BravePicks 2020 - The Scribes Speak! Nick Balazs

January 9, 2021, a year ago

news heavy metal bravepicks 2020 unleash the archers

BravePicks 2020 - The Scribes Speak! Nick Balazs

BravePicks 2020 - The Scribes Speak!
Nick Balazs

Top 20 Of 2020
1) UNLEASH THE ARCHERS – Abyss (Napalm)
2) HAUNT – Mind Freeze (Shadow Kingdom)
3) ADAMANTIS – Far Flung Realm (Independent)
4) ETERNAL CHAMPION – Ravening Iron (No Remorse)
5) ENSIFERUM – Thalassic (Metal Blade)
6) BLOODY HEELS – Ignite The Sky (Frontiers)
7) MY DYING BRIDE – The Ghost Of Orion (Nuclear Blast)
8) TRAVELER – Termination Shock (Gates Of Hell)
9) DARK FORTRESS – Spectres From The Old World (Century Media)
10) WYTCH HAZEL – III: Pentecost (Bad Omen)
11) THE SPIRIT – Cosmic Spirit (AOP)
12) VAMPIRE – Rex (Century Media)
13) ARMORED SAINT – Punching The Sky (Metal Blade)
14) SPELL – Opulent Decay (Bad Omen)
15) LUCIFER – Lucifer III (Century Media)
16) SPIRIT POSSESSION – Spirit Possession (Profound Lore)
17) NECROPHOBIC – Dawn Of The Damned (Century Media)
18) TESTAMENT – Titans Of Creation (Nuclear Blast)
19) HELION PRIME – Question Everything (Sailbot)
20) VICIOUS RUMORS – Celebration Decay (SPV)

Top 5 Brave Embarassments
OZZY OSBOURNE – Ordinary Man (Sony)
Ozzy’s record is an easy target for criticism. I give him credit for making new music and not resting on his laurels, but Ordinary Man is filled with meaningless, nonsensical guest spots and rushed songwriting. With that said, the title track with Elton John sticks out as a winner, but on an album full of misses, I would have settled for “ordinary” and not terrible.

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ – The God-Shaped Void (InsideOut)
A highly anticipated comeback album, I was just not feeling this one. A more mellow and non-psychotic listening experience, The God-Shaped Void proved to be underwhelming and too methodical.

BLUE PILLS – Holy Moly! (Nuclear Blast)
Total fall from grace. The debut is excellent, the follow-up is decent, but now they’ve lost what made them great – soulful blues. It didn’t help that first single “Proud Woman” was more focused on a message rather than the music. There are glimpses of that wondrous past, but overall such a disappointment.

DELAIN – Apocalypse & Chill (Napalm)
Everything about this album I should like, but the songwriting just failed this time around. A lot of great ideas, but not a lot of great songs. Delain are a top notch band and one of my favorites, but Apocalypse & Chill misses the mark.

L.A. GUNS – Renegades (Golden Robot)
Two L.A. Guns is not better than one, but apparently drummer Steve Riley disagrees. Name disputes aside, his version is a humdrum, boring record. Not much memorable and while I’m sure they gave it their all and wanted to make a statement considering the circumstances, Renegades fails at every level.

Thoughts On 2020
A topsy-turvy year that’s for sure. Keeping the eye on the music world; it sucked with the amount of exciting concert and tour packages that were postponed or canceled, but hopefully most people were able to listen to a lot of music and better yet: discover a few newer bands to support.

In the traditional metal realm, Haunt continues to impress as they almost took my #1 spot again after taking it in 2019 with If Icarus Could Fly. Canada’s Traveler are another excellent band and Termination Shock got a lot of replay value throughout the year. Eternal Champion, Spell, and Adamantis all impressed as well and should be on every radar of heavy metal fans although Adamantis is more power metal. Nothing impressed more, however than Unleash The Archers’ mega opus Abyss. They really have taken their songwriting to the next level and are filled with so much talent. It’s power metal that the non-power metal fan will enjoy. Not to be outdone however, veterans Armored Saint and Vicious Rumors proved the older generation still knows how to get it done. There was a great quality of music this year – Sodom, Deep Purple, Evildead, Glacier, H.E.A.T., and Dark Sarah were some top notch stuff as well, but just sat outside my top 20.

What/Who Needs To Stop In 2021
I like buying, listening, and collecting vinyl as much as the next guy, but do we really need an endless number of variants for a new release or reissue? There’s a fine line between having options and colors that make sense in regards to the album and then there’s some where it just looks like a cash-grab to take advantage of consumers.

Metal Predictions For 2021
I was a year too early for my Helloween prediction so I will make the same one again – Helloween’s reunion record will be album of the year contender.

I’ll also repeat from last year with a wish for Tony Iommi to remix/remaster those Tony Martin-era albums.

Let’s get concerts going again, streaming and virtual shows can only do so much - the world needs live music.

More Scribes Speak:
Mark Gromen
Carl Begai
Aaron Small
Rich Catino

Check out our BravePicks 2020 countdown where Enslaved took the top spot here.

Featured Audio

EINHERJER – “West Coast Groove” (Napalm)

EINHERJER – “West Coast Groove” (Napalm)

Featured Video

THIRTEEN GOATS - "Return To Ruin"

THIRTEEN GOATS - "Return To Ruin"

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