Unless you’re Odell Beckham, you’re probably upset that 2020 took a shit on the world’s collective chest.  No disrespect if you’re into that kind of thing, but for the rest of us, it is less than desirable. A worldwide pandemic, while it is definitely inspirational for metal musicians the world over, only inspired depression and despair amongst most of us. For us here at Teeth of the Divine, , this is where metal comes in.

Nothing beats headbanging the doom and gloom out of oneself with some, well, doom and gloom. Every year is a banner year for metal. If you’re one who opines that there’s no good metal released anymore, you’re not looking hard enough. You should stop squinting and put on your glasses, four eyes.

Lucky for you, we’ve done a lot of the dirty work for you. Gaze upon the glorious superiority and unmatched wisdom of our clearly definitive lists and remember that no one loves you in this world… except us… and metal.

by Staff

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Mars Budziszewski


LPs (1 thru 10, + 1, and a regret)


Edenic PastRed Amarcord (P2 Loggia /Sentient Ruin/Lifeless Chasm)

Most bluntly, and devoid of crucial nuance, this is like Krallice meets Disgorge (US).  On the Predator home planet death metal is the most popular music and this would be the best selling album of their current sun cycle.  It has an exoticism exemplified by the production which is very akin to the dry, gauzy ambience of post-drum & bass like Pessimist, or UK prince of abandoned subway terminals, Burial.  A factor that guards the album from being sonically overwhelming, but instead, highly listenable.  It’s technical but in the expressive, textured way like you might hear from hard bop jazz ala Eric Dolphy.  As opposed to say, the dizzying, almost-free virtuosity of one degree brethren, Encenathrakh. The guitar and bass have equal presence.  Recorded in a way that balances tough, tar flowing riffs with effected chord arrangements, and deep space scanning bass grumbling that creates a level of mystery in the songs for the listener to decipher even after repeated listens.

The song titles are all plainly named for their thematic inspiration.  Mostly individuals such as writers, journalists or Chuck Schuldiner.  The cd liner notes include explanation for each song that lend greatly to the context that The album is a candid outpouring of concept that represents Nicholas McMasters specific personal tastes and interests of both the musical and intellectual.

I’ve pledged to buy Red Amarcord on each format to show support only now waiting for Sentient Ruin to announce the vinyl issue.  Beyond it being the AOTY in my list, I direct you to my rather lengthy review of the album which may or may not be published before this list is.

AfterbirthFour Dimensional Flesh (Unique Leader)

I didn’t think there could be anyway this record would be unseated from my number one slot even upon its early year release in March.  Regardless of its slide to 2nd this record is a pulp sci-fi, quantum leaping, wormhole hopping high adventure to Edenic Past’s bleak, red fog machine hazed atmosphere that is the Predator crooked home world.  It’s heavy but, like the cover arts softer blues, yellows suggest, it has a buoyant, anti-gravity tech, retro-future charm.  A 90’s death metal foundation retrofitted into a 24th century Gundam mech.  As ever, Big Will’s vocals are incredibly recorded displaying the rich, sub-space frequency low they properly deserve.  If you respect creativity in metal at all you should be swooning like Judy Jetson over this record.

Sainte Marie De LoupsFunerailles de Feu (Amor Fati)

French stereotypes abound.  It’s got a temper yet

doesn’t cease to remain somehow romantic in its allusions to a glorified past where spirituality and warrior ethos were entwined.  The dry, spare production sound is greatly welcome in an era that saturated, unburied from coffin depths demo style black metal, ala Black Gangrene Records and countless others, has dominated the last several years (Not that I don’t listen to some of that but it’s saturated).  That means audibly dentifiable riffs that stick like dried blood stains on a tunic hold the album in form, like an ornate suit of armor.  Synth is regularly featured but is mixed such that it supports the guitar rather than dominating to a degree that it could be considered symphonic black metal.  Statues of angels weap at its onset.

YsengrinInitiatio (I, Voidhanger)

Read my full review on the site.  If five D&D playing friends got transported to a reality that mimicked their fantasy quest it would be this album.  And no it’s not power metal or cartoony elf metal.  While Dark metal is the most fitting genre label we’re talking 80’s sword and wizard flick dark.  Roll the die weirdos.

Defeated Sanity The Sanguinary Impetus (Willow Tip)

Defeated Sanity, the music school graduates of brutal death metal, haven’t run out of directions to progress.  For which fans should be ever thankful of being gifted such tasteful and creative output. The Sanguinary Impetus is a tightened, refined execution of the bands jazz leanings.  The production is as organic as a Roots album, and heavy yet intimate.  As if recorded in a loft ballet studio.  The details revealed by the sound reflected off of stained wood floor and mirrored walls.  The spare slow to fast drum build that opens the album is so tasteful.  Allowing the listener to examine Gruber’s drum tone and recording aura before being thrust upon by the musty guitar chugs and vocal battering.  I can tell a difference with the absence of Christian Kuhn who played guitar and shared songwriting with Lille Gruber on most albums prior.  I think his playing and guitar sound is what gave those records the confounding, dense, rubix cube like riffing that set them apart from any peers.  Here, Gruber’s playing is jazz like in tone and flow.  Perhaps just a style choice in the name of progression since he contributed writing on previous albums also.  Another stellar addition to their repertoire even if I didn’t listen to it as much as Passages Into Deformity or other releases on the list.

AstariumHyperborea (Grimm Distribution)

Looking to fill out a small distro order this summer I discovered this gem in the sceptor of black metal camp.  Astarium is the product of one Russian mad man that boldly mixes bombastic, dark magic powered synth far louder than the distorted kazoo that I still struggle to believe is a guitar.  If you love and miss the use of croaking blackened vocals infamously associated with Immortal’s At the Heart of Winter, or every Inquisition record this record features them heavily and with outrageous intensity.  To ‘balance’ the insane death croak are very low, pitch shifted, reverb to the max, Krom speaking from a giant statue, vocals. The album title and music distinctly conjures the Conan universe feel, to me.

Does this sound horrible leaving you questioning my taste?  That’s a shame because tracks like “Snow Storm” and “Daughter of Imir” have such catchy melodies and charmingly extreme delivery.  It’s absolutely not for everybody but If you let go of any production expectations and let it be what it is you’ll be in for a Robert E Howard adventure through Nemedian cities, magically charged Stygian temple ruins and back to the freezing wastes Hyperborea. 

EcchymosisRitualistic Intercourse Within Abject Surrealism (New Standard Elite)

I’ve argued death metal has reached extremes that beg the necessity for a distinct, recognized new class: Ultra brutal death metal.  A redicilous motion for a ridiculous genre.  Ecchymosis wear the crown grotesque of ultra brutal death metal.  I’m not sure I like it more than the debut album but it is more everything on album two.  Guitar heft and blasting has been given a modern saturation production boost.  I don’t think there’s another album that has proportionately increased heaviness of this magnitude, along with clarity, yet without some essence of gloss or sterility.  I recommend keeping a roll of toilet paper with you when listening.

UndergangAldrig i livet (Dark Descent)

Undergang delivers another pleasant, Danish death metal dirge. A hypodermic needle shot of homemade crank to the eye followed closely by a bottle of herbal liquor to tamp the sorrow.  Obviously, the subject of the excellent cover art is following the whispers of a dark entity out of the grim basement apartment, ever further toward the gutters precipice.  Another soul drained for feeding.  Thankfully for us, fuck yes they stick to the formula.  The only defining difference being the guitar leads really wailing to convey an underlying despair that the previous albums doom factor didn’t entirely, such as the final third of “Indtorret lig”.  Their flawless run continues.

PersekutorPermanent Winter (Svart Records)

I completely understand if, for some people, Persekutor is just too self-aware and on a song like “Black death pink skins” borders on paraody, and that’s a complete turn off.  I get it.  I can’t hang with pirate themed metal or Three Inches of Blood.  However, if you are forgiving and want a fun as fuck Celtic Frost influenced Mad Max sequel set in a now frozen Australian outback then jump in through the car window and take a huff of chrome, let’s go-whoa-oh.

(While this is marketed as a full length most of the songs were released across a few demo EPs / singles since 2014.  Since everything was re-recorded for this record and properly released in 2020 I’m including it.)

Hate ForestHour of the Centaur (Osmose Productions)

It’s new goddamn Hate Forest.  Yes it only dropped the 25th but being such immediate music Inwas able to get enough listens in to feel confident in its quality.  With only a breeze and grass rustling to hint, a Bronze Age stone hammer, delivered via horse mount, shatters the skull with first track “Those Who Worship the Sun Bring the Night”.  Kick drums thud like cloven hooves down a hill of the Scythian steppe.  Guitars stoically charge toward an enemy fort rampart.  Roman’s vocals the demanding encouragement from a very old god of war and wine, spitting fervently to the rider that is about to fearlessly crash through the twine bound tree trunk outer wall so those at flank and behind can flood in to plunder wretchedly, “Whether you live or die I will fill your cup in the next life”.  It’s a 30 minute adrenaline shock of battle fiending strength with zero nuance.


Cardinal WyrmDevotionals (independent)

This is the +1 bonus addition that I felt implored to highlight particularly since this is shockingly, an independent release.  Perhaps Svart Records, who released their 2016 LP, had a full release schedule but the band wasn’t about to wait while the material molded over.

I was unfamiliar or aware of the band until a known metal drummer highly praised the record on Instagram.  I don’t gravitate to a lot of doom but find more to like in the traditional derivatives.  Devotionals is longer than I usually find tolerable but it’s a credit that the music features so many oft changing, diverse progressions within songs and from one to another that you just get sucked in to its jet stream.  A large part of that is the vocal contributions from each member.  The leads of drummer Pranjal are a warm, clean bellow similar to Cardinals Folly, or Reverend Bizarre, a favorite style of Doom fans, but also flanked with death growls by guitar player Nathan, and lovely female singing by bass player Leila.  You’ve heard it before but not as creatively executed.

Imperial Triumphant Alphaville (Century Media)

The loss here is that Alphaville dropped in full too late in the year, on December 15th.  I really tried to pay special attention to December releases but could only jam so much into a few weeks.  Not having listened to in its entirety I can’t fairly rank an album that demands undivided attention, but it could very well be the band’s pinnacle.  I’ve followed them since reviewing debut ep Inceste which, while a far cry from where they’ve ended up, hinted at a very niche metamorphose of black metal produced like a jazz record into a larger than life opus of music transposed to represent a Frank Miller-esque, alt-future Gotham City as designed by Francois Schuiten, governed by totalitarian technocrats.  A fantastic yet vaguely dystopian wonder of human flaws and will.

EPs,Comps, Etc (1-10)

200 Stab Wounds Piles Of Festering Decomposition (Maggot Stomp)

If Dying Fetus is too tech for you but you love their urban assault grooves, 200 Stab Wounds felt the same way.  I don’t know if that gives it enough credit. Lots of death metal bands have groove, but this has ice cold swagger.  A pimp limp walk from confident, young maniacs that treat basement death metal with the same reverence as they do their basement cache of cannabis plants.  Rust belt, small town true crime horror regurgitated back to you by your sativa supplying cousin and his dicey friends while the  movie Kids plays in the background and a Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven poster slowly peels off the wavy, wood panel wall by the time you realize 4 hours has gone by.  I expect the band to tour in a stolen Camero with a huge Devourment window sticker.

BretwaldasKingdom Of Killers (Sunshine Ward)

I can’t believe this band has been kicking since the mid-2000’s and remains to be so slept on.  Me included.  Bretwaldas (of Heathen Doom) sound is a devils crossroad where Lemmy reincarnates to start a trad heavy metal-doom band.  Imagine Christianity never really takes off outside of the Levant, and the empire of Rome instead colonized America.  Their blend of Greek, Persian, and Gaulish gods and practices holding fast over western culture. Building temples to Mithra, Nike, Aphrodit, and Osiris throughout the eastern coastal stretch from New York to Georgia.  In my mythical imaginings, Bretwaldas is a band that formed in this alternate timeline. They practice and record diy in a near forgotten temple of Apollo settled in the mist and blurry fog of rural, southern Appalachia.  After 10 years of musical silence and many mushroom aided journeys to commune with the higher realm, where gods whisper wisdoms, they emerge to write Kingdom of Killers.

PharmacistForensic Pathology Jurisprudence +3 bonus tracks (Acid Redux Productions / Rectal Purulence)

They deserve Carcass comparisons because it doesn’t sacrifice riffs for gore trope. The production has a metallic, tinny overtone tone as if it were in fact recorded in a municipal morgue. The vocals are old school pitchshifted. The drums old school grinding, but everything is mixed to serve the rusted and relentless bone saw riff barrage.  Riffs you sickos.  Riffs.Almost as quickly as the initial four song ep came out, a follow up pressing contained 3 new bonus songs of equal quality.  I’m ranking the ep over full length Medical Renditions of Grinding Decomposition as it has my favorite Pharmacist track sonfar, and I prefer it’s production sound.

Chasm of Aeon – compilation (Desert Wastelands/Blood Harvest)

I’m very pleased with the increase in Sci-fi themed metal of the last few years.  Chasm of Aeon is a sort of a themed, ep length comp of four bands that exemplify this angle.  When ever does a compilation make year end lists.  The cover art is so fucking cool. Completely worthy of being the cover of Peter Watts latest short story collection as this death metal record.

The winningest aspect is that each band has a distinct sound.  Cryptic Shift finger pick blurring technical thrash-death from the UK.  Replicant a more death metal Burnt By The Sun from New Jersey and goddamn is this song hard. Inoculation is Area 51 bum rushing, proud tin foil hat adorned death metal from Cleveland.  Astral Tomb is dying sun atmosphere, technology so advanced it’s indistinguishable from magic-vibe death metal from Denver.

MurdermanBody Disposal Expert (Blast Addict)

I listened to a lot of dim goregrind and brutal death metal in 2020, just not much of it was current. Murderman’s debut ep however is a perfect summation of what I look for in the genre.  Thick pitch shifted vocal turbulence, sharp to pingy snare assault, yes gravity blasting, and loose textural guitar employing more of a strangling technique.  It sits in a clutch spot between the death metal and the punk leaning grind.

MorketidaTraveler of the Intouched Voids (Werewolf Records)

Excellent mystical, synth swirling 90s worship black metal.  In a way it has a similar vibe to the Ysengrin but more firmly black metal. Hypnotic riffs and wet, throaty deathly vocals are a big plus when combined with black metal, for me.  It even features an acoustic passage that isn’t tired atmospheric filler.  Unreal tone and chord progressions.  This should be used less in black metal but it’s execution like this that makes an example for the others.

Sommedemo (Black Kvlt Productions)

World War l themed raw black metal.  I appreciate that Somme translates the mental horror of war and doesn’t come off like a lost listicle of war time battles, vehicles, or other paraphernalia that other world war themed bands do to me.  The hammering drums, ricocheting riffs and detached vocals represent the overwhelming effect war has on the senses of a terrified young man.  Filthy, in a pit, tired, and aware of their ant-like expendability.  The ep washes over like a hospitalized soldier in utter malaise. After listening to Blueprint for Armageddon, the Hardcore History podcast 5 part series on WWI, I can’t imagine a more singularly terrifying low point in a 20th century that had so much competition. If only you had known Gavrilo.

InfestmentHuman Alter (Maggot Stomp)

It’s musty.  It’s diet is scabs and coffin mold.  It’s OSDM.  Is there too much?  Is there not enough?  I say get while the gettin is plenty.  I’m partial to Infestment because it’s the closest current band that reminds me of the early death metal I heard that made me a little uneasy but excited at how evil it was.  The vocals are so low and creepy.  The music is outrageously simplistic.  It’s convincingly old US demo style death metal that worshipped early Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under Haunted, and demos they received from mail trades the summer of 95.

UnurnmentSelf-Immolation Suite (Maggot Stomp)

Maybe a more refined, Morbid Angel-ish,, but no less convincingly 90s, than label mates above, Infestment.  Excellent double bass happy, slithering, spiritually rotten, classic death metal.  Maggot Stomp again.  Don’t be too cool and hate.  Seriously.

Hate Inclination2020 demo (independent)

Blackened death metal that eschews the typical themes for an examination of alcoholism and internal struggle to keep going, or figure out why to.  As predictable of my taste, the vocals are crazy low and billowing.


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