Santtu Pesonen’s Top 10 of 2020

It’s that time of the year again – the current year comes to a close in three days, and I look back on the past year and ramble about the 10 best things that happened throughout it.

Man, what a shitty year, eh? I’m sure we can all agree that 2020 has been all kinds of pain and chaos. But let’s not look back on the bad side of the bygone year any longer – I’m here to talk about the positive things. At least from my own perspective.

Without further ado, let’s get right to it.

10. Lost Society – No Absolution

It shouldn’t come as anything of a surprise at this point that I’m all for bands renewing themselves every so often. Not everyone was fond of the new direction Lost Society took with their latest album, but I for one liked it. From the groovy title track through Artificial to the epic Into Eternity, Lost Society’s new album was a thoroughly enjoyable journey. Not despite the drastic change in direction, but rather because of it if you ask me.

9. Shantae and the Seven Sirens

The fifth entry in the Shantae series of games was one of the few new games I bought and played in 2020. It was quite the enjoyable experience, especially with the “instant transformation” mechanic that did a great job of improving the fluidity of the gameplay as opposed to Risky’s Revenge and Half-Genie Hero. But it wasn’t without its flaws – namely, the overabundance of loading screens brought it down a tad. Barring that, it was a fun game deserving of a spot in this list.

8. Igorrr – Spirituality & Distortion

Throughout 2020, I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with quite a few new bands and artists that became new favorites near-instantly. One of them was Igorrr, whose new album, Spirituality & Distortion, impressed me with its genre-blending insanity and solid production. Highlight tracks of the album for me include the opening track Downgrade Desert, Himalaya Massive Ritual and Very Noise.

7. Yousei Teikoku – age of villains

Japanese metal is quite an intriguing world. Upon diving into that rabbit hole proper earlier this year, I discovered many cool bands, among them Yousei Teikoku, who released a new album in March. age of villains is a solid album full of guaranteed bangers.

6. Prodeus

(Disclaimer: I backed this game on Kickstarter.) Now, I’d usually refrain from including unfinished games in this list, but Prodeus is just so good that it deserves a mention. The “boomer shooter” resurgence of the past few years has been a joy to witness, and this game is one of the most solid products of its kind. I’m eagerly looking forward to the finished product.

5. Tallah – Matriphagy

Tallah’s debut full-length effort Matriphagy is a masterfully crafted love letter to the nu-metal bands from the turn of the millennium. Perhaps the best word to describe the album’s overall sound would be “visceral”. The production work is stellar, and the end result is one of the most aggressive-sounding albums I’ve heard in the past few years, rivalling even the “250bpm blast beats and tremolo picking” bands.

4. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Back when Ori and the Blind Forest came out, it quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. The sequel, while perhaps a finger’s width away from reaching that same status, is still pretty damn good. The scope of Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a tad larger than that of its predecessor, almost to a detriment, but it does introduce a plethora of new and fun gameplay mechanics. And the emotional impact is equal, with one scene in particular making me cry my eyes out.

3. Haken – Virus

At this point, I’d be a heretic not to include a Haken album in my annual Top 10’s whenever one comes out. The British prog sextet’s sixth full-length effort is an utter joy to listen through, with perhaps some of the best songs the band has written to date. Invasion in particular is a highlight-worthy tune, along with Carousel and Canary Yellow.

2. playing my grad concert (and subsequently graduating vocational school)

October 2nd marked the start of the final stretch of my studies in the field of music. Alongside 3 of my now-former colleagues, I played a near-50-minute set of songs from the catalog of Ningen Isu, another Japanese metal band I had the pleasure of being introduced to along the year. My official graduation came roughly a month later, but the grad concert was a definite highlight of the year for me and one of the most memorable evenings of my entire life thus far.

1. hosting my first Doom community project

Throughout the past year, I made my first successful contributions into a few Doom community projects, and I also started to host my own just under a week ago. Said community project is the 3×3 project, and at the time of writing this post, it’s still ongoing. I was positively shocked by how much interest it generated in the first day alone, and witnessing the number of submissions the project has gathered over the past 6 days makes me giddy. But all good things come to an end – the deadline for map submissions is 30-something hours away. The compiled (mega)wad should be coming out within the first few days of 2021. Keep an eye out!

With that, happy early New Year! Let’s hope that 2021 will be slightly less shitty.

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