In 2016, Sentinel Daily‘s inaugural Australian metal album of the year was Meshiaak‘s Alliance of Thieves; In 2017 the top spot was taken out by prog metallers Caligula’s Horse with their In Contact opus. Sydney’s Rise of Avernus were crowned kings of metal in 2018 for the release of Eigengrau whilst last year venerable power metallers Lord were wreathed in triumph in celebration of their superb Fallen Idols outing. So what of 2020? Read on, as we count down our ten best metal albums of  the year…

Honourable Mentions:

Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant (InsideOut Music), Turtle SkullMonoliths (Art As Catharsis/Kozmik Artifactz), FootThe Balance of Nature Shifted (Copper Feast Records), AbramelinNever Enough Snuff (Own Label), Darker HalfIf You Only Knew (Massacre Records)

Top 10:

10. Victoria KEssentia (Rockshots Records)

“The world of female-vocalled symphonic/orchestral metal is an incredibly crowded one; it takes a big talent to get to the front of the queue for audience attention and, more importantly, patronage. On Essentia Victoria K takes quite a few steps up that queue, and on the evidence of this she’s got the power to take a fair few more in the not-too-distant future… One to watch for sure” – Scott Adams, 01/04/20

Read Scott’s full review of Essentia HERE

9. RemissionThe Tether’s End (Own Label)


“Remission live in a world where melody is accommodated seamlessly into muscle; you’re never far away from a guitar or vocal hook that’ll snag the earholes, yet the overall feel is pleasingly still one of remorseless bludgeon… this is a very, very assured opening full-length statement of intent and one which points to a very bright future. Get in on the ground floor and tell ‘em Mickey sent yas!” – Michael Stronge, 06/03/20

Read Michael’s full appraisal of The Tether’s End HERE

8. EosThe Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records)

‘The best black metal is essentially like the aural equivalent of a car crash; horrific, potentially life changing, awful – yet something that also comes equipped with the sort of dread allure that means you can’t take your eyes (or ears in this case) off of it; Aussie BM titans Eos show all these qualities and much much more on The Great Ascension; there’s something at the root of the music here that only the true masters of their art possess – soul. Blackened, hateful soul. This is compelling stuff” – MS, 01/12/20

7. Pilots of BaalbekUncontrolled Airspace (Own Label)


“Full-force rock n’roll from the Bush Capital… It’s rare to hear music this damn good in 2020 that doesn’t have ‘Made in Stockholm’ printed on the back, and who knew that Canberra would have been the new hot-railed to hell hotspot of all things punky and delicious? Seriously, people of the Sentinel Daily world, there surely can’t be one single one of yas who wouldn’t benefit by some lengthy exposure to Uncontrolled Airspace. It’s the shit, the real deal, the dogs bollocks… it’s a damn fine piece of work and I salute all involved in it’s gestation and production…” – MS, 11/03/20

Read Michael’s eulogy to the Pilots HERE

6. In Malice’s WakeThe Blindness Of Faith (Own Label)

In Malice's Wake

“As nerve-rattling expositions of bowel-damaging heaviness go, Aussie thrashers In Malice’s Wake‘s new album is hard to beat…the band synthesise some of thrash metal’s great names (you might hear Metallica, Slayer and Sepultura most though) and turn them into something that is very demonstrably their own. High class indeed… five years is, indeed, a long time to be away but with The Blindness Of Faith In Malice’s Wake blast away the years so well it’s like they never went away… great stuff” – SA, 15/10/20

Read Scott’s full dissection of The Blindness of Faith HERE

5. WitchskullA Driftwood Cross (Rise Above)
“There’s something comfortable at first contact with Canberrans Witchskull which may lead you to believe that all they are doing is rehashing the standard Vol 4 tropes for a 2021 audience; however repeated encounters with A Driftwood Cross (especially it’s incendiary opening track, Black Cathedrals) will disabuse you of that silly notion and you’ll come to realise that this is vital, pulsing, seething heavy rock of the highest order in it’s own right. Essential listening whatever your taste in metal” – MS, 05/12/20

4. DepravityGrand Malevolence (Transcending Obscurity Records)


“Face melting metal from Perth… Although Depravity the band has only been extant for four years, it’s component parts have bags of experience between them and you can tell that as the band hammers it’s way expertly through this album… Depravity really do have all the brutal death metal bases covered within the grooves of Grand Malevolence. Give it a listen at your earliest convenience. You can thank me later.” – MS – 08/12/20

Read Michael’s unexpurgated take on Depravity HERE

3. AlarumCircle’s End (Dinner For Wolves)


“One of the most pleasurable listening experiences I’ve had in 2020…The track Sand is most probably where Alarum display their wares most concisely and where they make the best case for their chosen style. Veering effortlessly from cocktail lounge chords through angry crossover to Devinesque, spacey prog in the course of five minutes and thirty nine seconds, nothing sounds forced as the band flow freely from seemingly disparate movement to movement; Never once do you feel ‘difficult’ chords or riffs have been shoe horned in just to prove the band’s credentials, with the result being ‘merely’ a supreme exposition of compositional brilliance” – MS, 09/06/20

Read Mick’s jazz metal road to Damascus moment HERE

2. AC/DCPower Up (Sony Music Australia)


“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

Read Scott’s deconstruction of Power Up HERE

All of which leads us to our number one Aussie metal album of the year…

And the winner is…

Vanishing PointDead Elysium (AFM Records/Octane Records)

Vanishing Point

“A stunning return from these power metal veterans… This far into their career – they formed in 1995 – Melbourne’s Vanishing Point can be relied upon to uphold their musical legacy with each release they put out. If you are already a fan of the band you’ll have a fair idea of what new release, Dead Elysium (their first in six years), is going to sound like. However there’s a fair chance you’ll be blown away with just how fresh, how revitalised the band sounds on this new album. It was always going to be great to have the band back, but in this form? well, that’s an added bonus most of us could only have dreamed of.” – Ferry Templeton, 29/07/20

Read Ferry’s full paean in praise of the ‘Point HERE

Well, that’s it – and what a strange and bewildering year 2020 has been. At times it’s only been the quality of the music that seems to have been holding life together, and so big props to Silvio Massaro and company for coming out on tp in what’s been one of the most important years in Australian metal on record. Congratulations again – and here’s to 2021!