25. The Night Flight OrchestraAeromantic (Nuclear Blast)

“Scaling new heights of pomp rock magnificence… I was a little underwhelmed by the band’s last album, 2018’s Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough, and feared that maybe here was a project that had reached the end of it’s creative road. Aeromantic proves that (a), not only was I wrong, but (b) there’s plenty of good stuff still to come from Camp Night Flight. Long may they cruise the nocturnal skyways!” – Scott Adams, 30/01/20

Read Scott’s full review of Aeromantic HERE

24. UlcerateStare Into Death And Be Still (Debemur Morti)
Top 100

‘Ulcerate are the epitome of that Swan metaphor people like using; they are the apogee of solidity, unchanging, grim faced and solid in the face of everything thrown at them. Their sound doesn’t appear to change that much. Yet underneath is the thrashing, whirling maelstrom of ideas and technique that fuels their now seemingly relentless rush to the top of the tech death pile. SIDABS really does confirm their place above that pile, even if, at times, it’s bloody hard work sitting in the same room. Marvellous”. – Michael Stronge, 14/12/20

23. NeuronspoilerSpoiled For Choice (Own Label)
Top 100

“A third slab of brilliance from these UK metallers… Angel of Britannia, with it’s Spitfire imagery and interpolation of Holst‘s Jupiter (most notably the part of the work now better known as I Vow To Thee My Country after the addition of words by the British poet Sir Cecil Spring Rice) is the most important song this band has recorded thus far, and Spoiled For Choice is clearly the work of a band ready to make a big step up, a band ready to take it’s place on the World stage. Good luck to them!” – SA, 08/09/20

Read Scott’s full breakdown of Spoiled for Choice HERE

22. Sainted SinnersUnlocked & Reloaded (El Puerto Records)
Sainted Sinners

“New members, classy sounds… I could find something appreciative to say about every track on this album, such is it’s variety and freshness. Sainted Sinners have delivered an album here that doesn’t really have any discernible weak points, and I think anybody that loves classic arena rock will find a slot for this record in their hearts as soon as they hear it. Impressive stuff!” – Gavin Strickmann, 18/11/20

Read Gavin’s full dissection of Unlocked & Reloaded HERE

21. Maryann CottonHallelujah (El Puerto Records)
Maryann Cotton

“Back to the seventies… There’s a whole chunk of the rock community that’ll disregard this album purely because of it’s tribute-style referencing of the early career of Alice Cooper; Don’t let yourself fall into that category, because if you do you’ll be missing out on one of the best-written, most stylishly executed albums to poke it’s head above the parapet thus far in 2020. It is derivative, certainly, but when Sebastian Sly launches into solos of the quality of the one on the outro to the title track all those doubts will fly out of the door if you’ll hold it open for them, which you most definitely should”. – GS, 05/06/20

Read Gavin’s eulogy to Maryann HERE

20. H.E.A.T.II (earMUSIC)

“World class AOR… II is exhilarating stuff, that’s for sure, and I have absolutely zero qualms about recommending this to anyone who possesses what Jack Donaghy might have referred to as ‘two ears and a heart’. Worldshaking stuff”. GS, 24/01/20

Gavin Strickmann feels the Heat in full HERE

19. Stan BushDare To Dream (Cargo Records)
Stan Bush

“In this tiresome age of post modern critical thinking, where everything we’ve ever loved is now a symbol of some sort of insidious evil that needs to be wiped from the collective memory, Stan Bush stands as a beacon for all that was right about that hairsprayed few years towards the end of the last century – Enjoyment. Fun. Tight trousers – you know the score. And as you stand, vape stick aloft, trousers around your ankles on the kitchen table bellowing along to the stadium-levelling ballad Live and Breathe, or punch the air and play air guitar to the superbly Survivoresque Heat of Attack, nothing and no-one can take those moments away from you, or Stan… and that’s a good thing, surely” – SA, 21/10/20

Read Scott’s Summing up of Dare to Dream HERE

18. Anna Von HausswolffAll Thoughts Fly (Southern Lord)

“A modern classic… To exist in the world of this collection of compositions is to truly experience the intention and ambition of the artist across a variety of moods and stylistic mores. As a piece of modern classical composition, this collection of works is a triumph, a masterpiece that absolutely demands to be heard. As such, the reviewer does not hesitate in recommending it unreservedly”. – Graham Goodge, 31/08/20

Read Graham’s critical assessment of All Thoughts Fly HERE

17. BenedictionScriptures (Nuclear Blast)

“Superb stuff… if the fact that Benediction are one of Britain’s most reliably ‘does what it says on the tin’ bands means that there are few surprises here, then the fact also remains that few are better at what they do in 2020” – MS, 14/10/20

Read Mick giving chapter and verse on Scriptures HERE

16. Iron JawChain of Command (Metal Rising Records)

Chain of Command is a quite superb synthesis of most of the Gods of the old school but, thanks to the earth-shattering vocal contribution of Todd Pack, mainly Judas Priest… the constituent parts of what make for a classic heavy metal band of the old school are all present and correct in Iron Jaw”. – Ferry Templeton, 24/09/20

15. AC/DCPower Up (Sony)
Top 100

“It has to be said with some pleasure that this really is one of the most varied, enjoyable albums AC/DC have released in some while. It’s been a difficult few years for the band, both collectively and as individuals, since the release of Rock Or Bust; that they’ve come up with another album at all would have been worthy of praise enough. That they’ve come up with one of their best albums in decades – there are moments here when you will find yourself quite literally unable to stop smiling whilst listening – is nothing short of miraculous. Power Up indeed…” – SA, 13/11/20

Scott gets the power in full HERE

14. DynaztyThe Dark Delight (AFM)

“Massive on every level… Is there anyone in the world of modern metal that sounds as awe-inspiringly massive as Dynazty? Everything is streamlined to achieve key performance, and no song drags or gets anywhere near outstaying it’s welcome. For a band as recklessly opulent and extravagant as Dynazty, there is not one iota of self-indulgence to be found here. Everything is recorded with impact on the listener as the main priority – which makes The Dark Delight almost faultless in my book” – GS, 17/03/20

Read along as Gavin takes full delight in Dynazty HERE

13. IronflameBlood Red Victory (Divebomb Records)

“Thunderous trad metal in it’s purest form… this project is a must-hear for anyone with a proclivity for undiluted American steel. Resolutely classic in outlook, Ironflame takes its cues from names like Fifth Angel, Savatage, Iced Earth and Malice, melding these influences into a molten melange of metallic mayhem that never, ever fails to please the ears” – FT, 08/01/20

Read the full Templeton verdict on Blood Red Victory HERE

12. MagnumThe Serpent Rings (SPV)

“A great band doing what they do best – for the first time in a while… As a fan you never actively give up on bands that have been part of your life for over thirty five years, even as the glory fades; you learn to take the disappointment of each new release with a resigned shrug and then go back to your old faves for comfort. So for Magnum to return with such style, such verve and so many songs worthy of their halcyon stock is not only the most welcome surprise a fan can get – it’s a true affirmation that you were right along to stick with your heroes, however little reason they gave you to do so”. – SA 07/01/20

Read Scott’s full appraisal of The Serpent Rings HERE

11. KansasThe Absence of Presence (InsideOut Music)

“An absence of presence, maybe – but there’s no absence of brilliance on the new Kansas album… undeniably another very strong album from Kansas; an album that pays enough deference to the past to keep old fans happy whilst pointing to a vibrant and viable future for this most beloved of acts. Wonderful stuff.”. – SA 22/06/20

Read Scott’s full review of Absence of Presence HERE

10. Vanishing PointDead Elysium (AFM)
Vanishing Point

“A stunning return from these power metal veterans… Salvus is an inspiring and uplifting track that allows the band to explore it’s more progressive instincts, and comes with another earworm refrain come chorus time. It’s a nigh-on perfect amalgam of all of the best weapons in Vanishing Point’s locker. In summary, it’s hard to put the finger on a single weak point in the construction of this album; if well played melodic metal pleases you as it does me, it’s hard to see how this record will miss out on your top five record releases of 2020. Exciting stuff!” – FT, 29/07/20

Ferry breaks down Dead Elysium in full HERE

9. Dennis DeYoung26 East: Volume 1 (Frontiers Music)
Dennis DeYoung

“Stunning… Dennis DeYoung is seventy-three years of age. Seriously, let that fact sink in. And then listen to his new solo album, 26 East. What you read on the page and what you hear with your ears simply bear no relation to one another at all as opening track East of Midnight parps away gloriously out of the speakers for all the world like something from Styx’s 1977 tour de force The Grand Illusion… DeYoung has another album in the can, 26 East Volume 2, and even if it’s only half as good as this offering then our protagonist will end his storied, fifty-year plus career on a high. But for now just immerse yourself in this beautifully crafted piece of classic rock and enjoy every last second of it. It’s impossible not to, I can fully assure you…” – SA, 05/05/20

Read Scott enthusing about 26 East in full HERE

8. HauntMind Freeze (Shadow Kingdom Records)

“In broad terms, Mind Freeze takes over where last release If Icarus Could Fly left off… with a few minor differences. That being said, this does seem to be something of a landmark release for the band, and there’s an air of ‘the next step’ being taken here. Song writing is sharper – On The Stage, in particular, sees the band leaving behind their determinedly underground roots for something altogether more polished-sounding”. – Hideous Destructor, 13/12/19

Read Hideous Destructor’s full appraisal of Mind Freeze HERE

7. UadaDjinn (Eisenwald)
Top 100

“What Uada are doing on Djinn is nothing new, of course, which is why I fail to understand the animus that exists against them; Me? I like a bit of Dissection as much as the next man, and there’s enough of a Nödtveidtian twist to much of what’s on offer here to keep an old head like me happy. Add the odd bit of post-punk looseness to proceedings and I have to say I’m hooked. Surprised, but hooked” – MS, 05/12/20

6. Deep PurpleWhoosh! (earMUSIC)
Deep Purple

Whoosh! is the best album I’ve done with Deep Purple” – Don Airey, 26/08/20

Read Don’s thoughts about the construction of Whoosh! HERE

5. Tau CrossMessengers of Deception (EasyAction Records)
Tau Cross

“Thought provoking, head banging delights… This is music you feel as much as hear and there is an awful lot here to get your teeth into should you care to invest some time and energy. If not – no matter. Like I said, you’ll not hear many better albums in this milieu this year…” – MS, 30/11/20

Read Mick’s full deconstruction of Messengers of Deception HERE

4. Paradise LostObsidian (Nuclear Blast)

“Quintessential Gothic gloom from the North of England… closer Ravenghast sees the band reverting to it’s latter day setting of sludgy, unforgiving riffage and desolate, all-hope-is-lost vocal misanthropy. As a way of assuring the listener that this is a band still very much in the now as Obsidian becomes ‘just’ another part of the PL canon it’s a masterstroke; despite being a band with a past that’s very much to be proud of, with Ravenghast they prove that it’s not the past that defines them, but very much the now and the next. Splendid stuff on all fronts”. – Scott Adams, 24/04/20

Scott probes into the darkest recesses of Obsidian HERE

3. Armored SaintPunching The Sky (Metal Blade)
Armored Saint

“Can they deliver? They surely can… on tracks like coruscating opener Standing On The Shoulders of Giants and the quite superb Lone Wolf, John Bush and company once again prove that they are more than capable of bringing the noise in fine style… Comfortably their most comprehensively satisfying release in years, Armored Saint appear to have either found the keys to the fountain of youth or, more likely, have made their peace with the ageing process and determined to simply be the best they can be, whatever their vintage and damn the torpedoes. Whatever the answer, Punch The Sky is the sound of masters at work, and definitely one of 2020’s must-have heavy metal records”. – SA, 09/10/20

Read Scott’s Giant review of the album HERE

2. Blue Öyster CultThe Symbol Remains (Frontiers Music)
Blue Öyster Cult

“There are truly enough good moments here – most notably the titanic slab of melodic metal that is Tainted Blood – to snare even the least amenable mind, and if this turns out to be Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma’s recorded swansong, then it’s hard to imagine them going out in greater style than this. Simply tremendous stuff”. – GS, 19/10/20

Gavin’s review of the album remains HERE


All of which brings us to the top spot!

And the winner is…

1. RavenMetal City (SPV)

“‘Our initial goal was just to raise the bar once more’ – John Gallagher… Halfway through Metal City’s titanic opening track The Power, you’ll realise that Raven bassist/vocalist John Gallagher wasn’t wrong. With new album Metal City, Raven have created just about the perfect modern-day traditional heavy metal album. Magnificent”. – SA, 24/08/20

Read Scott’s full thoughts on Metal City HERE

Scott talked to bassist John Gallagher about Metal City on the album’s release. Read the interview HERE