Welcome to instalment number twenty-five of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’. The last pick before I enter the final five for the year. Getting excited? I know that I am. I’m also a little worried that I won’t get this countdown complete before Christmas Day as promised. My family don’t need any presents, do they? It’s all hands to the pump as I enter the final stages.

Before I dive into the main event, please excuse the usual reminder to anyone new to this series, to check out the links at the bottom of the post to find out who made the cut, from 30 down to 7, as well as my lists from previous years too.

Number 6

Oceans Of Slumber

Oceans Of Slumber

Century Media Records

Score Of Much Metal: 95%

The final line of my review published on 3rd September read as follows: “‘Oceans Of Slumber’ is easily one of the best albums of 2020, simple as that.” And so it has proved, as I have chosen it as my choice at number six of 2020. In fact, the original score of 95% is simply inadequate given how much this record has grown in my estimations since, and the way in which I have devoured the music on the CD, either in the car, on the dog walk, or whilst undertaking activities with my eight-year-old daughter, Freja.

In fact, it is this last aspect that has ensured Oceans Of Slumber have received such a lofty position in my end-of-year list. My eldest, ever since hearing ‘A Return To The Earth Below’, has been obsessed with Oceans Of Slumber. Normally preferring more mainstream pop thanks to the influence of others, Freja constantly asks to hear Oceans Of Slumber. Or, more accurately, ‘please may I hear Cammie and Dobber, daddy?’ I hope the guys play live in the UK someday soon, because I have promised to take Freja to her first ever metal show whenever Oceans are in town. Not only that, I may have promised that I’d get her to meet the band – if you’re reading this Cammie or Dobber (or both), I’m sorry for being so presumptuous!

Anyway, the fact that my girls like this music means that I can listen to the album a lot more than others in my collection. It means that the connection with the music is stronger, especially as the record just gets stronger with each passing listen. It is the soundtrack to painting, drawing, homework, and playing dollies. For that, I owe it everything. And there’s not a weak track on the album. From beautifully melodic, to fragile, to extreme aggression and brutality, to ethereal, to atmospheric; this self-titled album has everything, sometimes within a single song. If you like progressive-leaning and varied extreme metal, adorned by one of the most captivating voices in metal right now, then ‘Oceans Of Slumber’ needs to be in your collection. End of story.

What I  wrote at the time:

“Let’s immediately cut to the chase: If you thought that Oceans Of Slumber were good previously, just wait until you hear this new record. And if you maybe didn’t click with the band previously, just wait until you hear this new record. They often say that bands will name an album or a song after themselves if they are proud of it…and now, you can add ‘Oceans Of Slumber’ to that list. This new record from the Texans is insane.

I also cannot shake the feeling that for all the heaviness, torment, and emotion that exudes from Oceans Of Slumber’s music, this record is simply more beautiful than those that have gone before…as a result, I’m in love with this music in a way that I wasn’t expecting. These musicians are good – we all knew that. But this record takes them to another level.

Despite all of the variation on this album, I would be prepared to suggest that this is the smoothest and most cohesive of all their offerings too. Yes, you get moments of barely-contained death metal aggression with growled vocals and inhuman drum blasts. Yes, you get lumbering and lurching doom metal riffs. Yes, you get quiet, fragile, introspective sections. Yes, you get plenty of progressive intent shining through within the majority of the compositions. Yes, these songs contain raw, unfiltered human anguish and emotion, perhaps more than ever as many difficult subjects are tackled within the album. And yes, you sometimes get all these things within a single track. But the song writing has gone up another notch, meaning that the transitions are more subtle and less clunky, leading to that sense of smoothness and cohesiveness throughout. This record takes you on a journey. A breathless, aching, violent, beautiful journey it may be, but it’s a journey upon which I am delighted to be a passenger.

…in an effort to be brief, I’ll just state that it is, without a doubt, the very best that Oceans Of Slumber have ever sounded. I not only admire the music on this record, but I have completely fallen in love with it. From start to finish, it is a near immaculate body of work that further showcases the skill, passion and dedication of a very special band indeed.”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

Number 7

Number 8

Number 9

Number 10

Number 11

Number 12

Number 13

Number 14

Number 15

Number 16

Number 17

Number 18

Number 19

Number 20

Number 21

Number 22

Number 23

Number 24

Number 25

Number 26

Number 27

Number 28

Number 29

Number 30

If you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here: