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 – Konvent / Puritan Masochism (2020)

A dark, primeval and absolutely stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.

If you’re craving a dark and primeval fusion of Death and Doom Metal in the same vein as renowned acts such as Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna and Black Breath, who all unleashed the bleakest horror on mankind in the early 90’s, you’ll certainly fall in love with the “Primitive Death Doom” blasted by four talented and hardworking Danish women collectively known as Konvent. Formed in 2015 in the charming city of Copenhagen, this all-female band currently comprised of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass and Julie Simonsen on drums is ready to haunt our souls with their debut full-length opus entitled Puritan Masochism, the brilliant follow-up to their 2017 demo, conjuring up a deserved revival for the whole death doom genre.

As obscure as the pits of hell from the very first second, the title-track Puritan Masochism comes ripping mercilessly, with Rikke barking the song’s acid lyrics in great fashion (“You pathetic, worthless subject / Submission keeps you erect / Ignorant as you wait / There are enemies at the gate / Slaughter the peacocks / Set fire to the lawns / Now the Queen shall hang”) while Julie sounds thunderous with her sluggish and damned beats, followed by The Eye, where Sara continues to masterfully slash her strings, therefore generating a menacing ambience complemented by Julie’s pounding drums and Heidi’s rumbling bass punches in another solid and visceral display of our good old Doom Metal. And in Trust we face a gargantuan amount of darkness, dementia and rage flowing from all instruments with Rikke being once again bestial with her she-demon growling, living up to the legacy of the genre without a shadow of a doubt.

Stygian clouds are all over us in World of Gone, with Sara and Heidi delivering minimalist but extremely sharp guitar lines and bass jabs respectively, inspiring us to break our necks headbanging in solitude while their music penetrate deep inside our psyche. Then blending elements from the grim music crafted by Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Tryptikon, the quartet fires another round of doomed riffs and beats simply titled Bridge, getting heavier and heavier as the music progresses thanks to the venomous beats by Julie, whereas the absolutely metallic and devilish bass lines by Heidi ignite the incendiary Waste, featuring guest vocals by Danish singer Tue Krebs Roikjer (from Atmospheric Black Metal band Morild), and let me tell you that Rikke and Tue make an infernal vocal duo throughout the entire song, turning it into one of the best and most demonic moments of the entire album.

Kicking off the last batch of songs from Puritan Masochism, Julie will smash your skull with her beats while Sara keeps extracting pure evil form her strings in Idle Hands, all embraced by the cryptic, poetic lyrics vociferated by Rikke (“These idle hands full of will / Go into the field / I will yield / Only dust and dew where they grew / Empty bags / Working mill / Go into the field / I will yield”). And closing the album we have Ropes pt. I, the first part of a double-the-pain extravaganza which begins in a mournful and cadaverous way thanks to the crisp guitar lines by Sara, with its ending being just as somber and captivating as its beginning, flowing smoothly into Ropes pt. II, an epic fusion of the slow and lugubrious sounds of Doom Metal with the enraged growls from Death Metal where Sara, Heidi and Julie are in perfect sync, providing Rikke all she needs to crush our minds with her deep guttural vocals. Put differently, this is what I call a breathtaking closure to such amazing album of extreme music.

In a nutshell, the girls from Konvent nailed it in Puritan Masochism, offering fans of both old school and contemporary Doom Metal a powerful lesson in heaviness and obscurity over the span of 48 minutes of music found in their newborn spawn, consequently pointing to a fantastic future for the band. Hence, go check what Konvent are up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, and of course don’t forget to show your true and honest support to those amazing metallers by purchasing Puritan Masochism directly from their BandCamp page, or click HERE for all locations where you can buy and stream the album in its entirety. The (under)world of doom will never be the same after Puritan Masochism, an album that can already be considered a new classic of such distinct genre, and albeit it has set the bar absurdly high for Rikke, Sara, Heidi and Julie in their future installments, I’m sure that’s exactly what those four amazing Danish girls wanted to achieve with the album, showing the entire world they’re among us to stay, their passion for a good challenge and, above all, that they’ll keep praising the riff and the horrors of doom for years to come.

Best moments of the album: Puritan Masochism, Trust, World of Gone and Waste.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Puritan Masochism 4:41
2. The Eye 3:25
3. Trust 5:17
4. World of Gone 5:57
5. Bridge 6:30
6. Waste (feat. Tue Krebs Roikjer) 4:59
7. Idle Hands 5:22
8. Ropes pt. I 4:36
9. Ropes pt. II 7:21

Band members
Rikke Emilie List – vocals
Sara Helena Nørregaard – guitars
Heidi Withington Brink – bass
Julie Simonsen – drums

Guest musician
Tue Krebs Roikjer – vocals on “Waste”

Metal Chick of the Month – Julie Simonsen

The Bridge of Light gives wings… Lead into the sea where you’ll be joining me…

Are you ready for some old school, dark and heavy-as-hell Doom Metal on The Headbanging Moose this month of February? If doom is what you love, I’m sure you’ll have a blast with our metal chick of the month, the badass, raven-haired Julie Simonsen, drummer for one of the most infernal and Stygian bands of the current European scene, the unrelenting all-female Doom Metal entity known as Konvent, an up-and-coming act that will surely become a driving force of primeval doom not only in their homeland Denmark, but anywhere else where obscure and devilish extreme music is properly appreciated. Having said that, fasten your seat belts and enjoy our humble tribute to a woman who albeit might be taking her first steps in her music career, has all it takes to conquer the hearts of metalheads form all over the world with her unique charisma and undeniable talent behind the drums.

Born and raised in Frederiksværk, a small town in the Halsnæs Municipality on Zealand, in Region Hovedstaden in Denmark, but currently residing in Søborg, a neighbourhood in Gladsaxe Municipality, located some 10 km northwest of central Copenhagen, Julie said she was feeling bored at school before joining Konvent. She said that after she moved to Søborg she attended some sort of “left-wing hippie music college” (which I believe is a school called Det frie Gymnasium) where she was supposed to play angry punk music, therefore getting more involved in the local punk and metal scene. After her graduation, she worked at H&M and even in the zoo where she sold ice cream, and now apart from her career with convent she is also currently working in a warehouse for an online clothing store.

Julien mentioned in one of her interviews she started playing drums when she was around 12 or 13 years old, getting her first drums from her parents and then starting taking lessons. Her father introduced her to the music by Kiss when she was a little girl, when she was only around 6 or 7 years old, and she instantly fell in love for it, saying she thought at that time Eric Singer was really cool with the makeup and everything else. As a matter of fact, that was actually the real reason that inspired her to play the drums. A few years later, after she started playing drums, Julie also started taking guitar lessons, which by the way it’s still a thing for her, but of course drums have always been her top priority.

It was at the end of November 2017 when our dauntless drummer joined Konvent, the all-female Doom Metal sensation formed in 2015 in Copenhagen following in the footsteps of Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna and Black Breath, who all unleashed the bleakest horror on mankind in the early 90’s, having already appeared with the band at several festivals such as Aalborg Metal Festival, Metal Magic, When Copenhell Freezes Over and Roskilde Festival. Kovent are currently comprised of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass and, obviously, Julie Simonsen on drums, having released a demo in 2017 (still with their original drummer Mette Marie List), and just a few days ago their debut full-length opus entitled Puritan Masochism, via Napalm Records, a massive extreme metal highlight of early 2020 (which will obviously be reviewed at The Headbanging Moose soon) conjuring up a deserved revival for the whole death doom genre. Julie said the four girls in the band already knew each other from the Copenhagen metal scene, as the scene in the city is not actually really big, with most people knowing each other from concerts and other events. In addition, Julie said that when Konvent first got together, they didn’t want to commit to any specific genre, simply deciding to call their music “Primitive Death Doom” due to the slow rhythms and riffing combined with Rikke’s Death Metal-like vocals.

When asked about the recording process for Puritan Masochism and what lessons the band learned from their live performances that were applied to the album, Julie said that the whole recording got better and better as they got more and more comfortable with their instruments, having more control and more creativity while writing music, consequently becoming more fun, more relaxed and more instinctual. She also said it was indeed a very lengthy process at the beginning, especially due to all the concerts and rehearsals happening at the same time they were writing and recording material for the album. The girls had a very strict deadline, saying they wrote the last song for the album on the last day before the recordings, but that after all the pressure somehow contributed to their creative thinking and they were happy with what they took with them from the studio. If you want to get a very good (and infernal) taste of Konvent’s undisputed doom from their new album, with Julie smashing her drums beautifully, take a very good listen at the songs Trust and Ropes Pt. II, and don’t forget to also purchase their music directly form their BandCamp page. I’m beyond certain you’ll get addicted to their devilish creations.

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Highly influences by some of the most obscure and talented bands and artist from the extreme music universe such as Anaal Nathrakh, King Diamond, Candlemass, Mantar, Monolord, Alunah, Solbrud, Dirt Forge and Black Breath, Julie was questioned if she still feels the influence of Metallica’s own Lars Ulrich around Copenhagen and in Denmark in general. well, she said there will always be a comparison to Lars due to the fact she’s a drummer from his homeland Denmark, but she doesn’t really know if that’s a compliment. There’s this “love-hate” feeling due to Lars’ arrogance, but she still likes him and his style, saying he’s some sort of “goofy uncle” for all drummers, complementing by saying that he’s still a big celebrity in Denmark and that he’s not seen in public that often, as opposed to the guys from Volbeat who are always around town.

Julie and the other girls from Konvent were also inquired about the current state of the Danish metal scene, being asked about which bands from Copenhagen they would love to play with or see live, and their answers included several incredible bands from the beautiful capital of “Danevang” such as Dirt Forge, Solbrud, Alkymist, Møl, Afsky, Morild and Dying Hydra, among others, which by the way they said all made them feel very welcome to the scene, especially Dirt Forge with whom they had the pleasure to play with several times in the past few years. They complemented by saying the Danish scene is a very familiar one, as most bands know each other in some way and everyone is extremely friendly and helpful, also saying there are countless concerts happening everyday at different small venues and mentioning other Danish bands like Konvent that are branching out to the world and getting more and more attention such as Baest, Slægt and Møl. Hence, if you live in Copenhagen or if you’re visiting the city in the near future you should definitely try some of their best venues for some first-class underground doom and other heavy styles, including Ungdomshuset, which is the local youth house in Copenhagen, as well as the bigger venues such as Vega or Pumpehuset, also referred to as “The Bomb House”, whenever they put on metal, and Loppen, at the freetown Christiania in the middle of Copenhagen (which by the way Julie doesn’t feel one hundred percent safe as in the rest of the city), where Konvent has already taken their stage by storm.

As we’re talking about the Danish scene and venues for live metal performances, it’s obvious that Julie and the other girls love to play their music live and tour as much as they can, something that’s expected form any good metalhead. For instance, one of their biggest dreams was to perform at the biggest music festivals organized in their homeland, the exceptional Copenhell and Roskilde Festival, which they ended up doing in the same year, in 2019. Julie said it was truly unreal to be part of both festivals, saying they were extremely nervous and restless before the shows, and also mentioning that because they were supposed to play at a really early spot, at around 2pm, they didn’t think there were going to be so many people attending their concert. She also said they’re absolutely pumped for their first round of international concerts, including shows in Germany, Sweden and Norway, as well as international festivals such as Gefle Metal Fest in Gävle, Sweden, In Flammen Open Air in Torgau, Germany and the HRH Vikings – Chapter III in Sheffield, England. When asked about which countries or festivals apart from the aforementioned ones they would love to play, our stunning drummer said they definitely want to play at the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, also citing other major festivals like Brutal Assault, Sweden Rock, Hellfest and Eindhoven Metal Meeting. In addition to all that, Julia also mentioned Konvent have been receiving tons of positive feedback form all over the world, from countries and regions like the United States, Canada, Japan, Eastern Europe and South America, with the fans from the United States and Eastern Europe being the most excited with their music so far. If you would like to witness the power and obscurity of Konvent live, go check some YouTube videos such as their performance of the songs No End and Bridge at the Kaldet Fra Dybet III festival at Ungdomshuset, in Copenhagen, in February 2018; playing the song Puritan Masochism at Copenhell in 2019; and their full performance at When Copenhell Freezes Over at Vega in January 2018, where you can enjoy Julie smashing her drums in songs like Chernobyl Child, Tracks and Squares. Also, don’t forget to check their short and sweet “tour report” from their 2018 mini-tour in Germany as a support act for the bands Monolord and Firebreather, and Julie herself inviting us all to join them at the 2018 edition of Metal Magic.

When Konvent are not doing music, the girls like to do some distinct and fun activities either by themselves or together, with their curiosity about the world inspiring them to take walks in the nature, listen to science podcasts, travel the world, spend quality time with their friends and family and read books by authors like Dennis Jürgensen, Dan Turèll, and Patty Smith. As none of the girls smoke weed, they can only recommend some traditional Danish dishes to us fans, such as their famous Smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich made with rye bread with loads of different toppings on it, and the Danish pastry called Snøfler. And lastly, when asked if they’re worried about all the work that Konvent might generate for them, Julie said that all the girls are trying their best to align their tasks and responsibilities as a band to their non-Konvent work and studies, and that of course one day they hope they can make a living from Konvent. In my humble opinion, based on the fantastic job done by the band so far with both their demo and their newborn full-length spawn they’re on the right path to stardom, and I can’t wait to see Julie and her bandmates slamming our heads with their pulverizing doom in North America in a not-so-distant future.

Julie Simonsen’s Official Facebook page
Julie Simonsen’s Official Instagram
Konvent’s Official Facebook page
Konvent’s Official Instagram
Konvent’s Official YouTube channel