Welcome to day eleven of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’ – we’re into the top 20! Things begin to get even more serious now, even though as I have mentioned many times, the placings between 16 and 30 are in no fixed order.
I hope you’re enjoying this adventure as much as I am putting it together – it’s just an excuse for me to continue to listen to the best music that’s been produced all year long, but with real justification other than ‘I want to’!
Check out the links at the bottom of the post to find out who made the cut, from30 down to 21, as well as my lists from previous years too.
Layered Reality Productions
Score Of Much Metal: 93%
Released at the tail end of November, this is one of the more recent albums to make it into 2020’s top 30. But I knew almost immediately that ‘Skylighting’ would feature in this list because it’s so damn good. I know I mention it an awful lot where Avandra are concerned, but the Puerta Rican progressive metal band astound me with how effortless and smooth they make their music. If you’re looking for raw, spiky heavy metal, then you need to look elsewhere I’m afraid because this is another gorgeous release from Avandra.
The music is sufficiently technical to be considered ‘prog’. It is sufficiently heavy to be referred to as ‘metal’, and it is more than sufficiently melodic, to make you want to dive into the music time and time again. I have lost count of the number of times that ‘Skylighting’ has ended and, without a second thought, I’ve pressed play again. That’s the hallmark of a great album as far as I’m concerned, and is more than enough justification for their lofty placing in this list.
The trick with Avandra, though, is that as smooth as the music sounds, there’s so much to explore within their soundscapes, some of which I have only noticed more recently. The Latin American flavour that’s injected here and there, the clever and subtle embellishments that only reveal themselves when they are good and ready…I could go on. Suffice to say that Avandra have surpassed my expectations with ‘Skylighting’. I can’t wait for them to play ProgPower Europe in 2021, and I can’t wait for the world to wake up to the talents of this rather special band. Surely I’ve done enough to convince you?!
What I wrote at the time:
“The great news is that, simply put, ‘Skylighting’ is another fine addition to their discography.
That sense of smoothness that I spoke so much about within my review of ‘Descender’ is immediately present and correct. It means that despite a definite metal core, the music seeps into your ears like liquid honey thanks in part to the layers of rich keys courtesy of guest musician, Vikram Shankar, and Ayala’s vocal delivery. The lead guitar solos are beautiful and melodious, whilst the crunch of the rhythm chords is delicious.
Great performances all across the band is the reason why ‘Skylighting’ is such an incredibly satisfying listen. I get the impression that each member could have gone off and embellished the music with loads of individual flamboyance, such are their abilities. And whilst the playing is impressive and technical, everything comes together for the good of the song, rather than anything else.
This is a superb record from a band that could go far within progressive circles. I cannot wait to hear this music performed live in 2021 at ProgPower Europe, as I’m sure on-stage the music will take on even greater significance.
Read the full review here.
The list this year so far…
If you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here: