Just about every year on wrap ups like this people will be happy to see the end of the year for one reason or another. But in all sincerity, 2020 can kiss my arse. I was a turd of a year, we lost legends and loved ones. The world at times seemed to have turned completely upside down, and still does.
But in the middle of the death, fear and panic we were gifted a ton of amazing music from some of our favourite artists, and I discovered new ones along the way. So here’s my look back at the music and musicians who sparked joy for me during the last dark 12 months. There were some really strong local releases, as there is every year. But this year I thought I had my lists all sewn up and along came Victorian thrashers Harlott and supergroup Killer Be Killed with late album entries throwing that meticulously curated list into disarray. Not to be outdone Tasmania’s Fierce Deity dropped an absolute banger late in November making me rethink my top song list. So without further ado here is what you should have been listening to in 2020.
TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2020
20 – Apocalyptica – Cell-O
19 – Stryper – Even The Devil Believes
18 – Iron Maiden – Nights Of The Dead
17 – Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
16 – Nightwish – Human II Nature
15 – Amaranthe – Manifest
14 – Testament – Titans of Creation
13 – Ilium – Carcinogeist
12 – Lamb Of God – Lamb Of God
11 – Shatterbrain – Pitchfork Justice
10 – Mr Bungle – The Ranging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo
9 – Ross The Boss – Born Of Fire
8 – Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero
7- Chaos Divine – Legacies
6 – Avatar – Hunter Gatherer
5 – Body Count – Carnivore
4 – Repentance – God for a Day
3 – Harlott – Detritus of the Final Age
2 – Devilskin – Red
1 – Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
TOP 10 SONGS OF 2020
10 – Repentance – ‘God For A Day’
9 – Mr Bungle ‘Sudden Death’
8 – Body Count ‘Colors 2020’
7 – Chaos Divine ‘Becon’
6 – Testament ‘Children of The Next Level’
5 – Caligula’s Horse ‘Slow Violence’
4 – Harlott ‘Idol Minded’
3 – Ilium ‘Uncle Rupert’s Puppet Show’
2 – Fierce Deity – ‘A Ballad Of Heartbreak & Despair‘
1 – Devilskin ‘Corrode’
TOP 5 VIDEOS OF 2020
5 – Shepherds Reign ‘Legend’ (Acoustic Version)
4 – Avatar ‘Colossus’
3 – Amaranthe ‘Strong’ (feat Noora Louhimo)
2 – Testament ‘Children of The Next Level’
1 – Soen – ‘Antagonist’
LAST GIG YOU CAUGHT BEFORE COVID
The Darkness 11th March 2020 @ Metropolis, Freo
As we were watching the pandemic spread across the world, Australians and West Australians were still living in a type of la la land in the delusion if we just carried on as normal, she’d be right mate. Obviously recent history has shown us that was never going to happen, but for a brief moment we were ok Jack. In that moment those lovely boys from Lowestoft tore the roof off Metros in Fremantle, asked us if we gave a fuck about COVID. The general consensus was we didn’t – oh poor delusional West Australians. Little did we know this would be the last international act we would see for the foreseeable future.
As it was The Darkness was the last international band I saw in 2020, it was a killer gig and I’m not sure anyone else would have topped them (my review here)
HOW DID COVID/LOCKDOWNS AFFECT YOU IN 2020
Living in the world’s most isolated city has its upside (the biggest downside is lack of tours, but COVID fixed that and now the rest of Australia knows what missing out feels like). But we were able to get a handle on the situation fairly quickly. The state government slammed the borders shut and did their best to keep the nasty virus out, it worked so our actual lockdown lasted only around 6 weeks. Honestly it feels like a lifetime ago, we were lucky in West Australia, very fucking lucky. Watching the rest of the country and the world deal with the pandemic is both heartbreaking and surreal. I caught a touch of cabin fever, but to be honest we got off easily compared to other parts of the world so I’m just going suck it up.
BIGGEST THING YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF THIS YEAR
I have mad home renovation skills. I turned my office space into a home studio, chucked up a wall, plastered, painted and sound proofed it. I also really suck at staying home, but when you’re used to spending a good chunk of your time going to gigs who doesn’t. For me it’s a love job, my thoughts are with the musicians, artists, roadies and others who rely on gigs for their income. We still have a long way to go and I just hope we still have an industry once this is all said and done.
FAV NEW BAND/MUSICIAN DISCOVERED IN 2020
Shepherds Reign. In a similar vein to compatriots Alien Weaponry, these hard-hitting Kiwis exploded onto the scene with their unique sound and warrior look. Their single and video ‘Le Manu’ was released in December 2019 only just making it ineligible for my best of lists, but it’s a pretty choice song, so you should check it out. Although their lockdown acoustic treatment of ‘Legend’ stormed into my top 5 music videos. The boys will be on tour will fellow Kiwi bad-arses Devilskin early next year so they’ll get a Kia Ora from me when they hit Perth.
NEXT BIG AUSSIE ACT TO WATCH IN 2021?
Perth’s own Patient Sixty-Seven, these metalcore kids are already making waves outside their home-town. I can see them hitting the heights we’ve recently seen the likes of Polaris achieve. They’re young, hungry and have a sound all the cool kids are digging.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2021?
Gigs mate, gigs. There’s already been a few announcements – Kiwi legends Devilskin are heading this way early 2021 so I’ll be there with horns up. Also, an election would be a good idea, maybe then we can vote in a government who actually gives a shit about the arts – I won’t hold my breath.
Words by Gareth Williams. Insta: @notgareth