IT IS TIME. With 2022 fully over, we are ready to discuss the albums we thought were the best of the best across all genres because, as we make evident with our name, everything is noise. But there’s some changes to our list this year that I – David, one of two editors-in-chief – would like to go over first.
When discussing the form our list will take throughout the year, nothing’s set in stone. We could very well change up the entire format or just tweak key elements to better represent us or provide a more favorable experience for us and/or you as a reader. This year, we opted to go with something more along the line of the latter after members of our team brought forth some concerns that our list could be more representative of the team as a whole.
If you remember how we formed the last few lists, me and Toni as editors-in-chief typically lead the process, asking ALL of our writers what albums they think are best throughout the year starting from around the midway point. With picks from the team, we fold in our own picks and build a list of stuff we think deserves recognition and sharing with y’all. In the past, we would guarantee AT LEAST one personal pick of a total five from every writer ending up on the list, though usually most of our writers were represented with two to four picks by virtue of overlap with other members.
That wasn’t enough for the team and, in retrospect, we should have realized that and offered up more of a flatter distribution among the team earlier. After all, me and Toni get into a lot of music throughout the year, but even we can’t – and won’t – claim to be the best representation of what good music is for our team. We don’t seek to speak solely on behalf of Everything Is Noise, because that’s not our mission and that’s not how collaboration works – this site only exists because of collaboration, therefore it must represent that. So I thank our team for being upfront with those issues, because I think it made for a more representative and quality list, and it was clearer that our team was more excited about participating in making the list and writing material for this article. For example: you’ll only see me write about 19 albums this time, which is markedly less than what I usually do. This list is much better for it.
The next big thing that changed with this year’s list, also at the suggestion of various members of the team, is that we unrank it. No number 75 album and therefore no number one album either – if it’s good, it should just be on the list, no preferential placement even if a majority of the team favors an album. Sounds good to us! We got rid of album review scores when we turned into Everything Is Noise because we didn’t wanna get caught up in arbitrarily assigning our thoughts a number that people will inevitably just scroll to the bottom to see and likely close the tab after. Now, to get the full breadth of our thoughts, you have to read the article. Even our summary ‘verdict’ statements that open up reviews are designed to tease more than spoil – a TL;DR for the spirit of the review, with the hope that you put away the DR part of that abbreviation and R it in full. You are allowed to keep the TL portion if you’re reading one of my reviews, though.
So, similarly, we just have 75 albums here that we – at least ONE of us – loved from 2022 and wrote about each one as if it were THE best album of the year because, technically, the argument could be made for any of these albums. That was the point. We also randomized the list’s order, so not even artists who decided to call themselves with an ‘A’ name would get preferential treatment. It’s chaos brought to order, without order; it is our top 75 albums of 2022. Enjoy, be sure to tell us what albums we missed in the comments, and thank you so much for another great year! Here’s to another.
Freddie Gibbs – $oul $old $eparately
September 30 // Warner Records
Andrew Tuttle – Fleeting Adventure
July 29 // Basin Rock
Andrew Tuttle made sure to not-so-subtly remind us that every album could do with a little more banjo with one of the most original ambient releases of the year. The aptly named Fleeting Adventure meanders its way through 7 well-crafted pieces, with an army of collaborators in support – from the recognisable picking of Steve Gunn to the emotive lap steel of Luke Schneider. Fleeting Adventure is the ambient / country crossover you didn’t realise you needed and more than warrants its inclusion on any AOTY list.
Retador – Retador
September 13 // xtreem music
Every genre seems to have one element that can make an act stand out and in the case of thrash metal, it’s attitude. Well, attitude and intensity. Spain’s Retador blew the doors off of 2022 with their self-titled debut and very quickly won the best thrash album of the year by simply doing it better than anyone else. Each track showcases scorched-to-hell vocals, memorable riffs, and enough swagger to put every other band in this space to shame. This album nails every single element of the genre. If there’s only one thrash metal album to listen to from this year, it’s Retador.
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyes, See Your Future
March 25 // Loma Vista Recordings
Few hip-hop artists have gained notoriety and skill at the same rate but Denzel Curry seems to be doing just that. After a great run of albums to his name, Curry has put forth his magnum opus that is equal parts self-reflection and self-actualization. With a set of great features that complement his style without overcrowding the tracklist, Melt My Eyez, See Your Future is a balanced album that showcases his flow diversity and is a window into Curry’s emotional soul and his creative mind. Diverse instrumentation underscores banger after banger which makes this album endlessly loopable.
Bøltorn – Dødsverk
August 4 // Tesco
Bøltorn’s Dødsverk is maybe noise on paper, but a thorough and fluent sonic experience when listened to. The trio, also featuring one Nordsvargr, put out a few full-lengths and an EP throughout the year, with Dødsverk being the most impactful of the bunch (even though each of them have their own unique characteristics and strong suits), and I found myself listening to it on repeat for days on end, and still do if I ’mistakenly’ put it on. There’s just something invoking and holistic in their approach to noise, power electronics, and whatever else, constituting of droning walls of varying racket, discernible samples, and intelligible vocals. All in all Dødsverk is probably what I’d pick as my favourite album of the year, with some day-to-day caveats left out of the equation.
Eat Your Own Head – Neck-Deep in the Blyth
May 20 // Drongo Records
Every year needs a kick-ass rock album – something which is dirty, groovy and heavy. Something which kicks ass, just dope-ass riffs, and tons of energy. London-based quartet Eat Your Own Head did us the courtesy of delivering that for us in 2022. Neck-Deep in the Blyth is exciting and fun and rough, and I enjoyed riding this album throughout the year.
Chat Pile – God’s Country
July 29 // The Flenser
Hailing from one of America’s uniquely terrible cesspools, Oklahoma, Chat Pile went the harrowing route when it comes to putting to tape the general state of things socially, economically, and politically. Grungy and crunchy with the heft of an elephant, this is noise rock that can’t be contained, calmed, or reasoned with. It’s downright scary and haunting at times, spearheaded by vocals that capture the internal rage-tinged breakdown we’ve all had at least a few times this year. I’m convinced God’s Country could radicalize the more naive and neutral among us – good.
Loyle Carner – Hugo
October 21 // EMI/Warp Music
With Yesterday’s Gone and Not Waving, But Drowning under his belt, Loyle Carner cemented his status as rap’s most intricate and mesmerizing storyteller with his beautiful new album Hugo. Personal stories which still feel like talking to a good friend in the middle of the night – it’s about life, love, reflection, yourself, and all the other folks.
Little Simz – NO THANK YOU
December 12 // Forever Living Originals/AWAL
Waiting until the year is really over has its benefits while getting your AOTY list together. That way, those late-year surprise releases can be considered – especially if you’re talking about a surprise release by UK queen of rap Little Simz. After the monumental Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, NO THANK YOU is much more low-key, sounding fresh yet relevant with a quirky, spontaneous, and energetic piece of hip hop.
Wormrot – Hiss
July 8 // Earache Records
Across 21 songs in 33 minutes, Wormrot deliver a grindcore assault for the history books. While retaining the Indonesian band’s trademark chaos and frenetic pacing, Hiss demonstrates a band really pushing the boundaries of their own sound and the genre. Full of blast beats, piercing and growling vocals, and speedy riffs, we’re also given balance with slower sections melodies and unexpected clean vocals that bring to mind Mike Patton which make this such an intriguing listen. If this is indeed Wormrot’s last album, they’re going out at the peak of their powers. The Wormrot goat must be delighted.
Wickerbird – The Sea Weaver
November 11 // Lost Tribe Sound
Folk, choirs, and atmospheres – it’s very easy to break down The Sea Weaver to its core components, and yet it has a magnetic pull that belies the superficial simplicity of its aesthetic. This is For Emma-era Bon Iver meets gospel; this is deep yellow fields meet boundless blue sky; this is so much more than my fitful human words could ever say. A gorgeous masterpiece by Wickerbird.
Brown Calvin – d i m e n s i o n // p e r s p e c t i v e
August 26 // APK Recordings
When considering many of the hidden gems and underrated albums of 2022, Brown Calvin’s remarkable interdimensional jazz-hop release d i m e n s i o n // p e r s p e c t i v e is a smooth, trippy, and wild record that deserves more recognition. The album, composed primarily of samples, synths, and galactic soundscapes, has a sense of flow to it that takes you on a journey like some kind of crazy DMT trip through space and time, yet appears to remain close to its influences with many afro-beat, smooth jazz, and Latin samples to give it that earthy feel.
White Ward – False Light
April 29 // Debemur Morti Productions
Arguably one of the most ambitious and unique metal releases of 2022, Ukrainian post black metallers White Ward returned with the vastly experimental and viscously austere False Light. Torn between haunting blackened atmospheres; hopelessly interjected post-punk; and the band’s trademark noir style, smoky jazz room intervals, each of these tracks carry the weight of true anguish and passion through a bleak demonstration of the realities of our world.
Psychonaut – Violate Consensus Reality
October 28 // Pelagic Records
My mind glows like a supernova after consuming by one track of this exceptional progressive-post-metal album. Psychonaut took their burgeoning talent and created a record that crashes between chaos and enlightenment effortlessly, packed with riffs and climaxes. The vocals are brilliant and the record’s atmosphere is like being welcomed home after a long holiday, imbuing you with comfort, yet also the passion to live life to the fullest. The title track and the following track “Hope” will stick with me for all my days, owing to their massive messages and brilliant delivery. Nothing can top this in 2022.
CLAVICVLA – Degeneracy of the 5th Density
July 22 // Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Cyclic Law
The year 2022 proved to be all about musical discoveries for me, and Clavicvla were on the forefront of that exact aspect. Our PR rep Toni asked me to write a premiere for the unholy black ambient/death industrial act, and oh boy did that push me down a deep rabbit hole and for a long while I obsessed over the artist and especially their newest album Degeneracy of the 5th Density, which is a bonafide masterclass in aural suspension and terror that’s somehow both captivating and repulsive at the same time. Simply put, just glorious dread altogether that deservedly pops up on this list.
Artificial Brain – Artificial Brain
June 3 // Profound Lore Records
Artificial Brain’s self-titled third album should certainly be on every death metal fan’s radar when considering the genre’s past releases in 2022. This album sees Artificial Brain unleash their brutal form of progressive death metal through a premise of cosmic pessimism and the pure, unrelenting terror of the empty vacuum that is space. Layered with dissonant riffs, ferociously dynamic rhythms, and excessive gutturals, Artificial Brain delivers a technically brilliant range of compositions convoyed by a nihilistic sci-fi narrative.
Saba – Few Good Things
February 4// Saba Pivot, LLC
Released in February and steady coasting through the rest of the year as many people’s favorite hip-hop release, me included, Saba took the greatness he achieved with Care For Me and made Few Good Things more personal, more impactful, more relatable, and more fun. It is leveled up in every conceivable way except compromise. If you seek rap perfection, you’d be hard pressed to find something better than this in 2022.
Freedom Fist – Freedom Fist
October 14 // Roman Numeral Records
What a nice goddamn surprise. This is some of the most hard-hitting, concise, purposeful hardcore punk of the year, rallying anti-colonialist hordes against the British Empire with the goal of total Scottish independence. With songs like “Union Rag”, “We Still Hate Thatcher”, and “Shut It You Unionist Cuck”, absolutely zero words are minced, including the all-powerful C-word – this is Scotland after all. Freedom Fist burn like a fire. SAOR ALBA.
SOUL GLO – Diaspora Problems
March 25 // Epitaph Records
This is a very hard album to talk about because everything fitting you could try to say, someone else has said better and from a place of more authority, and everything else feels unsubstantial to the point of fraudulence on your part. So I’ll simply say that this is the gold standard by which explosive hardcore will be measured against. Good luck, everyone else. Diaspora Problems is a 10/10 album if there ever was one, and SOUL GLO are the undisputed kings of this shit.
JID – The Forever Story
August 26 // Dreamville/Interscope
JID finally shut everyone the fuck up who was asking where the new album was (me included) by dropping what will surely be a defining project for his whole career in addition to 2022 as a whole. Bars upon bars build a house on the streets of Atlanta that functions more as a museum of great substance when it comes to the rapper’s life. Combine that with a keen ear for beats and chameleonic flows, and The Forever Story shows someone at the top of their game who’s still capable of installing new rungs on the ladder of hip-hop to ascend further.
Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter
May 12 // Daughters of Cain Records
Preacher’s Daughter is an absolute powerhouse in concept and execution. The quality of its production is fantastic, and the sheer breadth of musical nuance and influence that Ethel Cain squeezes out of the record’s 13 tracks is complemented by staggering emotional depth and a hard-hitting, frank narrative surrounding the life of the titular character. Variety is prevalent, from the gloom of “Family Tree” and the ’90s indie of “American Teenager”, to the unsettling “Ptolemaea” and tranquil reminiscence of “Sun Bleached Flies”. This is a record that you truly experience as darkness is brought to light in the most unforgettable way.
The Wonder Years – The Hum Goes on Forever
September 23 // Hopeless Records
The Wonder Years has likely been pop punk’s most mature and reflective voice for over a decade. The Hum Goes on Forever makes that status more evident than ever. We haven’t heard a lot of artists in this genre tackle weighty topics like parenthood, loss, and depression with as much nuance or vulnerability as Dan Campbell does here. However, it’s not just Dan who shines here. The understated instrumental interplay on this album, melding pop punk, alt-rock, and more, makes for a cohesive, catchy, yet emotive pairing with Campbell’s lyrical mastery. More than a decade into their career, The Wonder Years are still finding poignant yet anthemic ways to push the genre in new thematic and musical directions.
Avantdale Bowling Club – TREES
September 30 // Independent
The best hip hop project you’ve never heard of. Tom Scott delivered a jazzy hip hop album with Avantdale Bowling Club some years ago – ask around within our team and get all the love. With TREES, Scott returns with jazz-fueled beats, psychedelic arrangement, and witty, punchy bars. You think you know how great rap was in 2022? You don’t even know half of it if you don’t know about TREES!
Black Country, New Road – Ants from Up There
February 4 // Ninja Tune
Let Black Country, New Road be the band to resoundingly win over people’s hearts early in the year, and for good reason: The septuplet gifted us one of the most impassioned records as of recent memory with Ants From Up There. The sonic chemistry and emotional fervor filtered through each track is enough to satiate those who crave an album with character, ultimately unveiling a universal portrait heartbreak in the most unique fashion.
Brutus – Unison Life
October 21 // Sargent House
It’s safe to say that Brutus are champions of the post-hardcore/post-metal hybrid, but the sheer conviction presented on Unison Life takes them leagues above their contemporaries. Coupled with a refined sound that enchants as much as it pummels you down, this third record from the Belgian trio is a testament to their hunger for authenticity. If there is a band that have repeatedly proven to be set up for greatness, it is, without a single doubt, this one.
The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta
September 16 // Clouds Hill
Probably the most divisive album of this year, The Mars Volta return with a new outlook on life, themselves, each other, and what they wanna achieve with their music, years and years of youthful experimentation and vigor be damned. The same roots that were always there are more apparent though: a rebellious and rich Latin ancestry, psychedelic interpretations, and a fighting spirit that polishes the blade they wield with a more upfront and righteous purpose. The Mars Volta grew up – you don’t have to like it, but don’t deny them their moment to forge a new path to greatness.
Mindforce – New Lords
September 16 // Triple B Records
Mindforce’s New Lords just encapsulates what is great about hardcore, the scene, and Mindforce as a band. A whirlwind of thrashy guitars, squealing vocals, 2-step rhythms and to the point lyrics, New Lords has everything. On single “Survival is Vengeance”, the band are at their thrashy and heavy best with Mike Shaw’s guitar setting the music ablaze. On others such as “Goliath” and “The Runt”, we’re treated to some of the purest breakdowns in the genre. This is 17 minutes of enthralling hardcore bliss. Now that Gauze are gone, Mindforce are simply the greatest hardcore band on the planet.
Animal Collective – Time Skiffs
February 4 // Domino
Animal Collective built an album that stands toe-to-toe with any of their cult classics. They strike a poignant balance between experimentation and accessibility. Kaleidoscopic textures are reinforced with sticky melodies and songs that hit with emotional depth. Time Skiffs is a great reminder of the talent this collective wields.
Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
February 4 // PGLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records
Kendrick’s second most interesting album is a ride through the rapper’s therapeutic experience – warts and all. Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers certainly has some lows, be it Kendrick reverse engineering two of the cringiest tracks of the century “Kim” and “Same Love” or the frequent Kodak Black appearances, but all can be forgiven with a little galaxy brain because the highs here make everything worthwhile. “Mother I Sober” is one of the year’s most transcendent tracks and up there with the best Kendrick has ever made, “United in Grief”, and “Savior” are incredible at tying some of the album’s heavier themes together. Kendrick with some blemishes is far better than most artists at their best day.
Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever
June 24 // Loma Vista Recordings
Sophie Allison had already cemented herself as one of the best indie-pop artists out, but her collab with stellar producer Oneohtrix Point Never on Sometimes, Forever completely takes her sound and style to new heights. OPN’s immaculate and at times eerie production replaces Soccer Mommy’s past lo-fi indie rock with a much more refined palate and Allison sounds perfect; even on tracks like “Unholy Affliction” which manage to have an almost unsettling sound to them. Tracks like “Bones” and “Shotgun” that still maintain the classic Soccer Mommy sound are supercharged this time around. Let’s hope this isn’t going to be a one-time-only collab.
Ahasver – Causa Sui
September 16 // Lifeforce Records
Ahasver’s Causa Sui is one of the most innovative metal releases of this year, combining elements of death metal, mathcore, and sludge, without fitting comfortably into any one subgenre. The album is dripping with attitude – the tracks are concise, exciting and intricate, without ever feeling contrived. It’s a tightly woven, assertive debut album that makes me excited for Ahasver’s (and metal’s) future. I couldn’t believe my ears the first time I heard it – it’s so difficult to be fresh in metal these days, and this album surpassed any and all expectations I had for the genre in 2022. It’s an album that astounds, over and over again.
Lupe Fiasco – Drill Music in Zion
June 24 // 1st and 15th too
I really, really wish I would have reviewed this album, but timing and knowing how daunting a task it would be ultimately won over. Drill Music in Zion is legendarily good, another tome of rhymes, references, and stories that will take years to decipher fully. Lupe Fiasco is on a tear as of late, dropping projects that fly under more mainstream radars, yet are deified for the hip-hop heads among us up to the task. And it was made in three days? It’s no wonder MIT scouted this dude to teach hip-hop in their lecture halls. This album is amazing.
Sonja – Loud Arriver
September 23 // Cruz del Sur
This album is just captivating. Its energy is dark and alluring, the riffs immaculate and classically inclined, and it all makes for a truly bewitching project from a band out to shake up the heavy/gothic metal landscape. So far, so good. Melissa Moore’s vocals and lyrics are the star, ethereal and transgressive. Loud Arriver calls out to you from beyond and answering in kind invites an amusing, lustful, and dangerous vibe into your life that whelms with a sort of arcane affinity and welcoming attitude. Sonja are something special and it’s high time we recognize it.
The Chemical Mind – GLOSSOLALIA
April 15 // Independent
I have been repeatedly torn apart and reassembled by The Chemical Mind’s otherworldly black metal stylings, but nothing on the level of GLOSSOLALIA. Purgative in effect, this album sunders the soul and drains it with off-putting noise salvos, glitchy rhythms, darkly religious themes, and a harshness that truly feels dangerous. Saying much more might ruin the fun(?), so if you fancy yourself someone with a tough heart, stomach, and ear, you’re cordially invited to dive in. You won’t come out on the other end the same person.
Grandamme – Holy Mountain
September 30 // Def Pressé
Who can resist those wonderful pieces of music coming out of nowhere? I had no idea about Grandamme, but the involvement of Bastien Keb had me intrigued – and during my first playthrough, Holy Mountain unleashed so much energy and beauty that I was completely captivated. Add this amazing record to your playlist and thank me later.
The tiva – On This Planet
May 25 // Indepedent
The tiva are a Japanese two-piece female grunge band that sings in English. On This Planet is their first full-length album and it’s buzzy with contagious songs that draw on a myriad of terrestrial influences. Sincere without losing their sense of fun, and entertaining without ever feeling shallow. This is a must-hear album of 2022.
Chalk Hands – Don’t Think About Death
March 18 // Dog Knights Productions
Whenever I’m listening to (or even thinking about) Chalk Hands, the last thing I ever want to think about is death, as I want to live as long as humanly possible so that I can fully soak in their beyond euphoric skramz sensation. This is the type of album that will have you ugly sobbing at one moment and leave you feeling optimistic and hopeful only seconds later, and vice versa. Although only a debut record, Don’t Think About Death is a cornerstone record that every post-hardcore enthusiast must feast their ears upon.
40 Watt Sun – Perfect Light
January 21 // Cappio Records
Perfect Light is the comfort record you never knew you needed. Master of pulling-your-heartstrings Patrick Walker graces the music community once more with an album whose beauty is borderline forbidden due to its immaculateness. Add to that the gorgeously stripped-down approach to his trademark saccharine songwriting and you have yourself a collection of songs that is ready to embrace you through hell and back.
Devin Townsend – Lightwork
November 4 // InsideOut Music
Devin Townsend will always be a transcendental experience and as such will always have a place on these lists as long as I have a say in them. It’s easy to fall in love with what Devy’s become in the last decade or so, reflecting in ways that aren’t necessarily deep or prying, but that’s precisely why they’re so effective. In a medium where artists vie to be the most verbose people in the room, Devin’s approach is more warm, homey, and relatable. He’s just a dude like the rest of us! It just so happens he produces some of the most affecting, grand progressive music out there.
NNAMDÏ – Please Have A Seat
October 7 // Secretely Canadian
How to describe NNAMDÏ‘s work? Known for his work as drummer for the math rock outfit Monobody, NNAMDÏ established a very interesting solo career for the past couple of years. I’m absolutely unable to describe what exactly he does on Please Have A Seat, but I know that it’s one of the most captivating records of the whole year. This album is bursting with creative ideas and unique, compelling arrangements, providing a phenomenal ride from start to finish.
Oiseaux-Tempête – WHAT ON EARTH (Que Diable)
October 28 // NAHAL Recordings
Oiseaux-Tempête seemingly just keeps on maturing with age – like a good thing that matures with age – and WHAT ON EARTH (Que Diable) is nothing if not proof of that. The band has hit their current peak on the new album, which is exceedingly bold in the avant-garde realm, and even though Oiseaux-Tempête has always been invested in that exact notion, this time around everything is amped up to eleven as the band reaches the kind of profound and striking territories very few other acts have. There’s actually been so few of them, that you can call Oiseaux-Tempête a unique phenomenon on all fronts.
SpiritWorld – Deathwestern
November 25 // Century Media Records
Goddamn, what a fun album. SpiritWorld were already poised to be a force of nature and unnature alike with Pagan Rhythms, so when DEATHWESTERN hit, it hit like a fucking steam locomotive, or maybe the kick of a horse against your jawbone. Thrashy, deathy, hardcorey – no matter what you bother labeling it, the sum is always better than its parts, melding together in one of the most straightforwardly entertaining albums of 2022. This is the shit you blast when you’re driving down Interstate 15 with the top down plowing through the desert heat on the way to sin hard enough to kill the pope telepathically.
Ithaca – They Fear Us
July 29 // Hassle Records
What even is there to say about They Fear Us, which isn’t already splashed all over our faces by the record itself? Ithaca absolutely blew it out of the water this time around. It’s not often that bands make such massive leaps from one record to another. They also manage to uphold everything you feel on record on stage – gloriously even. They Fear Us is equal parts brutal, uplifting, massive, smooth, cursive, groovy, hypnotic, and enthralling – among many other things. Few things manage to slap and caress with such an unbelievably authentic energy. Someone might have to stop me soon, because I sure as fuck can’t stop listening to this album on repeat.
Daeva – Through Sheer Will And Black Magic...
October 14 // 20 Buck Spin
Defining metal subgenres can be difficult without having great examples on hand to sonically define what they are. In the case of DAEVA’s Through Sheer Will and Black Magic… blackened thrash metal isn’t quite right, is it? This is black metal that thrashes. Evil riffs, evil atmosphere, evil production, it’s hellish in every aspect but it’ll still get you to bang your head like the Big 4. DAEVA are clearly students of the genres from which they draw and have concocted a record that will be remembered as one of the best metal records of the year but will live on as one of the best metal records of the decade.
Samora Pinderhughes – GRIEF
April 15 // Stretch Music
No other record in 2022 hit me so hard – GRIEF is an astonishing piece of art, dancing effortlessly between different styles like jazz, soul, pop, and classical music. Samora Pinderhughes kickstarted himself on the radar for artists to watch for the next years, delivering heartfelt songs, rich in their composition, and tender in their delivery. With each note, GRIEF becomes more and more captivating.
Haunter – Discarnate Ails
May 6 // Profound Lore Records
Metal always has a ‘great year’ depending on where you look and what you like, but it’s bands like Haunter and albums like Discarnate Ails that really show what the genre has to offer. Dissonant without eschewing melody or riffs, these Texans know what the hell to do with the black/death metal sound. It’s only three songs too, but boy are they hefty. The only thing you have to decide is if this is deathened black metal or blackened death metal, and what of the subtle doom influence? Isn’t metal fun?
Cloud Rat – Threshold
October 7 // Artoffact Records
Cloud Rat are a huge favorite in the realm of extreme music with a sort of experimental edge to it. Threshold is, to me, an absolute pinnacle of the band’s purest and most refined musical prowess yet. Having the chance to review this album was almost as spectacular as listening to it and it existing in general. But, moreover, the mix of sludge, atmospheric reverbs, and ethereal tinges all blended in a chaotic, feedback-soaked, thrashy hailstorm of relentless punishing riffs and raw aggression sticks with me and keeps me coming back. Cloud Rat can simply do no wrong.
Dylan Nicole Lawson
Gospel – The Loser
May 13 // Dog Knights Productions
After having been wiped off the radar for a seemingly infinite amount of time, Gospel returns seventeen years later for another taste of glory and boy, have they done it. They’ve done the impossible by following up their iconic The Moon Is a Dead World with an equally-as-ambitious successor, The Loser. Gospel debunks the myth that lightning can’t strike twice in the same location, as their experimental and highly eclectic return album shows them with a musical spark that’ll leave your hair standing on end.
Doldrum – The Knocking, or the Story of the Sound That Preceded Their Disappearance
May 27 // Katafalque
No one sounds like Doldrum. From the first topsy-turvy riff to the theatrical vocals and colonial language of the lyrics, this band is onto something truly unique and special. Escapist black metal has seen a resurgence and while some acts have conjured wizards and vampires as their heroes and villains, Doldrum have a less concrete protagonist. The shadowy atmosphere keeps an almost Hitchcockian approach of leaving the horror as a hint of a question mark in the periphery. This album is an unexpected knock at the door that sends a shiver down your spine.
The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
May 13 // XL Recordings
A Light for Attracting Attention is everything you could possibly want from a Radiohead side project. Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner easily delivered the best offshoot project the band has to offer, including Yorke’s solo work. Skinner’s more jazz-influenced drumming style is a perfect complement to some of the decadent instrumentation styles that carry over from Radiohead’s most underrated album: A Moon Shaped Pool. It doesn’t hurt that Yorke is yet to have any dropoff as a songwriter, or as a vocalist, and it doesn’t look like he ever will.
Labyrinth of Stars – Spectrum Xenomorph
September 30 // Translation Loss Records
Spectrum Xenomorph is cataclysmic, rough in approach yet tight in execution. This is the stuff death metal dreams (nightmares?) are made of. One turn is gloriously ass beating, the next is profoundly progressive and enveloping. Effectively a two-part album, its harshness in the first half is superbly balanced by the atmosphere in the second half which consists of one 12-minute ambient song that could soundtrack anything from a suspenseful film trailer to the end of days in space. Get lost in it.
Where ambient and jazz meet, that’s where I want my heart to be buried one day. This album by Finnish saxophonist Tapani Rinne and his countryman, composer Juha Mäki-Patola, perfectly encapsulates everything I love about this gentle collision of worlds: meditative structures, gentle tones, and enough space to fit the entire universe into a single breath. An auditory crisp winter’s day, fragile, sweet, and radiant, Open was an early highlight of 2022 and never lost its luster.
Holy Fawn – Dimensional Bleed
September 9 // Wax Bodega
Stunningly beautiful and brutal, this is a contemplative masterclass in entwining ethereal ambience with the characteristic, piercing rawness that Holy Fawn often imprison in their sound. You’re left helpless – enveloped by lingering soundscapes that are quick to captivate, slow to dissipate, entrenching you in bewitching melancholy. From the cacophonous title track to the resplendent “True Loss”, Dimensional Bleed is an apt name: the album blurs reverberating, gazey washes of celestial majesty with blackened dissonance that manifests a bold, confrontational darkness. Melodious at times, menacing at others, it’s hard to do it justice in so few words – seek it out immediately.
foxtails – fawn
January 14 // Skeletal Lightning
As the years go by, skramz continues to broaden as a genre with what can be achieved musically, and foxtails only pushes against that boundary even more. Their emotionally charged take on the genre is mainly driven by the inclusion of a sorrowful violin and when coupled with a hearty splash of bubbly math rock, it makes for a hauntingly gorgeous listening experience. Always maintaining a sense of urgency, fawn is a woefully vulnerable piece of music that reminds me what it means to be alive.
Arm’s Length – Never Before Seen, Never Again Found
October 28 // Wax Bodega
In a year in which I was let down by the lack of memorable Midwest emo/pop punk releases, Arm’s Length comes along to smash a grand slam in the bottom of the final inning with two outs. Never Before Seen, Never Again Found crafts an ardently driven narrative told in the likes of Touché Amoré that will be guaranteed to leave quite an impact on you. Do yourself a favor and grab a box of tissues before you spin this record, as you’re going to need it.
Cloakroom – Dissolution Wave
January 28 // Relapse Records
Cloakroom truly are the future. Many modern rock and metal bands have adopted the shoegaze elements into their sound, but none quite do it the way Cloakroom do in their own trademark way. The grit of southern rock and old-school country/bluegrass feeling present amongst the hissing sludge riffs and dreamy, haunting reverbs and clean jangly chord strums make this a virtually perfect album in my opinion. Tracks like “Doubts”, “A Force at Play”, and “Lambspring” found their way into a daily rotation for me in 2022, and likely will in 2023 too!
Dylan Nicole Lawson
Vitam Aeternam – Revelations of the Mother Harlot
May 13 // Crime Records
The kind of album that leaves you saying ‘huh?’ when you hear it, more perplexed than confused. Vitam Aeternam are one of those bands that confidently do whatever the hell they want and get away with it by virtue of it being so interesting and different. With flecks of black metal, prog rock, chamber music, and choral vocals, Revelations of the Mother Harlot is one of the more uniquely dramatic projects from 2022 you could treat your ears to, so you should.
Inanna – Void of Unending Depths
May 25 // Memento Mori
Latin America is a hotbed for some of the best metal-ass metal you could listen to and no other band embodied that more in 2022 than Chile’s Inanna, a progressive death metal band for the discerning fan. Wow, what an album. Fast, technical, dense, atmospheric, nearly every modality to be found under the prog death umbrella is present. This is some of the most exciting stuff of its kind since Chuck Schuldinger showed us what’s what in the late ‘80s.
Otoboke Beaver おとぼけビ～バ～ – SUPER CHAMPON スーパーチャンポン
May 6 // Damnably
When Cyndi Lauper sang ‘girls just wanna have fun,’ I imagine she was directly referencing Otoboke Beaver almost 40 years before they even existed. The Japanese punk band are infectious in the most entertaining way possible, always playing at what seems to be an innate 2x speed default. SUPER CHAMPON is the turbo button on the weird off-brand controller you’d get at your friend’s house when playing video games, and yet not a single step is missed. The band always lockstep with each other to deliver unapologetically frenetic, complex, and feminine music by way of ceaseless confetti explosion.
Imperial Triumphant – Spirit of Ecstasy
July 22 // Century Media Records
From the decadent and opulent bowels of one of the largest urban sprawls out there, Imperial Triumphant emerged yet again with a collection of dissonant noises to quench our thirst. They quite easily topped off Alphaville with Spirit of Ecstasy and made it to the top of the avant-metal niche as one of the hottest and most forward-thinking things out there. Spirit of Ecstasy is a masterclass in novel composition for heavy music and of course, dark and unhinged brutality. This year at least, I can barely conjure a handful of records that even come close in any terms in this weight category. Hit play and stand by for imminent demolishment.
Quinn Oulton – Alexithymia
May 27 // DeepMatter Records
Quinn Oulton’s versatility and musicality is undeniable. Consequently, there’s much to love about Alexithymia. It’s a diverse culmination of the multi-instrumental songwriter’s countless creative strands, woven together to form an excellent album. Each song oozes charm, charisma, and replayability. Discover a captivating mix of guitar-driven grooves, soul-filled singing, and crackling crescendos of energy immortalised in beats and keys – and that’s just on the track “Far Away”. Indulge in Alexithymia’s entirety, and you’re soon enamoured with Oulton’s soulful hybrid of musical power and personality that jumps between styles… and that’s before any mention of his sultry saxophone playing, for heaven’s sake.
Sergeant Thunderhoof – This Sceptred Veil
June 3 // Pale Wizard Records
The Hoof really elevated their standing in the stoner, doom, and psych-rock communities with This Sceptred Veil. From start to finish, it is a fun, emotive blast, that only seems to get better as you go. Starting off with a groove-packed opener, Sergeant Thunderhoof wait no time to blow the lid off your brain. After that? Free rein of styles, which is what keeps me coming back time and again. No two tracks sound the same, each has their own character and flavour. Closing the album with a stunning prog/psych-rock two-parter, it is quite poignant to say that The Hoof has hit it big with this album. And the best bit? They deliver it live just as well, with their performance at ArcTanGent one of the many highlights.
Black Thought & Danger Mouse – Cheat Codes
August 12 // BMG
What do you get when you add the best rapper from one of the best groups of all time with one of the best producers of the 21st century? A fuckin’ banger, that’s what. Cheat Codes is everything great about old-school style rap, mixed with incredibly modern and intricate production. The features on here are all incredible too. A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, Joey Bada$$, Conway the Machine, and the sadder than usual but still incredible MF DOOM match Black Thought’s incredible bars with their own gems to make sure there isn’t a second gone to waste.
Regulate – Regulate
September 30 // Flatspot Records
Hardcore often goes extra on the hard and sometimes misses the core, if we agree that the core is the soft center onto which everything else clings to. With their self-titled album, Regulate really got to the bottom of it all, offering up compassion for self and others mistreated and oppressed for how they were born, how they live, and who they are. Melodic, empathetic, and vigorous, this New York group is the future, fierce against authoritarian power, yet extending a welcoming hand to the rest of us. Phenomenal shit.
Rico Nasty – Las Ruinas
July 22 // Sugar Trap
I’ve been a fan of Rico Nasty for quite some time now, but she really came into her own with Las Ruinas. Her sugar trap style has evolved greatly since she coined the term when starting out, enabling her to blow the shit out of the speakers at the club, soundtrack an ass beating on the streets, and provide painfully introspective tracks to ring between ears of those that feel her on a personal level, all on one album. Your time’s running out to get on the Rico train – might as well hop on at the Las Ruinas stop.
Show Me The Body – Trouble The Water
October 28 // Loma Vista Recordings
Show Me The Body’s third album finds them pushing the boundaries of their sound and punk. While their debut leaned much more into hip-hop and Dog Whistle found them much more hardcore, Trouble The Water is an incredible balance of everything they’ve done before and so much more. More industrial, more noise, and more restrained sections make for a vital listen. Full of vitriol, Julian Cashwan-Pratt’s vocal and buzzsaw banjo combo give us a sound like no other while Harlan Steed’s balance of bass and synths help provide the perfect backdrop for the band’s summing up of life in 2022.
Lobby Boy – Pretty Songs / Pursuits of Personhood
April 1 // Independent
Fellow Richmond, Virginia dwellers, Lobby Boy, are easily one of the coolest bands I’ve ever heard and to come out of this city. Their debut album, Pretty Songs / Pursuits of Personhood is fantastic to an almost unbelievable degree. More than just a dancy banger that is sure to get any club bumping, the album possesses an emotional depth and dynamic that goes beyond the typical statutes of punk, hardcore, metal, and indie rock normally seen in RVA. This band is going places and will hypnotize any listener to go along with them on Pretty Songs / Pursuits of Personhood!
Dylan Nicole Lawson
Haru Nemuri – SHUNKA RYOUGEN
April 22 // TO3S Records
You never know what you’ll get whenever you come across a new Haru Nemuri release – but that’s a big part of the fun of it and even more so when she delivers every time. SHUNKA RYOUGEN is no different as we see the Japanese poetry rapper once again puppeteering juxtaposing genres with an effortlessness that fascinates, this time through the lens of a thought-provoking manifesto that makes this sophomore record both exciting and significant.
Kardashev – Liminal Rite
June 10 // Metal Blad Records
The self-proclaimed pioneers of deathgaze finally manage to lend all the necessary legitimacy to that genre tag to make it as real as the tunes off of Liminal Rite. While Kardashev held a lot of promise in the past, Liminal Rite is the unrelenting testament to the fact that they know exactly what is up. Standing as easily one of the finest progressive albums of this year, there’s virtually nothing this record doesn’t throw at us, from soaring and epic passages to downright brutal and groovy hooks. Although the production is kind of wonky, especially in contrast to the wonderful songwriting, the overall package still stands out as a beacon of brilliance.
Duke Deuce – MEMPHIS MASSACRE III
October 28 // Quality Control Music/Motown
Raum – Daughter
February 4 // Yellowelectric
Liz Harris aka Grouper and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma are both well-established ambient musicians, operating within the realms of the oft-intangible and melancholic. Their collaboration as Raum has finally yielded a much-needed follow-up to 2013’s The Event of Your Leaving, and it beautifully underlined why both of its creators are at the absolute forefront of their field. Spacious, enveloping, and heavily atmospheric, Daughter is Harris and Cantu-Ledesma playing to their unified strengths to breathtaking, intensely emotional results.
Svaneborg Kardyb – Over Tage
November 4 // Gondwana Records
Have I pestered everyone with this record enough already? If your answer was yes, think again – because I’m not done singing the praises of Danish jazz duo Svaneborg Kardyb and their outstanding Over Tage LP just yet. Lush, tastefully produced, and precisely executed, this album captures a uniquely comforting jazz sound that instantly found its own niche within a scene that was already brimming with exciting talent before these two started making waves. From their incredible Tiny Desk session to the release of Over Tage, Nikolaj Svaneborg and Jonas Kardyb have left a big mark on modern jazz this year.
Pool Kids – Pool Kids
July 22 // Skeletal Lightning
Pool Kids self-titled album isn’t just one of the best indie albums of this year, but of the past few years as well. One of the best groups to come out of Florida’s growing scene of indie/emo hybrid bands, Pool Kids is a massive step up from the band’s great debut album. The group mixes sounds so well that you can never fully tell where a song is headed. “Almost Always Better” is one of the best tracks of the year and one of those songs that you wish you could forget you’ve heard it before just so you can enjoy the thrill ride for the first time again. The hooks never miss, and any track that could devolve into a semi-generic sad indie track is saved every time by a killer style shift.
They Hate Change – Finally, New
May 13 // Jagjaguwar
In a year with very, very strong hip-hop entries, a humbly inventive duo called They Hate Change stood high above most out there simply by being themselves. Channeling the very specific sound and influences from Tampa, Florida, Finally, New is an adventurous romp through a region rife with sonic diversity that all has one thing in common: it makes you move. Hard to beat this when it comes to danceable, groovy hip-hop.