Another trip around the sun and I am happy to say that for the majority of us things have returned to somewhat of a normal situation, at least in comparison to last year. I always check my post from the previous year when I write these and I’m relieved that my prediction that the vast majority of delayed shows and festivals have been finally played! I sure went to quite a few of them myself and even got myself to a four day festival which is something I haven’t done in almost eighteen years, but more on that a bit later. I also chose to change things up a bit this year: I did pick my usual ten albums but for some of them I want to list a runner-up, so to speak, because they’re either similar in genre or share a similar personal backstory.
#10 Moxy The Band – Dream Feeling
The band has formed around the ex-guitarist of A Lot Like Birds but chooses a very different genre to express itself. Away with the angsty post-hardcore, welcome to 80s-inspired pop! It certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’ve spent quite a fair share of hours with this record and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The runner-up is the sophomore record of Beabadoobee, who I discovered this year, called Beatopia. Very dreamy pop music and coming to Luxembourg next year!
#9 Ibaraki – Rashomon
When Trivium‘s Matt Heafy announced a black metal project I was intrigued, to say the least. And while the first single didn’t quite blow me away, I gave the record a thorough listen and fell in love almost instantly! But don’t expect truly frost-britten, grim, Norwegian black metal…it’s much more symphonic and also features some clean vocals. Also, a feature by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, doing…black metal vocals? Check the song Rōnin and guess when he’s singing, I dare you!
#8 Shadow Of Intent – Elegy
In last year’s top ten I praised a band for their most recent EP and I was anxiously awaiting their first full-length with the new vocalist. I even got to see them live this year and the entire metal media is going crazy about them, which makes me really happy because they certainly deserve it. But Lorna Shore‘s Pain Remains is only my runner-up.
In a very similar genre, I felt that Shadow Of Intent‘s newest record, Elegy, is the better end product. So be sure to check it out if you’re into melodic deathcore!
#7 Lost Society – If The Sky Came Down
I mentioned in the intro that I went to a festival after a lot of years of abstinence and the entire experience was fantastic! Wacken 2022 was a blast and it also introduced me to quite a few bands that I probably wouldn’t have checked out if I hadn’t seen them live. One such band is the charismatic Finnish quartet Lost Society, which has already released four records prior to me even hearing about them…but their newest one, If The Sky Came Down, has all the elements I am looking for in, dare I say, nu metal.
At the same festival, I also got to see one of the first shows of The Halo Effect, which is a superband of former In Flames members, who I actually never really got into, and their debut record Days Of The Lost is finest melodic death metal. Which makes them my runner-up!
#6 The Devil Wears Prada – Color Decay
I think I’ve been into TDWP for over a decade now and usually their albums take me a while to get into, because they tend to change their style a bit. But with Color Decay, it was like coming home to an old friend. While it does have more slower tunes than on previous records, it gives birth to some of the best (power) ballads the band, or dare I say the genre, has produced.
My runner-up is Motionless In White‘s Scoring The End Of The World, a band that I have a very similar history with, but which never really disappoints either, with their newest album being arguably the band’s strongest one in a while.
#5 Lights – PEP
This one needs no explanation, really. I just love Lights. One of the best pop artists in the game, hands down.
#4 Royal Coda – To Only A Few At First
Honestly, from here on out, most will not surprise you if you’ve been following my reviews, or top ten, for a while. Usually at least one thing that Kurt Travis touches lands in my best of and this year is no expection. Royal Coda‘s third album follows in the vein of its predecessor and delivers finest post-hardcore, as per usual. Personally, I got some definite At The Drive-In vibes here.
#3 SZA – SOS
This one might surprise some people, but SZA‘s debut album CTRL has been in my playlist frequently ever since I discovered it in early 2018 and I was very excited to see what she had been cooking up over the past five years. The first singles released as early as 2020, gave me quite a bit of hope and while SOS does not quite surpass its predecessor for me personally…I think it’s a very strong R&B record that isn’t afraid of exploring different sounds.
#2 Dance Gavin Dance – Jackpot Juicer
My two favorite bands released new albums this year and I loved both for very different reasons. But I think that DGD‘s tenth full-length (in fifteen years) the one I prefer, because it sticks to the formula that has proven effective and does so at the most distilled level. I can’t wait what the future holds.
The runner-up is, of course, Slipknot‘s The End So Far which is so experimental that at times it felt like I was listening to a different band, but for me personally it worked! Especially after having seen the guys at Wacken this year, I was quite pumped for the record to arrive and I applaud the Nine for changing the formular this much, this late in their career.
Emberthrone – Godless Wonder
Drogher – The Last Wave
Spiritbox – Rotoscope
Betraying The Martyrs – Silver Lining
Emberthrone are a rather unknown technical death metal/deathcore band from the US, but their debut EP does not have to hide behind the big names, at all.
The local flavor in my top ten comes from Drogher, who I’m very eager to see again because both times I saw them I had an absolute blast! More thoughts, if you want, can be found in my full review.
At only three songs, Rotoscope barely qualifies as an EP, but Spiritbox delivers bangers as expected.
Last but not least, Betraying The Martyrs got a new singer a while ago and I must say, as much as I adored the previous one, that it definitely revitalized them in the best way possible. A very strong EP that makes me impatient for more!
#1 Slomosa – Slomosa
By now you know that I sometimes like to do some out-of-the-box things for my top pick, and this year it’s even a bit more strange, because my record of the year was released two years ago, in 2020. However, there is, hands down, no record that brought me as much joy as Slomosa‘s debut album! I discovered them at this year’s Desertfest Antwerpen in mid-October and I must have listened to it around two-hundred times since then! Finest stoner rock from Norway, out of all the places in the world! Get on it!
I think it’s safe to say that we can look forward to a lot of cool moments in music next year, be it on stage or in recorded form, but if I had to pick a few it would be the Pantera tribute shows, a new Pierce The Veil album, a new Emarosa record and so many other cool shows that I can’t wait to experience. So, be sure to enjoy the rest of this year and I wish you all a splendid next one!