Grymm’s Top Ten(ish) of 2022

Like in years past, I’m having a hard time discussing my opinion of 2022. As a collective whole, 2022 was… fine? Good? Even enjoyable, I suppose? Just as 2020 was the year where I bucked down and worked on my mental health, and 2021 was the year where I got my financial ducks in a row, 2022 saw me diving head-first into improving my physical health to a better spot than it was pre-2018, which was before my brother died at 48. So far, I’ve lost about 20 pounds,1 and I’m starting to, with the help of licensed professionals, address some long-standing genetic issues that have plagued not only me, but my family throughout generations. Because of this, I’m feeling better than I have in well over a decade, and I should be around a good, long time if I can just keep this up. I’m currently at my strongest and healthiest mentally, financially, and physically. All great things, right?

Well, 2022 didn’t start out that way. I insinuated in my second coming-out piece that I had been considering walking away from reviewing metal, as well as the metal music scene altogether. Between all the NSBM bullshit, being burnt out from almost two years of non-stop work and COVID-related insanity, people being absolutely shitty towards one another,2 and the likelihood of two of the worst U.S. Presidents ever possibly squaring off again in 2024 filling me with as much happiness and anticipation as hearing from a certain member of Spirit Adrift ever again,3 all came together to form this wonderful mix of Fuck This Shit. All that, plus incidents that I will not get into, caused me to briefly walk away in January on my 45th birthday.

I say all this not to stir up drama or whip up a pity party. I say this because I’d been running on almost empty for the majority of the last four years, and there was no way that I could have continued at the pace I was going if I’d just put my face to the grindstone without proper self-care or self-compassion, especially since the music industry chews up and spits out bands, artists, labels, and even websites with alarming regularity. Burnout isn’t cool or a necessity in order to chase “the hustle.” It’s a bullshit concept that will make you dispassionate about the things and people you love, and can, if left to fester, kill you outright. Fuck anyone who disagrees or argues me about this. However, I’m eternally thankful, and grateful, to everyone currently at Angry Metal Guy for their patience, understanding, and making me feel like I truly belong, even when I was going through a period of difficulty. You really are my second family, and I love you all.

And speaking of saying “fuck anyone,” there have been quite a few people who’ve tried to re-enter my life in recent months to try to relight a prior spark in terms of a friendship as I was finally trying to get myself back on stable footing. All of which would be fine and dandy if they didn’t kick me down in the worst throes of my depression, or when I was well within the process of building myself back up again, by challenging my self-worth or taking advantage of my kindness outside of the realms of music reviewing. Here’s a tip for anyone who’s ever been in a situation like mine: you can forgive if you want to (I haven’t), but you don’t have to welcome them back, or even acknowledge them. It’s not worth a hit to your dignity, sanity, integrity, or emotional state to appease them, especially when this is habitual. They don’t deserve the energy, and you don’t deserve the headache or heartache.

So, that was the year in a nutshell. In years past, I’ve made it a point to say that I’m not going anywhere. Truthfully, though, if asked about whether I can continue going at the pace I was going, all I can say is, “I don’t know.” What I will say is that I will continue doing this until it’s no longer fun or enjoyable, or if it becomes detrimental to my health. Right now, it’s none of these things, plus the gang, and you readers, are making this all worth it. Don’t ever stop doing that, okay? Because you’re fucking rad.

So, again, to my friends, surviving family, my partner, my colleagues, and everyone reading this… thank you. For everything.

Now, to the music.


#ish. Zeal & Ardor // Zeal & Ardor Zeal & Ardor’s two prior albums exemplify the term “hit-or-miss” with me, but when they hit, they hit. On their self-titled third album, it’s overwhelmingly “hit,” with so many good hooks and choruses that burrow into your cranium well after the album finishes. May Manuel Gagneux and company’s ascent never cease.

#10. Otoboke Beaver // Super Champon – Bouncy, energetic, chaotic, tight, playful, screamy, grindy, hapgry…4 Super Champon is all these things, sometimes even all at once, in its barely 21-minute runtime. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, you’ll flail your arms like a puppet on a kids show while screaming “LEAVE ME ALONE!!! STAY WITH ME!!!” over and over again, and you will enjoy it, damnit!

#9. Mournful Congregation // The Exuviae of Gods – Part I – Even though we never got a Part II this year, the Australian/American doom legends still wrenched all positivity out of our systems, and replaced it with as much woe and sadness as humanly possible, and then they added even more. Whenever you get around to bombarding us with the sequel, I’ll be ready. Take your time, gents.

#8. A Wake in Providence // Eternity – I’m gonna be upfront and honest with you all. For years, I’ve avoided deathcore entirely due to (what I thought was) a lack of musicianship and a love for neverending breakdowns. Eternity helped change all that, managing to not only cave my head in but also impress me with tight musicianship, incredible symphonics, stellar songwriting, and incredible vocals by main growler Adam Mercer and guitarist/clean vocalist D’Andre Tyre.

#7. Sigh // Shiki – When you’re in your twenties, death is a cool, very metal thing to talk/growl/sing about. When you’re in your forties or fifties, however, death… becomes a very real, sobering prospect. Sigh mainman Mirai Kawashima knows this all too well, and he’s crafted a sobering, soul-baring album that, while still unmistakably Sigh, reveals an honest, emotional take on a difficult subject.

#6. Imperial Triumphant // Spirit of Ecstasy – New York’s skronkiest, atonalest, and golden-maskiest death-jazz trio returned with another challenging platter of smothering, grimy regality that unveils more with each repeated listen. Oh, and KENNY FUCKING G. and son are on this thing!

#5. Morrow // The Quiet Earth – The follow-up to 2018’s Album o’ the Year, Fallow, saw the international collective seemingly wrap up a deep storyline spanning three records to rapturous, almost triumphant applause. Well, until I found out there may be a fourth Morrow album in the works. Needless to say, I anticipate it greatly.

#4. Sylvaine // Nova – Kathrine Shephard continues to enchant and enthrall with her wistful take on atmospheric post-black metal, and on her fourth full-length, her voice and songwriting continue to strengthen and illuminate, culminating in one of her strongest albums to date. Please don’t miss her when she comes to your neck of the woods.

#3. Lorna Shore // Pain Remains – People are going to lose their minds and shit over this pick, but you know what? Will Ramos and gang are all mega-talented and good dudes who’ve busted their asses to get to where they are now, and Pain Remains is a solid, incredible album from start to finish, touching upon the concept of losing a loved one with all the necessary care and weight. They’re fully deserving of all the praise and attention they are no doubt receiving right now. Avoid this, and it’s truly your loss.

#2. Strigoi // Viscera – I love death/doom that makes you feel like something is slowly but surely going to 100% eviscerate you when it gets its grubby murder-mittens on you, and Strigoi effortlessly accomplished this on their second album. Of course, when your band consists of current and former members of Paradise Lost, Vallenfyre, and Carcass, what would you expect? Easily one of the ugliest, most vicious death/doom albums in recent history, and one you shouldn’t miss under any circumstances.

#1. Darkher // The Buried Storm – To say that I was anticipating Jayn Maiven’s follow-up to 2016’s wonderful Realms would be the hugest of understatements. I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t somehow fear that The Buried Storm wouldn’t live up to lofty expectations. Thankfully, Maiven crafted yet another masterfully written and performed album of minimalist melancholy, one that’s perfect for a rainy, foggy morning with a mug of your favorite tea or coffee on the porch. Introspection and reflection never sounded this beautiful.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Assumption // Hadean Tides – Let’s assume you like great funeral doom. I’ll assume you’ll dig these upstarts greatly. Okay, that was bad. Buy this album, it’s solid.
  • An Isolated Mind // A Place We Cannot Go – Kameron Bogges returns with a new sound and concept, this time chronicling the death of a toxic relationship. While stylistically different, it’s no less harrowing or raw.
  • Mother of Graves // Where the Shadows Adorn – North America needs a good, solid doom metal band again, and these youngsters from Indiana are looking to take that spot. Honestly, they’re well on their way, if their debut full-length is anything to go by.
  • Chrome Ghost // House of Falling Ash – Speaking of great doom, these Californians deftly balanced The Riff with some good ol’ Americana, crafting a warm, sunny, and heavy album full of light and tone.
  • Narakah // Nemesis Cloak – Pittsburgh’s leading export for all things unhinged and grindy get even moreso on their full-length debut, throttling you with glitches, frenetic drumming, and heaving riffs.
  • Blind Guardian // The God Machine – While I love their symphonic, almost minstrel-like take on power metal, I’ll admit that I was missing their speedier, thrashier side. But the German legends threw back to a time when they were young and hungry, releasing an album that has all that youthful exuberance and hunger, but with the wisdom and perspective brought by maturity. It’s good to see them pissed off again. I wonder why Hansi K├╝rsch sounds so angry…

Top Shittiness o’ the Year:

  • Jon Schaffer (Again) – …oh, that makes sense. For the second straight year,56 the disgraced Iced Earth guitarist/stormriding knucklehead continues to captivate his dwindling followers and standing up to his convictions by… let me see here… checking my notes… oh yeah, evading the Feds. No amount of Iced Earth hot sauce sales is going to allow him to buy back his integrity.
  • Scott Kelly – Fuck, this one hurt. I was long curious as to why Neurosis went silent after 2016’s Fires Within Fires, and now we all know why. When Scott Kelly publicly tendered his resignation out-of-the-blue from music altogether earlier this year, claiming that it was due to patterns of physical, mental, and financial abuse on his end, a not-insignificant portion of his fanbase stood up for him, thinking he was getting the help he needed. However, I felt something was off, and sadly, just a few days later, the rest of Neurosis proved my suspicions correct, confirming that Scott was actually kicked out of the band in 2019 immediately after finding out, but kept it under wraps due to the safety of Scott’s (hopefully former) wife and family, and this was all a narcissistic ploy by Scott to save face. As someone whose former best friend was a narcissist, I can tell you they’re frighteningly manipulative people with no qualms whatsoever in mentally or financially toying with you, so it was madly disappointing to hear of Scott’s true colors. I can’t help, though, but hurt for his former bandmates, whose 30+ year legacy is now greatly tarnished and unrecoverable, and especially for his family, who no doubt need to go through a rough and painful healing process, hopefully away from Kelly.

Song(s) o’ the Year:

Lorna Shore // The Pain Remains Trilogy Suite (“I – Dancing Like Flames,” “II – After All I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear,” “III – In a Sea of Fire”) – Anyone who’s ever lost someone close to them, whether a romantic partner, a sibling, a friend, a family member, or a pet, knows that grief isn’t just sadness and depression. There’s an untold amount of anger, resentment, and helplessness as you watch your loved one make that departure, and Lorna Shore nailed all those emotions on their “Pain Remains” suite. Between Will Ramos’ ability to use every vocal tool at his disposal to convey those raw emotions, Adam De Micco’s poetic lyrics7 and soaring leads, and the stellar musicianship of all involved, the “Pain Remains” trilogy does what no one’s been able to do before: craft a deathcore suite that not only touches upon a difficult passage we all have to face with dignity and passion, but to stir up some heavy emotions while doing so.

Show 7 footnotes

  1. I started off at 226 pounds, and my ideal weight is somewhere between 185-190. I wasn’t quite morbidly obese, but I was also not what one would call “healthy”, either.
  2. Remember two years ago when I said that people will forget all the good things that healthcare workers, retail associates, food handlers, and online fulfillment center employees have done to somewhat normalize things during the pandemic? Take a wild guess as to what happened since the pandemic slowed down.
  3. And no, I’m not touching their music with a 10-foot pole going forward, so stop asking.
  5. Though in Holdeneye’s… erm, eyes, it could be his third.
  6. Almost! – Holdeneye
  7. Hearing the words “A world without you isn’t meant for me,” and having it come from a sincere place, just hurts so much.
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