The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020

“Rock stars come and go. Musicians play until they die.” – Eddie Van Halen

What can I say about the year of 2020? No words can describe all the pain, fear, anxiety, losses and struggles we all had to endure during what’s going to be sadly remembered as the worst year of our modern times. We saw the rise of coronavirus, which had a huge negative impact on pretty much everything and everyone we know, with millions of hardworking people unfortunately losing their jobs, concerts being cancelled, restaurants and other businesses being shut down, people getting stuck in their homes and having to deal with psychological issues like depression, and more important than that, with countless lives, and in some cases people really close to us, people we love, losing their battle against such horrible disease. We also witnessed a gut-wrenching surge in racism against black people all over the world, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the never-ending fight for freedom and justice, trying to make our world a better place for everyone. And last but not least, we lost so many iconic figures it’s hard to list everyone without crying a little. We lost sports titans such as Kobe Bryant, Diego Maradona and Paolo Rossi, amazing, talented actors and actresses including our beloved “Black Panther” Chadwick Boseman, the original “Darth Vader” David Prowse and the unstoppable Mad Max’s villain “Immortal Joe” Hugh Keays-Byrne, and music geniuses like Rush’s unparalleled Neil Peart and one of the best and most revolutionary guitarists of all time, the one and only Eddie Van Halen. May their souls rest in peace.

However, although we might be living such difficult and stressful times, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the development of effective vaccines that will certainly put our society back on track sooner than later, giving us all some hope and pointing to a much better future for all of us. In the meantime, I guess one thing that we metalheads have been doing (and will always do) throughout such shitty year is using the music we love to face all of our problems and fears with our heads and horns high in the sky, never giving up nor giving in. Having said that, I’ll leave you with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, showing to us all that it doesn’t matter what happens with the world, heavy music will always stand strong. From the most primeval form of Black Metal to fast and electrifying Power Metal, from a beyond amazing soaring numbers of women kicking ass in an array of styles such as Doom, Symphonic and Death Metal to the most underground Atmospheric Black Metal entities you can think of, from our good old Rock N’ Roll to modern-day Alternative Metal, music prevailed above darkness, pain and hate, and that’s how it will be forever and ever. Enjoy our list of top metal albums for this (terrible) year that’s coming to an end, and let’s keep raising our horns and banging our heads together in 2021!

1. Primal Fear – Metal Commando (REVIEW)
Join Primal Fear’s undisputed rock brigade and become a true metal commando to the sound of their breathtaking new album.
Best song of the album: Infinity

2. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say (REVIEW)
It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.
Best song of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones

3. Testament – Titans Of Creation (REVIEW)
The titans of Thrash Metal are back in action with another technical, melodic and absolutely pulverizing album of extreme music.
Best song of the album: Night of the Witch

4. Lamb of God – Lamb of God (REVIEW)
Re-energized and unrelenting, Lamb of God are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.
Best song of the album: Gears

5. Sepultura – Quadra (REVIEW)
A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Guardians of Earth

6. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist (REVIEW)
These UK veterans are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year.
Best song of the album: Religiousuicide

7. Ecclesia – De Ecclesiæ Universalis (REVIEW)
This army of French inquisitors stands strong on their crusade against every doom heretic with their incendiary debut album.
Best song of the album: Antichristus

8. Eleine – Dancing In Hell (REVIEW)
Time for us all to dance in the fires of hell to the sound of the striking new opus by this unstoppable Swedish Symphonic Metal group.
Best song of the album: Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.)

9. Grave Digger – Fields of Blood (REVIEW)
Grave Digger celebrate 40 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal on a journey back to the vastness of the Scottish Highlands.
Best song of the album: Freedom

10. Konvent – Puritan Masochism (REVIEW)
A dark, primeval and stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.
Best song of the album: Puritan Masochism

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance (REVIEW)
12. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (REVIEW)
13. Axel Rudi Pell – Sign of the Times (REVIEW)
14. Raventale – Planetarium II (REVIEW)
15. Hellsmoke – 2020 (REVIEW)
16. My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion (REVIEW)
17. Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil (REVIEW)
18. Naglfar – Cerecloth (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Stormbreaker (REVIEW)
20. Thundermother – Heat Wave (REVIEW)

And how about we also pay a tribute to the bands that released short and sweet albums that condensed pretty much the same amount of electricity, rage and intricacy than any of the full-length albums from the list above? That’s why we’re also going to provide you as usual our Top 10 EP’s of 2020 for you to see that size doesn’t really matter.

1. Front – Antichrist Militia (REVIEW)
2. Malfested – Shallow Graves (REVIEW)
3. Tøronto – Under Siege (REVIEW)
4. Soul Dissolution – Winter Contemplations (REVIEW)
5. Lutharö – Wings of Agony (REVIEW)
6. Póstuma – Moralis (REVIEW)
7. Black Sun – Silent Enemy (REVIEW)
8. MĀRA – Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive! (REVIEW)
9. Serocs – Vore (REVIEW)
10. Invocation – Attunement to Death (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2020? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2020 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2021!

And before we go, let’s bang our heads one last time in 2020 with a classic Christmas song by an amazing Romanian band that loves Heavy Metal from the bottom of their hearts, pointing to much better times ahead for all of us! Enjoy!

Album Review – Naglfar / Cerecloth (2020)

One of Sweden’s most infernal Black Metal hordes has finally returned from their respite, ferocious and hungry with their seventh full-length opus.

It has been eight long years between releases for Umeå, Sweden’s Black Metal nihilists Naglfar, but despite the wait the band hasn’t been resting on their laurels. Like any slumbering beast, Naglfar have returned from their respite, ferocious and hungry with their seventh full-length album Cerecloth, bringing their usual destruction to fans all around the world. Recorded and mixed by the band’s own guitarist Marcus E. Norman at Wolf’s Lair Studio, mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound, and featuring a cadaverous artwork by Jan Kristian Wåhlin, the underlying musical and lyrical themes of Cerecloth were succinctly and confidently described by guitarist Andreas Nilsson as “the usual death and destruction”. Currently formed by the aforementioned guitarists Andreas Nilsson and Marcus E. Norman, as well as frontman Kristoffer W. Olivius and guests A. Impaler (aka Alex Friberg) from Firespawn on bass and Efraim Juntunen from Guillotine and Persuader on drums, Naglfar sound tighter and more Stygian than ever in Cerecloth, positioning the album as one of the best releases of the year in the world of extreme music.

Cryptic, eerie noises from the depths explode into Naglfar’s infernal Black Metal in the opening track Cerecloth, where Efraim proves why he was chosen to join the band in this album while Kristoffer vociferates from the bottom of his blackened heart nonstop. In other words, what a fantastic start to the album, and continuing to pave their path of obscurity and horror the band fires the classic Norwegian Black Metal hymn titled Horns, with both Andreas and Marcus sounding utterly hellish with their riffs and solos while A. Impaler’s bass punches darkly reverberate in the air. Then thunderous bass sounds and a phantasmagorical atmosphere kick off the heavy-as-hell Like Poison for the Soul, where the acid words growled by Kristoffer will burn your ears (“So my path is chosen / No more false affinity / The time has come to leave / Your worth are the equivalent of a dead insect to me / Indifference be my name”) in a lesson in old school Black Metal with melodic nuances.

Vortex of Negativity is another hurricane of darkened riffs, blast beats and endless violence led by the strident guitars by Andreas and Marcus, supported by the pulverizing drums by Efraim and, therefore, being tailored for fans of the genre, whereas in Cry of the Serafim the band blends the piercing sounds of the early days of Norwegian Black Metal with contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Kristoffer sounding inhumane with his gnarls and roars, all boosted by the intricate beats by Efraim. After such demonic onrush of sounds we have The Dagger in Creation, a bestial tune offering us all pure, undisputed Black Metal that will pulverize your senses spearheaded by the razor-edged riffs by the band’s infernal guitar duo, while A. Impaler and Efraim generate a sonic earthquake with their respective weapons.

A Sanguine Tide Unleashed brings to our putrid ears one more round of infuriated lyrics (“Men of Isa / Your end is fucking nigh / Like a surging wave we come for you / With murder in our eyes / Vermin filth / Bastard sons of the virgin whore / You’re the plague that walk upon this earth / And we are the cure / A sanguine tide unleashed”) while the music follows that same austere and aggressive pattern, with the metallic riffs and bass punches blasted by the band providing Kristoffer all he needs to thrive with his visceral growling. Then doomed guitars and the anguished gnarls by Kristoffer are the main ingredients in the sluggish and obscure Necronaut, slightly below the rest of the album in terms of punch and creativity, followed by the closing chant Last Breath of Yggdrasil with its over six minutes of utterly demolishing and darkened sounds, with all band members putting their damned hearts and souls into this Black Metal extravaganza, resulting in a one-way voyage to the pits of the underworld and also ending in the most disturbing way possible.

It’s indeed a dark pleasure to see that veterans like Naglfar still have so much electricity, darkness and passion for Black Metal inside them, not selling out nor sounding weak or uninspired at all. Quite the contrary, what they accomplished in Cerecloth truly deserves our appreciation, turning the album into one of the best Black Metal releases of 2020 as already mentioned without a shadow of a doubt. Hence, don’t forget to follow such distinguished Swedish horde on Facebook and on Instagram, and to grab your desired copy of Cerecloth by clicking HERE. Andreas couldn’t have been more spot-on when he said the album would bring forward Naglfar’s usual death and destruction, exactly the way we all like it in extreme music, and may the absolute awesomeness of Cerecloth fuel this Swedish institution to keep burning our souls with their undisputed Black Metal sooner than we can imagine, as I don’t think fans of Black Metal have what it takes to wait for another eight excruciating years for a new Nagflar’s album.

Best moments of the album: Cerecloth, Like Poison for the Soul, A Sanguine Tide Unleashed and Last Breath of Yggdrasil.

Worst moments of the album: Necronaut.

Released in 2020 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Cerecloth 4:05
2. Horns 4:38
3. Like Poison for the Soul 6:31
4. Vortex of Negativity 5:02
5. Cry of the Serafim 4:25
6. The Dagger in Creation 5:07
7. A Sanguine Tide Unleashed 3:54
8. Necronaut 3:29
9. Last Breath of Yggdrasil 6:30

Band members
Kristoffer W. Olivius – vocals
Andreas Nilsson – guitar
Marcus E. Norman – guitar

Guest musicians
A. Impaler – bass (session)
Efraim Juntunen – drums (session)