This year CGCM decided to include EP (previously they were excluded from Top Ten Albums). Live albums and re-records were still disqualified, new music only for Best of Year. We also instigated a (highly complex🤣 – 1 point for 10th place through to 10 points for 1st place) rating system throughout all individual lists to culminate a Collective Best of 2020.
You can find the Collective List as well as all our Best of 2020 content including contributors’ individual lists, podcasts and radio DJ shows here: CGCM’s Best of 2020 (Year in Review)
Best of 2020 – Sparky (Writer) 🇬🇧
Now I’m not going to dwell on what a shit year 2020 has been, that’s a given.
What we need to do is celebrate; celebrate all those who recorded and released music against the odds.
Let us doff caps, give salutes and genuflect at the altar of those bands who shared new music in 2020.
I know technology makes the task easier but these artists still have to produce, and without human live interaction, the juices may not flow as readily.
Another huge achievement, up there with the moon landings and the creation of the world wide web, is the birth of CGCM Rock Radio. What Wally and The Meister have done is remarkable and without doubt, is the best rock radio station around by a country mile.
Also, a quick word on Adam Cox, a colleague and friend here at CGCM who we lost far too soon earlier in the year. Coxy was the kindest bloke you’d ever want to meet and helped me a ton when I got into this writing game. R.I.P. Adam.
Anyway, without further ado, and with a mighty “fuck you” to 2020, here are my Top 10 picks that have made the year a lot more bearable.
#10 – WAR DOGS – Die By My Sword 🇪🇸
As debuts go, this is a mighty fine effort by the quintet from Spain.
In the New Wave of British Heavy Metal vein with a hefty nod to thrash, there is quality running throughout.
Check out the title track and “Master of Revenge” for real highlights.
CGCM Album review War Dogs – Die By My Sword by Sparky
#09 – STORM FORCE – Age Of Fear 🇨🇦
A melodic rock belter with its fair share of ballads, this album set the standard for the genre throughout the year.
Some may not like the ballads (“Ember Rain”, “More Than You Know” and “Different Roads”) but they really bring class to an outstanding album. They also rock hard too, just check out “Marshal Law”.
CGCM Album review Storm Force – Age of Fear by Wallygator
#08 – THE STRUTS – Strange Days 🇬🇧
Recorded in a 10-day blur of major activity during lockdown, this is the epitome of what can be achieved during these torrid times. Roping in some superstars (e.g. Joe Elliott, Tom Morello) can certainly help the cause too.
From sleazy rock (“Wild Child”) to jazz influence (“Am I Talking to the Champagne”) and everything in between, this album really does have something for everybody.
CGCM Album review The Struts – Strange Days by Sparky
#07 – MASSIVE WAGONS – House of Noise 🇬🇧
Leading the British charge to world domination in 2020 along with The Struts, Massive Wagons have produced a top quality album full of all the things we love about the band.
Crowd-pleasing anthems laced with clever, observant and witty lyrics are the order of the day and they deliver at every turn.
For highlights check out the album’s bookends, “In It Together” and “Matter of Time”.
CGCM Album review House of Noise by Coxy
#06 – OZ – Forced Commandments 🇫🇮
Finnish veterans OZ have been around the block a time or three since their formation in 1977. This metal album is as metal as a metal album can possibly be. It is full of edge and no little threat. There’s power and intent all over the place along with up to date subject matter keeping it real. Vince Koivula is also on top form with his ball-twisting vocals too.
CGCM Album review OZ – Forced Commandments by Sparky
#05 – TOKYO BLADE – Dark Revolution 🇬🇧
The UK is strongly represented this year and NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade have delivered a top-notch follow-up to 2017s stunning Unbroken. A guitar solo lover’s wet dream this album is a metal winner from start to finish. Check out “Story of a Nobody” and “The Lights of Soho” for starters, then you’ll be busting your britches to hear the rest of the album.
CGCM Album review Tokyo Blade – Dark Revolution by Sparky
#04 – CATS IN SPACE – Atlantis 🇬🇧
The Cats provide yet another fine example of their modern take on pomp rock.
Queen, ELO and Boston all show influence here but with Cats bang up to date 2020 subject matter. The musicianship is the tops, and the power new vocalist Damien Edwards has fits like a glove. It’s a fun, catchy, toe-tapping romp.
CGCM Album review Cats in Space – Atlantis by Sparky
#03 – AC/DC – Power Up 🇦🇺
The titans of rock return with a true powerhouse of an album. As close to the classic line-up as possible delivers a record with Malcolm Young running through the heart of it.
For me, better than Black Ice and Rock or Bust. It possesses class from the first classic riff to the last.
CGCM Album review AC/DC – Power Up by Sparky
#02 – PRIDE OF LIONS – Lion Heart 🇺🇸
Former Survivor Jim Peterik joins forces with Toby Hitchcock for the eighth time and they have produced an AOR winner. Fist clenching choruses and earworms litter this album which is not to be missed, whether a fan of the genre or not. Check out “Heart of the Warrior” and “Good Thing Gone”.
CGCM Album review Pride of Lions – Lion Heart by Sparky
#01 – ICONIC EYE – Back From Behind the Sun 🇬🇧
In one of the greatest decisions ever made by the CGCM rule-makers EPs have, for the first time, been allowed in the staff Top 10 lists of 2020. Hallelujah. This EP came to my attention in late December and swept all before it whilst heading to the top of my tree. It is such a beautiful record chock-full of really powerful melodic rock. The songs are all singalong winners with great musicianship but the star of the show is vocalist Janey Smith. It really is iron fist in velvet glove time, truly wonderful. Each of the 5 tracks is at least 9/10 and they do the best ever version of Jefferson Airplane‘s “Jane”.
CGCM EP review Iconic Eye – Back From Behind the Sun by Sparky
Buy Back From Behind the Sun via the Iconic Eye website
Cheers everyone and here’s to fabulous and much improved 2021.
Check out more of my reviews here: Sparky
Don’t forget to take a look at all our Best of 2020 content including the COLLECTIVE BEST ALBUMS LIST (culminated via the ratings in the individual lists), all our contributors’ individual best lists, podcast episodes and Radio DJ shows CGCM’s Best of 2020 (Year in Review)