It’s coming to the end of 2020 and on the whole, it’s been memorable for all the wrong reasons. Lockdown restrictions as a result of COVID-19 has greatly impacted most people’s lives in one way or another, and some semblance of normality still seems far away. However, the arts and entertainment has been one of the few things keeping everyone’s sanity in check. There’s been no shortage of great music this year and it’s been fun escaping into the variety of awesome sounds that have come out.
I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing some killer releases this year from across the musical spectrum and made plenty of new discoveries. Some of my favourite bands have released great new material this year and some of the songs have become my new favourites. Being the Sodomaniac that I am, of course, my favourite thrashers Sodom are among my top albums of 2020 with Genesis XIX. It brings an awesome old-skool vibe with shades of the classic albums and a rougher sound that’s refreshing after its more melodic and polished predecessors. I’ve also been heavily anticipating the new Finntroll album and Vredesvävd didn’t disappoint. However much I love the band’s cheesier sounds, I love the fact the new album delivered a darker, atmospheric sound. It would take ages to discuss everything I reviewed but in short I’d recommend Onslaught’s Generation Antichrist and Evildead’s United States of Anarchy for some more awesome new thrash!
There’s also plenty of other records, metal or otherwise, that I covered on my blog (Critical Madness) or didn’t review that have blasted through my headphones. Ihsahn’s Pharos EP really made an impact, especially not having followed his past couple of releases. I love the more mainstream sound and the heavy cover of A-ha’s “Manhattan Skyline” (with stunning vocals from Einar Solberg) has been on regular rotation. Other records from bigger bands I’ve enjoyed include Testament’s Titans of Creation and Ensiferum’s Thalassic. I’ve also been proud to support more local bands here in Scotland and think they all deserve a shout out here. Check out Ifreann, Hellripper, Virus and Night Fighter who have all put out cool releases this year. I’ve enjoyed more non-metal music this year and two albums have really stood out. Lady Gaga’s smash Chromatica has been on constant play when I’ve been with friends or the occasional time I’ve had shifts at my day job. The other is Miley Cyrus’ recent LP Plastic Hearts. The former is a collection of retro sounding dancepop that’s certain to get the clubs bouncing when they open again, and the latter is another retro mix – instead blending new wave, synth, alt-rock and country. Both are incredibly catchy with no bad songs in my opinion, and both artists put on an incredible vocal performance. If you fancy giving something more mainstream a go I’d thoroughly recommend them.
Considering most of this year has been spent in my living room, it’s hard to talk about gigs. They’ve been one of the things I’ve missed the most and I really can’t wait to the first metal gig I can get to in Glasgow! Looking back, I’ve only been to two gigs this year – Cannabis Corpse/Withered/Tempered in Edinburgh in January and Testament/Exodus/Death Angel in Glasgow in March. It was good getting to mosh to some thrash and death metal live at least once this year and I remember the gigs were good fun. I just wish there were more of them!
Reflecting on 2020
Like for most people, one of the worst things about 2020 has been the inability to see friends and family. I’m generally an indoorsy person so isolating with my partner for the most part hasn’t been difficult. However, a hang out was always a highlight whenever it happened. Another thing that’s sucked is the cancellation of live entertainment. I’ve missed gigs a lot during lockdown, especially the annual Moshville Times coverage of Bloodstock. They’re an escape where you can get immersed in your favourite music with the artist directly, and I love reviewing them and sharing the experience. It’s not just bands though, it’s all artists who’ve had one of the main aspects of their career, and ultimately main sources of income, taken away from them. As an example, my partner and I regularly attended several of the drag shows in Glasgow, where they and many of our friends perform. They’ve been denied their work and online platforms for them, and any other performing artist, can have limited reach, and generate extremely limited income. We can only hope that restrictions on live performances ease sooner rather than later, but until that time we need to support our favourite performing artists however we can!
In more positive news, I passed my HND in Media and Communication with an A Grade which I’m very proud of. Working for Moshville Times these past seven years gave me the drive to pursue a career in the media, and undoubtedly a wealth of experience which contributed to my studies. As a result of this I created my own blog/review site, Critical Madness, where I cover all kinds of entertainment I enjoy, alongside my contributions to Moshville Times. There you can find reviews of video games, heavy metal and pop music as well as coverage of the Scottish drag and heavy metal scenes. I have lots more ideas for more varied future content and I hope to see a few of you there if you enjoy my work for Moshville Times!
Finally, given the above, I want to show some more support to the other artforms I enjoy besides heavy metal so I’d like to share some recommendations of what’s got me through lockdown. I love animated shows and watched plenty of cartoons including re-watches of classic South Park, Bob’s Burgers and American Dad. The South Park Pandemic Special was hilarious with great commentary on current affairs, like they’ve always done and I can’t wait for the rest of the new season. Another highlight has been DC’s recent Harley Quinn animated show – it’s grown up, but with plenty of daft funny moments with loveable impressions of the characters, especially Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. I’ve also recently been enjoying the new seasons of Bob’s Burgers.
I’ve not played many new games this year but I started playing more games outside of my mostly Nintendo oriented collection. However, Nintendo will always have my attention at times and I’ve been revisiting classics like Metroid Prime 2 on Gamecube and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on Wii. I’ve also enjoyed playing the NES and SNES virtual consoles on the Switch and it’s clear why so many of these retro titles are classics. One Nintendo franchise I never got into was Pikmin, however I enjoyed playing Pikmin 3 Deluxe a lot with my partner and found it’s a great game.
Outside of Nintendo I also revisited another of my all-time favourite games with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy on PS4. There have been many game franchises I’ve not tried before and I’ve had fun playing some top tier titles like Borderlands 2, Dead Space and Bioshock for the first time. I’d also recommend PSNow, where there’s a variety of classic PS2 and PS3 games as well as more recent titles and indie games to try out. The main game that’s got my attention right now however is Persona 5. It’s a brilliant JRPG that feels like you’re playing through an anime series. The gameplay is fun, the characters are loveable, the story is awesome and the soundtrack is killer with its standout blend of jazz, funky disco and rock.
2021 and Beyond
With the recent announcement of further lockdown measures over the next four weeks, restrictions don’t look like they’re going to be eased any time soon and it looks like I’m staying in isolation. However I’m still looking forward to the return of live performances. With all of the great records released in 2020, I’m sure the artists are dying to tour their new material and it’s certain to be a party at every show when they can happen. I also hope festivals can go ahead this year – I’m still determined to see Vio-lence (and many others) at Bloodstock! In the meantime however there will be plenty of cool new albums to headbang to, my list so far including King Diamond’s The Institute, Exodus’ Persona Non Grata, Carcass’ Torn Arteries and of course the new Voivod album. I will still be covering any rock and metal that piques my interest for Moshville Times and I hope to begin helping Mosh out more behind the scenes and gain some editorial experience. I hope you have been enjoying what we do and continue to support us through 2021, out of lockdown and into the future!