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Thomas Kumke's Top Ten Albums of 2020.

Added 28 December 2020, 2:34 PM

The year 2020 was very difficult for the whole music industry. Despite this, there was a massive amount of new and exciting releases. Therefore, the top 10 list below is only a snapshot and far from being complete. I did not select live albums, since I focused on new music. However, as you will see, every rule comes with an exception. Enjoy.
No. 10:

Band: Heaven Shall Burn
Album: Of Truth And Sacrifice

General information:

Year of Formation: 1997
Record label: Century Media Records

Of Thruth And Sacrifice” is the 9th studio album of German Metalcore masters HSB and it is a special one. It comes as a double album with an impressive length of 97 minutes and the band deliver once more an exceptional mix of Metalcore and melodic Death Metal. They are not afraid to experiment with their music and to include a variety of new sound elements. “Of Thruth And Sacrifice” belongs in every CD collection. Unfortunately for fans, the special release shows collided with the start of the COVID lockdown in March and were postponed. Did you know that a few years ago HSB were the main sponsor of German football club FC Carl Zeiss Jena?
No. 9:

Band: Amaranthe
Album: Manifest

General information:

Year of Formation: 2008
Record label: Nuclear Blast

The much anticipated 6th studio album of Swedish metallers AMARANTHE keeps all its promises. “Manifest” is energetic, dynamic, melodic and powerful, and the songs are very well composed. Elize Ryd on vocals and Olof Morck on guitar may be the driving forces on “Manifest”, but there is also the growing influence of manager Angela Gossow present on the album. Some bands get only better as time goes by. Where will the journey end for AMARANTHE? The sky is the limit. Did you know that the band arrived in Denmark only one hour before the border was closed due to COVID lockdown when they travelled to the recording studio in March?
No. 8:

Band: Sepultura
Album: Quadra

General information:

Year of Formation: 1984
Record label: Nuclear Blast America

Quadra” is the 15th studio album of SEPULTURA and it is a concept album based on the meaning of the number four regarding the main concepts of society. SEPULTURA continuing their way that they started since “Kairos”: going back to their Thrash Metal roots but keeping their own identity. The result is a mixture of predominantly thrash, groove, progressive, and melodic elements, fitting to the concept of four. Did you know that TESTAMENT’s Chuck Billy was once one of the contenders for the vocalist job at SEPULTURA?
No. 7:

Band: Kataklysm
Album: Unconquered

General information:

Year of Formation: 1991
Record label: Nuclear Blast

Death Metal veterans KATAKLYSM released their 14th studio album in 2020 and it is definitely one of the Death Metal highlights of the year! The album title reflects their almost 30 years old journey and their sound is authentic, honest, and of extremely high quality. “Unconquered” is a mix of fast, aggressive and melodic songs, but KATAKLYSM never cross the melodic Death Metal boundary. Did you know that KATAKLYSM almost spent their entire career with legendary Metal label Nuclear Blast Records and were among the pioneers signed by them just after the label had started?
No. 6:

Band: Bloodhunter
Album: Bloodhunter/Live in Madrid (re-issue)

General information:

Year of Formation: 2008
Record label: Independent

Although the self-named debut album of Spanish melodic Death Metal outfit BLOODHUNTER is a re-issue only, it comes with a great addition of live tracks from their show in Madrid last year. “Bloodhunter” is an awesome melodeath album, driven by melodic and harmonic lead guitars, crunching guitar riffs and the outstanding vocals of the new NERVOSA singer Diva Satanica. Did you know that the appearance of Diva Satanica at the Voice of Spain had 20 times more views on YouTube than all videos of BLOODHUNTER together?
No. 5:

Band: AC/DC
Album: Power Up

General information:

Year of Formation: 1973
Record label: Columbia Records

Did we really think that AC/DC would ever pull off their 14th studio album after the Death of Malcolm Young and given the various health-related and other problems of several band members? Yes they did! They sound as energetic as ever and Brian Johnson still got the drive. In a year like 2020 with a global crisis, it is good to know that those guys are still around and rock as ever. Did you know that the combined age of the current band members is 339 years? Going 339 years back in time, the world still suffered from the Little Ice Age and Australia was just discovered by the Europeans.
No. 4:

Band: Akiavel
Album: V

General information:

Year of Formation: 2018
Record label: Mystyk Productions

While the big guns of melodic Death Metal are more than 20 years in the business, the next generation is ready to take over! AKIAVEL released their first full-length album and that is an outstanding debut! It is the very best which melodic Death Metal can offer: excellent melodic lead guitars, heavy riffs, hammering drums, and the amazing brutal guttural vocals of Aure Jäger. Did you know that AKIAVEL wrote and recorded the track “Adorable Abomination” after having massive amounts of alcohol during a BBQ at the bassist’s house? It seems that French red wine is that what you need to write great melodeath songs.
No. 3:

Band: Mikaela
Album: Nocturne in Red

General information:

Year of Formation: 2009
Record label: Independent

One of the highlights in 2020 was the release of MIKAELA’s debut solo album “Nocturne In Red”. Mikaela Attard is no stranger in the Extreme Metal scene, having won several music awards and having been the front woman of HEX OMEGA and MARTYRIUM. “Nocturne In Red” is a concept album and it perfectly blends a variety of different Metal genres perfectly together. The end product is a beast of an album. Did you know that Mikaela Attard holds a Bachelor’s degree (Summa Cum Laude) in music production from the famous Berklee College of Music? And yes, the lady produced the album herself.
No. 2:

Band: Leaves’ Eyes
Album: The Last Viking

General information:

Year of Formation: 2003
Record label: AFM Records

Did I say that some bands are getting better and better as time goes by? That surely holds true for LEAVES’ EYES. The arrival of vocalist Elina Siirala in 2016 gave the band the extra push and put them into a league of their own. “The Last Viking” is a concept album about the Norse mythology. The production is outstanding and LEAVES’ EYES go back to their roots by adding folk metal elements to their music. It is probably the best LEAVES’ EYES album to date. Did you know that LEAVES’ EYES mastermind Alex Krull is a member of the largest Viking cultural group Jomsborg which recreate the Viking warrior culture including historical Viking battles?
No. 1:

Band: Triptykon
Album: Requiem (Live at Roadburn 2019)

General information:

Year of Formation: 2008
Record label: Century Media Records

It took 32 years until the “Requiem” was finally completed and performed. It closes the loop of a musical journey that started in 1987 with CELTIC FROST’s “Rex Irae (Requiem)” and continued with the third part “Winter” in 2006. The second part “Grave Eternal” was finally completed in 2019. “Requiem” is an innovative masterpiece of classical music by the METROPOLE ORKEST and the darkness of TRIPTYKON. As with all the compositions of Tom G. Fischer, it is intense, extremely dark, and once you come into it, it does not let you go. Did you know that the band’s name is based on the tripartite boards used in churches since the medieval time period and it was inspired by a painting of Hieronymus Bosch that was already on the cover of CELTIC FROST’s “Into The Pandemoeum”?

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