Noizze Presents: The Top 50 Albums Of 2020 - Part One

Photo: Dean Harries

Finally, it’s over. Bar from a few godforsaken days, 2020 is done and dusted. I think we speak for everyone when we say that we’re glad to see the back of this woeful year. From social turmoil to a pandemic essentially ending life as we once knew it, this year has been host to calamity after calamity. Thankfully, music proved itself to be the saving grace for the year. Even with the world teetering off course and seemingly coming close to plunging right into the sun, 2020 has seen countless artists worldwide releasing music that either channelled the fury of the year or offered essential escapism. Doing end of year lists has always been a difficult task, but with the calibre of music released over the past 12 months, it goes without saying that this may have been the hardest list to rank and write in memory.

Now, before we dive into our top 50 records of the year, a little disclaimer is needed. The eagle eyed amongst you may notice a discrepancy between the ranking of this list and individual review scores. Throughout this list a number of records we gave perfect 10/10 scores will be placed lower than albums we gave scores of 9 and 8. The reason for this is that whilst reviews are the opinions of a single writer, this list was decided as a collective. As you can imagine it took a lot of discussion, arguing and maybe one or two death threats, but we got there in the end.

With that out the way we present the first part of our 50 best records of 2020, beginning with 50 down to 26.

50: Grey Daze - Amends (Loma Vista)

Delivering the perfect insight into the prequel chapter of Chester Bennington’s life, Grey Daze delivered this years most touching and poured over album glazed with heaps of creativity, focus and intricacy. Serving as both a tribute to and from Bennington, this was a beautiful gift to every fan of the man. - Jac Holloway

49: Imperial Triumphant - Alphaville (Century Media)

An unholy amalgamation of black metal, avant-garde jazz and everything including the kitchen sink, Alphaville is the sound of music theory teachers worldwide collectively losing their minds. - Will Marshall

48: Winterfylleth - The Reckoning Dawn (Candlelight)

The soaring melodic elements accompanied by the driving rhythms paint a grand picture of ancient and old England. With the many folk tales and historical concepts behind the lyrics, The Reckoning Dawn is a journey into a bygone age. - Tom Fordham

47: Elephant Tree - Habits

Doom has long been served with a stereotypical tag suggesting it's a genre reserved only for those living subterranean. However, Elephant Tree disproved such stereotypical believes with Habits, a record enshrouded with hazy doom distortion whilst radiating a sense of sun-blessed warmth. Musically articulate and life affirming to a deafening degree, Elephant Tree dropped jaws and raised eyebrows earlier this year with this fantastic release. - Dan Hillier

46: Coldbones - The Cataclysm (Dunk!)

Channeling the inescapable nature of the forthcoming collapse, the second record from Coldbones saw the band refocusing their take on dramatic post rock to paint a soundscape of total destruction. A concept record about the end of all things, The Cataclysm is both vivid with borderline terrifying detail and ethereal with spiritual ambience. A highly detailed soundscape of lands picturesquely barren. - Dan Hillier

45: Alpha Wolf - A Quiet Place To Die (Sharptone)

Relentless. Vicious. Authentic. Alpha Wolf opened a new chapter of their career in the best way possible: 36 minutes of chaos. Breakdowns and mosh calls aplenty, A Quiet Place To Die is the epitome of what modern hardcore can be. - Kris Pugh

44: Ulcerate - Stare Into Death And Still Be (Eitrin Editions)

Ulcerate’s Stare Into Death And Be Still is a work of disarming complexity, a nightmarish labyrinth of terror and wonder. Led by Jamie Saint Merat’s incredible drum work, Stare Into Death And Be Still is both relentlessly, punishingly heavy and also heart stoppingly beautiful; music to be enveloped and obliterated by. - Tom Morgan

43: Hey Colossus - Dances / Curses (Wrong Speed)

This first rate band of the DIY scene are back with their 13th full length album, a travelogue through winding roads and soundscapes. The centrepiece a rumbling, ever building 16 minute long gem ‘Trembling Rose’ just one of many ear tingling highlights. A guest spot by Mark Lanegan an added bonus on ‘The Mirror’. - Adam Vallely

42: Ocean Grove - Flip Phone Fantasy (UNFD)

Earlier this year Ocean Grove took us soaring back through a 90's - 00's fueled pipe dream with their sophomore record Flip Phone Fantasy. The sheer range of styles on offer, from the blistering nu-metal-esque riffs of 'JUNKIE$', pounding dance style drum beats of 'Guys From The Gord', to softly sung ballads like 'Shimmer', this record has so much to offer without sacrificing a shred of quality in it's quest for diversity, serving not only as a record deserving of a place in our top 50 but as the birth of a bold new era for the band too. - Elliot Grimmie

41: Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons - We're The Bastards (Nuclear Blast)

On We're the Bastards, Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons found their own footing and sound with this record, mixing classic and southern rock with heavy metal and alternative riffs. Sprinkled with a dash of riot-inciting punk and intimately personal lyrics pushes this record to strike the perfect balance. - Jazmin L'Amy

40: The Winter Passing - New Ways Of Living (Big Scary Monsters)

The beauty of the gentle, quiet tracks tugs at the heartstrings, while the bold, bright sounding indie-punk tunes act as motivation to dance around your kitchen. New Ways of Living explores emotions in a fascinatingly catchy way - Dottie Giles

39: Clipping. - Visions Of Bodies Being Burnt (Sup Pop)

Musical intelligence rarely presents itself in such grandiose fashion. Daveed Diggs and co transcend storytelling in this harrowing, Shakespearian tale of hip-hop excellence and ingenuity. Visions Of Bodies Being Burned is as dark as it is lyrically astonishing - it scarcely gets more 'must listen' than this. - Kris Pugh

38: Metz - Atlas Vending (Sup Pop)

Their dissonant, expressionist sound gets pushed in all sorts of new directions, specifically on key tracks that feature a strong focus on bursts of melodic beauty. Atlas Vending shows that noisy rock music still has new corners left to uncover, and that Metz are currently right at the top of their game. - Tom Morgan

37: Igorrr - Spirituality And Distortion (Metal Blade)

Igorrr are one of those bands that are ahead of the curve. If we're getting crossover genres more these days, then they're the ultimate leap forward with this idea. Spirituality and Distortion continues Igorrr's work in surprising new areas.The new sounds like a biscuit tin, scaffolding and barrels are well incorporated into the highly stylised recording. Originality and uniqueness are two names for Igorrr. - Gavin Kennedy

36: Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle - May Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones)

In 2020, we were blessed with an exciting project combining the downtuned mammoth sludge metal of Thou with the wistful and ethereal vocals of Emma Ruth Rundle. May Our Chambers Be Full is as gorgeous as it is thick and dense as tar, resulting in one of the best sludge metal albums of the year. - Giacomo Fiderio

35: Spanish Love Songs - Brave Faces Everyone (Pure Noise)

To release their best work to date just prior to having the live music industry collapse couldn’t be any more apt for the romantically miserable Spanish Love Songs. Despite the year’s events halting any touring plans the band had established, it’s difficult to name a single record that encapsulated the mood of the year. Packed full of lyricism exploring the existential dread and futility of 21st century living, Brave Faces Everyone is a record that’s as despondent as it’s joyously celebratory. - Dan Hillier

34: Caspian - On Circles (Triple Crown)

2020 may have been a fantastic year for emerging post-rock and post-metal talent, but it was also a great year for the titans of the scene. The fifth record from longstanding post-rock mainstays Caspian saw the band fully establish themselves as one of the most finest and reliable acts within the genre they represent on a global scale. With flawlessly weaved evocative textures and immersive soundscapes, On Circles is an atmospheric aural retreat to lands more pleasant and mentally stirring. - Dan Hillier

33: Exocrine - Maelstrom (Unique Leader)

Tech death has a reputation for being calculated and precise and Exocrine's latest outing Maelstrom is definitely no exception; though the band show improvisational jazz influences that clearly informed the entire writing process. Exocrine fit everything together and ensure it never sounds jarring. They show meticulous craftsmanship, creating songs where precise demolition and free-flowing improv sit together naturally. - Will Marshall

32: Stand Atlantic - Pink Elephant (Hopeless)

Pink Elephant saw Stand Atlantic trade standard pop-punk guitar lines for sugary pop hooks without losing their guitar-driven edge. Songs like opener ‘Like That’ and ‘Soap’ are bouncy, danceable numbers whereas ‘Drink To Drown’ expanded the sonic palette further into ballad-y territory. A career best and one of the finest pop-punk albums of the year. - Will Marshall

31: Bleed From Within - Fracture (Century Media)

It was a hot minute since the release of Bleed From Within's last record in 2018, but 2020 saw the Scottish metalcore heroes regain their rightful place amongst the best of undersung UK metal. More concise and technical than the albums that came before it, Fracture is a lacerating melee from start to finish and a record that shows the band are more than primed for the major leagues. - Dan Hillier

30: Orbit Culture - Nija (Seek & Strike)

Energetic and powerful, Orbit Culture manages that hard hitting extreme metal with stabs of thrash, death and industrial for a dynamic and memorable sound. What results is a mix of madness and fun that flows through in dynamic surprises, making for a solid piece of modern metal. Take 'Open Eye' and put it to 'Rebirth', one sets up to be broken with an epic power you wouldn't expect. - Gavin Kennedy

29: Yours Truly - Self Care (UNFD)

Aussie newcomers Yours Truly released their debut album Self Care to rapturous reception. Blending the hooks of old-school pop-punk with raw emotion is no mean feat for a band that existed for just a few short years. The band pen songs emotionally open that also make you want to dance round the living room. This album, by rights, should make Yours Truly the pop-punk superstars they deserve to be. - Will Marshall

28: Pg.Lost - Oscillate (Pelagic)

The term 'cinematic' often gets thrown around when describing post-rock, often to the point where it's so overused it's meaning it's diluted. However, the new record from Pg.Lost is so grandiose it truly feels like Hans Zimmer trying his hand at creating an Explosions In The Sky record. Expansive, awe-inspiring and perfectly nuanced, Oscillate is a synth led masterclass in painting sonic visages through instrumental dynamism and is a record best suited for only the biggest of IMAX sound systems. - Dan Hillier

27: Greg Puciato - Child Solider: Creator Of God (Federal Prisoner)

Greg explores every corner of his artistic palette in his first solo outing. There is an array of styles from electro pop to apoplectic screams but all held together with his stellar musicianship and A-class guest drummers Chris Hornbrook, Chris Pennie and Ben Koller. This record will satisfy fans of his previous work but open up the next stage of Greg’s almost faultless career so far. - Adam Vallely

26: Bitch Falcon - Staring At Clocks (Small Pond)

Come for that memorable name, stay for the unforgettable dream grunge. Even before Bitch Falcon announced their debut, it was clear the Irish trio where set for success, with their take on snaring dissonant density and alluring slyness winning hearts and minds across the world. Still, Staring At Clocks surpassed all lofty expectations. Amalgamating deep introspection with the ethereal power of shoegaze and the high strung energy of modern grunge, this debut is the perfect introduction to a truly remarkable set for lofty accolades in the coming years. - Dan Hillier


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