Iza’s Highlights of 2020

What a strange year… One of the worst in recent history. 2020 will go down in history as the year of the Covid 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. A year of lockdowns, cancellations, quarantines, sickness and death. Yet despite all this hardship, 2020 was also a year during which some great music was created. So as we look to a better and healthier 2021, let’s look back at some of the good stuff that came out this year. Here are my highlights of 2020:

1. Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos
Genre: Alternative Rock

MARILYN MANSON | We are chaos - Nuclear Blast
  • Just when I think that Marilyn Manson’s well of creativity has run dry after the last two studio efforts, he returned with what is quite possibly his strongest album in decades. As written in my review ‘We Are Chaos’ “sounds like the spiritual little brother of Mechanical Animals”. Favorite tracks: ‘Half-Way & One Step Forward’, ‘Don’t Chase The Dead’ and the title track.

    2. Vader – Solitude in Madness
    Genre: Death Metal
Vader - Solitude in Madness
  • If you are planning to check out some death metal this year I would strongly recommend giving ‘Solitude In Madness’ a listen. Classic Vader doing what they do best. If you like death metal with thrash metal tinge (aka death-thrash metal) then this is the album for you. Favorite tracks: ‘Shock And Awe’, ‘Emptiness’ and ‘Into Oblivion’.

    3. Carach Angren – Frackensteina Strataemontanus
    Genre:Symphonic Black Metal

Carach Angren - Franckensteina Strataemontanus
  • A new discovery for me. A friend of mine recommended this band to me and after watching some of their videos I was hooked. I’m surprised that it took me this long to find out about them. They are similar to bands such as Dimmu Borgir (old stuff), Cradle of Filth and Chthonic. This symphonic horror masterpiece is my favorite symphonic black metal album of 2020. Favorite tracks: ‘Monster’, ‘Operation Compass’ and ‘Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam’.

    4. Apocalyptica – Cell 0
    Genre: Symphonic Heavy Metal
Apocalyptica - Cell-0
  • Apocalyptica have gone back to basics with this album. ‘Cello 0’ is predominantly instrumental except for the final track. Heavy metal cellos and drum work never sounded so good. Favorite tracks: ‘Ashes of The Modern World’ and ‘Fire & Ice’.

    5. Mono Inc. – The Book of Fire
    Genre: Gothic Rock / Gothic Metal

Mono Inc. - The Book Of Fire (2020, CD) | Discogs
  • I cannot get enough of Mono Inc and their ultra catchy Gothic Metal. ‘The Book of Fire’ came out at the start of the year and I still haven’t got bored of it. I would recommend it to fans of Gothic metal and dark rock. Favorite tracks: ‘Louder Than Hell’, ‘Warriors’ and ‘Shining Light’ (feat. Tilo Wolff from Lacrimosa).

    6. Heimataerde – Eigengrab
    Genre: Aggrotech / Medieval Folk-electronica / Industrial Metal

Out of Line Shop Heimataerde - Eigengrab - 2CD Out of Line Shop
  • Not too many industrial or electronica releases caught my attention this year. There were some good EPs and Suicide Commando’s reworked version of ‘Mindstrip’ known as ‘Mindstrip Redux’. One album that did earn a spot in my top 10 however, is the latest work from the German medieval folk electronica band Heimataerde. The physical version comes with an audio book of a Gothic horror story called ‘Krak Megalon’ on which the songs are based on. If you’re a non-German speaker you will be pleased to know that there is an English version read by Candia McKormack (Inkubus Sukkubus’ available for download and on Youtube. Favorite tracks ‘Kind Der Nacht’, ‘Bei meiner Ehr’’ and ‘Tanz’.

    7. Fjøsnisse – Unleashed Hymns
    Genre: Black Metal

    It’s been a surprisingly good year for black metal. Carach Angren wasn’t my only new discovery. Another band I go into this year was the Norwegian black metal artist Fjøsnisse. Imagine a keyboardless old Dimmu Borgir mixed with Kampfar and you will have a pretty good idea of what ‘Unleashed Hymns’ sounds like. Favorite tracks: ‘The Nine Lords’ and ‘The Wanderer’.

    8. Amduscia – Existe
    Genre: Aggrotech / Electro-Industrial

Amduscia - Existe (2020, CD) | Discogs
  • More electronica. This time it is the Mexican Aggrotech trio Amduscia. Even during the lockdown I had lots of fun dancing to this trance-infused electro-industrial opus. Favorite tracks: ‘Existe’, ‘Muerte Sin Control’.

    9. Lord of The Lost – Swan Songs III
    Genre: Dark Rock, Gothic metal / Symphonic Metal
Swan Songs III | Lord Of The Lost
  • Another successful classic ensemble album from the German dark rockers Lord of The Lost. The only reason why this is so low down on my list is that to me this one was not as memorable as ‘Swan Songs II’. Having said that it’s still a very good album. Favorite tracks ‘Dying on The Moon (feat. Joy Frost)’ and ‘One Ton Heart’.

    10. Auger – Insurgence
    Genre: Darkwave / Industrial Rock

INSURGENCE | Auger | darkTunes
  • The only darkwave entry on my list. The British duo Auger sound like a mixture of Gothminister, Blutengel and Depeche Mode. This album came out during the first lockdown in the United Kingdom. That did not stop these guys from promoting it from the comfort of their homes. Favorite tracks: ‘Insurgence’, ‘November Angel’ and ‘Tell Me I’m Wrong (ft. Imogen Evans)’. If you are interested, check out my interview with Auger https://valkyrianmusic.com/2020/06/29/interview-with-auger/

Metallica and The San Francisco Symphony – S&M2 also came out this year. I really enjoyed it but I decided not include it in my top 10 list as I do not feature live albums. If you are a longtime fan of Metallica and you liked the first S&M album, then I would strongly recommend it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m6smR-M2qg&list=OLAK5uy_kk8e2nZ8vPfY6sYvVAQByjHit_3QdoJQw
Other honorable mentions: Behemoth – A Forest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYZdaYobCSU
VV (Ville Valo) – Gothica Fennica vol.1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kTHdAgxLCg&list=RD5JprzAIKzoc&index=3
and Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuzyA5gDa4E

Concerts were a rarity this year. I am very glad that I got to attend the ones that were not cancelled. So instead of gigs I have decided to include my favorite live streams of 2020:

  1. Behemoth – In Absentia Dei
  2. Metallica – All Within My Hands Helping Hands Charity live stream
  3. Lacrimosa – World Wide livestream
  4. Two Witches – Lockdown Live
  5. Auger – Christmas Live stream

Most anticipated albums of 2021:
New albums from Cradle of Filth, Bodom After Midnight, Suicide Commando and Blutengel plus hopefully many more.

Happy New Year Everyone! Here’s to a better, healthier 2021!

Iza Raittila

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