2020 Mid-Year Recap: Best Albums

#5. IN FLAMES – I, The Mask (Arcade Version): The year 2020 has thrown many shocking and unexpected things at us, and you can add an 8-bit arcade-style variation of the latest studio album by a longstanding Swedish melodic death metal band to the list. In Flames released their 13th studio LP I, The Mask in 2019, to an expectedly mixed response, but then took everyone by surprise when they put out the arcade version of the same album in 2020. It is hereby stated with complete confidence and no doubt whatsoever that the new version is more enjoyable than the original. It’s a genius move by the band, opening themselves up to an entirely new demographic and at the same time giving their longtime fans something very different from the norm. Such is the instant impact and repeat-worthy listenability of this album, you do not have to be an In Flames fan, or even a fan of arcade games to enjoy this one.

#4. INTRONAUT – Fluid Existential Inversions: Los Angeles progressive / post-metal group Intronaut started out in 2004 as your friendly neighborhood local band and steadily built up to the globally successful and revered band they are now. Their sixth studio album Fluid Existential Inversions took a while as the band underwent a major change in personnel, but the outcome has proven to be well worth the wait and more. With every new album, Intronaut is a band that explores new sonic territory and finds new ways to blend the musical elements they have become known for. Fluid Existential Inversions presents plenty of the band’s proggy post-metal tendencies but also brings out heavy dissonant patterns, and the overall flow through the various transitions makes it a cohesive slab of music. This one gets a strong seal of approval from all fans of modern prog.

#3. PARADISE LOST – Obsidian: Masters of gothic doom, Paradise Lost have been one of the most prolifically and consistently great bands to have existed on this planet over the past three decades. To this day, this band continues to release new music at regular intervals. The British group has put out their 16th studio album Obsidian, and if the year 2020 needed an album that signifies the doom and gloom whilst simultaneously uplifting the listener, it’s this one. Everything about this album oozes pure class and finesse. Nick Holmes has delivered a vocal performance as good as any he’s ever put on record, and the band’s songwriting genius is showcased here in full glory. Obsidian is magnificent, haunting and beautiful in a manner only a Paradise Lost album can be.

#2. MASTER BOOT RECORD – Floppy Disk Overdrive: When Metal Blade Records announced that they were releasing a Master Boot Record album, it raised eyebrows and threw a curveball, to say the least. But it has ended up introducing the heavy metal demographic to the wonderful world of Master Boot Record. Floppy Disk Overdrive is the Italian composer’s 11th album, the previous ten having been released within the span of the last four years. An avant-garde chiptune presentation of a completely synthesized blend of heavy metal and classical symphonic music, Floppy Disk Overdrive is one of the most exciting and mind-blowing albums you’d hear, not only in 2020 but for a long time to come. Comprising 12 songs for a total duration of 68 minutes, there is not a single dull moment on this album and it keeps listeners’ heart pumping faster as it goes on. Whilst there are purists that do not approve of the heavy metal genre being tinkered with and combined with other styles of music, there is another school of thought that welcomes new ideas and interpretations. For those in the latter, Master Boot Record is a goldmine and Floppy Disk Overdrive is a treasure chest.

#1. HIGH PRIESTESS – Casting The Circle: For most people, music is merely a form of entertainment. For many, music takes the background as a non-essential, intangible entity. What music means to an individual and how significant it is in one’s daily life is entirely subjective. Most musical creations are intended as entertainment and rightly so, but once in a blue moon comes an album that changes the status quo and takes the significance of music up several notches. Los Angeles psychedelic doom trio High Priestess has achieved as much, and more, with their second full-length, Casting The Circle. It is rare for musicians in a group setting to make every single note count, but High Priestess succeeds emphatically in doing so on this one. To equate Casting The Circle to a journey would be an understatement, for it is more than just a journey, it is an incredibly meditative and transcendental listening experience (headphones strongly recommended for maximum impact). Stunning, magical and surreal like no other, High Priestess‘ Casting The Circle is testament to the true power of music and stands out far and above as the best album of 2020 so far.

– by Andrew Bansal

#20. WINTERFYLLETH – The Reckoning Dawn
#19. LAGOON – Maa Kali Trip
#18. HAXAN – Aradia
#17. HUM – Inlet
#16. LAMB OF GOD – Lamb Of God
#15. BONE CHURCH – Acid Communion
#13. KVELERTAK – Splid
#12. ELDER – Omens
#11. PALE DIVINE – Consequence Of Time
#10. HALLAS – Conundrum
#9. WAR CLOUD – Earhammer Sessions
#8. KATATONIA – City Burials
#7. HORISONT – Sudden Death
#6. TRIVIUM – What The Dead Men Say
#5. IN FLAMES – I, The Mask (Arcade Version)
#4. INTRONAUT – Fluid Existential Inversions
#3. PARADISE LOST – Obsidian
#2. MASTER BOOT RECORD – Floppy Disk Overdrive
#1. HIGH PRIESTESS – Casting The Circle