2020 Album of the Year: Unleash the Archers’ Abyss

Thursday, 31st December 2020

In a chaotic year that was full of disasters and misfortune, there was also a great deal of music to be had. With no touring in sight, there’s a world of music to digest and enjoy. In case you missed out on anything, you can check out our writers’ personal lists below and see if you can find a new favorite.

David E. Gehlke
Kyle McGinn
Matt Coe
Matthew Bowling
Sifting Through Bandcamp

As per the usual rules with this area, the releases below all found their way onto at least two staff writer’s personal lists in order to be eligible. We would like to thank everyone who checks out our site, it’s truly appreciated. May 2021 be another excellent year for metal (and hopefully a better one for the planet)!

1. Unleash the Archers – Abyss (Napalm)
Canadian force Unleash the Archers have been hitting home runs in the power world for years – Abyss aligns well with widening the fringes of their sound. Sometimes much heavier, sometimes a bit more commercial – never letting go of their love for traditional and power metal continues to pay dividends for their appeal to the underground and above. They are creatively hitting 80’s Queensryche/ Iron Maiden strides – shining bright with no burnout in sight. – Matt Coe

2. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (Nuclear Blast)
“It offers something for everyone.” That was the common refrain from Paradise Lost guitarist and primary songwriter Greg Mackintosh to yours truly during the making of Obsidian. He’s right, of course. The album pilfers from the band’s impeccable golden doom era, then veers into 1980s Goth and Draconian Times territory, making it Paradise Lost’s most varied album, since, well, 2015’s just-as-magnificent The Plague Within.

3. Dark Tranquillity – Moment (Century Media)
It was going to be tough to top Atoma, but Moment does just that. An experience dripping with emotion, thunderous riffs, and elegant melodies from beginning to end. It’s a sweeping listen that really pulls you in, and is all the more impressive considering the band has a completely new guitar section. Dark Tranquillity continue to be the torchbearers for the Gothenburg sound, even as they manipulate it into new and exciting territory. – Kyle McGinn

4. The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic (Nuclear Blast)
Like a fine wine, The Night Flight Orchestra continues to get better with age. Just when you think they can’t top the album before it, they go ahead and bring in some influences and sounds to make their retro rock even stronger and more addictive. Aeromantic is the pillar of their sound to date, and a ‘crank it loud’ look back to the past that truly embraces what it is. – Kyle McGinn

5. Armored Saint – Punching the Sky (Metal Blade)
We may not get a new Armored Saint record on a two to three-year basis like other artists, but you can always know that quality is a guarantee when these California gentlemen have something to say. Punching the Sky jabs, uppercuts, and delivers great songwriting and a killer performance from one of the best vocalists in the business with John Bush. Hard to dispute the master class execution of “Bark, No Bite” and “End of the Attention Span”, while a bit of the rhythm and blues/funk aspects kick in on “My Jurisdiction”. – Matt Coe

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