Rick T’s Top Ten Releases Of 2020

Rick T’s Top Ten Releases Of 2020
By Rick Tilley

Hello to you all, It’s me. Here are my top ten releases of 2020. I think this is the toughest time I’ve ever had choosing. Unless you’ve been living under a rock then 2020 has been an incredibly strange year and being at home so much has meant that I’ve listened to even more albums than I usually do Even though I don’t get much chance to write anymore, it’s safe to say, that the quality of music this year, under difficult circumstances, has been mesmerising.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the whole Ever Metal Team for their continuing hard work, all the bands/artists who create the music that we love so much, all the record labels, PR/Management companies, Radio Stations, Venues and Festivals we work with and to each and every one of you who likes, shares, listens, comments and follows Ever Metal on our various platforms. This is a labour of love and, without you, we wouldn’t have an audience, and neither would the bands.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, and let us hope 2021 is a little kinder!

Rick

10 Eight Lives Down – Humans (September 2020)

www.facebook.com/EightLivesDownBand

‘Opening Shots’ (Official Lyric Video)


09 Countless Skies – Glow (November 2020)

www.facebook.com/CountlessSkies

‘Summit’ (Official Audio)


08 Bonded – Rest In Violence (January 2020)

www.facebook.com/bondedofficial

‘Rest In Violence’ (Lyric Video)


07 Scars – Predatory (August 2020)

www.facebook.com/scars.thrash

‘Ancient Power’ (Lyric Video)


06 Ron Coolen – Rise (March 2020)

www.facebook.com/roncoolenmusic

‘White Summer’ (Audio)


05 Ward XVI – Metamorphosis (September 2020)

www.facebook.com/WardXVI

‘Mister Babadook’ (Official Video)


04 Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination (July 2020)

www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun

O Resolution! (Official Video)


03 DGM – Tragic Separation (October 2020)

www.facebook.com/dgmprog

‘Flesh And Blood (Official Video)


02 White Crone – The Poisoner (February 2020)

www.facebook.com/whitecrone

‘The Poisoner’ (Official Video)


01 Scardust – Strangers (October 2020)

www.facebook.com/ScardustOfficial

‘Tantibus II’ (Official Video)

To read the original reviews, where available, follow these links:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Beth’s Top Ten Releases of 2020

Beth’s Top Ten Releases of 2020
By Beth Jones

Well, what a year, eh? We’ve seen some terrible things happening, and we’ve seen some positives. We’ve also seen some things that are just completely weird and crazy. But through all that has happened in the outside world, terrible, bizarre, or otherwise, one thing has stayed steadfast. The quality of music being released.

In fact, if anything, the standard has taken a massive leap up, and I have been privileged and honoured to hear what is, in my opinion, some of the best music ever laid down. It has been an incredibly difficult job to formulate a list of my favourite, but after some wailing and gnashing of teeth, I’ve got my top ten. So here it is, my ‘crème de la crème’ of this historic year.

10. Vega – Grit Your Teeth (June 2020)

After 3 months of working from home, home schooling, and watching the daily briefings, we all very much needed a feel-good album. Enter classic hard rocker’s, Vega, with their sixth studio album. Riff laden and anthem driven, this upbeat album was the perfect antidote to the Groundhog Day we found ourselves in. I mean, who doesn’t need a bit of classic, 80s/AOR inspired rock in their lives, whatever’s happening outside, right?

www.facebook.com/OFFICIALVEGA


9. Helix – Eat, Sleep, Rock (September 2020)

As September dawned, things were starting to look slightly more positive. Mainly because the kids went back to school!! This did however mean that I had to leave Wine O’clock until after the school run! But I didn’t mind so much, because I could listen to “Eat, Sleep, Rock” in the car. My little 7-year-old rocker approved of this greatly, and now knows all the words to the opening track, ‘The Story Of Helix’.

If you’ve never experienced Helix, then you need to. Hi-octane classic rock at its best, with an injection of dry humour, from a band who’ve been kicking it for nearly half a century. If you like AC/DC, Alice Cooper, et al, then you need this album in your life.

www.facebook.com/HelixOfficialPage


8. Tomorrow Is Lost – Therapy (March 2020)

In March, when things were still pretty normal here in the western world, a talented young band from Newcastle, UK, released their debut album, “Therapy”. Their catchy, alt rock/metal sound is masterfully captured on this album. It has thumping beats, memorable riffs, and super vocals a plenty. They’re a combination of Evanescence, Skunk Anansie, and Paramore, and it’s very good. For such a young band, they really display a great deal of musical skill and talent in this album, with well-constructed songs, that gel well, without needing to overstate anything.

www.facebook.com/tomorrowislost


7. White Walls – Grandeur (October 2020)

One thing that this year did give use was the truly splendid European Metal Festival Alliance – a virtual festival, which saw some of Europe’s biggest festivals come together to bring the music to us, in the comfort of our own homes! It was a great weekend, which let me discover even more new music! And one of those discoveries was Romanian progressive metal band, White Walls. They were easily my band of the weekend, so discovering their third album was due for release was very exciting.

They mix progressive rhythms, with hard hitting riffs and vocals, and have been compared to the likes of Opeth and Leprous. The album is inspired by the state of the world, exploring the juxtaposition of the grandeur presented by the shiny and glamourous things in life, vs the realities of life. Very fitting for the time we’re living in, and masterfully approached by the band, too.

www.fb.com/whitewallsofficial


6. Ensiferum – Thalassic (July 2020)

Nothing says summer better than folk inspired melodic death metal, right? And if you want to fill your boots with grand, orchestrated, all conquering, theatrical metal, then there’s no better way that to do that than with Finnish aficionados, Ensiferum. “Thalassic” is a truly stunning album, centred around the theme of the sea (which they have a fair amount of in Finland, to be honest). It’s full of jiggy, bouncing tunes, epic solos, and catchy melodies, and for me, is the liveliest release of the year. I will wager good money with anyone on the fact that you cannot listen to this album without indulging in a bit of headbanging/dad dancing, even if you’re listening to it through headphones, and everyone around you thinks you’ve finally cracked! Let’s face it, Ensiferum never really make a bad album, but this one has to be one of my favourites.

www.facebook.com/Ensiferum


5. Freddy Spera – Temper (April 2020)

Freddy Spera is an Italian/Brazilian musician, who some may know as the hugely expressive bass player from Liverpool based band, Novacrow. He’s also an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist, and music producer. His first solo EP, “Temper” was definitely my easter treat this year. I didn’t know what to expect with it, but it only took me a few bars to make up my mind that it was absolutely stunning. It’s mellow, proggy, and in places, a touch on the 90’s indie/grunge side of things. Vocally, it reminded me of a lot of Devin Townsend’s recent releases, which pleased me a great deal, as Devin is a god amongst men in my eyes! I loved this EP so much that it was actually the first one to make it on to my list for releases of the year.

www.freddyspera.bandcamp.com


4. Kamelot – I Am The Empire: Live From The 013 (August 2020)

Now we’re getting to the business end of proceedings, and this is where deciding on who got the top spot for my releases of the year got a million times tougher. So, here we go with the top four, who are all separated by the smallest of margins.

August saw the release of an epic live album from American Symphonic Metal giants, Kamelot. I’d never really listened to Kamelot before (I know, I’m a fool – you may all point and laugh) but was completely blown away by this release. “I Am The Empire: Live From The 013” is nearly 100 minutes of extravagant, indulgent, perfection. It brought me pure joy, in the shape of stunningly orchestrated compositions, with grand melodies, both new and classic, encompassing intricate harmonies, powerful rhythms, and insatiable instrumentation that fills every beat with drama and beauty. All this is topped off by the spine-tingling vocals of Tommy Karevik. And if that wasn’t enough, there are guest appearances from the likes of Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Lauren Hart (Once Human) and Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Epica and more)!

www.facebook.com/kamelotofficial


3. Osyron – Foundations (July 2020)

Canada has a bit of a habit of producing some kick-ass musicians. And Symphonic Metal band, Osyron, are no exception. “Foundations” theme is a view on Canadian history, spanning topics from the country’s colonization, to the mistreatment and recognition of indigenous tribes, and the country’s participation in global warfare. It’s hard-hitting subject matter, tackled superbly, by a very talented band. There was no doubt in my mind when I heard this album that it would make it high up on my top ten of the year.

Musically, it’s symphonic and proggy in all the right places, and if you like bands such as Nightwish, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Kamelot, and Wintersun, you’re going to like this. But the real masterstroke within this release is the lyrics. They’re superb, tackling difficult subject matter with emotional integrity, and displaying real thought and depth, to create something truly awesome.

www.facebook.com/osyron


2. Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination (July 2020)

Disclaimer – this was actually a re-release because they signed to a label. But it was simply too good not to include. Wilderun are a Melodic Death Metal band from Boston, Massachusetts, who chuck more than a hint of prog, folk, and orchestral elements into the mix, in order to create their sound. “Veil Of Imagination”, their third album, took me to places that most music doesn’t reach. It’s got such a musical intelligence about it, that creates something so beautiful it’s difficult to describe.

The dynamic peaks and troughs of this album are on a vast scale, going from full on, in your face, walls of sound, to subtle and tender solitary piano, and lilting vocals, in the blink of an eye. This is less of an album of individual tracks, and more a classical work of art consisting of many movements to make up a full symphony.

I originally listened to this release back in June, to write the review for it, and instantly had it as my album of the year, without question. They even managed to break maths, by scoring 11/10 from me. Simply superb. No other words are necessary.

www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun/


1. Scardust – Strangers (October 2020)

So, as I said, for a large portion of the year I thought I had my top album pinned down in the shape of Wilderun. But then “Strangers”, the second album from Israeli progressive metal band, Scardust, happened.

This release made the impossible possible, reducing me to tears with its brilliance, and reducing my scoring system to irrelevant nonsense. It is, without question, a complete masterpiece, which my inferior words do not do justice to. It’s punchy riffs, insane vocals, equally insane solos, and orchestration that would have pleased classical renaissance composers, will, for me, remain unrivalled for a very long time. I can’t remember the last time I heard an album so complete, and so perfect. And it’s been added to the very short list of works that really hit me in the feels every time (Mozart’s Requiem, and Queen’s “Made In Heaven” are the other two).  

Music truly is the only universal language. And good music, wherever it sits in terms of genre, is a powerful force for good. And, whatever the future holds, this album will always have a very special place in my heart, because of the way it spoke to me. And, for that reason, it takes my number one spot, by a country mile.

www.facebook.com/ScardustOfficial/


To sum up, in general, this year’s been a crock of shit. But musically, this year has delivered, and then some. And it’s been joyous to have the ability to share my thoughts on this wonderful language with you. To the bands here, and all the others who didn’t make my final cut, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And to anyone reading this, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, take care, stay strong, and let the music play.

To read the original reviews, follow these links:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination

Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination
Century Media Records
Release Date: 17/07/2020
Running Time: 66:12
Review by Beth Jones
11 /10

“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
       The earth, and every common sight,
                          To me did seem
                      Apparelled in celestial light,
            The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
                      Turn wheresoe’er I may,
                          By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”

Yup! Wordsworth. ‘But why?!’ I hear you cry. Well, when you put on an album to find the first track is almost 15 minutes long and opens with a recitation of a verse from one of the greatest poets ever to have lived, you know you’re going to be in for something special. So special in fact, that I am struggling to find a suitable way to even start talking about it! So, I’ll begin at the beginning.

For those not in the know, Wilderun are a Melodic Death Metal band from Boston, Massachusetts, who chuck more than a hint of prog, folk, and orchestral elements into the mix, in order to create their sound. They’ve been around since 2012, and “Veil Of imagination” is their third album release. They have recently joined Century Media, and the album is now to be re-released through them. They’re Opeth meets Devin Townsend and anything in between, and I think this is possibly the most excited I have been about an album since Devin’s ‘Empath’ dropped!

This masterpiece is seriously epic from the start. Following the delicate and beautifully poised recitation, the opening track leads in with acoustic guitar, and solitary violin, which begin to build with the addition of soft vocals, more string. Then orchestral instruments, and floating choral harmonies before burst into full on, speed drumming and some serious guitar riffage and growling vocals, all in a more complex time signature, exuberating prog and oozing musicianship.

This carries on, and flows into the second track, ‘O Resolution!’ with ease. I can’t be completely sure, but I’m pretty certain I can here pipe organ within the depths of all the other instrumentation on this track. I mean Jesus! How much is it possible to fit in?! It’s ludicrously marvellous in its decadence!!

The dynamic peaks and troughs of this album are on a vast scale, going from full on, in your face, walls of sound, to subtle and tender solitary piano, and lilting vocals, in the blink of an eye. This is less of an album of individual tracks, and more a classical work of art consisting of many movements to make up a full symphony. It’s also not an album that you can listen to just one track alone – it has to be heard in its entirety for the full effect to be appreciated. It tells a story through its orchestration and explores every nuance of emotion as it takes you on a journey through your own imagination. For me this conjures up colours, and scenes of rolling meadows with extraordinary wildlife, medieval battlefields, and tempestuous rolling waves. This is not just music. It’s a fully immersive experience! Just stunningly sublime… I have no other words.

Technically, this album is perfection too. The production, mixing, blending and placement of the individual elements is faultless. The fact that we’ve been sent the files in WAV format rather than MP3 speak volumes about the care and attention that Wilderun pay to their sound. This is illustrated perfectly towards the end of the penultimate track, ‘The Tyranny of Imagination’, where they deliberately overdrive the levels of certain elements, in order to distort the sound. It’s genius-level insanity, but just adds to the impact, and again makes the dynamic shift to the delicacy of the final track more enhanced.

The final track incidentally contains a section of brass, flutes, and strings, and finishes the album off on the same epic scale that it started, because why the fuck not, eh?! They do carry out my pet peeve, the fade, in this last track, but I seriously don’t care here because it fades into spoken word again, followed by random discordant piano, to bring everything to a climax. The fade has a purpose, and not just because they couldn’t work out how to end it, and that is the only occasion on which I will allow a fade to wash over me without a scowl! And if they can break my rule of docking points for a fade, then I too am going to break the rules of logic and the number system by awarding this lavish insanity 11 out of 10! So there!

For me, this album is setting the bar for this year, and possibly for a good few years to come. These guys are not only superbly talented technical musicians, but also gifted composers who set the sky as their limit, and then some! If you want to impress me, make it sound like this!

Tracklisting:
1. The Unimaginable Zero Summer
2. O Resolution!
3. Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun
4. Scentless Core (Budding)
5. Far from Where Dreams Unfurl
6. Scentless Core (Fading)
7. The Tyranny of Imagination
8. When the Fire and the Rose Were One

Line-up:
Evan Anderson Berry – Vocals, Guitars, Piano 
Dan Müller – Bass, Synths, Orchestrations 
Jon Teachey – Drums 
Joe Gettler – Lead Guitar 
Wayne Ingram – Orchestrations

Links:
www.wilderun.com/
www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun/
www.twitter.com/wilderunband
www.instagram.com/wilderunband/
www.youtube.com/user/Wilderunband
www.itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wilderun/id569311375
www.amazon.com/Wilderun/e/B00E80N5NW
www.wilderun.bandcamp.com/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.