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!

Metal Chick of the Month – Samantha Maloney


Samantha kick-starting our hearts!

Everyone knows that most heavy music drummers simply hate studio sessions: they feel a billion times better when they’re able to pound their drums in front of a live audience. However, when the drummer is not just a regular guy but an unstoppable woman who has absolutely no mercy for her drum kit, things get even more exciting, which is exactly the case with our Metal Chick of the Month, the always fired up American Hard Rock drummer Samantha Maloney.

This blonde bombshell, who was born on December 11, 1975 in New York City, New York, but currently living in Valley Village, California, got her first drum set when she was only five years old, and I guess I don’t need to say how important that milestone was for the rest of her life and career. During part of her teenage years, Samantha studied percussion at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City right before joining her first band, American Post-Hardcore Shift, with whom she recorded the EP Pathos (1994) and the full-length albums Spacesuit (1995) and Get In (1997). You can check her work with Shift on YouTube, as for example the good song Trudge.

It was after Shift that she became truly famous in the world of heavy and alternative music, when in 1998 she joined American Alternative Rock band Hole, from the always controversial Courtney Love, and started touring the whole world, including countries such as Japan and the UK, and appearing on TV, magazines, music videos and interviews. However, things got even more exciting for our hardcore lady in 2000, when she became the official drummer for American Hard Rock legends Motley Crüe and recorded with them their 2002 Lewd, Crüed & Tattooed DVD from the New Tattoo tour. This is where you can see Samantha Malone at her best in total synchronicity with Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx playing classics like Kickstart My Heart, Girls, Girls, Girls, Home Sweet Home, Live Wire and Shout At The Devil, proving why the band chose her to join them at that time.

After leaving Motley Crüe in 2004, she formed a supergroup called The Chelsea with Melissa Auf der Maur (The Smashing Pumpkins, Hole), Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle), and Radio Sloan (The Need), but they mysteriously played only one concert together before splitting the band, and also recorded the drums for Courtney Love’s debut solo album America’s Sweetheart, which I personally consider pretty decent musically speaking if you take into account all the complex and sometimes unbelievable issues Courtney has always had in her life and career.

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Although America’s Sweetheart was the last full-length album with Samantha on drums, she recorded lots of other songs and singles with a huge variety of artists. For instance, in 2006 she was a guest musician in the album Impeach My Bush, by Electroclash punk artist Peaches, with whom she ended up touring in support of the album; in 2007, she released the single Happy For You with a project called The Ingenues; and in 2010, together with Billy Ray Cyrus, they formed a band named Brother Clyde, recording the single Lately. Besides that, she was also involved in numerous projects with artists such as Daryl Hannah, Eagles of Death Metal and Scott Ian (Anthrax), and managed for a period of time a Los Angeles-based all-girl teenage rock group called Cherri Bomb.

In addition to all that, Maloney has also a career as an actress: in 2008, she guest starred as “Sam”, Lou Ashby’s chauffeur on three episodes of the Showtime series “Californication”, and in 2006 she played the part of Maureen Tucker in the movie “Factory Girl”, not to mention she also added live drums to the score for the film Black Hawk Down in 2003 and is currently involved with a TV series called Next Great Family Band.

Among her biggest influences in music, we can find huge names such as John Bonham, Phil Collins, Neil Peart and Tommy Lee, and probably due to all the talent and energy those guys emanate while behind their drum kits Samantha decided to continue drumming instead of pursuing a serious basketball career with her college back in 1993. Fortunately, for the fans of good music, her biggest idols in life were not guys like Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, right?

Lastly, Samantha is a huge advocate of drummers, especially when a girl wants to follow this path. However, she said once that only being a good drummer is not enough: you must also have good business perspicacity to draw the attention of those who are looking for a drummer for their bands or projects. In order to do so, Samantha created a “list” of tips to help any drummer that’s starting his or her career, including creating a press kit so the others can actually see how the drummer sounds like; establishing a decent network with everyone that’s somehow related to the world of music, like employees from music stores, pubs and, of course, other musicians; and making it public that you’re available and what type of music you want to play, if you want to tour, among other details. These might seem very simple or basic tips for most of us, but if a successful drummer like Samantha is saying so, don’t waste your time and go invest in your career!

Samantha Maloney’s Official Facebook page

“Times are changing. There are more girls that are playing. I just think it’s ridiculous. Either you’re talented or you’re not. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. Either you’re a great drummer or you’re a good drummer. Whether you’re a guy or a girl….you’re good or you’re not. What gender you are? Who cares?” – Samantha Maloney