Reviewers 2020 Top 5 – Asa Henry Jones

I simply couldn’t narrow down my year end list to just five albums. So, instead I’m going to list my Album Of The Year and then a whole bunch of incredible releases. This year may have been a bummer, but at least on the musical front there has been plenty of us to chew on.

Starting off this list is my Album Of The Year and, surprising absolutely no one, it’s Cycle Of Suffering from Sylosis. These UK Thrash Metallers came back earlier this year with a vengeance. After a four year long hiatus (their last release was Different Masks On The Same Face in 2016), Josh Middleton proved to us once again why he is at the top of the riff game. Technical, melodic, catchy, angry and occasionally somber, the album is full of excellent riffs and impressive lead work. Josh’s vocals are more pissed off then they’ve ever been but fear not, he can still pull out the impressive melodic screams when needed. Empty Prophets kicks the album off in a fury of tech-fueled Thrashing insanity, with a brutal breakdown at the end to get your neck muscles working. I Sever is the song that let us know that Sylosis were back, with an anthemic chorus, a beautiful solo and an epic, melodic outro for the ages. The title track hits like a ten ton truck, with Shield providing an anthemic chorus that would be glorious to hear in a live setting. Calcified is a slower, darker affair, with a broody atmosphere and whiplash inducing riffs, whilst Invidia provides us with melodic tremolo picked riffs and blast beats, followed by a Mumford & Sons chorus that has been Metalized. It shouldn’t work, but it ends up being one of the highlight parts of the album. Idle Hands provides us with some Hardcore styled Thrash riffing, and album highlight Apex Of Disdain brings one of the best riffs I’ve heard in a very long time, with a middle section that would make any shred nerd blush. Arms Like A Noose brings back some Supreme Oppressor vibes with the intro, and ends with one of the heaviest riffs on the album, with Devils In Their Eyes bringing melodic riffs, a catchy chorus and a brutal middle section. Disintegrate has more melodic tremolo picking, anthemic choruses and crushing breakdowns, with album closer Abandon providing a slower, somber end to an otherwise intense album, providing us with the only clean vocals on the album and drenching everything in atmosphere. It’s melancholic, emotiveand epic, sounding like something that would’ve been on the Passages album Josh put out a few years back. It’s an excellent closer to what is one hell of a comeback album. Sylosis are back, and nothing brings me more joy than knowing that.

With that out of the way, here’s a list of other excellent releases from this year:

Hellripper – The Affair Of The Poisons: If there was a runner-up for this year, then this album may be it. The finest Black/Thrash out there, this album is great fun from start to finish. Beyond The Convent Walls is my personal highlight, but it’s all killer and no filler!

Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane: One of the hardest working bands out there at the moment released this storming album, giving us some of the finest UK Thrash released in the past decade. New front-man and low end destroyer Aarran stepped up to the plate big time, providing a new sense of aggression to the band. Plenty of new influences appear throughout the album, with my personal highlight being Violent Now, Forever. Cracking stuff.

Cryptic Shift – Visitations From Enceladus: The masters of expansive, progressive and technical Astro-Death came out swinging with this release, starting things off with a 25 minutemagnum opus. From there, things only get more crazy and each listen is like transcending to new plane of existence. MoonbeltImmolator is the track that gets all the hype, but for good reason… It’s incredible stuff.

Divine Chaos – The Way To Oblivion: A new front-man, a new album, same stellar quality. These Death Thrashers pummel you over from the start, and don’t relent. Plenty of catchy choruses, melodic guitar work and complex, progressive Thrash riffs to satiate your quench for the extreme. Upon The Shrine stands out the most, with a Revocation-esque chorus that will be ingrained into your skull. A guest solo from Josh Middleton is just an extra cherry on top.

Make Them Die Slowly – Ferox/The Bodycount Continues: Anaal Nathrakh main man Mick Kenney released two albums with his new project this year, both of which are incredible. If you like AN then this will be right up your street. If you like Horror films, this will be up your street too. It’s melodic, it’s savage and it’s got more catchy hooks than Tyson Fury’s fists. Of Jackal And Demon Born is the Ferox highlight, with The Terror Begins and Slaughter High being the two highlights from The Bodycount Continues. Don your black leather gloves, tear open the nearest corpse and dig in!

Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment: Because releasing two albums and a single isn’t enough for our friend Mick, he also decided to release this behemoth of an album too. A dark, manic, visceraland intense listen that is underscored by plenty of anthemic choruses and melodic riffs. Dave Hunt’s vocals are insane, with terrifying, ferocious harsh vocals and soaring cleans to rival that of Bruce Dickinson. The title track is my highlight, but everything else is just as killer.

Inferi – Of Sunless Realms: Leaders of melodic, technical, symphonic Death Metal, these guys have been responsible for some of the finest Tech-Death out there and this E.P is no exception. The riffs are complex but melodic, the vocals are ferocious, the bass is insane and the drums are next level ridiculous. The symphonic elements help heighten them above the rest and there’s plenty of that here too. If you love your music to be on the more technical side then this is what you need.

Seven Doors – The Nights Of Terror: I’m cheating here as this is a single but I had to include it. Deadwood Lake shredder Ryan Wills comes out on top form here, providing all instrumentation and the vocals. It’s classic old school Death Metal, with lyrics focused on the glory gory days of Horror films. It’s a great first release and every Death Metal fan would be stupid to not go check it out. Even more impressive that it’s all one guy.

They were the main releases I wanted to discuss but a whole host of other albums, E.P’s and singles to check out are:

Albums:

Firelink – Firelink

Devaststor – Baptised In Blasphemy

Hellfekted – Woe To The Kingdom Of Blood

Sutrah – Aletheia

Gargoyl – Gargoyl

The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous

Symbolik – Emergence

Onslaught – Generation Antichrist

Warbringer – Weapons Of Tomorrow

Raider – Guardian Of The Fire

Saarkoth – Cult Of Nature

Dessiderium – Shadow Burn

Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still

Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Bleed From Within – Fracture

Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn

Repulsive Vision – Necrovictology

E.P’s

Saarkoth – Follow The Cult

Elimination – Of Gods And Beasts

Ihsahn – Telemark

Steel Mage – The Uprising Of Hatred

Voivod – The End Of Dormancy

Ifreann – Desecration

Grimorte – Esoteric Ascendance

Singles

Sylosis – Worship Decay

Shrapnel – Winds Of Slaughter

Devastator – Merciless Onslaught

Riptide – Smoke/Fatal Retribution

Hellfekted – Method Of Destruction

Recall The Remains – Darker Path

Fit For An Autopsy – Fear Tomorrow

Gojira – Another World

Cage Fight – One Minute

Tortured Demon – Cold Blood

Exa – Death Is Coming

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