The Kerrang! staff’s top 10 albums of 2020

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Just as it takes a lot of bricks to build a cathedral, so too does it take a lot of people to make Kerrang!. None of whom like exactly the same things. This is very good. And in a year that’s seen so many amazing records come from both giants and the underground, it’s been even more valuable than ever that our team dig such a range of stuff. 

Last week, we presented you the Kerrang! Albums Of 2020. Now, delve a little deeper, and take a look at what’s been floating our individual boats…

Sam Coare, Editor

10. Ghostemane – ANTI-ICON
9. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall
8. Deftones – Ohms
7. NOTHING – The Great Dismal
6. Svalbard – When I Die Will I Get Better?
5. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything
4. Touché Amoré – Lament
3. Envy – The Fallen Crimson
2. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

1. Code Orange – Underneath

My early-year obsession with this record – it would get listened to in its entirety once, if not twice, a day; every day; every week – meant Underneath and I had to go on a self-imposed summer-long separation for the sake of my sanity. Revisiting it again for the first time only recently, it remains as enthralling and thrilling as it was all the way back in January. A monumental work of ambition and vision that few would dare even trying to pull off, yet alone do so with such aplomb.

Luke Morton, Digital Editor

10. The Chats – High Risk Behaviour
9. IDLES – Ultra Mono
8. Sharptooth – Transitional Forms
7. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?
6. Phoxjaw – Royal Swan
5. Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full
4. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
3. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
2. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

1. Code Orange – Underneath

Code Orange have raised the bar again, not just for hardcore, but for all of heavy music. Underneath is bold, it is brash and it is brave, taking the harshest elements of industrial, metal, EDM, hip-hop and more to create a hulking, seething titan of terror. The fact it also contains some outstanding, warming 90s alt.rock is the ultimate middle finger to those who think they’re a one-(very-loud)-note pony. The hurt continues.

Emily Carter, News Editor

10. Green Day – Father Of All…
9. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
8. Higher Power – 27 Miles Underwater
7. Boston Manor – GLUE
6. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything
5. All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine
4. Pearl Jam – Gigaton
3. Brian Fallon – Local Honey
2. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

1. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall

I was as sceptical as the next person when Machine Gun Kelly announced that his latest record would be pop-punk – but it’s fitting, really, that in such a time of unpredictability, it’s been my go-to album of 2020. From punk rock Bohemian Rhapsody” opener Title Track to the emotional gut-punch of closer Play This When I’m Gone, there’s a great deal of depth, charisma and personality housed within genuinely killer songs that simply never get boring. Oh yeah, and there’s an interlude in which MGK is coming down off mushrooms’ and his best pal/comedian megastar Pete Davidson pretends to be an alien… which I’m pretty sure no other band can claim this year.

Phil Alexander, Global Creative Director

10. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?
9. END – Splinters From An Ever Changing Face
8. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything
7. Higher Power – 27 Miles Underwater
6. A.A. Williams – Forever Blue
5. NOTHING – The Great Dismal
4. Code Orange — Underneath
3. Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
2. IDLES – Ultra Mono

1. Coriky – Coriky

Great music is an act of communion. Coriky are proof of that – a trio with a shared past. Guitarist and singer Ian McKaye played with bassist Joe Lally for 16 years in Fugazi prior to that band going on hiatus in 2003. McKaye then played with drummer Amy Farina (to whom he is married) in Evens. All three contribute vocals on a taught and mature sounding debut album that serves as a reminder that the American alt.rock underground is still capable of delivering truly inspirational and exhilarating music.

Nick Ruskell, Reviews Editor

10. Henrik Palm – Poverty Metal
9. Video Nasties – Dominion
8. Rope Sect – The Great Flood
7. Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
6. Ulver – Flowers Of Evil
5. Paysage D’Hiver – Im Wald
4. Code Orange – Underneath
3. A.A. Williams – Forever Blue
2. Midnight – Rebirth By Blasphemy

1. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?

Svalbard have already proved that they’re one of the best heavy bands in the UK, not to mention one of the most furious. Their blazing mix of metal, hardcore, blackgaze and those moments of glassy beauty were as powerful and stunning as ever, but there was a layer of despondency underneath When I Die, Will I Get Better? that inadvertently chimed perfectly with the mood of 2020. The lyrics this time were as fiery and righteous as ever on Click Bait and What Was She Wearing?, but these were cut with a frustration of having to say the same things over again, while elsewhere the reflections on feeling lost, adrift and unable to find a foothold, as well as the importance of listening and understanding, became more relatable against the backdrop in which the album emerged. But the beauty here is that, even in a decade’s time when this current mess is history, When I Die, Will I Get Better? will remain a brilliant, creative, caustic and comforting album by a band who simply don’t do bad.

Billie Webster, Designer

10. Katatonia – City Burials
9. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Viscerals
8. Wayfarer – A Romance With Violence
7. All Them Witches – Nothing as the Ideal
6. clipping. – Visions Of Bodies Being Burned
5. NOTHING – The Great Dismal
4. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin kynsi
3. Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr
2. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

1. Ulver – Flowers Of Evil

I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to dance wildly to the apocalyptic chorus of computers, democracy and nervous disorder’ at Ulvers planned show at London’s Fabric. And while I don’t own a laser projector to achieve the full experience, I’m still grateful that I have this brilliant album to move to from the safety of my home.

David McLaughlin, Writer

10. END – Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
9. Sarchasm – Sarchasm
8. Hum – Inlet
7. Gleemer – Down Through
6. Rotting Out – Ronin
5. Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void
4. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings
3. Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone
2. Cold Years – Paradise

1. IDLES — Ultra Mono

A record made from love and compassion with noble intentions and hope in its heart. At a time when those qualities seem increasingly hard to come by, that’ll do for me. 

James Hickie, Writer

10. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo
9. Puscifer – Existential Reckoning
8. Vile Creature – Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm
7. IDLES – Ultra Mono
6. Black Foxxes – Black Foxxes
5. Boston Manor – GLUE
4. Deftones – Ohms
3. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
2. AC/DCPOWER UP 

1. Biffy Clyro — A Celebration Of Endings 

Any year in which a Biffy Clyro album comes out is automatically 20 per cent better. 2020 has therefore been 20 per cent good. I will celebrate the end of these 12 months as enthusiastically as I do Biffy Clyro’s eighth full-length. Epic yet intimate, soft but spiky, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, A Celebration Of Endings will forever be indelibly linked with lives half-lived. But in its beautiful music, it reminds us who we all were before and will be again.

Paul Travers, Writer

10. Body Count – Carnivore
9. Paradise Lost – Obsidian
8. END – Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
7. Ensiferum – Thalassic
6. Poppy – I Disagree
5. Spirit Adrift – Enlightened In eternity
4. Enslaved – Utgard
3. Lucifer – Lucifer III
2. Myrkur – Folkesange

1. REZN – Chaotic Divine

There might be the barest hint of dawn on the horizon, but the overwhelming impression left by 2020 is one of crushing doom. And there’s no better album to represent the feeling of wanting to get off the planet than REZN’s interstellar headfuck of a third full-length album. The Chicagoans can lean on huge, vicious, Electric Wizard-sized riffs when they want to, but they also display expansive psychedelic tendencies as they paint cosmic whirls with synth, sax and whatever else comes to hand. REZN sound like the house band at the end of the universe, and there will be no encore.

Sam Law, Writer

10. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
9. Vukovi – Fall Better
8. Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero
7. Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
6. Body Count – Carnivore
5. Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
4. Ghostemane – Anti-Icon
3. Brian Fallon – Local Honey
2. Touché Amoré – Lament

1. Code Orange – Underneath

Code Orange seemed to have set the bar almost too high with 2017’s vertiginous second LP Forever. After three years and thousands of man-hours, however, they absolutely smashed it with Underneath. Combining elements of hardcore, industrial, nu-metal and nightmare electronica into an utterly invigorating whole, they might not quite have rewritten the rules of heavy music, but they did prove that mosh music could still feel every as inventive and exciting – and a good deal more viscerally impactful – than anything else being cranked out across the sonic spectrum right now. Extra credit, too, for their ahead-of-the-curve livestream game.

Angela Davey, Writer

10. Okkultokrati – La Ilden Lyse
9. Venom Prison – Primeval
8. Boris – NO
7. Deftones – Ohms
6. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?
5. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
4. Midnight – Rebirth by Blasphemy
3. Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
2. Uniform – Shame

1. Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full

May Our Chambers Be Full is a musical triumph, the juxtaposition between light and dark batters the senses as it uplifts them, creating a feeling of dreamy hopefulness that’s oddly complemented by the passages that are brooding and rage-filled. This album is a beacon of light that has been delivered at a time when it could not be more needed.

Steve Beebee, Writer

10. Massive Wagons – House Of Noise
9. Blues Pills – Holy Moly!
8. Midnight – Rebirth By Blasphemy
7. Myrkur – Folkesange
6. In This Moment – Mother
5. Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos
4. Code Orange – Underneath
3. Leaves Eyes – The Last Viking
2. Nightwish – Human II Nature

1. Paradise Lost – Obsidian

2020 was the year we were forced to concede that perennial bringers of bad news Paradise Lost were right all the time. Rarely has their message been so forthright and well delivered as on this year’s Obsidian. A near perfect collision of metalworks, it mated imaginative riffage, doom-laced verses and killer hooks to magnificent effect. This classic British band has never sounded so fittingly, portentously brilliant.

Dan Slessor, Writer

10. Lamb Of God – Lamb Of God
9. Body Count – Carnivore
8. Abysmal Dawn – Phylogenesis
7. Hatebreed – Weight Of The False Self
6. AC/DC – Power Up
5. Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still
4. Necrot – Mortal
3. ACxDC – Satan Is King
2. The Acacia Strain – It Comes In Waves

1. Beneath The Massacre – Fearmonger

Back after an eight-year absence, Montreal’s Beneath The Massacre destroyed the competition in 2020. While insanely complex, strangling anything resembling melody’ to within an inch of its life and rammed with juddering off-time violence they still made an accessible, compelling record that is riveting from start to finish, leaving your brain tied in knots but wanting more.

Hannah Ewens, Writer

10. Touché Amoré — Lament
9. Samia – The Baby
8. Code Orange – Underneath
7. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
6. Record Setter – I Owe You Nothing
5. Deftones – Ohms
4. Nothing – The Great Dismal
3. The OBGMs – The Ends
2. Soccer Mommy – colour theory

1. Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor

The Paramore frontwoman’s first debut album came out of a quiet period spent home alone (miraculously not in 2020). It had to be this way – her divorce and long-standing depression demanded exploration away from the band, despite being made with many usual collaborators. In three parts, Petals For Armor is a true bildungsroman, a journey of blossoming into full adulthood with all its joys, pain, loneliness and special friendships.

George Garner, Writer

10. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
9. Painted Shield – Painted Shield
8. Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr
7. Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
6. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts VI: Locusts
5. Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor
4. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings
3. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
2. Deftones – Ohms

1. Pearl Jam – Gigaton

I didn’t like Gigaton – I loved it. Contained on Pearl Jams spectacular 11th album are not only some of the finest songs they’ve ever penned (Seven O’Clock, Comes Then Goes, River Cross to name but three), but also moments that have radically redefined the possibilities of their sound – no more so than the Talking Heads-inspired throb of Dance Of The Clairvoyants. Spare a thought for Pearl Jam’s 2004 greatest hits set Rearviewmirror. It had already long, long been out of date. But now? Well, Gigaton has made it outright obsolete. It’s the sound of a band with a future every bit as exciting as their illustrious past.

Ian Winwood, Writer

10. AC/DC – Power Up
9. Fake Names – Fake Names
8. Deftones – Ohms
7. IDLES – Ultra Mono
6. Frank Turner & NOFX – West Coast Vs Wessex
5. Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
4. The Network – Money Money 2020 Part II: We Told Ya So!
3. Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void
2. Run The Jewels – RTJ4

1. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

One could search through a decade of Sundays for an album that so perfectly and completely realises a band’s talents as well as does A Celebration Of Endings. Wildly creative, original, disciplined and complete, it is by a distance the album of the year. 

Jake Richardson, Writer

10. Gulch – Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress
9. Ocean Grove – Flip Phone Fantasy
8. Dune Rats – Hurry Up And Wait
7. Polaris – The Death Of Me
6. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
5. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything
4. YUNGBLUD – weird!
3. All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine
2. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall

1. Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void 

A significant development from previous LP Eternity, In Your Arms, this album proved there’s so much more to Creepers music than the goth-punk stylings on which they made their name, with Poisoned Heart, Annabelle and Napalm Girls being up there with the band’s best ever material. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void was an indisputably bold and brave triumph for Creeper. 

James MacKinnon, Writer

10. Brian Fallon – Local Honey
9. Kvelertak – Splid
8. Deftones – Ohms
7. Soft Kill – Dead Kids R.I.P. City
6. Sharptooth – Transitional Forms
5. Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full
4. Anna Von Hausswolff – All Thoughts Fly
3. Touché Amoré – Lament
2. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?

1. Sightless Pit – Grave Of A Dog

Take members of The Body, Full Of Hell and LINGUA IGNOTA. Put them together and what have you got? Bibbidi-bobbidi-DOOM. Like moving into a house only to discover a network of tunnels and reptile cults in your basement, it’s easy to get lost in Grave Of A Dog’s pathways of putrid industrial grooves, ambient hauntings and shivering litanies. There may not be a chorus in sight (unless you’re a Robert Burns nut), but Sightless Pit’s ability to light up darkened corners has produced a beguiling, strange album that felt right at home in this strangest of years.

Hannah May Kilroy, Writer

10. Molasses – Through The Hollow
9. Enslaved – Utgard
8. Boston Manor – GLUE
7. Pacific Range – High Upon The Mountain
6. Code Orange – Underneath
5. Pallbearer – Forgotten Days
4. Sólstafir – Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love
3. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings
2. A.A. Williams – Forever Blue

1. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi

Bonkers yet brilliant psychedelic black metal that could soundtrack a trippy horror film – the perfect accompaniment to 2020

Mischa Pearlman, Writer

10. Dogleg – Melee
9. Cold Years – Paradise
8. Honey Joy – II
7. NOTHING – The Great Dismal
6. Sharptooth – Transitional Forms
5. The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast
4. Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full
3. Boston Manor – GLUE
2. Brian Fallon – Local Honey

1. Fire In The Radio – Monuments

Released at the start of 2020, Fire In The Radio’s Monuments infused the Philadelphia band’s usual anthemic punk rock sensibilities with a tinge of 80s new wave influence. Riddled with darkness and trauma but shot through with light, its songs dwell on the transience of existence — both in the grand scheme of things and this very moment right now. It’s a record that dwells on the simultaneous significance and meaninglessness of life and all the little moments that combine over decades to make that life what it is. It manages to capture the full extent of the hope and hurt, the overwhelming joys and overwrought devastations of the human experience, and the confusing context of all that happening on this tiny planet that’s dwarfed by the infinity of the universe that surrounds it. It’s also catchy as hell. 

Olly Thomas, Writer

10. Dealing With Damage – Ask The Questions
9. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo
8. Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
7. Huntsmen – Mandala Of Fear
6. All Them Witches – Nothing As The Ideal
5. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?
4. Ohhms – Close
3. Modern Rituals – This Is The History
2. METZ – Atlas Vending

1. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi

Taking black metal into truly transcendent sonic space, Oranssi Pazuzu harness full-strength psychedelia, mind-altering electronics and abyssal malevolence to create a head-wrecking work both freakier and more thrilling than any other record in 2020. Or, to be frank, pretty much any other year.

Simon Young, Writer

10. Mountain Caller – Chronicle I: The Truthseeker
9. AC/DC – Power Up
8. Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
7. Blacklisters – Fantastic Man
6. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
5. Kvelertak – Splid
4. IDLES – Ultra Mono
3. Vennart – In The Dead, Dead Wood
2. Coriky – Coriky

1. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings

In a year of paranoia, uncertainty and struggle, Biffy Clyro cut through the white noise of a truly terrifying year with one of their most decisive, inventive albums yet. A tip of the hat goes to closer Cop Syrup, a bilious rock opera condensed into six minutes of barely condensed rage. Lovely stuff.

John Longbottom, Writer

10. Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone
9. Goldfinger – Never Look Back
8. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs — Viscerals
7. IDLES – Ultra Mono
6. Chubby And The Gang – Speed Kills
5. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
4. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
3. Kvelertak – Splid
2. Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

1. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo

Mike Patton et al teamed up with Anthraxs Scott Ian and ex-Slayer sticksman Dave Lombardo to fully realise an album conceived by Bungle waaay back in 1986. With the band’s amorphous sound taking on it’s most fearsome, thrash metal form to date – and track names like Anarchy Up Your Anus, nice – it’s a hell of a ride. Inspired, yes. Psychotic? Yes. Stupid as hell? Also yes. 

James Hingle, Writer

10. Pallbearer – Forgotten Days
9. NOTHING – The Great Dismal
8. Hatebreed – Weight Of The False Self
7. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo
6. Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void
5. Palm Reader – Sleepless
4. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible
3. Deftones – Ohms
2. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings

1. Sylosis – Cycle Of Suffering

January feels like a millennium ago, but five years since their last new music – Josh Middleton was just casually providing the riffs for Architects – Sylosis stormed back with an absolute rager at the beginning of 2020. Cycle of Suffering is a bruising riffathon, reminding everyone that, unlike Hermes, they can deliver the goods. It’s just implanted itself in my brain, and it’s the perfect soundtrack for those grey, gloomy days. Josh’s vocals remain guttural as they are powerful, the songs are elegant with an under layer of pure grit, and it is everything we could have hoped for in a new Sylosis album.

Posted on December 22nd 2020, 12:15p.m.

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