SBR Top 7 Most Extreme Albums of 2020

It seems a bit infantile to celebrate an album’s merits on its inaccessibility and sonic extremity, right? This is a valid question and it depends how you define extreme. For the staff at Scream Blast Repeat this applies to any album that peers into the abyss or concocts the type of berserker rage that feels like an outer body experience for artist and listener alike. Of course, it’s all subjective and some of our choices may perplex you.

Napalm Death, the quintessential extreme band, put out one of the strongest records in their uncompromising career this year and show little sign of winding down. They remain the standard bearer for what is extreme, yet the Birmingham legends are never afraid to experiment or vary their sonic template. Heavy guitar music with blast beats is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sonic bludgeoning. Benighted, Scordatura and Anaal Nathrakh kept this tradition alive in 2020 along with a million Suffocation clones in the brutal death metal scene.

Outside of extreme metal, the American bands in the dark ambient genre continue to produce the kind of music that makes you gnash your teeth and curse that you ever allowed yourself to listen to it on your own. This is just as extreme as the brutal guitar assault of Ingested or Incinerate and much darker and misanthropic. To us, The Cure’s Pornography album is just as dark and twisted as an early Mayhem record. Something ambient and atmospheric that produces a feeling of shame can be as dangerous to the sensory nervous system as a black metal assault.

To celebrate the extreme for the sake of venerating all things abominable and transgressive is misguided. Instead, we hope to capture the top seven albums of 2020 that made you blink and lower your jaw in astonishment at the insane levels of intensity or mind-altering darkness, sometimes both at once.

These are the seven most extreme albums of 2020…

7. Sorrow Enthroned – Thelemic Grimoires

What we said at the time: “By the sounds of it, the man behind this monstrosity spends his valuable bedroom time browsing the dark web for snuff films rather than perfecting his audio craft on Cubase. And that’s not a bad thing. Thelemic Grimoires is a deliberate sabotage effort that takes the raw malevolence of Carcass’ Reek of Putrefaction as its template and the primal darkness of Darkthrone as its mood.”

Genre: Blackened death metal

Country: USA

Released: 06/11/2020

Label: Self-released

Read the original SBR review here.

6. Reflections – Willow

What we said at the time:Willow is a dark and unsettling expedition through insanity and vengeance buried in earth-shattering guitars and ambient textures that offer few glimpses of redemptive light. This is extreme metal with one aim – to make you grimace at the miserable nihilism on offer and come away with the same trauma that engulfed the band during their hibernation. It’s a bold objective and one that works.”

Genre: Djent/ Deathcore

Country: USA

Released: 20/02/2020

Label: Self-released

Read the original SBR review here.

5. Scard – Rusted Lock

What we said at the time: “This is a one-man descent into the pit of insanity where the fabric of a moral conscience and the illusion of hope disappeared long ago. More of a train wreck than a rollercoaster, Rusted Lock is the flame of a solitary match in a dark tunnel. It illuminates the futility of your situation and brings you to the realisation you will never escape. Welcome to the fetid world of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.”

Genre: Dark ambient/ Experimental

Country: USA

Released: 06/11/2020

Label: Scry Recordings

Read the original SBR review here.

4. Chancroid – Bestial Perverse of the Anomalies Psychoneurotic

What we said at the time: “It’s not original, but, my God, do these boys bludgeon? ‘Coitus Deification Terminology’ is an insane slab of brutal metal with guitar triplets like machine guns and drums that pummel like the rapid fire barrage of a World War One artillery attack clearing the way for an infantry advance through no man’s land. The pinch harmonics in ‘Maximum High Tension Penetrating’ resemble the high velocity blowback against the shoulders of those that load the howitzers.” 

Genre: Brutal death metal/ Slam metal

Country: Indonesia

Released: 20/06/2020

Label: Brute Productions

Read the original SBR review here.

3. Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment

What we said at the time: “Anaal Nathrakh are the artist that embrace the grotesque and give a voice to the euphoria that accompanies the most rabid domination fantasies of the demented mind. This is not gore metal; it’s too grown up for that. No, this is the outer body experience the serial killer experiences after ending another life.”

Genre: Blackened death-grind

Country: UK

Released: 02/10/2020

Label: Metal Blade

Read the original SBR review here.

2. Gridfailure – Sixth Mass-Extinction Skulduggery II

What we said at the time:Skulduggery II is not a dystopian album; it’s a prophecy. This is a work of art that transcends music and dares to peer into the abyss. For that alone, we should be grateful. When we say avoid this record, we do so for your own health and not because it is lacking in artistic merit. This is as dark as it gets and takes Antonin Artaud’s Manifesto for the Theatre of Cruelty to a new level. Not for the fainthearted.”

Genre: Dark ambient

Country: USA

Released: 05/06/2020

Label: Nefarious Industries

Read the original SBR review here.

1. Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize

What we said at the time: “If you like your music extreme, you’ll not be disappointed by ‘Strike.Smother.Dehumanize’. Imagine Mayhem covering Nasum with avant garde jazz maestro, John Zorn, conducting the proceedings. Nothing is ever dull, but your sensory nervous system might be after the battering they dish out during 36 minutes of unadulterated psychopathic terror.”

Genre: Black metal

Country: Canada

Released: 22/05/2020

Label: Season of Mist

Read the original SBR review here.