for a good start for anyone unfamiliar with em’.
And in November they released Four Riders Take Space Mountain and it’s a 60-minute jam split into 3 tracks and here you can follow them on an epic space journey from start to finish.
There’s SO MUCH happening during its runtime and everyone gets time to shine with their respective instrument.
It’s extracted from studio sessions in 2014 where the records Different Creatures and Visions of comes from.
The log jam is not the end of it though, you also get a cool 21-minute raga jam they made in 2016 which has a different lineup playing with only bass, drums, synthesizer, sitar, and violin.
Favorite track: Lost In Africa/Four Riders Jam
1: Blues Pills – Holy Moly!
One of the best rock bands to come in soon to be 11 years and their self-titled album filled with catchy bangers blew my socks off back when I was gonna see them in my hometown, it got straight to the point and never let you down!
Sadly something which their second album Lady in Gold didn’t because of a few great songs and guitars being drowned out by keyboards and vocals.
When the guitarist Dorian left I was pretty worried that the blues riffage would be lost.
What I didn’t know at the time though was that Zack who had handled the bass was writing most of the music and to my happiness, this new album made up for the lack of great guitar riffs being heard in Lady in Gold.
Also, we can’t forget Elin’s vocals which sound better and more varied than ever on Holy Moly!
First, I’ll mention Song From A Mourning Dove, it’s hands down the best song they have ever written!
It rocks with amazing guitar riffs and soloing, then Elin raises it a thousandfold during the refrain which has such an awesome melody and lyrics.
Most songs on Holy Moly! rocks big time but there are a few calmer ones that show Elins wider range.
On the nostalgic California, she offers us her most Janis Joplin sounding voice, and at first, I wasn’t sure if I liked it but it really grew on me.
Also the beautiful Wish I’d Known shows her wide range in a perfect way.
Finally, let’s not forget the rest of the band though, this album wouldn’t be as amazing as it is without all of them!
Favorite track: Song From A Mourning Dove
No Fuzz 6, Yet Bangers
Triptykon – Requiem (Roadburn 2019 w/ The Metropole Orkest)
Anyone into the blacker metal genres should know the name Thomas Gabriel Fischer!
One part the fame of Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and now the amazing band called Triptykon.
For those who don’t know, Hellhammer formed in the early ’80s and they mixed doom, black and heavy metal throughout their demos and Celtic Frost was like a demo band finding their sound.
After classics like CF’s debut To Mega Therion from 1985 and the 2006 reunion album Monotheist which I regard as complete masterpieces they split once again, and out of the ashes came Tom G with Triptykon.
He expanded on the sound from Monotheist with 2 amazing albums full of doom and blackness.
But then came Roadburn Festival in 2019 and Tom got his chance to finish THIS musical piece, and now we’re talking Celtic Frost’s track Rex Irae from their 1987 album Into The Pandemonium, and Winter (Chapter Three: Finale) from Monotheist.
And then the central piece Grave Eternal which is 32 minutes long and it’s some of the best music he’s made thus far!
Grave Eternal is a big mix of classical orchestration, brief parts of vocals, and the usual instruments.
And towards the end, it finishes on a more epic doominess with a melancholic and introverted mindfulness!
I can’t recommend it enough, this album I would put next to Blues Pills as album of the year!
Favorite track: Grave Eternal
Dark Tranquillity – Moment
A pioneer of melodic death metal from the Swedish Gothenburg scene which came during the early to mid ’90s.
In my opinion, Dark Tranqillity has aged the best of em’ when it comes to transitioning into the 20th century.
Their melodic and emotional riffage is still there, Mikael Stanne’s growls sound as potent as those early days and his dark sounding clean vocals gives an extra melancholic goth vibe and I always loved those.
If you’re into growls check out the first 3 songs, if you’re curious about the clean ones you should listen to The Dark Unbroken, Remain in the Unknown, and the song of the year contender In Truth Divided, an epic song of pure emotion!
Favorite track: In Truth Divided
Ulver – Flowers Of Evil
This Norwegian band has been around since 1993 and started out as a pretty good black metal band.
I enjoyed their debut album but after 3 albums they made electronic music which hasn’t been my cup of tea.
But in 2017 they caught my interest again with an 80’s synth-pop sound with vocals thrown into it.
I enjoyed it but wasn’t prepared for how much I would love Flowers of Evil.
It would be no underestimation that I have played it the most this year among a few others!
The overall tone is dark & bleak, but with a poppy and synth-driven 80’s sound with a hint of goth vibe.
Favorite track: One Last Dance
Finntroll – Vredesvävd
One of the pioneers within the folk metal scene released their 7th album and their brand of black metal meets Finnish humppa & Swedish lyrics has a grim vibe to it but at the same time so funny and makes you headbang!
This one gets right to the point from start to Finnish (pun intended ) which reminds me more of their earlier albums.
Get ready for blast beats, tremolo picking, and folky keyboards, violin & Orchestrations.
Favorite track: Gränars Väg
Counting Hours – The Will
The Will is the debut album from Counting Hours and it’s another surprising release this year for me.
The Finnish guys behind it are no newcomers, here we have members from Rapture, Shape of Despair, and Colosseum.
All highly regarded bands within the melodic death and funeral doom scenes out of Finland.
Here they do what Finnish metal does best and that’s a melancholic and gothic type of metal.
The clean vocals are lush and remind me of Antti from the band The Man-Eating Tree.
Instrumentally though the closest comparison would be the 96′ to 2001 era of Sweden’s own Katatonia.
You get the melancholic guitar melodies and similar lyrics but what makes it stand out from the current era Katatonia is the awesome growls which add a second layer to the sound, which Katatonia hasn’t done since Brave Murder Day in 96′.
Favorite tracks: Saviour & Among The Pines We’ll Die
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Ooooh, the pioneers Paradise Lost! I did review this back in June and it’s still a top 5 of 2020!
All of The Peaceville Three have evolved in their own way and everyone amazing in their own right.
PL kept their doomy, yet rockish melancholy vibe to their melodies which are untouched by few.
Here they pretty much did everything they have done right throughout their career and it’s heavy, emotional and you get an 80’s goth rock vibe thrown in there as well!
Favorite track: Darker Thoughts