The best albums of 2020 so far…the second quarter…AKA ‘the pandemic months’

What a year 2020 has been. In fact, one could say that, for a variety of reasons, 2020 has been one of the worst years in living memory. Families separated, the world grinding to a halt, human contact removed, people dying to the current tune of half a million thanks to this global pandemic. Will the world ever be the same again? I doubt we’ll know for sure for some time.

What I do know however, is that the music world has battled through these hard times and kept providing us with new music. For me and many others across the world, new music has been a lifeline, whether it has come from a well known and well-loved artist, or a completely new source. Over the past three months, despite loads of uncertainty and a world turned upside-down, manofmuchmetal.com has delivered nearly forty reviews of albums released between April and June. Today, I bring you a reminder of the best ten released in this period, at least as far as I’m concerned of course. In no particular order, here are my choices:

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Katatonia
‘City Burials’
Peaceville Records
Genre: Dark Progressive Rock/Metal

“I will fully admit to the fact that I am a fanboy of Katatonia, but you don’t become one for any old reason. You become a fanboy because the music speaks to you, it moves you, it scratches an itch that cannot be touched by any other band. And ‘City Burials’, despite its forays into ‘softer’ territory, or its subtly different textures and ideas, scratches that itch for me. But more than that, the music has burrowed itself deep into my heart and I already cannot imagine a world in which this music does not exist.”

Read the full review here.

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Sorcerer
‘Lamenting Of The Innocent’
Metal Blade Records
Genre: Doom Metal

“Topped off with a superbly rich sound, courtesy of the band themselves…Sorcerer have proved to me that ‘The Crowning Of The Fire King’ was no mere flash in the pan; ‘Lamenting Of The Innocent’ proves beyond any doubt that Sorcerer are the real deal, a special band that can create that perfect blend of doom heaviness and epic, anthemic melody. I implore you to hunt this album down because you’ll not hear the like of it again this year, or perhaps even longer. If ever.”

Read the full review here.

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Caligula’s Horse
‘Rise Radiant’
InsideOut Music
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal

“I make no bones about it, ‘Rise Radiant’ was not an easy album to get into. I nearly gave up more than once…I’ve never been more grateful to my stubbornness, because I nearly let this record slip through my fingers. As it is, I can sit here now and state with categoric certainty that ‘Rise Radiant’ is the work of a special band, a band that has technical ability in abundance as well as a rare chemistry that allows the five musicians to speak as one. Put as succinctly as I can, Caligula’s Horse have grown to an extent that they have become masters at creating modern-sounding progressive music that is simply irresistible. ‘Rise Radiant’ is the unequivocal proof of this.”

Read the full review here.

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Cryptex
‘Once Upon A Time’
SPV/Steamhammer
Genre: Art Rock/Progressive Rock

“Cryptex blend both modern and ‘classic’ progressive rock with a heaviness and a definite darkness borrowed from the metal world. But they also manage to weave in mainstream pop/rock melodies and hooks, as well as flirting with something close to show tunes material, the kind of theatrical music you’d perhaps hear in the West End or Broadway… For me, it has to be one of the very best surprises of the year so far, one that I think will find favour with anyone with a penchant for highly original and incredibly intelligent progressive music.”

Read the full review here.

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Paradise Lost
‘Obsidian’
Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Gothic Doom Metal

“What else can one really say except ‘well played Paradise Lost, well played indeed’, whilst doffing one’s cap in their direction. I have enjoyed the heavier material that Paradise Lost have been plundering over the last few years, but when blended with those rich Gothic overtones, and sense of morose, dark drama, this is the band at their best. And ‘Obsidian’ is undoubtedly the product of a special band at the peak of their morose powers.”

Read the full review here.

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…And Oceans
‘Cosmic World Mother’
Season Of Mist
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

“Suffice to say that the experimentation continues, albeit in subtle ways as well as obvious, whilst all the time the band never lose sight that they are a symphonic black metal band. And what a symphonic black metal band they are. Properly heavy, properly epic, properly melodic. Add in the more experimental electronic elements and you’re suddenly confronted with an album of epic proportions, where variety and boldness add to the sonic palette in such a powerful manner. I cannot speak too highly of ‘Cosmic World Mother’ because, in a year of great extreme metal releases, it is easily one of the best I’ve heard so far. Mesmerising.”

Read the full review here.

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Atavist
‘III: Absolution’
Candlelight Records
Genre: Doom/Death Metal

“Atavist prefer their music to crush. And when I say ‘crush’, I mean they want to crush your ears, your bones, your hope, and every last fibre of your being. I’m fairly sure that if there was anything left in one piece at this point, they’d want to crush that too. This is death/doom metal of the most soul destroying kind and, not to spoil the ending too much, it is absolutely incredible.”

Read the full review here.

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Long Distance Calling
‘How Do We Want To Live?’
InsideOut Music
Genre: Instrumental Post-Rock

“To say I’m smitten by this record is an understatement. I didn’t think that Long Distance Calling could top ‘Trips’, but with this incredible effort, I believe that they have. It is even more remarkable when you think we’re talking about an electronica-heavy, instrumental post-rock/metal album. But as I said before, Long Distance Calling are clearly a special band that transcend genres to thrill listeners with music that’s simply deep, engaging, thought-provoking and stunningly beautiful. The album asks ‘How Do We Want To Live?’. My answer is simply ‘not without this record’.

Read the full review here.

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Wolfheart
‘Wolves Of Karelia’
Napalm Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

“Clearly the band have left nothing behind with this release; they have given blood sweat and tears to create what has to be their greatest album to date, an album that eclipses all of Saukkonen’s previous work as well with his various other bands before Wolfheart. If you were a fan before, you’ll adore this record. If you’re new to Wolfheart, but you like melodic and epic-sounding extreme metal, then you cannot possibly let ‘Wolves Of Karelia’ pass you by. To do so would be a crime punishable by exile to the farthest reaches of the Earth where there’s literally nothing to do but regret your lamentable decision.”

Read the full review here.

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Havok
‘V’
Century Media Records
Genre: Thrash Metal

“In conclusion, Havok’s fifth album ‘V’ has to be my favourite within their catalogue. It looks incredible, it sounds incredible and the songs that find their way onto this album manage to blend immediacy, intricacy, aggression, and attitude, without any one of these elements suffering. In short, it is a more-than-impressive effort and one that should catapult the band into the highest possible echelons of thrash metal.”

Read the full review here.

One thought

  1. Havok is my discovered of the year (so far). Their album V is just amazing, this is the kind of thrash that I like. And this art-cover is perfect.

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