Maybe in 2030 we’ll stop doing these lists featuring a number corresponding to the given year and make it a little easier for us but for now we’re still finding it hard to whittle down the artists and albums that kicked ass for us so if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, y’know? And 2022 delivered yet again!
Mainstays like Clutch, Soulfly, and Rammstein all dropped solid records to the masses, Dave Grohl got his METAL on again for the faux Dream Widow featured in Studio 666 (Super fun watch, btw), and Greg Puciato overcame the sophomore slump with the brilliant Mirrorcell record. The legend, Ozzy Osbourne, reunited with Zakk Wylde and a plethora of notable guitar gods for an album that’s on par with No More Tears in our opinion, Cave In began their next evolution with Nate Newton firmly in the mix while keeping Caleb Scofield’s spirit alive on the raucously fun and riff-centric Heavy Pendulum, and fellow Bostonians Already Dead released a similarly rabble rousing anthem-spewing record.
Diving into the Industrial/Electro side of things, KMFDM unleashed the furious HYENA while Killing Joke dangled a few new songs on the way to their next full-length with the release of the Lord Of Chaos EP. Noise Unit probably produced one of our most favorite singles in 2022 with “Alone Again” off Cheeba City Blues and let’s be honest, any excuse to hear Bill Leeb’s lush vocals against a Synth/Electro accompaniment does it for us (That said, be on the look out for the just released vinyl re-issue of Front Line Assembly’s seminal Tactical Neural Impact album on Wax Trax here and a new Delerium record in 2023).
And kids, that was just the “Honorable Mention” section of our list so hope you’re ready because, as Mark Henry cries out weekly on AEW’s Rampage, “It’s Time For The Main Event!” As usual, you’ll find hyperlinks in the headers for the records that we were able to review:
22. SOM-The Shape Of Everything (Pelagic Records): Pretty sure the preceding EP from SOM made our “Best of ’21” list and The Shape Of Everything for sure made our 2022 preview list because we had a chance to hear it before last year was over. Grandiose Post-Rawk at its’ finest, The Shape Of Everything has a lot going for it on a full-length that’s Failure meets Junius meets Constants meets hum with some members of those aforementioned bands playing substantial parts in what makes the SOM sound so unique.
21. Stabbing Westward-Chasing Ghosts (COP International): The latest from SW isn’t so much a redux or a comeback as it is just next level storytelling. Combining elements of Christopher Hall’s natural evolution in The Dreaming with a Stabbing Westward vibe that reaches back to 1994’s Ungod, Chasing Ghosts manages to become the ultimate Stabbing Westward record while also looking optimistically towards the future and what’s next.
20. Abrams-In The Dark (Small Stone Records): Abrams’ latest hit hard in the way that Forming The Void’s tied-for-number-one Rawk opus did back in 2020 for us. Crushing yet cathartic, Abrams succeeds with the constant dichotomy brought by the heavenly versus heavy struggle that rages between the guitars, bass, and drums on one side taking on the vocals and vocal melodies on the other.
19. Once Human-Scar Weaver (earMUSIC): As far as heavy records go in 2022, nothing really comes close to Scar Weaver because no other record features powerhouse vocalist Lauren Hart and the guitar/production prowess of Logan Mader. Beyond that dynamic duo, Scar Weaver is a fabulous amalgamation of all things Metalcore, Prog, and good ole Thrash. Among the many highlights on the record are a guest stint from Mader’s former bandmate Robb Flynn popping in to verbally spar with Hart on “Deadlock” with the OH vocalist later turning in a vicious vocal performance of her own on the certifiably sick cover of Strapping Young Lad’s “We Ride”.
18. Meshuggah-Immutable (Atomic Fire): All hail the return of the mighty Meshuggah! It’s been six long years since the Swedish quintet was regularly crushing skulls and now they’re back with a record that’s heavy beyond heavy. “Broken Cog” is the most sinister sounding Meshuggah track in ages while tracks like “Light The Shortening Fuse” reveal new depths to the legendary outfit.
17. !!!-Let It Be Blue (Warp Records): Chk Chk Chk never disappoint. Ever. Even records that don’t resonate immediately tend to come back and bite us in the ass with the dance bug. Then there’s records like Let It Be Blue that just hit hard right from the get go with songs like “Panama Canal” and “Un Puente” being some of Nic Offer and crew’s best.
16. Underoath-Voyeurist (Fearless Records): The ONLY current (Read: 2022 released) record to crack our Spotify “Wrapped” list over and over and over again, Underoath released their latest in the middle of January and we listened to it a LOT apparently. Which isn’t surprising considering how much it expanded on 2018’s divine return Erase Me to make an even better all around record.
15. Tears For Fears-The Tipping Point (Concord): Kind of the ultimate comeback record, The Tipping Point from the legendary Tears For Fears is both a revelation and a return to form. By combining the ’60’s Folk/Psychedelia of Everybody Loves a Happy Ending with the stuff that made TFF a potent force in New Wave and Pop in the ’80’s to begin with, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal managed to find magic once again on their most diverse yet consistent record so far.
14. BAIT-Sea Change (Cool Thing Records): BAIT continually put out thought-provoking blasts of noise and on their latest they managed to reinvent themselves and create a bevy of clever new Industrial-tinged jams that are relentlessly hypnotic in the best way possible.
13. 96 Bitter Beings-Synergy Restored (Nuclear Blast): Deron Miller has never sounded so good! Forget the fact that he’s off to Malevolent Creation for a stint, the former CKY vocalist/guitarist completed the cycle that began on Volume I with a fitting, and logical, evolution bringing those anthemic qualities that Camp Kill Yourself is synonymous with alongside a magical new meshing of musicianship to make something that’s really special.
12. Bush-The Art Of Survival (BMG Records): Bush of today is living their best life and to prove that 2020’s The Kingdom was no fluke, the quartet continue their louder streak on album number nine with The Art Of Survival upping the ante even more. Folks sleeping on Bush based solely on nostalgia-hating or some other ludicrous reason are really missing out on a modern rawk renaissance with a new album that sees Gavin Rossdale and company just laying it all out there and experimenting in a variety of heavy sounds. Yes, heavy.
11. He Is Legend-Endless Hallway (Spinefarm): As the kids say, He Is Legend’s latest slaps. From the moment “The Prowler” kicks in through to the closing pangs of “Lord Slug”, Endless Hallway is a relentless rawker from the seasoned pros and easily their most constantly heavy record to date.
10. Profiler-Profiler (Sharp Tone Records): The only EP on this list, Profiler made an impact with barely fifteen minutes of music which made up the five tracks on their self-titled debut release. We were initially going to put this a little further down the list cuz short but then realized that, despite the length of the record, it still shreds from start to finish. Whether it’s the instrumental “We Are Extinction” that opens the record or the four pummelers that follow, the weight each track holds and displays simply cannot be denied.
9. In The Blind-Evolve & Escape (Razor To Wrist): Another rather late entry that came out of left field is the latest musical endeavor from the one and only musical genius Jasan Stepp, responsible for helping to bring the likes of Dog Fashion Disco, Polkadot Cadaver, and Knives Out! to yer earholes. With In The Blind, Stepp ventures out for a rare occasion without vocalist Todd Smith to drop an album that’s some next level heaviness and something to behold with a vocalist in Josh Grosscup who’s got a voice that definitely should not be ignored.
8. Besvärjelsen-Atlas (Magnetic Eye Records): The latest record from Sweden’s Besvärjelsen slays. Simple as that. From the pummeling that opener “The Cardinal Ride” administers from the onset of Atlas through to the fiery finale of the Sabbathian-sized “Divided Ends”, Besvärjelsen came correct on their newest full-length.
7. The Mysterines-Reeling (Fiction Records): This was another “Hey! What’s that that just came on some random Spotify mix we were listening to???” Out of left field for us and such a solid Rawk record, Reeling by The Mysterines is kind of like the best parts of The Duke Spirit, Foo Fighters back in the day, and The Subways (First 2 records at least) rolled all up into one neat modern package.
6. Fozzy-Boombox (Century Media): This one ranked pretty high up on our 2020 “Most Anticipated” list as it was initially announced as dropping in April of that year but then the world changed, shit happened, and we got a slew of singles as a slow build up to what would eventually be Boombox. And it was well worth the wait and managed to transcend standing in the shadow of a giant hit like “Judas” with a whole bunch of new Fozzy anthems like “Sane”, “Purifier”, and “I Still Burn” to name a few.
5. Sergeant Thunderhoof-This Sceptred Veil (Pale Wizard): The newest from Sergeant Thunderhoof is a lurching behemoth of steady riffs and harmonious/heavenly vocals. The opening track alone is almost nine minutes of uninhibited trippy Rawk and it is glorious. Epic is too confining of a word to describe not only the opening salvo but the album as a whole as it eventually goes on to deliver one of the purest Rawk opuses of 2022.
4. Devin Townsend-Lightwork (Deluxe) (InsideOut): In which RNRF rejoins the cult of Hevy Devy. What a stellar album Lightwork turned out to be! Despite the lead singles not moving the needle one way or another when released beforehand, a lone lengthy car ride listening through the entirety of it helped the appreciation and immediately caused us to search out vinyl copies as soon as we got somewhere more stationary. It’s weird and wonderful and, as is the case with most Townsend releases, needs to be experienced as a whole before you can chop it up and dissect each part. And, of course, you NEED to hear the deluxe version featuring ten more pieces of the puzzle which may or may not play a part down the road (“Celestial Signals” on the main Lightwork album was previously released in demo form on the deluxe side of 2016’s Transcendence).
3. The Endorphins-Nothing Is Real: Holy *choose your expletive* did the debut full-length from The Endorphins pack one helluva punch. Big on fuzz and big on feeling, the twelve tracks that make up NIR run the gamut of what it is to Rawk. We raved in our review about it and we’ll reiterate it here that if you’re looking for some solid modern Alternative RAWK then The Endorphins is an outfit not to be overlooked.
2. Bad Omens-The Death Of Peace Of Mind (Sumerian Records): A newer discovery (For us!), Bad Omens stepped it all up considerably in 2022 with their third album that elevated heaviness to grand levels yielding a collection of songs that are each in their own way broad, brooding, and bombastic.
1. Corlyx-Blood In The Disco (Out Of Line): Sure, Corlyx’s last record was part of a threeway tie for favorite album of 2020 (“White Wolf” continues to pleasantly haunt us to this day) but, while anticipation was through the roof on our end for the follow-up, that was by no means a guarantee that what came next wouldn’t be a pile ‘o crap. Luckily, Blood In The Disco not only met our high expectations but far exceeded them. We’ll admit we had some doubts since it was initially due early in 2022 and seemingly materialized out of nowhere in late November but what the duo of Caitlin Stokes and Brandon Ashley delivered with BITD, for us, kind of blows away Together Apart and is easily the most consistent release of 2022 from start to finish with memorable Electro banger after memorable Electro banger presenting a veritable blueprint of how to make the perfect album.
And did you know that we created a playlist for 2022? Because we did! And it features a song from every album featured on this list as well as a TON of other tracks that ruled the RNRF world this year so check it out by clicking here. As always, thank you for tuning in!