This year CGCM decided to include EP (previously they were excluded from Top Ten Albums). Live albums and re-records were still disqualified, new music only for Best of Year. We also instigated a (highly complex🤣 – 1 point for 10th place through to 10 points for 1st place) rating system throughout all individual lists to culminate a Collective Best of 2020.
You can find the Collective List as well as all our Best of 2020 content including contributors’ individual lists, podcasts and radio DJ shows here: CGCM’s Best of 2020 (Year in Review)
Best of 2020 – Dave Wilks (Writer) 🇺🇸
New metal and hard rock music was one of the few bright points of 2020. Although live shows were out, bands were still able to reach fans through online events and lockdown collaborations.
2020 proved that not only is rock not dead, it’s thriving all over the world. I dug great bands from Chile, India, Europe, and Australia. Amazing albums that didn’t make my top list included Spellbook‘s amazing Magick & Mischief, Lazarus Dream‘s unique album Alive, Bacon Torpedo‘s hilarious Bringing Home the Bacon, Sinner’s Blood‘s awesome The Mirror Star, and the most surprisingly good album Blue Oyster Cult‘s The Symbol Remains. I could go on an on and easily list 25 fantastic albums well worth your time, but The Meister won’t let me. Blame that guy.
#10 – THE SUICIDE NOTES – Pleasures of Despair (Electric) 🇬🇧
This perfect, little four-song EP is equal parts sleaze, punk, and hard rock. Vocalist Billy Tee‘s voice stands out immediately. His vocal cords sound like they were dragged over a whiskey-soaked, cigarette burned, sandpaper carpet. For this album, the boys from the UK turned up their acoustic EP of the same name to 11. You’ve got four fantastic, sleazy, bad ass songs in “Black Dog Howlin'”, “Smoke it Like a Cigarette”, “On The Rocks”, and “Ragdoll”. “Ragdoll” is ridiculously catchy from the opening “Oh Yeah” to the chorus that begs to be shouted out. Add in the harmonies and backing vocals juxtaposed with Billy Tee‘s raspy delivery, and it’s a winner.
The best album to listen to while sitting, doing nothing, on a filthy downtown sidewalk.
#9 – BULLETS AND OCTANE – Riot Riot Rock n’ Roll 🇺🇸
The most aptly named album of the year, Riot Riot Rock n’ Roll rampages through eight rowdy hard rock tracks. Bullets and Octane don’t seem to have a slow speed, even when they take their foot off the gas for something like “Rooftop Tears” they still rock. If you love your music hard and loud, check out “Chaos“, “Addicted to Outrage“, and “Lost, Crazy, Psycho“. “Ain’t Gonna Be Your Dog” — featured in the video below — has a bit of a punk feel to it and showcases Bullets and Octane in their natural environment, on stage.
The best soundtrack for a ski day or whatever adrenaline-fueled sport you’re into.
#8 – HAUNT – Mind Freeze 🇺🇸
Haunt just keeps churning out their brand of moody classic heavy metal and Mind Freeze is no exception. This is album is the most consistent album in this list, delivering dark and eerie metal on each track. Amazingly, this is one of three albums Haunt churned out this year. Trevor William Church is brilliant on guitar and vocals as well as songwriting, but the keyboards really take the album to the next level. They add a mysterious and ghostly layer to the songs, making them extra sticky. Highlights include “Light the Beacon“, “On the Stage“, and “Mind Freeze” which has an appropriately creepy video that you can watch below.
The best album for a deep listen, immersing yourself in all the layers.
#7 – THE METAL BYRDS – Life in 20 🇺🇸
The Metal Byrds hail from Austin, Texas and deliver well-written, well-crafted hard rock and power pop. The guitar work of Sly Rye is all over this album. A great example you should check out is the riffs and solo in “Impossible“. The impeccable voice of Suzanne Birdie stands out on the twangy “Tell Me“, a slightly countrified power ballad that — like all good power ballads — transforms into a kick-ass rocker. Be sure to check out the video of it below. Using pandemic super powers, The Metal Byrds actually released two EPs this year (Life in 20 and Byrds on a Wyre), but I could only choose one for this list. Life in 20 gets the nod by a beak.
The best EP of the year.
#6 – SMACKBOUND – 20/20 🇫🇮
20/20 was the first album of 2020 to really dig its hooks into me. Smackbound‘s name must’ve been inspired by how their music smacks you in the face. Smackbound is at their best on synth-drenched, turbo-boosted metal songs like “Hey Motherfuckers“, “Run“, and “Drive it Like You Stole It” which I challenge you to listen to and keep yourself from cranking up the volume. You’ll lose.
The best album to drive to fast, with the windows down.
#5 – MASSIVE WAGONS – House of Noise 🇬🇧
From “In It Together”: “We’ll give em some big-time rock and roll / Big riffs big licks big moves…” That’s exactly what Massive Wagons delivers. Their sound is indeed massive with big hooks and good time themes. My favourite song of 2020 is “The Curry Song“, which is groovy, cheeky, fun, and makes me hungry. “Bangin’ in Your Stereo” is anthemic and just begging for a live treatment.
The best album to throw on at a party.
CGCM Album Review: Massive Wagons – House of Noise by Coxy
#4 – LUCIFER – Lucifer III 🇸🇪
From top to bottom, Lucifer III is filled with occult Rock and Roll that would fit in perfectly with the soundtrack of a 70’s Hammer horror film. The band is great, but the vocalist Johanna Sadonis is simply amazing with a sultry and powerful delivery. Their third album, each better than the previous, serves up more of the brooding darkness their fans have become accustomed to. This is no goth album, it rocks and deserves to be cranked. You have to check out “Leather Demon“, “Pacific Blues“, and my favourite “Midnight Phantom“, and the video for it is just a click below.
I have it on good authority that this is Satan‘s favourite album of 2020.
#3 – THE CADILLAC THREE – Tabasco & Sweet Tea 🇺🇸
With Tabasco & Sweet Tea, The Cadillac Three concocted a recipe of southern rock, funk, fuzz, a dash of metal, a smidge of hip hop, and a pinch of Bob Marley. Another writer described them as Sabbath on cornbread, which pretty much nails it, and thus the song “Sabbath on Cornbread” acts as a nice intro. I love my cornbread with a bunch of ingredients, and The Cadillac Three deliver. It’s fun, unique, and absolutely worth a spin. I dig every song on this one, but a few that really stand out are “Crispy“, “Money Ain’t Shit“, and “Road Soda“.
The best album to share with your Country music-loving friends.
#2 – THE RUMOURS – Suck It 🇺🇸
Suck It is pure Rock and Roll swagger, with a garage punk vibe. Imagine the attitude and songwriting of Kiss (think lines like “Oh babe, I wanna put my log in your fireplace…“) reworked into a modern rock sound from a female-fronted band. The Rumours energy is amazing. Every song begs to be cranked loud. Standouts include “Caroline Brown“, “Phone Calls“, and “Put Your Love on My Face” (seriously, if Gene Simmons were a woman, he could have written this song).
This is definitely the I’m too old to like this as much as I do album of the year.
#1 – GIRISH AND THE CHRONICLES – Rock The Highway 🇮🇳
I cannot say enough about this album. It’s just brilliant and, like any great album, gets better each time I listen. GATC is based out of Bengaluru, India but sounds like they could have sprung from the Whiskey a Go-Go stage. Vocalist Girish Pradhan has ridiculous range and can sing just about anything metal – check out this tribute to AC/DC for proof. Guitarist Suraz Sun tears it up. For a small sample marvel at about the 3:00 mark in the pandemic lock down video below. There are no filler tracks here, but if you’d like to sample the best check out “Bad Shepherd“, “She’s Heavy Metal“, and “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay“.
Simply the best album of 2020.
CGCM Album Review: Girish and The Chronicles – Rock The Highway by Attila Kiss
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Dave Wilks
Don’t forget to take a look at all our Best of 2020 content including the COLLECTIVE BEST ALBUMS LIST (culminated via the ratings in the individual lists), all our contributors’ individual best lists, podcast episodes and Radio DJ shows CGCM’s Best of 2020 (Year in Review)