BEST OF 2020: 40-31

40. SKELETAL REMAINS, “The Entombment of Chaos” (Century Media): California death metal squad made their full Century Media debut with “The Entombment of Chaos,” a skull splitter of a record that is the most cohesive of the band’s four albums. Everything on here screams true death as they pound out 11 tracks in 48 minutes, one of those an Disincarnate cover. They rip through “Illusive Divinity,” “Tombs of Chaos,” “Enshrined in Agony,” and “Eternal Hatred” on this complete monster of a record that effectively cracks skulls. (Sept. 11)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SkeletalRemainsDeathMetal

To buy the album, go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/

or more on the label, go here: https://www.centurymedia.com/

39. LOTUS THIEF, “Oresteia” (Prophecy Productions): This year has been so long and bizarre that it feels like Lotus Thief’s wondrous “Oresteia” came out five years ago rather than one. That said, the Bezaelith-led band added more male vocals to their mix, bringing multiple perspectives to this progressive and spellbinding music that retells the Greek tragedy of the album’s namesake that tackles issues such as the ethics of killing to the emphasis of gender roles. As always, the music is heavy, stirring, and wonderfully atmospheric, and it deserves another trip if you haven’t been in a while. (Jan. 10)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.lotusthief.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/lotus-thief-oresteia-rervm

or more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/

38. WAYFARER, “A Romance With Violence” (Profound Lore): Hailing from Denver, cinematic black metal machine Wayfarer dug even deeper into the Old West and cowboy mythos on their great fourth record. The two “Gallows Frontier” sections make up the bulk of the record’s first half and leaves you choking with dust before they round to “Fire and Gold” and the sprawling closer “Vaudeville” that puts a bloody dagger into the record’s soul. Awesome display by a great band. (Oct. 16)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wayfarercolorado/

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/?

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

37. PYRRHON, “Abscess Time” (Willowtip): When Clark Griswold demands Tylenol after his raged rant on “Christmas Vacation,” it sort of reminds me of how I felt after tackling Pyrrhon’s insane new album “Abscess Time.” Look, this band isn’t for the faint of heart and never has been, but holy shit do they ever turn up the psychological torture on this 12-track, 58-minute monster that lays waste to you. “Down at Liberty Ashes,” “The Lean Years,” “Cornered Animal” and “Rat King Lifecycle” are absolutely what you need if you’re trying to turn that panic attack up to full blast. (June 26)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pyrrhonband

To buy the album, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/bands/details/pyrrhon.aspx

For more on the label, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx

36. LIE IN RUINS, “Floating in Timeless Streams” (Dark Descent): Finnish death squad Lie in Ruins pulled back from the extra generous serving they offered on “Towards Divine Death” with a slim, trim, utterly devastating new record “Floating in Timeless Streams.” While the record is shorter, they don’t skimp on the brutality as they put you to the test on 10 tracks that run an economical 42 minutes, every second of which is spent battering you. (Nov. 20)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/lieinruins

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

35. FUCK THE FACTS, “Pleine Noirceur” (Noise Salvation): Canadian grinders Fuck the Facts never really stayed in their lane when it comes to their sound, and that’s made the band one of the more interesting and inventive in all of heavy music. The band’s 10th full-length album and first in five years expanded their sound even further, keeping their roots in place but liberally branching out on these 12 tracks and 42 minutes. The trio rips a hole in time, they show ferocious dexterity, and vocalist Mel Mongeon sounds as beastly as ever. (Nov. 20)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/FuckTheFacts/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.fuckthefacts.com/

34. SUMOKEM, “Prajnaparadha” (self-released): In Sanskrit, “Prajnaparadha,” means a crime against wisdom, something that prevents us from achieving enlightenment, and it’s the title of and thematic element woven in Sumokem’s excellent third record. The songs here really soar, taking your emotions and spirit along with them as they bring their stoner-friendly doom to new heights on “Nihang,” Sadhu” and closer “Khizer.” This is their best record in an already stellar collection, so get on this if you haven’t and get ready for an adventure. (Sept. 4)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SUMOKEM

To buy the album, go here: https://sumokem.bandcamp.com/

33. ADZES, “No One Wants to Speak About It” (Tridroid): Forest Bohrer is fighting the good battle against issues such as human and environmental issues as well as the thrust of capitalism that has crushed so many, and he’s doing so with his project Adzes, whose debut full-length “No One Wants to Speak About It” dealt a massive offensive. He blends all sorts of sounds here from black metal to noise to punk to doom on this heavily enriching record that’ll fan the flames of frustration in your heart and mind as you battle along with this heavily righteous eight-track, 50-minute mauler. (May 29)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Adzesband/

To buy the album, go here: https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/tridroidrecords

32. ETERNAL CHAMPION, “Ravening Iron” (No Remorse): Austin’s Eternal Champion practically are the living embodiment of heavy metal glory, drawing back to the years when this style of music was still bubbling liquid waiting to be poured. On their masterful second record, the band blasts out anthem after anthem from amazing opener “A Face in the Glare,” “War at the Edge of the End,” “The Godblade,” and the smoldering title track. This band has created their own fantastical world, and they’re handing you the sword to battle alongside them. (Nov. 6)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/eternalchampion

To buy the album, go here: https://www.noremorse.gr/products?searching=eternal%20champion%20ravening

For more on the label, go here: https://www.noremorse.gr/

31. KAATAYRA, “Toda História pela Frente” (self-released): Brazilian musician Caio Lemos has done the unthinkable, which is create a black metal record that can take you away into the world of maximum meditation. But just calling this album, one of two Kaatayra for the year, black metal is selling it too short as he also works in psychedelics, Brazilian folk, and tribal melodies into something that feels more like an excursion into a plane beyond your own on one of the most immersive metal albums of the year. Turn this on, turn off the lights, and get lost in your dreams. (Aug. 18)

For more on the band, go here: https://kaatayra.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://kaatayra.bandcamp.com/album/toda-hist-ria-pela-frente

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