Phoenix doomers Spirit Adrift returned this year with Enlightened in Eternity, which many consider one of the best metal albums of the year (Decibel ranked it at #5 and Revolver at #8). Band members Nate Garrett and Marcus Bryant have now each told us what their favorite albums of the year were. Nate made a top 10 with commentary on each pick, and Marcus shared a top 10 as well (no commentary). Their lists overlap a couple times (Sturgill Simpson, Ulcerate), but mostly each member had different picks. Read on for both of their lists.

NATE GARRETT’S TOP 10 OF 2020 (alphabetical order):

Choir Boy - Gathering Swans

This album has sparked an immense amount of joy this year. The songwriting, arranging, production and performance talents on display make this so much more than some kind of throwback trip. Most of the albums on this list are on here because they made me feel good this year, and none made me feel better than this one. Heartfelt, beautiful, and real. Someone described this as “if the movie Donnie Darko was a band,” and I agree. That’s a compliment.

Eternal Champion - Ravening Iron

If someone asked me how to play metal, I would show them this record. It’s totally brilliant, inspiring, empowering, and bad ass. A flawless album that I can’t stop listening to.

LIK - Misanthropic Breed

It took me a while to listen to these guys because of the name (it means Corpse in Swedish), but I’m glad I did. I noticed these guys mention Iron Maiden in the press release, and that rules. All my favorite extreme metal records lean heavily on melody and memorable songwriting, and this is one of those type of records. The brutal grooves and eerie atmosphere are there, but there’s huge hooks and great songs.

Malokarpatan - Krupinské Ohne

I love how fearless these guys are. With Spirit Adrift, I try to incorporate the musical culture I grew up in, which was southern rock, blues, country, bluegrass, classic rock radio, and that sort of regional music of the American South. I try to incorporate all that into the context of timeless, classic metal. I feel like these dudes are doing the same thing, but their regional musical culture is creepy Slovakian folk music. It works like a charm.

Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin Kynsi

This is one of the last bands I saw live before the world shut down, and they were mind-blowing. One of the best sets I’ve ever seen. Again, talk about fearless. These guys understand the real meaning of the word psychedelic, and how it pertains to art, experience, aesthetic, and overall presentation. I feel like they’re tapping into the source of the tribalistic, primal aspects of music.

Pallbearer - Forgotten Days

These guys are family, but I think even if I didn’t know them at all, I would still love the band just as much. They continue to carve their own path and break new ground, while retaining the elements that made them great from day one. The main riff of "Stasis" may be my favorite Pallbearer riff, and that’s saying a lot.

Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions

This is what Sturgill should have sounded like all along. Like most of the artists on this list, this dude does whatever the fuck he wants. I’m glad his heart has lead him back to the more traditional, straightforward bluegrass/country style. He has a natural talent for this style that few folks do.

Sweven - The Eternal Resonance

One of my favorite albums ever made is Sweven by Morbus Chron. This is the follow up to that record, and it’s incredible as well. Robert Andersson is unbound by genre, stylistic constraints, and any desire to appease casual listeners. What he’s achieved here is high art. People are too scared to make albums this good. Andersson deserves high praise for fully unleashing his creative spirit in a world that doesn’t always reward such things. Awe-inspiring stuff.

Ulcerate - Stare Into Death And Be Still

With few exceptions, I’m not normally that interested in super-technical metal. But when it’s executed with a passion this violent and intense, the results are stunning. This album title might be my favorite album title ever. It’s intimidating without being try-hard, it’s scary without being cheesy, it possesses a certain zen quality, it’s a truly HARD statement, and it nails the vibe of the music held within.

Kirk Windstein - Dream In Motion

As widely beloved and respected as Kirk is, I still think he’s the most underrated riff/ song writer in metal. I was curious as to how his solo record would sound, and I was not disappointed. It’s different from Crowbar but it’s obviously coming from the same heart and mind. Despite the fact that Windstein has tackled some outside the box covers in the past ("Dream Weaver"), I was a little concerned as to how he was going to pull off "Aqualung." But again, I was blown away and very pleasantly surprised. Long live Kirk Windstein.

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MARCUS BRYANT'S TOP 10 OF 2020
Here are my top 10 albums of 2020 in reverse alphabetical order because this year has been ass-backwards AF:

Vatican Shadow - Persian Pillars of The Gasoline Era
Ulcerate - Stare Into Death and Be Still
Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin’ Grass
Run The Jewels - RTJ4
Paysage d’Hiver - Im Wald
Napalm Death - Throes of Joy in The Jaws of Defeatism
MSW - Obliviosus
Lustmord - Trinity
Calligram - The Eye Is The First Circle
AC/DC - Powered Up

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Stream Enlightened in Eternity: