20) Naglfar, Cerecloth (Century Media)
Century Media’s roster of artists has genuinely shined this year, and Naglfar’s Cerecloth is just another masterpiece that came out of one of the worst years in modern history: 2020. This marks the first album in eight years for these Swedish melodic black metallers, and it was well worth the wait. Patience sure is a virtue.
Key Track: “Vortex Of Negativity”
19) Ensiferum, Thalassic (Metal Blade)
A new Ensiferum album will most likely be guaranteed to appear on my year-end list. Thalassic is lively, vibrant, and this time around, there’s a bonus: one of my good friends appear in their video for “Rum, Women, Victory.”
Key Track: “Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III)”
18) Demons & Wizards, III (Century Media)
I’m either missing Blind Guardian, Iced Earth or thoroughly enjoy III. The answer is, the latter. I went into this record, having no expectations. There’s a natural BG/IE collision mixed with progressive elements that can make you spin this record on repeat for hours on end.
Key Track: “Children of Cain”
17) My Dying Bride, The Ghost Of Orion (Nuclear Blast)
My Dying Bride has released another masterpiece with The Ghost of Orion, and you can throw in their EP Macabre Cabaret as a bonus. It supplies doom and gloom from beginning to end with a morbid consistency and melancholic beauty. You are guaranteed to cry throughout this excellent record.
Key Track: “The Long Black Land”
16) Katatonia, City Burials (Peaceville)
When Katatonia announced their “short-term” hiatus back in 2017, I feared the worst, wondering if it would lead to an indefinite end. Luckily, the break was short, and these Swedish dark and progressive metal masters put me at ease by unveiling details for City Burials. The follow-up to 2016’s The Fall of Hearts is a tranquilizing journey of pain and despair.
Key Track: “Behind The Blood”
15) Finntroll, Vredesvävd (Century Media)
At last! Vredesvävd, the Finnish blackened folk trolls’ first album in seven years, has brought an instantaneous delight from the first listen. It made me reminisce the short Moment when 2020 was looking good when I saw these trolls perform live back in January at 70000tons. You want to grab a beer and mosh with your fellow metalhead brothers and sisters to this album. Musically, it’s short, sweet, and epic.
Key Track: “Att döda med en sten”
14) Igorrr, Spirituality And Distortion (Metal Blade)
When I listen to Igorrr, I wonder if I am listening to music in a different dimension. The French artist continues to excite and inspire me after each listen. Spirituality And Distortion, there’s death, classical, and electronics, proving that blending genres and having creative freedom works damn well.
Key Track: “Nervous Waltz”
13) Mörk Gryning, Hinsides vrede (Season of Mist)
Speaking of patience is a virtue, Swedish black metal outfit Mörk Gryning’s vehement return in fifteen years with Hinsides vrede was well worth the wait. There’s something magical about this record that sucks you in like a fiery vacuum, hosing you into a realm of unrefined treasure.
Key Track: “Sleeping in the Embers”
12) Anaal Nathrakh, Endarkenment (Metal Blade)
I revisited Anaal Nathrakh’s Endarkenment when my heart was already (and finally) settled on my top ten. With that being said, Endarkenment well deserves to be within the top five on this year’s year-end list. 2020 is so crazy that my top 30 are technically all within the top 10! You will be glued to this album from the very first note.
Key Track: “Endarkenment”
11) Uada, Djinn (Eisenwald)
Uada’s Djinn was initially saved for being within the top three, but eventually, it got pushed to lucky number eleven. Their sound is organic and compelling as Djinn remains immaculate from the start to finish. Another thing worth mentioning is a huge shoutout to photographer Adriana Michima of Michima photography. Their promo photo taken in the Alvord Desert is highly inspiring and beautiful, matching well with their latest effort.
Key Track: “No Place Here”