Albums Of The Months 2020

Albums Of The Months 2020

Albums Of The Months 2020

If you’re familiar with the old Slow Dragon Music site, you’ll know what the deal is with Albums Of The Months 2020. For those who don’t, the basic premise is that, instead of a straight up pick of all releases throughout the entire year, we revisit each month, in case opinions have changed, an album has grown us here, an EP has become a bit stale there; you get the picture. Everything here is something which has stuck with us, making a lasting impression. For this reason, you won’t see any of our usual ‘Grades’, as we call them. Just a bit of a brief on each selection. So, let us take you back to…

January 2020
Rage – Wings Of Rage (album)
Release date: 10th January 2020||Genre: metal||Label: Steamhammer

The start of the year was a big moment here, with a new release from an all-time favourite, Rage!

We were privileged enough to catch their live show down in London (and almost get trapped in England, due to crazy storm weather), promoting Wings Of Rage, and can confirm it is superb live as well. With a return to a thrashier sound, the album itself truly feels like it could sit right between End Of All Days and Black In Mind. It has that bite from back in the day, which some may have missed on albums such as Ghosts and full orchestra collaboration release, Lingua Mortis. If you’re a classic Rage fan, and prefer them at their most metal, this is one you simply have to get in your ears. 

Annihilator – Ballistic Sadistic (album)
Release date: 24th January||Genre: Thrash||Label: Silver Lining/Neverland

Honourable mention:
Another long-term high-ranking outfit for SDM, Annihilator, released studio album number seventeen this January; Ballistic Sadistic.

While we weren’t quite as excited for this one, it has still stuck in the mind, and is getting more repeat plays than most. It could be because there were actually a lot of decent thrash releases this year, but Ballistic… took it’s time to work its way right into the mind. It definitely needed to be included in the first round, though. 

February 2020


Sylosis – Cycle Of Suffering (album)
Release date: 07th February||Genre: Metal/metalcore||Label: Nuclear Blast

It takes a lot for a metalcore album to punch through these days, but Sylosis have managed that in spades. 

There is certainly a heap of Hatebreed-esque rasping and stomping in bands of a certain era, but, within that framework, this lot originally came to the stage with something of their own. In Cycle Of Suffering, they are in peak form once again. It launches with far greater pace than predecessor, Dormant Heart, but amongst the rapid fire, they still stretch to the same emotional heights. In the past five years, they seem to have finessed their songwriting, making this an instant hit, somewhere near where In Flames could have, and arguably should have, ended up. 

God Dethroned – Illuminati (album)
Release date: 07th February 2020||Genre: Blackened death||Label: Metal Blade
God Dethroned more than lived up to their name, with a soul-shuddering new slab of irreligious noise.

Illuminati was not only the title track of their latest long-player, but the focus of a triple video promotional push online. This worked incredibly well, without getting bogged down in ‘marketing’. They simply let the music, and the imagery, do the talking. And talk they did. In this day and age, it’s hard to get anti-religion themed music taken seriously, but GD are completely engaging and believable. This is the perfect means to Satanically suspend your disbelief. Pair with Behemoth’s I Loved You At Your Darkest.

March 2020
Medico Peste –
ב :The Black Bile (album)
Release date: 20th March 2020||Genre: Black metal||Label: Season Of Mist

The plague doctors in Medico Peste put the rat amongst the pidgeons with ב : The Black Bile.

This is one which seemed to leave few divided on what is and isn’t black metal. It has received minor pecking for being repetitive and ‘a bit jazz’, but it is hard to see a negative in these respects. There is a often trance-like pulse, but that simply seems to amplify the intended effect. Likewise, it does indeed incorporate a vaguery of creepy, continental jazz. Again, this deviation is a boon. If you can’t question the norm from within BM, what is it really worth? This unforgettable masterpiece absolutely takes March! 

April 2020


The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous (album)
Release date: 17th April 2020||Genre: Death metal||Label: Metal Blade

The Black Dahlia Murder landed midst plague, with Verminous, their seventh studio album. 

While they are hailed as one of the most consistent bands in their league, TBDM have actually surpassed themselves on their latest opus. This is a no messing assault of everything fans have come to love about this band, wrenched past the end of the dial. The technical playing has been smoothed a bit around the edges, but that simply means further clarity, making it easier to appreciate just how well crafted each part of their music actually is. (In the opinion of SDM) the best TBDM album to date!

Barishi – Old Smoke (album)
Release date: 24th April 2020||Genre: Progressive sludge||Label: Season Of Mist
Seeping forth from Vermont, Barishi crept up on us with a sinister burnt offering in Old Smoke.

While new to SDM this year, this is actually the band’s fourth release, with two full-lengths and an EP already in the bag. Looking back through their roots, one has to wonder “what happened to them?” They used to be so happy. Even to the point where I probably wouldn’t have called them metal. Even second most recent album, Blood From The Lion’s Mouth, only really hinted at the gargantuan, shuddering earth-demon to emerge in 2020, stumbling into our world like Mononke’s possessed boar god.

Aborted – La Grande Masquerade (EP)
Release date: 17th April 2020||Genre: Death metal||Label: Century Media
Consummate brutality was the name of the game for Aborted in April, with a short, sharp shock.

While everyone else was poring over ponderous, long playing albums, these lunatics cut to the chase with a gore-encrusted bonesaw of an EP, in La Grande Masquerade. At only fifteen minutes in length, this tight, punishing little number does more damage than most epics can manage in around an hour. It is an absolute face-smasher of a release to wrap up three hits of superb metal for month number 4! Crank it!

May 2020
Shatter Brain – Pitchfork Justice (album)
Release date: ||Genre: Thrash||Label: Wormholedeath
Aussie thrashers, Shatter Brain, display a bristling array of thrash metal armaments on their debut full-length. 

What’s really impressive about this Adelaide based quintet is the vast arsenal of thrashisms the have at their disposal. One minute you’re listening to knuckle-dragging gutter punk, with caveman hardcore riffs. The next, the vocals dip-dive between blackened rasp and slam gutturals, while prog death twists in the background. Somehow, though, it’s all still proper thrash, and all still one coherent band. SB really know their stuff, and how to deliver it. 

June 2020
Carach Angren – Frankensteina Strataemontanus (album)
Release date: 26th June 2020||Genre: Symphonic black metal||Label: Season Of Mist

The sixth album from Carach Angren opens the carnival bizarre unto the world of black metal.

This was such an outlandish project that it had to be our June choice. It stood out a mile then, and it still does now. This band’s combination of superlative heavy songwriting and freak show orchestration is quite unique, comparable, maybe, to recent output from Anaal Nathrakh. While Frankensteina… is metal at its core, there seems to be a Victorian maniac in the conductor’s chair, bringing in a very appealing – and all too rare – escapism.

July 2020
Catalysis – Connection Lost (album)
Release date: 24th July 2020||Genre: Metal||Label: Self released
Dundee metallers, Catalysis, upgraded all operational systems for the sterling Connection Lost long player.

It has been nothing less than a pleasure to watch the development of this band, up close and personal. They certainly had something to begin with, but through a process of natural refinement and shifting personnel, they have ended up with somewhat of a magic formula. Here, they are harder hitting than they have ever been before, with long term sound goals seemingly nailed. They’ve worked hard. It’s paid off. They are now certainly ones to watch. Well, once we can watch bands again.

August 2020
Onslaught – Generation Antichrist (album)
Release date: 07th August||Genre: Thrash metal||Label: AFM

UK thrash heavyweights return in skull-crushing style with their first studio album in seven years

While they were more of a hardcore band at the time of the original wave, Onslaught have been a mainstay of quality British thrash for some time now. You don’t have to look far back to find some bangers under their name. Generation Antichrist is no exception. The gap since VI seems to have been nothing more than a breathing space, before they launched into GA with the exact same level energy. The perfect soundtrack to a supercharged death-race through post-apocalyptic wastelands.

September 2020
Lik – Misanthropic Breed (album)
Release date: 25th September 2020||Genre: Death metal||Label: Metal Blade
Meanwhile… In Sweden… The third album from LIK was exhumed with a great charnel sighing, and shedding of flesh.

For the main part, Misanthropic Breed is  putrid display of high speed, spatchcocked Carcass worship. That alone had SDM by the balls. Just occasionally, though, there’s a noticeable chunk of Iron Maiden melody mulched into the mix (particularly in the middle of Decay). It may sound strange for such blatantly British names to be dropped when discussing a Swedish death metal band, but the ear hears what it hears. And in this case, it really fucking likes what it hears!!! 

October 2020
Solitary – The Truth Behind The Lies (album)
Release date: 23rd October 2020||Genre: Thrash||Label: Metalville

From deepest Preston, Solitary offered up yet another slab of proper thrash, staying close to the roots.

It’s been three years since The Diseased Heart Of Society, which, to be frank, thrashed our tits off. Not much has changed with The Truth Behind The Lies. That means hacking once more into the vein to which we have become accustomed. The album is stacked with more tight, fast, chunky thrash, a tonne of memorable hooks, and shout-along choruses aplenty. If you know ’em, you know what to expect here. You’ll mosh, you’ll stomp, you’ll wreck your neck. 

November 2020


Virus – Evilution Apocalypse (album)
Release date: 23rd November 2020||Genre: Thrash||Label: Self released
Now at home in Dundee, original thrashers, Virus, unleashed the Evilution Apocalypse!

After being away for a good many years, Virus came back with a blast this year, armed with a new album. Classics from this band always showed a unique, quirky edge to timings, and it’s great to hear that carried forward in the new material, especially after so long. What is also a bonus is the production this has received, letting you pick out more of that detail, and giving the fuller sound they always deserved. There’s even a retake on Force Recon to confirm the benefits of this. From fun to furious, this is a must hear.

Tombs – Under Sullen Skies (album)
Release date: 20th November 2020||Genre: Black metal||Label: Season Of Mist
The inimitable Tombs, burst back out of Brooklyn with extreme metal masterpiece, Under Sullen Skies.

It seems odd to just call this a black metal release. There is so much more to it than that, but it’s simply the nearest available genre. Just calling it extreme metal is inadequate as well. Tombs represent an intersection of super heavy styles, incorporating doom, sludge, death, and, yes, black metal. It is devastatingly effective. While they have always taken this sort of approach, it is on USS that they have transformed into something truly majestic to behold. 

Harlott – Detritus Of The Final Age (album)
Release date: 13th November 2020||Genre: Thrash metal||Label: Metal Blade

More amazing heavy music spews out from down under, with Harlott‘s Detritus Of The Final Age.

Yup, it’s more Australian output, and more thrash. It’s been a very thrash year, to be honest. However, this album couldn’t be left out. If we were just doing a top five of 2020 thrash albums, this would still be right up front. A good bit heavier than some of the other thrash entries here, which might not appeal to all, this is in line with Revocation as much as Testament. A minor step up from debut, Extinction, this one is 100% keeper!

December 2020
Zebadiah Crowe – The Cloven Hand (EP)
Release date: 02nd December 2020||Genre: Industrial||Label: Self released

An electro-metal nightmare emerges to (hopefully) drag 2020 back to the Hell from whence it came

December was a hard month to choose from, not only in that everything is still very fresh in the mind, which doesn’t allow for much reflection. It also felt a bit sparse in great releases. It was like the year just ran out of steam. Then Zebadiah Crowe came up. This short recording is totally different to everything else on the list in a lot of ways, but still taps into the same darkness as the likes of black metal. A digital Lords Of Salem, if you like. This twisted heap of sadistic industrial is the ideal way to wind up a very strange year.

So, that’s it; our rundown of cherry-picking self-indulgence – Albums Of The Months 2020, one of the most repulsive years for the music industry, and yet, still plenty of great new sounds to choose from! Hopefully, you discovered a new favourite to add to your list. In that case, not only was this fun to write, but we did a good deed to close this turn around the big, shiny, hot thing!

Read more articles on Slow Dragon Music