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 – Black Sun / Silent Enemy EP (2020)

Ecuador’s most prominent metal band is back in action with a new EP overflowing their trademark Heavy and Power Metal, serving as the inspiration for their first ever musical film.

Formed in the year of 1999 in Guayaquil, the second largest city of Ecuador, the three-piece Heavy and Power Metal act that goes by the straightforward name of Black Sun is set to release their fourth official album and their first EP, entitled Silent Enemy, following up on their previous albums Tyrant from a Foreign Land (2005), Dance of Elders (2011) and The Puppeteer (2017), while at the same time venturing through more “cinematic” lands as the EP also includes a short film in Blu-Ray. Featuring guest musicians from several amazing bands, most of them curiously from Finland, such as Sonata Arctica, Lordi, Battle Beast, Smackbound, Omnium Gatherum and Wintersun, which points to an interesting connection between the two countries, Silent Enemy is highly recommended for fans of classic Heavy Metal, overflowing epicness, electricity and a good dosage of 80’s Hard Rock, nicely cementing the names of guitarist Christopher Gruenberg, bassist Santiago Salem and drummer Nicolás Estrada in the local Ecuadorian scene as well as in the global metal community.

Just hit play and prepare your senses for a whimsical and futuristic voyage together with Black Sun in the intro Moebius, setting the stage for the breathtaking Resist, featuring Netta Laurenne (Smackbound) on vocals. This amazing tune has that delicious Hard Rock and Hair Metal feel from the 80’s amplified by Netta’s fantastic vocal performance, with Christopher kicking some serious ass with his in-your-face riffs while Nicolás pounds his drums in great fashion. Then we face Henning Basse (Firewind, Mayan, Sons Of Seasons) as the guest vocalist in Terror Zone, where Black Sun offer us all more of their thrilling fusion of Heavy and Power Metal with classic Hard Rock, therefore reminding me of old school Accept. Moreover, Santiago makes the earth tremble with his bass jabs, enhancing the song’s punch considerably. And Christopher takes the lead with his crisp riffs and solos in the instrumental feast titled Dark Mirror, while Santiago and Nicolás keep the band’s kitchen heavy and thunderous, also presenting tons of progressiveness and endless stamina.

After the short and atmospheric interlude No Return, it’s time for the incendiary Still Alive to inspire us all to bang our heads nonstop while enjoying an array of vocal styles the likes of Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Mr. Lordi (Lordi), Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast), Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone), Netta Laurenne (Smackbound), Jukka Pelkonen (Omnium Gatherum), Nino Laurenne (Thunderstone) and Asim Searah (Wintersun, Damnation Plan), not to mention Elias Viljanen (Sonata Arctica) and his wicked guitar solo, all embraced by the always solid Heavy Metal played by the Ecuadorian power trio and with Nicolás being on fire behind his drums, flowing into the climatic and melancholic outro Finale, putting a beautiful conclusion to the EP. In addition, as aforementioned, the EP also comes with a musical short film also named Silent Enemy in DVD format, developed by director and writer Gustavo Arguello alongside Black Sun, paving the way for experimentation and rediscovery of the “musical film” concept.

In summary, if you’re a fan of both old school Heavy Metal and the exciting world of action and Sci-Fi movies, you should definitely take a shot at Silent Enemy, which you can purchase from several locations such as the Rockshots Records webstore, Apple Music, Amazon, mvdshop.com, Craft & Vinyl, imusic.dk, and so on. Also, don’t forget to follow Christopher, Santiago and Nicolás on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about the band, and to stream all of their albums on Spotify. My only “compliant” about Silent enemy is that the EP is too short, with only 20 minutes of music (including the intro, interlude and outro), leaving me more than eager for more of their stunning metal music. Who knows, maybe next time Black Sun will return with not only a full-length opus, but also a full-bodied movie based on that, expanding their horizons even more and, consequently, showing the entire world Ecuador is an amazing alternative for metalheads who are searching for something that’s at the same time new and old school, technical and inspiring, just like what Black Sun have to offer in their new album.

Best moments of the album: Resist and Still Alive.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Rockshots Records

Track listing
1. Moebius 2:14
2. Resist 3:47
3. Terror Zone 3:48
4. Dark Mirror 4:30
5. No Return 0:31
6. Still Alive 4:16
7. Finale 1:33

Disc 2 (DVD)
8. Silent Enemy (short film)

Band members
Christopher Gruenberg – guitars
Santiago Salem – bass
Nicolás Estrada – drums

Guest musicians
Tony Kakko, Mr. Lordi, Noora Louhimo, Pasi Rantanen, Jukka Pelkonen, Nino Laurenne & Asim Searah – vocals on “Still Alive”
Elias Viljanen – guitar solo on “Still Alive”
Netta Laurenne – vocals on “Still Alive” and “Resist”
Henning Basse – vocals on “Terror Zone”