COVID may have given live music the boot this year, but it sure as hell didn't stop the raging torrent of quality heavy music being spawned by bands all over the world. And it seems only fitting that some of it got really heavy too - after all, everyone had a lot to be angry, frustrated and upset about!
From both at home and abroad, here are some of the heaviest tracks that slayed us in 2020:
Thy Art Is Murder - Killing Season
Genre - Deathcore/Death Metal
Aussie heavy heroes Thy Art Is Murder may have had their extensive 2020 tour plans off last year's album Human Target scrapped, but they were not about to see the year end without an absolute bang.
'Killing Season' is not only one of the heaviest songs of the year, but sits firmly in the conversation for heaviest Thy Art Is Murder song of all time. And that really is saying something, isn't it?
Crystal Lake - Disobey
Genre - Metalcore
We already knew that Japanese metalcore lords Crystal Lake were capable of writing stupidly-heavy songs (think back to 'Aeon'), and 'Disobey' just proved it further.
Unlike a lot of metalcore that likes to switch between heavy and melodic sections, 'Disobey' just kicks you to the ground and doesn't give you a chance to recover until the very end. Even after making it past the eerie bell chimes in the outro, all you can really do is just sit there and think "what did I just listen to?". Tough as nails, and utterly brilliant!
Mick Gordon - The Only Thing They Fear Is You (DOOM Eternal)
Genre - Djent/Industrial/Video Game OST
If you've played any of the recent DOOM remakes then you'll know exactly why a video game track can fit on a list like this. Aussie producer Mick Gordon knocked it out of the park again for 2020's DOOM Eternal with an industrial-tinged brand of electronic djent. That's a mouthful, we know, but it really is a unique listening experience that's only further enhanced while you're ripping and tearing demons apart limb from limb.
Mick even created a "heavy metal choir" for the soundtrack, pulling in vocalists from bands like Aborted, Static-X and Tengger Cavalry (RIP) to make it a heavy, rip-roaring time.
Spiritbox - Holy Roller
Genre - Metalcore
Spiritbox made some big moves in 2020, with a trio of massive singles that really caught on with heavy music circles around the world. While 'Blessed Be' and 'Rule Of Nines' are both crazy songs in their own right, 'Holy Roller' was clearly written to do nothing other than open up the pit.
We knew Courtney LaPlante was a monster vocalist given her previous band iwrestledabearonce, but she just continues to surprise; seriously, her voice is downright scary here!
Slaughter To Prevail - Demolisher
Genre - Deathcore
Speaking of monster vocals, 'Demolisher' by Russian deathcore band Slaughter To Prevail might be the closest we've come to hearing the legitimate voice of Satan himself.
STP were already known as one of Europe's heaviest bands going around, but this standalone single is on another level altogether. Using a more cohesive song structure than previous material, 'Demolisher' is easily one of the heaviest tracks to be spewed from 2020's plague-filled mouth.
Alex Terrible's pre-breakdown vocals are so berserk that you'll be ready to pit on the spot (even without understanding Russian!), and we've gotta give it up for drummer Evgeny Novikov who is an absolute beast in his own right.
Code Orange - Swallowing The Rabbit Whole
Genre - Hardcore/Metalcore
Code Orange's latest album Underneath was unlike anything we'd heard before, winding through a mechanical city of hardcore, industrial, grunge and so much more.
'Swallowing The Rabbit Whole' was a massive check for fans who were worried that Code Orange might be leaving their heavier roots, with charging hardcore punk verses, incendiary riffs and classic Code Orange harshness.
The final breakdown is peppered with glitchy modem-esque noises and sounds absolutely huge. Head down the rabbit hole and experience it for yourself.
Loathe - New Faces In The Dark
Genre - Metalcore/Mathcore
If you're unfamiliar with the UK's Loathe, think one part Deftones, one part The Dillinger Escape Plan and one part Meshuggah. Sound good? You're god damn right it does, and their 2020 album I Let It In And It Took Everything planted them firmly on the map as one of the most exciting heavy bands around.
'New Faces In The Dark' isn't exclusively heavy - there are sections of beautiful, ethereal vocals ala Chino Moreno, but it's those dynamics that make the bouts of mind-melting heavy madness hit so much harder throughout. A stroke of abrasive brilliance!
Letterbomb A.D. - Dystopia
Genre - Mathcore/Hardcore/Technical Death Metal
When we premiered this disgusting track from Port Macquarie's Letterbomb A.D. back in September, we likened it to an aural version of sticking your head in a hornet's nest, and we still 100% feel that way.
It's not exactly a pleasant listening experience, but something tells us that it wasn't meant to be - atonal shredding combined with brutal chugs and pummeling drums make this one of the heaviest tunes we heard in 2020. Definitely a band to keep your eye on if you like your music to drill right into your brain!
The Black Dahlia Murder - Verminous
Genre - Death Metal
The Black Dahlia Murder returned with one of the best death metal albums this year, and the title title track to Verminous manages to make you feel like actual vermin with its sewer-esque samples at the start, Trevord Strnad's blood-curdling screams and brutal instrumentation.
It really is top-shelf death metal, and drives home why Black Dahlia have managed to have a successful 20-year career.
Silent Planet - Trilogy
Genre - Metalcore/Djent
Silent Planet hit a high point in their career with this certified banger, knocking you over the head with some of the most frenetic down-tuned metalcore in recent years. It's an incredibly well-crafted song that does a fantastic job of balancing the dynamics between heaviness and atmosphere.
The show-stopping breakdown at the end of the song hits like a damn truck, and is truly something else to behold. Literal goosebumps on this one!
Darko (US) - Pretenders
Genre - Metalcore/Deathcore
Darko formed this year out of Emmure and Chelsea Grin members, and if that combo right there isn't any indication of just how ridiculously intense this band is, then listen to 'Pretenders' for yourself.
The video needs an obvious seizure warning, but the down-tuned, dissonant madness is almost seizure-inducing in itself. It's definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but this is a list of the heaviest songs in 2020, not the most pleasing to the ear!
END - Pariah
Genre - Hardcore
We already included the hardcore supergroup END on our list of the best breakdowns of all time, but their sophomore album Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face is just raw and unbridled aggression at its finest.
Any song from this planet-shaking record deserves a spot here, but 'Pariah' is a masterclass in blackened hardcore that pummels you from start to end (hah), bringing out the darkest, most pissed off side of yourself that you didn't even know existed.
With current and former members of Counterparts, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Fit For An Autopsy and Blacklisted, it's a recipe that can't fail.
Motionless In White - Creatures X: To The Grave
Genre - Metalcore
'Creatures X' was a nice surprise from Motionless In White, who specifically wrote and recorded this song for the 10th anniversary of their debut album Creatures. It's a heavy throwback to their sound of old, while still keeping their classic gothic undertones in tact.
It's not too overwhelming of a listen either, with catchy melodic choruses breaking up the heavy moments and providing some nice dynamics throughout. Now that's fan service!
Make Them Suffer - Bones
Genre - Metalcore
Make Them Suffer's new album How To Survive A Funeral is chock-full of heavy bangers, but 'Bones' stands out from the rest with a groove that will have you doing the stank face immediately.
Your initial thoughts upon hearing that intro riff might be Pantera, but the similarities stop there as 'Bones' is still distinctly metalcore in practice. If you haven't listened to How To Survive A Funeral yet, put that on your to-do list right now!
Termina - Desolate Specter
Genre - Metalcore/Deathcore
One half metal guitarist/YouTuber Nik Nocturnal, one half Monuments vocalist Andy Cizek, Termina just know how to write a banger.
They're not a band that put out albums or tour, but whenever a new single of theirs drops, you know you're in for a treat. Their latest track 'Desolate Specter' doesn't pull any punches whatsoever, throwing every trick in the heavy music book that feels like a Hulk smash right to the face.
Blast beats, metalcore chugs, tough hardcore riffs - it's all there!
Veil Of Maya - Outsider
Genre - Djent/Metalcore
Veil Of Maya only put out one single in 2020, but 'Outsider' is an impossible beast of a track that covers so much ground in just over four minutes, and
There aren't many bands that can make something so technical still feel fun and groovy, but Veil Of Maya are at the top of their genre for a reason. Huge breakdowns, dissonant filth, powerful choruses, and just when you think the song is over, they come back even harder!
How are Lukas Magyar's vocals so good?
Listen to MANIACS' 'Heaviest Tracks of 2020' Playlist now.