The Albums That Got Us Through 2020

50 Metal & Punk Musicians (And Industry Folks) Pick Their Favorite Albums Of The Year
2020 ALBUMS

If it were any normal year, this is right around the time that we would be on air counting down the Top 30 Metal albums from the past twelve months. But since 2020 has put a major halt on that, it's impossible to fairly create an official Metal Shop year end list. Keep in mind that these year-end best of lists for Metal Shop aren't just made up by personal taste, they are heavily weighted by requests and overall reactions of the listeners.

So instead, I called upon some friends of Metal Shop - members of the metal, hardcore and punk communities - to share their personal favorite albums of the year. Some chose to write a little bit about the albums, others chose to simply list their favorites. Some went through and numerically ranked their picks, others threw them at me in no particular order.

Hopefully you're able to discover some rad new music from these lists and realize that 2020 wasn't ALL bad. Just most of it.

I'll start. Here are my Top 20 albums from 2020 from within worlds of metal, hardcore and punk.

1. Hum – “Inlet”
2. Eternal Champion – “Ravening Iron”
3. Vaisseau – “Horrors Waiting in Line”
4. Unleash the Archers – “Abyss”
5. Xibalba – “Anos En Infierno”
6. Deftones – “Ohms”
7. Kirk Windstein – “Dream in Motion”
8. Katatonia – “City Burials”
9. Code Orange – “Underneath”
10 . Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – “May Our Chambers Be Full”
11. Paradise Lost – “Obsidian”
12. Spirit Adrift – “Enlightened In Eternity”
13. Internal Rot – “Grieving Birth”
14. Defeated Sanity – “The Sanguinary Impetus”
15. Touche Amore – “Lament”
16. Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin – “Stygian Bough Vol 1”
17. Napalm Death – “Throws Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism”
18. The Black Dahlia Murder – “Verminous”
19. Change – “Closer Still”
20. Necrot – “Mortal”

Cole Wicked (Leprotic Limb Records)
1.  Necrot – “Mortal”
2. Undeath – “Lesions of a different kind”
3. Skeleton - "Skeleton"
4. Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
5. Undergang – “Aldrig I Livet”
6. Of Feather and Bone – “Sulfuric Disintegration”
7.   Skeletal Remains – “The entombment of chaos”
8.  Funeral Leech – “Death Meditation”
9.  Generation Decline – “The Death of Hubris”
10. Gulch – “Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress”

Ryan “Fluff” Bruce (Dragged Under)
1.  The Weekend – “After Hours”
2. The Used – “Heartwork”
3.  Miley Cyrus – “Plastic Hearts”
4. Deftones - "Ohms"
5. Run The Jewels – “RTJ4”
6. Tame Impala – “The Slow Rush”
7.  END – “Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face”
8. Bitch Falcon – “Staring At Clocks”
9. AC/DC – “Power Up”
10.  Lamb Of God – “S/T”

Rah Davis (F'd and Bound)
1. Thundercat- "It Is What If Is"
2. Napalm Death - "Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism"
3. Jessie Wares - "What’s Your Pleasure?"
4. Primitive Man - "Immersion"
5. Lianne La Havas - "S/T"
6. Wake - "Devouring Ruin"
7. Royce Da 5’9 - "The Allegory"
8. Blu & Exile - "Miles"
9. Primal Fear - "Metal Commando"
10. ChloexHalle - "Ungodly Hour"
11. Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin Kynsi"
12. Immanuel Wilkins - "Omega"
13. Necrot - "Mortal"
14. Dua Lipa - "Future Nostalgia"
15. Vader - "Solitude In Madness"
16. Ulcerate – "Stare Into Death And Be Still"
17. Westside Gunn - "Who Made The Sunshine"
18. Temple Of Void - "The World That Was"
19. Fiona Apple - "Fetch The Bolt Cutters"
20. Thee Oh Sees - "Protean Threat"

Cynthia Nishi (Despise You, Gasp)
*No Particular Order*
Phantogram -  "Ceremony"
Khruangbin - "Mordichai"
Napalm Death -  "Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism"
High Contrast - "Notes from the Underground"
Best Coast - "Always Tomorrow"

Jay Middleton (Aurora’s Eyes)
20. The Ghost Inside – “S/T”
19. Machine Gun Kelly – “Tickets to My Downfall”
18. Polaris – “The Death of Me”
17. Ozzy Osbourne – “Ordinary Man”
16. Greg Puciato – “Child Soldier: Creator of God”
15. Four Year Strong – “Brain Pain”
14. The Amity Affliction – “Everyone loves you… Once you leave them”
13. Green Day – “Father of all Mother F’ers”
12. Fever 333 – “Wrong Generation”
11. Xibalba – “Anos En Infierno”
10. Puscifer – “Existential Reckoning”
09. Pearl Jam – “Gigaton”
08. The Acacia Strain – “Slow Decay”
07. Trivium – “What the Dead Men Say”
06. Lamb of God – “S/T”
05. Misery Signals – “Ultraviolet”
04. Ruston Kelly – “Shape and Destroy”
03. Mr.Bungle – “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”
02. Killer be Killed – “Reluctant Hero”
01. Kvelertak – “Splid”

Kyle Chapman (Aethereus, Blighted Eye)
FULL ALBUMS
1.  Ulcerate – "Stare Into Death And Be Still" - favorite track: There is No Horizon
2. Steve Von Till – "No Wilderness Deep Enough" - favorite track: Shadows that Run
3. Imperial Triumphant – "Alphaville" - favorite track: Transmission to Mercury
4. Our Oceans – "While Time Disappears" - favorite track: Face Them
5. Dessiderium – "Shadow Burn" - favorite track: Cosmic Limbs
6. Igorrr – "Spirituality and Distortion" - favorite track: Himalaya Massive Ritual
7.  The Ocean Collective – "Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic" - favorite track: Palaeocene
8.  Wormhole – "The Weakest Among Us" - favorite track: Ingswarm
9.  Sumac – "May You Be Held" - favorite track: Consumed
10. Ingested – "Where Only Gods May Tread" - favorite track: The List
EP’s
1.  Ihsahn – "Pharos" - favorite track: Losing Altitude
2. Sutrah – "Alethia" - favorite track: Genèse
3. Inferi – "Of Sunless Realms" - favorite track: The Abhorrent Art
4. Alustrium – "Insurmountable" - favorite track: United in Enmity
5.  Serocs – "Vore" - favorite track: The Temple of Knowledge

John Pettibone – (Heiress)
*No Particular Order*
Choir Boy – "Gathering Swans"
Nick Cave – "Idiot Prayer"
Blaqk Audio – "Beneath the Black Palms"
Dragged Into Sunlight – "Terminal Aggressor II"
Serration – "Shrine of Consciousness"
Unreal City – "Cruelty of Heaven"
Soft Kill – "Dead Kids RIP City"
Change – "Closer Still"
Drowse – "Dance in the Decay"
Venom Prison – "Primeval"

Ace Stallings (Mutually Assured Destruction, Forum of Passion podcast)
1. Eternal Champion - "Ravening Iron"
2. Retaliate - "IV"
3. The Weeknd - "After Hours"
4. 21 Savage - "Savage Mode II"
5. Unreal City - "Cruelty of Heaven"
6. Riki - "Riki"
7. Destruct - "Echoes of Life"
8. Spy - "Service Weapon"
9. Lamb of God - "Lamb of God"
10. End It - "One Way Track"

Jessica Brasch (Sorcia)
1.  Hum - "Inlet"
2. Deftones - "Ohms"
3. Sun Crow - "Quest For Oblivion"
4. Vvarp - "First Levatations"
5. LáGoon - "Father of Death"
6. Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle - "May Our Chambers Be Full"
7. Mendozza - "Soul Nebula"
8. Yatra - "Blood of the Night"
9. Pallbearer - "Forgotten Days"
10. Woorms - "Twitching As Prey"

Danny Racines (Rat King)
1. Napalm death – “Throes of joy in the jaws of defeatism”
2. Oranssi Pazuzu- “Mestarin Kynsi”
3. Necrot – “Mortal”
4. Izthmi – “The Arrows of Our Ways”
5. Plague – “Portraits of Mind”
6. Incantation – “Sect of Vile Divinities”
7. The Black Dahlia Murder – “VERMINOUS”
8. Testament – “Titans of Creation”
9. Wake – “Devouring Ruin”
10. Stygian Bough – “Volume I (A Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin Collaboration)”

James Ballinger (Seattle Passive Aggressive)
20.  Living Gate – “Deathlust”
19. DeathCAVE – “Smoking Mountain”
18. Executioners Mask – “Despair Anthems”
17. Kesha – “High Road”
16. Nothing – “The Great Dismal”
15. Mrs. Piss – “Self-Surgery”
14. Napalm Death – “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”
13. Ulcerate – “Stare Into Death and Be Still”
12. City of Industry – “False Flowers”
11. Oranssi Pazuzu – “Mestarin Kynsi”
10. Raspberry Bulbs – “Before the Age of Mirrors”
9. Necrot – “Mortal”
8. Deftones – “Ohms”
7. IDLES – “Ultra Mono”
6. Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou – “May Our Chambers Be Full”
5. Mr. Bungle – “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”
4. Coriky – “Coriky”
3. Hum – “Inlet”
2. Run the Jewels – “RTJ4”
1. Dua Lipa – “Future Nostalgia"

Darin Wall (Greyhawk, Skelator)
1. Unleash The Archers – “Abyss”
Amazing album rooted in traditional power metal with great hooks and just enough experimentation to keep it interesting
2.  Primal Fear – “Metal Commando”This is a classic Primal Fear album.
Anthem after anthem. Impossible not to have a good time while listening to it.
3.  Armored Saint – “Punching The Sky”
I love anything with John Bush singing on it. The Saints always deliver the goods.
4.  Kirk Windstein – “Dream In Motion
”Surprise album of the year for me. Beautiful songwriting, and amazing production.
5.  Testament – “Titans Of Creation”
New album by my favorite thrash band is unsurprisingly awesome. They have never made a bad record.
6.  Pallbearer – “Forgotten Days”
Didn’t care for their last record so much but this one is triumphant return to form.
7.  Hyperion – “Into The Maelstrom”
My favorite pure power metal album of 2020, and label mates of us in Greyhawk. If you love power metal you’ll love this.
8.  Wino – “Forever Gone”
About one of the only guys who can put out an acoustic album and I’ll pay attention. Wino is the soul of rock and roll incarnate.
9.  Solicitor – “Spectral Devastation”
This one checks all the boxes. NWOTHM on the heavier, speedier, aggressive side. We need more like this.
10.  High Spirits – “Hard To Stop”
Have never been a huge fan before this album, but the Dan Swano production makes all the difference.
Honorable Mentions:
Fu Manchu – “FU.30 pt 1” (this would have made my top 10 but it is an EP)
Traveler – “Termination Shock”
Vader – “Solitude In Madness”
Demons and Wizards – “III”
Adamantis – “Far Flung Realm”
Glacier – “The Passing Of Time”

Mike “MexiMike” Torres (Section H8)
*no particular order*
Annie – "Dark Hearts"
DMA’s – "The Glow"
Midnight – "Rebirth of Blasphemy"
Chubby & The Gang – "Speed Kills"
Drakeo the Ruler – "Thank you for Using GTL"
Big Cheese – "Punishment Park"
Lions Law – "The Pain The Blood & The Sword"
The Chisel – "Deconstructive Surgery"
Retaliate – "4"
Bob Mould – "Blue Hearts"
Seed of Pain – "Flesh, Steel, Victory"
Dame – "S/T"
Dropdead – "Dropdead 2020"
Internal Rot – "Grieving Birth"
No Pressure – "No Pressure"
Pillars of Ivory – "Genesis"
Pillars of Ivory – "Exodus"
End It – "One Way Track"
Skinhead – "F*** Fake Skins"
Gridiron – "Loyalty at all Costs"

Jonny Larson (Kids On Fire)
1. Get Dead - "Dancing with the Curse"
2. The Drowns - "Under Tension"
3. Head Honcho - "Appetite for Distraction"
4. Tiny Dragon Split LP - with Caffiends, Heck Yes, Modern Advances and Pool Party
5. Generation Decline - "the Death of Hubris"
6. The Bombpops - "Death in Venice Beach"
7. Run the Jewels - "RTJ4"
8. Street jail - "Street Jail"
9. MGK - "Tickets to my Downfall"
10. JPEGMAFIA - "EP"
11. Old Cross - "Daggers"
12. Power Trip - "Live in Seattle"
13. Idles - "Ultra Mono"
14. The Chats - "High Risk Behavior"
15. Suicide Machines - "Revolution Spring"
16. Deftones - "OHMS"
17. Higher Power - "27 Miles Underwater"
18. Loathe - "I let it in and it Took Everything"
19. Bad Cop Bad Cop - "the Ride"
20. Days N Daze - "Show Me Blueprints"

Mike Score (All Out War)
20. Sinister - "Deformation of the Holy Realm"
19. Vader - "Solitude in Madness"
18. Cirith Ungol - "Forever Black"
17. Kirk Windstein - "Dream in Motion"
16. Black Curse - "Endless Wound"
15. Hatebreed - "Weight of The False Self"
14. Incantation - "Sect of Vile Divinities"
13. Enslaved - "Utgard"
12. Dropdead - "Dropdead"
11. Tombs - "Under Sullen Skies"
10. Xibalba - "Anos En Infierno"
9. Midnight - "Rebirth of Blasphemy"
8. Eternal Champion – "Ravening Iron"
7. Benediction – "Scriptures"
6. Skeletal Remains – "The Entombment of Chaos"
5. Caustic Wound – "Death Posture"
4. Gaerea – "Limbo"
3. Necrot – "Mortal"
2. Wake – "Devouring Ruin"
1. Napalm Death – "Throes of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism"

Brandon Smith (7 Horns 7 Eyes)
1. The Ocean - "Phanerozoic II"
2. Ihsahn - "Pharos"
3. Drouth - "Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy"
4. Gaerea - "Limbo"
5. Ulcerate - "Stare Into Death And Be Still"

Angel Perry (Generation Decline)
*no particular order*
Misantropic - "Catharsis"
Bas Rotten - "Surge"
Gulch - "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress"
Will Sniff - "Threat In Obscurity"
Azijnpisser - "Mass Hysteria"
Mortality Rate - "Sleep Deprivation 2020"
Mass Extinction - "Never-Ending Holocaust"
Dropdead - "Dropdead 2020"
Anha - "Crimson Dawn"
City of Industry - "False Flowers"
Despairer - "Unburdened"

Brian Kim (Witch Ripper)
*no particular order*
Hum – “Inlet”
This album is an instant classic. Of all the bands from my childhood to make a comeback in recent years, Hum has absolutely been one of the most satisfying. Inlet doesn’t hold any punches, and picks right back up with the immensely heavy and melodic grooves that inspired a future generation of big riff rockers. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to this album more than any other released this year and I’m not even close to getting sick of it.
Favorite Track: Shapeshifter
Elephant Tree – “Habits”
This one was a bit of a surprise for me, as I’d never heard Elephant Tree before and checked this album out on a whim. I was immediately blown away by the sheer scale of this record. The production is masterful, catapulting my ears into the stratosphere, and the songwriting takes slow, reverb soaked stoner/doom riffs and polishes them into razor sharp diamonds.
This album is dynamic and engaging and carries an emotional weight that hits hard. Favorite Track: Bird
Deftones – “Ohms”
Deftones were one of the bands that got me into heavy music in my younger years, and with Ohms the band really takes me back. I absolutely love their more lush atmospheric work as well, and it’s certainly not absent on this album, but Ohms feels like it’s recapturing some of the raw edge the band had back in the day. The guitars cut deeper, the drums sound more explosive, and the overall sound has a more aggressive vibe that makes this one of the band’s strongest recent releases. Favorite Track: Urantia
Peace’d Out – “Feelings Blade”
Feelings Blade is a wild rollercoaster of riffy experimental post-hardcore, drawing influences from punk, black metal, and grindcore. One of my favorite guitarists, Steve Choi (RX Bandits, The Sound of Animals Fighting), really shines on this record, conjuring a neverending whirlwind of blazing hot riffs at lightning speed. This album hits hard and fast and keeps you guessing what’s coming next. Favorite Track: Trash Truck
The Ocean – “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic”
This album is massive. It’s a sprawling journey, spiraling through crushing heaviness and deep, lush, atmospherics, with plenty of proggy weirdness thrown in for good measure. There’s an expertly orchastrated depth of layers here, guided by a steadfast, albeit slightly meandering, purpose, that is entirely engrossing. Favorite Track: Jurassic | Cretaceous

Casey Nolan (Matriarch, Yellfire)
1. Fiona Apple - “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”
2. NØ MAN - “Erase”
3. Power Alone - “Rather Be Alone”
4. Sumac - “Two Beasts”
5. deathCAVE - “Smoking Mountain”
6. Year of the Knife - “Internal Incarceration”
7. Xibalba - “Años En Infierno”
8. Menzingers - “From Exile”
9. Hayley Williams - “Petals for Armor”
10. 156/Silence - “Irrational Pull”

Mike “Metal Mike” Chinn (Noroth)
*no particular order*
Full Lengths
Eternal Champion – “Ravening Ire”
Ceremonial Bloodbath – “Tides of Blood”
Of Feather and Bone – “Sulferic Disintegration”
Disavowed – “Revocation of the Fallen”
Perdition Temple – “Sacrements of Descension”
Skeletal Remains – “The Entombment of Chaos"
Necrot – “Mortal”
Gorephilia- “In the Eye of Nothing”
Stormkeep – “Galdrum”
Lamp of Murmuur – “Heir of Ecliptical Romantisism”
EP/Demos
Impure – “Damned”
Church of Disgust – “Consumed by slow Putrefaction”
Gravesend – “Preparations for Human Disposal”
Walpurgia – “Alter of the Goat Baphomat”
Sentient Divide – “Haunted by Cruelty”
Splits
Mortal Wound/Gutless
Spectral Voice/Anhedonist
Mortiferum/Hyperdontia

Void Dancer (Collective band list)
*no particular order*
Black Crown Initiate – “Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape”
The Ocean – “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
Igorrr – “Spirituality and Distortion”
Psychonaut – “Unfold the God Man”
Wake – “Devouring Ruin”
Hum – “Inlet”
Beneath the Massacre – “Fearmonger”
Aversions Crown – “He Will Come For Us All”
Soilwork – “A Whisp of the Atlantic”
Ozzy Osbourne – “Ordinary Man”

Leah Solomon (Northwest Terror Fest Production Manager / Sponsorship Liason)
*no particular order*
Necrot - "Mortal"
Vile Creature - "Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!"
Ebony Pendant - "Incantation of Eschatological Mysticism"
Caustic Wound - "Death Posture"
Many Blessings vs. Pain Chain - "Soul Terror (EP split on Somatic)"
Sentient Divide - "Haunted by Cruelty"
City of Industry - "False Flowers"
Megan Thee Stallion - "Good News"
Larry June + Harry Fraud - "Keep Going"
Charley Crockett - "Welcome to Hard Times"

Michael Freiburger (deathCave)
1. Necrot – “Mortal”
2. Primitive man – “Immersion”
3. Vile Creature – “Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!”
4. Black Curse – “Endless Wound”
5. Xibalba – “Anos En Infierno”
6. Ulthar – “Providence”
7. Caustic Wound – “Death Posture”
8. Midnight – “Rebirth By Blasphemy”
9. Drouth – “Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy”
10. Boris – “No”
11. Soft Kill – “Dead Kids, R.I.P City”
12. Ilsa – “Preyer”
13. Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle – “May Our Chambers Be Full”
14. Oranssi Pazuzu – “Mestarin Kynsi”
15.  Bell witch and Aerial Ruin – “Stygian Bough Vol 1”
16. Eye Flys – “Tub of Lard”
17.  Eternal Champion – “Ravening Iron”
18. Undeath – “Lesions of a Different Kind”
19.  Worship – “Tunnels”
20.   Uada – “Djinn”

Vance Bratcher (The Devils of Loudun , Aethereus)
Full Length Albums
1.  Beneath the Massacre - "Fearmonger"
2. Ulcerate - "Stare Into Death and Be Still"
3. Protest the Hero - "Palimpsest"
4. Cytotoxin – "Nuklearth"
5.  Unleash the Archers – "Abyss"
6.  Roman Ring - "The Halogen"
7.   Igorrr - "Spirituality and Distortion"
8.  Myth of I - "Myth of I"
9.  Symbolik - "Emergence"
10.  Mors Principium Est - "Seven"
EP's
1. Inferi - "Of Sunless Realms"
2. Serocs - "Vore"
3. Ihsahn – "Pharos"
4. Blighted Eye - "Wretched"
5. Sutrah - "Aletheia"

Lisa Mungo (F'd and Bound, He Whose Ox Is Gored)
*no particular order*
Boris - "No"
Soft Kill - "Dead Kids, R.I.P. City"
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – "May Our Chambers Be Full"
Liturgy - "Origin of the Alimonies"
Oranssi Pazuzu - "Mestarin Kynsi"
Yaeji - "What We Drew"
Dua Lipa - "Future Nostalgia"
Perfume Genius - "Set My Heart on Fire Immediately"
Gulch - "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress"
War On Women - "Wonderful Hell"