Light, darkness, and all in between…
Well well well… 2020 is over and what wicked of a plot twist it turned out to be for all of us. Yet in all the madness, bands stayed prolific and released plenty of killer albums that are definitely worth remembering.
Here is my top 15 albums of 2020 traversing various genres and dimensions!
Mr. Witchfinder Top 15 Albums of 2020
15: Radar Men from the Moon – The Bestial Light
RMFTM have been experimenting with their sound for a while now but it’s only with The Bestial Light that the band saw such a major shift in course. The transition from drone/ambient/electronic/psychedelic realms to industrial/noise/post/punk (or Acid-Metal 😉 ), and an addition of extra drums and vocals, has resulted in an LP as bold as it is in fact hypnotic.
14: Kryptograf – self-titled
This album took me several attempts to get down to but once I did, it held on relentlessly. Kryptograf heavily draws from the past and evoke a strong early-Pentagram feel that is spiced up with a fresh, psychedelic twist. A promising project, to say the least.
13: Rezn – Chaotic Divine
Maintaining the malice and grandeur of their already-signature style, Rezn now strayed further into the cosmos than ever before. Soundscapes of mythical nature, all organic and alive, gently guide the listener into ever-greater depths of the band’s imagination. The nimble use of saxophone, high-pitch vocals, and overall careful instrumental choreography build exceptional tension and whet the appetite for more. And there is plenty to explore, trust me.
12: Elephant Tree – Habits
Habits is by far the most mature record of Elephant Tree to date. Rarely does one see such progress from album to album. Progress maintaining the essence of what made the band stand out a few years back while adding novelties that take nothing away and set the course far above. This is the way.
11: Fluisteraars – Bloem
Fluisteraars – Dutch for ‘whisperers’. Make no mistake though, you won’t hear any whispers here. Instead what you get is black metal of the highest order, transcending the genre and bursting with ideas and eerie, rural mysticism. Nothing to fear about though, in all the maddening blast beats, tremolo picking and growls, resides a timeless ember of hope capable of touching even the coldest of souls.
10: Khan – Monsoons
In December of 2020, Khan have returned with Monsoons, a follow-up to their insane 2018 debut. Despite the band opting for going fully instrumental here, they yet again managed to showcase their precious skills in weaving complex soundscapes with emotion and careful pacing. This album is a deeply buried gem that once uncovered, holds on and doesn’t cease to amaze with each consecutive spin.
9: Temple Fang – Live at Merleyn
A live album? …huh? Yep! Temple Fang is a recent band that emerged from the heavy Dutch underground with their first appearance in 2018. Ever since then, through gigs and the word of mouth, they started growing and getting booked for festivals like Roadburn or Desertfest. Only in 2020 did the band finally release their first album that turned out to be a masterfully recorded live performance in Merleyn, Nijmegen. This is psychedelic rock in its purest form. Low-key in form, maddening in content.
8: Dopelord – Sign of the Devil
You must really understand your (sub)genre in order to consistently improve and walk forward. Dopelord have shown YET AGAIN that they mastered the art of Stoner Doom and now in fact, perhaps they even define it. Their dedication to simultaneously staying true to Iommic ways while bringing some novelties to the table, is impressive. Sign of the Devil breathes with fresh, crypt air, adding synthesizers to the solution and boasting with perhaps the most coherent yet adventurous of all their tracklists. I think I turned into a doom bastard.
7: Pallbearer – Forgotten Days
Pallbearer ain’t new to the heavy game but have surely walked it ideas and confidence since the very beginning. Forgotten Days is a colossus that stomps hard and loud, fearing no one and paving the way with sword in hand. The epicness and scale of this endeavor come close if not surpasses their debut release, painting landscapes of surreal beauty and ever-crushing weight. It’s hard not to cry to it, should you have a soul of course.
6: Slomosa – self-titled
I’ll be honest, I discovered this band during the last weeks of 2020. But when I heard those riffs, those goddamn riffs, I was sold and gone. Slomosa deliver extremely addictive wares straight from the rainy coverts of Bergen, Norway. This debut (!) album is a banger from top to bottom that burns one’s mind while leaving no room for idleness. Put on your trekking shoes and dance the tundra blues!
5: Ritual King – self-titled
Roll a reefer, light it up and depart! This self-titled debut by UK’s Ritual King is a treasure house filled with sonic treats to the brim. Everything is in wholesome symbiosis here and offers an exhilarating cosmic trip. This is an album I’ve been regularly coming back to and it never ceases to amaze me.
4: IDLES – Ultra Mono
Ultra Mono by IDLES had to end up on this list, it just had to. The way this record stirred my brain, fueled my veins, and pushed me forward is remarkable. I love coming back to this shit and playing it way too loud, forgetting about everything around and just singing along Joe’s rabid lines. Ultra Mono really makes one want to do things. If you haven’t listened to it yet, now is the high time!
3: Dola – self-titled
I stumbled upon Dola’s debut release rather casually, one typical winter evening after work. But as minutes passed and the record unfolded, I felt something weird building up inside of me. A mix of fear, admiration, and an addictive will to keep on turning up the volume into eternity. The band’s ability to juggle between sonic peace and war, while providing plenty of room for gradual build-ups or zealous drops, commands the highest respect. An absolute masterpiece that effortlessly blends genres in order to reach straight for the heart and obliterate the listener.
2: Slift – Ummon
It will soon be a full year since Slift have dropped their 3rd album that is the band’s most thorough and wholesome output to date. Lasting well over an hour, this album takes the listener on a peculiar journey into dimensions at times familiar (think early Oh Sees), and at times boldly explorative. There is no room for boredom here, what Ummon offers is a phenomenal ride through time, space, and secrets of all that in between. A beast of a record surely not to be missed!
1: L.A. Witch – Play With Fire
Play With Fire is not only woven with utmost care and emotion but also resonates deep within and is an immense follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut. It amplified the joy, it soothed the agony, and most importantly – prompted action. Sanchez (voc.) put it perfectly: “Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”.
And so you inspired, thank you.
By Fat Level
MAG – self-titled
Emma Ruth Rundle + Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full
Wailin’ Storms – Rattle
Bogwife – Halls of Rebirth
By Purple Haze Level
Black Magick SS – Rainbow Nights
Psyhoes – Typhoon Trip
Heavy Trip – self-titled
Causa Sui – Szabodelico
By Temperature Level
Lowrider – Refractions
Fuzz – III
Baardvader – self-titled
Major Kong – Off the Scale
Top 5 concerts of 2020
We all know what the gig-reality looked liked this year… But I still managed to see a few live performances that were mind-blowing, to say the least!
Raketkanon @ Complexity Fest, Haarlem, NL
Giobia @ Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, Antwerp, BE
Moonstone, Power Plant, Aleph @ Paszcza Lwa, Gdansk, PL
Red Scalp @ Rifffields Festival, Galazki, PL
Dopelord @ Tama, Poznan, PL
Thanks for reading and Keep it Fuzzy!