Beneath The Surface’s Top 10 Releases of 2020

Check out our countdown of the best new releases this year!

Although a year quite unlike any other, an abundance of incredible new music burst onto the scene from the moment 2020 begun. From new releases by already beloved artists, to the emergence of incredible new bands looking to conquer the charts, the year has brought a new, more unified sense of community into the world of rock and metal.

Predominantly focusing on the current social climate, with issues such as the ongoing pandemic, US Election and Black Lives Matter Campaign all becoming inextricably tied into our everyday lives, the metal world has never been quite as focused and reflective as it is right now.

Now, as the tumultuous year finally draws to a close and we get ready to begin a new chapter, reflect on the array of new music with our top ten highlights from 2020!

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10. The Ghost Inside- The Ghost Inside

If there was ever a year in more dire need of hope, it has been 2020. That is why, when The Ghost Inside announced their return after a five-year hiatus, a simultaneous sigh of relief was shed amongst the metal community. 

A release founded on perseverance and determination, the album is the first release from the band since their tragic bus crash back in 2015. After their drummer was left comatose and faced the amputation of his leg, the singer was left unable to walk and with their guitarist still undergoing surgery, the album became a vital message of hope for those downtrodden by the current circumstances. 

Choosing not to let their previous trauma define them, the unusual spark of energy and positivity generated by the self-titled release instead provided the perfect perspective for 2020- giving audiences a sense of relief in an otherwise disastrous year.

Check out our review of The Ghost Inside here!

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9. Dead Man’s Chest- ‘Dear God’ EP

With the recent influx of new artists breaking into the scene, few seemed to capture our attention to the same extent as Dead Man’s Chest. With their unique approach to both Hardcore and Thrash, the surge of energy and raw passion conveyed by the band in just two songs is something unchallenged by most artists currently on the scene. 

With their self-proclaimed “Circle-pit energy” prevailing in full-force as the band provide the perfect blend of Slayer, Machinehead and Lamb of God, the EP is the perfect dose of nostalgia for those desperately seeking the return of live-performances.

Check out our review of Dear God here!

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8.  Avatar- Hunter Gatherer

Back with their highly-anticipated new album, Avatar sent tidal waves across the metal industry with their latest release, Hunter Gatherer. Teasing listeners with their first single, ‘Silence In The Age Of Apes’ over three months before the release of the full album, the hype building towards the album wasn’t met with disappointment. 

With eruptive tracks such as ‘Colossus’ and ‘Wormhole’ demonstrating their distinctively heavy, yet catchy sound, Hunter Gatherer was the reassuring nod back to the band’s Black Waltz era, satisfying fans who eagerly awaited the release.

Check out our review of Hunter Gatherer here!

Also, check out our review of ‘Silence In The Age Of Apes’ here!

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7.  Front Country- ‘The Reckoning’

A more sombre approach than the releases previously mentioned, Front Country’s approach to 2020 was one quite unlike any other. Almost foreshadowing the pandemic through their lyrics, written back in 2019, the sickness in question throughout the song was only meant to be a metaphor. 

Blending Rock, Country and Blues Americana together in the track, ‘The Reckoning’ perfectly exemplifies how a track doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly technical to have an impact on listeners.

Using stunning vocal melodies, enchanting harmonies and simple, yet effective layering of instruments throughout, the track brings further awareness issues including the US Election, the Pandemic and the ongoing Black Lives Matter Campaign with utter ease. 

Check out our review of ‘The Reckoning’ here!

Check out our interview with Front Country here!

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6.  Weekend Picnic- ‘Suffer The Silence’

Erupting onto the scene with their first-ever release earlier this year, Minnesota-based band, Weekend Picnic caught listeners off-guard with their debut track, ‘Suffer The Silence’. 

A fusion of some of the biggest names in rock, including Shinedown, Alter Bridge and Trivium with their sound, ‘Suffer The Silence’ immediately labelled the band as a force to be reckoned with. Having already found their signature sound by seamlessly incorporating elements of both high-intensity and solemn melancholy, the band have captured the sound that makes them accessible to virtually any audience and labels them as one to keep an eye out for in 2021.

Check out our review of ‘Suffer The Silence’ here!

Check out our interview with Weekend Picnic here!

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5.  Mushroomhead- A Wonderful Life

Despite forming over a quarter of a century ago, Mushroomhead have recently proven that their heyday is not yet over with their latest album, A Wonderful Life.

Their first release with Jackie La Ponza as an official member, now with the alias of “Ms Jackie”, A Wonderful Life aptly conveys the misery, turmoil and eeriness of the Pandemic-rife society in which it was created. Taking their distinctive blend of Alternative Metal, Techno and Industrial Metal, the more solemn and emotive release brings the band’s extensive discography to a higher level, incorporating more refined and socially-aware elements into their quirky and disjointed image.

With tracks such as ‘The Heresy’ and ‘What A Shame’ incorporating hints of Evanescence and standing out as some of their strongest releases yet, Mushroomhead can be forgiven for the extensive length of the album, as the sound captured perfectly encapsulates the haunting aura that surrounds 2020.

Check out our review of A Wonderful Life here!

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4.  Oceans- The Sun And The Cold

At our number four slot comes a band that recently burst into the metal scene and reinvented the way that new bands are perceived. Getting signed to the iconic record label, Nuclear Blast, before they played a single live show, it was immediately clear that up-and-coming band, Oceans, have captured something unique with their sound and image. 

A hybrid of Death Metal, Post-Rock and Nu-Metal, the band’s overarching theme serves to raise awareness against the stigmas around mental health. With their thunderous, melancholic sound, what stands out most in The Sun And The Cold is the band’s ability to convey an underlying sense of hope throughout the release. Now, after capturing our attention and establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with, we are highly anticipating what is yet to come from the band.

Check out our piece on The Sun And The Cold here!

Check out our interview with Oceans here!

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3.  Kiko Loureiro- Open Source

Having already made his mark as one of the most diverse guitarists on the scene, the debut solo release from Kiko Loureiro proved to be worth the wait. Detouring away from his sound as the lead guitarist of both Megadeth and Angra, Open Source instead showed the musician returning to his origins and paving the way for a new genre.

Teaming up with former Megadeth guitarist, Marty Friedman in the track, ‘Imminent Threat’, the duo captured a sound quite unlike any other, providing one of the most technically-flawless tracks of recent years. Yet, with tracks such as ‘EDM (E-Dependent Mind)’, Loureiro firmly established himself as more than his Metal foundations, with subtle nods towards his Bossa Nova roots and exploration of Djent riffs.

Check out our review of ‘EDM (E-Dependent Mind)’ here!

Also, check out our review of ‘Imminent Threat’ here!

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2.  Katatonia- City Burials

After nearly calling it quits back in 2018, Prog fans across the globe surely shed a sigh of relief as Katatonia released potentially their strongest album to date earlier this year.

An emotive release of epic proportions, each song on City Burials conveys not only a purpose, but highlights the band being at the top of their game. Emotive and heart-rending, yet also able to pack a brutal punch, the entirety of the release stands out as some of the most refined and technically precise work in the metal scene.

Conveying a journey, ranging from the eruption of ‘Behind the Blood’ and ‘Heart Set To Divide’, to the stunning and eloquent simplicity of ‘Flicker’ and ‘Lacquer’, the album stands head and shoulders above the rest of Katatonia’s excessive discography, becoming our favourite album released in 2020.

Check out our review of City Burials here!

1. Gojira- ‘Another World’

In a year filled to the brim with chaos, misery and disarray, it is somewhat unsurprising that metal-legends, Gojira, were the ones to capture the political and economic circumstances best with their latest single, ‘Another World’. 

Whilst nearly all artists have attempted to convey the current situation in their sound, none have done this quite as eloquently as the French Metal band in just one song. Refusing to shy away from making their voices heard, the message of ‘Another World’ is unmistakable.

Carrying overt messages of Veganism, Global Warming and the exploitation of our natural world, the band deliver what is potentially the most powerful and vital releases of the past year. 

With their distinctive sound, unmissable message and, as ever, their technical precision, ‘Another World’ is a track that we hope continues to resonate with audiences across the globe, much like the rest of their discography.

Check out our review of ‘Another World’ here!

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What did you think of our list? Is there anyone we missed?

Let us know your thoughts via the comment section below!

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