As part of our annual LISTMANIA series we re-publish “best album” lists from some of the the few surviving print publications that cover metal, and from a handful of “big platform” sites that include metal in their on-line coverage, along with a range of other music genres and other aspects of popular culture.
Of course, as soon as you see the words “popular culture” you know those lists aren’t going to devote too much attention to the kind of music we cover at NCS. But it’s still amusing, and sometimes even edifying, to get a glimpse of what these “taste-making” organs are telling the above-ground world are the year’s best metal releases.
Last week Revolver magazine published their list of “The 25 Best Albums of 2020” on-line. Revolver claims that “millions of passionate consumers” visit their website and view their videos across desktop and mobile; that the print edition is the “biggest hard-rock and metal magazine in North America,” with a subscriber base that’s three times larger than the “next biggest U.S. metal print publication”; and that they have a “highly engaged social following with over 1B impressions per month across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
In perusing this list there’s a temptation to respond with snarkiness. But that’s not really my style. In addition, if you happen to be unfamiliar with Revolver, you’ll notice from one of those quotations that they cover hard rock as well as metal, which will be equally evident from a perusal of this new list. And of course they triangulate their choices to their own readership, and perhaps to advertisers who pay their bills. So it’s not really a revelation or a fair criticism to note that the list is unlikely to open your eyes to some new underground metal gem you haven’t heard of.
In further defense of the list (albeit a mild defense of a list I find generally useless, given my tastes), I’ll say that the descriptions which accompanied each album choice at Revolver did titillate my interest in a few things I either didn’t know existed or had consciously ignored. For example, I’m a fan of Chelsea Wolfe and had no idea that Miss Piss is a collaboration between her and her friend (and current go-to drummer) Jess Gowrie. Revolver describes it as “channeling the gnarliest, noisiest grunge-sludge sounds of the Nineties, plus plenty of the era’s riot grrrl attitude”. I’m going to give that one a shot.
I’m also tempted by a few other things I had neglected, including Ghostemane, Loathe, and Killer Be Killed, and a few others I’d never heard of, though there’s no way in hell I’m going to believe that an album by Bring Me the Horizon (which sits at No. 7 on the list) “sounds like the future of heavy music”.
I also did see some welcome names on the list, including Imperial Triumphant, Necrot, Gulch, and Spirit Adrift, but on the whole I guess it’s more a cultural artifact for me than anything else.
To see Revolver’s brief characterizations of each album (with links to reviews) and explanations for the choices, go HERE.
25. Imperial Triumphant – Alphaville
24. Touché Amoré – Lament
23. The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay
22. Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
21. Avatar – Hunter Gatherer
20. Necrot – Mortal
19. Puscifer – Existential Reckoning
18. Mrs. Piss – Mrs. Piss
17. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo
16. Nothing – The Great Dismal
15. Gulch – Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress
14. Lamb of God – Lamb of God
13. Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos
12. Poppy – I Disagree
11. Higher Power – 27 Miles Underwater
10. Ghostemane – Anti-Icon
9. Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero
8. Spirit Adrift – Enlightened in Eternity
7. Bring Me the Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror
6. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
5. Loathe – I Let It In and It Took Everything
4. Body Count – Carnivore
3. Greg Puciato – Child Soldier: Creator of God
2. Code Orange – Underneath
1. Deftones – Ohms