I’ve been doing these lists since 2009 over on my old tumblr. I’m still very slowly migrating those lists over to this blog. As with every year, a lot of these albums came out way before 2020. These are just my favorite albums that I’ve found over the course of this year. It’s been a shitty year, but at least there’ve been plenty of good tunes to get me through.
In addition to this list, I’ve also made a Favorite Songs 2020 Playlist that’s streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.
10. Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith
My friend Lindsay introduced me to this record when we were hanging out earlier this year. I’ve never given the Judas Priest back catalog a good listen, and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of it. Defenders of the Faith is one of those start-to-finish records that never lets up or makes you skip a track. It might not feature any of the band’s biggest hits, but it honestly doesn’t need them.
9. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence
Trivium is another band I kinda forgot existed for the last decade or so. Ascendency is one of my all-time favorites, and I think I just tuned them out after the disappointing follow-up The Crusade. Thankfully I decided to take another pass at their catalog and found The Sin & The Sentence. It’s right up there with their best.
8. Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night
Theories of Flight was my favorite album of 2016, and Fates Warning did not disappoint with Long Day Good Night. My only complaint is that it’s a few tracks too long and could have been scaled back, but I honestly can’t say where. It’s still a great record.
7. Alanis Morissette – Such Pretty Forks in the Road
Alanis put out her best album since 2008’s Flavors of Entanglement. Her writing is as raw, cathartic, and dark as it ever has been. Pretty Forks in the Road is a lean no-filler record, but its heaviness doesn’t make for casual listening. Not that that has ever stopped me.
6. Orange Goblin – Back from the Abyss
I loved Eulogy for the Damned back in 2012 and even saw Orange Goblin live that year. Then I kinda sorta forgot they existed for a minute; that’s on me. So I missed Back from the Abyss when it came out in 2014, but I’m glad I went back and found it.
5. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
I only just discovered this one but have had it on repeat ever since Dierre introduced it to me. I’m a sucker for some good, raw, stripped-down singer/songwriter acoustics, and Once I Was An Eagle is some of the best.
4. Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue
Somehow I missed the Alice in Chains come back in 2009, as well as the two albums they’ve put out since with William DuVall replacing Layne Staley. Since I discovered all three of their albums at once, I was torn between this one and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Ultimately Black Gives Way to Blue won out for being the one I find more consistently enjoyable.
3. JJ Wilde – Ruthless
I came across “The Rush” on a playlist this summer, and have been rocking the album ever since. Ruthless is a solid record, I never need to skip a track. It’s good old fashioned rock ‘n roll about boozing and messy relationships.
2. Deftones – Ohms
I was torn between listing Ohms or Gore. In the end, Ohms is the more solid album. Both albums were new to me this year. I never got into the Deftones in spite of living with some huge Deftones fans back in college. I think it’s a combination of me preferring their more recent stuff, and sometimes it takes the right place and time for music to really click. Regardless, I’m glad I found them when I did.
1. Exhorder – Mourn the Southern Skies
I checked this out after reading an article on the band having a fantastic comeback album. I checked it out even though I never listened to their 90s stuff. I didn’t need to. Mourn the Southern Skies stands on its own as a brutal and occasionally groovy metal album. It’s been in steady rotation throughout the year.
There are always a few that come close but don’t quite make the cut. And it usually comes down to minor technicalities; too many interludes, lacking variety, etc. But I can honestly say that in another year, each one of these could have easily made the top 10.
St. Beauty – Running to the Sun
Amythyst Kiah & Her Chest of Glass – Self-Titled
Seether – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
In This Moment – Mother
I’ve been around the sun enough times that I can stumble across some old favorite albums and have them genuinely surprise me, or take on a new life. This is my little space to honor them.
The Wait – Dear Soul
Boy Hits Car – The Passage
Our Lady Peace – Gravity
Bob Seger – Face The Promise