With the dumpster fire that was 2020 nearly — and thankfully — in the rearview mirror, we made our selections for the top 25 albums of the year. Then we asked you the fans for your No. 1 pick. Among the runner-ups, once we'd tallied the many votes cast across social media, were Testament's Titans of Creation, Bring Me the Horizon's Post Human: Survival Horror and Mr. Bungle's The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (and of course, the trolls among you chose Tool's Fear Inoculum). But five other records rose clearly to the fore. Below are your top five picks.
Trivium have never been afraid to polarize their fans, veering from melodic metalcore to throwback thrash to a more hard-rock-inflected sound across their career, while frontman Matt Heafy alternately embraced and abandoned harsh vocals. All of which makes the Floridian metal stalwarts' ninth full-length something of a crowd-pleaser. An immediately gripping listen with plenty to offer old-school heads and newbie fans alike, the LP practically bursts with anthemic choruses, vicious screams and, of course, lots of instrumental shredding.
Lamb of God stand as one of the leading torchbearers of tried-and-true heavy metal today, and to that end, their 2020 offering stuck close to the script, in the best way possible. This was especially important considering the circumstances: specifically, the band's recent split with founding drummer Chris Adler. Fortunately, LOG's first release with his full-time replacement Art Cruz — the album, pointedly self-titled — finds the Virginia bruisers hardly missing a beat. Indeed, new fan favorite "Resurrection Man" is one of their nastiest cuts to date.
The U.K. is a hot bed of blazing young heavy-music talent right now — see Venom Prison, Higher Power, Employed to Serve, Leeched and others. Chief among such rising stars sit metal experimentalists Loathe, who fuse Deftones-esque shoegazery with mosh-pit-primed metallic hardcore and eardrum-scouring industrialism. Gauzy and gorgeous yet utterly terrifying, their breakthrough second album, I Let It In and It Took Everything, rightly earned high marks from Deftones' Chino Moreno himself — as well as from Revolver's readers here.
Any time the Deftones release a new album, it's an event, and Revolver followers are sure to come out. Ohms delivered in spades, a shimmering scourge of down-tuned reverie that's arguably the band's best since White Pony. Yet, while Deftones may be conjuring the same wistful desperation that made them alt-metal superstars in the Nineties, singer Chino Moreno's themes are au courant for 2020's challenges. On "Ohms," he leads us into a dark place full of longing and despair before offering a resolute statement of hope. "Time won't change this," he sings. "This promise we made. And time won't change this. We shall remain."
How do you top an album as creatively ambitious and ferociously inventively as 2017's Forever, our pick for the top album of that year? If you're Code Orange, you roar back with more of everything, and barely blink an eye if a global pandemic throws the idea of touring behind your new LP out the window. Dense with gnarly metallic hardcore riffage, industrial beats, horror-videogame-soundtrack textures, infectious alt-rock hooks and mind-melting conceptual surrealism, Underneath is the sound of a band dead set on claiming the heavy-music world as their own. It's also your pick for 2020's best.