Neill Jameson’s Best Albums of 2022
So we’re here wrapping up another year in the annual ritual of patting ourselves on the backs for listening to other people's work. Also, as is customary, it’s time to reflect that this year went by really fucking fast. I suppose at this point it’s just because I’m old and time is slipping through my fingers and I only have a few more of these before I go to the big year end list in the sky, hopefully in the top ten.
2022 was a year marked by loss and it seemed like I couldn’t go a few weeks without writing some kind of lengthy obituary which I would, in turn, make about myself. Mark Lanegan, Olav Berland, Trevor Strnad, and most recently Keith Levene. But outside of the depressing shit we just went through another excellent year for music, especially the last few months of it. When I wasn’t obsessively listening to Killing Joke and Gorgoroth I was diving into recordings from bands I’d been into for years as well as constantly discovering new acts.
Much like last year’s list I’ve composed this of (mostly) full lengths only. There’s obviously been a lot of great demos, splits and reissues this year and I’m sure you’ll see me pop up talking about them somewhere but within the constraints here this seemed like the best course to chart, otherwise there’d be a few dozen more added which would in turn look sloppy and everyone on metal Twitter has too high of an opinion of me for it to be sullied in such fashion.
I wanted to celebrate the year anniversary of possibly the finest sentence I’ve ever written about music in general that still stands in regards to the bulk of what gets released in a calendar year: “it all reads like a group of PR professionals got together and shit into a cake mold, chilled it, and then selectively took turns fucking it before serving it to the rest of us, making sure to tell us how great it tastes.” I keep waiting for my book deal.
As always this list is subjective and my opinion only truly matters in my life and listening practices, so feel free to disagree with me but fuck off with the “you forgot..” bullshit. No I didn’t. I didn’t forget a single fucking thing. Anyway enough jerking myself off, here’s twenty records I really dug this year:
20. Hellshock – Hellshock (Black Water, USA)
19. Drudkh – All Belong to the Night (Seasons of Mist, Ukraine)
18. Hole Dweller – Another Chance at Peace (Dungeons Deep, USA)
17. Lucifericon – The Warlock of Da’ath (Invictus, Belgium)
16. Lotus Thrones – Solaris (Self Released, USA)
15. Bones – Vomit (Disorder, USA)
14. Minima – Disciples of Excremental Liturgies (His Wounds, Poland)
13. Lungtoucher – The Ninth Incantation (Deathprayer, UK)
12. Hive – Spiritual Poverty (Translation Loss, USA)
11. Lustre – A Thirst For Summer Rain (Nordvis, Sweden)
Gates of Dawn – Gates of Dawn(Death Hymns, USA)
The debut full length of this project was one of the earlier surprises of the year. I’ve become accustomed to the quality of Death Hymns releases and this record was no exception. Excellent atmospheric black metal which reminded me of early Octinomos and the criminally overlooked Parnassus. Excellent synth work throughout which truly enhances the music rather than just follow along with it. I hate to use words like “atmospheric” or “symphonic” because they almost seem like a pejorative to me but this is an exceptionally interesting album that’s continued to keep my attention all year. Expect next year’s second full-length to place in the top when we’re back here again in twelve.
Anonymous Skull - Cavernous Day and Cavernous Night(Moonworshipper, USA?)
This is the exception to the full length rule outlined earlier in this wonderful column but I don’t think I’ve spent more time with a demo this year than Cavernous Day and Cavernous Night. Anonymous Skull released three cassettes in 2022, each one different albeit based in black metal. Cavernous Day and Cavernous Night is probably the furthest away from metal as it’s mostly synth based with horrifying vocals. I suppose you could call it “dungeon synth” but that doesn’t really do it much justice as it really defies genres. What I can tell you is that it’s very visual music that puts images of abandoned buildings and forgotten graves in my head and is some of the most original music I’ve heard this year. Any description I can give will fall short so go listen for yourself.
Hersker – Hudangst(Strange Aeons, Denmark)
Hersker released one of my favorite eps this year, Befængt, so it stands to reason that I’d enjoy their full length. Hersker are in line with countrymen Nyredolk in that their black metal is heavily punk influenced and very very malicious. Hudangst reminds me a lot of Ildjarn’s work with Nidhogg (or Nidhogg’s excellent solo work) in that it still has the punk undertones but there’s a lot more layers of black metal to it. Denmark has been a hotbed of truly excellent black metal the last few years and Hersker is no exception. Fucking deadly.
Revenant Marquis – Milk Teeth(Deathprayer, UK)
If you’ve been reading my lists for the last few years then the addition of Milk Teeth should be of no surprise. Revenant Marquis doesn’t have a single bad recording in his lengthy discography but Milk Teeth might be his finest, definitely the best since Youth in Ribbons. There’s a lot of variation in the riffs and temp this time around, with maybe even a little Joy Division in passing. Again, the aesthetic presentation of this project is obviously well thought out and everything ties beautifully together into a fully realized vision that has raised the (already high) bar for Revenant Marquis.
Rigorous Institution – Cainsmarsh(Black Water Records/Sentient Ruin, US)
Cainsmarsh was a surprise discovery for me as I haven’t really checked out a lot of newer crust projects, mostly because since moving to Richmond I’ve experienced a glut of them and probably got a bit burnt out on the genre. I’m glad I gave this a chance though as this is one of the best records of the genre in the last five or ten years. If Amebix had gone the way their fanbase had wanted instead of releasing Sonic Mass or if the classic lineup of Dodheimsgard recorded a crust record then you’d have Cainsmarsh. This is a truly special record with its own identity and not just another clone that’s been done to death.
Crymych – Endless Fucking Winter(Deathprayer, UK)
If Voivod were mostly an ambient band when they recorded but also rooted in black metal and also had Jouni Havukainen sit in and contribute then you’re close to how I would describe Endless Fucking Winter and I’d still be off the mark. Coming from the same circle as Revenant Marquis, this Welsh collective aesthetically fell in line with their compatriots but managed to craft an atmosphere unlike almost anything I’ve ever heard. Deranged, challenging and yet very memorable Endless Fucking Winter seemed to fly under the radar for many this year, which is a shame as it’s pure excellence.
Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium - Undreamable Abysses(Debemur Morti Productions, France)
Blending 2019’s Hallucinogen and ‘07’s Odinist, Disharmonium - Undreamable Abysses has been called a “return to form” for Blut aus Nord by a lot of journalists, mostly those with uninteresting opinions. Hallucinogen (and coincidentally Odinist as well) was one of my favorite Blut aus Nord records, contrary to popular belief. Popular belief, in return, can fuck off. Back to the record at hand, Disharmonium - Undreamable Abysses is an absolute mindfuck, blending the psychedelia of the last record with the twisted discomfort Blut aus Nord has perfected, making this the culmination of years of work. A dense, layered morass of riffs and sound craft Disharmonium - Undreamable Abysses has Vindsval as Cthulu’s prophet as well as being a master who has long since perfected his craft. Brilliant.
Spiral Staircase – Visions Shifting Form(Death Hymns, USA)
Last year’s Cellar Dream EP was one of my favorite records of the year and I still play it frequently so when I was told that Spiral Staircase was releasing a surprise full length on Halloween naturally I was excited but “Visions Shifting Form” was not the record I was expecting at all. Cellar Dream and the preceding demos were all exceptionally dense and raw so to hear a clearer sound with a lot of variation musically song to song took me by surprise. That’s not to say this is a “pretty” sounding record, it’s still caustic and has fucking teeth, but this record is fucking loaded with riffs with not a second wasted on bullshit. This is probably the best American black metal record since Massive Conspiracy Against All Life. You could debate me on this all you like but you’d be fucking wrong. Sheer excellence.
(the infamous) Gehenna – Negative Hardcore(Iron Lung Records, USA)
When a record takes as long as Negative Hardcore did to see release it can easily be crushed under the weight of expectations. Very seldomly does the phrase “all good things come to those who wait” ring true when it comes to music. So how did Negative Hardcore turn out? Don’t be fucking stupid. This record is a razor toothed barrage from start to finish, seething with aggression and genuine malice with nary a good time to be had. This is a record that doesn’t give a fuck how you feel unless that feeling is abject misery. Worth the wait and then some, (the infamous) Gehenna truly is negative hardcore.
Circle of Ouroborus – Autuala(His Wounds Records, Finland)
The top spot in my list was a tight race this year but Autuala edged its way onto the summit. Circle of Ouroborus released three records this year (Thurisa and Aavikon Varjo being the other two) adding to an already impossibly large discography of quality outsider art but something about Autuala and its slow burn really stuck with me since my initial listen with the second half of the record really being where it shines, outsider black metal’s equivalent of My War B-side. Circle of Ouroborus continues to branch into new territories sonically and Autuala sits comfortably between 2020’s Viimeinen Juosku and 2019’s Vangin Laulu aesthetically. One of the finest records in a long career of excellence.