New Blood, Same Bad Taste: The AMG Staff Pick Their Top Ten(ish) Records o’ 2022


Another volume of the Big Book of Heavy Metal comes to a close. We pressed into service recruited new blood this year to help color in that book, and then promptly proceeded to squeeze them dry of all talent, motivation, and joy. Some of them hung around anyway for reasons unknown and the AMG juggernaut rolled through its 13th year of unnatural existence. Over the last 300-odd days we cared, we shared, and we fought battles large and small. But most importantly, we rendered verdicts on many an album and forced our opinions down your collective throat. That’s why we are here and that’s why you keep coming back for more.

As always, we let the new staffers and those on double secret probation/partial sabbatical weigh in on what got them excited in 2022, and as always, we are not responsible for the poor and/or questionable taste of said staffers. If you end up offended or disturbed, you can rest assured that Management feels the same or worse about it. Season’s greetings, happy holidays, no substitutions or returns.

All hail Listurnalia 2022.


Kronos

#10. Kardashev // Liminal Rite
#9. Imperial Triumphant // Spirit of Ecstasy
#8. The Mars Volta // The Mars Volta
#7. Revocation // Netherheaven
#6. White Ward // False Light
#5. Soul Glo // Diaspora Problems
#4. Cult of Luna // The Long Road North
#3. Wormrot // Hiss
#2. Ashenspire // Hostile Architecture
#1. Birds in Row // Gris Klein – I am tired. The pickets, the marches, the bottomless uncertainty, everything about this strike has made me tired. Everything except the people around me; some few people who I love and know, thousands of people who I’ll never meet, and a small number of people I’ve learned to distrust. Gris Klein keeps me fighting. It’s a chuckle and a groan and a scream of frustration. Desperate but not yet defeated, Birds in Row’s hardcore has never been so jagged and phosphorescent, yet they’ve never seemed more honest, inviting, and inventive. From the harsh chimes of “Water Wings” to the mangled, chopped-up buzz of “Rodin,” every song is both a musical surprise and a raw outburst of anxiety, longing, and anger. Maybe the band are right; we already lost the world to the rich. But I have to believe what “Confettis” proposes; if we fight together, maybe we can win it back.

Honorable Mentions:

Chat Pile // God’s Country
Aeviterne // The Ailing Facade
Fit For an Autopsy // Oh What the Future Holds

Song of the Year: Birds in Row – “Water Wings”


Ferox

(ish) In Aphelion // Moribund
#10. Revocation // Netherheaven
#9. Phobophilic // Enveloping Absurdity
#8. Woods of Desolation // The Falling Tide
#7. Sedimentum // Suppuration Morphogénésiaque
#6. An Abstract Illusion // Woe
#5. Cosmic Putrefaction  // Crepuscular Dirge for the Blessed Ones
#4. Hath // All that was Promised
#3. Strigoi // Viscera
#2. Artificial Brain // Artificial Brain
#1. Immolation // Acts of God – I tried like heckfire not to make Acts of God the hotly anticipated Inaugural Ferox AotY. There are no Imaginary Cred Cred(it)s to be gained by picking Immolation in 2022, and, as the staff discussed list candidates, Acts of God emerged as the dread Consensus Choice. I kept waiting for the album that would impress me more than this one, that I’d have more fun listening to than this one, that I’d turn to as often as I did this one. It never emerged. Acts of God is a death metal masterpiece. Too long, you say? A masterpiece is never too long, nor does it end early. A masterpiece lasts precisely as long as it intends to. Immolation kicked off 2022 by offering us a cornucopia of sacrilegious delights. If the Universe didn’t want me to name it Album of the Year, the Universe should have gifted someone with the chops to do better.

Honorable Mentions:

Altars // Ascetic Reflection
Concilivm // A Monument in Darkness
Goatwhore // Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven
Gorotica // Morbid Menagerie
Sacrilegion // From Which Nightmares Crawl
Tishina // Uvod
Universally Estranged // Dimension of Deviant Clusters

Song o’the Year: Hath – “Kenosis”

Disappointment o’ the Year: Midnight // Let There Be Witchery


Maddog

#10. Defiatory // Apokalyps
#9. Dreadnought // The Endless
#8. Ultha // All That Has Never Been True
#7. Sylvaine // Nova
#6. Wormrot // Hiss
#5. Aeternam // Heir of the Rising Sun
#4. Gloson // The Rift
#3. Darkher // The Buried Storm
#2. Inexorum // Equinox Vigil
#1. LiveWire // Under Attack!Under Attack! is speed metal at its finest. LiveWire’s riffs are perfect, right from the Thundersteel-inspired banger that opens the record. The guitar solos are perfect, arming already-stellar tracks with dazzling climaxes. The drums are perfect, both providing thunderous accompaniment and unabashedly taking the wheel, like on SOTY contender “Insecticide.” Every song opens perfectly, like the in medias res introduction of “Solace in Escape” and the explosive beauty of “Midnight Sun.” And every song ends perfectly, with the pump fake finale of “A Cold Day in Hell” making me grin every time. The pacing is perfect, with 29 minutes of thriller and zero minutes of filler. Above all, the writing is perfect; LiveWire blends together a diverse array of moods and ideas, but every transition is immaculate. Under Attack! is timeless, not because it invents any new genres, but because it’s so goddamn electrifying that it recalibrated my standards for 2022 music. LiveWire has created a landmark in the history of speed metal. I’m excited to return to it in years to come.

Honorable Mentions:

Ashenspire // Hostile Architecture
Moonshade // As We Set the Skies Ablaze
Gaerea // Mirage
Idol of Fear // Trespasser
Revocation // Netherheaven
Brymir // Voices in the Sky
De Profundis // The Corruption of Virtue
Konvent // Call Down the Sun

Song o’ the Year: Gloson – “Cerberus IV (Exodus)”

Disappointment o’ the Year: RIP Trevor Strnad. There isn’t anyone among us whose favorite metal wasn’t touched by him, in one way or another. Metal will never be the same without him.


Thus Spoke

(ish) Verberis // Adumbration of the Veiled Logos
#10: Mass Worship // Portal Tombs
#9: Vital Spirit // Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind
#8: An Abstract Illusion // Woe
#7: Wake // Thought Form Descent
#6: Devenial Verdict // Ash Blind
#5: White Ward // False Light
#4: Kardashev // Liminal Rite
#3: Hath // All that was Promised
#2: Dream Unending // Song of Salvation
#1: Gaerea // Mirage – I knew this would rank highly the first time I heard it, but I didn’t expect it to creep up the list like it did. In its immediacy, elevated emotionality, and tighter songwriting, it draws together what makes Gaerea Gaerea into what is, in my opinion, their finest work yet. Naysayers who bemoan its compressed production are clearly not listening to their music loud enough; and anyway, the dense, full sound works exceptionally for music as emotionally and aurally intense as this. There simply wasn’t another album this year which gripped me like this one. As I wrote back in September, “Approaching even the sublime in its tragic beauty, it rages, dazzles, and engulfs.” This is no less true on my umpteenth listen as it was that very first time.

 

Honorable Mentions

Aeviterne – The Ailing Facade
Cavernlight – As I Cast Ruin Upon the Lens that Reveals my Every Flaw

Song o’ the Year: Worm – “Bluenothing”


Dolphin Whisperer

(ish) 40 Watt Sun // Perfect Light
#10. Turian // No Longer Human
#9. Sadist // Firescorched
#8. Hammers of Misfortune // Overtaker
#7. KEN mode // NULL
#6. Ashenspire // Hostile Architecture
#5. Dawnwalker // House of Sand
#4. Sunrise Patriot Motion // Black Fellflower Stream
#3. Messa // Close
#2. mizruirono_inu // TOKYO VIRUS LOVE STORY  
#1. OU // one – In a year where many bands put out comfortable albums that I’ve enjoyed, none have shaken me to my prog-addled, adventure-seeking core as intensely as OUߵs one. From the warping and whipping synth melodies to the boisterous and blown-out kick patterns to the otherworldly and outlandish vocal performance, every moment of one—a debut album—tackles a sonic palette equally as rich in excess as ambience. Their band name album name combo may be impossible to search, but luckily you, dear readers, have stumbled upon them at this fine institution for which I’ve spent about a year humbly serving, now. Long time reader, first-time writer, I never thought my brief tenure here would land me a treasure like OU, but here I am unabashedly proclaiming that I can’t stop listening to one—and neither should you.1

Honorable Mentions:

Devenial Verdict // Ash Blind
Massa Nera // Derramar | Querar | Borrar
The Offering // Seeing the Elephant
Red Rot // Mal de Vivre
Chat Pile // God’s Country
Wormrot // Hiss

Song o’ the Year: Ashenspire – “Plattenbau Persephone Praxis”

Disappointments ov the Year:

Deathwhite // Grey Everlasting
Venom Prison // Erebos


Itchymenace

#10. Chat Pile // God’s Country
#9. The Offering // Seeing The Elephant
#8. Zeal and Ardor // Zeal and Ardor
#7. Eternal Helcaraxe // Drown In Ash
#6. Firtan // Marter
#5. Disillusion // Ayam
#4. An Abstract Illusion // Woe
#3. High Command // Eclipse of the Dual Moons
#2. Praise the Sun // Proffer of Light
#1. Massive Wagons // Triggered – This is the album I most repeatedly returned to in 2022. The catchy hooks and arena anthems sounded good in the car, while biking and even at work. It’s a sort of sly revamp of the classic rock album with a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that both celebrates and satirizes its source material. As I mentioned in my TYMHM write-up, after so much prog and death metal this year, Massive Wagons felt like a breath of fresh and easy air that continued to grow on me. Triggered runs the gamut of emotions and styles: It’s stupid, it’s smart, it’s loud, it’s clever and, most of all – it’s fun. Treat yourself to a spin.

Honorable Mentions:
Spiritworld // DEATHWESTERN
The Otolith // Folium Limina
White Ward // False Light
Forlesen // Black Terrain

Song o’ the Year: The Halo Effect – “Days of The Lost”

Disappointment o’ the Year: The Halo EffectFive Days of The Lost. In 1999, In Flames was my favorite band. Like many fans, I’ve ridden the sad boi rollercoaster of their post-Clayman output. When The Halo Effect announced their album, I was quietly hopeful that there might be some lightening in the bottle. It never really clicked with me other than my (appropriately titled) song of the year, “Days of The Lost,” which, for three and a half minutes, transports me back to those warm sunny days of yore.


Crispy Hooligan

#10. Undeath // It’s Time to Rise from the Grave
#9. Strigoi // Viscera
#8. Hath // All That Was Promised
#7. Sonja // Loud Arriver
#6. Phobophilic // Enveloping Absurdity
#5. Grand Harvest // Consummatum Est
#4. Riot City // Electric Elite
#3. GGGOLDDD // This Shame Should Not Be Mine
#2. Ashenspire // Hostile Architecture
#1. Dream Unending // Song of Salvation – The second of two brilliant and blue death-doom albums to have wormed their way out late in the year, Dream Unending’s Song of Salvation immediately blew up my year-end list. Derrick Vella’s guitar playing has long been my favorite part of Tomb Mold, and with Dream Unending he can crank the atmosphere beyond the strictures of modern death-doom. The combination of moody leads and, yes, noir-ish trumpet is the ideal soundtrack for a bleak, urban winter. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling a downtown walk in the freezing rain and may be awhile.

Honorable Mentions:

Nite // Voices of the Kronian Moon
Darkthrone // Astral Fortress
Tómarúm // Ash in Realms of Stone Icons

Show 1 footnote

  1. This is literally the worst art I have ever seen. Why would you do this in your first-ever list? – AMG
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