D-Rock's Top 22 Albums of 2022
22. PVA - BLUSH
This is such a unique and infectious sound that I can't help listening to it over and over. Part EDM, part EBM, part industrial, part synth punk, and so much more. I can see how some people might be turned off by the vocals and I would definitely love more variety in the vocal performance but I think it lends a very cool aesthetic to the whole thing that you wouldn't necessarily get from a more dynamic vocal, which I think sets it apart. More than that, it's danceable and catchy but dark and abrasive and blends it all together beautifully.
21. Quadeca - I Didn't Mean to Haunt You
This one didn't really hit me right away but I kept thinking about it and wanting to replay it and really process everything that was going on and once I did I couldn't deny it a spot on my list. Art pop is such a challenging genre to do well because it's so easy to be derivative but it's also so easy to go WAY too far outside the box and the line between the two is pretty thin but when you find that line you can really make magic and this album toes that line really well.
20. Niños del Cerro - Suave Pendiente
Indie pop doesn't usually find its way into my wheelhouse but this is such an interesting and enjoyable blend of psychedelic flourishes and noisy moments and shoegaze elements and even some post-rock influences that is brought together wonderfully with the Chilean almost folk-like influences and a really infectious energy that it demanded multiple listens before it ultimately squeezed its way onto my list in a very stacked year for music.
19. Kali Malone - Living Torch
It's not that I don't like drone but I do tend to be very selective and usually have to be in the right mood for it. This record, however, immediately got my attention and I'm not sure I can fully explain why other than to say that Kali Malone is extremely good at drone music. What she does isn't flashy or particularly unique, it's just really fucking good drone with great textures, hauntingly beautiful chord structures, and a fantastic sense of atmosphere and tone.
18. City of Caterpillar - Mystic Sisters
Nearly twenty years after their last full-length, post-hardcore pioneers City of Caterpillar return with a monster effort that picks up right where they left off. After a few years of reunion shows and a recorded single of "Driving Spain Up a Wall," the fabled epic that was previously only available as a low quality live fan recording, the band returns to form as if they'd never left, unleashing their trademark brand of incendiary, epic, post-rock infused post-hardcore, only now with an extra twenty years of songwriting maturation and evolution making this arguably their best effort yet.
17. Cult of Luna - The Long Road North
Three things you can count on in this life: death, taxes, and Cult of Luna consistently putting out super epic, super dark masterpieces. It's almost become boring at this point though not necessarily in a bad way. They don't usually tread particularly new territory although they do evolve with each release but they know who they are and they have a thoroughly unique sound that they've worked two decades to hone so I'm definitely not complaining about another one of these beasts.
16. Backxwash - His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering
My trans queen of horrorcore industrial hip hop has returned with another vicious slab of noise that will inevitably get lost among the mountain of excellent hip hop albums released in 2022. With this album she really leans into the horrorcore aspect of what she does, especially the "-core" as her vocals seem to have become even more aggressive since last year's "I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses" and her anger more ferocious and palpable. There's also a much more distinct industrial thread running through the record that really ties it all together wonderfully.
15. Asunojokei [明日の叙景] - アイランド (Island)
I'm not usually one for blackgaze but for some reason I really love the way this album combines the atmosphere of black metal with the textures of shoegaze and melds the tone of both so effortlessly and so seamlessly to create an experience that captures the unsettling mood of black metal and the soothing but epic mood of shoegaze into a singular sound that is so undeniably listenable.
14. Sigh - Shiki
Japanese avant-garde metal pioneers Sigh have returned with quite possibly their best album since 2001's landmark album "Imaginary Sonicscape." Once again blending elements of black and doom metal with dynamic electronic music and a vast array of other flavors and textures, the band has once again create another boundary-pushing, genre-defying masterpiece. The songwriting is as tight as it's ever been, never sacrificing heaviness for creativity while crafting some of the most memorable and interesting melodies the band has ever created for an experience unlike anything you'll hear this year.
13. Hatchie - Giving the World Away
I've been seeing quite a bit of hype around the new Alvvays record lately and while I enjoyed that one, it never really caught my ear the way this one did. This record is just so much more memorable and fun to my ears. It's not necessarily anything fancy but it is infectious and enjoyable and the songwriting is simple, no frills and really showcases Hatchie's great pipes and fantastic melodies that will stick in your head for days.
12. Ada Rook - UGLY DEATH NO REDEMPTION ANGEL CURSE I LOVE YOU
As sad as I am about the end of Black Dresses, it's no small consolation that Ada Rook continues to do magical things for her part and this might be my favorite of everything she's done. This infectiously aggressive blend of industrial, techno, and glitch pop (with an irreverent sense of humor) is as ferocious as it is catchy and danceable and has become my favorite album to work out to.
11. death's dynamic shroud - Darklife
What a journey this is! I'm not necessarily a big vaporwave fan but this record is such an incredibly dynamic and multifaceted rollercoaster ride through seemingly every genre of electronic music in existence. The creativity and inventiveness here is seemingly as boundless as the emotional range and the pacing of the songwriting is so unpredictable and yet so meticulous that you really feel the overwhelming sense of being in the hands of true masters of their craft.
10. Slipknot - The End, So Far
YEAH THAT'S RIGHT I HAVE SLIPKNOT IN MY TOP TEN WANNA FIGHT ABOUT IT? I know people may look down on this band but I don't give a shit, this is one of the best metal bands around and they continue to evolve and hone the sophistication of their songwriting. This album sees them delving deeper into a diversity of styles and particularly pop influences than ever while still never losing their edge and their ability to craft some of the heaviest riffs and most intense songwriting in metal.
9. Messa - Close
This is one of the more interesting doom metal records I've ever heard and perhaps the most interesting aspect is how simple it is while being wholly unique. Just fantastic songwriting that nails the atmosphere but the guitar work really sets it apart. Even then the star of the show undoubtedly is Sara's vocals which are otherworldly and really more than any other aspect give the music an almost ritualistic feel which I absolutely love.
8. Blind Guardian - The God Machine
Blind Guardian is another band you can always count on to just do what they do and here they've unleashed one of their best albums in years. The songwriting is on par with some of their best work--maybe not quite on the level of "Nightfall in Middle-Earth" but definitely in the same neighborhood as "Imaginations from the Other Side" and quite possibly their best album aside from those two--the instrumentation is characteristically inhumanly crisp, and Hansi's vocal performances seem to almost get better and better over time. Phenomenal effort from one of the greatest metal bands of all time.
7. The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention
Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood are at it yet again! In fact, this might be the best record these two have made since Radiohead's 2007 instant classic "In Rainbows." It just combines the influences of both guys (which are the lion's share of Radiohead's influences as well) so much better and so much more interestingly (and, dare I say, is simply more inspired) than Radiohead's last two albums. It does feel in many ways like a new Radiohead record but I can't think of very many higher compliments than that.
6. Natalia Lafourcade - De Todas las Flores
On first listen, I didn't even have this in my top 22 but after a couple more listens I could not be more impressed by Natalia Lafourcade's evolution and maturation. I always liked "Un Canto Por Mexico" Vol. 1 a lot more than Vol. 2 because of the diversity and vibrancy of it and I didn't immediately get that from "De Todas las Flores" because it's so much more subtle and delicate here and it really shows a new level of sophistication in Natalia's songwriting. I just can't speak highly enough of it and I can't wait to see what she does next.
5. Imperial Triumphant - Spirit of Ecstacy
Hands down one of the most unique and creative bands in metal today. Picking up right where they left off with 2020's "Alphaville," on "Spirit of Ecstacy," Imperial Triumphant again blends avant-garde metal and avant-garde jazz so seamlessly as to almost create a new genre of their own. It's weird, it's challenging, it's dense, it's not for the faint of heart, but most of all it's just stunningly beautiful music.
4. Artificial Brain - Artificial Brain
I only discovered Artificial Brain earlier this year but I immediately fell in love with "Infrared Horizon" and especially "Labyrinth Constellation." This one blows those two away. I didn't even think that was possible but it seems there is a new dissodeath (dissonant death metal) sheriff in town who takes no shit or prisoners. Melodic and epic in its dissonance with some truly creative ideas and impressive songwriting and pitch perfect production for the style--clear enough to hear everything but still raw enough to capture the overwhelmingly dark and desolate tone of the art form.
3. Aeviterne - The Ailing Facade
This might be the most surprising album of 2022. Relative newcomers Aeviterne (ex-Flourishing) have unleashed a debut that should by all rights put them on the map as a creative force in extreme metal for years to come. This is so unique and creative. Brutal and atmospheric. Avant-garde and simple. Beautiful and ugly. Quite possibly the most crushing record I've heard since Celtic Frost's monstrous 2006 opus "Monotheist." This is without a doubt a band to watch in the years to come.
2. Immolation - Acts of God
Death metal kings Immolation return with one of their best efforts in years and quite possibly one of the most laser-focused and self-assured efforts of their illustrious career. Deftly combining the all out assault of their early years with the dissonance and density of their turn-of-the-century albums, "Acts of God" sees Immolation crystalizing their sound in a way that no album they've ever done has and absolutely sits comfortably beside the band's best work.
1. Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
If your top albums of 2022 doesn't include this, it is simply invalid. This isn't just the best album of 2022, it's one of the best of the 21st century. British post-punk renegades Black Country, New Road destroy the sophomore slump with this fascinating departure from last year's brilliant "For the First Time," blending elements of post-rock and chamber pop into an intricate and undeniably memorable record filled with goosebump-inducing moments and startlingly original songwriting. This has to be heard to be believed.
Imperial Circus Dead Decadence - 殯――死へ耽る想いは戮辱すら喰らい、彼方の生を愛する為に命を讃える――。
Insane Japanese power-metal-meets-death-metal, this is an EXPERIENCE.