It’s easy to despair about the future of music, especially with so many releases delayed and live music cancelled or put on hold until further notice. Despite—or perhaps in spite of—that fact, metal bands across subgenres have succeeded at putting out a ton of high-quality albums. In an effort to recognize just a few of those records you may have missed, these are five can’t-miss sludge albums from 2020.
Adzes – No One Wants to Speak About It
No One Wants to Speak About It is the first full-length from Seattle’s Adzes, the output of one Forest Bohrer. Building on influences from that range from doom and sludge to industrial, noise rock and shoegaze, No One Wants to Speak About It is cold and groovy with a sense that things could break down at any moment. Bohrer solidifies that feeling with lyrics about environmental destruction and the crisis that will result from it.
Woorms – Twitching, as Prey
This Sheffield, U.K. trio have cracked the pages (pixels?) of Decibel a few times, consistently impressing with their sludge-punk sensibilities and jaded outlook on life. Their latest is second album Twitching, as Prey. Full of bluesy, doomed riffs and half-sung/half-shouted vocals, it’s the most fun album on this list.
Huntress of Stars – Borrowed Eyes With Which to Sorrow
There’s no information publicly available about Huntress of Stars beyond a Bandcamp profile and an entry on Encyclopedia Metallum, but Borrowed Eyes With Which to Sorrow is an enthralling debut. The crawling riffs, simple drumming and acidic vocals work in tandem to create a powerful effect, one made even stronger when Huntress of Stars break out into a faster section.
Vile Creature – Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
Canadian duo Vile Creature are masters of ugly, harrowing sludge a la Meth Drinker or Grief, but on Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm! they brought their music to the next level. Depressing sludge is on the menu, but it’s tempered with soft piano, organ and choral vocals on the album’s final two tracks, “Glory! Glory!” and “Apathy Took Helm!” Lots of bands try to pull off this juxtaposition, but few do it so well.
Stonewielders – Old Earth Gone
Old Earth Gone delivers a slab of ground-rattling, sludgy doom in classic fashion. The German trio, who emerged two years ago with their first demo, delve into the realm of fantasy and adventure, on Old Earth Gone. The three-song EP was recorded in COVID-19 quarantine and will satisfy any traditional doom needs.