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Let this assemblage of heavy tunes guide you into realms both terrifying and exciting. This is a data dump of what we feel has topped 2020 so far in terms of metal (and more, really). It's difficult to narrow things down to ten albums, always, but doing so allows for a hyper-curated selection that benefits anyone looking for the best of the best. Get into our minds, and we'll keep feeding yours.

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Andrew Rothmund

As usual, drowning. More thoughts here. Below, my favorites; or, what I deem to be the best in terms of blowing my mind to goddamn smithereens.

Fovitron -- Altar of Whispers
Fixions -- Dark Days
Beneath the Massacre -- Fearmonger
Volcandra -- Into the Azure
Azoth -- Magnitude of Extinction
Ulcerate -- Stare Into Death and Be Still
Spectral Lore + Mare Cognitum -- Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine
Slift -- Ummon
Satyr -- Locus
Leeched -- To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse

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Jon Rosenthal

Talking about music right now seems so selfish. We must do better.

Paysage d'Hiver -- Im Wald
Sweven -- The Eternal Resonance
Black Curse -- Endless Wound
Circle of Ouroborus -- Viimeinen juoksu
Fluisteraars -- Bloem
Carved Cross -- Severance of Disparity in Absolute Acrimony
Lamp of Murmuur -- The Burning Spears of Crimson Agony
Katatonia -- City Burials
I'm In A Coffin -- Waste of Skin
ONO -- Red Summer

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Ted Nubel

The killer music coming out this year has been much-needed ammunition in my mental struggle against the isolation and anxiety that's basically defined 2020 -- in particular, doom metal and stoner rock have knocked out one great release after another, making trimming my list down tougher than I expected. I've just hit the six-month mark writing for Invisible Oranges, and in a way I've been dreading doing a list like this -- attempting to remember music I listened to, much less attempt to sort it out, is a challenge. So, when pulling this list together, I focused on the music that I keep coming back to: stuff that helps me get through the drearier days and nights. In these picks, you'll find plenty of top-notch riffs and groovy heaviness, though I've also included Drown for skull-flattening funeral doom consideration and Wrekmeister Harmonies' latest release, a drone-laden journey suitable for very late night musings.

Huntsmen -- Mandala of Fear
Drown -- Subaqueous
Ripped to Shreds -- 亂 (Luan)
Yatra -- Blood of the Night
Acid Mammoth -- Under Acid Hoof
Cirith Ungol -- Forever Black
Hällas -- Conundrum
Wrekmeister Harmonies -- We Love to Look at the Carnage
NITE -- Darkness Silence Mirror Flame
Bone Church -- Acid Communion

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Langdon Hickman

It's never easy to pick a clean ten for a mid-year list, but 2020 had a harder go at it than most. The Australian wildfires feel like they were a year ago or more, but in truth were only a few months, while the entirety of COVID-19/quarantine era plus the most recent (and absolutely righteous and long-deserved) round of Black Lives Matter protests have swept up the world. In the midst of all of this, heavy metal was still happening, even as releases slowed or got pushed way, way back to compensate. Still, there was, as always, an embarrassment of riches, so many good records that, aside from a few I could finger right now as appearing on my proper end-of-year list, the rest is basically plucked from a whim. My taste is certainly showing in my list, I'll admit, and while in other years I might have tried to control for that by deliberately including some more industrial, black metal, crust, etc. to compensate for my natural inclination, this year it feels okay to just go with the flow a bit. Some of these albums already feel like they've been part of my life for years given all that's happened and how often they've been played by me during all of this. The following list is unsorted.

Oranssi Pazuzu -- Mestarin kynsi
Spectral Lore + Mare Cognitum -- Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine
Sweven -- The Eternal Resonance
Paradise Lost -- Obsidian
Ulcerate -- Stare Into Death and Be Still
Elder -- Omens
Cryptic Shift -- Visitations from Enceladus
Garganjua -- Toward the Sun
Katatonia -- City Burials
Fluisteraars -- Bloem

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Joe Aprill

While my first published work for Invisible Oranges wasn’t until a little over two months later, it was actually my participation on last year’s mid-year best-of list where I had my debut. It’s been a rollercoaster of 12 months personally for me since then. I’ve encountered emotional highs attending international metal festivals on two continents and interviewing some of my favorite musicians of all time -- I also had a difficult low point with a romantic relationship falling apart. That low point occurred halfway into the world circumstances we’ve all been experiencing in recent months; from the still everpresent mortal threat of COVID-19 to the shaking fury at witnessing police brutality and political negligence. As the world and our own minds seemingly crumble apart, it’s as always during such dark times that music and the arts in general have provided a certain mental and even spiritual relief and comfort. So here are ten metal albums this year that so far help keep me sane.

Fluisteraars -- Bloem
Posehn -- Grandpa Metal
Esoctrilihum -- Eternity Of Shaog
Secrets of the Moon -- Black House
Cult of Fire -- Moksha/Nirvana
Paradise Lost -- Obsidian
My Dying Bride -- The Ghost of Orion
Midnight -- Rebirth by Blasphemy
Cirith Ungol -- Forever Black
Malokarpatan -- Krupinské Ohne

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Ivan Belcic

You might see a lot of people talking about how we should "use metal to escape during these times," or other similar ideas, but that's not quite the right way to go about it. Escapism is a luxury available only to those privileged enough to avail themselves of it -- to escape from police forces declaring war against civilians, not only in America, but across the globe, or from the thousands of daily deaths from a viral pandemic that governments around the world refuse to take seriously in favor of keeping the capital flowing, or from the ever-encroaching fascist creep. But that's not to say we can't find solace in our music.

Metal is at its most poignant when it serves as a balm, when the listener can pour all their grief, rage, frustration, and anguish into it, and find it there to welcome these feelings. Don't look away from the struggles people are facing, especially if you aren't facing them yourself. Your relative insulation places you in a better place than most to gather your resources about you and do something about it.

Despite how undeniably awful so many things are, creative people persist in excavating that primal urge which gurgles up from within. And when it's your time to act, let their creations steel your nerves.

Aara -- En Ergô Einai
Sweven -- The Eternal Resonance
Barrens -- Penumbra
Violet Cold -- Noir Kid
Beggar -- Compelled to Repeat
Psychonaut -- Unfold the God Man
Fleige -- The Invisible Seam
Velnias -- Scion of Aether
Ainsoph -- Ω - V
Uprising -- II

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Che Alzilu

Already, not even halfway through 2020, there's been a considerable bulk of memorable and wonderfully composed releases across multiple genres. Among them, I've observed two general trends. First of all, 2020 really seems to be shaping up to be a year of EPs, as several of these shorter releases (shall we say under the 30-minute mark) have, quite simply, blown more traditional full length albums out of the water. Additionally, 2020 has definitely been the "year of the synths," as many of my favorites from this year have featured a heavy keyboard or otherwise electronic presence. It's been quite the journey these past five months, I'm hoping the patterns I noted above continue, and I'm hungry for whatever the coming months bring.

NGHTCRWLR -- Let the Children Scream
Zalmoxis -- A Nocturnal Emanation
Bríi -- Entre Tudo que é Visto e Oculto
Dragged Into Sunlight -- Terminal Aggressor II
Chong Wizard -- The Mind Stone
Descend Into Despair -- Opium
Moodie Black -- Fuzz
Fange -- Pudeur
At the Altar of the Horned God -- Through Doors of Moonlight
Grin -- Translucent Blades

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Andrew Sacher

It's been an intense year, heavy music helps. Fuck racism, fuck police brutality, get involved.

Code Orange -- Underneath
Huntsmen -- Mandala of Fear
Higher Power -- 27 Miles Underwater
Infant Island -- Beneath
Envy -- The Fallen Crimson
Umbra Vitae -- Shadow of Life
Ulcerate -- Stare Into Death and Be Still
Ulthar -- Providence
Wake -- Devouring Ruin
Sightless Pit -- Grave of a Dog

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Tom Campagna

Lots of variety in heavy music especially since for most of the year the only way we can experience it is through a speaker or headphones. In light of these trying times, we look back upon the lessons learned for 2020 but also toward applying real change to this flawed world which we inhabit. Diversity reigns supreme because for all the problems that this society holds, each requires the right amount of attention and insight. Until that happens here’s the soundtrack to oblivion.

ACxDC -- Satan Is King
Afterbirth -- Four Dimensional Flesh
Cirith Ungol -- Forever Black
Haunt -- Mind Freeze
Intronaut -- Fluid Existential Inversions
Kvelertak -- Splid
Lucifer -- Lucifer III
Malokarpatan -- Krupinské Ohne
Midnight -- Rebirth by Blasphemy
Sweven -- The Eternal Resonance

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