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 – Thundermother / Heat Wave (2020)

Let’s turn up the heat to the sound of the brand new album by a Swedish band that doesn’t just play Rock N’ Roll. They are Rock N’ Roll.

Founded by guitarist Filippa Nässil in 2009 in Växjö, a town in southern Sweden’s Kronoberg County, but currently based in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll all-female squad Thundermother is back in action with a brand new album entitled Heat Wave, their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2018 self-titled release, offering the listeners another round of their fantastic fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock, Blues, Punk Rock and Heavy Metal. Even groovier than its predecessors, Heat Wave presents 13 catchy compositions showcasing all the skills and passion for heavy music by Filippa and her bandmates Guernica Mancini on vocals, Majsan Lindberg on bass and Emlee Johansson on drums, with the fine tuning being provided at Medley Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark by Hard Rock hitmaker Søren Andersen, an experienced producer and gifted guitarist who has already worked with Glenn Hughes, Dave Mustaine and Tommy Aldrige, to name a few,  resulting in a sophisticated version of an “AC/DC meet Motörhead” sound with fresh modern rock elements and a rich 70’s groove.

An Airbourne-like vibe permeates the air in the electrifying opening tune Loud and Alive, with Emlee pounding her drums in great fashion while Guernica inspires us all to rock like there’s no tomorrow with her piercing vocals, all spiced up by Filippa’s slashing riffs and solos. Then rockin’ guitar lines are accompanied by the rumbling bass by Majsan in the Hard Rock extravaganza titled Dog from Hell, an ode to classic Rock N’ Roll highly recommended for hitting the road or enjoying a cold beer, followed by Back In ’76, another song perfect for a live concert inspiring us all to raise our fists to Thundermother’s undisputed rock music where Filippa and Majsan are once again on absolute fire with their stringed axes, offering Guernica all she needs to mesmerize us all with her amazing vocal performance. And it’s time for the girls to put the pedal to the metal and kick us all in the face with the frantic, breathtaking tune Into the Mud, with Emlee obviously dictating the pace with her unstoppable beats, therefore generating a fantastic ambience while Filippa’s shredding and Majsan’s metallic bass bring sheer thunder to the overall result.

The title-track Heat Wave is an AC/DC-inspired feast of classic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline (and heat, of course), and I would love to listen to this old school rock song played on any radio station worldwide, whereas despite Sleep might not be a bad composition, we must admit the girls sound a lot more cohesive and exciting when playing faster songs. I mean, it works well as a ballad, in special Guernica’s passionate vocals, but perhaps this was something asked by their record label as it feels a little out of place among the other songs from the album. Back to a more visceral and unrelenting mode, Filippa brings to our avid ears an Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes to Midnight”-ish riff, setting fire to the excellent Driving In Style, supported by the heavy kitchen by Majsan and Emlee. Put differently, I dare you to stand still to such insane Rock N’ Roll hymn, and it looks like Thundermother never get tired of embellishing the airwaves with their vibrant Hard Rock as we can all witness in Free Ourselves, one more tune tailored for admirers of the music by AC/DC and Airbourne where Guernica and Emlee make a truly dynamic duo with their combination of soulful vocals and classic drums.

Venturing through the realms of Southern Rock mixed with tequila and endless electricity, the girls fire the riding tune Mexico, spearheaded by the groovy bass by Majsan and the always pounding beats by Emlee, definitely inspiring us all to rock in Mexican soil; and blending the groove by Lenny Kravitz with classic rock form the 70’s they offer us the radio-friendly Purple Sky, showcasing another spot-on performance by Filippa with her always strident and hypnotizing riffs and solos. Let’s keep clapping our hands and raising our glasses to the Rock N’ Roll by Thundermother in Ghosts, a straightforward and extremely catchy tune that could have easily been played on a TV show like Sons of Anarchy. Needless to say, Guernica has another flawless performance on vocals, and speeding things up once again they bring forward the high-octane, thrilling Somebody Love Me, one of those songs I bet Emlee loves to play due to its pace. Moreover, how can we not heed Guernica’s call to love her? The whole song presents a sensational job done by this talented Swedish quartet, no doubt about that, whereas Majsan’s rumbling bass sets the tone in the closing tune Bad Habits, where Thundermother yet again smash our senses with their hybrid of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, ending the extremely fun ride that is Heat Wave on a high note.

As the band itself likes to say, Thundermother don’t just play Rock N’ Roll. Thundermother are Rock N’ Roll, and Heat Wave is undoubtedly the perfect depiction of all their love for the genre, their undeniable talent and all the hard work they put on crafting each and every song of the album. Hence, don’t forget to give the girls a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to purchase your desired version of Heat Wave, which is also available for a full listen on Spotify, by clicking HERE (or HERE if you’re a Swedish customer). After all is said and done, why don’t we just forget about our problems and get back into the mud together with Guernica, Filippa, Majsan and Emlee, turning up the heat and enjoying the fantastic music blasted by four girls who put the word “thunder” in our good old, dirty and rebellious Rock N’ Roll?

Best moments of the album: Loud and Alive, Into the Mud, Driving In Style and Somebody Love Me.

Worst moments of the album: Sleep.

Released in 2020 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Loud and Alive 3:56
2. Dog from Hell 3:37
3. Back In ’76 3:34
4. Into the Mud 3:15
5. Heat Wave 3:56
6. Sleep 3:57
7. Driving In Style 3:43
8. Free Ourselves 3:52
9. Mexico 3:38
10. Purple Sky 4:48
11. Ghosts 3:45
12. Somebody Love Me 3:43
13. Bad Habits 3:35

Band members
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Majsan Lindberg – bass
Emlee Johansson – drums