Greetings, dear reader. It is once again listmas 'round these humble halls. Time, then, to look back the music that has defined our collective year. The non-exhaustive AOTY smorgasbord hath begun.
My personal EP and album lists shall follow in (less-than) good time, but before we get to that, the community speaks. This list is a collaborative effort, with ten distinct music writers, musicians, and fans lending a few words. Hopefully the variety of perspectives results in a list containing at least one or two releases that speak to you! This, of course, is far from exhaustive--indeed, every single one of ye could undoubtedly highlight a vast number of deserving albums not appearing here.
A massive thank you is in order to everyone who contributed words and energy to this lil' project. As always, we couldn't have done it without ye! Please check out the writer's respective projects and links. This list constitutes the first five entries, with another five to follow. Read on!
Devil Master - Ecstasies of Never Ending Night (April 29th, Relapse Records) Find it here!
Written by: Caylen Darling
I’ve been a fan of Devil Master’s back catalogue for awhile, ever since they first came to my attention with 2019’s Satan Spits on Children of the Light. So I was already anticipating this new album when it was announced. The lead single "Acid Black Mass" brought that anticipation to a fever pitch, I might as well have been frothing at the mouth for the full length. That feeling was solidified by my attendance of their record release show in Brooklyn this previous April. The live set I witnessed was one of the tightest and most energetic performances I’ve ever seen from any band, be them underground warriors or well seasoned legacy acts. Since then I’ve gone back to the album multiple times. I still find myself enthralled in the whirlwind of blackened speed metal riffs, and the hypnotically goth-aligned bass grooves. The band takes everything you could look for in a speed metal album and blends them together perfectly. You get the influence of Darkthrone’s crust material, the “One-Two-Fuck You” attitude of Motörhead’s best work, and the gothic melancholy of acts like Fields of the Nephilim tossed into a cauldron with a heaping dose of bat’s blood and candelabras. Every ingredient perfectly measured and prepared, fresh out of the cellar, piss-drunk onto the streets and vomited directly into your ears.
Author's Bio: Caylen Darling is from Hekseblad.
Valborg - Der Alte (September 29th, Prophecy Productions). Find it here!
Written by: Kirk Gauthier
Have you ever pushed play on an album and immediately found yourself asking, “OMG, what the hell is THIS?!”, but in the most incredible way? If not, chances are you haven’t listened to Valborg. From the moment “Asbach” gets started, if you aren’t banging your head and slamming your fists on your closest flat surface…well, I can’t help ya, friend. This album has an energy that just won’t quit, and I should know…I’ve listened to it at least a half dozen times already. I just can’t get enough! It leans pretty heavily on the post-metal and punk, but there are definite elements of doom and death metal in there, too. Just a veritable metal sub-genre gumbo…AND IT’S DELICIOUS.
Author’s Bio: Kirk Gauthier can be found on Twitter at @Parkas4Kids, and he also runs the fundraising label Food Desert Recordings.
AAWKS – Heavy on the Cosmic (June 10th, Black Throne Productions) Find it here!
Written by: Westin
It’s really hard for me to want to listen to “regular” rock music when bands like AAWKS exist. There’s something magical about the supremely scuzzed out guitar tone mixing with a groovy bassline straight out of the 70’s that launches me into the zoned out cosmic space between drugs and fantasy. AAWKS delivers on the textured and smoky heaviness I want from stoner bands, the Sabbath-worship glaciated pacing I want of doom and the forward momentum of killer riffwriting and groove I love in The Sword – they give me everything I want wrapped up in a hazy package of which no one is exactly certain on the origin. I keep coming back to this one and wondering why guitar bands ever bother writing without distortion.
Author’s Bio: Westin is an okay poet currently masquerading as a music writer, writing about their love of metal, punk and other genres you might not expect. You can find Westin on Twitter @WestinPlaying and read their reviews on Noob Heavy.
Sunrise Patriot Motion - Black Fellflower Stream (June 10th) Find it here!
Written by: Joe (from Kurokuma)
There's so much music these days and a lot of it sounds the same, so when something mysterious pricks up my ears on the first track it's a rare occurrence. The opening track on Black Fellflower Stream by Sunrise Patriot Motion did this. I was already into the gothic synths and the languid, whining guitar lead that felt like Killing Joke, then a strange chord change at 0:22 seemed to jump out of the speakers and demand I pay attention. I'd say go and read the promo blurb on the Bandcamp page--it does a great job of summing up the vibe here. With two members of excellent US black metal band, Yellow Eyes on board, you're in good hands. There's a strong concept/story behind the album, and along with the artwork and musical mood, it all packs an impressive synergy. It's melodic music to get lost in, and a singular release from 2022 that deserves your attention.
Author's bio: Joe is the drummer in Kurokuma.
Mother of Graves - Where the Shadows Adorn (Oct. 14th, Wiseblood Records) Find it here!
Written by: J. Coleman (from Krigsgrav)
Picking a favorite album of 2022 is nigh possible, but what I present to you here is one of my favorite albums of this year. As there was a deluge of wonderful music this year, I feel guilty not including all of them. However, the latest Mother of Graves album Where Shadows Adorn (via Wise Blood Records) is really something special. They manage to take all of the best elements of classic Katatonia (Brave Murder Day era) and Edge of Sanity and masterfully put them into 8 tracks that never overstay their welcome and will haunt you well into the echoes of years end. Well worth your time and attention.
Author's bio: J. Coleman plays in the band Krigsgrav
One last thank you to everyone who contributed! Part 2 will follow shortly.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.