Nine Circles ov…Albums We Didn’t Get To in 2022

It happens like it does every year: things fall through the cracks, promos don’t arrive, or we simply didn’t have the capacity to cover everything we want to cover, let alone everything that comes out in a calendar year. At this point folks are finalizing end of year lists and maybe – just maybe – some of these records will be represented on them, and so some accounting was in order. Or it could just be that we needed some content this week, so I went through my folder of 2022 music and picked nine albums to briefly opine on for this latest edition of Nine Circles ov…

You decide.

Acephalix - Theothanatology

Back in September we spoke to bassist Erika Osterhout of Acephalix about their crushing new album, and I definitely spoke about how much I dug their previous album when it came to the best of 2017, but somehow an actual review of Theothanatology escaped us. The skinny? More great old school death metal that doesn’t settle for imitation, gets scuzzy when it needs to, and has some of my death metal vocal blending this side of the theothanatological plane. I’m partial to “Godheads” but take your pick of this vicious slab.

blind illusion - wrath of the gods

If you were a metalhead in the 80s the Combat label was essential when it came to checking out some fist pumping heavy metal, particularly of the thrash variety. And maybe you checked out Blind Illusion and their debut The Sane Asylum, and wondered who those cats Larry LaLonde and Les Claypool were and if they would ever make something of themselves. That was it for over 20 years, but main driver Marc Biedermann reformed the band for 2010’s Demon Master, and now they’re back again with Wrath of the Gods. This is classic metal, technical and thrashy and content to just riff you into the atmosphere and drop you back to Earth on your head. Sometimes that’s just what you need. Check out opening track “Straight As the Crow Flies” for proof.

candlemas - sweet evil sun

Damn, that tone! Candlemass are back, and they’ve got Johan Langquist back on vocals. I make no bones about the fact that great as the band are, for me Epicus Doomicus Metallicus remains the high water mark, and on Sweet Evil Sun Langquist’s voice paired with Lief Edling’s thunderous bass and wicked songwriting are bringing some of that magic back on tracks like opener “Wizard of the Vortex” and “When Death Sighs.” Candlemass have always been a reliable band for killer songs, but they haven’t sounded this alive in a decade.

conjurer - pathos

Honestly, I have no idea why no one jumped on covering the sophomore full length from the UK’s Conjurer, myself included. Debut Mire was a bludgeon of riffs and intensity, and the move to Nuclear Blast if anything made their output even angrier. Páthos is a deeper, darker album that invites no accessibility with the move to a larger label: tracks like the hideous opener “It Dwells” seeks to destroy you instantly. If I have any criticism it’s that months later I still haven’t gotten completely inside the album yet – there’s a certain challenge in the songwriting that I think is entirely intentional; the growth of the band is startling and I expect this will be a record I keep coming back to, finding new avenues and corners that beg further exploration.

Immolation - Acts of God

Back when I wrote up my mid-year report I vacillated between Undeath and Immolation for my favorite death metal album so far, and I wound up going with Undeath. But man, do NOT count Immolation out: their latest Acts of God is absolutely ferocious, the high they kicked off with 2017’s Atonement continues with the title, “The Age of No Light” and the late album siren of “Incineration Procession” as just a few reasons Immolation have remained a consistent force in death metal for decades. Able to simultaneously sound classic and forward thinking is no easy feat, but the Yonkers band proves it over and over again, and by now I’m convinced Ross Dolan’s vocal cords are crafted out of concrete and rebar.

judicator - the majesty of decay

If you had told me at the beginning of the year that I wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to review the latest from Judicator I would be aghast. And yet here we are, the album already out and my thoughts are, well…I’m not sure. The Majesty of Decay is their first release without Alicia Cordisco on guitars or songwriting and so far I’m missing the complexity and aggression previous releases like The Last Emperor or Let There Be Nothing provided me. I’m still not sure of the funky horn section that opens “The High Priestess” but I’ll also note that – unsurprisingly – vocalist John Yelland sounds fantastic. I like when bands step out of their comfort zone so I’m going to keep listening and see where I land, and I’d encourage you to do the same.

mantar - pain is forever and this is the end

Who put all the rock and roll in my Mantar? I like it – I was not expecting anything close to this direction based on my last go-round with the band, which might be 2017’s The Spell EP? If I heard The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze I forgot, but based on Pain Is Forever and This Is The End I may need to rectify that. The German duo has the same vicious black and roll vibe from latter day Satyricon filtered through To Ride Shoot Straight and Tell the Truth-era Entombed. Opener “Egoisto” is everything I love about the sound, big dumb drums and crunchy guitars that sound straight out of 1982. “Grim Reaping” reaches for some classic heavy metal and nails it. The more I listen the more this thing moves up my end of year list.

Revocation - Netherheaven

I’ve been on a “take it or leave it” approach with Revocation ever since Chaos of Forms from 2011. There’s no denying Dave Davidson is a monster guitar player, but the songs themselves took on a sameness that left my attention wandering. Not so with Netherheaven, which comes bursting out of the gate with the 1-2 punch of “Diabolical Majesty” and “Lessons in Occult Theft.” The brutality and the prog never overwhelm each other, and the production has a beefiness that, well, led me to using the word “beefiness” in a review, which is a first for me.

spiritworld - deathwestern

If there’s an album that’s taken some of the 9C staff by storm (well, really just Fearless Editor™ Josh and I) it’s the sophmore release by Spiritworld. Yes, there is a ton of Slayer DNA in the riffs that are all over Deathwestern, but as their insane videos and tracks like “Relic of Damnation” and the western hardcore weirdness of “The Heretic Butcher” not to mention the glorious title track all point to a fast favorite I’ll be blasting well into the new year.

We’re getting close to the end of the year, so sound off in the comments if there’s anything we need to hear before the lists start popping out like blemishes at prom.

– Chris

2 thoughts on “Nine Circles ov…Albums We Didn’t Get To in 2022

  1. scioc December 1, 2022 / 5:19 am

    I strongly suggest to give a listen to “Born From Fire” by Induction and I bet that such a record will find a spot in your end-of-the-year list!

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