2020, the year that was… It’s hard to wrap up such a clusterfuck of a year on good terms, especially when there are countless others who suffered and were affected far worse than I was by the pandemic… But, I soldiered through, making the most of my time at home focusing on new ways to stay busy and preoccupied (idle hands are the devil’s playground) and for the first time in well over a decade, I managed to calm the fuck down, sort my life out, figure out what’s worth my time and energy and focus on the positives more so than the negatives.
I like to be optimistic at the best of times and I’m not gonna lie, there were moments this year that really hit hard, especially at the start of all of this drama we’ve endured… But thank FUCK for heavy music. Seriously!
I listened to more music this year than ever before and the best thing about that is, these albums will be stuck with us for life! We’ll be able to look back in seven or eight years from now and go “that album/band saved me during that time” and the memories (good and bad) will flood back whenever we play those songs/releases.
So for some of us, this year was a struggle BUT you’re through the worst of it and upon reflection, you survived something that you may not have experienced before and that is a testament to you and your ability to adapt to your surroundings.
As I say every year, a massive THANK YOU goes out to you for your support of Wall of Sound this year. We couldn’t give in and just give up during the pandemic, we had to stay busy reporting the news and in the process, we even crossed off some big goals never thought possible all those years ago when this Lil Ol’ Site first started! Ok ok, I’ll stop with the sappy stuff and get back to the music… These are the releases that kept me alive, motivated and headbanging during 2020…
THE TOP 20 RELEASES OF 2020?
1. Polaris – The Death of Me
Where do I even begin with this? TDoM arrived in Feb, Polaris were the last band I saw live at the end of that month and then when COVID hit, I listened to this album non-stop for weeks without fail. I went through so many emotional connections to different songs e.g. ‘Vagabond‘ when life was sweet and I felt like I didn’t have a worry in the world. ‘Martyr (Waves)‘ when I was overcome with depression and couldn’t shake this fucked up mood I had for a couple of weeks and then ‘Above My Head‘ when I was questioning everything I was doing with my life. This album saved me from myself so many times this year and still holds up after all of this time. There was no way this album was getting beaten (although my #2 did come verrrry close) and fuck the ARIAs because this is hands down the BEST album of the year!
2. Make Them Suffer – How To Survive A Funeral
To be honest, this was the only album that stopped me listening to Polaris‘ for another few months hahaha Usually we receive albums to preview so we can get an idea if they’re worth covering or doing more content for (e.g. interviews or focal pieces) and I only heard this 2 days before it was released and goddamn it hit me like a sack of potatoes instantly. It became part of my workouts, my driving soundtrack, my heavy bedtime lullabies – you name it, I listened to it and holy shit I couldn’t get enough of it. This was the only album I really wanted to see played LIVE this year and didn’t get a chance to. When MTS start touring again, you better believe I’ll be there demanding they play ‘That’s Just Life‘.
3. The Ghost Inside – The Ghost Inside
The comeback album of the decade was met with a hiccup upon release week but that didn’t stop me from thrashing it. These boys poured their heart and souls into this and it was full of uplifting and highly motivational anthems that you had to listen to. I back The Ghost Inside hard. They’ve overcome so much and they deserved so much more when this dropped. I hope they know how proud we all are of them and what they achieved with this release. It came at the right time and certainly helped get my life back on track again (my review here). Thank you TGI!
4. Bring Me The Horizon – POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR
The first of many releases from BMTH saw the lads return to heavy (like they never left) and hook up with some interesting names in music including Babymetal, Yungblud, Nova Twins and Amy Lee. Since it dropped a few weeks back I’ve changed my opinion on which song I like the most from it and it constantly changes (my review here). It has something for every Bring Me The Horizon fan and I hope it was the piece of music that made you fall in love with them again.
5. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall
Last year I barely knew who this guy was apart from being the bloke who Eminem chased out of the rap scene… But in 2020 he teamed up with Travis Barker and released the BEST pop punk album of the year proving genre crossing can work and in some cases like this album, a lot better than your last one!
6. The Amity Affliction – Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them
Amity honed in on the sounds of Misery and added a few more heavy elements whilst also dabbling in radio rock territory and produced this album with arguably their best song since ‘Open Letter‘… ‘Aloneliness‘. If you don’t know what that song is about, that’s probably why you don’t get the fuss with it, but it hits so much harder when you work that out.
7. Slowly Slowly – Race Car Blues
I said to myself at Good Things Festival last year that I was going to become a mad Slowly Slowly fan in 2020 and look, I did it! This album was such a delightful listen (for someone who prodominately listens to metalcore) and Ben Stewart‘s songwriting is up there with God (Tom DeLonge) himself.
8. Stand Atlantic – Pink Elephant
Australia’s BEST pop punk band released their latest album and it was a party and a half to listen to. Well, the upbeat songs were! I once again, found myself hitting replay on ‘Drink To Drown‘ during my low moments this year BUT, without a doubt, I listen to ‘Shh‘ at least once every week since it came it. Banger track! Now to see them live…
9. Alpha Wolf – a quiet place to die
I have my brother Jesse to thank for getting me into Alpha Wolf and I’m glad he did because their Fault EP was a good start to lead me into their world but this album just completely blew all pre-existing albums by them out of the fucking water! THAT’s how you go from an upcoming band to a key player in Australia heavy music echelon in only a matter of months!
10. Neck Deep – All Distortions Are Intentional
When I had happy moments this year, this is what I played. You know those loved up moments when you’re in a good relationship and nothing can stop you? Yeah, that’s when this album came in handy for me. Neck Deep are flying the flag for pop punk on a massive international scale and I’m sorry I’m so late to the party!
11. Fever 333 – WRONG GENERATION
When the entire world was watching America during the Black Lives Matter protests and movements, that’s when this release was conceived and damn it packs a punch. Raw, emotive and thought-provoking. Jason Aalon Butler is a machine and this band is the second coming of Rage Against The Machine (my review here).
12. Violent Soho – Everything Is A-Ok
Soho almost stripped it all back for this one but they still stayed true to their authentic sound which is why we all love them as much as they do! (My review here)
13. Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero
NO ONE EXPECTED THIS TO DROP IN 2020! But it did and it was well worth the six year wait between releases…
14. Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible
One of the best post-hardcore bands dabbling in sounds and music we’ve never heard them tackle before… and holy shit it sounded so epic. Seriously, when this band can tour again, they need to play this album at some very special locations around Australia for the full effect e.g. the Opera House or the Palais Theatre! (My review here)
15. Skyway – Hope Floats, Love Sinks EP
Another band that returned from their hiatus and blew me away with their comeback EP. I had almost given up hope for a Skyway reunion… but they came back in true GC pop punk fashion and have promised us this is just the start of what’s to come. (My review here)
16. In Hearts Wake – Kaliyuga
Every. Single. Released. Was. A. Banger. A fantastic return to heavy for the Byron Bay boys and one that kept me running when I couldn’t do anything else with my time.
17. Fit For A King – The Path
I’ve had a soft spot for these guys for a few years now and The Path hit the spot whilst also showing where they’re headed musically. Keep your eyes on FFAK, they continuously nail it.
18. YUNGBLUD – weird!
Last year I’d only heard of this guy. In 2020 I fell for him, his motivation, beliefs and music! I always thought he was a punk in terms of the way he lived his life without care, but his music is next level and I guarantee it’s going to save lives, especially for those struggling with their sexuality and identity. Mad props to this guy and all he stands for. (My interview here)
19. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say
A fitting follow up to the first album I ever gave a 10/10 review to. Trivium are on fire and in no time they’ll be frontrunners for heavy metal around the world!
20. Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Josh Middleton from Architects has a metal band called Sylosis. They also released a fucking killer album earlier this year and if you missed it, well, by now you should know what you need to do. Seriously, the man is talented and this release was evidence of what he can achieve!
Honourable mentions to Vilify, Strange Fiction, Silverstein, Kill The Lights, LUNE and R U N
THE TOP 20 SONGS OF 2020?
1. Architects – ‘Animals‘
2. Polaris – ‘Vagabond‘ AND ‘Above My Head‘
3. Make Them Suffer – ‘That’s Just Life‘
4. Machine Gun Kelly feat. Halsey – ‘Forget Me Too‘
5. Bring Me The Horizon – ‘Parasite Eve’
6. Angels & Airwaves – ‘All That’s Left Is Love’
7. The Ghost Inside – ‘One Choice’
8. The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
9. Rogue Half – ‘Play Pretend’
10. Amy Shark feat. Travis Barker – ‘C’mon’
11. Stand Atlantic – ‘Shh!’
12. In Hearts Wake feat. Jamie Hails – ‘Hellbringer’
13. Slowly Slowly – ‘Race Car Blues’
14. The Veronicas – ‘Biting My Tongue’
15. The Amity Affliction – ‘Aloneliness’
16. Killer Be Killed – ‘Deconstructing Self-Destruction’
17. You Me At Six – ‘Beautiful Way’
18. Spiritbox feat. Ryo Kinoshita – ‘Holy Roller’
19. Every Time I Die – ‘Desperate Pleasures’
20. Foo Fighters – ‘Shame Shame’
THE TOP 10 MUSIC VIDEOS OF 2020?
1. Bring Me The Horizon feat. YUNGBLUD – ‘Obey’
2. Violent Soho – ‘Pick It Up Again’
3. The Ghost Inside – ‘Aftermath’
4. MAN ON MAN – ‘Daddy’
5. Angels & Airwaves – ‘All That’s Left Is Love’
6. SKYND feat. Bill $aber – ‘Columbine’
7. Architects – ‘Black Lungs’
8. In Hearts Wake feat. Jamie Hails – ‘Hellbringer’
9. YUNGBLUD – ‘Mars
10. Alpha Wolf feat. Lizi Blanco – ‘bleed 4 you’
THE SEXIEST RIFF OF 2020?
Make Them Suffer – ‘Bones’
LAST GIG YOU CAUGHT BEFORE COVID?
Polaris – February 29th @The Tivoli, Brisbane QLD
HOW DID COVID/LOCKDOWNS AFFECT YOU IN 2020?
Mentally I kicked off the year in a pretty shitty headspace. Following UNIFY Gathering I took some time off as I was burned out and in desperate need for the universe to cut me a break… then COVID hit and, well, it’s not what I had in mind per se, but I used the time we had to reset the batteries and rethink my outlook on life.
The first two weeks were a struggle. Not knowing what to expect or how bad things would get in the coming weeks, but Tamara (Assistant Editor) and I + a handful of WoS Team Members came together to keep the content flowing to not only keep us busy and preoccupied during the pandemic, but to keep you, our loyal readers informed. We also released our first ever merch line which was an idea in the back of our minds for well over 4 years. Thank you to everyone who supported our run and keep an eye out for the next drop soon…
We also worked with some incredible bands this year to help them with their releases (since touring wasn’t an option) and discovered a newfound love for listening to all different sorts of music and helping bands/musicians (upcoming/established) get through this year using all of our resources. If I didn’t have Wall of Sound, I would have gone insane. I’m a creative person who can’t sit still for 10mins so the fact we had plenty to talk about to keep the original content flowing this year made it all worth it. I hope you enjoyed keeping up with the news as much as we loved pumping it out
I also took on the role of babysitter for my good friends’ son Monte and I can safely say I’ve managed to turn him into a little aspiring metalhead/pop punk kid who loves to “Blegh!” and knows almost all the words to Simple Plan’s ‘I’m Just A Kid’ (because we had to play it non-stop on the way to and from soccer every week) while Mum and Dad worked during the pandemic.
BIGGEST THING YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF IN 2020?
I desperately needed to have more ME time. The thing a lot of us can take from the pandemic and lockdown is we put our time and efforts into so many things that didn’t matter as much as we thought at the end of the day. Work. People. Mundane Social Media scrolling… all of that didn’t seem as important this year and I realised fast that it was time for me to focus on the good things in my life like family, my incredibly rewarding relationship, friends, hobbies and now I think I’ve managed to master this whole work/life balance thing to a tee and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if we didn’t have the time off like we did during COVID.
I’m a resilient bastard who has been through a lot in my life (especially over the past 4 years) and I guess that helped prepare me for the worst of what 2020 threw at us. There are a lot of other people who struggled worse than I did (shout out to EVERYONE in Melbourne) and they deserve more kudos than the rest of us.
I truly hope this year shaped you to be a better version of yourself and now you’ve survived this year, you can survive anything else that life throws at you!
FAV NEW BANDS DISCOVERED IN 2020?
Local – Strange Fiction (Bris)
National – Catnip Kaiser (Albury)
International: MAN ON MAN (US)
NEXT BIG AUSSIE ACT TO WATCH?
Rogue Half! I am obsessed with these lads and I can see them going places in 2021. Two killer singles under their belt (and more to come apparently). Do NOT sleep on this band!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2021?
Where do I start? I’d kill for a heavy show so I can let out a massive cathartic scream with the year that was. Trying new things with Wall of Sound content to keep you all entertained and informed… oh yeah and FINALLY getting Tom DeLonge to agree to come on the podcast is a good place to start.
In terms of New Music, I can’t wait for Architects, Amy Shark, Every Time I Die and Angels & Airwaves releases. Beartooth just finished recording album #4 and my wallet isn’t ready to collect all those vinyl variants (but I’ma give it a red hot crack). Reliqa are going to explode next year (you heard it here first) and there’s a new Dream State EP coming too.
I’m also keen to see how much bigger I can get with my interviews next year… I mean kicking it all off with The Ghost Inside was huuuge. Linkin Park mid-year was insane and crossing off Amy Shark and Yungblud was a great way to wrap it all up. I’m constantly sitting here going WTF?? to my staff and friends and I’m extremely thankful for all the opportunities to prove myself that come this way. Who knows what (or who) 2021 will bring…
Oh and fuckin’ Good Things Festival!!!!!