Greg’s Top 20 of 2020 Part 2

As promised in Part 1, I am offering you my personal best of the best in this

second part of my top 20 albums of 2020. If you are looking for a mainstream list,

this isn’t the review for you. There is so much more music out there in the world

that many people have no clue about. Songs and albums that are written by some

of the most talented artists to walk this fine place that we call Earth. So, without

further ado, here are my top 10 album picks of this not so great year. The music

has made it somewhat bearable.

10. Black Fate


Rockshots Records

October 23, 2020

Coming in at number 10, and hailing from Larissa, Greece, are a progressive,

power metal band known as Black Fate. Black Fate formed way back in 1990. Why

did I not discover them until 2020? Ithaca is the 4 th full length release and the

bands first album since 2016’s Deliverance of Soul. In addition, Black Fate have

released several demos and promo albums in their early years. The album kicks

off with a symphonic intro titled “From Ashes to Dust.” The album quickly takes

off with some serious melody and technical musicianship with title track “Ithaca.”

Crisp vocals shine atop the heavy, yet melodic arrangement. As the album moves

forward with single “Maze,” Black Fate continues to impress with heavy, catchy

riffs, string arrangements, amazing solos, and powerful vocals. Mixed in with the

heavy is the subtle ballad, “Rainbow’s End.” With acoustic guitars, a perfectly

arranged string section, and beautifully written vocal harmonies, this track stands

on its own. I’m a sucker for a slow song. Every album should have at least one,

right? If this review was based solely on technical ability alone, I would rank this

album much higher. However, there is much more to an album. I look forward to

learning more about these guys. They’re definitely on my radar.

9. Fates Warning

Long Day Good Night

Metal Blade Records

November 6, 2020

More Progressive Metal come in at number 9. Fates Warning, one of the

innovators of progressive metal, return with their 13 th release, Long Day Good

Night. Fates Warning having been offering fans their technical prowess since

1984. The follow up to 2016’s Theories of Flight gives you exactly what you’d

expect from these seasoned veterans. Time signature and tempo changes

throughout along with endless riffs and melodies, with Ray Alder’s powerful

vocals sprinkled on top. What more could you ask for? Long Day Good Night is

my favorite Fates Warning album since Parallels, which says a lot because the 6

albums released in between, are all top notch recording as well. Fates Warning

never disappoints. This is a must have album for any and all fans of metal.

8. Armored Saint

Punching the Sky

Metal Blade Records

October 23, 2020

Back to back albums courtesy of Metal Blade records. Back to back albums

featuring bassist extraordinaire, Joey Vera. Armored Saint return with their classic

metal sound on their 10 th full length effort, Punching the Sky. One of the most

underrated bands of all time, Armored Saint offer no frills, true heavy metal. In

fact, they are one of the few true metal bands to emerge from the historic Sunset

Strip in the early/mid 80’s. Armored Saint have never deviated from their roots

and stand apart from the rest. Even after nearly 30 years, with a break in between

while vocal powerhouse, John Bush, fronted Anthrax in the 90s, you can still hear

the NWOBHM influence in their music. True to form, Armored Saint does not

disappoint on this latest release. Each and every song has the key components to

making a great song. A solid rhythm section, catchy riffs, powerful vocals, and the

ever-important hook. Thank you for continuing to stick to your roots and not

giving in to the mainstream hype.

7. Thundermother

Heat Wave

AFM Records

July 31, 2020

Coming at you from Stockholm, Sweden at number 7 is Thundermother with their

4 th release Heat Wave. The album features mainstay, founding member, and lead

guitarist Filippa Näsill, vocalist Guernica Mancini, drummer Emlee Johansson, and

newcomer Majsan Lindberg on bass, who replaces the departed Sara Pettersson.

For those you that are not familiar with Thundermother, the band originally

formed in 2009. In 2017, the other 4 original members departed the band leaving

Näsill to recruit new member to continue moving forward. On to the album. Heat

Wave is an in your face rock n roll album. The music remains similar to the

original lineup, but with the blues infused vocals of Mancini, and the steady

rhythm section of Johansson and Lindberg, Thundermother is now a rock n roll

powerhouse and if they have their way, they will be a force to be reckoned with in

the world of rock n roll for years to come. I highly recommend that you check this

album out if you haven’t done so already.

6. Vhäldemar

Straight to Hell

Fighter Records

October 6, 2020

Next up on the list is another “Why did I not discover these guys sooner?” Formed

in the late 90’s and hailing from Biscay (Basque Country, Spain), I present to you,

Vhäldemar and their 6 th opus, Straight to Hell. Upon discovering the singles “Hell

IS on Fire” and “Afterlife” on Spotify, I quickly checked out their previous works of

art and then eagerly anticipated this record. Released on October 6 th , Straight to

Hell quickly became one of my go to albums over the last two months of 2020.

This is pure heavy metal at its finest. From beginning to end, the heavy riffs, bone

crushing drums, and powerful vocals take control of your soul. I urge everyone to

check these guys out. Until the 7 th opus, give your earholes the pleasure of

soaking in the epic catalogue of gems provided by Vhäldemar.

5. Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons

We’re the Bastards

Nuclear Blast

November 13, 2020

Following the death of Motörhead frontman/bassist Lemmy in 2015, guitarist Phil

Campbell announced a solo project with various artists. Around the same time in

2016, he also from a new project featuring his three sons; guitarist Todd, bassist

Tyla, and drummer Dane, along with former Attack! Attack! vocalist Neil Starr.

The band, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. We’re the Bastards is another

album released late in 2020 that quickly garnered my attention. These guys are

straight forward rock n roll. Bluesy oriented riffs, thunderous drums, bass that

makes you groove, and crisp, strong vocals, and a hook that will suck you into

every song. I can’t get enough of this album. 13 songs. 13 earworms.

4. Shok Paris

Full Metal Jacket

No Remorse Records

July 7, 2020

Way back in the late 1980’’s, classic Ohio power metal band, Shok Paris, were on

the top of their game. They were signed to the now defunct IRS record label and

toured with the likes of the iconic Savatage. Fast forward 31 years from the

release of their last album, Concrete Killers, Shok Paris made their return in 2020

with an album that has a sound that would fit perfectly around the recordings of

Steel and Starlight and the aforementioned Concrete Killers. First things first, you

can’t name an album Full Metal Jacket without a movie reference. Cue Vincent

D’Onofrio… “Are those live rounds? 7-6-2 millimeter. Full Metal Jacket…” The

intro, “The Creed” incorporates lines from the infamous movie with the same

name, Full Metal Jacket. On to the actual music. After 31 years away from the

music world, you might wonder if a band or artist still has what it takes and bring

the same energy that they did in the past. No need to wonder here, Ken Erb, Vic

Hix, and company brought their A-Game for this effort. Power metal at its finest.

Another no frills, in your face, metal album. Vic Hix’s vocals are as powerful as

ever. The guitar playing of Ken Erb and John Korzewka is top notch. Add Ed

Stephens’ phenomenal bass wizardry, and Dono on Drums and you get a classic

metal album that was well worth the 31-year wait.