2020 Crew Review: James “Jim” – Senior Editor

Oh, that time again? Dang, I guess I’d best string some words together.

This year has been a pretty weird one for me personally, as I’ve found myself growing more and more detached from music as a whole and I’m probably not the only one. As Ross said in his review, the live music industry has had the bottom well and truly fall out of it which means I actually only went to one concert this year. Well, I attended some virtual concerts but they’re not the same as an in-person experience. However, there has been a steady slew of albums that have been coming out this year and the quality has been nothing less than top-notch in many cases. As always, I’ve rambled far too much so let’s get to some actual meat and potatoes of a list.

Album of the Year

In a break from tradition in my lists, my album of the year is the new Mors Subita album Extinction Era. Since coming out last month, I don’t think there’s been a day that I’ve not listened to at least one song from it. It delivers everything I want from a metal album and so much more. From the opening riff of “Sick”, the harrowing melodic choruses of “Strain” and the aptly titled “Into Eternity”, there’s not a single song on this album that isn’t fantastic. Compared to the previous album, this is a true step up for the band and an album that I can’t not list as number one.

Top Albums (No order)

  • Enslaved – Utgard A classic case of Enslaved being Enslaved and creating one of the best progressive metal albums of the year.
  • Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia Whilst this might not be my album of year, it’s definitely one that’s had a heck of a lot of play time. The next logical step forward in the band’s evolution and an album that begs to be listened to in full, it’s part of the reason I ended being in the top 0.5% of listeners on Spotify (oops).
  • Heaven Shall Burn – Of Truth And Sacrifice The German titans return with one of their strongest albums to date. The lyrics in particular are quite poingnant for the times as well.
  • Mors Principum Est – Seven One of those happy discoveries after trawling through youtube one day and having it be in the recommended. “Master of the Dead” is a track that I never get tired of listening to.
  • Trivium – What The Dead Men Say One of the few artists that I can say is aging like a fine wine and only continuing to get better each album. This album is no exception with it being “quintessentially Trivium”.
  • Metallica – S&M2 I’m a sucker for live albums with orchestras and this one is no exception. Sure, the setlist could have been a little better, but this is still a killer live album.
  • Svart Crown – Wolves Among The Ashes Whilst this album did take a while to grow on me, it was sure worth the repeated listens. One of those that definitely gets better after a few listens.
  • Dawn of Solace – Waves I almost forgot this came out this year. Slotting perfectly into Saukonnen-verse (yes, that’s a thing), it marks a perfect return to the doom filled roots of Saukonnen and I heartily look forward to what’s coming soon from the act.

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Top Live Streams (No Order)

  • Wolfheart
  • European Metal Festival Alliance
  • Century Media’s Isolation Fest
  • The many Trivium streams
  • Wacken World Wide

As mentioned before, I only attended one concert before the world collapsed which was Insomnium live in Manchester. In the absence of live shows, I attended a few virtual concerts which I was thoroughly impressed by. Century Media’s Isolation festival in particular was one that I thought was done really well. Although it would have been nice to have had more than 1 song from Insomnium, it was still nice to have them included alongside other acts including Borknagar and Svart Crown.

Best New Band I Discovered

I could list a lot of acts here as I’ve been trawling my playlists and music archive to find artists that are technically new and not just new to me. However, the one which I think deserves mentioning is Baest from the Netherlands. I first encountered them opening for Decapitated last year, and the band has only gotten stronger since then. Mixing the flavours of the past and new, the band are not only great to listen to on the record, but are a blast live. One of those acts that you need to see at least once.

Best Thing That Happened

I can’t not include this again.

Worst Thing That Happened

Probably the massive upheaval that the music industry is currently undergoing and all the potential job losses incurred from it. Hopefully when live music comes back, the venues we all know and treasure will be able to come back, too.

Most looking forward to in 2021

I’m quite looking forward to the Wolfheart Winterborn stream in mid January. That’s sure to be a really great stream. Aside from that, there’s a few albums that are in the works for next year which will no doubt be extremely enjoyable listens.

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Overall view of the year

Honestly, this year has been one where I’ve really re-evaluated what I spend my time doing and what I get enjoyment out of and that’s meant I’ve been cutting out a lot of things and revisiting others that I haven’t done in a while. Whilst that does mean I’ve not been anywhere near as active on the site as I would normally be, I’ve been able to get a much better balance in other areas of my life. Whether that means you’ll be seeing more of my writing on the site remains to be seen, but it’s possible you’ll see me around.

As to what the next year holds, I can honestly not tell. It’s very likely that concerts as we know them won’t return until late next year or early 2022. For many that’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but with live streams now a thing I think it’s possible we’ll still see live streams even once things open up more. We will of course still see releases from many artists, many of which as mentioned before will no doubt feature among some of our writers year reviews next year.

Thanks

  • Mosh – How you’ve not gone insane keeping this site going for so long is damn impressive. I owe you a crate of beers next time I see you.
  • Tristan – You’ve introduced me to so many cool bands this year which has kept me going in doing this. You’re another person I owe some beers to.
  • My housemates – You guys kept me sane this year.
  • You, the reader – Without you, there is no Moshville Times and I’m not sure what we’d be doing. Probably eating bacon sandwiches in the middle of a field somewhere. Because bacon sandwiches are awesome.
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