Doom is upon us and it will not go away …
2020 … a good year to listen to music, but otherwise seemingly bleak and lifeless. Confined to my home office, not meeting people, no travel, and no real gigs to enjoy and photograph since the end of March, life feels not worth living anymore. So I am glad that at least last year’s music output was pretty great. After checking my notes, I was surprised by the large amount of albums and EPs (nearly 200), so I can tell you, the struggle to come up with a top list is real. There are so many amazing releases from all kinds of genres.
On the live event side of 2020, I only photographed two gigs of locals bands under corona measures (mask, social distancing, etc.) in October. The bands enjoyed the brief period of being able to play live. With people confined to their tables, the typical live atmosphere was sadly missing. And then the next lockdown hit and with all the drastic measures concerning live events during corona, I really hope we will see our beloved clubs and venues, as well as event organizers and musicians, survive this crisis. So if you have the means, help them as well as you can. Our governments obviously fail in doing so. I am pretty pessimistic if there will be concerts and festivals to enjoy in 2021.
A big thank you to the labels and artists who provided the More Fuzz team and me with promo material, Bandcamp links, and more.
Top 10 EPs of 2020
10. They Watch Us From The Moon! – Moon Doom!
Great sludgy psychedelic stoner doom by They Watch Us From The Moon! from Lawrence, Kansas, USA. Best enjoyed while watching our home planet from our moon and fiddling with the big red button.
9. Fu Manchu – Fu30, Pt. 1
Fu Manchu from San Clemente, California, USA celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2020 and released this EP (I read somewhere there should have been 3 parts). Enjoyable groovy tunes – you just want to turn the key in your muscle car and ride to the next party.
8. Fogteeth – Lowlife Blues & Fuzzed Up Grooves
Fogteeth from Lahti, Finland grace us with instrumental psychedelic doom with great bluesy influences. And it perhaps has the song with the most fitting title for 2020: Couchstronaut. Sit back and enjoy the dope-infused space ride.
7. Orsak:Oslo – Skimmer
A new EP by Orsak:Oslo from Sweden: psychedelic, bluesy post-rock. With all the EPs they have brought to light, I am wondering when they will release a full album. 🙂
6. Eye of Doom – Curse of the Pharaoh
Another psychedelic doom release. This time by Eye of Doom from Vancouver, Canada. As the name and cover of the EP already suggest, it’s an exotic trip to Egypt, invoking images of long lost pyramids, tombs of long forgotten pharaohs and ruined temples swallowed by the desert sands. Pack your shovel and beware of roaming mummies.
5. Split Comacozer/Vinnum Sabbathi – Here and Beyond
Heavy instrumental psychedelic space rock from Australia and Mexico. Comacozer and Vinnum Sabbthi take you on an atmospheric space trip – fasten your seat belts, relax and enjoy the journey.
4. Occult Hand Order – The Chained The Burned The Wounded
More psychedelic doom: this time handcrafted by Occult Hand Order from Lyon, France. Heavy hitting, spacey, fuzzy, great melodies and riffs – what else do you want?
3. Outer Head – Cult of Chaos
Outer Heed from Leeds, UK celebrate groovy stoner occult doom. Someone on Bandcamp mentioned “head swinging riffs” – yeah, this quote certainly fits well. Certainly a great one.
2. Smoulder – Dream Quest Ends
Epic metal meets traditional doom: this is Smoulder from Toronto, Ontario. The EP is a great continuation of their debut album from 2019.
1. Lunar Swamp – UnderMudBlues
The first EP of Lunar Swamp from Catanzaro, Italy surprises with dirty, fuzzy, bluesy and groovy doom. I am looking forward to a full album – soon please.
Top 20 Albums of 2020
20. Smoke Mountain – Queen of Sin
Fuzz and distortion driven stoner doom from Tallahassee, Florida. The first full-length album of Smoke Mountain is groovy, gloomy, sometimes uplifting, riff-laden journey. Highly enjoyable.
19. Pothamus – Raya
The debut album of Pothamus from Mechelen, Belgium – a very atmospheric mix of tribal, sludge, doom, and post-rock. Listen to this loud, close your eyes and let the music transcend your mind to another place.
18. Temple – Funeral Planet
Another great debut album – this time by Temple from Gävle, Sweden. Fuzzy and groovy doom. If you like Windhand and especially Cough, this is the album for you.
17. Black Spell – Black Spell
Fuzzy doom debut by Black Spell from Italy. Dirty, dark, riff-laden, occult. Early Electric Wizard vibes. I love it.
16. Gaupa – Feberdröm
The debut of Gaupa from Falun, Sweden with their own blend of psychedelic and hard rock as well folk. Pretty progressive, sometimes surreal, always mesmerizing. Strong Björk vibes.
15. Daily Thompson – Oumuamua
The fourth album of Daily Thompson from Dortmund, Germany is a melodic blend of stoner, psychedelic, and blues-rock plus some sprinkles of the almighty Sonic Youth. Great melodies and a pretty diverse album. Recommended listen.
14. Kult of the Wizard – Gold
Soulful vocals meet fuzzy Sabbathian riffs: Kult of the Wizard (Minneapolis, Minnesota) grace us with an album full of doom but also more serene, melancholic songs to enjoy. Queen of Life & Death is certainly giving me goosebumps.
13. Electric Hydra – Electric Hydra
Do you remember the one time I cycled from Germany to Göteborg/Sweden to get a band shirt? Yes, this band – Electric Hydra from Uddevalla, Sweden – released their self-titled debut album and it’s great. Pure, heavy-hitting hard rock with great riffs, thundering bass lines, powerful vocals. Danger: High voltage!
12. Scorched Oak – Withering Earth
The first full-length album of Scorched Oak from Dortmund, Germany is a powerful and heavy mélange of stoner, blues, and doom. Heavy riffs and driving rhythms steamrolling everything in its path. Heavy as fuck, highly enjoyable!
11. Copper Age – Buerismo
Heavy instrumental stoner rock by Copper Age from Murcia, Spain. Very bluesy, great melodies, rumbling bass lines, and great desert feeling.
10. Karkara – Nowhere Land
Karkara from Toulouse, France deliver a great album with their unique and intense mix of psychedelic rock with oriental elements. Very enjoyable album! Mr. Momo did an in-depth review of this album with an interview a couple of weeks ago.
9. Elder – Omens
Elder, who are situated in Berlin, Germany now, released their fifth album last year. The whole album is a journey through a diverse soundscape, more like psychedelic jamming and very proggy. Mr. Void wrote an in-depth review last year.
8. Sons of Otis – Isolation
Eight years after their last studio album, psychedelic stoner doomsters Sons of Otis from Toronto, Canada are back! Heavy riffage, stoned grooves – as you can expect from this fine trio.
7. REZN – Chaotic Divine
REZN from Chicago, USA are back with their third album. Fine psychedelic stoner doom. It always amazes me, they create a very melodic atmosphere, and then – seemingly out of nowhere – they ambush you with big riffs. Enjoyable musical journey! Mr. Void wrote an in-depth review a couple of weeks ago.
6. Malsten – The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
The debut album of Malsten from Malmö, Sweden is a doom concept album about a haunted windmill in which the miller commits horrible acts. Greatly crafted melodic doom metal with slow, grinding grooves and wailing, priestlike vocals which certainly emphasize the story.
5. Dopelord – Sign Of The Devil
Dopelord from Warsaw, Poland released their fourth album last year. Great stoner doom – groovy and topped with sprinkles of aggression and thrash. Mr. Chumbo did a review a couple of months ago.
4. Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun – Speakin’ of the Devil
Great psychedelic rock by Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun from Tel Aviv Yafo, Israel. It totally oozes of the 60s/70s, invoking flashes of Jefferson Airplane, the Stones, the Beatles, and Dylan while still being original. Relax and take some acid for this cool hippie trip.
3. Konvent – Puritan Masochism
The debut album of Konvent from Copenhagen, Denmark was the first album I put into my notes at the beginning of 2020. The four ladies of Konvent create a pretty tight melodic sonic death-doom inferno. Highly enjoyable! Constant headbanging assured! Horns up!
2. Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May our chambers be full
The collab debut of US artists Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou took me by surprise. Sludge meets post-rock – dramatic, atmospheric, grungy, melancholic, emotional … A great piece of work! And there is already a follow-up EP out.
1. Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin – Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Another outstanding collab album – this time from US artists Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin. Funeral doom … epic in a monumental way. You have to listen to this album loud, close your eyes, and let it sweep yourself away on droning tones of melancholy.
Local Heroes of 2020
Last but not least some albums of bands from my neighborhood which I find to be noteworthy.
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
These guys hail from the town where I live (Münster, Germany) and I have seen them live a couple of times. Great musicians, great instrumental post-rock. The latest album of Long Distance Calling has a heavy Pink Floyd vibe. Give it a listen.
Decaying Days – The Unknown Beyond
The second album of Decaying Days, also from Münster, Germany, unleashes atmospheric melodic death-doom metal onto the listener. Very melodic and complex songs dipped in melancholy.
Rødel – Goat Djini
The second EP of stoner rockers Rødel from Paderborn, Germany wallows in Red Fang and Clutch worship with some Sabbathian influences.
Heretic Warfare – Hell on Earth
The debut album of extreme death metallers Heretic Warfare from Münster, Germany. Hard, harder, Heretic Warfare!
Bestialis – Ritus
The first EP of the duo Bestialis (Bochum, Germany), the Black Metal project by the mastermind behind the local eclectic metal festival Culthe Fest in Münster, Germany. If you like your Black Metal to be Norwegian, check this EP out.
Beltez – A Grey Chill And A Whisper
More Black Metal: a concept album by Beltez from Cologne, Germany in which they melodize the short story “Black Banners” by Ulrike Serowy. The short story is also included in spoken word on the album. Pretty remarkable.