To kick off Burnt Coffee Reviews’ round of end-of-year lists we’ve asked Jason Roberts of the new one-man project Breaths to give us his favorite albums of 2020. You may recognize Jason from his other project CHNNLR, but if you aren’t familiar with either band I highly recommend checking out both. Breaths’ debut album Lined in Silver will be released on March 26th, 2021, and we will be premiering one of its singles “The Inherent Emptiness” later this month on the 29th. You can find pre-order and social media links for Breaths at the end of this article – but hey, let’s get to that list first, shall we?
25) Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Weird, genre defying, experimental metal. I hadn’t heard Igorrr prior to this album, and I love it. I’ve since gone backward in Igorrr’s discography, and love it all.
24) Imperial Triumphant – Alphaville
I love avant-garde metal, and this is the second release to make my year end list (alongside Liturgy). This one has more death influence and jazz to Liturgy’s classical and electronic influences, but the experimentation is really what makes this (and Liturgy’s) album stand out.
23) Pallbearer – Forgotten Days
I really enjoy this band, and this album just took it to another level. I feel like Pallbearer really achieved the sound they’ve been working toward their whole career on this album.
22) Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
This one, along with Haken were my top prog metal albums this year. Another solid release from Caligula’s Horse.
21) Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin – Stygian Bough Volume 1
Another album that really fit my doom loving mood earlier this summer. The collaboration really works for me when it comes to the slower doom/atmosphere I expect from Bell Witch, with the combined moods that Aerial Ruin brings to the project.
20) Coastlands – Death
Love the heavier bass-driven post-rock/metal that Coastlands is doing. This album is great. The ambient and heavy feels marry perfectly here.
19) Afterbirth – Four Dimensional Flesh
One of my favorite death metal albums this year. This one has the atmosphere I love in my death metal, and pushes the genre just a bit further.
18) Wake – Devouring Ruin
Heard this album right after Ulcerate’s new one. It was a great companion for the same mood. I’m not saying the two bands are the same, by any means, but they do scratch the same itch for me. Wake’s EP is amazing too.
17) Lesser Glow – Nullity
First heard about these guys when my old band, Conductor, played a show with them here in Richmond last year. I liked their first album, but this new one is a whole new level. If you get a chance to see these guys live (whenever that happens again), do it…they killed it live.
16) Caspian – On Circles
I have a strong love for post-rock and post-metal, and this band is a staple for me following my initial introduction to the genres with bands like The Cancer Conspiracy, Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Isis, and Mono. I have loved everything they put out. A Caspian show back in Austin was actually my wife and I’s first date (when they toured with The Appleseed Cast back in 2016). We have matching tattoos (feathers album cover from their last album, Dustin and Disquiet). So yeah, this album is no exception. To add, the addition of guest vocals from the singer of another one of my favorite bands, Pianos Become the Teeth, makes it even more special.
15) Mountaineer – Bloodletting
My introduction to Mountaineer, and a perfect timing for me, as I was strictly listening to doom and post-metal around the time this came out (was my mood I guess). This has heavy doses of both, wrapped in great song writing.
14) A.A. Williams – Forever Blue
First heard her on the collaboration EP with Mono and enjoyed the short introduction. This album is a perfect somber listen, dark and beautiful.
13) Haken – Virus
Was late to the Haken party, first hearing them back in 2016 with their album Affinity. Loved their last album, Vector, and this one is a perfect continuation of the story they were telling over the two albums.
12) Wren – Groundswells
My introduction to Wren, and a standout post-metal album. Love the tuning they use, and it even inspired me to experiment with a similar tuning for my song “The Inherent Emptiness”
11) Katatonia – City Burials
I’ve loved this band since hearing their album Night is the New Day back in 2009. Their albums have remained consistent, in my opinion. His voice is one of the best in the genre and his melodies are haunting.
10) Sumac – May You Be Held
The sum of the whole, in this case, is better than it’s parts. That’s tough to say as it’s parts (members) were already masters to begin with. I love that Sumac just goes with their gut and jams out songs, seemingly keeping them pretty close to their original form. The structures are unpredictable and it makes each listen better than the last.
9) Ulcerate – Stare Into Death and Be Still
It’s not often that a death (or death adjacent) metal band/album leaves a lasting impression on me, but this band and this album did just that. The last one to make a real impact was Ingurgitating Oblivion – Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light, which is still my favorite avant-garde / death metal release (ever probably). This album is haunting, chaotic, desolate, and beautiful.
8) Envy – The Falling Crimson
I love how this band mixes post-metal/post-rock with post-hardcore/metallic hardcore and screamo. I first heard Envy on their split with Thursday back in 2008 and have loved them ever since. This album is one of (if not) their best. The blackgaze influence is shining through a little more on this one and it’s just perfect.
7) Hum – Inlet
The band that introduced me to shoegaze music (before I even knew it was a thing) in my early teens when I first heard “Stars” on the radio. This band is not one I thought would ever make new music, especially since they’d reunited off and on, toured some, but still with no announcement of new music. Then the new album surprise dropped and I was elated. Inlet is Hum’s heaviest record, focused and well produced. I won’t say it’s my favorite Hum record, but I will say it was a welcome surprise and a great addition to their catalogue.
6) Deftones – Ohms
Deftones is my favorite band, ever. In 1995, after hearing “Bored” on the radio, I immediately bought the album, and “Adrenaline” made me feel something I’d never felt from music before. I’ve loved everything they’ve done since, and this is no exception. I don’t understand the hate for this album. Sure, it’s not their best album, it’s still better than what most other bands are putting out, especially ones with a career as long as Deftones.
5) Loathe – I Let it in and it Took Everything
Really enjoyed their last album, EP, and few singles I’d heard. This one was exactly what I hoped it would be. It has the familiar sounds from my teens (nu-metal love), mixed with hard hitting metalcore/post-hardcore and some awesome shoegaze leanings. It’s as if Deftones (yes, I know everyone compares them to Deftones…but I mean, there’s a reason for that) were just more chaotic, younger, and hungry. While the Deftones comparisons have been used as negative criticism in reviews I’ve seen, it’s very positive for me, considering Deftones is my favorite band. Don’t be fooled, Loathe’s sound is still very much fresh, but with a nod to its influences.
4) The Ocean – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic
One of my favorite post-metal bands ever. This album is a perfect continuation of Phanerozoic I (one of my top albums in 2018). It’s one I’ll be revisiting for years to come (along with the rest of The Ocean’s discography).
3) Liturgy – Origin of the Alimonies
This album came out of nowhere for me. I’ve liked Liturgy for a while, but I never really “got it” till I heard this one. I had to actually move an album off my top 10 to get this one on at the last minute. Everything I love about avant-garde metal, mixed with blackgaze, classical, some electronic elements, and the cinematic soundscapes. It’s like an awesome soundtrack to some crazy movie I couldn’t even begin to dream up.
2) Nothing – The Great Dismal
This band is one of my favorites across the board, and top of their game in the heavy shoegaze genre. Their last album was a little bit of a miss for me, in my opinion due to the more lo-fi production. This band really needs bigger production for their huge sound, or it just doesn’t translate. This is their best album, and the big production is back.
1) Svalbard – When I Die Will I Get Better?
Really was not expecting to love this album. I enjoyed their last one, but nothing really stuck with me. This album though, wow. The combination of blackgaze, hardcore, post-whatever…just wow. And the lyrics, so personal, so universal. Everything being said on this album NEEDED to be said. My wife and I agree, this album is absolutely stunning.
Pre-order Lined in Silver here.
Breaths can be found at:
CHNNLR can be found at: