Here’s a look back on several albums released in 2022 that I happened to listen to quite a bit. They are in no particular order.
Under the Midnight Sun by The Cult, Black Hill Records
This is an outstanding rock release that The Cult put out. The first or second listen might not grab you, but investing time with it pays off immensely. Every song has great qualities that emerge as you listen, and none overstays its welcome. Some of the bits that get stuck in my head are: the vocal chorus of Vendetta X, the vocal melody and lyric that finishes Outer Heaven, the subdued intro of Knife Through Butterfly Heart.
Theothanatology by Acephalix, 20 Buck Spin
I was excited for this release upon its announcement, as Acephalix has such a killer combination of groove and aggression in their sound. Their last record, Decreation, is phenomenal, so my hopes were high for this one. Every track on Theothanatology is solid, no-frills death metal, executed perfectly. It definitely met my expectations.
Fenice by Ufomammut, Neurot Recordings
Ufomammut are masters of psychedelic rock, and their entire catalog is worthy of attention. Their latest album, Fenice, is a perfect blend of the styles they are known for, and really shows off their sense of dynamics. The songs seamlessly transition through light, airy segments to crushing riffs and back again, all the while holding the listener’s attention.
Rosin by Al Cisneros vs The Bug, Pressure Records
Rosin is a fairly short EP with two tracks by Sleep & OM bassist Al Cisneros and two by The Bug. The whole release flows through almost as just one song, and its light, repetitive rhythms are a great way to zone out.
SteppenDoom by Marc Urselli’s SteppenDoom, Magnetic Eye Records
Marc Urselli had the genius idea of combining throat singing and doom metal, and then enlisted a variety of musicians to fulfill that goal. The end result is a style that is simultaneously weird, uniquely psychedelic, and massively heavy. A great respite from the overload of commercialized music and a cool blending of cultures.
The Scars of a Lost Reflective Shadow by The Chasm, Luxinframundis Productions
The Chasm have been a consistent source of killer death/thrash metal releases over the years, and The Scars… is another great example of Daniel Corchado’s riff writing. This is a solid release and the compositions keep the songs interesting with plenty of changes, speed, and hooks.
Timewave Zero by Blood Incantation, Century Media Records
Timewave Zero seemed to throw some Blood Incantation fans off, as it’s an ambient soundscape project rather than death metal. This isn’t a bunch of synth bleeps and bloops, though; it’s two tracks, each about 20 minutes, of tripped out, dark psychedelia. It works best when actively listened to late at night (perhaps with some chemical enhancement), but also as a companion to walking, studying, etc.
Synchro Anarchy by Voivod, Century Media Records
Voivod followed up 2018’s The Wake with another burst of creative energy. This record doesn’t feature any radical departures from their back catalog; it’s Voivod doing exactly what they are great at. Angular, stop/start riffs, sideways rhythms and plenty of sci-fi make this record a fun listen.
CLOSURE/CONTINUATION by Porcupine Tree, Sony Music
Porcupine Tree surprised everyone in late 2021 with the sudden announcement of the end of their hiatus and upcoming full length album. CLOSURE/CONTINUATION arrived in summer 2022 and feels right at home in their catalog, although it presents some new, not quite as rock-oriented, song structures.
Gnosis by Russian Circles, Sargent House
Russian Circles opted to go for the throat this time around with a wonderfully heavy, instrumental metal album. In contrast to their earlier work, there isn’t a whole lot of spacey breathing room in these songs. And that’s refreshing. What’s more, these tracks don’t come across as forced. Everything feels natural, with a pleasantly guiding flow to it all.
Upon Desolation by Mortuous, Carbonized Records
Over the years a lot of metal fans have wondered where next death metal will go, and we’ve seen branching out and incorporation of black metal, and doom, and other sounds and subject matter. But sometimes what you want is to hear old school, 80s/90s-era death metal firing on all cylinders. And that is what Upon Desolation has in spades. This one’s a neck wrecker.