Metal Chris’ favorite death metal albums of 2020

It’s the end of the year so it’s time for my end of year album lists! I’m posting several lists, each for a different subgenre/category, and ordered by release date instead of ranking them. 2020 has been a unique year with unique challenges, to say the least, and I fully expect that to be reflected in my lists. This death metal list is my third of these lists and you can find my black metal list here and my stoner and doom list here.

Black CurseEndless Wound
Released on 2 April 2020 by Sepulchral Voice Records
I guess you could call Black Curse a Denver based “super group” since the band members are from bands like Blood Incantation, Khemmis, Primitive Man and Spectral Voice, but honestly they don’t sound like any of those bands. This blackened death is brutality combined with some great songwriting that keeps it from getting monotonous and boring.

Funeral LeechDeath Meditation
Released 17 April 2020 by Carbonized Records
This debut full length from New York City based Funeral Leech takes that creeping cavernous death metal sound of bands like Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold and many others but slows it way down creating a death/doom sound with a big emphasis on the doom. Perfect music to listen to while relaxing after a long day of digging graves.

Ripped to Shreds – 亂 (Luan)
Released 17 April 2020 by Pulverised Records
Ripped to Shreds is based out of both California and Taiwan as band leader Andrew Lee has different line ups in each location. They play a death metal that has a strong Bay Area thrash element to it that keeps things both fun and brutal as Lee shreds away.

UlcerateStare into Death and Be Still
Released on 24 April 2020 by Debemur Morti Productions
The new Ulcerate has appeared on many year end lists and while I debated adding the newest Cytotoxin album as the tech-death entry on this year’s list, I simply couldn’t ignore just how killer this new direction for Ulcerate is. They have streamlined their sound to keep the heaviness intact while still giving (arguably the best drummer in metal) Jamie Saint Merat plenty of room to show off. Despite being an hour long Stare into Death and Be Still somehow manages to always end too soon.

DehumanautDust in the Giant’s Hand
Self-released on 21 May 2020
This is probably the most fun album on this list. Guitarist Katy Montgomerie has packed this album full of catchy riffs that are held together by an underlying groove that never comes across cheesy. I really can’t wait to see what this three piece from England does next after this killer debut.

BattlemasterGhastly, Graven & Grimoireless
Released on 26 June 2020 by Forcefield Records
Richmond’s Battlemaster is obsessed with the most brutal parts of combat in Dungeons & Dragons and their first release in five years is no different. The riffs are as catchy as ever but what is different is the production on this album is a lot better than their previous. This is a perfect album to play your favorite RPG to.

UndeathLesions of a Different Kind
Released 23 October 2020 by Prosthetic Records
Undeath from Rochester, New York, released one hell of a slamming death metal album here. Undeath’s debut full length blends elements of modern cavernous death metal with old school NYDM style grooves and perfectly balances those sounds.

Of Feather and BoneSulfuric Disintegration
Released 13 November 2020 by Profound Lore Records
This is the most brutal release on this list! High energy, intense and almost relentless pummeling best describe this third release by this Denver band. They’ve stepped up their game on Sulfuric Disintegration so if you’re into death metal (and why else would you be reading this post if you aren’t?) then don’t sleep on this one!

Glorious DepravityAgeless Violence
Released 27 November 2020 by Translation Loss Records
Based out of Brooklyn and featuring members of bands like Mutilation Rites, Woe and Pyrrhon, you knew Glorious Depravity was going to get some attention. Ageless Violence lives up to expectations and I’d dare say even exceeds them. The album is packed with sick riffs and some of the most mental lyrics on this entire list.

UndergangAldrig i livet
Released 4 December 2020 by Dark Descent Records
Danish death metal band Undergang returns with another filthy album of down tuned riffs and those infectious rhythms they have made a name for themselves doing. There’s nothing too unusual about this release compared to their earlier albums, but they’re perfecting that death metal from the sewer sound more and more with each release.

Vektor and Battlemaster at RAS Hall

So last Sunday, the 16th of September 2012, the Philadelphia based thrash band Vektor was finishing up their tour with an afternoon matinee show at the RAS Hall in Washington DC. People often mistakenly call the venue an Ethiopian restaurant however it is actually Jamaican, or more specifically, Rastafarian. Their religion believes that former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was the second coming of Christ and that is why his image was plastered all over the interior. Anyways, there was a good turn out even though the early show was competing with the Redskins game. Luckily they had some TV’s over the bar that showed the game. The music began with a Chicago based grind band called Worn Out that I didn’t hear but from outside of the venue. They seemed a bit out of place for this show’s line up. The next band up was Midnight Eye, a great local metal band that really started the riff fest that the rest of this show would be. The band’s frontman/guitarist, Simon, is a friend of mine and he set up this show, along with many others around the area. If you want to keep up with the awesome DIY metal shows he puts on you can join his Metal Squad Party Force group on Facebook (here) to be sure you get invited to them all. I don’t have photos of Midnight Eye from Sunday because I hung out at the bar to watch the Skins game while Midnight Eye played and I’ve shot them several times before anyways. However you can see older photos I’ve shot of them here. They were good and it looks like they’re starting to get a more consistent line up now. After they played the Richmond based Battlemaster slayed the place with their Dungeons & Dragons themed thrash metal. Their songs were about things like displacer beasts and cursed boots of perpetual dancing which might have been a bit too nerdy for most in attendance to understand (however I did play some 2nd Edition AD&D back in the day and I got most of their references I think). Regardless of their lyrical content the band can really shred and they were really fun to watch play. You may recognize their vocalist, Andy Horn, as being the recently departed original frontman of another Richmond band, Cannabis Corpse. You could tell he was having fun up there and it was a good show for the band’s first time in DC in about 5 years. Battlemaster’s set was a good lead in for the final band of the evening, Vektor.

I’d never seen Vektor live before and while they are coming to Empire in late October, they’ll be playing a shorter set I’m sure since they will have three bigger bands playing after them (more info on that show here). So that meant the chance to catch them do a full headlining set was a don’t miss opportunity. The band’s main man, David DiSanto, looks like Morbid Angel‘s Trey Azagthoth circa 1990. He was even wearing a cut off Morbid Saint shirt! He also had various metal parts and what seemed like a grate and a circuit board on his guitar which totally fit with the band’s futuristic lyrical imagery. Did I mention they totally killed the place? Vektor has some awesome riffs and the shred factor was off the scale at this show. I like their recorded music but hearing it live just added another whole level of energy and excitement to the songs. They didn’t have a set list for the show so after a few songs they just took requests from people in the audience for what to play next, a sure fire way to please any crowd. I really can’t say enough about how good they were live, just total face melting thrash! If you’re into thrash metal and you missed this show then you fucked up big time. However there’s another great thrash show happening this weekend: The area’s wildest live thrash band, Warchild, will be chugging beers and thrashing people’s faces off Saturday the 22nd at DC9. You can get more info on that show here or give the band a listen here (I recommend the song Every Position, that song rules!). It’s great to see such quality bands playing the area so be sure to get out to some of these great metal shows and support the scene you’re a part of!

Battlemaster:

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Peter Sims of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Battlemaster at RAS Hall

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Battlemaster at RAS Hall

Vektor:

Vektor at RAS Hall

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

David DiSanto of Vektor

Vektor at RAS Hall

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

Erik Nelson of Vektor

Frank Chin of Vektor