Top 20 of 2020: Mr Swine

2020, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to stand triumphantly over your wretched, disease-ridden, rotting corpse. But I suppose there is something I should thank you for….the great Metal produced during your watch. Don’t take too much credit though; I’m sure many of the bands had been already working on these tunes well before your skanky ass showed up.

1. Macabre – “Carnival of Killers

For months I had been planning on giving the #1 album of 2020 honour to the band currently sitting in the #2 spot (Sorry Morta Skuld…), but then I picked up Macabre’s magnificent new sideshow of human horrors, “Carnival of Killers.” Their first new album in 9 years proves why they are the ONLY name in Murder Metal, and completely worthy of their cult status. And frankly, it’s a damn shame that they aren’t more widely recognized. The band’s integration of carnival, folk, and nursery rhyme melodies into their Thrash/Death/Punk/Grind wheelhouse gives their sinister ditties an utterly unique atmosphere, an atmosphere that is also chock full of humour, that has never been matched or replicated by any band ever. The band skilfully leaps from genre to genre like flying trapeze artists, and tracks like “Your Window is Open,” “Lake of Fire” and “Abduction” showcase Corporate Death’s innovative and insane guitar wizardry. In fact, each member of Macabre is an unsung hero of their respective instrument. Guitarist/vocalist Corporate Death, bassist Nefarious, and drummer Dennis the Menace, all three are virtuosic in their technical abilities, and are the masters at knowing when and how to use these abilities to make their tales of horror even more terrifying.

They also deserve praise for their historically accurate lyrical depictions of noted serial killers. With the quality of the material on hand, it’s no wonder Nuclear Blast is working with the band again, for the first time since 1994’s “Behind the Wall of Sleep” EP, and hopefully the label keeps the band around this time. The fact that these guys are from Chicago gives me a huge sense of pride, and if you’re ever in the windy city around Christmas time, you absolutely must attend their annual (except in a pandemic…) Holiday of Horrors show!

2. Morta Skuld – “Suffer For Nothing

Morta Skuld is one of those bands that I’ve slept on for far too long with no good excuse. And the Milwaukee legend’s latest offering, “Suffer for Nothing,” is a stone cold banger! As I mentioned earlier, I had this one pegged for the #1 spot for months, but hey, #2 is nothing to spit at. I could not put this album down for several months, and it became a favourite soundtrack choice for cooking dinner for my family.

3. Napalm Death – “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”

A new Napalm album is always a welcome treat, and this year we really needed it badly. And boy, did the Birmingham crew deliver! It’s everything you’ve come to expect from the Godfathers of Grindcore and more! My favourite track has to be the plodding and pounding “A bellyful of Salt and Spleen.” Napalm has written slow, droning tracks like this throughout their career, but this one seems to go to an entirely different level. It’s noisy, but underneath you can find some actual melody there. Dare I say, it’s even somewhat…danceable?

4. Greg Puciato – “Child Soldier: Creator of God”

There’s little doubt that the year 2020 belonged to Mr. Puciato. Aside from the new Killer Be Killed offering, the man released his first proper solo album, which I ended up enjoying even more than the new KBK. The first few singles sounded like what you would expect from the former frontman of Dillinger Escape Plan, but as I heard more, it became apparent that this is a spectacularly diverse album, with much of the album taking a more heartfelt EDM approach, as opposed to the heavy onslaught of “Fire for Water,” and “Roach Hiss.”

5. Paradise Lost – “Obsidian”

I’ll keep this one short since I already reviewed this earlier in the year. “Obsidian” continues the roll the band has been on since “The Plague Within,” and injects more of a Gothic flair, compared to the all-out Doom of “Medusa.”

6. Vein Collector – Void Eclipse

One day, you may find yourself traveling down the roads of music; and one day, you may find a crossroads where Industrial, Black Metal, Death Metal, and Electronic music intersect. It is there that you will find Vein Collector. As my esteemed colleague The Great Mackintosh so eloquently put it, “this is stuff that comes from a dark place, a sometimes violent place, a place in the mind where all the demons roost and the only way to exorcise them is by facing them and calling them by name as you put the words to music and drag them kicking and screaming into the light for all to see. No self-indulgence on display, this is the real thing. A man fighting the good fight for his very sanity, and doing it the only way he knows how, through sound and lyric.” To put it another way, this is not music for the faint of heart. So if you do doubt your courage, I suggest you turn back now and find safer roads, for once you arrive at this intersection, you will most surely be collected. 

7. My Dying Bride – “Ghost of Orion”

Few bands wallow in misery quite like My Dying Bride, so we should consider ourselves lucky to have gotten a new album (plus an EP) from them during this most miserable of years. “Ghost of Orion” didn’t change the band’s formula one bit, and thank God for that. It’s not broken, so don’t fix it!

8. Depravity – “Grand Malevolence”

It’s always great to discover new Death Metal bands, and this Aussie crew released one hell of a beast this year! Brutal Death Metal, brilliantly executed, and heavier than a tub of bricks….what more do you need?

9. Killer Be Killed – “Reluctant Hero”

One of the best metal super-groups in recent years, Killer Be Killed has returned with the follow up to their excellent 2014 self-titled debut. “Reluctant Hero” treads along the same path as the previous album; crushing grooves, enormous riffs, and the band’s awesome triple vocal attack courtesy of Greg Puciato, Max Cavalera, and Troy Sanders. These songs with crawl into your ears and take up permanent residence in your ear wax!

10. Mr. Bungle – “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”

Mr. Bungle is back with their first new album in like, 20 years, and this time they’ve brought along Mr. Scott Ian, and Mr. Dave Lombardo! Ok, so “Raging Wrath” isn’t a ‘new’ album per se…it’s actually a re-recording of the band’s 1986 demo. But the band has never sounded heavier, nor has Mike Patton ever sounded so vicious! While the album lacks the experimental weirdness that the band became famous for in the 90’s, I don’t think many fans will complain about that.

There’s the first ten, and here are the next ten, short and sweet!

11. Sodom – “Genesis XIX”

12. Sinisthra – “The Broad and Beaten Way”

13. Chopping Mall – “Mauled By A Magical Bear With Scalding Hot Liquid Cheese Spraying From Its Eyesockets

14. Cardiac Arrest – “The Day That Death Prevailed”

15. Bear Mace – “Charred Field of Slaughter”

16. Heads For The Dead – “Into The Red

17. Anaal Nathrakh – “Endarkenment

18. Vader – “Solitude In Madness

19. Dark Tranquillity – “Moment”

20. Incantation – “Sect of Vile Divinities

And that, as they say in the say in the flatbread industry, is a wrap! Until next year people, many thanks for reading!

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