Part 1. Begins with the first of the selection in this post. Starting with 15-8
15. Biffy Clyro: Celebration of Endings
The first album to make this list is one that definitely grew on me a lot more after reviewing it. While it is still not the best album by far, hence it’s placement on this list, I think it is definitely better than how I first reviewed it. I gave it a middling 5 back then, but think it may even stretch to a solid 7 at this point. The songs that I loved before, such as Space and Cop Syrup, remain to be still some of Biffy’s best ever work while songs like Tiny Indoor Fireworks and End Of have slowly grown on me more and more with every listen. There are still albums I prefer by the band, but having said that this isn’t my least favourite Biffy album either. And heck, when a band as fantastic as Biffy releases even a simply good album, it is still up there with one of the best albums of the year.
Link to stream the album celebration of endings
Original overall: 5/10 – (Revised overall: 6.5/10)
14. Alanis Morissette: Such Pretty Forks in the Road
25 years after she became an overnight superstar and became one of the most recognisable voices of the late 90’s with the release of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis released another album that shows she is still an incredible songwriter and singer and proves why she deserves to still be on top. Starting off strong with the amazing Smiling, this album just goes from strength to strength in the first few songs, the highlight for me being Reasons I drink. The woman’s signature grungy vocals are still there, but the songwriting has matured into more of a slow, epic ballad style, something that lends itself surprisingly well to her higher, harsher voice. However, as beautiful as it is, it is also part of the reason the album is this low on the list. It’s definitely awesome, no doubt about that, but it’s ALL slower songs. Not one is even close to the level of rock of something like You Oughta Know, which is a shame as I loved the heavier side of her early stuff. As I say, it’s definitely a great album, but it could have been higher up had we had a rock song on it.
Link to stream such pretty forks in the road
13. Pucifer: Existential Reckoning
Maynard James Keenan’s other, other band, Pucifer, have always been the oddest one of the three, and Existential Reckoning certainly does nothing to change that fact. Opening on electronic sounds, programmed drums and Maynard’s hauntingly beautiful vocala with Bread and Circus, it really sets the tone and mood for the album perfectly. This is everything that the terrible 2020 Nine Inch Nails albums should have been, even if they are a little lighter than NIN would be. It’s all pretty slow paced throughout but that gives it a really awesome chilled, psychedelic vibe to it. It’s awesome to stick on and just jam to, if you have time to listen to the whole thing, as it’s definitely more of a whole album experience rather than the odd single or two to listen to on their own. Everything combined together great here to make it one of the most well rounded, if out there, albums.
Link to download for Existential Reckoning
12. Public Enemy: What you Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?
With their 2020 album, Public Enemy show that they have very much still got it, even though their last studio album was a whopping 13 years ago. While said album did contain their biggest song to date, Harder Than You Think, I would honestly say this album is stronger overall. From the awesome opener, When the Grid Go Down, through awesome songs like Toxic and the NWA legend Ice-T aided Smash the Crowd, all the way to the emotional closer and tribute, R.I.P Blackat, this album is solid from front to back. All of the guests do awesomely, too, from the aforementioned Ice-T to Mike D of Beastie Boys fame, to old friends of the band like Daddy-O. My only criticism is similar to that of the Alanis Morissette album in that towards the end it did have a bit of a samey feel to it, a lot of similar tracks throughout. Then again, that is the case with a lot of late 80’s to early 90’s rap!
Official website for public enemy
11. Chris Stapleton: Starting Over
The current king of country returned this year with his first album in three years, Starting Over. The only reason I have not reviewed this one yet is because it was released on the same day as the next entry and there are simply not enough hours in the day. Chris returns back to top form with this album though, bringing his signature style and incredible voice to some of the best, most catchy songs he’s ever written. While nothing here is quite on the level of Parachute or Tennessee Whiskey (one of the best modern country songs by far) there is still a lot of great stuff on this album. Whether it’s his signature, slower style on songs like Cold or Whiskey Sunrise or his ventures into more rock territory with Arkansas (my favourite song on the album), there is plenty of goodness and variety here to give it a very decent spot on this list. Mr Stapleton has got one hell of a discography so far and if he keeps up with output like this, he’ll go down as one of the all time greats of country music.
Christ Stapleton music – Official website
10. Phil Campbell: We’re the Bastards. original review
The first entry into this list is also the most recent, with We’re the Bastards being released just last month. Riding high off their awesome debut album, Ringleader, the ex Motörhead guitarist’s band again knocked it out of the park with their second full length release. Filled with awesome songs such as Born to Roam, Promises are Poison and Hate Machine. The only reason it is so low down is because I thought a couple of the pre-release singles were a little on the weak side, such as the album’s title track. So much so that I thought that song, coupled with the likes of Desert Song, dragged the album down a few spots on the list for me, unfortunately. It is still a fantastic album though, otherwise it wouldn’t have made this list, of course, and one that ended this crappy year on a pretty decent high for rock music!
Phil Campbell we are the bastards official download
9. Corey Taylor: CMFT
This album had to make it on here somewhere, mainly just because of the crazy mess of awesomeness that it is. For an album to go from radio rock to jazz to punk to even some rap metal featuring ACTUAL rappers as guests, this quirky debut solo album from the Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman really had it all. I mean, really, is there anything more I can say to explain why this album made the list and why you should check it out? If you must, notable highlights include Meine Lux, Culture Head, The Maria Fire and, of course, the controversial rap-metal song CMFT Must Be Stopped.
Corey Taylor music official website
8. The Cadillac Three: COUNTRY FUZZ
TC3 actually put out two albums this year and I very nearly cheated and put both on here in one. However I didn’t want to mess up the format of this list the first year I try it and I also thought their first one, released way back at the start of February, was the stronger effort of the two. While their other album, Tabasco and Sweet Tea, is still very good, I thought COUNTRY FUZZ was a little stronger, if even just because it was a little more on the rock side of country-rock. Boasting awesome country anthems like Bar Round Here, Hard Out Here for a Country Boy and Slow Rollin’ the band go back to their roots with this one and definitely pack more heaviness and punch onto their sound than they did with American Slang back a couple of years prior. This is another album that it pains me to put so low down, but there were so many excellent albums this year that this one unfortunately kept getting pushed lower. For one of my favourite bands to end up at No. 8 on the list, that must be a sign of a good year!
The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths