A bumper year of rock, metal, blues and country continues at pace despite COVID-19’s best efforts to blunt the music we love.

As 2020 reaches the halfway stage we count down the best albums of the year so far – starting with 20 to 10.

Look out for the Top 10 tomorrow. Can you guess which killer album is on course to take top spot?

20. Collateral – Collateral (Roulette Media)

2020 might have delivered the proverbial kick in the balls but before lockdown the party was in full swing – courtesy of Kent quartet Collateral.

The hair metal throwbacks finally unleashed their no-holds-barred debut in February and an unashamedly clichéd set was all about fun times and fast living.

Collateral don’t lack confidence: crucially they also boast a back catalogue of singalong anthems Jon Bon Jovi wished he’d written 30 years ago. SR

Check out the full review.

19. Sepultura – Quadra (Nuclear Blast)

A career retrospective of brand new material, Quadra is an ambitious album that evolves over four chapter, three songs per chapter.

The early thrash stage heads into the percussive Roots era, then into Machine Messiah territory, before finishing up with a nice slice  of ambience and orchestration.

Sound like it could get messy ?

It doesn’t. This is a band so comfortable in their own skin, they’ve made what could have been a cluster fuck sound like a sonic journey for the ages. JB 

Check out the full review.

18. Naked Six – Lost Art of Conversation (Naked Music)

Big guitar noise and a Pretty Vicious vibe make Lost Art Of Conversation a really compelling listen.

Don’t be fooled by first impressions: Naked Six have got more under the bonnet than you’d expect.

The Royal Blood sounding Grapevine Telegraph is complemented devilishly well by Outside Looking In – listen to it for a surprise you never saw coming. Russ H

17. Midnight – Rebirth Through Blasphemy (Metal Blade Records)

Mr Ian Fraser Kilmister must be looking down with pride at the carnage he has spawned. Indeed, Midnight’s fourth studio opus must surely have rattled the Pearly Gates when it detonated in January, hopefully putting a big grin on old Lemmy’s face.

Rebirth Through Blasphemy was the ultimate realisation of mainman Athenar’s unholy vision, a high octane hellride reeking of blood, sweat and Satan, and an album which finally saw Midnight rise up from the underground. 

A swift, violent lesson in MotörVenompunk, opener Fucking Speed And Darkness summed this record right up. RH

Read the full review.

16. Sports Team – Deep Down Happy (Island Records)

Cutting, insightful and boppy rock music isn’t out of fashion, not yet.

Sports Team delivered a candidate for 2020 album of the year with something to get us through lockdown.

With an Art Brut inspired lyrical style and fuzzy guitars, there’s plenty to get your teeth into and sing along to. Just don’t expect too much praise for Boris Johnson along the way. Russ H

15. Larkin Poe – Self Made Man (Tricki-Woo Records)

Five albums in and Rebecca and Megan Lovell settled on the sound that could catapult these swinging sisters into the blues rock big leagues.

Tyler Bryant guests on the brilliant Back Down South but it’s the psych-tinged Scorpion that gives Self Made Man its sting in the tail.

Brave, ambitious and constantly alluring, this reassuringly unique record will be talked about long after the dust has finally settled on a troubling 2020. SR

Read the full review.

14. Huntsmen – Mandala Of Fear (Prosthetic Records)

Close harmonies and death growls? Wistful, folksy Americana and metallic riffery? Uneasy bedfellows you might think.

However, Hunstmen’s apocalyptic tales were brought into glorious, technicolor life on Mandala Of Fear – a sprawling record that balanced beauty and brutality and sounded like nothing else out there.

The Chicago act had already raised the bar high with 2017’s American Scrap but by integrating singer Aimee Bueno fully into the band this time out, Huntsmen struck gold. RH

Read the full review.

13. Joe Satriani – Shapeshifting (Sony Music)

Drawing influence from The Extremist, Crystal Planet and Engines Of Creation, Satriani has finally released his first real home run of an album in 20 years. Shapeshifting indeed!

No disrespect to the albums that came before it – Black Swans/ Wormhole Wizards and Unstoppable Momentum were good efforts – but this is great. Consistently great. 

There’s a fine line to walk when you experiment but this stays ‘just’ the right side of quirky. You can tell that fun was had in the making (Nineteen Eighty) but Teardrops is the standout – the finest song he’s recorded since 1992. JB

12. Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor (Atlantic)

Whether or not you have enjoyed the recent output from Paramore, Petals For Armor is unquestionably the next step in the evolution of Hayley Williams.

Experimental and introspective, this album is the pinnacle of what can be achieved when you put your soul out there.

Taylor York, Zac Farro and the amazing Joey Howard are all on board here.

But make no mistake, this is stripped back to the bone to allow Hayley the mental catharsis she’s worked so hard to achieve. Sublime. JB

11. Polaris – The Death of Me (SharpTone Records)

While top five brothers Bury Tomorrow are at one end of their career, Sydney outfit Polaris have just started out.

The Death Of Me is the sound of a band on fire and it’s just as brilliant as their first long player. With hints of deathcore – and peppered by moments of individual magic – the traditionally tough second album has been delivered perfectly.

Polaris delivered on the promise of 2017’s The Mortal Coil: exciting times are ahead. Russ H

Read the full review.

Check back in tomorrow when we count down numbers 10 to one and reveal the record that’s top of the Rushonrock pops in 2020.

Contributors: John Burrows, Richard Holmes, Russell Hughes, Simon Rushworth.