|Demon's Dazzling 2k22 list|
HONOURABLE MENTION - I was initially impressed by the vibe here, yet it didn't hold up all that well to further scrutiny. I like the idea of this avant-garde jazz, dark ambient, metal smorgasbord more than I actually enjoy listening to it. Still, IT IS pretty cool
|68||Black Country, New Road|
Ants From Up There
HONOURABLE MENTION - Snow Globes is excellent (I do be liking them crescendos after all) and a couple of the other cuts get me going. However, I still find the aura surrounding this band rather mystifying on the whole.
HONOURABLE MENTION - conceptually, this really does succeed in delivering what the artist (likely) intended, yet musically I wasn't completely sold. Respectfully above middling to these (probably defective) ears, yet no doubt an important release.
Home, Before and After
HONOURABLE MENTION - not quite on the level of many of her previous albums, yet still some satisfying moments, Up The Mountain in particular being the standout 'Rowboats' this time around.
HONOURABLE MENTION - early big hitter that wore off a tad / mostly fun noisy garage punk
|64||Oxbow and Peter Brotzmann|
An Eternal Reminder of Not Today
LIVE ALBUM (UNRANKED) - a last minute addition to this year's selection for me. Oxbow's existing material is given a makeover in the form of experimental saxophonist Peter Brotzmann. What's fascinating is that despite the cacophonous and inherently disjoined nature of this live recording (not to mention the fact Brotzmann had never heard Oxbow's material), it largely makes far more sense than it should.
|63||Anna von Hausswolff|
Live at Montreux Jazz Festival
LIVE ALBUM (UNRANKED) - breathing new life into some of Anna's peak cuts, this is well worth the investment for any fan. Incredible beauty.
Melodic deathcore - 65%
Tons of variety and doesn't lose itself in technicality, this was a refreshing take on a usually hard to digest genre for me. Filled with personality and of course, riffs! ... and doesn't overdo the lactose often commonplace in other similar acts. Mostly tasteful in its execution.
Microsound / Glitch / Data Sonification - 65%
Surreal beat-driven glitches, with extensive sound manipulation. Often rhythmic, cold, maybe even desolate at times. Ryoji succeeded in creating an atmosphere and tension that was intriguing yet sometimes physically difficult to hear due to the frequencies involved. Fascinating exploration bordering on masochism (tip: careful with the volume levels)
Chamber pop / neo-psych / modern classical - 66%
This is whirlwind of interesting ideas, the best of which are executed to great aplomb. One of the more interesting 'art-pop' (ugh!) records of recent years, yet perhaps not the most enduring (due to some modest consistency issues that surface post-intrigue). Still, this is well worth the price of admission.
IDM / breaks / drill - 66%
At times an absurdly maximalist offering, a former math rock guitarist conjures up a (perhaps) expectedly complex (and rhythmic) sonic behemoth of futuristic sounds. The success here, is found in the surprisingly relaxing 'knitting' accompaniments, that serve to compliment this otherwise relentlessly forthright cocktail.
Experimental noise rock / Drone / No wave - 66%
Hypnotic, tribal and dissonant. Coconuts took 'Drum's Not Dead' era Liars and lent on aesthetic and repetition while sacrificing some of the complexities. The result is unforgiving, dissociative and weirdly cathartic.
Icelandic black metal - 67%
Powerful shrieks, frosty riffs, thunderous percussion - yep, this is a black metal album. I'm struggling to tell you anything that truly separates Með hamri from legions of stuff in a similar vein, except for the fact it delivers engaging song-writing that doesn't rely on shrouding everything under a blizzard of dissonance, i.e. this actually has hooks! Which in '22 was bizarrely refreshing.
Neurohop / Hybrid trap (CITATION NEEDED? - what are these genres, let's just say 'DnB' instead) - 67%
Tipper delivers a concise blast of futuristic 'warped' sounds, frenetic beats and mechanical sound design interspersed with funky baselines. It is certainly a departure of sorts from the glitch-hop era of the quite excellent 'Broken Soul Jamboree', but it seems Tipper is always evolving in intriguing ways.
Onryo II: Her Spirit Eternal
Melodic black metal - 67%
What 'Onryo' delivers is often raw and menacing, with vicious vox and lo-fi production that you'd expect from many of the genre's more 'traditional' staples. Despite this, it also delivers no shortage of melodicism and is bizarrely interspersed with genuine 'pop-like' moments. It is testament to the band from Nashville that they pull it off with such a level of panache. Death to cvlt bm m/
Experimental / Death industrial / Drone / Poetry - 67%
On 'Broken Gargoyles' Galas recites German poems about maimed WW:I soldiers. The accompanying music is apocalyptic, ominous and surreal. Sometimes minimalist droning passage wander and at others, harsher noisier industrial sounds are heard amongst Galas's incoherent shrieks and yelps. The best (and possibly also the worst) thing I can say about Gargoyles is it genuinely unsettling, disturbing and possibly even downright frightening. As pretentious as this may sound, it also helps muddy the waters between the more closed perception of what music 'ought to be' and genuine 'art' - something Diamanda is known for.
Progressive metal / Post metal - 67%
In leaving behind a lot of their earlier Swede-death melodicism and flashier bombast, the Andorran's enter a brand new chapter where atmosphere takes centre stage. The technical chops remain, yet they're harnessed in ways to accentuate their new primary focus. For all intents and purposes, this represents the sextet's 'post-metal album' - and is further evidence of a talented band simply refusing to rest on their laurels.
Atmo-sludge / Doom - 67%
A concise slice of all things sludgy, dark and sombre. Aequorea take the fragility and melancholic facets of riff-driven sludge / doom and add sporadic moments of quiet elegance. No, this isn't particularly original, but it certainly is refined.
Dissodeath / black metal - 67%
On Haunter's third full length, they deliver upon some of their previous potential by infusing an extra layer of unrelenting heaviness, whilst discarding some of the superfluous ambience found on their previous offering 'Sacramental Death Qualia'. That's not to say DA is one-paced, as there's enough variety in these serpentine riffs, coupled with a surprising amount of melody for a style that's often (mistakenly) steadfast in rejecting consonance entirely. This streamlined, yet still technically complex offering is a potent formula. Bigger, better, Gengar.
Post industrial / Opera / Drone / Modern classical - 68%
Composed initially as in intended accompaniment for an art installation, one might think translating this into a meaningful experience outside of this very specific context, would prove futile. In essence, Daijing has conjured an abstract piece comprising of four sprawling movements, shrouded in funereal mystique, distant, cold and unwelcoming - set alight by a more human element, her intermittent (and rather impressive) vibrato.
In spite of all the potential compositional and conceptual pitfalls, Tissues defies expectations outlined by much of its individual elements by simply being a gratifying musical experience. The compositions hold up, here lies a delicate balance between mood, ambience, repetition, colourfulness and progression.
|49||Imperial Circus Dead Decadence|
MOGARI - Shi E Fukeru Omoi Wa Rikujoku Sura Kurai
Melodeath / Symphonic neoclassical power metal - 68%
Questionable band name, eye-roll inducing artwork and clocking at an eye-watering 72 minutes of 'everything and the kitchen sink' symphonic prog metal, this is overloaded with sugar-coated cheese, a sickly, unpalatable disaster in waiting... and yet, here we are! This certainly isn't for the faint hearted, yet embracing the excessive chaos on display here yields satisfying results. A testament to ICDD's ability to create cohesion from potential calamity.
Dissodeath / BRAIN - 68%
Fake brain are back with their 3rd album and a S/T 'naming choice' that has a tendency to raise suspicion. Fear not those that brain, for Gargiulo's guitar gleefully gallops, Marston masters and Will Smith slaps. Is this the masterpiece it's purported to be in some circles? Perhaps not. Nevertheless, this marvellous mind's latest cognitive creation is a worthy addition to their repertoire.
|47||Built to Spill|
When The Wind Forgets Your Name
Indie rock / slacker rock - 68%
I thought about discarding BTS's latest offering multiple times, thinking I was somehow mistaken for appraising an unoriginal, milquetoast indie album; one where its creators more significant years had long since evaporated. Thankfully, this never happened. Maybe this represents the softening of a previously held stance, but this is simply enduringly hooky fun and weirdly nostalgic (considering I discovered the band relatively recently). A great band growing old gracefully.
Night Parade of One Hundred Demons
Heavy psych - 68%
Introducing space-stoner vibes, gargantuan track lengths and a generous dose of 'Sabbath-esque' heaviness - there's an almost jam-like nature to this psychedelic behemoth. The thick hazy production is a triumph and despite the (purposefully) repetitive nature of some segments, Earthless know just how long to test the listener's patience for.
Spirit of Ecstasy
Avant-garde metal / Dissodeath / Jazz - 68%
IT return with another cacophonous barrage of experimental dissodeath, with tighter condensed control over their more outlandish progressive leanings. The result is a refinement of their formula, rather than reinvention. Their crumbling 'urban-decay' style aesthetic is again on show, as are the atonal riffs, thunderous percussion and bursting brass freak-outs. Spirit of Ecstasy may not be as memorable, nor as colourful as Alphaville, but the New Yorker's remain one of metal's most important acts.
No More Motivation
Techno / Electronic - 68%
Contrary to the name and more in-keeping with the album cover, this is a bright and colourful electronic release, that dazzles by encompassing many different elements in a mostly seamless manner. Sometimes comprised of lush ambience and spacey aesthetics, these drifting atmospheric moments are then discarded for trance-like raves or beat-orientated techno. This eclectic mix proves to be vibrant and entertaining.
Heaven Is Here
Metalcore / Industrial / Powerviolence / Power electronics - 68%
Brash, abrasive, aggressive, noisy *copy-pastes adjectives used for every core-orientated release since the dawn of time*... Candy take the foundations of confrontational punk, dial it up to eleven and infuse a cocktail of harsh sounds in the form of power electronics. These accompanying segments either serve as complimentary pieces to the hardcore beatdowns, or they take centre stage themselves. Either way, the mix is invigorating and works tremendously well.
Metalcore / Atmo-sludge - 69%
Reckoner is perhaps not the revolutionary release it may have (sort of) been as a follow-up to 'Tide' but what we do have is a concise, meticulously refined chunk of post-slathered core.
|41||Show Me The Body|
Trouble The Water
Sludgy post hardcore / Synth punk - 69%
Is punk in a state of dejection? Without delving into world politics, perhaps this is a sign of the times we live in? Show Me The Body present this theory on Trouble The Water. Sure, there's still a heavy dose of distilled anarchist rage and defiance in here somewhere, but it's also shrouded in a darkness, a sadness even. The eerie synth-led moments here encapsulate that idea and help to showcase Trouble's most poignant moments.
Grindcore / Powerviolence - 69%
Snakelike is actually an apt descriptor here, for Hiss is a deceitful creature, often shedding its skin before delivering a chaotic and serpentine sonic bombardment. What's fascinating, is how darn listenable the whole thing is, this certainly isn't bRuTaL for grind and the fact it covers an absurd amount of ground is testament to Wormrot's song-writing chops (not to mention the production, which is fantastic).
Post-punk / Shoegaze - 69%
'Katie Ball's got the bored-waif monotone nailed down on the mic; her bandmates bring an ominous Trip Hop groove to the Dream Pop proceedings. Just like their name suggests, this band offers a taste of Shoegaze more pungent and focused than most. Not overly interested in ethereality, layering, or anything "pretty" -- more attuned to the grim, the mellow, the icy, and the mysterious. And repetition, of course. And repetition. The beat goes on.' - PLAGARISM
|38||Ripped to Shreds|
Death metal / Deathgrind - 69%
A cocktail of old school Swede death a la 'Entombed worship' (complete with buzz-saw guitar tone), mixing in some deathgrind influence and a plethora of tempo changes with occasional doom-like leanings - 'Jubian' gleefully represents OSDM in numerous ways, all of which liable to induce a satisfied grin.
Grind / Hardcore / Death metal - 70%
Ferocious, unyielding death-tinged hardcore with surprisingly immediate thrashy riffage, bursts of noisiness and perfectly suited production that carries significant amounts of heft, despite the relatively lo-fit aesthetic. At a mere 17 minutes, Dark Ritual is a forthright and fleeting affair, leaving little room for compromise.
Nu Jazz / Downtempo / Trip Hop / Breaks - 70%
I enjoy Skalpel and their jazzy drum n bass schtick from yesteryear, yet Origins (contrary to the name!) delivers a modest reinvention of sorts, rather than a harkening back to their roots. This is expertly realised without sacrificing the Polish duo's trademark sound-staples. Sleeker, smoother and warmer, this could perhaps be described as their 'summer club album' (MISLEADING STATEMENT ALERT) but only in the context of their wider discography. Either way, this is a fantastic example how you simultaneously stay 'true to your roots' without sacrificing any semblance of artistic identity.
Avant-garde metal / Black metal / Dark cabaret / Musette - 70%
As exhilarating as they are bizarre, Pensees Nocturnes once again showcase their unique brand - the result sounding like the soundtrack to a horror-drenched cabaret, featuring a demented, freak-show circus... (although the music contains no actual circus march this time!)
Explaining this in actual musical terms is quite difficult, yet I suppose if you've heard dissonant and cacophonous black metal, with blood-curdling shrieks and a liberal use of wailing saxophone, you may get somewhat close. Then, liberally sprinkle in some operatic vocals and a helping of 'musette' (traditional French music) and we start to paint a pic... ah sod it JUST LISTEN!
Noise rock / Sludge - 71%
As someone still reeling from the realities of living in post-Brexit Britain, there's something quite relatable about Chat Pile's obvious disgust at the place in which they reside. Propelled by crunching guitars, clattering mechanical percussion and vocals which tow the line between rage-fuelled hatred and painful struggle, God's Country is 2022's answer to The Jesus Lizard.
As The Moon Rests
Post rock / Post metal / Dream pop - 71%
A sparse and somewhat contained take on dreamy post-guitarsy musics, in reality this is an exercise in mood and wholesome dark VIBES without the need for substantial song-writing flashiness, but because it includes pretty fem xox then... YES, OH MY GOSH LETS SWOON!
Raw Data Feel
Indietronica / Alt dance / Synth pop - 71%
Entering my consciousness as a loud, brash and obnoxiously catchy brand of danceable, futuristic synth-pop - Raw Data Feel(s) like somewhat of an enigma to me. Fleetingly charming, but oftentimes overwhelming in a relentless pursuit of immediacy. I eventually succumbed to the unstoppable barrage of endless hooks, seemingly against my will, as if created by a cosmic super-mechanoid, programmed for this very purpose. Only then did I start to discover a surprising amount of depth beneath the confrontational surface. Resistance is futile puny humans.
Progressive metal / Tech thrash - 72%
Stubbornly holding down the fort as the only reason thrash needs to exist in 2022, Voivod's endurance coupled with their boundless creativity (40 years on from their inception), is genuinely quite staggering. Synchro Anarchy shows-off their space prog aesthetics and technical chops in abundance, with carefully disguised nuggets of rewarding engagement waiting to be unearthed beneath the surface. This is quintessentially Voivod's modus operandi by this point and thus to be expected, but what's interesting is this immediacy isn't buried particularly deep and the lyrical themes are human and relatable.
Baby, We’re Ascending
Ambient techno / Progressive breaks / Trance - 72%
#1 on my list titled 'albums befitting of the most adjectives' - HAAi's project is lush, ethereal, hypnotic, psychedelic, playful, joyous, yadda yadda yadda. What's striking is how 'Baby' is simultaneously everything and nothing, leaning on ambience, calmness and immaculate spacing to draw the listener in, before presenting them with weighty club-infused climaxes. Unpredictable, but never obnoxiously so. The colourful sonic palette on display here is a wonderfully refined exercise in balance.
|29||The Comet Is Coming|
Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
Nu Jazz fusion / Progressive electronic / Neo psych - 72%
Following on from the afro-jazz rock fusion of 'Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery' the London quartet return with a significantly more rhythmic affair. Synths and drums provide a surprisingly dynamic template, while 'King Shabaka's' use of explosive 'bursting-at-the-seams' sax soloing takes centre-stage, as the vibrant and enduringly entertaining lead. The end result doesn't deviate from the cosmic vibes of their previous outings, yet their constant reinvention is still testament to a group that simply refuse to rest on the laurels.
The Quiet Earth
Neocrust / Atmo-sludge - 73%
Sporting former Fall of Efrafa & Light Bearer vocalist 'Alex CF' Morrow deliver a hefty slab of crust punk, consistent in sound and enhanced by weighty production. Their reluctance to embark on too much sonic (mis)adventure is a welcome show of restraint, these compositions are lean, methodical and refined (perhaps even 'repetitive'). A wholly suitable accompaniment to the intense cathartic vocal rage bellowing out alongside them. Despite harnessing the streamlined approach one might expect of a three-piece, additional flavour is also sprinkled in - the comparative lightness of melancholic cello is a reminder that beneath all the heaviness, is a softness, a vulnerability, a concept communicated by much of 'The Quiet Earth's' underpinning melodicism.
|27||40 Watt Sun|
Slowcore / Chamber folk - 73%
Fairly simplistic in structure, often using elongated and repetitive passages in a drawn out manner - 'Perfect Light' is an exercise in understatement over flashiness. Sparse acoustic instrumentation that acts merely as a backdrop to Walker's sombre yearning tone and heartfelt lyricism. This is a quintessential example of the 'mood' album, where the result varies considerably depending on one's frame of mind and setting. Fortunately Walker's vocals are strong enough for his words to carry weight and he delivers these lines with an honest transparency, making this potentially divisive stripped-back approach easier to fall for.
Post hardcore / Post rock - 73%
Sacrificing some of the more angular punk energy from their previous material, Belgian trio Brutus dialled back this heaviness in favour of a different kind, instead submerging their listeners with dense swashes of layered sound. Their post-rock and punk influences have always remained interconnected to some extent, yet now the former are taking centre stage like never before. Stefanie Mannaerts's characterful vocals are passionately delivered and her impressive versatility remains intact during opportune moments, despite the general change in approach. 'Unison Life' is the sound of a band maturing gracefully, and even if that hasn't resulted in their greatest achievement to date, it is arguably their most consistent offering thus far.
You Belong There
Progressive folk / Chamber folk - 73%
Understated beauty is a concept a younger me would have undoubtedly failed to grasp, this is not because I couldn't appreciate 'prettiness', but only that my liking of such things was dependent on having it practically forced down my throat. A case in point may be a project Daniel Rossen was part of, Grizzly Bear's 'Yellow House'. Delicate, subtle, indiefied folksiness was seriously dull after all. Gorgeous retrained vocals without the gargantuan crescendos. Tension neglecting release. Captivating and intricately crafted atmospherics. Wasteful. Utterly wasteful.
|24||The Callous Daoboys|
Half Dillinger Escape Plan
Half Mr. Bungle
dep for zoomers
At best, its directly copying off The Dillinger Escape Plan. In such sections the vocalist even sounds like Greg. These moments are pretty decent but I cant get behind something so obviously living in the shadow of something else.
This sounds like a band who forgot to do it's homework one day before it's due so they copied from their good 'ol brother, The Dillinger Escape Plan. They then needed to make it look different, so they added some ambient/synth sections, lots of backing vocals from it's members that don't really do or add all that much, and a slight sprinkle of Every Time I Die and Rolo Tomassi worship. Bingo!
Hispanic American folk / Chamber folk - 73%
The foundation of 'Marchita' is built upon simplistic minimalist elegance, instrumentally this is about as stripped back, as sparse and as unobtrusive as folk music gets. Serving as merely a subtle complimentary aside, whether the listener connects with Silvana's work will likely be down to one thing; her voice. Fortunately this works wonderfully well, as the enchanting, soothing tones presented are disarming yet engaging and full of character.
Progressive electronic / Berlin school / Ambient - 74%
Believe it or not there were Berlin school-influenced ambient albums released in '22 that weren't inadvertently (or purposefully?) trolling metalderps, there were also ones which happen to actually be rather good... enter Caterina Barbieri's 'Spirit Exit'.
On the more 'musical' side of ambient, any repetitive nondescript droning is kept concealed for significant portions of the project. Instead we are presented with spacey synths and soaring textures, these soundscapes are awash with colour. The fact this perhaps leans on its bolder elements, sharing more commonalities with its progressive leanings, helps in facilitating a collection of visuals - thus all helping to form a connection.
At The Foothills Of Deliration
|18||O’Flynn x Frazer Ray|
Prepare Thyself to Deal with Treacle
The Ailing Facade
|11||Cult of Luna|
The Long Road North
De Todas las Flores
|4||City of Caterpillar|
If My Wife New I'd Be Dead
|2||Falls of Rauros|
Key to a Vanishing Future
Where Myth Becomes Memory