Saint Vitus Bar co-owner and booker David Castillo (who also makes music as Confines), reflected on his 2020, remembered some of the musicians we lost, and told us about his favorite releases of the year, including albums from HUM, Gulch, Ulcerate, Nothing, Deftones, Pallbearer, Jesu, Jessie Ware, Oranssi Pazuzu, Lido Pimienta, Chubby and the Gang, Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist, and more. He writes:

My life has revolved around music and the pursuit of playing it or facilitating it in one way or another for the past 20 years. The shutdown has applied to nearly every phase of what I do with myself and for the first time since I was a kid, 2020 had me in the suburbs alone listening to music a lot. I often found myself daydreaming and vacillating between nostalgia, dread, sadness, gratitude and inspiration.

Nostalgia for NYC nights you never want to end and really reflecting on why I love music so much in the first place. It's given me so much.

Dread for each dismal turn our very clearly failing society has taken and its impact on so many hurting. We must do better.

Sadness for all those that have passed, from brilliant artists like Riley Gale, Sean Reinert, Wade Allison, Rich McLoughlin and Reed Mullin to incredible sound engineer John Hopkins. These losses cut deep.

Gratitude for the music community around Saint Vitus Bar and the incredible support to help us survive these tumultuous times. Also for NIVA and NYIVA for taking on the cause of helping independent venues.

Inspiration from the Age of Quarantine crew and listening to so many artists tell their stories. Also from my FAKTOR music family Octonomy, Biproduct, Annunziata and Khadija for helping me (Confines) still push to create music and our Label/A/V collective for techno metal punk freaks. I look forward to 2021.

So what about this list? Well luckily music isn't science or sports so we don't need rankings etc. Any piece of music you connect with at any given time is the best, always. So here's a bunch of artists that helped me get through this most unpredictable year. I hope they help you out too and we can enjoy music together soon.

Gulch - Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress
HUM - Inlet
Ulcerate - Stare Into Death And Be Still
Trace Amount - Endless Render
Nothing - The Great Dismal
Faceless Burial - Speciation
Narrowhead - 12th House Rock
Funeral Leech - Death Meditation
Subdued - Over The Hills and Far Away
The Chisel - Deconstructive Surgery
Deftones - Ohms
Xibalba - Años En Infierno
E Saggila - Corporate Cross
Jessie Ware - What’s Your Pleasure?
Realize - Machine Violence
Skeleton - Skeleton
Soft Crash - Spritzkrieg
Lido Pimienta - Miss Colombia
The Bug ft. Dis Fig - In Blue
Jesu - Terminus
Eternal Champion - Ravening Iron
Deaf Kids/Petbrick - Deafbrick
Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin Kynsi
Pallbearer - Forgotten Days
Jaye Jayle - Prisyn
Wailin Storms - Rattle
Primitive Man - Immersion
SZA - "Good Day"
Black Curse - Endless Wound
Couch Slut - Take a Chance on Rock N Roll
Freddie Gibbs/The Alchemist - Alfredo
Dreamcrusher - Another Country
Chubby and the Gang - Speed Kills
Youth Code - "Puzzle"
Necrot - Mortal
Krallice - Mass Cathexis
Big Cheese - Punishment Park
Pillars of Ivory - Genesis/Exodus Demos
Of Feather and Bone - Sulphuric Disintegration
Gravesend - Preparations for human Disposal
Sugar High - Love Addict
Henyox - No Devotion
Witches' Dance - Demo 2020
Total Meltdown - Total Meltdown

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Browse our Best of 2020 tag for more year-end lists.