15 metal albums from 2020 we recommend buying on Bandcamp today
This Friday (3/20), Bandcamp is waving their cut of all sales from purchases and giving the money directly to artists to provide additional support while basically every tour is cancelled. This applies to all music purchased between midnight to midnight Pacific time (so 3 AM ET on Friday to 3 AM ET on Saturday), so if you'd like to support the artists you love during these difficult times, this would be a very good day to make your Bandcamp purchases. A lot of record label Bandcamp pages are joining them in doing the same (like Sargent House), and several labels (like Deathwish) have made their partial or entire catalogs available for "pay what you want" to further encourage purchases.
There's so much great music available on Bandcamp, including not just digital downloads but also vinyl, CD, cassette, and merch orders (and pre-orders), and we highly recommend using this opportunity to pick something up. If you're looking for suggestions of what to buy in the metal realm, we've put together a list of 15 metal releases from 2020 available on Bandcamp that we recommend. We also listed eight forthcoming albums available for pre-order after the list of the 15 that are out now. Read on for our list, in alphabetical order...
Cult of Fire - Moksha & Nirvana
We said: From this set of spiritual inspirations comes a particularly bright and euphoric approach to black metal, one that compares the unhinged savagery of the most vicious forms of the style with the kind of ecstatic joy of the ascetic and the mystic enraptured by the euphoria of god-consciousness or the Buddhist serenity of proper death consciousness. They aren’t afraid of major chords, of the brightness of brass tilted towards the kind of triumphant lines you would expect to hear as a fanfare for an approaching victorious knight or perhaps respected high priest rather than the presumed intense negativity of black metal. The ending tracks of Nirvana in particular display a brightness and joyousness and serenity that feel reminiscent of Lantlos’ departure from black metal for the more serene pastures of post-metal in their masterpiece Melting Sun, mirroring that album’s intensely sunny atmosphere.
Envy – The Fallen Crimson
Temporary Residence Ltd
We said: Envy are as musically relevant today as they were the day they released their 2001 classic All the Footprints You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead, and their new music has continued to rival their classics. Their last album, 2015's Atheist's Cornea, rivaled any of the similar music coming out at that time, and now they're finally back with a followup to that album, and it's yet another triumph. Whether you're coming to this album as a longtime Envy fan or you've been pointed in its direction because you like the newer bands Envy influenced, The Fallen Crimson will deliver. Like its predecessor, it stands tall next to Envy's classics and it sounds as fresh and forward-thinking as anything happening today within screamo, emo, metal, post-rock, and beyond. It's got gorgeous, sweeping crescendos as well as moments of brute force.
Eye Flys - Tub of Lard
Here's one that just came out today. Eye Flys is the band of Full of Hell guitarist Spencer Hazard, Backslider bassist Jake Smith (on guitar and vocals), former Backslider drummer Patrick Forrest, and Triac’s Kevin Bernsten on bass (it's actually one of two Full of Hell-related albums on this list), and Tub of Lard is their first full-length album following last year's promising Context EP. Tub of Lard picks right up where Context left off and makes it even more clear that Eye Flys are a very worthy band in their own right and not just a "side project." Tub of Lard offers up 10 tracks of killer sludge-punk and it's a tighter, more forceful collection than Context. As on that EP, you can hear hints of anything from Unsane to The Jesus Lizard to Helmet to the Melvins, but Eye Flys make it their own.
Godthrymm - Reflections
We said: Godthrymm is the new band of vocalist/guitarist Hamish Glencross (ex-My Dying Bride, Vallenfyre, Solstice), drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels (ex-My Dying Bride, Anathema), and bassist Bob Crolla, and as you'd probably expect from that lineup, they make death-doom in the style of classic My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. Maybe you don't feel like you need this in a year where there are actual new My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost albums on the way, but Godthrymm are far from a pale imitation and they make for a nice counterpart with what those bands are up to today. Hamish brings with him a harsh growl that keeps Godthrymm from falling into the more alternative rock tendencies that clean-sung death-doom can fall into, and when he does sing clean, it's often in a brooding, Swans-like way that keeps this album sounding evil. And maybe most importantly of all, the riffs!
Huntsmen - Mandala of Fear
We said: Huntsmen's 2018 debut album American Scrap is a killer mix of '70s-style hard rock, prog rock, and folk rock with modern-day sludge metal, which, if you trace it back far enough, has roots in all that stuff in the first place. For its new followup, Mandala of Fear -- a double album -- they're navigating the same terrain, but they're doing everything bigger and better. This time around, Aimee Bueno -- who sang guest vocals on American Scrap's closing track -- is a full time member, and her contributions give Huntsmen a lot more range, allowing them to work in more complex vocal harmonies and just pull off more stuff in general. The album is produced better (it was helmed by fellow Chicago musician Sanford Parker, who knows how to make bands sound gargantuan), and Huntsmen have just gotten better at everything they do. The heavy parts are heavier, the folky parts are prettier, the hooks are catchier, and the prog parts are more sprawling.
Also, catch Huntsmen's livestreamed release show on Saturday (3/21).
Intronaut — Fluid Existential Inversions
Prog/sludge greats Intronaut are a little cleaner-sounding these days than they used to be, but Fluid Existential Inversions's still got riffs for days and all kinds of off-kilter ideas that make it a real trip to listen to.
Leeched - To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse
We said: This UK band takes punk-informed sludge, not-at-all-melodic metalcore, Streetcleaner-era Godflesh filth, and parts that feel like putting a power drill through your eardrum, and they gargle it all up and spit it out with pure venom. They never do anything to soften their blow, but they deliver all this abrasion with a precision and clarity that puts them in a league above your average noisemakers.
Kirk Windstein - Dream In Motion
We said: When Kirk Windstein, frontman and only constant member of the beloved, long-running NOLA sludge band Crowbar (and member of Down), revealed that he would be releasing a solo album, he made sure to clarify that it was "not an acoustic record" and he called it "my version of a mellow Crowbar basically." That's a pretty perfect description of Dream In Motion -- though note that he's using the word "mellow" very relatively -- which probably could've just been a Crowbar record if Kirk wanted it to be. I get why he didn't; the upcoming Crowbar album (which is being worked on as we speak) is sure to be even heavier than Dream In Motion, but the level of quality control that Kirk put into this album is on par with that of his main band.
Midnight - Rebirth By Blasphemy
We said: Rest assured, Midnight’s move from Hells Headbangers to Metal Blade Records hasn’t so far changed a single thing about the band on their latest release Rebirth by Blasphemy. It’s still an unholy and rotten mix of NWOBHM spirit, punk swagger, and early black/speed metal hell-raising. Of course, it’s all filtered through the mind of Mr. Midnight himself: Athenar, who never lets genre expectations get in the way of laying down sugary sweet hooks on top of a dirt-crusted assault.
Sightless Pit - Grave of a Dog
We said: It's the trio of Lingua Ignota (aka Kristin Hayter), Full of Hell's Dylan Walker, and The Body's Lee Buford, and as is to be expected, these three gel together perfectly on this album. It's a different kind of album than Caligula, which was much more in-your-face and theatrical, but with Kristin handling a lot of the lead vocals, it feels at least cut from a similar cloth. Like that album, it's harsh and noisy and full of blood-curdling screams, but these songs can also -- in their own weird way -- qualify as pop songs.
Spectral Lore & Mare Cognitum - Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine
I, Voidhanger Records
We said: Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine is the second split between black metal solo projects Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum. There are a lot of descriptors one could throw at either band: cosmic black metal, progressive black metal, avant-garde black metal, atmospheric black metal. None of these would be wrong, and in some cases, their added specificity would help distinguish them from the vast glut of black metal in the world across its myriad styles. But to settle too firmly on any one of those descriptors would feel like a deliberate truncation of the stylistic breadth of these projects — sure, there are moments where either tends toward the melancholic sheets of sound that we associate with the post-depressive spaces of atmospheric black metal, but you also get ferocious blast beats and terrifying shrieks that feel too direct to fit that tag.
Tombs - Monarchy of Shadows
Season of Mist
We said: Mike Hill made this one with drummer Justin Spaeth, guitarist Matt Medeiros and bassist Drew Murphy, who all play in NJ death metal band Kalopsia, and he says it's the first time in Tombs history that a Tombs record has been written as a collaboration between band members, and he calls it a "big difference" from the last Tombs album (2017's The Grand Annihilation), which he says was "basically a solo record." The new band is great, and working with them must have really invigorated Mike Hill, because Monarchy of Shadows is a louder, faster, tougher record than The Grand Annihilation.
Typecaste - Between Life EP
We said: Typecaste sound like more of a force to be reckoned with on these four songs than ever. The riffs are beefier, the drumming is crazier, the production is crisper, and the band's dual vocal attack (the growly guy and the shrieky guy) is more intense and more memorable. It's a bludgeoning, no-bullshit-taking EP until the very last track, "Under the Wreath," where Typecaste show off that they can also work in melodic alternative rock without veering into cheesy territory. It's just one song, but if Typecaste have more where this came from, their future's just gonna keep looking brighter.
Wrekmeister Harmonies - We Love to Look at the Carnage
We said: Featuring a gripping emotional appeal, cleverly rhyming lyrics, and eclectic choices of instrumentation, the group’s latest album offers a cinematic portrayal of a flawed protagonist descending into something like madness, framed in the surreal lighting of urban alleyways on a rain-slick evening. There isn’t one single moment that captures the full potency of the record; rather, the compelling and elaborate story We Love to Look at the Carnage tells is a continuously persuasive argument for its quality.
Yatra - Blood of the Night
We said: Blood of the Night is disgustingly thick stoner doom that embraces head-banging heavy metal for a thick and visceral result: biting riffs cross-pollinate with druggy pentatonic crescendos in a way that’s at once electrifying, repulsive, and righteously replayable.
Barishi - Old Smoke (Season of Mist)
The Black Dahlia Murder - Verminous (Metal Blade)
Elder - Omens (Armageddon Shop)
Like Rats - Death Monolith (Hibernation Release)
Old Man Gloom - Seminar VIII: Light Of Meaning (Profound Lore)
Ulcerate - Stare Into Death And Be Still (Debemur Morti Productions)
Wake - Devouring Ruin (Translation Loss)
WVRM - Colony Collapse (Prosthetic)