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The Staff's Top Picks of 2020

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Summarized List Of The Top 50 CDs, From All Of The SoT Staff

Pete Pardo
Maciej Stowik
Simon Bray
Michael Popke
Butch Jones
James Mannion
Steven Reid
Carl Sederholm
Nick Franco
Jon Neudorf


PETER PARDO

My Top 40 Albums of 2020

1. Blue Oyster Cult : The Symbol Remains
2. Kansas : The Absence of Presence
3. Sons of Apollo : MMXX
4. Deep Purple : Whoosh!
5. Testament : Titans of Creation
6. Wobbler : Dwellers of the Deep
7. Armored Saint : Punching the Sky
8. Lucifer : Lucifer III
9. Wishbone Ash : Coat of Arms
10. Enslaved : Utgard
11. Cats in Space : Atlantis
12. Vanden Plas : The Ghost Xperiment-Illumination
13. Magnum : The Serpent Rings
14. Outlaws : Dixie Highway
15. Elder : Omens
16. AC/DC : Power Up
17. Cirith Ungol : Forever Black
18. Glass Hammer : Dreaming City
19. Alcatrazz : Born Innocent
20. Nektar : The Other Side
21. Primal Fear : Metal Commando
22. Pain of Salvation : Panther
23. Derek Sherinian : The Phoenix
24. Pat Metheny : From This Place
25. Communic : Hiding From the World
26. Walter Trout : Ordinary Madness
27. Joe Bonamassa : Royal Tea
28. Fish : Weltschmerz
29. Haken : Virus
30. Fates Warning : Long Day Good Night
31. The Flower Kings : Islands
32. Motorpsycho : The All Is One
33. Blues Pills : Holy Moly
34. The Allman Betts Band : Bless Your Heart
35. Heathen : Empire of the Blind
36. Poobah : Evolve/Revlove
37. Neal Morse Band : Sola Gratia
38. Siena Root : The Secret of Our Time
39. Psychotic Waltz : The God-Shaped Void
40. Hittman : Destroy All Humans

Live Albums
Gary Moore-Live From London
Soft Machine-Live at the Baked Potato
Flying Colors-Third Stage: Live in London
Allman Brothers Band-Warner Theater, Eric, PA 7-19-05
Allman Brothers Band-The Final Note, Painters Mill Music Fair, Owings Mills, MD 10-17-71 Big Big Train-Empire


MACIEJ StOWIK

Best of 2020

1. Lunatic Soul : Through Shaded Woods
2. Fish : Weltschmerz
3. Ulver : Flowers of Evil
4. Osiris : Take a Closer Look
5. Rick Wakeman : The Red Planet
6. Kansas : The Absence of Presence
7. Jakko Jakszyk : Secrets and Lies
8. Mariusz Duda : Lockdown Spaces
9. Ava Max : Heaven & Hell”
10. Antony Kalugin : Marshmallow Moondust

Honorable Mentions:
Mariusz Duda, "The Song of a Dying Memory" (single)
Pendragon, "Love Over Fear"
iamthemorning, "Counting the Ghosts" (EP)


SIMON BRAY

Top 30 of 2020

1. The Outlaws : Dixie Highway
2. Amaranthe : Manifest
3. Sparks : A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
4. Leaves' Eyes : The Last Viking
5. Ayreon : Transitus
6. Overland : Scandalous
7. Pride of Lions : Lion Heart
8. Iron Savior : Skycrest
9. Bruce Spingsteen : Letter to You
10. Delain : Apocalypse & Chill
11. The Night Flight Orchestra : Aeromantic
12. U.D.O. We Are One :
13. Dennis De Young : 26 East Volume 1
14. Amberian Dawn : Looking for You
15. Lordi : Killection
16. Ozzy Osbourne : Ordinary Man
17. Mykur : Folkesange
18. Bill Fisher : Mass Hypnosis and the Dark Triad
19. Cats in Space : Atlantis
20. Nightwish : Human :II" Nature
21. Pattern Seeking Animals : Prehensile Tools
22. Body Count : Carnivore
23. Black Swan : Shake the World
24. Anvil : Legal At Last
25. Pat Metheny : From This Place
26. Magnum : The Serpent Rings
27. Dynazty : The Dark Delight
28. Temperance : Veridian
29. Blue Oyster Cult : The Symbol Remains
30. Lovebites : Electric Pentagram


MICHAEL POPKE

Top 15 New Releases

1. Arctic Rain : The One -- 2020 demanded we listen to music that makes us feel good, or at least better. No album I heard this year did that more for me than this one.
2. Kansas : The Absence of Presence
3. AC/DC : PWR/UP
4. NDV : Invisible
5. Neal Morse : Sola Gratia
6. Perfect Plan : Time for a Miracle
7. Ian Parry : In Flagrante Delicto
8. Jonathan Hultén : Chants from Another Place
9. Pattern-Seeking Animals : Prehensile Tales
10. Jon Anderson : 1000 Hands
11. Steve Howe : Love Is
12. Jeff Scott Soto : Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)
13. Dukes of the Orient : Freakshow
14. Pyramaze : Epitaph
15. Pinnacle Point : Symphony of Mind

Top 10 Live Albums
1. Def Leppard: London to Vegas
2. Dream Theater: Distant Memories-Live in London
3. Devin Townsend: Order of Magnitude-Empath Live Volume 1
4. Kamelot: I Am the Empire
5. Neal Morse: Jesus Christ The Exorcist-Live at Morsefest 2018
6. The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventour-Live in BRNO 2019
7. Subsignal: A Song for the Homeless (Live in Rüsselheim 2019)
8. Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets: Live at the Roundhouse
9. Eclipse: Viva La VicTOURia
10. Big Big Train: Empire

Top 10 Non-Genre New Releases/Reissues/Live Albums
1. Tom Petty: Wildflowers & All The Rest
2. Eagles: Live from The Forum MMXVIII
3. Bruce Springsteen: Letter to You
4. Pearl Jam: Gigaton
5. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling
6. Drivin N Cryin: Live the Love Beautiful Live
7. Various Artists: Girls Go Power Pop!
8. Nils Lofgren: Weathered
9. Various Artists: Strum & Thrum-The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987
10. Peggy James: Paint Still Wet

Final Four Pre-Pandemic Concerts
Final Club Show: Drivin N Cryin @ High Noon Saloon, Madison Wis.
Final Theater Show: Dream Theater @ Overture Center, Madison Wis.
Final Outdoor Show: Hootie & The Blowfish/Barenaked Ladies @ Alpine Valley, East Troy, Wis.
Final Arena Show: Paul McCartney @ Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.


BUTCH JONES

Top 25 of 2020

1. Conception : State Of Deception
2. DGM : Tragic Separation
3. Armored Saint : Punching The Sky
4. Haken : Virus
5. Katatonia : City Of Burials
6. Irist : Order Of The Mind
7. Communic : Hiding From The World
8. Ascension Of The Watchers : Apocrypha
9. Reb Beach : A View From The Inside
10. Girish And The Chronicles : Rock The Highway
11. Intronaut : Fluid Existential
12. Lamb Of God : Lamb Of God
13. The Pineapple Thief : Versions Of The Truth
14. Diesel Machine : Evolve
15. Fates Warning : Long Day Good Night
16. Testament : Titans Of Creation
17. Dirty Shirley : Dirty Shirley
18. Raven : Metal City
19. Ledfoot & Ronni LeTekro : A Death Divine
20. Michael Landau : Liquid Quartet Live
21. Stryper : Even The Devil Believes
22. Blue Öyster Cult : The Symbol Remains
23. Kansas : The Absence Of Presence
24. Ellefson : No Cover
25. Clint Lowery : God Bless The Renegades


JAMES MANNION

Best of 2020

1. Iron Mask : Master of Masters
2. Pallbearer : Forgotten Days
3. Pyramaze : Epitaph
4. Primal Fear : Metal Commando
5. Eleine : Dancing In Hell
6. Amaranthe : Manifest
7. Firewind : Firewind
8. Delain : Apocalypse Now
9. Unleash The Archers : Abyss
10. Dynazty : The Dark Delight
11. Amberian Dawn : Looking For You
12. Sodom : Genesis XIX
13. Serenity : The Last Knight
14. Magnum : The Serpent Rings
15. Grave Digger : Fields of Blood
16. Allen/Olzen : Worlds Apart
17. Iron Maiden : Nights of the Dead
18. Temperance : Viridian
19. Falconer : From A Dying Ember
20. Majestica : A Christmas Carol


STEVEN REID

The Best of 2020

1. Magenta : Masters Of Illusion -- A stunning return to form from one of prog’s most understated outfits - magnificent)
2. Kansas : The Absence Of Presence -- This is Kansas doing what Kansas do. Arguably their best since the 70s)
3. Fish : Weltschmerz -- A fitting and fantastic two-disc farewell from the best prog poet there is)
4. M-Opus : Origins -- A wonderfully released futuristic drama set to music that rewards on many levels)
5. The Pineapple Thief : Versions Of The Truth -- TPT confirm themselves as modern prog masters)
6. Lunatic Soul : Through Shaded Woods -- Mariusz Duda’s side project release their best album yet)
7. The Tangent : Auto Reconnaissance -- More wonderful prog rock storytelling from the enigmatic English band)
8. Pure Reason Revolution : Eupnea -- A triumphant, unexpected return continues the PRR evolution)
9. Cats In Space : Atlantis -- The best 70s retro rockers around turn up the guitars and hit the jackpot)
10. PVRIS : Use Me -- Intelligent pop music doesn’t come much better than this. Deep, dark and devastatingly good)
11. CJ Wildheart : Siege -- A blistering, angry album form The Wildhearts man. Very short but bloody excellent)
12. Wobbler : Dwellers Of The Deep -- Classic symphonic prog can still be innovative and exciting in this band’s hands)
13. The Mighty Handful : Touchy Subjects -- A focused 70s rock/pop explosion from these barely known eclectics )
14. Nothing But Thieves : Moral Panic -- Catchy yet challenging, straight forward yet complex, NBT are one of the brightest young mainstream acts around)
15. Vanden Plas : The Ghost Xperiment - Illumination -- Part two of an excellent two release concept from prog metal veterans delivers exactly what we’d hoped for
16. Armored Saint : Punching The Sky -- The sainted ones continue their US metal purple patch
17. South Of Salem - The Sinner Takes It All : Big and clever hard rock with loads of twists and turns -- Debut album of the year
18. Five Finger Death Punch : F8 -- Still snarling 13 years after their debut and F8 is one of their best
19. Paul Morricone : Cruel Designs -- Scaramanga Six man offers up a mature second solo outing that leans on soulful sounds to seduce
20. Communic : Hiding From The World -- Another mixing of prog metal styles from this underrated outfit
21. Onslaught : Generation Antichrist -- Veteran thrashers simply thrash it out. Nuff said!
22. Lonely Robot : Feelings Are Good -- John Mitchell, the man of many prog projects continues to impress under his own steam
23. Blue Oyster Cult : The Symbol Remains -- After nearly 2 decades away BOC are still typically devil may care. The styles are all over the plac
24. Magnum : The Serpent Rings -- The pomp masters don’t vary things much but this is still one of their best since the reformation
25. Burning Witches : Dance With The Devil -- The strongest straight up classic metal album of the year? I think so
26. The Dowling Poole : See You See Me -- Eclecto-poppers continue to make socially aware singalongs. Catchy, if you dare
27. Reb Beach : A View From The Inside -- Winger/Whitesnake man offers up the most memorable guitar instrumental album I’ve heard in quite some time
28. Glyn Bailey : Testament -- Introspective and reflective fare from the melancholy man
29. Reaper X : Rise -- Old school thrash from the UK? Yes indeed and Reaper X are on the Rise!
30. Bruce Springsteen : Letter To You -- It hasn’t hit me as hard as it has some people but Bruce is still bossing it on this classic collection
31. Stitched Up Heart : Darkness -- Excellent second album from modern rock sensations
32. Ayreon : Transitus -- Arjen & Dr Who? Who could ask for more? Well, me actually, but it’s still mighty fine theatrical prog
33. Taskaha : Taskaha -- Heavy prog rock debut from Norwegians who areset to make a big impression
34. Blind Ego : Preaching To The Choir -- Kalle Wallner (RPWL) returns with excellent, varied prog rock/metal side project
35. Swappers Eleven : From A Distance -- Much better than an album from a bunch of Marillion swap the band winners has any right to be
36. Patty Smyth : It’s About Time -- Comeback from Scandal singer is superb melodic rock, if somewhat short
37. Mark Kelly’s Marathon : Mark Kelly’s Marathon -- Debut solo album from Marillion keyboard player offers a few surprises. None less than a Gabriel-alike behind the mic
38. Thundermother : Heat Wave -- No surprises from this AC/DC alike outfit, but they do it well
39. Polis : Weltklang -- East German prog rock album with a broad outlook and impressively big ideas
40. Super Vintage : Shining Light -- US blues rock (from a Greek) that’s as good as it gets
41. Haken : Virus -- UK progsters continue their journey from rock into metal with a well rounded effort
42. Deep Imagination : My Silent Celebration -- More considered synth work from the under appreciated German maestros
43. Huey Lewis : Weather -- Final (?) studio offering from HL&TN delivers what you’d expect and it’s pretty good too
44. Firewind : Firewind -- Stripped back and forceful, this is cracking Euro metal with a fiery heart
45. Devlifire : Dark Manoeuvres -- UK rockers maintain their own high standards. Few surprises, but still hard hitting
46. Joe Matera : Electric Wire -- An instrumental guitar album with real heart and soul
47. Moon Reverie : Moon Reverie -- Remember neo-classical metal? Moon Reverie do and they display it with a real power and grace
48. The Steve Bonino Project : Stargazer 2 -- Prog with a slice of 70s rock anyone? Yes please
49. Outside In : Karmatrain -- Now New Zealand gets in on the prog act. Rather tasty it is too
50. Blackfield : For The Music -- Smooth, slick, string laden pop music. Quite far removed from the early days but I still like it

LIVE/COMPILATION/REISSUES
1. Porcupine Tree : The Delirium Years ’91-‘97 (13CD)
2. The Wildhearts : 30 Year Itch (live)
3. Kamelot : I Am Empire Live From The O13 (live)
4. Marillion : Script For A Jester’s Tear (deluxe)
5. Gandalf’s Fist : The Clockwork Fable (vinyl edition)
6. Toby And The Whole Truth : Ignorance Is Bliss (expanded)
7. Pure Reason Revolution : The Dark Third (expanded)
8. Riverside : Lost n Found Live In Tilburg (previously fan-only live release)
9. Big Country : Out Beyond The River - The Compulsion Years Anthology (Buffalo Skinners reissue + much more)
10. Dante Fox / Great White : The Roots Of Great White 1978-1982 (early recordings given new life)
11. Galahad : Following Ghosts (expanded) (3CD reissue)
12. Uriah Heep : 50 Years In Rock (every studio album + Live 73 ,a booklet and prints)
13. Toby Jepson : Kitchen Up Busk (2020 Lockdown Sessions) (live at home recording)
14. Dokken : The Lost Songs 1978 - 1981 (early recordings given new life)
15. Anthony Phillips : Missing Links I-IV (expanded reissue)


CARL SEDERHOLM

Top 25 of 2020

1. Pulchre Morte : Ex Rosa Ceremonia
2. Necrot : Mortal
3. Fires in the Distance : Echoes of deep November
4. Insect Ark : The Vanishing
5. Xibalba : Años in Infierno
6. Carach Angren : Franckensteina Strataemontanus
7. Anaal Nathrakh : Endarkenment
8. Yatra : All is Lost
9. Abysmal Dawn : Phylogenesis
10. Mr. Bungle : The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny
11. Pallbearer : Forgotten Days
12. The Ocean : Phanerozoic II:Mesozoic / Cenozoic
13. Sepultra : Quadra
14. Testament : Titans of Creation
15. Elder : Omens
16. Oranssi Pazuzu : Mestarin kynsi
17. Ulthar : Providence
18. In the Company of Serpents : Lux
19. Lik : Misanthropic Breed
20. Myrkur : Folkesange
21. O Zorn! : Your Killer
22. Napalm Death : Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
23. Ulcerate : Stare into Death and Be Still
24. Serpent Omega : II
25. Satyrus : Rites


NICK FRANCO

Top 25 of 2020

1. HAVUKRUUNU : Uinuos Syömein Sota (Naturmacht2)
2. HORN : Mohngang (Iron Bonehead)
3. ENSLAVED : Utgard (Nuclear Blast)
4. NORRHEM : Koitos (Independent / Unsigned)
5. HORNA : Kuoleman Kirjo (World Terror Committee)
6. MALOKARPATAN : Krupinske Ohne (Invictus)
7. XIV DARK CENTURIES : Waldfolk (Einheit)
8. MASSEMORD : Blut Des Nordens (Barren)
9. BENEDICTION : Scriptures (Nuclear Blast)
10. SOJOURNER : Premonitions (Napalm)
11. SODOM : Genesis XIX (Steamhammer)
12. ULVER : Flowers of Evil (House of Mythology)
13. HIGH SPIRITS : Hard To Stop (High Roller)
14. BLUE ÖYSTER CULT : The Symbol Remains (Frontiers)
15. ARMAGEDDA : Svindeldjup �"ttestup (Nordvis Produktion)
16. NATTVERD : Styggdom (Osmose Productions)
17. FINNTROLL : Vredesvävd (Century Media)
18. AND OCEANS : Cosmic World Mother (Season of Mist)
19. NECROPHOBIC : Dawn of the Damned (Century Media)
20. EMYN MUIL : Afar Angathfark (Northern Silence)
21. SVARTSYN : Requiem (Carnal)
22. THRUDVANGAR : Vegvisir (Trollzorn)
23. NAGLFAR : Cerecloth (Century Media)
24. SVARTTJERN : Shame Is Just A Word (Soulseller)
25. MÖRK GRYNING : Hinsides Vrede (Season of Mist)


JON NEUDORF

My favourite releases of 2019Top 50 of 2020
Another year gone and many of us couldn’t wait for it to end. Although it has been a difficult year for many, there has been some outstanding music and for that we should all be grateful. Here are my favourite releases of 2020:

1. Flower Kings : Islands
2. Pure Reason Revolution : Eupnea
3. Kansas : The Absence Of Presence
4. Pendragon : Love Over Fear
5. Airbag : A Day At The Beach
6. Pain Of Salvation : Panther
7. Pattern Seeking Animals : Prehensile Tales
8. Haken : Virus
9. Lee Abraham : Harmony/Synchronicity
10. Lonely Robot : Feelings Are Good
11. Gungfly : Alone Together
12. Glass Hammer : The Dreaming City
13. Nektar : Space Rock Invasion
14. Deep Purple : Whoosh!
15. Caligula’s Horse : Rise Radiant
16. Katatonia : City Burials
17. The Tangent : Auto Reconnaissance
18. The Samurai Of Prog : Beyond The Wardrobe
19. Jakko Jakszyk : Secrets & Lies
20. Pallbearer : Forgotten Days
21. Kimmo Pörsti : Wayfarer
22. Blind Ego : Preaching To The Choir
23. Black Noodle Project : Code 2.0
24. Fatal Fusion : Dissonant Minds
25. Fish On Friday : Black Rain
26. The Guildmaster : The Knight And The Ghost
27. Wishbone Ash : Coat Of Arms
28. Rick Wakeman : The Red Planet
29. Professor Tip Top : Tomorrow Is Delayed
30. Saris : Beyond The Rainbow
31. Yobrepus : Mycelium Days
32. Magnum : The Serpent Rings
33. Ring Van Möbius : The 3rd Majesty
34. The Opium Cartel : Valor
35. Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin : The Devil Is Back
36. Sky Cries Mary : Secrets Of A Red Planet
37. Apogee : Endurance Of The Obsolete
38. Wolfheart : Valhalla
39. Pixie Ninja : Colours Out Of Space
40. Pymlico : On This Day
41. Bernard & Pörsti : La Tierra
42. Fernando Perdomo : Out To Sea 3 - The Storm
43. Void Of Sleep : Metaphora
44. War Cloud : Earhammer Sessions
45. Laughing Stock : The Island
46. Art : Asylum
47. Ritual King : Ritual King
48. Kristoffer Gildenlöw : Homebound
49. Isobar : Isobar
50. Brudini : From Darkness, Light


Summarized List Of The Top 50 CDs, From All Of The SoT Staff

1. Kansas : The Absence Of Presence
2. Blue Oyster Cult : The Symbol Remains
3. Magnum : The Serpent Rings
4. Armored Saint : Punching The Sky
5. Haken : Virus
6. Fish : Weltschmerz
7. Pallbearer : Forgotten Days
8. Testament : Titans Of Creation
9. Pattern Seeking Animals : Prehensile Tales
10. Cats In Space : Atlantis
11. Communic : Hiding From The World
12. Lunatic Soul : Through Shaded Woods
13. Amaranthe : Manifest
14. Pure Reason Revolution : Eupnea
15. Enslaved : Utgard
16. Ulver : Flowers Of Evil
17. Pyramaze : Epitaph
18. Deep Purple : Whoosh!
19. The Pineapple Thief : Versions Of The Truth
20. Wobbler : Dwellers Of The Deep
21. AC/DC : Power Up
22. Katatonia : City Burials
23. Sodom : Genesis Xix
24. The Tangent : Auto Reconnaissance
25. Amberian Dawn : Looking For You
26. Primal Fear : Metal Commando
27. Jakko Jakszyk : Secrets & Lies
28. Vanden Plas : The Ghost Xperiment - Illumination
29. Pain Of Salvation : Panther
30. Elder : Omens
31. Glass Hammer : Dreaming City
32. Lonely Robot : Feelings Are Good
33. Rick Wakeman : The Red Planet
34. Reb Beach : A View From The Inside
35. Wishbone Ash : Coat Of Arms
36. Ayreon : Transitus
37. Dynazty : The Dark Delight
38. Bruce Spingsteen : Letter To You
39. Neal Morse : Sola Gratia
40. Fates Warning : Long Day Good Night
41. Temperance : Veridian
42. Pat Metheny : From This Place
43. Firewind : Firewind
44. Arctic Rain : The One
45. Conception : State Of Deception
46. Flower Kings : Islands
47. Havukruunu : Uinuos Syömein Sota
48. Iron Mask : Master Of Masters
49. Magenta : Masters Of Illusion
50 (tied). Pulchre Morte : Ex Rosa Ceremonia
50 (tied). The Outlaws : Dixie Highway
  

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