Best of 2022: Ian’s Picks

Best of 2022

And so we’ve arrived at the big one, all preambles aside and sufficiently digested.  These are the albums that stuck with me the most throughout 2022, and all of them hold their own special place in my heart, no matter what spot they occupy.  I would say this list is somewhat in order.  The top three are definitely the top three, although overall order is somewhat subjective and highly dependent on what I most recently listened to out of these picks, but rest assured that they are all superior examples of the music that came out over the previous twelve months.  We had no shortage of great albums, and 2023 is already looking to be another year of great releases.  So as we say goodbye to 2022 and look forward to the bright future, let’s take a look back on the best of the best, at least that I have found.

Inexorum – Equinox Vigil

Inexorum - Equinox Vigil

There are some albums that are on this list because of what they do to me emotionally.  Maybe there are one or two songs specifically that touch me, that move me, that make me feel new and exciting emotions.  Equinox Vigil, while being plenty emotional, is not on here because of that.  Equinox Vigil straight up whips from start to finish.  There is no filler here.  Every song goes balls to the walls from start to finish, killer riff and tasty solo after killer riff and tasty solo.  No frills, no nonsense, all bangers as far as the eye can see.

I straight up do not remember writing a review for this album, but I guess I did!  Check it out here, I sure will because I need to see what I wrote now!

Dream Unending – Song of Salvation

Dream Unending - Song of Salvation

I told myself after I blanked out on Tide Turns Eternal that I wouldn’t miss the next Dream Unending album, and I’m very glad that I didn’t.  Song of Salvation doubles down on Dream Unending’s unique take on death/doom/prog/I don’t even know what metal in a way that brings light and levity to a genre that can get stodgy and monochromatic if you don’t inject something fresh into it, and there is plenty that is certified fresh on Song of Salvation.  It might be impossible to predict what comes next for Dream Unending, but at this point, I’m along for the ride no matter what.

Vincent speaks, and so we listen.  See the full review for Song of Salvation hereAnd don’t forget to check out our most recent Album of the Month chat as well!

Imperial Triumphant – Spirit of Ecstasy

Imperial Triumphant - Spirit of Ecstasy

One might think that there is simply no more territory left to explore for the New York City trio, but the fact that they consistently prove everyone wrong every time they say that kind of automatically sets Spirit of Ecstasy up for success.  How they keep managing to push their sound even more than they already have and come up with plenty of fresh, new and wholly inventive ideas every single year after year is a mystery, but I think featuring the inimitable Kenny G as a guest might have something to do with why this album goes so goddamn hard.

You already know I jumped on this review the second it hit the planner.  Check out my full thoughts here, and listen to the roundtable discussion from July right here!

Bloodbath – “Survival of the Sickest

Bloodbath - Survival of the Sickest

It is no secret that I love Bloodbath.  Color me biased, but I have not listened to a Bloodbath album that I did not like, but I will agree that they are not all on the same level as each other.  Resurrection Through Carnage is one of the finest examples of death metal, period, but “Survival of the Sickest” might be closely closing in on my next favorite Bloodbath album after it.  This is an album where Old Nick and Co. let loose, let go a little and just had fun with what they do, and it shows.  We’re back to basics on this one, and I could not be more thrilled that this album is so much goofier and B-movie horror themed than their previous releases, great as they may be.

Chris had a lot more to say about “Survival of the Sickest”, so check his review out here!  And, of course, we almost unanimously voted this September’s Album of the Month, so do check that discussion out as well!

Woods of Desolation – The Falling Tide

Woods of Desolation - The Falling Tide

There is always one goddamn album that comes out in December that ruins my hard-laid plans for what my year end list looks like.  While I knew that there would be a new Woods of Desolation album coming out, I guess I still wasn’t prepared for how much I adore The Falling Tide.  Some albums hit you right exactly when you need them to, and I think The Falling Tide gave me everything I needed exactly when I needed it.  It is everything I was hoping a follow-up to As the Stars, as well as a Season of Mist debut, would be and more. 

My last review of 2022 was The Falling Tide, and I’m so glad that I jumped on it when I did. 

Tzompantli – Tlazcaltiliztli

Tzompantli - Tlazcaltiliztli

Here we find another example of an album that is on here, not because it breaks new ground or is poignant and moving, but because it is just a real fuckin’ good album.  I have not had this much fun listening to death metal in a long time, and Tlazcaltiliztli is a ridiculously fun album.  This is death metal for the simpletons, the cretins, the children who could not read good but didn’t really have an interest in doing anything else good either.  This is death metal that beats you around the face and head with a doorknob in a sock and you’ll go back to it time and time again for more.

Morrow – The Quiet Earth

I know I’ve waxed poetic about all my top picks before, except this one.  I don’t know what it is about The Quiet Earth that made me want to keep it close to my chest, but I think I wanted the element of surprise still left on my list, or maybe I just wanted this album all to myself.  Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise at all that I loved this album so deeply, but the fact of the matter is that I do.  This, as most things that Alex C.F. touches, sets the gold standard for crust punk and all that artistically minded heavy music can be capable of.  Listen to “To The Fold” and try not to punch a hole in the nearest wall to you.  Can’t be done.

Blackbraid – Blackbraid I

Blackbraid - Blackbraid I

Seemingly out of nowhere, this album ended up right at the top of my, as well as a lot of people’s, year end lists.  And for good reason.  This is vital black metal.  It is black metal with a huge amount of soul, while still capturing the aesthetics of what makes black metal great, all put together by one guy in the middle of the Adirondack mountains, completely independently.  If that isn’t the perfect encapsulation of the black metal spirit, I don’t know what is, but I do know that this project is not going to stay underground for long.  People are already taking notice, and this is only the beginning for a voice that black metal desperately needs amplified.

Saor – Origins

If Origins were just the title track alone, it would still be my album of the year.  There is no single moment in all the music I’ve listened to this year that moves me so deeply as the key change that begins the last half of that song.  Seriously, to tears, every time.  And that’s saying nothing of the tightly focused and much more diverse songwriting on display on tracks like “Call of the Carnyx” and “Beyond the Wall” that lean away from atmospheric black metal and into traditional metal and thrash.  Origins was an album that I knew I would love, because I love Saor, but this is an album that changed me when I listened to it, and for that it deserves the top spot.  If you never hear from me again, it’s because I’ve decided to fuck off and run naked through the highlands, as we were all meant to do.

You bet I grabbed this one too.  Read the full review here.

Mizmor – Wit’s End

mizmor wit's end

As always, I like to round things out with an EP, and for me, it doesn’t get much better than Mizmor’s Wit’s End.  Is it because it reminds me of the joys of finally getting to experience Roadburn, albeit at home?  Yes.  Is it because it perfectly deconstructs the various aspects of Mizmor’s sound and then builds them back up into something that is greater than the sum of its two fourteen-minute parts?  Yes and yes.  Is it because it is only one of several new Mizmor releases this year and I need to include at least one of them here?  Absolutely.  New Mizmor is always to be celebrated.

For a more in-depth look, check out Vince’s thorough examination right here!

There’s always something a little bittersweet about closing out the year with a list of awesome releases.  When listening to music is your hobby, and you like to be busy like I do, you find yourself working to keep up with all the new music coming out.  Don’t get me wrong: I don’t find what I do here tedious or chore-like in any way.  It’s been an honor and a privilege to be able to do this for three (?) years now, and I don’t plan on stopping or slowing down anytime soon.  I just know that next year is going to be busy with more new music, and these albums will probably have to go on the backburner in favor of keeping up with newer stuff.  Well, we have this list for posterity, and I assure you that these are albums that will stand the test of time.  As we are now in the new year, there will be plenty more awesome releases to fall in love with, but I won’t be forgetting these anytime soon.  Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you on the other side.

– Ian

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