To say that 2020 was a difficult year to get through feels like a collossal understatement – I think we can all unanimously agree that for the most part, it was pretty much the pits, and you surely don’t need another random online journalist waxing eloquent about the manifold hardships we as a society, but also as individuals, had to face over the past 366 days to remember at least a good portion of the disasters we got ourselves into. And yet, prematurely moving on from those admittedly bitter memories would rob us of the lessons we need to learn from them, and of the little moments of kindness, courage, and compassion we should be celebrating, so please excuse me bringing it all up for the umpteenth time; I’ll get to the proverbial greener pastures soon enough.

From catastrophic wildfires over a devastating pandemic to the complete and utter political failure to protect or even acknowledge the vulnerable, it appeared as though 2020 thoroughly enjoyed its time tossing mankind from one disaster right into the next. A looming sense of dread seemed to billow over our heads, like a fine mist brought on by isolation, upheaval, and uncertainty. Even if you were lucky enought to make it through the year with both your health and finances relatively intact, there is no denying that the consequences of last year’s events will most likely be felt for years to come.

That doesn’t mean that it was all doom and gloom, though, far from it. Across the world, the response to the pandemic’s impact saw people coming together in different ways to help each other out in these trying times. Look no further than the music community for example: measures like the uptake in streamed performances or the utterly brilliant Bandcamp Fridays allowed artists and their fans to share a new kind of connection and solidartiy in lieu of the sadly all but cancelled live circuit. Especially the latter has become a beloved staple in record time, raising money for those same artists who would much rather go out an earn it on the road instead of sitting idly by as their livelihood dwindles. It’s become so popular, in fact, that the monthly event will continue well into 2021, so be sure to keep an eye on those dates and help out your favorites if you can spare some money!

For us music-loving lot at Everything Is Noise, it was another year filled with an overabundance of awe-inspiring releases, an unrelenting stream of greatness to bask in while trying to make sense of everything going on around us, good or bad. To us, it almost felt like the circumstances drove some artists to incredible creative heights or newfound introspective depths. I’m fairly certain that many of y’all fellow admirers of music in all its wonderful shapes and forms will agree that 2020 blessed us with many a great album, single, and EP across all genre borders. And in case you find yourself disagreeing with the above assessment, even a passing glance at our AOTY list should disperse any residual skepticism.

With all of this out of the way, please allow me to finally yield the stage to those among the EIN crew who wanted to share their own thoughts on 2020, as well as their favorite albums and site articles of the year.

Billie and the Year That Tried to Break Me

There are a lot of reasons the world will never forget 2020, and admittedly most of them suck. I myself had what I can easily consider the worst year of my life, full of speedbumps that seem more like mountains and strife that will hang on me for life. It got so bad that I had to step down from my role here at Everything Is Noise for a few months because I just couldn’t take any more. Through it all, I have learned and grown a lot, and my music tastes reflect that also.

Of all the things in 2020 that sucked, music sure did not. One thing that has become apparent this year, which I hinted at last year, is the fact that my love for metal continues to wane. This year I watched people gush about a ton of huge metal albums and bounced off most of them. The ones I dabbled in were for nostalgia’s sake and it was rare when I gave a metal album a full spin in one sitting. In 2020 I found myself calling back to old familiar favorites and expanding my library from them. Emo, pop-punk, and post-hardcore became my biggest genres as I’ve been a very sad boy this year. Bands like Tigers Jaw became daily listens for me, and I left a lot of the anger and angst in my music behind for more emotion, groove, and relatability. Leaving the anger behind is something I’ve learned a lot of in 2020, and I think my listening habits (mostly) reflect that.

Highlighted content: WFA: Gloe | BRTHR – “High Times For Loners” | Braids – “Shadow Offering”

Billie’s Favorites of 2020

RespireBlack Line
Phoebe BridgersPunisher
DélugeÆgo Templo
Touché AmoréLament
SvalbardWhen I Die, Will I Get Better?
NORDThe Only Way To Reach The Bottom

Vidur Wants to Remember a Forgettable Year

There is no need to sugarcoat the fact that 2020 has been a horrendous year for most, and it did not spare me either. What was supposed to be a year in which I would graduate and change my domain turned into one where I found myself facing down the barrel of unemployment for the first time in my relatively young life. I will be frank – there were days that the challenges ahead felt unsurmountable.

Luckily, the actual mountains, the Alps of Liechtenstein, came to my rescue. I have always enjoyed hiking in the mountains, but living in a small Alpine country allowed me to rediscover this love. The weekends hiking the various peaks of Liechtenstein, the odd weekend in Zermatt, and a summer hiking trip to Lac Blanc allowed not only a break from the pressures of job-hunting and interviews but moments for self-reflection and tranquility. Additionally, I discovered how much I enjoyed running on the trails compared to city-runs, and the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival allowed me to run my first (of hopefully many more to come) trail run events.

The only stability in this wobbly year, mostly devoid of live entertainment, has been the constant output of quality music. While I delve into my favorites below, the calmness that came from the thundering collaboration between Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou, the venting of rage provided by the likes of Spanish Love Songs, or just Phoebe Katis saying It’s Ok To Cry deserve a special mention.

Luckily, at the turn of the year, things are looking good again for me. I have found new employment and once again set to move to a new country, but the learnings from 2020 remain. To a new year and the hopeful return of concerts and music festivals!

Highlighted content: Delta Sleep – “Soft Sounds” | Obsidian Kingdom – “Meat Machine” | Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – “May Our Chambers Be Full”

Vidur’s Favorites of 2020

Algiers – There Is No Year
Destroyer – Have We Met
Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full
End – Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
Little Albert – Swamp King
Phoebe Katis – It’s Ok To Cry
Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone
VARThe Never-Ending Year
Young Jesus – Welcome to Conceptual Beach

Tyler’s Ups and Downs of a Downer Year

Whelp, 2020 was a hell of a year. It even had a rough start: my New Years Eve involved my cable box experiencing issues, so my party guests and I had to resort to watching the Times Square Ball Drop on the QVC channel at midnight. Sounds weird, right? We legitimately watched other people react to the ball drop! If that was a premonition for this year being a mess, my apologies for not warning everyone!

Despite the absolute ridiculousness that came out of this year, I consider myself to be incredibly lucky. I was fortunate to have numerous substantial things happen in my personal life: I got engaged, my fiancé and I bought our first house, and I got a promotion at work. In addition, I joined the Everything Is Noise team back in March, and I’ve been loving every minute of working with other music nerds like me. I’m insanely grateful that I experienced positivity, especially in a year that was filled with so much downtroddenness. I truly hope that things continue to be on the rise for everyone that has struggled this year, especially for all of my friends that work in the current halted live music industry.

Music has always been an outlet for me when I need support, but I’ve unfortunately started to become bored with some of my favorite bands. Besides writing reviews, I haven’t really been as active in listening to new music as I usually am. I’ve entered into a vicious cycle where I listen to news podcasts, get bummed out, and then listen to comedy podcasts to fix my mood. I’m hoping that 2021 will change that and I can return to constantly having new records in my rotation. Here’s to hoping for the best! Cheers!

Highlighted content: Cryptodira – “The Angel of History” | MisterWives – “SUPERBLOOM” | Hayley Williams – “Petals For Armor | The Chemical Mind – “That Benign Terror”

Tyler’s Favorites of 2020

Loathe – I Let It In and It Took Everything
Poppy – I Disagree
OddiseeOdd Cure
Cryptodira – The Angel of History
Enter Shikari – Nothing is True & Everything is Possible
RannochReflections Upon Darkness
Post AnimalForward Motion Godyssey
Pallbearer – Forgotten Days

‘It Could Be Worse’ and How That Sentence Fucked up a Year That Could’ve Been, Well, Better: Hanna Has a Moan

Here in New Zealand, we’ve spent a lot of time this year patting ourselves on the back and saying things like ‘it could be worse, just look at *any other country*!’. And I’m sick of it. The phrase ‘it could be worse’ trivialises any negative emotion. I’m angry, upset, and a bit lost, and I want to feel like, just for once, it’s okay to admit it.

Yes, it could be worse, and yes, I have it easy compared to a lot of people. I haven’t talked about this because it sucks so much and simultaneously is nothing compared to what some others have gone through, but this time last year, I had just graduated with degrees in music and audio production, and I’d been accepted for an internship at a recording studio in New York. It was also going to be an opportunity for me to see my family in Germany, including my rapidly aging grandparents, for the first time in years.

Needless to say, I didn’t end up being able to go. Instead, I’ve been stuck in a freezing flat at the literal arse-end of the globe. Which turned out not to be so bad after all – at least we can play gigs down here. I feel ungrateful, but at the same time, I think I have the right to be fucked off. This internship could’ve been amazing, and instead I spent most of this year folding clothes and dealing with grumpy elderly women. I think it’s okay for me to be bitter for a little bit, considering I’ve been keeping this bottled up for the last nine months.

Thanks to my pent-up frustration, I’ve found myself very drawn to music that reflects my seething anger. I’ve reviewed some non-metal albums, but admittedly, not many, and outside of Everything Is Noise, I couldn’t tell you that last time I willingly listened to anything chill, let alone happy. I’ve dug music that’s angry but familiar: Opeth, Metallica, Megadeth, Carcass, and Death, and I’ve found a lot of awesome new music, too. Not all of it is angry, but some of it is (beware of that Resin Tomb EP, it’s got teeth).

Highlighted content: Carcass – “Despicable” | WFA: Barren Womb | A SCENE IN RETROSPECT: Metallica – “Master of Puppets” | Ulveblod – “Omnia Mors Aequat” | RØT – “The Black Pill”

Hanna’s Favourite Albums of 2020:

Barren WombLizard Lounge
Our OceansWhile Time Disappears
Resin TombResin Tomb
The Hirsch EffektKollaps
We Are The CityRIP
Dope BodyCrack a Light
Endless Forms Most GruesomeEndless Forms Most Gruesome
RØTThe Black Pill
FrenWhere Do You Want Ghosts To Reside?

Another Year of Robert Still Sucking at Putting Titles for Things 

2020 was a horrible year overall for many. To me it was a heavily mixed bag if I’m being completely honest. In certain aspects it was a year with some of the lowest of lows, but in a fair amount it also held some of my highest highs. It’s a whole story though, so I’m just glad I made it through with flying colors all things considered. Musically it was certainly one of the hottest years since I’ve been avidly devouring music. It’s also my second year in the EIN family and it’s an amazing ride which I hope won’t be ending anytime soon.

What with this mad pandemic and all the lockdown stuff, what else are you going to do if you’re working from home – like me – than listen to music and bust out a bunch of words over said music, if you also write reviews like me? There have been a few bunch of disappointments at a musical level as well this year, because of course there were. Most notably I was somehow expecting the new Lamb of God to not live up to its predecessors but it just ended up being one of the dullest albums of the year. They’re one of my all time favorite bands, so it was quite disenchanting for me. I was similarly disenchanted with the new Killer Be Killed, Plini, and Cryptodira.

Now I did say it was one of the hottest musical years, so below you’ll see why I said that, with a few examples of some of my favorite stuff backing this; along with what I feel were some of my better works for the website. 2021 is just around the corner and life goes on with its ups and downs. While people prefer to say ‘it could’ve been worse‘, I’ll boil it down to ‘we’re still here so I guess it’s fine‘.

Highlighted content: Sokoninaru – “Choetsu”/“超越”Growth – “The Smothering Arms of Mercy”Maud the Moth – “Orphnē”hubris. – “Metempsychosis”A SCENE IN RETROSPECT: Follow the White Rabbit – “Endorphinia”

My favorite collections of squiggly air from 2020 in (almost) chronological order (because it’s impossible to rank these):

SylosisCycle of Suffering
IgorrrSpirituality and Distortion
Codex OrzhovaBaja Blasted
Eishan EnsembleAfternoon Tea At Six
Maud the MothOrphnē
Asian Death CrustaceanBaikal
Imperial TriumphantAlphaville
The Sound That Ends CreationMemes, Dreams, And Flying Machines
AimA and The Illusion of SilenceMusic for Certain Rituals
Sokoninaru そこに鳴るChoetsu 超越
Selfless OrchestraGreat Barrier
GrowthThe Smothering Arms of Mercy
RespireBlack Line

Grow Your Hair & Shut the Curtains: A Guide to Staying Positive

Ash Jacob

January: ‘I’m a 37 year old man. I should not be enjoying Poppy’s new album this much. 2020 really is going to be full of problems…

Middle of March: ‘Gulp!

You know the rest. If you’re reading this, then chances are music is one of the great go-to places in your life when things get a little rough around the edges. It might be the thing that immediately makes you spring to the keyboard and hit that share button. Or it might be the thing that appeases that lurking introverted aspect of your persona, that reliable soundtrack to your quiet moments of reflection. All of the above maybe? Something else again? It’s all good.

Suffice to say that there is a soundtrack to every mood. In 2020, you grew annoyed, and you had your share of uncertainty. Whether you wanted to step up and stand your ground to whatever shit was being flung at you, or whether you indulged in some well-required escapism, music was there. All you had to do was find the right track.

My personal shout-out goes to those on the list below for providing as such, and the many more I did not include. Perhaps it could be said that during 2020, in the year that the intimacy of a live concert was almost null-and-void, the relationship between artists and audience had been closer than ever, with a staple common ground running across the board. In nearly every sense, 2020 was the year that the artist took a big hit, but the art itself prevailed. As did you. Keep on keeping on!

Highlighted content: WFA: Immaterial Possession, WFA: Sons of a Wanted Man, Mong Tong 夢東 – “Mystery 秘神”

Ash’s Favorites of 2020

PoppyI Disagree
Sons of a Wanted ManKenoma
Creature – Ex Cathedra
Mystras – Castles Conquered and Reclaimed
Pulled By Magnets – Rose Golden Doorways
Mong Tong – Mystery 秘神
Clown Core – Van
IXION – L’adieu aux etoiles
Immaterial Possession – Immaterial Possession
Gösta Berlings Saga – Konkret Musik

Faisal States the Obvious: I’ll Say it Again… 2020 Sucked. Just Not Musically.

…What I won’t do is reflect needlessly on the sucky bits. As far as quality releases are concerned, 2020 was a triumph. I can’t remember the last time I struggled this much with finalizing a top ten list. Beyond the quality album drops, it was also a year of unexpected releases from favorite artists of my youth, most notably the shock return of System of a Down, and the long-time coming comeback from Pendulum. It was also a year where EPs often came out swinging as hard or harder than full-length albums. Perhaps a sign of the times, but if the quality stays this good, I’m not complaining!

2020 also marked my second year (nearly) with Everything Is Noise, and it’s been a fun ride. I’m grateful to be part of a devoted and passionate team, and the support here has been like having a second, online family during a year that’s been tough on everyone. If you’re reading this, and you’ve been toying with the idea of dabbling in music journalism yourself, I can’t recommend EIN enough (do it!).

Here’s to better days! Now, I hope you enjoy my nu metal-heavy top ten list below (seriously… this was a stellar year for heavy music’s most reviled genre.) Don’t be a hater; do it all for the nookie and give ‘em a shot.

Highlighted content: WFA: TTRRUUCES | Beauty Pill – “Please Advise” | illuminati hotties – “FREE I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For” | Deftones – “Ohms”

Faisal’s Favorites of 2020 (in no particular order)

Ocean GroveFlip Phone Fantasy
Obsidian KingdomMeat Machine
The PrototypesTen Thousand Feet & Rising
The Acacia StrainSlow Decay
illuminati HottiesFREE I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For
Run The JewelsRTJ4
King 810AK Concerto No. 47, 11th Movement in G Major
AngelspitThe Ignorance Cartel

Watching the world collapse through a computer monitor – Pete’s 2020

After a horrible midweek football match, I sat in the pub and floated some thoughts to my old man and his mates about starting up my own business. ‘You’ll never make money working for someone else‘, came the reply. That hit home.

11 months later, I’ve tripled my annual salary, and plan on expanding my computer hardware business in the first half of next year.

If you are good at something, utilise it, you’ll be amazed how many people believe in you if you believe in yourself.

One of the ways I practice selling myself is by selling music to friends, family, and beyond. Now in my fifth year at Everything Is Noise, explaining my ‘hobby’ to every motherfucker who mentions the word music to me feels natural, and helps me connect with others quicker. By professing my love for various forms of squiggly air, it’s much easier to sell that concept, idea or product from your business or job to others.

And what a year of squiggly air it has been. I’ve nestled myself into the world of post-metal and psych-doom, and have been rewarded handsomely for my perseverance. Albums from artists like Turtle Skull, Elder, and Asian Death Crustacean were perfect summer jams that gave me extra belief in myself each day, whilst heavier and more emotional albums from Mountaineer and Empress made me thankful for my luck in this crazy year.

With another year passing, I’m so grateful for being part of this team, who are ever-so wonderful human beings and introduce me to more new sounds than any Spotify algorithm could ever muster. I’m very much looking forward to getting out to festivals with the team again, with a visit to Complexity Festival earlier this year alongside our PR Editor Inter, one of my favourite moments of 2020. Hoping for many more.

Highlighted content: WFA: Asian Death Crustacean | The Ocean – “Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic” | Turtle Skull – “Monoliths”

Pete’s Top 10 of the Year

Asian Death Crustacean – Baikal
Turtle SkullMonoliths
REZNChaotic Divine
Bilbosa – Diamond Dust
DVNEOmega Severer
Arcing WiresPrime
Christian Scott aTunde AdjuahAxiom

Isn’t the point of art less about what people put into it and more about what people get out of it?‘ – Inter on 2020.

I feel tired. 2020 was the weirdest year, but I’m not a very social person, so social distancing wasn’t that hard for me. I work in customer care, so my job was pretty safe as well, and I spent most of the year in home office. My cat was very happy about that, so it’s a win I guess.

Musically, I’ve spent less time exploring new genres or older music than usual, since I feel quite saturated on that end. Instead, I delved deeper into new releases I liked, and relied more heavily on my instinct. Surprisingly often, only a song or even some seconds are enough to tell me if I’m about to experience something great enough. This very organic process once again rescued me from falling into the listener fatigue rabbit hole and allowed me to nurture my healing and inspiring relationship with music as an essential part in my life. Sound design was a quality which came more into focus for me during the year, since it’s an element which can be an integral part of the artistic narrative.

Furthermore, I resonated primarily with artists with a strong message, with meaning behind every note. Genre became less and less important, a progress I happily recognized in the last years. While Everything Is Noise was stressful here and there, I cannot imagine being part of a better bunch of people. My second family, a circle of like-minded, passionate nerds who not only share their love of music, but making the musical conversation more vibrant with sparking discussions, an open mind and genuine love for the art in many shapes and forms. The journey through the realms of music is an endless one, and I’m equally grateful for that.

Inter’s Top Albums in 2020:

Lianne La HavasLianne La Havas
Moses Sumney – græ
Run The JewelsRTJ4
Bastien KebThe Killing Of Eugene Peebs
Busty and the BassEddie
Poisonous BirdsWe Can Never Not Be All Of Us
Fiona AppleFetch The Bolt Cutters
Sevdaliza – Shabrang
Young JesusWelcome To Conceptual Beach
Nero Di MarteImmoto
Soccer MommyColor Theory
Ichiko AobaWindswept Adan
Cinder WellNo Summer
Yves TumorHeaven To A Tortured Mind
EndSplinters From An Ever-Changing Face
R.A.P. FerreiraPurple Moonlight Pages
Phoebe BridgersPunisher

So there you have it! Thank you very much for reading our little send-off for 2020, and for sticking with us through one of the hardest years in recent memory. Your continued support is both incredibly humbling and exciting to us. On behalf of the entire EIN team, I’d like to wish you all the best for the year that lies before us – may your struggles be easy and your efforts be fruitful.

Dominik Böhmer

Dominik Böhmer

Pretentious? Moi?

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