Many music journalists may start their end-of-the-year lists by describing how horrible of a year it was. Yet, when you take a look at the music released in 2020, it has been one of the most inspiring years in metal music. So many releases saw the light of day and it was extremely difficult for our staff to come up with only a few for their personal lists. However, we feel it’s our duty to highlight some of the best releases Finland saw. We have gathered a list of 25 releases from Finland that we’ll be taking along to 2021.
… And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Formed in 1995 during the second wave of black metal, Finnish black metal sensation …AND OCEANS emerged from the scene with an exceptional and unique symphonic approach to the genre. The band disappeared from the scene for a while, but with vocalist Mathias Lillmåns joining the ranks, seventeen years after the release of “Cypher,” they re-formed for a couple of shows and even started working on a new album, “Cosmic World Mother.” The long hiatus and new blood in the band have made sure that …AND OCEANS delivered a top-notch album with undeniable musicianship. “Cosmic World Mother“ is the black metal album from Finland to listen to from 2020.
Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi
Uncovering the intensity and the metal inherent in non-metal, the avant-garde and anti-traditionalist inclinations of Finland’s ORANSSI PAZUZU have always had transcendental goals at heart. The band released their brand new studio album, “Mestarin Kynsi,” on April 17th via Nuclear Blast. With “Mestarin Kynsi,” ORANSSI PAZUZU managed to blend some of the most terrifying soundscapes that metal music – or music in general – has ever seen, making the (often dissonant) songs a truly immersive experience. With “Mestarin Kynsi,” the psychedelic black metal act has made an album worth listening to in 2021.
Crimson Sun – Fates
Five years after the release of their positively received debut album, “Towards the Light,” melodic metal act CRIMSON SUN released their sophomore album “Fates“ earlier this year. “Fates” is an exciting, fun record that consists of heavy riffs, unforgettable melodies, and catchy choruses that you won’t be able to shake off for the next couple of days. With energetic songs such as “The Beast Within,” “Essence of Creation,” and heavier songs such as “The Prison,” and “Trailblazer” and the epic “Last Day On Earth,” “Fates” makes a great successor to the critically acclaimed “Towards the Light.”
Silentium – Motiva
Back in 2008, symphonic metal act SILENTIUM surprised the scene with their outstanding album “Amortean.” The 12 years in between then and now have been a long wait, but SILENTIUM finally broke the silence with the release of their album “Motiva.” Our reviewer, Andrea Crow, mentioned the following about the album: “SILENTIUM has returned in top form with an album that showcases their strengths as musicians and plays on all the right emotions from a listener standpoint. The bittersweet melancholy and strong melodies that are expected from this release abound, while the songs themselves have their own personality and flavor, which is one of the album’s best features.”
Blind Channel – Violent Pop
Pop metal act BLIND CHANNEL has been a very productive band since their inception. Song after song, the band has managed to come up with catchy and powerful tunes and it comes as no surprise that their latest album, “Violent Pop“ follows the same pattern. In fact, “Violent Pop” is definitely proof that BLIND CHANNEL is one of the strongest modern acts in their genre, with plenty of rapping, aggression, and twists and turns. If you need a nice bomb of energy to start off your day, this definitely is the best album to listen to, as it will get you on your feet instantly.
Torchia – The Coven
Released around the beginning of the lockdown, in March 2020, “The Coven“ by melodic death metal act TORCHIA was definitely one of the biggest surprises 2020 had to offer. Overall, “The Coven” is an extremely diverse album drawing influences from melodic death metal, heavy metal, power metal, and thrash metal. With its raw production, the band can definitely be recommended to any fan of melodic death metal, especially those who love Finnish metal.
Oceanhoarse – The Damage Is Done – LIVE!
OCEANHOARSE have been breaking the frameworks of the genre of heavy metal in many ways, but having their debut album released as a live album, was surely a courageous move. “The Damage is Done – LIVE!“ was recorded on their European tour as a support to Marko Hietala in the beginning of 2020. The debut album is everything you would expect from a band like OCEANHOARSE: raw, heavy, and a punch straight in your face.
Smackbound – 20/20
With their extremely diverse debut record, “20/20,” melodic metal act SMACKBOUND have surprised the metal audiences with their blend of heavy metal. With influences ranging from ’80s hard rock, melodic metal, and power metal, SMACKBOUND doesn’t shy away from creating their own unique sound that combines energy, heartfelt tracks, and poppy melodies. We already can’t wait to hear more from this band, but we’ll settle gladly with “20/20“; an extremely outstanding debut effort!
Altamullan Road – Altamullan Road
If you have listened to Tuomas Holopainen‘s solo album, you might already be familiar with at least one of the two most heartwarming voices in the Finnish music scene: Johanna Iivanainen and Johanna Kurkela. The two have joined forces in ALTAMULLAN ROAD and released their enchanting self-titled album in 2020, which combines dreamy, folky, and poppy songs in a blend of unique immersive music.
Humavoid – Lidless
While Finland is mostly known for its variety of melodic death metal acts, new winds are on the horizon. An example of that is progressive metal act HUMAVOID from Espoo, who blend a fascinating array of sounds into their music: from technical guitar riffs reminiscent of MESHUGGAH to jazzy intermezzos, nothing is off-limits in their latest album, “Lidless.” “Lidless” is an album that requires out-of-the-box thinking, which is also what the four-piece did while composing these tracks and therefore offers an immersive experience in different soundscapes varying from art jazz to technical death metal.
Dark Buddha Rising – Mathreyata
Released in November, “Mathreyata“ by DARK BUDDHA RISING is a solid piece of psychedelic metal that combine amazing atmospheres, soundscapes, and have a knack for storytelling. Heavy, slow, brooding, this is music you will lose yourself in and allows you to forget about the rest of the world.
Misterer – Under Attack
It came to no surprise after their smashing debut that MISTERER‘s latest pearl, “Under Attack” would be an excellent addition to the extensive list of masterfully crafted releases from 2020. The band has invited a lot of guests, but oftentimes they are present quite subtly. From mechanical, groovy, and thrashy riffs to killer melodies, this album has it all!
I Am Your God – The Resurrection
One of the biggest surprises of this year was the debut album, “The Resurrection,” by I AM YOUR GOD, a young melodic death metal act from Rovaniemi. The five-piece bring a nostalgic wave of 2000s melodic death metal with them, bundled in their debut effort – an exciting album without any major weak points, adding a lot of dynamics and refreshing elements with a nostalgic eye to their melodic death metal sound.
The Silenced – Orator
Released one month prior to the raging pandemic, THE SILENCED created a solid debut album, “The Orator,” that feels like a story being told about an apocalyptic future (at times the album even feels prophetic, listening to it now). While many of the songs are still rooted in that typical Finnish melancholy, the unique blend of groove metal, deathcore, and melodic death metal make this a band that truly stands out in a country where there are more metal bands than beams of sunlight.
Balance Breach – Dead End Diaries
Having won a slot at Tuska Open Air Festival in 2019, Finnish metalcore act BALANCE BREACH embarked upon a successful journey towards the release of their debut album, “Dead End Diaries.“ Our reviewer, Andrea Crow mentions the following in her review: “The impressive ‘Dead End Diaries’ presents an updated take on metalcore, as BALANCE BREACH has added more sonic layers to the core of the genre and has spiced the songs with technical solos and complex breakdowns, thus creating its own sound.”
IA – InitIAtion
On their Facebook page, Finnish metal act IA mention that IA is a shamanic musical/visual concept, designed to induce states of trance and bring the listener beyond the limits of ordinary awareness. Often times, vague descriptions like this can be misleading, but that is precisely what the shamanic metal band did. In fact, as our reviewer Jani Lehtinen put it: “In order not to regress to the level of an animal looking for survival, we might as well do ourselves a favor and embark on a shamanic journey – to become who we truly are. Listening to some enchanting music like IA, while at it, doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. It’s safer than LSD.”
Onségen Ensemble – Fear
2020 has proven to bring forth a couple of very unique albums to the scene, ONSEGÉN ENSEMBLE‘s new album, “Fear.” The band’s progressive sound holds multiple surprises, such as jazzy sections, entrancing psychedelic moments, western vibes, and brilliant soundscapes. Be ready for a rollercoaster ride into an immersive sound experience that twists and turns and never lets you go, until the bitter end.
Mors Subita – Extinction Era
MORS SUBITA, the melodic death metal five-piece from Oulu, released their latest studio full-length, “Extinction Era“ in 2020. “Extinction Era” is a logical follow up to “Into the Pitch Black,” tapping more into the band’s extremities. Some of these tracks are their heaviest and most aggressive MORS SUBITA songs to date. Altogether, these 11 tracks make for a well-balanced album with a little bit of something for everybody, showcasing a perfect combination of brutality and elegance.
MyGrain – V
We never expected that 5 years after melodic death metal act MYGRAIN called it quits, they would return first with an EP, then with a brand new album, “V.” MYGRAIN‘s fifth studio effort leaves no room for improvement. The album is a solid slab of melodic death metal, of which its strength lies mostly in the incredible diversity of this album and the progressive nature of many of the songs.
Mors Principium Est – Seven
MORS PRINCIPIUM EST is known for being one of the melodeath flagships in Finland. Their seventh full-length album, cleverly named “Seven,” is one of the melodic death metal releases of the year. With riff-oriented track and hooky melodies, this album breathes diversity, with all outstanding tracks that are filled with refreshing ideas and killer riffs.
Lost Society – No Absolution
Four years after the release of their critically acclaimed “Braindead,” thrash metal giants LOST SOCIETY returned with “No Absolution,” one of the better albums that 2020 brings forth. While the band has a somewhat more varyiedalbum this time, they step away from the furious thrash riffs and replace them with a slower, groovier feel, creating a more matured, fine-tuned version of the band with excellent songs. Finally, from beginning to end, “No Absolution” is a fantastic follow-up to “Braindead.”
Finntroll – Vredesvävd
FINNTROLL has been very busy with touring ever since the release of their album, “Blodsvept.” Years went by and the band chose the year 2020 as the perfect one to release some new music with the release of their new album, “Vredesvävd.” From the first second of “Vredesvävd,” FINNTROLL takes you on a journey through various blackened and folk-inspired soundscapes. The material is darker and heavier than ever, leaning more towards the blackened side of the band, reminiscent of the band’s older work. The band had promised “Vredesvävd” to be a combination of something old, something new, and a ton of something black, and I’m glad to say that these fellows, after 7 years, have managed to keep their promise and returned with an album as monstrous as the seven trolls behind it.
Ensiferum – Thalassic
After the release of “Two Paths,“ accordion player Netta Skog left ENSIFERUM after her one-album contribution. Ever since, the band had been looking for a new keyboard player to replace Emmi Silvennoinen and they found their match in Pekka Montin. The first release with this latest addition comes with “Thalassic.” With “Thalassic,” ENSIFERUM embrace a new chapter in their sound. With the addition of the extremely talented Pekka Montin, the band has managed to introduce new and exciting elements to their sound while ensuring their hold on their own identity.
Apocalyptica – Cell-0
The 20th anniversary of “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” marked one of the longest tours in APOCALYPTICA‘s history. The band toured with the album for about 2 years and it left no time for composing new music. 2020 luckily saw the release of the cello masters’ new album, “Cell-0,” which is a return to the band’s roots, focusing solely on the instruments and excluding any guest singers. With “Cell-0,” APOCALYPTICA has perhaps made the most mesmerizing introspective journey through their music of the 21st century.
Nightwish – Human. :||: Nature.
NIGHTWISH has become Finland’s most important export product when it comes down to metal music. The band fills up arenas on their tours and when a new album sees the light of day, the national news reports about it. 2020 saw NIGHTWISH release “Human. :||: Nature.” “Human. :||: Nature.” is very different from anything that NIGHTWISH has ever done before. While there are familiar ingredients present in the recipe, such as the enchanting melodies, spiced up with some folky bits, and the typical aggressive guitar riffs, there’s also a generally different atmosphere present. The album allows for an introspective journey throughout themes that are close to the heart, a true piece of art giving that little bit of light in the darkest of times.