Brandon Corsair’s Top Albums of 2022
Another year, another round of killer releases to talk about and hype up and get mad about-to quote Entombed, life goes on. As always there’s a disclaimer here that anything I released in any way on my label or otherwise participated in I am not going to include on this list, so if you read this and go "hey, where the fuck are The Chasm’s new one and Ripped to Shreds?" that's your answer. I’m also leaving off anything a bandmate played on (sorry Acephalix, Eosphoros, and Begrime Exemious!) and anything that isn’t a full length, so no sweet, sweet Sölicitör or Bergfried even though they’re miles better than half the stuff I’m going to talk about. Also, fuck writing about things twice; if I already did it, I’m just going to link that instead of writing a paragraph. Go read the links where applicable if you want more than a couple sentences.
Some quick thoughts on 2022: probably the highest ratio of killer classic albums to killer new albums that there’s been in years. Immolation, Negative Plane, The Chasm, Ares Kingdom, Voivod, oh my! And that’s not even all of it. Also the highest number of American bands I’ve had in my personal top ten in a long time, so go USA–normally there’s a disproportionate amount of Swedes, Finns, and Germans instead. Haven’t heard many brand new bands that have really impressed me this year but that’s more than made up by all the amazing albums from bands I already loved. 2022 is also the most bands I’ve had not complete interviews. Normally most of my top 20 come with an interview link- instead, several that I was hoping to toss up just never happened or finished. Tough luck, I guess!
Hail Satan, hail riffs, hail Iommi, go buy some fucking metal and go complain about my list. Happy 2022. Here’s to hoping 2023 is half as strong.
20. Devil Master – Ecstasies of Never Ending Night (Relapse Records, USA)
19. Ironflame – Where Madness Dwells (High Roller Records, USA)
18. Undeath – It's Time...to Rise from the Grave (Prosthetic Records, USA)
17. Nite – Voices of the Kronian Moon (Season of Mist, USA)
16. Luzifer – Iron Shackles (High Roller Records, Germany)
15. Mortuous – Upon Desolation (Carbonized Records, USA)
14. Early Moods – Early Moods (RidingEasy Records, USA)
13. Cauchemar – Rosa Mystica (Temple of Mystery Records, Canada)
12. Predatory Light – Death and the Twilight Hours (20 Buck Spin, USA)
11. Autopsy – Morbidity Triumphant (Peaceville Records, USA)
Immolation – Acts of God(Nuclear Blast, USA)
Everyone knows that Immolation fucks. This is not my personal opinion but a fact; they’re great live, they’re at least really good even at their worst on record, and you know what? This new album is their best in goddamn years, and I said that about Atonement, too. Devastatingly heavy, disgustingly well written and catchy, and well-produced without being overly glossy, Acts of God is the old guard showing the new guard how it’s fucking done.
Eliminator – Ancient Light(Dissonance Productions, UK)
As classy and beautiful as they are driving and sharp, Eliminator’s sound harks back to the youth of their country’s scene and makes for a pleasant showing of force that’s equal parts nostalgic for a time long gone and energetically looking towards a new heavy metal scene where the headliners at Keep it True won’t all be retirees. A large part of why I like this one so much is that bands picking up where Iron Maiden and Tokyo Blade are a dime a dozen, but the ones that also throw in the classy leads and high level of thoughtful musicianship of some of the other bands from the scene are not; Eliminator are not your average disposable band, and Ancient Light is both very cool and very special. A band that not only has a bright future, but a bright present that’s not to be missed.
Imprecation – In Nomine Diaboli(Dark Descent Records, USA)
Blasphemous death metal from the grave! Imprecation have had one of the finest comebacks of any old 1990s death metal band, to the point where I listen to more of the post-reunion albums than I do their famous EP and demo stuff from back in the day. Thick satanic riffs, harrowing bellowed vocals, and a killer swansong performance from sadly-deceased drummer Ruben Elizondo make for another amazing contribution to the Imprecation canon. These guys are cult heroes for a reason!
Mirror – The Day That Bastard Leaders Die(Cruz del Sur Music, Cyprus)
There’s a couple types of bands playing retro 1970s style heavy metal and hard rock these days (outside of some exceptions, anyways); there’s the ones that harken back to the more doom-y and dreamy side of things, and the ones that channel the faster and heavier side of it. Cyprus metal machines Mirror definitely fall in that latter category, seamlessly blending together influences from beloved classics like Deep Purple, Scorpions, and Rainbow to form a band that sounds like it could have debuted in 1978. Recklessly nostalgic but so incredibly well-handled that it doesn’t feel hackneyed, Mirror are the ultimate expression of all of our collective love of that bygone time, and they’re probably the single best band in this style right now. Helps a lot too that their singer has the same skill, range, and personality that the old greats did- not common these days at all!
Sordid Blade – Every Battle Has Its Glory(Gates of Hell Records, Sweden)
Hard hitting and emotional epic metal has long been one of my favorite sounds, and I stan that entire style hard enough to make up for all the other cowards at Invisible Oranges that are going to not vote for this record. Jon Rosenthal’s list? Bad, because Sordid Blade isn’t on it. This band is pure magick and I love it to bits; the special intersection of Warlord, Pagan Altar, and modern-styled epic metal is all I ever wanted and it’s exactly what Sordid Blade gives us.
Iron Griffin – Storm of Magic(Independent, Finland)
Though Cult Metal Classics has picked up Storm of Magic for its CD and vinyl releases, the original intention for the album was for Oskari to explore self-releases, which in my mind officially makes this the best self-released album of 2022. Magickal old doom metal, ancient rock and roll, and occult atmosphere vie with what may be the most powerful vocalist in the recent Finnish scene, coming together for something that you’d only expect from a guy that's already been playing in Mausoleum Gate for ten years prior to releasing it. It’s rare for me to find people channeling this more ethereal side of old doom and rock in a way that I actually like but Oskari is the master of it. Can’t wait to see what he does next, hopefully with singer Maiji Tiljander together in hand- it’d be good without her (proof: Oskari singing himself on the first Iron Griffin EP) but the full package with her singing on it is just incredible.
Obscene – ...from Dead Horizon to Dead Horizon(Blood Harvest Records, USA)
Remember when death metal was gross and wild and ambitious but also catchy as fuck and not obsessed with just copying other death metal bands? Obscene does. Some of the coolest fucking songwriting around. Writeup and interview here.
Sumerlands – Dreamkiller(Relapse Records, USA)
Disgustingly catchy and more 1980s than most heavy metal from the actual 1980s, Sumerlands has gone from a melancholy band to a feel-good one. Dreamkiller is comfort food for ancient metal maniacs and I am fucking here for it. Writeup and interview here.
Ares Kingdom – In Darkness at Last(Nuclear War Now! Productions, USA)
Chuck Keller is one of the finest guitarists in extreme metal. His style and approach is instantly recognizable, and he’s played on a shocking amount of the best albums ever between his time in Ares Kingdom and Order From Chaos. Add in godly drummer Mike Miller (also from Order From Chaos) and Alex Blume, one of the coolest singers in the genre, and the recipe for greatness is there. Ares Kingdom delivers. Furiously aggressive, chillingly epic, and with the melodic sense of a bunch of old guys that grew up listening to heavy metal, Ares Kingdom’s newest opus is one of the best records in their long career. It’s certainly their best produced, for my money, and it sounds just like how they do live. In Darkness at Last is just devastating.
Negative Plane – The Pact…(Invictus Productions/The Ajna Offensive, USA)
Is it any surprise that Negative Plane coming back was going to top my list? Based on the first two albums and their track record with their other bands (especially the wonderful and wild Funereal Presence) it was clear that they were going to make sure that a third Negative Plane album would live up- and BOY does it. Insanely ambitious, dense, and layered, this is black metal as it could be, and as it should be; theatrical, melodic, aggressive, punchy, powerful, memorable, and rewarding, every listen unlocks more to dig into, more to love, and more to worship. Negative Plane is the real deal, and this album is absolutely insane. Instant classic.