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Best of 2020 Part 5: Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Albums and More of 2020

2020 may have sucked, but the music didn’t.  This year I bought and reviewed more new releases than ever before, which I narrowed down to the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten studio albums of 2020 listed below.

I would like to dedicate this list to my good pal Uncle Meat who originated the concept of a “Nigen Tufnel Top Ten” earlier this year.  It has become our thing.

BEST ALBUMS OF 2020

11. Now or Never – III

10. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo

9. Sven Gali – 3 (EP)

8. Kim Mitchel – The Big Fantasize

7. Corey Taylor – CMFT

6. Stryper – Even the Devil Believes

5. Harem Scarem – Change the World

4. Dennis DeYoung – 26 East Vol 1

3. AC/DC – Power Up

2. Deep Purple – Whoosh!

1. Storm Force – Age of Fear

 

Storm Force’s debut album goes straight to #1 on their very first appearance!  No surprise here.  I’ve been raving about this disc since February and I owe it to Superdekes for putting these guys on my radar in the first place.  This is a well-deserved #1.  Age of Fear is an uplifting album with depth.  It’s a thoughtful, heart-pounding blast of classic hard rock.

Deep Purple’s Whoosh! and AC/DC’s PWRUP prove two things:  old dogs that both learn and don’t learn new tricks can all be champions.  (I call this theory “Schrödinger’s Dog”.) Deep Purple’s growth continues while AC/DC managed to tap into the vein of success that always worked for them.  Both records deserve their spots in the Top 3.

It was a thrill for me to learn that Dennis DeYoung both read and enjoyed my review of his newest album 26 East Vol 1.  It’s a terrific, Styx-like conceptual work that will please the old fans.  As will the new albums by Harem Scarem and Stryper, who didn’t stray far from their successful classic hard rock formulas.  Kim Mitchell and Sven Gali on the other hand dared to be different.  Kim went laid back and acoustic, while Sven Gali went with their heaviest uninhibited inclinations.  As for Mr. Bungle, it has been 21 years since their last album California.  All four Bungle studio albums are completely different from one another — four different genres.  For The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, they teamed up with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo to re-record their first thrash metal demo tape.  And it could be their best album since the self-titled debut in 1991.  Not bad for a bunch of songs they wrote in highschool.

Corey “Mother Fuckin'” Taylor makes his debut on any list of mine with his solo album CMFT.  It’s a surprising collection of commercial hard rockin’ tunes.  Also appearing for the first time is Now Or Never (NoN) with their third album called III, featuring singer Steph Honde.  It’s an excellent, dramatic metal album with light and shade.


BONUS LISTS

Most disappointing:  Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Song of the year:  LeBrain Train by T-Bone Erickson

Single of the Year:  Mammoth WVH – “Distance”

Ultimately whether or not you liked the new Ozzy, its success or failure falls at the feet of producer/guitarist Andrew Watt.  He is already working on the next Ozzy album, so….

Huge thanks to T-Bone Erickson for the “LeBrain Train” theme song, which amazingly and unexpectedly became the song of the year in 2020!  Weird how that happened.  No bias here I assure you.

Finally, Wolfgang Van Halen finally released his first solo music under the name Mammoth WVH.  The non-album single “Distance” is dedicated to his late father Eddie.  Though musically it’s a modern power ballad, the lyrics and especially the music video evoke serious emotion.  Well done Wolfgang.  Can’t wait to check out his album in 2021.


TOP FIVE LIVE OR COMPILATION ALBUMS IN 2020

5. Metallica – S&M2

4. Thin Lizzy – Rock Legends

3. Sloan – B Sides Win Vol. 1 1992-1997

2. Def Leppard – The Early Years 78-81

1. Iron Maiden – Nights of the Dead – Legacy of the Beast

There were a lot of cool rock releases in 2020, so we need more lists!  Of course the brilliant new live Maiden deserved some loving attention.  Meanwhile, Sloan, Def Leppard and Thin Lizzy have continued to put out quality collections of rarities & unreleased material, well worth the time and money you’ll spend on them.  The Sloan collection is a vinyl exclusive and the first in a series of LPs re-releasing some of their B-sides and non-album and bonus tracks.  Finally, Metallica delivered the goods even without Michael Kamen on S&M2, a very different live set than the first S&M.  That’s the way to do it!


BEST LOCKDOWN SINGLE

5. Queen + Adam Lambert – “You Are the Champions”

4. Scorpions – “Sign of Hope”

3. Marillion – “Made Again 2020”

2. Marillion – “Easter 2020”

1. Alice Cooper – “Don’t Give Up”


 

A LOOK AHEAD AT 2021

It’s naive to assume that major touring and concerts will return in 2021.  This appears highly optimistic at present, with Covid still ravaging the landscape and vaccinations only just beginning.  Instead of looking ahead at things like the resuming Kiss tour, or the Motley Crue reunion, we should continue to put our faith in new music.

Accept have a new album due January 15 intriguingly titled Too Mean to Die.  It is their first without bassist Peter Baltes.  Steven Wilson has a new record out at the end of that month.  In February we get new Foo Fighters, The Pretty Reckless, Willie Nelson and Alice Cooper.  Greta Van Fleet, Weezer, Rob Zombie, Ringo Starr, and Thunder will be back soon too.  Many other bands are writing and recording without an announced due date.  Ghost, Marillion, Scorpions, Megadeth and even Ratt are hard at work to make next year suck a little less.  Support the bands by buying the music.

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery: Sven Gali swag, ReAction figures, and Rock and Roll Children from Live Stream unboxing

Thanks for watching last night’s stream if you did, and no worries if you didn’t.  I did some unboxings but due to the limitations of resolution, couldn’t show off my new arrivals very clearly.  Here are some photos for you to enjoy!

First off:  if you remember, back in July somebody stole my copy of Michael D. LeFevre‘s book Rock and Roll Children right out of the mail.  Michael (better known to you as 80s Metal Man) sent me a new copy right out of his own pocket.  He didn’t have to do that.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I’m happy to finally have a copy.

Next:  Sven Gali!  I won a Facebook contest and the band sent me some swag!  The guitar pick neck chain (with the late Dee Cernile’s name on the back) is my favourite.  They also sent a glossy photo (top) signed by all five members:  Andy Frank, Shawn Minden, Dave Wanless, Dan Fila and Sean Williamson.  Finally we have a new copy of their excellent new EP 3.  I played it again this week and I like it more now than I did then.  I have given my extra copy to loyal reader and friend Len Labelle.

Finally:  From a shitty Amazon seller comes Super 7’s ReAction figure for a battle-damaged T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  What’s up with the shitty seller?  They stuffed this figure in a box that was too small for the card, damaging it and making the figure fall out loose.  I was going to open him, but then I noticed he was a limited edition exclusive.  Would have been nice to have the option to keep him sealed if I felt like it.  Well, he’s open now, and ready to do battle with Autobots, Decepticons, Aliens, and ghouls.  This is a universal action figure line compatible with the 1977 Kenner Star Wars figures.  Ever wanted Ben Kenobi to take on Snake Pliskin?  You could do it now!

If you missed the show, you can stream it below.

REVIEW: Sven Gali – 3 (2020)

SVEN GALI – 3 (2020 EP)

Sven Gali have not had an easy ride.  Their debut Sven Gali was just a year too late to make them into the rock heroes they seemed destined to be.  Had it come out in 1991, they would have had a massive hit on their hands.  The second album Inwire (1995) was a reaction to the 90s alterna-metal scene.  The band reunited in 2007, but tragedy struck when cancer killed founding guitarist Dee Cernile in 2012.

Against the odds, Sven Gali persevered and in 2018 added some heavy firepower to the lineup:  Dan Fila and Sean Williamson of Varga.  One by one, they began releasing new tracks.  Now in 2020 we have the first new Sven Gali release in 25 years:  an EP called 3.

Somewhat surprisingly, Sven Gali did not revert back to the hard rock anthemic sound that was the cornerstone of their debut album.  Instead they picked up where they left off on Inwire, with four new songs produced by David Bendeth who also produced their debut.  Incredibly it sounds like they haven’t missed a step.  Even more incredibly, it’s some of their best stuff!  Singer Dave Wanless has lost nothing.  The band is still rounded out by original members:  guitarist Andy Frank and bassist Shawn Minden.

The four songs all share melodic vocal hooks, heavy guitars and aggressive grooves.  With the addition of Fila and Williamson, the band have rebuilt themselves into a beast heavier than before.  Picking a favourite isn’t possible because this EP is not immediate.  Like many favourites that stand the test of time, 3 will take some listens to fully absorb and love.  Fortunately we have a whole summer ahead of us to do that.  The EP has the depth and potential to become a bit of a classic.  Even if Inwire wasn’t your thing, this EP is better.  The songs are more focused, heavier, with more hooks.  The vocal melodies sometimes veer into an old anthemic metal style, like on “Hurt”.  By taking their time, Sven Gali were able to make sure they had four excellent tracks for this release.

Good on Sven Gali for sticking it out, and not resting on their laurels.  Any band can get replacement members and reunite.  Fewer still put out new music, much less on a physical media.  Sven Gali have put together a slammin’ new lineup and a triumphant EP.  You just can’t write this band off.

4/5 stars