Welcome to instalment number twenty-three of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’. As time gets ever tighter leading up to the holidays, I’m ditching the big waffly intro today again.

That is, apart from my normal, shameless, 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 9, as well as my lists from previous years too.

Number 8

Night Crowned

Impius Viam

Noble Demon

Score Of Much Metal: 97%

When I first heard ‘Impius Viam’, I was on a train heading to Scotland for business. This was at the beginning of the year, when we knew little about Covid-19, and even less about the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘global pandemic’. The rush of excitement that I experienced as the music poured out of my headphones and into my ears was incredible; here was a band that was capable of giving me the same kind of chills as ‘Storm Of The Light’s Bane’ by Dissection did when I heard that for the very first time at university. Suddenly, I felt eighteen again, despite being dressed this time in a suit and with significantly less hair.

But the effect on me was pretty much the same twenty-two years later. I couldn’t stop grinning like a loon and headbanging regardless of my location. Those melodies that would surface out of a frenzied extreme metal attack, or those lead breaks that would cut through the snarling venomous vocals, were intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to listen to the album again on my journey home, or whenever I could snatch some time. The frosty, fast-picked riffs were the perfect accompaniment to the bitterly cold environs, but listening to Night Crowned, I felt warm, entertained and energised.

Given that it was released so early in the year, I wondered where it might end up in my end-of-year list. However, the fact that it would be placed somewhere was never in any doubt. I’m not surprised that ten months on, it still occupies the number eight slot either, because over the intervening period, ‘Impius Viam’ has lost none of its charm or vitality. The melodies still delight me, the blackened death metal assault still bludgeons relentlessly, and the overall atmosphere remains as dark, claustrophobic, and irresistibly malevolent as ever before. Apparently, there’s a new album in the works and I cannot wait to hear it. In the meantime, I shall revel in the brilliance and dark majesty of ‘Impius Viam’ just a  little more.

Left to right: J. Eskilsson (Guitar) K. Romlin (Vocals) J. Jaloma (Drums) H. Liljesand (Guitar)

What I  wrote at the time:

“…it needs to be said that ‘Impius Viam’ is not a dead ringer for Dissection, but it does share a couple of similarities: both Dissection and Night Crowned are Swedish, they both plunder the rich furrow of blackened death metal, both feature fast-paced riffing and acoustic elements, and both have/had an innate ability to inject the most exquisite and glorious melodies into their extreme metal soundscapes. And it is this latter ingredient that has got me so excited.

…when you present to me an extreme metal band that’s heavy and aggressive as hell but who likes to inject catchy melodies into the music, I’m likely to sit bolt upright, salivate like Pavlov’s dog and devour every last second of it, probably accompanied by a maniacal grin. That’s where Night Crowned come in.

Almost every one of the twelve songs that comprise ‘Impius Viam’ seek to both bludgeon me to death whilst caressing me with some beautiful, arresting melodies. It is an intoxicating blend and it has meant that I have spent a lot of time listening to what is rather unbelievably, Night Crowned’s debut full-length album. When I discovered this, such is the quality on display here, I was initially shocked.

Night Crowned have awakened something within me that I hadn’t realised was laying dormant. It has reminded me what it is I like about extreme metal and blackened death metal in particular, and why I got into this kind of music back as a teenager in the first place. My tastes may have changed and refined over the years, but there is still something within me that adores the blend of aggression, atmosphere and properly catchy melodies. ‘Impius Viam’ delivers this blend in spades…”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

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: