2020 in Review: My Favourite Records of this Year

picture by Joshua Golde on Unsplash

Since 2020 is finally coming to a close, I would like to talk about one of the positive things about it: the great music. Regardless of genre, there were lots of great releases this year, so today I would like to make some recommendations that range from hardcore and powerviolence to shoegaze and dream pop among others. .

That being said, I present these releases without a specific order but in the end, you are going to learn of my top 3 and I’m going to address my favourite releases apart from LPs. Enjoy!

Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible

To get this out of the way, here is one obvious pick if you know my blog: Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible by Enter Shikari. As always, the quartet from the UK released a vibrant mixture of genres. This time around, their sound moves more towards classic music than on earlier albums.

At the same time, the band’s old style still shines through from time to time, as there are tracks like The Dreamer’s Hotel and satellites** that are very much Enter Shikari. They stay true to themselves and redefine their sound at the same time. This is one of my favourite records of this year’s spring, as it was a perfect soundtrack for my early stages of the lockdown. This is definitely a gem for fans of crossover.

I recommend satellites** and Elegy for Extinction

stellites** by Enter Shikari

END – Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face

This record kept my company through the next stage of lockdown. Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face is even heavier than the preceding EP from END and was a perfect fit for my mood at the time, as I started to get more and more frustrated in face of the increasing amount of infections and decreasing likelihood of my going abroad after my bachelor.

The mixture of grindcore, retro metalcore and mathcore sounds even more pissed off than on the band’s EP from 2017 and fit the June of this year perfectly. Fans of heavy music who haven’t heard of this band should definitely check them out. The fluent changes from bonechilling grind breakdowns to explosive blastbeats feel great and the entire record feels fresh and interesting. The mixture of artists coming together on this and of different genres make this record a great experience overall.

Check out The Reach of Ressurrection

Denzel Curry – Unlocked (EP)

2020 was another successful year for Denzel Curry. His track CLOUT COBAIN has just reached platinum status. Apart from that, he released an EP titled Unlocked earlier this year, which comes close to his old style on Imperial. Additionally, the rapper revealed a musicvideo for this entire EP, which offers nice visuals in a short film style and is freely accessible on YouTube. Fans of hip-hop, cartoons and anime should check it out Especially if you watch the music video, this record is quite the unique experience, since it transcends single media. Denzel Curry is an artist who goes beyond just one medium.

My favourite track: Cosmic

Vanguard – Rage Of Deliverance

Most vegan edge bands are youth crews with a style that just doesn’t offer anything new to me personally. However, this year my prayers to seitan were finally heard and there were several releases by heavier and more modern vegan bands, such as Vanguard.

At first glance, they are quite similar to First Blood but with vegan lyrics that go quite in depth. This is accompanied by melodic and metallic elements and culminates in a heavy and atmospheric EP. Rage Of Deliverance is a great debut and Vanguard set a great example for how to address issues of animal rights and progressive politics in music.

My favourite: Detach

Detach by Vanguard

GULCH – Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress

More heaviness is to come. To me personally, 2020 was a perfect year for grindcore and powerviolence, as they just fit this year’s mood perfectly. Fittingly, this was one of the records I listened to the most this year.

Already in the intro, GULCH go hard. As per usal in PV, blastbeats, breakdowns and midtempo beats take turns on this release. The singer’s vocals are bestialic and all of the above comes together in a dynamic and heavy sound. The shifts of pace make the instrumentation feel even heavier and especially GULCH made me miss shows this year.

I recommend listening to the title track

Power Alone – Rather Be Alone

This is the debut album of Power Alone and one of my favourite hardcore releases of these past years. The band’s great, political lyrics are packaged with solid riffs and make for a great HC record, as this album sticks out from generic bands in that genre through both, its lyrics and sound.

Power Alone don’t just play the standard formula but add their own touch to it, which makes for a fun experience. Also, they’re a political vegan edge band, which is always refreshing for me.

My favourite tracks are Where We Stand and Stay True

Check out Where We Stand on bandcamp: https://powerxalone.bandcamp.com/track/where-we-stand

Vision Quest – Bear Witness (EP)

Another female-fronted band makes it to place four. Vision Quest from the UK play fast and groovy hardcore and set a perfect example for how to make good HC. The tempo changes are catchy and fun, there a great breakdowns and lots of mosh calls. Especially live, this record should be a blast and with its great energy, it helped me get through lots of boring days. On some days, I listened to this EP several times, which just proves how catchy and fun it is. I really hope, this band gets to tour properly some time.

Meine Empehlungen: “Psych” und “Step Up”

Treat yourselves with Psych and Step Up

Place 3: Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror (EP)

I’m honestly in a love-hate relationship with this band. I used to love them when they released Sempiternal but this love came to a halt when they came up with That’s The Spirit. Like the band’s haters, I was like: sElL oUtS!!! HOWEVER, when they released that experimental EP with that extraordinarily long title last year, they regained my respect, as they proved that they don’t care what people think about them. I also saw them live last year and Oli’s vocals were great, so that made me respect them even more.

Finally, the pioneers of modern metalcore releasd a new EP this year. On Post Human: Survival Horror, Bring Me switch things up yet again by merging all of their old styles and adding new elements to them. The intro to Dear Diary caught me by surprise, as I did not expect the band to go that hard again. In Kingslayer, Oli brings back his Suicide Season shouts and growls again, while Itch For The Cure sounds a lot like Enter Shikari or The Prodigy. I’m pretty sure it’s a Linkin Park reference though.

This record brought me straight back to 2013 in the best way and I started fanboying over this band again. Bring Me The Horizon are at the top of the scene for a reason. They deserve respect for their influence on modern metalcore and their creativity and this EP is the latest evidence of that.

For Linkin Park fans: Teardrops, for others: Kingslayer

Place 2: Higher Power – 27 Miles Underwater

My second favourite release and top LP of this year is 27 Miles Underwater by Higher Power. The band from Leeds in the UK released their magnum opus this year, which I expected after their signing to Roadrunner Records.

When I first heard about them in 2018, which was already fairly late, they reminded me a lot of Glassjaw. Originally, the band played hardcore with clean vocals contrasted by the heavier instrumentals. On their latest release, singer Jimmy Wizard starts shouting while the instrumentals move away from HC and towards90s/00s nu-metal and post-hardcore. Some of their riffs are really At The Drive-In and Glassjaw with the best sort of vintage vibes.

All in all, the band’s style is more clean and leans more towards rock than hardcore. The vocals are a step up from earlier releases and in general, Higher Power improve on every level. This combination of heaviness and atmosphere with massive throwbacks made 27 Miles Underwater one of my absolute favourites of this year. That is when it comes to albums.

I must urge you to listen to Lost In Static and Low Season

Lost In Static by Higher Power

Place 1: Fleshwater – demo2020 (EP)

What happens if hardcore kids and fans of Deftones play shoegaze? The answer is: Fleshwater and this EP, which is my favourite release of this year.

The lineup of Fleshwater consists of members of Vein and lead singer Mirsy who publishes dream pop songs under this alias. The instrumentals and vocals are atmospheric and comfy, yet melancholic.

Words cannot really describe this EP. You just have to listen to it. There are only three songs on it, so it is quite easy to listen to it in one session and you are most likely going to want more after listening. This is not only a release for fans of heavy music but also for fans of shoegaze and it served as my introduction to this genre – a major recommendation on my part.

At the very least listen to Linda Claire

Fleshwater – Linda Claire

Honourable Mentions

Apart from new music I listened to lots of singles this year and some records didn’t quite make it onto this list. Mirsy, the singer of Fleshwater has a dream pop project, in which she merges it with trap among others. Definitely check her out on Spotify!

Vein released a remix record this year. Old Data In A New Machine consists of demos and rerecorded old songs and there are some really atmospheric tracks on there as well, which makes it a must for fans of the band, especially for those who liked the Terror’s Realm EP and hoped for a rerecording.

Yung Lean released a new record this year and some of these new tracks reminded me a lot of his old sound. Boylife in EU and Pikachu are at least as atmospheric as Yoshi City back in the day and the OG Yung proves again what role he played in the soundcloud rap scene. If you’re into trap and haven’t heard of Yung Lean, you’re missing out. Do yourself a favour and listen to his music. Without him, trap and ’emo rap’ might not be a thing. He’s the original sad boy.

What to Look Forward to in 2020

In 2021, there are two releases that I am really exited about. German Turnstile hardcore / funk gems Slope are going to release their debut LP, which was already teased on their social media. This is one of the HC records I’ve been most hyped about these past years, as Slope are a great and innovative band. Definitely keep an eye open for that release!

Apart from that, I am really looking forward to the first LP by the aforementioned Fleshwater, which was going to be released this year but was postponed. Similarly, Mirsy is seemingly going to release an LP next year, which I am also stoked about, so 2021 is going to be another great year for music.

In terms of this blog, there is more to expect in the future. This year was stressful and lately, I did not really get to writing, so I wrote lots of reviews. However, I’m going to change that in 2021 and there is going to be more content in this coming year. Reviews are still going to be a part of this blog nonetheless.

To wrap things up for this year, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. To all the bands, people on social media and friends. I wish you all happy holidays and a good start for your next year. Stay safe and make sure to consider the rules to make sure as many people as possible can actually make it to 2021.

As always thanks for reading.

-sovlpvnk

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Published by sovlpvnk

On this blog, I talk about the alternative music scene and its ethics as well as LGBTQIAP+ -related topics. I mostly write about asexuality, political issues and their representation in media. Expect content in English and German once per month. Book and film reviews on my goodreads and letterboxd accounts: sovlpvnkblog and sovlpvnk.

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