TOP ALBUMS OV 2022 W/ ROLDERATHIS, JOE THRASHNKILL, AND SPEAR!
Latrina rubens, my porcelain posse. Today is LISTMANIA 2K22 Day 5: your wishlist turgid, your noggin swirlied with siqq picks, you conjure a spell to preserve its possessor against attacks from pee that is in the toilet water. But it is all in vain. Rolderathis, Joe Thrashnkill, and Spear are here to flush the year with this final set of lists (lolwink).
2022 was a great (and later, terrible) year for me. It started with soaring, and ended with broken wings and dirt. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of new music, and I’ve never been so far behind on current metal releases. That being said, even thought I was largely absent this year, I always find my way back to my nest. Thanks are in order to all our contributors, commenters, and lurkers for another year of TovH. Keep up the good flush.
Void Dancer – Prone Burial
When it comes to design, I’m with Gaston: Use antlers in all of it. Prone Burial initially lured me in with its biological aesthetic (similar to PNW pals Neck of the Woods and Truent), but it’s the deft mix of beauty and ferocity that ensnared me. From delicate acoustic passages to quasi-blasts and breakdowns, the album reflects the great diversity (of forms; of climes) found in nature. There’s an enchanted forest aura to tracks like “Blood on the Rung” and “To Sleep Astray”—borne of elegiac singing and sinister melodies—that evokes Danny Elfman‘s works.
Void Dancer’s melodramatic metalcore is at once sentimental and visionary; whimsical and brutal. With a sound this fresh, they’ll be racking up fans in no time.
Spiral Skies – Death Is But A Door
Scooby-doom bands are a dimebag a dozen, and every time you pull off a frontperson’s mask, they end up being some guy named Tobias Forge. Not so with Spiral Skies: If you look under their hoods, you’ll find nothing but grinning enamel. Death Is But A Door is packed with occult themes and ’60s-’70s rock influences, but never loses its identity in the haze of nostalgia.
Frida Eurenius’ vocals form the backbone of these songs; her singing drifts like smoke at its most delicate (“Time”), and shines when she belts it out on heavier tracks (“Heart of Darkness”). “Into the Night” channels Heart and Priest with its proto-metal riffing, and “Mirage” flies high with Jefferson Airplane psychedelics, but it’s the band’s knack for melding these sounds into convincing songs that sets them apart from their kin.
Ashenspire – Hostile Architecture
I first laid eyes on hostile architecture in the shape of stone spikes jutting from the surface of a wall: ugly, sharp, concrete in its purpose. Ashenspire’s music can be described with the same words, though its intention is inverted; instead of sweeping problems (and people) under the rug, the band’s avant-garde black metal shines a light on the plight of the urban unhoused.
Hostile Architecture is a musical metropolis, a melting pot of genres formed from the ideas of many. It’s a din of brass and breathless screeds; an overload of the senses. Whether pensive or punishing, these tracks hum with nervous energy, as if the whole thing could come crashing down in an instant. But that’s impossible—surely we can grow in perpetuity, with no one left in the margins?
Darkest Era – Wither on the Vine
Candlelight Records | Mini
Musical tastes can change drastically in a decade; for this reason, I was initially hesitant to hear the latest from Darkest Era. Being a huge fan of their 2nd LP, Severance (2014), the hype train was all but guaranteed to crash into a wall of disappointment. I should’ve had more faith in these conductors—they were merely hibernating, growing until they were confident in their latest vision.
Wither on the Vine is that rare album where my favorite track changes regularly, even months after release. From midtempo dirges (“The Collapse”) to blasty, melodic black metal (“A Path Made of Roots”), there’s exquisite songwriting on display, and myriad details to pluck with each listen. No sour grapes here—this album is more than I hoped it could be.
Tuskar – Matriarch
Church Road Records
Sludge isn’t a genre I usually explore, but when our own Iron Goddess of Mercy recommended Matriarch, I was fascinated by the sheer weight of the album. While some bands use the production of their albums as a tool to accentuate certain players or aesthetics, Tuskar’s sound (at their heaviest) is akin to an Acme anvil falling out of the sky and braining you; it’s almost a physical instrument alongside the strings and percussion.
After being conked by the 12-minute opener, we’re visited by the spirit of the Mastodonian past with “To the Sky” (heaviest blastbeats ever award?) and “Into the Sea”, tracks that dig into memory with their jangly, open-string riffs. Matriarch‘s strongest points, however, are the delicate moments woven between the bludgeoning: The breezy, delicate “The Trees, The Trees, The Trees” lifts listeners in the air and spreads their individual atoms on the wind.
Cloud Rat – Threshold
Cloud Rat’s style is as rare as their mammalian namesake: angular and accessible; progressive and wrinkle-wrecking; tender and utterly pissed. Threshold sees the band experiment further with genre cross-pollination, adding sludge and doom metal riffing to their repertoire. Pollinator‘s (2019) glossy production has been sanded down at the edges, favoring a raw, visceral sound that works wonders during the massive breakdown in “Aluminum Branches” and other moments of sonic pummeling.
Thankfully, this evolution has left their melodic heart intact—”12-22-09″ and “Kaleidoscope” revel in their wistful shoegazing; in turn, the surrounding songs become utter nightmares by comparison. Much like life itself, Cloud Rat walks a wire between beauty and bedlam that could snap at any second.
Dead Head – Slave Driver
Thrash metal has never been the most synesthetic genre for me—hearing its riff-focused songs does little more than paint PBR cans or a floating electric chair (if anything) behind my eyelids. Dead Head’s Slave Driver is a different beast, utilizing a slew of tempos, moods, and techniques to transport us to distant times and places. (None of them are particularly pleasant, as you would assume.)
Ralph de Boer’s phlegmy rasp is our tour guide to a haunted world: “Southfork” explores the Californian oil fields of There Will Be Blood with rambunctious Kill ‘Em All-era riffs that drip crude oil and arrogance, and “Drawn Into the Wire” drops us into the intermittent chaos of WWI’s Western Front. A nervous energy permeates the mid-paced intro as soldiers peek above trenches under a slate-grey sky. As a barrage begins, the death-thrash elements take over with tank-tread grooves and blasting artillery, ramping up the intensity until the track implodes with a dual-divebomb lead. Or is this the cacophony of shells falling to earth amidst the wailing wounded?
Corpsessed – Succumb to Rot
Dark Descent Records
Note from the Office of Forensic Evaluations:
The first sign of trouble was the effluvium—neighbors later recalled a mixture of cloying sweetness and buzzing flies. 8 songs, in varying stages of decay, were eventually removed from the property. Purulence and bloating (rifor mortis) seen in the guitars suggests time of death as the late ’80s, most likely in a humid climate such as that favored by Morbid Angel. Autopsy revealed healthy percussion and bass tissues, along with the presence of deep grooves in the musculature.
Anomalous findings: lesions detected in larynx of front-man Niko Matilainen consistent with those of Vastum‘s Shelby Lermo, implying similar occupation. Perversely, one cadaver housed an entire Korg keyboard, inserted through a large incision in the abdomen and stitched using Ernie Ball nickel-wound Slinkys. Case study is complete, but with the perpetrator(s) of these crimes still at large, similar scenes are likely to occur in the years to come.
Wormrot – Hiss
Earache Records | Riff Raff
Ahh, Wormrot, the grindcore GOATs with the goat. Hiss is an apt title for their latest album—the sound of an arterial spray of songlets leaving the body. It doesn’t take long for the record to bleed out, but the band makes each minute matter, blurting new ideas and memories in a race against decency (and death, I suppose).
A spattering of vocal styles, including baritone cleans and gang shouts amidst the shrieks, goes a
long short way towards memorability, as do the veins of melody running just below the album’s surface. Jagged, single-coil riffing (reminiscent of Beaten to Death) and experiments with noise (both digital and analog) add depth and texture to Hiss that’s sorely missing from lesser grind. Did I mention the drummer goes fast and also fast?
Marina Herlop – Pripyat
Like the gastropod gal on its artwork, Pripyat is a collection of parts so strange, so specialized, that it must’ve been the product of evolution. The record ventures far from Herlop’s origins as a classical pianist, incorporating a shell of glitchy, brutal percussion that guards the soft flesh of her voice. On first listen, it was a deeply uncomfortable experience—replete with wordless vocables and abrasive synths—but its alien nature called me to explore further.
The dense layers of vocals and studio effects allow Herlop to leave behind the realm of physical possibility; how else could a piano ripple like water (“abans abans”), or a woman become a flock of pigeons (“shaolin mantis”)? These peculiar choices and sounds help each note burrow into memory; a single inhaled breath can carry the weight of an entire riff when this level of creativity is involved. Every moment of Pripyat‘s runtime tickles my bird brain in ways I hardly understand, so I must beseech you: don’t be sluggish, give it a listen now.
As of the publication of this end-of-year list, I am done with school. With the acquisition of another degree, I can once again turn my attention to the serious business of making fun of heavy metal musicians. But before I start penning 4000 word missives about the genius of Bob Macabre, let me first share my 10 favorite releases of 2022. The following records are listed in no particular order and include demos and EPs alongside full-lengths because none of this matters that much so don’t get on my ass about it.
If I were a betting man (and I am, let’s get some action on this shit right now), I would bet you that Seraphic Punishment is just about the catchiest dang death metal record you’re bound to hear this year. No wheels are being reinvented here and no great strides are being made to advance the genre beyond the core tenets of what death metal fans love: bitchin’ chug riffs and guttural sickness. Big ups to Fargo, ND for Maul.
Listen to: “Seraphic Punishment” and “Repulsive Intruder”
Melissa Moore has to be one of the most talented musicians in metal. Going from Rumpelstiltskin Grinder to Crossspitter and now Sonja is a pretty fuckin’ excellent run. With Loud Arriver, Sonja conjures a sound between trad metal and goth to explore sex, violence, gender, oppression, and revenge. Loud Arriver is easily one of the best records of the year. If they keep it up this band is gonna fuck around and get huge.
Killer song alert: Wanting Me Dead
Bill Orcutt helped blaze a trail for transgressive music in the 80s with Harry Pussy and in the decades since he has continued to create art that ranges from the absurd to the sublime (or sometimes both). Music for Four Guitars is exactly what it says on the label. Bill multitracks his guitar and stitches the sketches together into beautiful little messes. If you like the Glenn Branca Ensemble, Steve Reich, or the sound of a really fucking great guitar tone, you ought to check this out.
Listen to: the whole thing
When Devil Master put out their first demo in 2015 I thought, “dang this band rules lol”. When Devil Master put out Ecstasies of Neverending Night in 2022 I thought, “dang this band rules lol”. At no point between those two periods did I imagine they would be so successful they would open up multiple dates for My Chemical Romance. Perhaps it is the black metal punks that shall inherit this earth.
Vibe central alert: Abyss in Vision
I’m not sure how I came across Through the Prism of Flesh, a guitar-driven harsh industrial record from August Skipper, an artist that seems to primarily work in the medium of avant-garde EDM. If you are familiar with Antonin Artaud, which I am not, or the principles of gnosticism, which I am also not, you’ll likely find much to dig into with this record. If you are, like me, a knuckledragger that likes ugly music with hideous guitars, you will also find much to enjoy here.
Extremely recommended cut: Drug Takes Effect
I loved A Wilhelm Scream when I was a teenager and I suppose I still do. The years have been kind to their progressive skate punk. Everything I loved 15 years ago is here in spades: razor-tight riffs, three-part harmonies, bass solos, and a world-weary sense of humor that feels brutally earned. I went out to see these guys on a school night this summer and was extremely pleased to see that every member of this band is now hotter than they were all those years ago. Maybe aging isn’t all that bad.
Maybe my favorite song of the year: GIMMETHESHAKES
Ancient Death is officially on notice. If Sacred Vessel wasn’t my favorite death doom release of 2022 I would send it over to my esteemed colleague 365 Days of Horror who would promptly craft a series of jokes about their awful cover art and publish it on this website. But it rips so I won’t. At just over 26 minutes, this EP covers a ton of ground. Alongside the incredibly satisfying guitar work and the appropriately reverb-laden drums and vox, this crew clearly has a talent for songwriting as they deftly weave in and out of tempos and dynamics while guiding the listener through a most excellent vision of hell.
Highly recommended: “Voice Spores”
Dreamkiller was my most anticipated record of the year. For six long years I’ve been waiting for the follow up to their righteous self-titled debut, hoping for new tracks like “The Seventh Seal” to get me fist pumping and pelvic thrusting. Dreamkiller is not quite that record. With the replacement of Phil Swanson on vocals with Brendan Radigan, the music has shifted from a retro-styled yet progressive take on hard rock to a sound more reminiscent of 80s AOR filtered through Ozzy‘s “Shot In the Dark.” Fortunately, the guitars still go harder than fuck so this one’s a winner in my book.
Choice cut: Force of the Storm
God bless the Internet. Without it, I can’t imagine how a group of Belarusian kids would find both raw black metal and rough-hewn 90s emo and then think to combine them. Hell, they even named a track on this record Moss Icon, presumably after the first-wave post hardcore originators. And it’s good! Karyta Dzieda Platona is a demo that showcases a young band well on their way to refining their sound into something unique. Big things coming?
Recommended: “Moss Icon”, “Blood and Slobber”
After the death of Wade Allison, there’s been a gaping hole in the heart of hardcore with affection for pulp fantasy. Ninth Realm seem to grasp the need for crossover that crosses swords and so deliver a record that will please any Iron Age fan with A Fate Unbroken. If you’re looking to headbang to tales of might and magic or crowdkill your D&D party, you are straight posing unless you’re hip to Ninth Realm.
Fight an elf to: Witch’s Choir
Joe’s Jammable Mentions:
Sunrise Patriot Motion – Black Fellflower Stream
Erupt – Left to Rot
Spider God – Fly in the Trap
Agriculture – The Circle Chant
Brutus – Unison Life
Trucido – A Collection of Self Destruction
Effluence – Liquified
Adzes/Putrescine – Split
L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation – W.A.R. In The Digital Realm
Entirely too much music came out this year, and I somehow managed to listen to a lot less of it than I wanted. I imagine many of you find yourselves in the same situation, and as such, I’ve made an effort to diversify the things appearing on our lists: all but one of my entries here haven’t been featured on other Toilet top 10’s. Not sure that there are really a ton of deep cuts this time around, but hopefully a couple of these will click with you. Some cuts had to be made for either already being on someone else’s list, others because I didn’t spend as much time with them as I would have liked. With apologies to Allegaeon, Ataraxy, Dischordia, Inexorum, Toxik, Tyrannus, Veilburner, and Without Waves:
An Abstract Illusion got entirely too little acclaim around these parts, and I’m here to rectify that. Woe gets me excited in the same way that Black Crown Initiate’s debut EP did for much the same reason: it’s a painstakingly crafted work of prog metal, beautiful and heartfelt as much as it’s impressive to listen to. Its songs are long as hell, but there’s not a wasted minute among them; it feels complete, a full realization of an idea that could only be expressed as such. You do yourself a disservice if you don’t listen to this at least once.
I was still but a small doom boi when Absconditus came out and thus didn’t really have Assumption on my radar until this year. I was summarily bowled over when Hadean Tides rolled in, entirely unprepared for an album that really takes the “doom” moniker to heart. Every aspect of it is downright apocalyptic, a ceaseless churn of slowly encroaching dread, ferocious low-tuned riffing, and the eminently weird (“Triptych” in particular is bizarre and fascinating). Hadean Tides was a standout in a year full of great doom releases.
I’d never really engaged with Bloodbath on anything more than a superficial level before- “Eaten” and “Weak Aside” are the only songs from their discography that had stuck with me past initial listens- but holy hot damn did this new one do it for me. In true Bloodbath fashion, it does literally nothing new or experimental with the genre, but it’s just so loaded with hooks that you can’t help but get caught by it. Song for song, I feel confident in saying this is their best album to date: it’s over the top and silly, the guest spots are great, and it’s catchy as all hell. Nothing but fun to be had here.
Hath – All That Was Promised
Willowtip | Review
All I really need to say here is “that pinch harmonic in ‘Kenosis‘” and my case for this being on the top 10 for the year is made, but that would be doing a disservice to the other eight songs on the album. Nobody does big, bleak death metal quite like Hath, from those hazy, ringing chords to the dismal lyrics (which are entirely impenetrable to my dumb ass, but they sound cool as hell when bellowed over BIG RIFF). I’m still in love with the way this album sounds from a pure textural standpoint, too; getting that distortion to sound that full and balanced is a damn miracle. This may as well have been written and engineered with my specific taste in mind, and it’s a success at every level.
Silhouettes of Horror dropped early this year and quickly became one of my go-to albums for whenever I wasn’t sure what to put on. It’s an album that feels quintessentially “metal” to me, bearing all the traits that got me into the genre in the first place, distilled to their purest form and injected in perfectly measured doses. It’s riffs on riffs on riffs with tons of flashy shreds, a driving rhythm section, and some wild vocals. You’ve also got to respect them for being one of the only bands out there to put out a metal cover of a pop song that actually fucking rules.
Oceans of Slumber – Starlight and Ash
Century Media | Review
Oceans of Slumber have been working overtime cranking out banger after banger the past few years, and this year’s offering is no exception. I really like the direction they took on Starlight and Ash, imbuing their sound with some extra twang and adding new facets to their already unique identity in the metal world. Not only does this make the album achingly beautiful, but it also makes it the perfect soundtrack for a grim retreat from yet another no-name town in the dusty wilderness as the scent of brimstone fills your nostrils and you hear the braying of hellhounds on your trail again.
Parius – The Signal Heard Throughout Space
Willowtip | Review
Despite my best efforts to not have any crossover with other writers’ lists this year, I couldn’t bring myself to pull this one. Parius took a huge gamble with this record, not only dropping the majority of their death metal trappings but putting out a space opera epic. It’s the sort of thing that should have failed on paper, but it’s honestly astounding how well they pulled it off. The time and effort they put in shines through in every aspect of this album, and it’s one of the best things to grace my ears all year.
David son of David is my personal god, and Netherheaven is the altar at which I worship. To be able to one-up themselves with each release, to consistently impress and surprise me by approaching their music in new ways is a rare thing, but Revocation does it every time. The melodies on this are like little else, and the lyrics are some of the band’s best narratives to date. It’s equal parts diabolical and flashy, but it still parties hard, and I love it for that.
Few tech death bands can deliver such a relentless beating as Soreption while simultaneously showing off this level of technical proficiency. They don’t draw you in with melody so much as infectious rhythm and filthy grooves, and Jord is no exception. No matter how spidery a riff, no matter how fast they go, they remain extremely listenable; see how long you can listen to this without at least nodding your head along with it. They remain one of my favorite acts, and Jord only solidifies their position among the greats as far as I’m concerned.
“Necrobionics” was my most listened-to song of the year by a pretty wide margin, and for good reason: it is the perfect death metal song on the perfect death metal album. What could possibly be better than puking out lyrics about getting turned into an undead superweapon over one of the best dumb-guy guitar lines ever to emerge from a fretboard? Nothing, that’s what. Not to say that the rest of the album is any less perfect; it’s a remarkably efficient braincell killing machine, a great soundtrack for charging headfirst through drywall and eating the debris.