One top to sum them up and in the Fuzz bind them.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been hesitating to do this or not, but I finally made the jump.
I’ve put together all of our tops, except the honorable mentions because I’m not that crazy…
But I took all the other releases mentioned by the whole team, there were 163 in total!!!
Then playing a bit with some formulas to have a final result that makes sense, here’s what I did:
- 6 points for a top1
- 5 for #2 & 3
- 4 for #4 & 5
- 3 for #6 to 10
- 2 for #11 to 15
- 1 for the rest
A mention in any secondary top (like Mr. Black Kraken’s top EP or Local Heroes, or my top Live records) gives 1 point.
I also put 1 bonus point per time it was mentioned in another top. It means, if it’s mentioned in 2 tops, it gets 1 bonus point, if, like Lowrider, it’s been in 8 tops (out of 10!), then it’s 7 bonus points.
Then sorting, when ex æquo, if I could, based on how high it scored in the different tops.
I hope you enjoyed our round of tops from this year and discovered some cool gems that went under your radar, I surely have!
So here is our top of the tops, the fuzziest top if you want, with blurbs from the whole team, enjoy!
Top 50–30 Albums of 2020
I still wanted to put a bit more than the top 20, but without bothering too much sorting the draws, so here are the top 50 to 30, in alphabetical order when ex æquos.
40: 4 pts
- Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun – Speakin’ of the Devil
- All Them Witches – Nothing As The Ideal
- Big Scenic Nowhere – Vision Beyond Horizon
- IDLES – Ultra Mono
- Lord Buffalo – Tohu Wa Bohu
- Ritual King – Ritual King
- Robot God – Silver Buddha Dreaming
- Sei Still – S/T
- SUMAC – May You Be Held
- Temple Of Void – The World That Was
- Volcanova – Radical Waves
26: 5 pts
- Black Helium – The Wholly Other
- Brant Bjork – Brant Bjork
- Dola – Dola
- Forming The Void – Reverie
- Helicon – This Can Only Lead To Chaos
- Jupiterian – Protosapien
- King Witch – The Ruins Of Fading Light
- Kryptograf – Kryptograf
- Lightning Orchestra – Source And Deliver
- Motorpsycho – The All Is One
- Øresund Space Collective – Experiments In The Subconscious/Four Riders Take Space Mountain
- Psychlona – Venus Skytrip
- Temple Fang – Live at Merleyn
- The Swell Fellas – The Big Entrance
21: 6 pts
- Blues Pills – Holy Moly!
- L.A. Witch – Play With Fire
- Mother’s Cake – Cyberfunk
- Solothus – Realm Of Ash And Blood
- Yuri Gagarin – The Outskirts of Reality
Top 20 Albums of 2020
20: Konvent – Puritan Masochism (7pts)
#19 in Mr. Heavyhead’s Top & #3 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top, blurb by Mr. Heavyhead
Debut album of this promising Danish band that puts real meaning to the “GIRL POWER” motto. Death/Doom that devastates everything thru its path.
FFO: Dérketa, Asphyx, Hooded Menance.
19: Elder – Omens (7pts)
#9 in Mr. Void’s top & #9 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top, blurb by Mr. Black Kraken
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.
18: Korb – Korb II (7pts)
#8 in Mr. Cromlech’s top & #7 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Stone
The British duo Korb is definitely my favorite discovery of the year. I’m actually still wondering how I could miss their debut from 2018… And retrospectively, as good as ‘Korb’ sounded already, they really brought it to another level with ‘Korb II’. This is, to me, the most perfect mix of instrumental Krautrock and Space Rock. Staying true to the 70s Kosmische roots while bringing their personal touch to it, the motorik vibe from the rhythm section supports wonderfully the synths, organ, and guitar layers, bursting out and swirling freely through the galaxy. It results in a flawless collection of 8 sonic explorations into deep psychedelic cosmos broadcasting through the prism of multiple dimensions. The overall atmosphere could feel a bit dark at first, but while going further on the trip that this record is, I find it mostly positive, comforting, mysterious, and joyful. It’s like a thrilling discovery tour of the universe, going smoothly through different sorts of galaxies, letting you all the time you need to bathe your eyes, ears, and mind in the wonders of the otherworldly landscapes they’re depicting while stretching the barriers of time and space. Definitely one of the records I came back to the most this year, and one of the bands I’ll be looking forward to in those to come!
16 ex æquo: Fuzz – III (8pts)
#5 in Mr. Chumbo’s top & #10 in Mr. Omen’s top, blurb by Mr. Chumbo
It is not easy to pinpoint what exactly makes Fuzz differentiate from the hordes of sabbathian copycats out there. The fact that the trio combines all the classic elements of the genre in such a fun way is probably just because of the genius of their members: Charles Moothart, Ty Segall, and Chad Ubovich. Or maybe the truth is, as they sing, that “there is no sum greater than one” which, in their case, means that the sum of their elements is way bigger than those separately.
16 ex æquo: Turtle Skull – Monoliths (8pts)
#5 in Mr. Void’s top & #10 in Mr. Cromlech’s top, blurb by Mr. Void
Two years ago, a new band from Sydney called Turtle Skull made a discreet but very interesting entry on the fuzzy scene. Their eponymous album displayed a soft but complex psychedelia and the sharpness of their composition was most promising. Two years later, the Aussies have grown up. With Monoliths, they prove they are among the most creative minds in their genre. Monoliths is a definitely modern album built around the fuzz. It is rooted in contemporary psychedelic rock (King Gizzard, Osees, etc) and seeks to join the orbit of the heavier space rock (Pink Floyd, Elder). This is a transcendental experience.
15: Ruff Majik – The Devil’s Cattle (8pts)
#4 in Mr. Void’s top & #6 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Void
You feel like getting rid of classic stoner rock these days? That this is too difficult, in 2020, to take all the best influences of the genre and still manage to be creative and very catchy? Well amigo, you just have to listen to The Devil’s Cattle. With their third album, Ruff Majic crafted the catchiest stoner album this year. The loudest too. And the craziest. And even the grooviest. From early QOTSA to Jack White’s garage rock, from evil and slow Sabbath riffs to enraged punk fury, The Devil’s Cattle mixes up all you love in stoner with the special Ruff Majic’s sauce. I challenge any fuzzy mind to get bored with this music.
14: Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin – Misty Woman (8pts)
#1 in Mr. Fuzz’s top & #16 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Fuzz
Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin has been on my radar since their short debut “Cabin Fever” released in 2018, then came “Mud Room #13” in 2019, but the real kicker is this 3rd one, a full-length and professionally recorded album, released at the beginning of the year, “Misty Woman”.
Another trio coming from the golden state, and indeed their music has that atmosphere that makes you travel instantly there. It’s as if they converted the vibe of the 2 major landscapes of California into music : the vast, arid, remote desert and the sea with its famous surf spots and sunsets.
Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin came up with an unpolished gem of reverb-drenched 60’s psych with drippy moments and more fuzzed-out grooves. The guitar has that typical dry sound which I love, add to that a lot of reverb (also to the vocals) and it can also quickly crank up to a delicious raw fuzz, the bass is warm and bounce in unison with the drums, everything fits together and makes this album highly addictive.
One day I’ll jump on my bobber to hit a random road bordered by big cactus, and spend the night watching the stars with a bonfire to warm me up, and Misty Woman will be the soundtrack of this adventure 🏍️🏜️🌠
13: Kanaan – Double Sun (8pts)
#16 in Mr. Void’s top & #1 in Mr. Stone’s top, plus “Oddense Sessions” #9 in Mr. Momo’s Top, blurb by Mr.Stone
I don’t know what was going on in Norway this year, but they provided us with a shitload of amazing albums this year. After their outstanding debut “Windborne” in 2018, then leaving us melting, speechless, in front of their natural ease in Hamburg in 2019, and the marvelous “Oddense Sessions” (with Jonas Munk from Causa Sui) released at the beginning of the year, it’s been predictable to find their second album really high in my top. And for good reasons, as they dropped a magnificent masterpiece with “Double Sun” last April. Staying true to their gorgeous instrumental jazzy spacey prog vibe, they landed a sumptuous and vibrant Heavy Psych album with this one. The Pink Floyd vibe is quite strong, the Motorpsycho and Causa Sui influence pretty obvious too, and even with such behemoths as a comparison, they still managed to push it further, not staying too much in the known territory and clearly owning it as their own sonic universe. I knew, right from my first listen that this one would probably be my favorite album of the year, and I never really considered otherwise since. I may be a bit too superlative here, but I don’t even care, it took me a while to gather my courage to write about it earlier this year, and I still feel like I can’t put into words all the richness and amazing emotions it makes me feel. It is definitely the album I came back to the most this year, for all those reasons, and also this wonderfully gentle comforting atmosphere. Let yourself totally go with this flow, and enjoy the ride. Kanaan may be young, as a band, or musicians, but they certainly already have everything they need to become one of the greatest bands from our scene! And in my opinion, they already are.
12: Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full (9pts)
#2 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top & #8 in Mr. Chumbo’s top, blurb by Mr. Black Kraken
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.
11: Slomosa – Slomosa (9pts)
#3 in Mr. Fuzz’s top & #8 in Mr. Witchfinder’s top, blurb by Mr. Fuzz
Who said you should reinvent the wheel to make good music ? Definitely not Slomosa.
These Swedish released the best “Stoner Rock” album of the year without hesitation, each song ticks all the boxes established by their elders, be it Dozer or Kyuss for example, to make it an instant hit : tons of fuzzy riffs, tight while also varied drums using the whole kit, awesome clear vocals with highly memorable melodies, and in the end, a very catchy songwriting all along.
Since it has been released at the end of August I listened to Slomosa’s album countless times, and for a debut album these guys can be proud of themselves, it’s perfect for what it is : the most effective Stoner Rock album of 2020 ⚡
10: KARKARA – Nowhere Land (9pts)
#19 in Mr. Void’s top, #1x in Mr. Momo’s top, #10 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top & #23 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Momo
Another French band from Toulouse that deserves to be heard. Nowhere Land is their second EP in a year and confirmed all the good I thought of them (check out my review & interview right here). Their psychedelic garage fuzz under middle eastern influence delivers a journey to faraway lands that the Dopesmoker cover art wouldn’t deny. The music is fast, obsessive, trance-inducing, shamanic. Also, they’ve got a didgeridoo.
For desert roamers.
9: Pallbearer – Forgotten Days (10pts)
#15 in Mr. Void’s top, #9 in Mr. Chumbo’s top & #7 in Mr. Witchfinder’s top, blurb by Mr. Witchfinder
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.
8: Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin kynsi (11pts)
#1 in Mr. Chumbo’s top & #5 in Mr. Heavyhead’s top, blurb by Mr. Chumbo
Oranssi Pazuzu should ring a bell (a solid gold one, weighing a couple of tons) for every metalhead with an interest in the contemporary heavy music out there. The career of these Finns is rarely flawless, but this “Mestarin kynsi” is probably their opus magna. A true masterpiece of dark music beyond tags and genres, that includes in its mix the decadence of doom, black metal growls, and an unhealthy, psychedelic twist that will make your hair stand on end even a while after it finished. On top of that, everything was live recorded, because if there is anything more insane than this record, that is the talent of these guys. A proper album of the year for a horrific 2020.
7: Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin – Stygian Bough Vol. I (12pts)
#3 in Mr. Chumbo’s top & #1 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top, blurb by Mr. Black Kraken
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.
6: Dopelord – Sign of the Devil (12pts)
#10 in Mr. Chumbo’s top, #5 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top & #8 in Mr. Witchfinder’s top, blurb by Mr. Witchfinder
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.
5: Causa Sui – Szabodelico (14pts)
#18 in Mr. Fuzz’s top, #8 in Mr. Void’s top, #1x in Mr. Momo’s top & #2 in Mr. Omen’s top, blurb by Mr. Omen
Causa Sui, the Danish quartet has once again produced a masterful record. There’s really not much to say about Svabodelico, other than it’s filled with surf style, psychedelic jazz passages, and it’s perfect to listen to in almost any situation. It’s refreshingly light. It’s a meditative groove-masterpiece. Svabodelico embodies elements that Causa Sui is known for, which is an effortless feel-good sound that I love. Everything Causa Sui creates rules. Their record label (as I’ve mentioned in my intro) is the best around. If you love electric Miles, fusion jazz, krautrock, and Can… then this is the band and label you’ve been searching for. I recommend eating some psychedelic mushrooms, tune in, drop out, and hang loose on this album!
4: REZN – Chaotic Divine (21pts)
#2 in Mr. Void’s top, #19 in Mr. Chumbo’s top, #20 in Mr. Heavyhead’s top, #7 in Mr. Black Kraken’s top, #13 in Mr. Witchfinder’s top & #4 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Void
REZN’s story is the story of an ascension. An ascension that began in 2017 with the already excellent Let It Burn. Two years ago, Chicago’s trio explored the darkness of the abysses with Calm Black Water. A world full of diluted echoes and unknown shadows. With Chaotic Divine, our three dark wizards decided to head to the abyssal void. And what is remarkable with REZN, is that each exploration’s step of these infra worlds corresponds to a new stage of their musical evolution. In Chaotic Divine, their sound signature still drives the odyssey. Their hypnotic but still corrosive and crushing psych doom does not lose its efficiency when it comes to take control of the listener’s mind. Chaotic Divine also adds some contemplative heavy psych sections. A more experimental approach can be heard and the album works as a spectral shamanic initiation. REZN’s music reached a new dimension.
3: Elephant Tree – Habits (27pts)
#4 in Mr. Fuzz’s top, #6 in Mr. Void’s top, #19 in Mr. Cromlech’s top, #20 in Mr. Momo’s top, #7 in Mr. Chumbo’s top, #12 in Mr. Witchfinder’s top & #5 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Fuzz
What a good news to see the return of Elephant Tree in 2020 with their 3rd album, one I was expecting a lot, which I guess a lot of people were too as the band quickly made themselves a name in the scene since their well-acclaimed self-titled 2nd album.
To make it short, and because you can also read my full review, the guys pushed their vision even further, which is to melt perfectly “this duality between 2 opposing forces, airy on one side and earthy on the other“, if I had to quote myself once again.
Here is a band who definitely found their sound identity, even more so now with the welcome addition of a 4th member at the keys. Now let’s see what they’ll bring us with their next album, but for the moment you can go headbang on Habits right now 👊
2: Slift – Ummon (30pts)
#9 in Mr. Fuzz’s top, #3 in Mr. Void’s top, #3 in Mr. Momo’s top, #2 in Mr. Chumbo’s top, #2 in Mr. Witchfinder’s top & #12 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Chumbo
There is so much awesomeness in Slift’s last record, “Ummon”, that it becomes almost insulting to summarize it in three or four lines (there you have the full review to repair that). From the astonishing artwork or the titles of the tracks to the greatness of songs like “Thousand Helmets of Gold” or “Lions, Tigers and Bears”, everything here is a highlight. The easiest album to listen to of this whole list, making its one-hour length perhaps the most solid evidence of time relativity up to date. This is what heavy psych should sound like.
1: Lowrider – Refractions (38pts)
#10 in Mr. Fuzz’s top, #1 in Mr. Void’s top, #6 in Mr. Cromlech’s top, #1 in Mr. Momo’s top, #16 in Mr. Chumbo’s top, #6 in Mr. Heavyhead’s top, #1 in Mr. Omen’s top & #10 in Mr. Stone’s top, blurb by Mr. Momo
Refractions is the stoner rock album I didn’t know I needed. It came out of nowhere as a great surprise and was my soundtrack for the year. Highly versatile, 20 years in the making, it is a summary of what stoner at its core has to offer; between energetic punk-inspired desert rock and atmospheric dreamy space rock, all down a few octaves. I often say that the good thing with stoner is that you can adapt most “rock” music to sound stoner. This album is a living proof of just that. It’s not that original, but it’s perfectly crafted, encompassing what stoner should sound like. What a Kyuss album released today would sound like. Some might say it lays on the softer side of things. Maybe, but as I said in the introduction, I only listened to soft things this year, so… On another note, I always find myself in awe of the sound of this album – it has to be appreciated cranked at 11 on the biggest possible sound system to notice how LOW it is, and I’m talking hertz. One of those days, I will ask Lowrider how they managed that. In the meantime, I will get a beer, lay under the sun, and play it way too loud again. A record for the ages.
For those who like their walls to vibrate.
Thanks for reading and Keep it Fuzzy!
Mr. Stone & the More Fuzz Team