2020 has definitely been a strange one that’s for sure. Thankfully, through all the craziness and madness, there have been a few bright spots as far as new music goes. At least we have that during all this. And with all the time we’ve had, it’s been nice to be able to delve into band catalogs as well as discover some really good new bands and albums. So, here is a nice list (with links to the albums) for you to check out. These are the Best Albums of 2020…So Far (in no particular order by the way).
The 1996 movie Ransom, has something very cool about it that a lot of people don’t know. Ready for this, there are seven songs written for the film that Billy Corgan wrote and performed on. Originally, Howard Shore wrote and recorded a full score for the film but Director Ron Howard rejected it and went with notable composer James Hornerinstead, who collaborated with Billy Corgan. As a result, there are 7 tracks written, produced and performed by Corgan that all appear on Ransom’s soundtrack; namely “Lizards,” “Rats,” “Rats With Tails,” “Spiders,” “Squirrels,” “Worms 1” and “Worms With Vocals.” The end result are these 7 songs that are pretty spectacular and badass. This is definitely worth checking out!
Normally, I use this topic to highlight unsigned or up and coming bands but, since they are now an “independent” band, I thought, why not expand upon this topic a bit. Filteris back with their first new song in four years. This new track “Thoughts and Prayers” is taken from the now defunct ReBus sessions that Richard Patrick and Brian Liesegang began working on before the whole Pledge Music debacle. The upcoming Filter album, entitled Murica is due out later this year. “Thoughts and Prayers” definitely has a Short Bus feel to it in parts as well as a bit of an Amalgamut vibe, especially because of the heavy guitar riff and it’s a pretty angry track as well. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this album. Richard has mentioned that he hopes to include a few other songs that he and Brian worked on for this upcoming album.
Matt Heafy of Trivium is quite a prolific guitarist and vocalist. Through the years, when you listen back to Trivium’s early years till now, you can really tell how far he’s come and how his style has developed, especially vocally. I’m always curious to see what other bands people have guested on over the years and Matt has lent his talents a few times over time and here they are.
Ice Nine Kills- Stabbing In The Dark (Acoustic Version):
Ihsahn- Mass Darkness:
Metal Allegiance- Destination Nowhere:
Roadrunner United- The End:
On the Dragonforce album, Maximum Overload, Matt provided guest vocals on the songs “The Game”, “Defenders” and “No More”.
The Doors have long been a huge favorite of mine. They were one of the first bands I ever heard as a kid and have stuck with me since that point. When you look back at their catalog, there is a plethora of amazing songs hidden amongst all the songs you know. Even the ones you know, certain ones tend to become a bit underrated or under appreciated. For example “When The Music’s Over,” from their second album Strange Days, is definitely one that fits both that. Plus, on top of that, Robby Krieger’s guitar solo in this song, is superb. It’s got this amazing psychedelic sound that twists and turns in a way that slithers through your body, just as Jim Morrison would.
There are certain bands that when they come out, hit a mark with such a sense of vigor and prowess that each era of the band, leaves a lasting impression. Some people tend to become very attached to “that era” and it becomes their be all end all. The Smashing Pumpkins have so many different eras and shades of themselves that have created some very dominant ones for many fans. I will say that yes, there are certain favorites of mine but, a band like this, and so many other of their peers, have this ability to forever take you on a journey as they and you grow. The Smashing Pumpkins are definitely a band that will do just that. On the bands super deluxe version of the Siamese Dream anniversary edition, there is a DVD in there from a legendary show in the band’s hometown of Chicago, at the Metro. This is one hell of a show.
One of the best things about putting your iPod on random is the ability to rediscover songs you forgot about. The other day while driving home from hanging out with a friend, a song came on that was perfect for the drive. Thrice has long been a favorite band of mine since I first heard The Illusion Of Safety. The song that hit me was “The Flame Deluge” from their Alchemy Index, Fire album. This song is the closing track on that part. It’s quite a beautiful song, and it channels some really cool influences from the likes of Isis and Pelican (which isn’t a surprise since Thrice has toured and played shows with them through the years). I’d personally love it if one day at a show of their that I’m at, they played this one. It would be quite an epic one for sure.
Lamb Of God have been at this for over two decades now and have solidified their place in the heavy music community. Throughout their time, they’ve released two albums that have become classics in the metal world (As The Palaces Burn and Ashes Of The Wake). Now, in 2020, Lamb Of God have released a new album with a renewed sense of energy that hasn’t been heard from them in a long while. That’s not to say that this sounds like a different band, it’s still Lamb through and through. Longtime drummer Chris Adler is no longer in the fold and has been replaced with the very accomplished Art Cruz (formerly of Winds Of Plague and Prong).
This album definitely seems to pick up where their previous one, VII Sturm Und Drang left off. There’s plenty of intricate parts, thrashy elements and metal to go around as well as a new groove that seems to have energized all the members to pick it up a bit more. Album opener “Memento Mori” has some very cool vibes that show that this is more than just a run of the mill song. The clean vocals from Randy Blythe actually fit in really well on this track. “Checkmate” lyrically is hard charging but, musically it does sound a bit familiar. “Gears” offers a bit more of that new groove I mentioned. I have a feeling this song live would be crowd favorite. My favorite song on the new album is “Reality Bath.” This one shows off a lot of diversity in what this band can do. The arrangement on this song along with “that groove” makes this one a stand out. “New Colossal Hate” is straight up Lamb Of God. This song needs to be added to their set list. It definitely has a bit of an Ashes vibe to it as well. “Resurrection Man” is a pretty fun song in that it has a bit of a Pantera-ish vibe mixed with a bit a sort of prog element too. This would be an interesting one to hear live. “Poison Dream” features Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta. This song is another very Lamb sounding song. Jamey’s vocals do tend to get lost in the shuffle on this track. It would have been cooler if there was a badass breakdown and he was unleashed. “Routes” is a very introspective song lyrically about Randy’s time spent protesting at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Testament’s Chuck Billy guests on this track in a passionate way. “Bloodshot Eyes” is a song that musically could have fit very easily on guitarist Mark Morton’s solo album. The inclusion of mostly clean vocals on this one is sure to separate some fans but, it’s definitely a welcome change. “Off The Hook” closes out the album and this one is pretty hard charging.
This album is Lamb Of God doing what they do. It’s not reinventing the wheel. It does have a bit of a different vibe since Chris Adler is no longer involved but, it was needed change. Art Cruz, like I mentioned before, has brought a new energy and groove to the band. That groove he learned from playing in Prong, definitely shows through. Mark Morton and Willie Adler have really become quite the guitar duo over the years and on this album it really comes to light a bit more. John Campbell is a seriously underrated bass player. His style along with Art’s are super in sync and it allows for the right amount of breath to be let out on these songs. Randy Blythe’s vocals have really taken shape in interesting ways. He’s still ferocious and gritty but, being able to expand upon the dynamics of the songs with clean parts give these songs something more than just a run of the mill vibe. Overall, this album is solid and a great place to start anew. I can definitely see a few of these songs becoming live staples for a good amount of time. Also, I can really see Art Cruz finding his own place in this band and helping to push the boundaries of what this band can do.
A couple years back, the legendary DJ Shadow released his first new album in quite a few years entitled, The Mountain Will Fall. This album was a very welcome back for him and a lot of fans, like myself. One of the highlights on the album was that Run The Jewels was a guest on the track “Nobody Speak.” This song, the moment it was released, became an instant hit with pretty much everyone that heard it. The video too is something quite awesome. DJ Shadow has been known to do some great collaborations over the years working with people like Run The Jewels, Zach De La Rocha, UNKLE and many more. This one I think is my all time favorite of his collabs though. Enjoy!
Back in 2001, the first Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie with Angelina Jolie came out. There was a lot of hype about the movie and it was pretty meh. The one thing that I really enjoyed about this movie was the soundtrack, in particular, the song “Deep” by Nine Inch Nails. The song has some interesting history. It’s been argued that this was written specifically for the soundtrack while others say it was written during The Fragile era. I tend to agree with the latter. There’s even some speculation that “Deep” has some tie ins with the song “Even Deeper.” The video for the song is quite cool and interesting. The story in the video is told in reverse, with the end of the story beginning the video. Anyways, when you are a big Nine Inch Nails fan like myself, you tend to get excited anytime you hear a NIN song in a movie or trailer. This song is a pretty cool jam and deserves some more attention, so enjoy it!