Album Of The Year 2020 – Number 29

Day two of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year 2020 – top 30 countdown’ is here. Quit your moaning at the back, please!

2020 may have been one of the worst years of our lives for many of us, but in terms of music, we have been blessed with some amazing releases. It proves that not even a global pandemic can get in the way of heavy metal. For that, we must rejoice.

A reminder, before I reveal my next pick, that this countdown is a list of my favourite releases. I’m not worried about genres, originality, technicality etc, although these factors will play a part. What I’m most concerned about is this: do I like this record? Do I listen to it often? Do I derive pleasure from listening? If the answer is yes, then it is more than likely going to find its way onto my list. Simple.

Also, a reminder that numbers 30-16 are only numbered for the purposes of the countdown – they are not listed in any particular order as they deserve a place somewhere on the list.

And now, here’s my pick for day two…

Number 29

Draconian

Under A Godless Veil

Napalm Records

Score Of Much Metal: 92%

Given my personal tastes these days, it would take a very good album within the ‘beauty and the beast’ subgenre to feature in my end of year list. But that’s exactly what Draconian have delivered with ‘Under A Godless Veil’. You get the gruff growls alongside silky, ethereal female vocals but unlike many others that employ such an approach, the music that accompanies it is out of the very top drawer. For a start, this is a heavy and morbid record, where doom influences loom large. Yes, there are softer passages, but I love the heaviness that Draconian serve up at many points along the way.

But, it is the melodic intent that has won me over massively on ‘Under A Godless Veil’. It isn’t a cheerful listen, not by any stretch. But it is unbelievably beautiful, with hooks and melodies buried within the compositions that beguile me ever time I listen.

In fact, having taken a short break from it and then come back to listen as I write this article, I find it even more compelling than I did before. Songs like ‘Claw Marks On the Throne’ strike piercingly into my heart and I can’t draw myself away from their melancholy charms. It is crystal clear as I listen, that this is an album that I simply had to include into my list this year.

What I wrote at the time:

“If you’re looking for a musical pick-me-up, the aural equivalent of chasing the last rays of sunshine before winter takes an icy grip, then this is most definitely not the album for you. In fact, given the year that we have had, you’d have to be a masochist to want to listen to an album like this. Well, you would if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s so damn beautiful.

Crushing, morbid brutality comes through the speakers on tracks like ‘The Sacrificial Flame’, a track that could, for large parts, be confused with My Dying Bride. The riffs are slow, lumbering, and devastating. But then the voice of Heike Langhans cuts through the darkness to offer a touch of beauty, a stark contrast to the snarling, deep, and guttural growl of Anders Jacobsson. An elegant lead guitar line, some atmospheric synths and enough of a hint of melody combine to really positive effect.

As you can tell, I have been highly impressed by this record. A band that was always a little ‘middle-of-the-road’ in my estimations has really forced me to re-evaluate things with ‘Under A Godless Veil’. The heavy parts are satisfyingly bruising, but there is a veritable smorgasbord of melody and more subtle aspects, which means that my attention is held throughout. There’s not a weak track on this album, which also speaks volumes for the consistency and quality of this record. If you haven’t already checked it out, I suggest you remedy that as quickly as possible.”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

Number 30

If you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here:

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

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