Fire to the Prisons is a Brisbane-based leftist black metal project and its mastermind is a friend of the site. Check out their self-titled debut EP here and our review of it here, and follow the project on Twitter here. We’re proud to feature their 2022 AOTY list today!
This year, we were absolutely spoiled for choice in regards to the sheer volume of quality releases, especially in the extreme metal realm. I have no doubt there’s a decent amount of things I have forgotten or didn’t include mainly to stop this list from getting ridiculously out of hand. So, I’ve decided to essentially split the list into my personal top ten albums of the year (presented in no particular order) and a smaller list of ten honourable mentions for releases generally, not just full length albums.
Αποφορά – Αποφορά
Finely crafted blackened crust punk from Greece. The sheer variety and execution of the sounds in this solo project made for a great sleeper hit.
Legendarium – Under the Spell of Destruction
Legendarium dares to ask the important question, “What if Bad Religion were a power metal band?” and answers with, “It’d be fucking rad.”
Harjo – Nocturnus: Dreaming
A solid slice of drone that is atmospheric and otherworldly. A perfect album for those wanting to scratch that Sunn O))) itch.
Autonoesis – Moon of Foul Magics
This album mixes black, death, and thrash metal up in a captivating and engaging way, sprinkled with a dash of proggy moments, as well as some of the most gorgeous acoustic guitar interludes I’ve heard in quite some time.
Chat Pile – God’s Country
I think a good indication on the impact of an album is whether or not it gets meme’d within an inch of its life upon its release. Fantastic noise rock with a wonderfully unhinged but sincere energy throughout.
Human Cull – To Weep for Unconquered Worlds
Another slice of great grindcore from the ever-consistent Human Cull.
Knoll – Metempiric
2022 was a fantastic year for grind fans and Tennessee’s Knoll proved again why they are consistently in the conversation as one of the genre’s best bands.
Hainbach – Core Memory
Wonderful experimental ambient album from one of YouTube’s premiere synth nerds. One to lose yourself in.
Sword Breaker – Sword Breaker
A blackened proto-punk EP with some great lyrics to scream while you take a blade to your favourite tyrant.
Anna Pest & Colin MacAndrew – A Moor Beneath the Cold Dead Sun
A wonderful collaboration between two great musicians. Masterful performances throughout. As April herself has said, she makes deathcore for people who don’t like deathcore & even the most snobby death metal purist would find it hard to find fault with this EP.
THE TOP TEN
Sonja – Loud Arriver
One of the best trad metal releases I have heard in years. Catchy grooves, riffs & hooks are in absolute abundance on Loud Arriver. Melissa Moore’s vocal performances are outstanding and she has crafted some absolute ear worms and defiant anthems. “Wanting Me Dead” was a particular standout for me and feels like the perfect soundtrack to ride on a motorbike down a lonely highway at night. This is an incredibly strong debut album for Moore and her bandmates. As she declares on title track “Loud Arriver”:
Save all your love, I’m the one who’s comin’ round
I’m gonna set you on fire, I’m the loud arriver
Keiji Haino & Sumac – Into This Juvenile Apocalypse Our Golden Blood to Pour Let Us Never
Any time Keiji Haino and Sumac step into a room together, you know it’s going to be a MOOD. I loved the last two collaborations by these two artists and surprise, surprise, I love this one too. This album is a live recording from 2019 and is entirely improvised, with none of the musicians even discussing what they are about to perform. There are pensive, free form melodies, there’s exploratory growls and bursts of noise, as well as Haino and Aaron Turner screaming their lungs out.
I personally love the sound of this release, all of the sonic artifacts of the venue really contribute to the character & energy of the album. It feels as though it has captured a discrete moment in time, one that we thankfully get to relive. This will probably be considered too experimental or self indulgent for some, but given Turner and Haino‘s past releases, I doubt that anyone deliberately seeking this out would mind.
Trhä – vat gëlénva!!!
There is so much I love about this release. From it’s aggressive and off kilter start, unnerving shrieks sounding like they’ve been recorded inside of a tin can, but changing to moments of sheer beauty, before veering back into the almost jaunty synth sounds, half classical, half circus in their mood, before bringing things back into more frantic tremolo picking. This album does what all good music should do, which is to surprise the listener in delightful ways.
This was the third release in 2022 for Trhä, following on from two 40+ minute one song albums, álcunnana Dëhajma Tun Dejl Bënatsë Abcul’han Dlhenic… in March and Mã Héshiva õn Dahh Khata Trhândlha Vand ëfd Datnen Aghen Ecíës Drhãtdlhan Savd in early August, vat gëlénva!!! makes for the fifth full-length release for the one person project since releasing their debut in 2020. Trhä is already making a prolific start in the realms of black metal and I am very much looking forward to what comes next from them.
Ka – Languish Arts / Woeful Studies
Ka is one of the most consistent rappers working in the underground today, with a defined style and crafting one hell of a legacy to leave behind. This year saw the release of two companion albums by the Brooklyn-based artist. Ka likes to work with a theme to reflect on his own life, whether it’s feudal Japan like on Honor Killed the Samurai or biblical allegories on Descendants of Cain. This time, Ka focuses on life’s lessons and what he’s learned.
Ka‘s production signature is stripped down melodic loops with little to no drums, allowing his voice and lyrics to carry through to the listener as directly as possible. On “We Hurting” Ka remarks, “My writing goal is for every scroll to become a old adage”, and there’s definitely plenty of reason to believe that he will achieve that goal. Anyone who wants to appreciate true artistry and lyricism still very much alive in hip hop today should do themselves a favour and listen to these albums.
The Chats – Get Fucked
This is a near perfect punk album. 13 songs, clocking in around 28 minutes, not a single track outstays its welcome and is laden with biting attitude. I challenge you not to want to scream along to “The Price of Smokes” when Eamon Sandwith exclaims, “Those bastards in parliament oughta be hung by their necks!” A great balance of grit and memorable choruses, with the occasional cheeky guitar solo thrown in for good measure, The Chats’ Get Fucked is just a great time.
Hath – All That Was Promised
A beautiful, evocative, and incredibly well-constructed slice of blackened death. It builds mood and atmosphere incredibly well and features some of the most ominous guitar arpeggios I’ve heard in quite some time. All of the musicianship is stellar, but a special mention needs to go to the vocal performance, which I consider one of the standouts of the year.
Gudsforladt – Friendship, Love and War
This is a beautifully constructed black metal album about a rider given a brief reprieve from death at the hanging blocks. The lo-fi production style is purposeful and tasteful, creating a great sonic character throughout, which benefits the harsh screams and blast beats as much as it does the more 70s inspired guitar harmonies (and sometimes even venturing into what can only be described as spaghetti Western territory). This album is very much a well paced journey and one that I will enjoy returning to in future.
Wormrot – Hiss
Wormrot had already cemented themselves as genre standard bearers when it comes to grindcore. But Hiss serves to underline that point. Frenetic, breakneck riffs, and blast beats, but also hardcore- and mathcore-inspired grooves are lined throughout this album. Wormrot frequently venture out into new sonic territory whilst keeping true to their roots. There’s even some screeching violins on here that would sound at home on an horror film score. This being the last album for vocalist Arif Suhaimi is an incredibly strong note for him to go out on. I feel a pang of sympathy for whoever steps up to replace him as Wormrot continues to charge forward.
Ithaca – They Fear Us
First things first, Djimalla Boden Azzouz is an absolute vocal powerhouse. Whether it’s passionately delivered melodies or soul penetrating screams, she does it all with conviction and purpose. In fact, conviction and purpose seem to be guidelines for the entirety of this album. This isn’t rote riffs and predictable breakdowns that can populate many bands in the -core genres. There is a feeling of pushing the musical horizons, the London band not content to simply rest on their laurels after the well received effort they made on their 2019 release The Language of Injury.
Grooves that are impossible not to nod your head along too, expressive and clean as hell guitar chops, all with an incredibly tight rhythm section holding everything else down. They Fear Us feels like a triumphant statement, securing Ithaca as one of the best metallic hardcore bands of recent years. I hope I get the chance to see Ithaca live so I can jump in the pit and pretend I’m 16 again.
Die! Die! Die! – This is Not an Island Anymore
Hailing from Aotearoa (or so-called New Zealand), Die! Die! Die! have been making music for just under twenty years now. The trio are enjoying a return to form, following up from their well received 2017 album Charm.Offensive. Die! Die! Die! manage to mix the lush, atmospheric sounds of shoegaze with the harsh edges and groove of noise rock. The rolling rhythms from Michael Prain on drums combined with the absolutely gnarly bass tone of Lachlan Anderson, topped off with the piercing cries and cacophonous guitar of Andrew Wilson make for a short but incredibly sweet outing for these noise punks.