Dec 132020


Stereogum easily qualifies as one of the “big platform” web sites whose year-end lists of metal we perennially include in our LISTMANIA series. Of course, the site appeals to an audience of music fans much larger than devoted metalheads, but its staff includes a talented and tasteful group of metal writers who among other things are responsible for the site’s monthly “The Black Market” column, which has been a great source of discovery for extreme music for eight years running now.

It follows that Stereogum‘s annual metal list is one I especially look forward to seeing every year, and the 2020 edition appeared last Friday. It again consists of only 10 entries, collectively assembled by Ian Chainey, Aaron Lariviere, and Wyatt Marshall. As usual, it’s preceded by a long essay that offers thoughts about the year that’s about to gasp its last breath, this time written by Ian Chainey.

That opening essay includes a statistic that doesn’t surprise me, given the torrent of music we’ve seen this year, and won’t surprise most of you — that as of early December Encyclopaedia Metallum listed 22,275 metal releases that had either come out this year or were planned for the remainder of 2020; 7,835 of those are full-lengths. Ian wrote: “Once the dust settles, it’s likely that 2020’s total number of full-lengths will eventually exceed 2019’s all-time record of 8,121”. That this has happened, in THIS YEAR, might indeed seem weirdly counterintuitive.

But maybe not so weird after all, for reasons I’m sure most of us have already reflected upon. Most of us have a lot more time on our hands, and a lot more anxiety and depression. Put those two together and it’s not shocking that artistic types have created a lot of art. This year I washed a lot more dishes, a lot more often.

Anyway, the whole essay is worth reading, as are the writers’ commentary about the albums they picked as the Top 10, and you can do that HERE.

As for the list itself, I actually loved all 10 of these albums — even the one in the Top Spot, which I had to be horsewhipped into listening to (figuratively speaking). Would I name these as the Top 10 metal albums of the year, or put Ravening Iron at No. 1? Fuck no. Because I’m incapable of making a Top 10 list!!! Or a Top 20… or probably even a Top 50… and trying to rank them would give me an even worse migraine.


10. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi (Nuclear Blast)

9. Esoctrilihum – Eternity Of Shaog (I, Voidhanger)

8. Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still (Debemur Morti)\

7. Krallice – Mass Cathexis (Hathenter)

6. Defeated Sanity – The Sanguinary Impetus (Willowtip)

5. Havukruunu – Uinuos Syömein Sota (Naturmacht)

4. Kaatayra – Toda História Pela Frente (Mospharic)

3. Turia – Degen Van Licht (Eisenwald)

2. Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum – Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine (I, Voidhanger/Entropic)

1. Eternal Champion – Ravening Iron (No Remorse/Sword Worship)


  1. Wait, wait, wait…who cares about this list. The big news is someone got Islander to listen to clean singing and he enjoyed it.

    Dude, I’ve been telling you for years, you’re missing out…clean vocals need just as much adjustment as harsh vocals, but once they click there’s some killer stuff out there

    • I know you beat this drum just about every time I see you at the annual MDF reunions. Eternal Champion definitely clicked, and I can think of others for sure (this year, Spirit Adrift comes to mind). But I suspect it’s still going to be a rare thing with me.

      • That’s how it starts dude. Some Iron Maiden here….some Candlemass there. Next thing you know you’re going to be running through the Pacific Northwest singing about how Manowar kills poseurs with steel!

  2. I’ve never seen anyone compile stats around the number of metal releases in a year; similarly, I never would have fucking guessed over 22,000!!! That’s insane. By my count I listened to 163 different albums this year, or 0.7% of all metal releases. Jesus Christ man. No more feeling bad for missing releases for this guy.

    • Hell no, and I sure don’t feel bad either. The amount of metal coming out this year, and in recent years in general, is just ridiculous. Doesn’t mean it’s all good, of course. I spend a lot of time trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, but I still realize I’m just scratching the surface.

  3. I love the guys at Black Market. Greatest column on the site.

    I enjoyed everything on this list a whole bunch (except the Krallice, because I hadn’t heard it yet)

    My favorites from the list are Havukruunu, Ulcerate and Eternal Champion. His voice is one of my favorite in the clean style.

    • I also love the Black Market, in all its various iterations. That said, if you have any nostalgia for the pop music of decades gone by, The Number Ones gives it competition as their best column!

      Like everything on their list with the exception of Oranssi Pazuzu, which I found quite underwhelming.

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