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The Top 10 best death metal albums of 2020

Best death metal 2020

MHR343

In the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, we run down the Top 50 metal albums of 2020 as voted for by the magazine’s staff and writers. But away from the mainstream, exciting things were happening - not least in the ever-thrilling death metal scene. We counted up all the votes to find the Top 10 best death metal albums of 2020. Here are the results, from No.1 down to No.10 – and we can guarantee there will be absolutely no recounts with this one…

Metal Hammer line break

1. Cryptic Shift – Visitations From Enceladus

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Recent years have thrown up all manner of perverse new readings of death metal’s decades-old form, but Cryptic Shift offered something profoundly psychedelic, experimental and unhinged with their debut album. Kicking off with a 26-minute prog-death colossus, Moonbelt Immolator, said much of their ambition and desire to wrongfoot expectation, and even their more straightforward tracks were mind-expanding mini-symphonies of “phenomenal, technicological astro-death”, as their creators put it. Truly, music from another dimension.


2. Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still

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Death metal isn’t big enough to contain Ulcerate; even by their own warped standards Stare Into Death And Be Still felt transgressive. Marrying a mastery of dissonance and technicality to songs that exert real emotional weight, Stare Into Death And Be Still swung between disorientating unease and blastbeat blizzards. There was nothing else like it in 2020.


3. Ingested – Where Only Gods May Tread

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It really is about time that Ingested were properly recognised as the most important UK death metal band of their generation. Their fifth album was a masterpiece of ultra-modern savagery, with the Manchester outfit growing exponentially as songwriters without compromising their intensity. Other UK bands may get the plaudits, but diehard death metalheads know who the daddies are.


4. Sweven – The Eternal Resonance

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Led by Robert Andersson, formerly of much-missed progressive death metallers Morbus Chron, and named after that band’s swansong album, Sweven inhabit the same maverick space as countrymen Tribulation. Their debut album runs the gamut in terms of extreme style, from grandstanding noise to neo-folk. Definitely a band to watch.  


5. Cytotoxin – Nuklearth

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Chernobyl-obsessed Germans Cytotoxin’s fourth album was equipped with an explosive array of short, sharp and deadly death metal armaments. The sickening sense of dread lashed across the album was relentlessly and palpably potent, with the interlude Dead Zone Anthem and closer Mors Temporis gifting brief moments of sanctuary from this brutally impressive, enjoyable assault.


6. Dark Tranquillity – Moment

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The Gothenburg veterans’ 12th album was the sound of a band demanding the same kind of recognition bestowed on fellow melodeath pioneers In Flames and At The Gates. Rarely have DT sounded as urgent as they do here, packing all of their strengths into one 50-minute voyage. Anthemic, pummelling and heartstring-plucking, Moment deserved all the acclaim it received.


7. Vader – Solitude In Madness

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Since 2016’s The Empire, Polish warhorses Vade have not only reconnected with their thrash roots, but performed with utmost ferocity. Recorded for the first time in the UK since their 1992 debut, The Ultimate Incantation, and packed with mostly two-minute to-the-point juggernauts, their 12th album of originals is their best in more than a decade.



8. Kaoteon – Kaoteon

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Having relocated from their native Lebanon to the Netherlands after one run in too many with the Lebanese police, Kaoteon delivered most cohesive, furious and fully realised project to date. Swinging from filthy d-beats and larynx-shredding roars to something more grandiose, Kaoteon may not have reinvented the wheel but it was understandably furious and uniquely heartfelt.


9. Necrophobic – Dawn Of The Damned

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Following 2018’s highly regarded Mark Of The Necrogram was never going to be an easy task, but Necrophobic acquitted themselves impressively. The Swedes compare what they do to AC/DC and there is a sense that they’re locked in an eternal return. Thankfully, another attribute they share with Angus and co is their dependable, formidable songwriting ability, as Dawn Of The Damned proved.


10 Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

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The fourth album from California’s Skeletal Remains was bigger, bolder and meaner than anything they’ve done before. While they remain rooted in classic 90s death metal, the bombastic delivery and impact was very much 2020.   


To read the full rundown of the 50 Best Albums Of 2020, pick up the new issue of Metal Hammer, which is on sale now.

The new issue features our review of 2020, including new interviews with Metallica, Deftones, Trivium, Puscifer, Evanescence, Bury Tomorrow, Code Orange and many more of the bands who defined your year.

Plus, we reveal our 50 best albums of 2020. And because it’s Christmas, this issue also comes with a ton of gifts – a 2021 calendar, a brand new heavy metal activity book and a CD featuring the best songs of 2020.

MHR343