Huck N’ Roll’s and Cherd’s Top Ten(ish) of 2022


Huck N’ Roll

Welcome to my seventh, and likely final, Top Ten(ish) list. Final? Sadly yes. This past year saw Real Life rear its head, forcing me to reduce my review output by 50% – and even then I couldn’t hit the draconian deadlines imposed by Steel Druhm very often. With a new job and a massive renovation project on tap heading into 2023, time to do fun things like write for this site will be even rarer than it has been. So on my way out the door, let me say this: thank you so much to Steelio for signing me up. Reviewing for what is honestly the best review website on the planet has been a privilege I never thought I would have. Thanks also to the entire AMG crew, an amazing bunch of men and women (even Doc Grier, believe it or not). It has been great getting to know them all. To the great and mysterious AMG Himself, thanks for only firing me twice over these past seven years. And finally, thanks also to the Raven dude who gave me my catchphrase, now used by AMG, friends, and family alike: “Off you fuck, chief.

There were a ton of super releases this year. Sadly I didn’t have time to get to them all. Case in point: Heavy Pendulum, from Cave In. I ignored this release right up until December, as their PR insisted on extolling their hardcore virtues, and I’m not interested in some dude yelling at me for an hour. Until the legendary Dr. Fisting told me “It’s not like that, give it a try,” and I’m glad I did. But it was too late. My list was complete, and I don’t have time to shake things up. Same goes for Goat’s amazing new release, Oh Death. With no promo copies coming I had to wait for release day, forgot about it, and tuned in to late. But these are just two fantastic albums that should have made the cut.

What I’m saying is yes, as always the albums on my list are fantastic and every list should look like mine. But there are another hundred albums out there that are also list-worthy, so check it all out and show these bands some support. They are all deserving.

Here’s the list. And without further ado, off I fuck.


(ish). Darkher // The Buried Storm –  Grymm and I both love Darkher. Jayn Maiven’s debut, Realms, was high up on both of our 2016 lists – first for me, and second for my good pal. This was one of the most anticipated albums of the year for both of us, and Darkher did not disappoint, delivering a lush, completely enthralling album chock full of grandiose yet intimate doom. As Grymm opined, The Buried Storm is “41 rain-soaked minutes of introspection, longing, and beautifully enchanting music.” If that’s your thing, this album is for you. Favorite song: “Immortals.”

#10. The Otolith // Folium LiminaCarcharodon and I have overlapping taste when it comes to all things post-ish, and here we also find ourselves mysteriously in sync. The demise of SubRosa gave us the birth of The Otilith, and Folium Limina is the debut we all dreamt of. The arrangements on this album are stunning, as the band manages to be delicate, atmospheric, and brutal effortlessly. As Shark Boy stated, dialing back the sludge in favor of a richer attack resulted in an album that is “not simply a rebirth but surpasses what went before.” Favorite song: “Sing no Coda.”

#9. Sonja // Loud Arriver – Once I finally listened to Loud Arriver I felt shame at not reviewing it in September. Luckily I was able to rectify that with a TYMHM last month. What a killer debut. So much fire and vitality on every song. Like Satan’s work earlier this year, Sonja’s raw, unpolished approach gives these songs so much emotion one can almost feel what Moore has been going through these past few years. Not since Unto OthersMana (then as Idle Hands) have I been so captivated by a debut. Favorite song: “When the Candle Burns Low…”

#8. Darkest Era // Wither on the Vine – Most of the albums on my list are of the more complex variety. But sometimes you just need some straightforward excellent metal to get you through the day. That’s where Darkest Era (and Sonja above) comes into play. Severance was a super album eight years ago, and here on Wither on the Vine the band just might have topped that release. As Steel says, “Darkest Era is one of the best eras in metal.” Now what I want is a new King Goat release… Favorite song: “Floodlands.”

#7. Mares of Thrace // The Exile – Amazing to see this local duo return. The Pilgrimage is an album that’s stuck with me for ten years, so to get a chance to review a new Mares of Thrace album is almost bucket-list stuff. The Exile sees drummer Stef MacKichan replaced by the versatile Casey Rogers, and he and Thérèse Lanz hit the ground running, delivering riff upon riff across tons of doomy, sludgy, noisy prog. If there was a comeback of the year award, The Exile would take it. Favorite song: “Offerings of Hand and Tongue.”

#6. Messa // Close – I consider Messa to be one of the more unique, mesmerizing bands out there. Each album is slightly different, but through them all Sara draws us in with her amazing voice and one-of-a-kind delivery. Close may be thought of primarily as a doom album, but in fact it is so much more. Genre-defying, really, as the band seamlessly interweaves metal, jazz, prog, and everything else into a seductive concoction. As Steel says, “Close is another enigmatic offering from Messa that leaves the listener all sorts of treasures to uncover.” Don’t let this one pass you by. Favorite song: “Dark Horse.”

#5. Wilderun // Epigone – When this album dropped way back at the beginning of the year, I thought it might not be the best album of the year but it will certainly be the most ambitious. I stand by that statement today. Epigone is stunning in its level of complexity as far as arrangements and songwriting go, and Wilderun hit the nail on the head throughout. It might be a bit too ambitious (read: convoluted and pretentious) for many listeners, but as the annoying saying goes, if you know you know. Favorite song: “Passenger.”

#4. Cult of Luna // The Long Road North – A perennial lister for Yours Truly, The Long Road North marks the third time Cult of Luna have made it to this hallowed page. Much like a few bands on this page, they live up to past efforts and current expectations wonderfully. Post-metal isn’t really a genre where one can push the envelope very far, but these guys bring enough fresh juice to the party that each song holds our interest all the way through. Carcharodon thinks this might be their best, and if he’s wrong he’s not far off. Amazing work by one of my favorite bands. Favorite song: “Cold Burn.”

#3. An Abstract Illusion // Woe – Oh, if there was an album this year that got the proletariat riled up when it didn’t make RotM, it was this one. And as I stated in the comments, it should have. Woe is spectacular. It’s exactly what I look for in a progressive death metal album. Atmosphere, blackened nastiness, varied vocals (even some Cynic-like vocoders), progressive arrangements, you name it. Such a stellar album to just sit back and absorb. As my good friend (boy he makes a lot of appearances here) Carcharodon says, Woe is “an album of incredible consistency and great vision.” Favorite song: “”In the Heavens Above, You will Become a Monster.”

#2. Disillusion // Ayam – I love it when expectations are met. Disillusion do that here with an absolutely killer album. Ayam is an album you can listen to once and you know it’s a contender. “Am Abgrund” is one of the best songs of the year, and the rest of the album is only a hair lower on the awesome scale than that opener. I might not think it’s a 5.0 like GardensTale does, but Saunders’ 4.5 is close enough. “Impeccable, adventurous songwriting” and “a triumph on multiple levels” describe this album perfectly. Favorite song: “Am Abgrund.”

#1. Persefone // metanoia – We didn’t review this. Why? Much like myself, the writer who had dibs (one Ferrous Bueller) has been ambushed by life this year, and this album drifted past everyone else. Thankfully, after weeks of Yours Truly extolling the virtues of this album Saunders stood up and TYMHM’ed it for us. Saunders, if we’re ever in the same hemisphere I owe you a beer. The Andorrans’ last album, Aathma, was stunning, garnering HM from Ferrous and ninth place from myself back in 2017. Persefone top themselves on metanoia. One can think of it as a more listenable, simpler Epigone. Amazing performances, superb production, and top-notch cinematic songwriting all add up to one of the year’s best albums. Favorite song: “Consciousness (Pt. 3).”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Amorphis // Halo –  These guys never disappoint. Halo might not appear in many lists, likely because we’re so used to the high quality of Amorphis’s output.
  • A-Z // A-Z – Dad rock? I don’t care. It’s great dad rock. Hopefully Alder and Zonder keep it going.
  • Early Moods // Early Moods –  Horrible band name. Uninspired cover art, but under the covers, a fantastic traditional doom record.
  • King Buffalo // Regenerator – Love these guys, another consistently super band. This is their most optimistic album.
  • O.R.k. // Screamnasium –  Their best record, it was in my top ten until Disillusion knocked everyone down a step.
  • Russian Circles // Gnosis – No review from us (no promo), but a wonderful album from the post-rock stalwarts. Go get it.
  • Satan // Earth Infernal –  Love these guys, and Earth Infernal is a wonderful throwback to the pre-Pro Tools days of sloppy yet exciting metal.
  • Wake // Thought Form Descent –  The changeups on this recording really drew me in. My favorite of theirs.

Pleasant Surprise of the Year: The quality of local talent. Mares of Thrace, Wake, Caveat, Greybeard, Gone Cosmic, Jairus Sharif, and probably more dropped good to great albums this year. Traveller and Woodhawk have both been working on new material. I’ve always thought of Calgary as a creative desert, but that’s no longer the case. There are a bunch of excellent bands here now.

Favorite Non-Metal Releases:

  • Goat // Oh Death – Their best since World Music ten years ago. Psychedelia, free jazz, some metal, it’s all here in spades.
  • Tears for Fears // The Tipping Point – Wonderful to have these guys back, and such a lush, beautifully put together album.

Cherd

This is normally where writers indulge the readership with salacious details about our personal lives, but you’ll have to pony up for a subscription to my OnlyFans for that. Remember, if you can’t monetize the details of your life, you’re not late capitalism-ing right? Sign up now, and you’ll get uncensored access to a middle-aged man’s struggle with his expanding waistline, a four-year-old’s tyrannical demands that you pretend to be Green Goblin while he pretends to be Spidey, three special needs cats, and seborrheic keratosis.

As for metal, 2022 was neither an especially good nor bad year for the genre, because frankly, we’re beyond such declarations holding any weight. There are so many bands and individual projects creating so much content that is so easily accessible, if you can’t find much to get you excited, you’re doing it wrong. Likewise, if you find yourself nodding enthusiastically to everything you hear along with the Holdeneyes of the world, you’re probably just blissfully unaware of the vast ocean of mediocrity out there. Yearly disclaimer: if you read my list, or indeed any of the others, and wonder why you don’t see your pet record, remember that I am but one man with but one four-year-old son who demands I spend my days as Green Goblin. I probably didn’t get to it. Or maybe I did, and your taste is just terrible. I’d like to thank Steel Druhm and Madam X for daily leading us into battle against the untrve, AMG for birthing our community from his own stretch-marked loins, our editors for catching between 20-40% of my mistakes1, and of course, you for reading.


#ish. Lycopolis // Amduat – This two-part album, The Midnight Mystery and The Hall of Maat, technically six-song EPs that combined make a 12-song full-length, is based on the ancient Egyptian 12 hours of night (Amduat) funerary text. There are raw black bands that wouldn’t sound nearly as intriguing if they embraced high production values, but Lycopolis is not one of those. The songwriting, the razor-sharp riffs, and the acid-bit vocals would hold up under any production style, and Amduat is full of ass-kicking black metal melodies that get stuck in the head.

#10. Devenial Verdict // Ash Blind – Devenial Verdict walks that fine line between death metal conventions and post-death experimentation. Ash Blind is loaded with smart riffs, emotive solos and a masterful pacing that keeps its golden-ratio’d 45 minutes an incredibly easy listen. I don’t usually quote my fellow writers here, but Thus Spoke nailed it when she wrote “As a result of its intelligently balanced, compelling ingredients, Ash Blind fully succeeds in drawing in the listener. It is never too jarring in its dissonance; never too sweet in its pulchritude; never too steady in its beat.”

#9. Thou/Mizmor // Myopia – Since the beginning of my AMG tenure, every year Thou has put out new material, and they’ve made my year-end list. That’s not about to stop now. Ever the willing and skilled collaborators, they’ve brought Mizmor’s A.L.N. along for the ride this time, striking a masterful balance between the blackened doom/drone of that project and their own angry-but-aching sludge doom. The results are haunting and emotionally draining, especially given the 70+ minute run time. A bit too long? Perhaps, but when I listen to the album in its entirety, I’m hard-pressed to find any song that could be trimmed. In a year that was weak on doom, these artists delivered top-shelf material.

#8. Messa // Close – Speaking of top-shelf doom, Messa’s Close might not be quite the revelation that their previous record Feast For Water was, but it is an overall more subtle and equally rewarding record to feast on. Frontwoman Sara continues her rise toward the summit of greatest occult rock/doom metal vocalists, thanks to an ever more confident and commanding performance that now approaches Neko Case levels of sudden rocket-voiced power surges peppered among the soft, crooning passages and ghostly incantations. The rest of the band is in fine form as well, pulling from multiple rock, metal, and lounge jazz styles as a support structure for Sara’s powerful voice. Although perhaps the less said about that grindcore track, the better.

#7. Aeviterne // The Ailing Facade – It seems every year I’m happily introduced to yet another death metal band working to reshape and refine the more difficult, dissonant corners of the sub-genre, and this year that band was Aeviterne. More than just a post-death deconstruction of conventions reshaped into abstract sculpture, The Ailing Facade is a series of interlocking pieces and notably natural-sounding progressions. The atmosphere is pitch black but oddly warm, like being buried alive in a velvet sack. This is partly due to a Colin Marston production job that adds a welcome wrinkle to a genre that can so often feel overly cold.

#6. Immolation // Acts of God – I’m a far cry from the beef-witted, knuckle-dragging old-school death metal fans that can be found among the AMG ranks, but the gnarly power of Immolation is a force that cannot be resisted. These riffs are so grimy, so chonking, so monstrously heavy that I can feel my back hair growing every time I hear them. I feel like killing a honey badger with my bare hands and eating its heart. I feel like flying to New York and picking a fight with Steel Druhm and a dozen of his rugby-playing, MMA-fighting buddies every time I listen to Acts of God. Such is its power.2

#5. Imperial Triumphant // Spirit of EcstasyImperial Triumphant breaks linear time again on Spirit of Ecstasy, as a historic New York that never truly was, erupts into our present—barbed, knotted, and opulent to the point of its own undoing. Drummer Kenny Grohowski, the one with the be-crowned gold mask, puts on a clinic as he guides the band through disso-death avalanches, syncopated jazz breaks, and thundering doom marches. 2022 was the year I was finally able to see Imperial Triumphant live, and it was well worth the champagne stains on my clothes.

#4. Doldrum // The Knocking, Or the Story of the Sound that Preceded Their Disappearance – Lovecraftian Southern Gothic storytelling meets black metal carved from the Rocky Mountains to form a uniquely American tale of horror on Doldrum’s The Knocking. I rarely find that reading metal album lyrics enhances my enjoyment of a record, but such is the case here. There’s a literary quality to the scenes unfolding before these Americana-tinged blackened riffs. Vestiges of the legendary Denver Sound permeate this, as it has other Mile-High metal bands, and I’m absolutely here for it.

#3. Wormrot // Hiss – It’s a reliable pattern that each year will see one or two normally obscure sub-genres of metal enjoy a more bountiful harvest than usual. This year, grindcore was the clear overachiever. I thoroughly enjoyed exceptional records by Cloud Rat, Knoll, and Defect Designer, but Wormrot’s Hiss is that once-in-a-decade kind of grind record that transcends the limits of the genre and puts the larger metal world on notice. Long for a grind record, it somehow manages to waste absolutely zero space on the repetitive ideas that can too often hold the genre back. Every one of the 33 minutes is as exciting and engaging as the last.

#2. Old Nick // Ghost O’ Clock – I’ve been an Old Nick apologist since they first emerged from their coffin only to slip on a banana peel to the sound of a slide whistle in 2020. While it’s shocking just how many releases they’ve had since then, 2022 saw only one Old Nick appearance, the seven-track, 27-minute Ghost O’ Clock, which makes up for its brevity with just how much Abysmal Specter and crew have perfected their schtick. This is the ideal mix of sneaky good raw black riffs, hoarse barking vocals, and goofy, triumphant synths that fit the comical song titles to a tee. I’ve applauded Old Nick for daring to have fun with raw black metal, but their truly subversive act is to be joyful and to share that joy.

#1. Chat Pile // God’s CountryChat Pile has said “More than anything, we’re trying to capture the anxiety and fear of seeing the world fall apart,” but they’re doing so without separating it from their own corner of the world. Throughout God’s Country, they manage to access the universal through the tiny door of the specific, a mark of artistic maturity. So what does Middle American misery sound like in 2022? In a word, terrifying. It’s a harrowing statement of despair, but one I can’t stop listening to, and it’s my album of the year.

Honorable Mentions

  • Kvaen // The Great Below – I admit I’ve cooled on this a bit, and it’s due for a Contrite Metal Guy half-point deduction from my original score, but as I said before, “There’s no dearth of metal musicians trying to catch black-thrash lightning in a bottle. Kvaen just happens to hog up all the lightning.”
  • Come to Grief // When the World DiesCome To Grief sound spry for their age. They may not be an altogether new band, but their sound has evolved admirably since their Grief days into one that is far from out of place in the contemporary metal landscape. More importantly, this album is heavy as a neutron star, and the riffs are rock solid.
  • Mag // Mag II – Pod Krwawym Ksi​ę​ż​ycemMag is an extremely promising new doom metal act from Poland with a dynamic vocalist in Konstanty Mierzejewski. This was a late list riser and a band we should all watch going forward.
  • Critical Defiance // No Life Forms – This was my runaway favorite thrash record of 2022. These Chileans drive it like it’s stolen.

Disappointment o’ the Year

  • Kyle Tavares’ blogging habits.

Song o’ the Year

  • Old Nick – “Ghost O’ Clock”

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Fuck you. Write better. – Grier
  2. I can schedule you in for late January. – Steel
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