Hubris. - Metempsychosis
A lot of people consider a band's 3rd album to be important. It's when they hit their stride, find their groove, generally fill the niche they're going to call home for the remainder of their time as a band. Like a director following up their first blockbuster, you're seeing what they're truly made of after coming onto the scene. It's almost as if hubris. knew what was on the line, as they confidently stepped up to the plate and swung away. Metempsychosis draws upon the old gods to provide a most solid foundation for their inspiration, making for an unshakable listening experience, planted resolutely in the land of epics and mythology. An infallable composition and stellar production only lends to the outstanding example of what an album can be, and something tells us they're only getting warmed up.
Caspian - On Circles
Caspian are a legend in the genre; they haven't missed a beat for 15 years and 'On Circles' is here to prove it. Melodious and enveloping, innovative for certain stylistic freedoms (vocals, oriental influences of some sounds) and at the same time warm and welcoming, this is a memorable beast that indelibly carves out a place in the heart of anyone who listens to it. In the blaze of cinematic and emotional crescendos this time there's room for a magnificent sense of peace and harmony, a joyful palette of deep and liberating emotions, a colorful and moving sense of uplifting and cathartic serenity that resembles the elemental power of the sea: waves and wind will not take away its healing power even for a second. Their Live at Cabot concert on Audiotree was perhaps the raddest thing we saw this year. That made 2020 bearable to a great extent!
sleepmakeswaves - these are not your dreams
We don't know if Sleepmakeswaves is a fan of The Legend Of Zelda series from Nintendo but their trio of EPs reminds of the three aspects of the Triforce. There is much wisdom to be found in the instrumentation of "No Safe Place" with its horns and acoustic guitars peppered throughout. The power found in the walls of sound surrounding "Not An Exit", which really bugs us because it contains the track "Zelda" who represents Wisdom. Then there's Courage: the infamous link, silent protector. The courage to make a trio of EPs and release them the way they did is utterly brilliant and makes for a unique and unforgettable listening experience.
Black Narcissus - Where The Flowers Grant You Wishes
There’s something extremely satisfying, and at times mind-boggling, to listen to a drum and bass band conjure intense, haunting melodies sprinkled with occasional bouts of explosive heaviness. ‘Where The Flowers Grant You Wishes’ is an intriguing and fresh approach to post-rock with a mood of free-floating, trance-like despair that relies heavily over rich and audacious atmospheres than dramatic punchiness of crescendo-core tropes of the genre.
Volkor X - This is our Planet now
"Captain's Log, stardate 45047.2
We've just left the planet of Volkor X and it's bombass inhabitants, whose unending crusade for the most badass post-electro has left us dumbfounded in its raw and visceral glory."
'This is our Planet now' is perhaps our wildest and most unique discovery of 2020. Post-Progressive-Synthwave is by far one of the most innovative yet ambitious take on contemporary post-rock and synthwave and Volkor X aced it with his ingenious songwriting capabilities. We just can't recommend this album enough!
Besides - Bystanders
'Bystanders' by Polish instrumental post-rock/metal group, Besides, is perhaps their most grandiose and emotionally charging works till date. Narrating the story of prisoners who were lost in the oblivion of concentration camps, each track manages to carefully weave in stories of the hardships and unreal struggles faced by the prisoners. An emotional and supremely moving album that not only triumphs on the compositional level but also leaves a long lasting impression on our mind and soul with its powerful storytelling capabilities.
We'd highly recommend you all to watch their live performance that was performed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex as part of the 80th anniversary of the first mass transport of prisoners to the concentration camp. It's one hell of a cathartic experience!
Barrens_band - PENUMBRA
This Swedish trio consisting of veterans from acclaimed indie rock band, Scraps of Tape, had us drooling all over their debut record, PENUMBRA. These guys nonchalantly walk a tightrope between light and dark themes and offer a multitude of emotions throughout every single track. The ingenious combination of dark synthesizers with heavy, and at times, fuzzy waves of guitar distortions and tight drums bring forth a barrage of unique layers and lush soundscapes. Turn off the lights, grab a pair of headphones, crank up the volume and let PENUMBRA take you on an introspective trip through your own subconscious.
Distant Dream - Point of View
Now in its third release, Marcin Majrowski's Distant Dream project continues to raise the bar. 'Point of View' is a bursting meteor of colorful and fluid guitars, a flood of spectacular cinematic melodies that know how to thrill both lovers of the most atmospheric post-rock and those who prefer virtuoso instrumental rock. Between massive riffs and uplifting and cathartic solos it seems to take flight observing marvellous views in a state of balanced excitement between introspection, adrenaline, acceptance, nostalgia and perfectly crafted soundscapes.
Desbot - Occult Tapes
This record is the closest thing to Jakob that we'll get this year and oh boy, we are so grateful to Maurice Beckett (Jakob's bassist) for bringing back this project from oblivion. Occult Tapes is a pure eargasm feast for fans of atmospheric post-rock, Deftones and Tool. It's an unreal, chaotic and and at times, skittsih ride that is corroborated by stellar production values (best bass and drum tones for us this year) and ingenious songwriting capabilities.
still motions - Mirrors
Mirrors' was one of the most anticipated albums of the year. It was enough for us to hear a few seconds of the joyful violin of 'Through Doubt, Comes Clarity' in March, in full lockdown, to understand it. Months later the world is still in crisis, but this beautiful atmospheric and enveloping album was a perfect cure-all for the mind and soul since its release. Shimmering guitars, dreamy melodies and crescendos have the cathartic power of personal and intimate soundtracks and the most excited and heavier moments still have a deep-rooted sweetness, an ecstatic brightness that never ceases to amaze us.
Show Me a Dinosaur - Plantgazer
Whether it's Post-Rock for Black Metal fans or Black Metal for Post-Rock fans, it doesn't matter. Show Me A Dinosaur's complete amalgamation of the two genres is perfected to a literal art. This band has reached a new level of maturity, and it shows in their gentle swaying between the paradoxical aspects of this gentle giant. You won't get whiplash when they go from glistening glissandoes to brutal blast beats. The musicianship is top notch, multiple times it'll stop you dead in your tracks just so you focus on individual instruments and whispered to yourself "How do you even do that?" Violently awe-inspiring and deeply moving, Plantgazer is an important piece of art.
HOLY FAWN - The Black Moon
It's the 17th of January. The year is 2020. You just finished planning out your yearly resolutions and travel plans that you had no idea would be canceled and BAM! Holy Fawn dropped a trio of bangers out of nowhere. These three tracks are sublime, with its dense atmospheres and dark texturing, transporting the listener to a most dark and magical forest. We're convinced that when Pink Floyd sung of softly spoken magic spells, they were prophesying of this outstanding EP. What a great start to a terrible year.
Alpha du Centaure - Paralysis
Lyon, France based blackgaze/post-metal band, Alpha du Centure, have upped their game by a big margin with their latest record 'Paralysis'. All six tracks either go directly for the throat with crushing, blackened riffs or creep up slowly behind you with dreamy, ethereal and shoegaze-y passages, thus emphasizing over their 'beauty within chaos' approach and working its way to incapacitate you with a barrage of emotions. Paralysis pulls no punches and we'd wager that it's better to roll with it and submit.
iiah - Terra
It was always a tough ask to surpass the beauty of ‘Distances’, but they raised the bar to an impossible high once again and this album could very well be their magnum opus. An hour of dense, emotional music, played very well with a top notch production. ‘Terra’ is a magnificent record that recalls the perfection of certain dreams. There are beautiful dreams that we cannot remember when we wake up. We can relive this dream whenever we want. And it's gorgeous. Terra has been the soundtrack to battle the lockdown blues for us. Every single track has been able to put a smile on our faces and uplifted our souls and we are so grateful to iiah for gift us something so beautiful.
Skyforest - A New Dawn
Sometimes getting hooked on to the album artwork can pay off huge dividends. Russian one man band, Skyforest, got us hook, line and sinker with his majestic album, A New Dawn, which is a stirring, dramatic, symphonic orchestral take on the black metal genre. Incorporating symphonic elements with black metal is ceratinly not a new concept but Skyforest's zing with the vocal harmonies and orchestral pieces certainly adds a huge deal to the proverbial wheel.
Hope the flowers - Sonorous Faith Pt. I
From starting out as a one man band to eventually becoming a full blown 7 piece band, Thailand’s Hope The Flowers have managed to perfect their craft and deliver their magnum opus with ‘Sonorous Faith Pt. 1’. The album is a beguiling and surreal voyage with traditional sounds beautifully interwoven with modern instruments. Soulful, poetic and exhilarating, this album is a fantastically immersive experience that demands to be experienced by every fan of the genre. Word of caution: The violins and trumpets pack a 'Meen' punch.
Scaphoid - Absent Passages
One man bands have been on a roll during the pandemic and Austin, Texas based Scaphoid is one such project that makes good use of the pandemic to let his creative juices flow in full swing. 'Absent Passages' draws influences from progressive metal, djent, post metal and post-rock elements and the resultant is an intense and blistering mix of complex, technical textures with ethereal and cinematic passages that makes this record truly wondrous. Every single track is monumental in their own right but Infrastricken is the undisputed winner for us. It's an absolute beast!
Noswal - Pangaea
We challenge you to listen to this amazing debut album and believe that it's a solo project. 'Pangaea' by the one man band Noswal is an explosion of quality from the most diverse influences to excellent production values. The extremely dynamic songs are adorned with layers expertly engraved in dilated and atmospheric structures that overturn the cards on the table, transforming themselves into apotheosis of metal virtuosity, polyrhythmic math rock riffs and again celestial arpeggios without you even noticing. This is a freaking super-dense record that won't distract you for a moment.
Wang Wen (惘闻) - 100,000 Whys
If there's any band that falls smack dab in the 'Post-Whatever' category, it would be these guys. Asian post-rock behemoths, Wang Wen, annihilated us with their 100,000 reasons why this record should be considered one of the very best records of the decade, let alone 2020. Dabbling around with distinct styles and influences, 100,000 Whys is a cornucopia of progressive, post-rock, neoclassical and avant garde textures that are done to gorgeous effect.
In2Elements - Cycles
Apparently only incredible bands come from Poland. In2Elements is no exception: from solo project to trio, 'Cycles' is a record at least as good as its phenomenal artwork. The atmosphere is crepuscular, between progressive contaminations, bright catchy riffs of excellent post-rock and moments of extreme instrumental pleasure. It's so good you'll listen on loop without even realizing it. The album artwork just screams awesomeness and adds to the beauty of the record.
Astodan - Bathala
Listening to this record with headphones is a mystical and surreal experience. Drawing inspiration from ancient Filipino rituals full of ancestry, the Belgians Astodan have given birth to an engaging and timeless record that amalgamates sweeter and veiled atmospheric sounds with devastating post-metal riffs. The result is a fulfilling and total journey through impervious and foggy forests, in search of the purifying light of ascent.
Maserati - Enter The Mirror
This is Maserati. Math/post-rock legends, Maserati, take us on a trip back to the 80s nostalgia with their latest album ‘Enter The Mirror’; super catchy music vibes, fluorescent colours, birth of video games and ‘Back to the Future’ vibes. This album is a triumphant adrenaline (and dopamine) rush fuelled by synth-pop, post-punk, post-rock and sporadic inclusion of weird, robotic voices that would teleport you to a middle of a dance party. Come to the party in a Maserati (see what we did there?)… we’ll be waiting for you!
Jardín de la Croix - Letargo
Just two tracks in this slick, stylish power-packed EP and it's a testament to Jardin de la Croix's prowess in the scene. 'Letargo' is a cocktail of complex rhythms, suave structures, multi-layered instruments and absolutely enthralling compositions that compels us to hit that loop button over and over again. They have been one of our fav acts of the decade and these guys have got the cheat sheet of balancing groovy math rock with atmospheric Post-Rock and their execution is utter perfection. They just keep getting better and better!
Aesthesys - Alignments
Aesthesys are one of those very few acts who have shown fierce dedication to keep experimenting beyond their comfort zones and 'Alignments' is a shining proof of that. Call it post-progressive-neoclassical-synthwave-whatever, Alignments is a perfect soundtrack for a sci-fi fuelled wild trip and is a true gem for the fans of genre.
envy - The Fallen Crimson
Envy have been giant pillars for the post-hardcore/screamo and they’ve consistently been on top of their game for more than two decades. Their latest album, ‘The Fallen Crimson’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. The aching, angry vocals by Tetsuya backed by technical drum fills and intense, emotionally charged melodies hit us like a ton of bricks on our faces and send us on a raw and bruising emotional experience that is etched on our mind and soul.
Coldbones - The Cataclysm
The Cataclysm' lives up to it's name and is intense, dark and gripping as it cleverly narrates the Armaggedon and the fallout afterwards. Quite apt for 2020, isnt it? There are some moments of uneasiness but Coldbones' virtuosity with composition, arrangement and narrative capabilities makes this one one hell of an introspective and cathatic journey. Undoubtedly, their best record till date.
Coastlands - Death
Hey kids, do you like Cult of Luna? X Suns? Converge? Russian Circles? If you said yes to any of those, you're gonna love Coastlands' latest album, "Death"! With a fresh lineup featuring members from all the aforementioned bands, Coastlands has practically become a Post-Metal supergroup, and have created an album worthy of such an amalgamation. This album literally made us fard and shid out pants.
Bantha Rider - Binary Sunset Massacre
Bantha Rider, a Stoner/Sludge Metal trio out of Poland, deliver some of the most gruesome riffs to ever come out of our galaxy. Leaning further into the Science Fiction aesthetic, their Star Wars name implies, "Binary Sunset Massacre" has some of the best instrumental destruction an ear could ask for. They really stepped up their game, a feat we didn't think was truly possible. Plus, where else are you gonna hear a badass PODRACER in your music?
Zealand The North - Brightness of an Endless Light
Yes, sir: that's what it's called choosing the perfect title. 'Brightness of and Endless Light' is a dazzling debut. Zealand the North have composed an album that is both thoughtful and loud. It has the power of triumphs, the sweetness of a hug and an occasional sense of nostalgia that thins out like temporary clouds to make room for sensation of the sun's warmth on the skin. It's the perfect record for anyone looking for a cocktail of emotions, energy, introspection and excitement at the same time.
Collapse Under The Empire - Everything We Will Leave Beyond Us
Collapse Under The Empire have surpassed themselves: their sound, already full-bodied and impressive if we consider that we are talking about a duo, finds in this album the square of the circle. Here there is everything that drives us crazy about post-rock: a majestic story whose images flow through the mind thanks to a sound that captivates and gives no escape, revealing apocalyptic cinematic scenarios yet full of sweetness and hope. Between sweet piano notes, scratchy guitars, pearls of glacial icy electronics and echoes of early God Is An Astronaut, we simply can't get enough of this record.
Olhava - Ladoga
Olhava have got all the right ingredients for a satisying blackgaze album and their execution was spot on with 'Ladoga'. Lush ambient/drone passages, crunchy drum tones and lovely production values makes this album a treat for the lovers of the genre. The album artwork is so gorgeous as well !
Egoera - Fortuna
This trio from Greece sure know how to make a mighty bold statement with their debut album. 'Fortuna' is a masterfully crafted album that takes a brave and ambitious approach to songwriting; whether it is the groovy, melodic guitar riffs, sepulchral basslines or surprising saxophone solos, each track has a way to grab your attention and keep you hooked throughout the runtime.
Whale Fall - It Will Become Itself
Imagine if you were on an alternate dimension across space and time. It's the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of knowledge. There's a jazz club there but the guitarist actually owns a bunch of pedals and they are all wearing faded TWDY t-shirts. This is Whale Fall's 'It Will Become Itself'. Whale Fall never fails to impress with their dense layering, heavy instrumentations, and undeniably THICC compositions. "It Will Become Itself" is just another reiteration of this belief, a brooding and thoughtful beast of an album. For fans of Do Make Say Think or Long Hallways, Whale Fall is like Post-Rock for the cool cats that don't want to leave the Jazz Club.
Long Distance Calling - How Do We Want To Live?
LDC have never been shy to experiment with every record they put out and 'How Do We Want To Live?' is no different except it is one of the most coherent, cinematic and strikingly imaginative album in their whole discography. Just close your eyes and let this album take you on a wild psychedelic trip through your imagination.
VASA - Heroics
VASA has dug deep and struck gold again with their smooth blend of twinkly Post-Math and heavy breakdowns in "Heroics". Being 2 for 2, their frenetic take on Post-Rock gets the blood pumping, and the fingers counting as you try to air drum to the rhythm in traffic. Maybe that last part is just us, but all we know for sure is that the energy is so infectious that the CDC got involved.
Képzelt Város - Samizdat
This is one of the most beautiful and difficult records to catalog of the year: Samizdat by Hungarians Képzelt Város is a sensational and unique album in which progressive, hard rock riffs, sidereal space and neoclassical atmospheres coexist quietly. An unstoppable and elegant flow, with the ethereal sound of a cello to act as the glue to a work that will conquer your soul, making it part of the boundless cosmos in which the concept of musical genre leaves room for the quality of a proposal that won't leave you indifferent.
Staghorn - CORVUS IV
Staghorn's unique ability to fuse crushing Post-Rock, metal, and their anarchistic mentality makes for a music experience like no other. Their latest volume in their post-apocalyptic story seems almost prophetic to the point where we're not sure we could be convinced that this album isn't from the future. Time travelling or not, this album has excellent production and a robust lineup of instrumentation. 10/10 would watch the last meteor shower with this album.
Celestial Teapot - Perception
Celestial Teapot defied all expectations with their short but power packed, genre defying EP. Perhaps the greatest attribute is the intelligent arrangements that that makes this EP an edge-of-the-seat affair with meticulously interweaved ambient and synth passages and hard hitting riffs. 'Perception' is a fiercely original take on Post-Progressive genre that doesn't shy away from experimentation while staying true to their roots.
I Hear Sirens - Stella Mori
Well worth the 7 year long wait 'Stella Mori' is I Hear Sirens' most mature and solid record. Imagine an emotional rollercoaster placed in the atmospheric context of deep space, where the death of a star takes on iridescent and changing tones, between delicate nostalgia and the ecstasy of sound entrusted to wonderful and moving cinematic melodies.
The Sun Burns Bright - In Death We Rest
We called it. We knew The Sun Burns Bright was a band to watch from the very beginning, and just look at how far they've come from sending .mp3 files from the UK to the US via iPad. From a solo project to a full-fleged band. The music itself has only progressed, getting better with each release, showing you how tender Post-Rock can be with "In Death We Rest" and what patience they have in slowly carving out a piece of music that can calm you and excite you all at once.
Special thanks to Dan Lyons Music, Eric Tabin Music, Stories From The Moon and Kosatka
Flies Are Spies From Hell - Final Quiet
Flies Are Spies From Hell make a splashy comeback after 5 years and bring forth a truly reflective, emotional and magnificent piano based post-rock album. Complex compositions, solid rhythms, breathtaking melodies and a stellar production makes 'Final Quiet' a post-rock classic.
A Burial At Sea - A Burial At Sea
A Burial At Sea is the sort of album you listen to when you don't know what to listen to because it has a little bit of everything. Like a more whimsical version of And So I Watch You From Afar, their blend of brightly composed Post-Math is garnished with bits of horns that we simply cannot get enough of. One of our personal favorites, probably for all time and not just 2020.
First Came The Shadow - Aridity
French post-rock group, First Came The Shadow, up their game with 'Aridity' and it's a dark, heavy and atmospheric delight with intermitted flashes of hopeful, uplifting passages. The album has an interesting take on the usual crescendo-core technique while embracing Post-Metal tropes to a greater degree than before.
Dog Is My Copilot - Enisala
Don't be fooled by the funny name: play 'Dog is my copilot' by Mircea Becherescu of Am Fost La Munte și Mi-a Plăcut and you'll find yourself ready for one of the most joyful journeys of the year. The sparkling and ethereal guitars, the unmistakable drums of Edoardo de Santis of The Chasing Monster: all contribute to the spectacular atmosphere of a solitary road trip, between breathless views and gorgeous melodies that will never leave you.
pg.lost - Oscillate
Despite the already high expectations and anticipation, we still found ourselves listening to a sensational record! From the first minute to the last, PG.lost released an absolute bomb: gigantic crescendos, a skillful use of electronics, and ethereal atmospheres that wink at shoegaze. Oscillate is a one-way visceral journey to interstellar wastes where there is nothing but thrills and grandeur.
Vasudeva - Generator
If there's a perfect post-rock album that we could loudly and proudly blast in our living rooms and dance to, it would be 'Generator'. It's arguably Vasudeva's most polished, organic and accessible album till date and perhaps one of the most uplifting records of the year for us.
ṘO - Athalase
Experimenting with a multitude of genres might be a brave and ambitious move for a debut LP, but this Spanish group bring forth their own interpretation of Post-Rock. 'ATHALASE' is an incredibly dynamic and technically sound album that's served on a silver platter for every fan of atmospheric post-rock.
Pictures from Nadira - Morula
German post-rock outfit, Pictures From Nadira, make a comeback almost 3 years after their critically acclaimed debut album and it's exactly what we expected: super satisfying post-rock music that hasn't left our playlist ever since it's release. This album is nothing short of amazing: compact arrangements, pure instrumental goodness in 4 great cathartic tracks ranging from the sweetest melancholy of post-rock to the most beautiful and energetic post-metal of the last monumental song. Pictures from Nadira confirm themselves as one of the best German bands on the scene with 'Morula', one of the most exquisitely solid releases of the year.
Album released via Fluttery Records.
Face Off - Machines
Doomgaze might be gradually becoming our new favourite genre after Post-Rock/Metal and Sweden based Serbian outfit, Face Off are among the top 5 favourite doomgaze acts of all time. Machine' offers a beautfiul dream-like sounscape cloaked by heavy and pulsating downtuned guitars that nonchalantly weaves through the concepts of Doomgaze, Post-Metal, Post-Rock and tasteful production values makes this one of the best EPs of the year.
All Shall Be Well (AASBWAAMOTSBW) - ZWARTGROEN
Returning from their dip into neo-classical territory, All Shall Be Well (And All Shall Be yadda yadda) bring forth the most robust offering in their catalogue. Refraining from the typical twinkle-core pratfalls, this album sounds like the hope we so desperately needed for 2020. Sometimes loud, mostly twinkly, always beautiful.