We asked and you voted, and can now announce who you have chose as the best metal guitarists of 2020.
In a genre that relies on the revenue of touring more than most, metal had an extremely challenging 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. But through the adversity there was a willingness to embrace the opportunities technology presented – some superb albums were released and musicians rallied with livestream concerts and collaborations to bring the music to the fans.
With duos and one-guitar acts included, here are the guitarists you have voted as the finest in metal for 2020.
1. Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu (Trivium)
A wise choice. Trivium are deserving in 2020 for key reasons this year; they released one of their strongest albums with What The Dead Men Say (opens in new tab) that saw the Heafy and Beaulieu tag team continuing to evolve, but the way they rolled with the year's punches was even more inspiring.
Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu on What The Dead Men Say (opens in new tab)
Heafy has now grown into a full-blown Twitch sensation in his own right, and embraced livestreams with his band when it became clear the band couldn't support the new album with traditional touring. First they blazed a trail with the paid-for A Light Or A Distant Mirror performance that featured full production, then the rawer free performance of their lesser known material with The Deepest Cuts.
With the band now in the process of moving into their own HQ after buying an aircraft hangar, the future looks wide open for a band that may well be be studied in years to come as an example of how a metal band can evolve musically and technologically in a changing industry.
2. Willie Adler and Mark Morton (Lamb Of God)
Lamb Of God (opens in new tab) bounced back from the loss of founder member and drummer Chris Adler (opens in new tab) by doing what they do best; delivering their unmistakable kind metal on a self-titled release and livestream performances that showcased it alongside a playthrough of much-loved 2004 politically charged release Ashes Of The Wake.
Bassists recognised the greatness of the band's John Campbell (opens in new tab) in our best bassists (opens in new tab) poll this year too.
3. Joe Duplantier and Christian Andreu (Gojira)
Gojira's eagerly-awaited new album didn't surface in 2020 but a superb new song called Another World did – making them eligible for voting here. Duplantier also saw his Charvel signature model (opens in new tab) released and we had the chance to talk to him (opens in new tab) about it for our Virtual Guitar Show (opens in new tab) too. We can't wait to see where he heads with it alongside Andreu – Gojira (opens in new tab) are a band who can transcend the expectations of metal.
4. Andy James (solo, Five Finger Death Punch)
What a year it's been for the British player – from releasing solo album C.S.I.L to being announced as the new member of one of the world's most successful contemporary metal bands.
It's deserved – Andy James (opens in new tab) is one of the greatest contemporary metal players on the planet and has been expertly melding advance technical chops with an ear for melodic hooks for years. FFDP can only gain.
5. Josh Middleton and Alex Bailey (Sylosis)
Josh Middleton (opens in new tab) might be reaching more ears now as a member of Architects (opens in new tab) but the band he leads is the greatest showcase for his formidable talents. Comeback album Cycle Of Suffering (opens in new tab) proved their mix of old school death and thrash with contemporary progression is a potent sound indeed.
The support slot for Trivium's A Light Or A Distant Mirror streamed gig also saw a band ready to step up to bigger things live.
6. Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy (Paradise Lost)
A year that saw Yorkshire's shadow kings embrace the past while forging ahead – gothic metal masterpiece Draconian Times celebrated its 25th anniversary while latest album Obsidian cemented Paradise Lost (opens in new tab)'s reputation for juggernaut consistency.
Since the band travelled back towards heavier territory, it's become clearer just how distinctive the Aedy and Mackintosh dynamic is; monolithic, mournful and masterful.
7. Diamond Rowe and Josh Fore (Tetrarch)
Nu metal never really went away but the reappraisal of the genre's heyday in certain quarters is simply a recognition of the genuine qualities it brought to heavier music. Tetrarch clearly understand the strengths and as they ready what should be a breakthrough second album for 2021, Diamond Rowe and Josh Fore revealed a preview in the form of I'm Not Right.
8. Clint Lowery and John Connolly (Sevendust)
Year after year, Sevendust deliver the goods on stage and on record. In 2020 it was left to album Blood & Stone to do the talking, and it sounded as strong as anything the Atlanta band had done before.
Inside the Sevendust sound is the shifting dynamics of Clint Lowery (opens in new tab) and John Connolly (opens in new tab), not just as guitarists but backing vocalists too. It helps make Sevendust songs constantly compelling propositions, that balance satisfying groove with soulful depth.
9. Reba Myers and Dominic Landolina (Code Orange)
Early on in the lockdown, Code Orange (opens in new tab) proved the show could go on with a livestream from the empty Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh to launch the Underneath album. They continued to boldly embrace the new normal and their own versatility with the unplugged Under The Skin set.
The ability of Myers and Landolina to redefine their roles in the shifting Code Orange sound can't be underestimated; Myers especially can draw as much from her 90s alt rock influences sonically as metal and hardcore. The result is hard to define and all the better for it.
10. Stephen Carpenter and Chino Moreno (Deftones
Another band celebrating the anniversary of a landmark (White Pony) while proving they can still deliver the goods. Ohms found Steph Carpenter's seven- (and eight-) string chops weighing heavier in the Deftones (opens in new tab) mix again for a wonderful combination of the familiar and unexpected.