Each year, it seems that September is one of the strongest months in quality and depth of new releases, and that’s also the case in 2020. There was a plethora of outstanding albums, with narrowing down to the best six a real challenge. Here are our picks for September 2020’s best new metal albums.
1. Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism (Century Media)
With 15 prior albums under their belt, Napalm Death have very little left to prove to the metal world, being the fathers of grindcore and one of the most active and influential extreme bands to ever exist. Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism might be their strongest since 2009’s Time Waits For No Slave. Noise and atmosphere reign supreme on “Joie De Ne Pas Vivre” and “Amoral.” They both combine elements of Killing Joke and Throbbing Gristle here to a maximum and frightening effect while still maintaining the pace that you would expect from the band. This is just one of the reasons that this album is so diverse.
Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism is a special album that perfectly captures the apocalyptic spirit of the current global climate and is intended to be experienced on repeat until there is a proper solution. Expect to see this album adorn ample amounts of lists by year’s end. Nearly 40 years as a band and Napalm Death are far from done.
2. The Ocean – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic (Metal Blade)
Right out of the gate two things are obvious on Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic. First, this album lives up to, and in fact exceeds in some respects, its predecessor. And second, this is not merely a continuation of the first album, but another evolutionary step in The Ocean’s sound. Musically and vocally, II is the band’s most dynamic album to date, introducing a variety of vocal styles and effects as well as new more organic, even Eastern-influenced, musical motifs we haven’t heard from them before.
Once again produced by Jens Bogren, the sounds and mix are dead-on. Drums were tracked at the same time for II as they were for I, which keeps things consistent, and Bogren once again wields a deft hand on the console, augmenting the organic quality of the songs with an unobtrusive mix that keeps everything exactly where it should be. In short, these albums are a joy to listen to.
3. Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber (Century Media)
Oceans of Slumber’s self-titled album is their fifth release over seven years, so the group have made their mark and established their progressive sound. Cammie Gilbert’s clean vocal tones give way to growls layered with screams by Alexander Lucian and Semir Ӧzerkan. Soft acoustic melodies transition into a mania of Dobber Beverly’s kick drums and churning, distorted riffs.
“The Adorned Fathomless Creation” seems like a death metal song, but changes melodiously, while “Pray For Fire” has the opposite effect. Even when the music is slow and Gilbert presents her sweet vocal tones, Beverly’s drumming is an impetus that intensifies their songs. Piano and keys are of note too especially on “September (Those Who Came Before)” and “The Red Flower.” Gilbert joins Antimatter’s Mick Moss on the morose-yet-hopeful “The Colors of Grace.” “Wolf Moon” honors the original Type O Negative song while doing just enough to make it their own. Oceans of Slumber is a stunning work of beautiful darkness.
4. Skeletal Remains – The Entombment of Chaos (Century Media)
The Entombment of Chaos is an album that continues to push Skeletal Remains’ death metal beyond the mere adoration of old school stalwarts like Pestilence and Morbid Angel (at least in album naming scheme).
They blast the doors down on “Illusive Divinity” that’s chock full of crushing riffs and even some leads that would make Andy LaRocque blush. Once again to let death metal fans know how serious they are, legendary death metal artist Dan Seagrave was called in to give a great visual accompaniment to the very real auditory chaos contained within. “Enshrined In Agony” could have been an interlude on a Cynic or Death album as it showcases some excellent melodic playing to break up the chaos. Death metal in 2020 with a flair for the forefathers does not get much better than this.
5. Finntroll – Vredesvävd (Century Media)
It has been more than seven years since Finntroll‘s last studio album. Anticipation is high for the Finnish blackened folksters latest opus, Vredesvävd, which translates to “wrath-woven.”
After a cinematic intro, the album kicks in with “Att Döda Med En Sten.” It has a darker vibe that contrasts with “Ormfolk,” a rousing, uptempo track. Finntroll know how to blend folk, symphonic and black metal, varying the equation to add balance and variety.
Elements like the acoustic intro on “Vid Häxans Härd” also add diversity. It’s a skillful blend of memorable riffs and melodies contrasted with intense vocals from Vreth and augmented by a symphonic atmosphere. Minimal filler and quality songwriting from top to bottom make Vredesvävd one of Finntroll’s strongest efforts.
6. Aborted Fetus – Pyramids Of Damnation (Comatose)
There’s no shortage of brutality on Pyramids Of Damnation, the seventh album from Russian death dealers Aborted Fetus. The band has had a fair share of lineup changes over their two decades, and this is the first Aborted Fetus album for drummer Alexey Melyukhin.
And while tracks like “Earth’s Bloody Punishment” have the bludgeoning you’d expect, there are also progressive moments and some nice grooves. There are unexpected moments, such as the Middle Eastern flavored acoustic intro to “Queen’s Prophecy” before the intensity and Igor’s gutturals kick in. “Tombs Of Damnation” is an an instrumental that goes from cinematic to acoustic and also . The last proper song is also one of the album’s most impressive. Clocking in at seven minutes, “Pharoah Of Firstborn’s Execution” delivers plenty of aggression without losing any momentum. 66 minutes is a hefty dose of death metal, and though some pruning may have been prudent, it’s still a potent death metal album.
Other 2020 Monthly Best Metal Albums Lists
January 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
March 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
April 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
May 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
June 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
July 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums
August 2020 Best Heavy Metal Albums