The 10 best albums of 2022, according to Gus.
As the saying goes: « The song remains the same… » as it seems like we are trapped in a series of shit years and given how things are boiling everywhere, it does not look like it is ending soon. But there has been a lot of positive this year, especially on the music side.
Once again, many very good records were released through the year (STEAK, PUP, EVERYTHING EVERYTHING, BAD OMENS, PARKWAY DRIVE…). Choices were made and they were often difficult, in order to find the very best among the albums that stayed with me all year long. And there is a tie, just so I could give you more.
And so, with a slight delay, here is my list of the best records of 2022, hope you enjoy your discoveries!
10/ CARPENTER BRUT
I have always had respect for artists who push their ideas to the limit, not matter how crazy they are. Therefore, when I read about CARPENTER BRUT wanting make three albums viewed as the soundtracks to a trilogy of unreleased slasher films, I immediately was thrilled, since an artistic proposition that ambitious, deserves respect. However, the first part of said trilogy, “Leather Teeth”, was a bit of a letdown.
So now, CARPENTER BRUT just went “Empire Strikes Back” on our asses and completely smashed the previous effort. Way somber, with electronica riff sounding like a throwback to the “Trilogy” EPs, “Leather Terror” is the kind of album that will force your mind to create a story and a film to go along. The soundtrack aspect is mastered and used much better, with the help of an extremely rich, deep and cristal clear production.
Frank Hueso, even offers us the best possible tribute to 80s B-movies soundtracks I have heard in a while: “Lipstick Masquerade”, a killer mix of EDM, metal and pop. It should also be said that all the singers invited on the album have had a total creative freedom which makes their contributions absolutely perfect and I did not expect the tracks with vocals to be my favorites.
Finding a new balance between mean, aheavy riffs and angry biting keyboards, CARPENTER BRUT goes to eleven for an album as generous as entertaining. Moreover, I am very excited to hear his “Return of the Jedi”.
Recommended Tracks: “Leather Terror”, “Imaginary Fire”, “Lipstick Masquerade”, “Night Prowler”
10/ COBRA THE IMPALER
I must admit, it took me a while to get into new music in 2022, mostly due to a very complicated end to 2021. Therefore, on day, I randomly chose albums among the promos received by the radio and went in fully blind. So when I saw the artwork, created as a pareidolia, I thought: now I’m interested.. Happy to say I was right, because “Colossal Gods” is a musical punch in the face.
Yes, MASTODON massively, and openly inspires this album, moslty the “Blood Mountain”/“The Hunter” era (it is obvious on the guitar sounds and riff structure), but that influence is so well understood and digested, that it never goes into cheap plagiarism mode. That is because the Belgian quintet does not stop there, and borrows elements from death, heavy, thrash, grind and even stoner in some instances.
And that massive patchwork of sounds (hence the album artwork) is kept together by the impressive vocal performance of Manuel Remmerie, who acts as the main unifying piece for “Golossal Gods” and allows the listener to never get lost in a record that looks simple but keeps tricking you in different ways.
Because this album hooks you in with a catchy opening and hypnotizes you by bringing its music into new structures and horizons of controlled madness before sucking you in its scary universe of deep and intelligent insanity.
It is an experience that never replays the same, will mark you permanently and I really want to hear where this formation is going to go next.
Recommended Tracks: “Clossal Gods”, “Sorched Earth”, “Mountains”
9 / BLOODYWOOD
For someone who grew up in the nu-metal waves of the early 00s, finding a band that hit that spot perfectly, while managing to appropriate, reinvent and psuh the genre forward, almost feels like ambrosia. Because BLOODYWOOD, armed with elephant heavy riffs, huge rhythm guitars and its mix of screamed-sung-rapped vocals, just makes you want to go back to the baggy jeans, BMX bikes and chained wallets of your teenage years. But there’s more to it.
We need to acknowledge the clever and appropriate use of traditional Indian instruments and melodies (the flutes are always a highlight of the songs) and the skilled mix of electronic sounds (“Aaj is a perfect example of that). However, the biggest strength of BLOODYWOOD is the energy that comes from the music; it goes right onto fifth gear and never slows down.
They also have great lyrics with a point to make, talking about equality (“Gaadar”), violence towards women (“Dana Dan”), revolution (“Machis Basaad”) and even mental illness ‘(“Jee Veerey”). The mix of English, Pendjabi and Hindi also manages to make BLOODYWOOD talk about both India as well as the rest of the world. With “Rakshak”, the trio affirms its strong identity and makes it resonate through an always more interconnected world.
Moreover, clearly, for people who have my level of adoration for multi-layered puns, a band called BLOODYWOOD is a godsend. A band we will follow closely.
Recommended Tracks: “Machid Basaad”, “Dana Dan”, “Yaad”, “Jee Veerey”
8 / THE HU
"Rumble Of Thunder"
In 2019, the release of the first album by THE HU exploded onto the international metal scene. In 2023, they will headline one of the stage of the Hellfest festival. In terms of meteoric rise, it is an impressive one.
And I must admit that “Rumble Of Thunder”, second offering by the mongolian band, completely justifies them being in the spotlight. The formation did not just delivers a copy of the first album, but visibly learned from its international experiences and numerous collaborations, managing to put those flawlessly back into its music.
Everything feels greater, more massive and much more homogeneous. While the first record could be clumsy in mixing folk instruments and metal, “Rumble Of Thunder” never lets one part overtake the other and juggle from one to the other with jaw dropping ease.
With over an hour of music, it is also a very generous offering and the contrast between heavier tracks (“Black Thunder”) and lighter, more festive ones (“Bii Biyelge”) allows them to display a wider range of compositions without ever feeling repetitive or redundant.
“Rumble Of Thunder” is the kind of album that will make you want to cross the desert on a motorcycle so you can feast with nomads. And there is no doubt that the songs will turn their concerts into a big party, for the good of everyone present.
Recommended Tracks: “Black Thunder”, “Bii Biyelgee”, “Triangle”
7 / DEVIN TOWNSEND
When DEVIN TOWNSEND announces “my next record will be weird”, only two reactions are allowed : curiosity and fear. In the end, you should feel both equally. “Lightwork” is an enigma. It is impossible to know what to make of it, how to approach it ou how to properly describe it. And for me, the fault is on Devin himself, since he got us used to a high level of complexity on most of his projects.
Because “Lightwork” is actually a monument of light and simplicity, a complete feeling of musical plentitude who will jam all your emotional levels at the moment you let yourself be immersed in it.
The writing genius of the Canadian has been proven multiple times and even though his style in recognizable here, notably in the perfect production work, “Lightwork” is much more direct, simple and straightforward than most of its predecessors. That is what makes it as powerful as strangely disconcerting.
Nevertheless, in the end, the key to understanding it is in the artwork: this album is a lighthouse aiming at protecting us from the current chaos and the monsters surrounding us. A powerful, sometimes blinding light, which will manage to bring you to port with no hassle.
So close your eyes, lay down and let the DEVIN TOWSNED star warm you up and guide you through those dark times, god knows many of us need it.
Recommended Tracks: “Call Of The Void”, “Celestial Signals”, “Children Of God”
6 / MY SLEEPING KARMA
We missed MY SLEEPING KARMA. Seven years have passed since the fantastic “Moksha”, and given how much I love this ban, it felt longer. Nevertheless, given what they formation has been through in that time, and is still going through now, just being able to listen to “Atma” feels like a miracle.
The sanskrit concept of Atma describes the “Self” and explains that each individual must reach a state of pure self-consciousness to reach the liberation, or “Moksha”… Because of this, the continuity between the two albums becomes obvious and the formation starts over exactly where they left us, even if there are many differences in how they sound.
This sixth record is more introspective than its predecessors are, and invites to an even more meditative listen, leading to a contemplative internal voyage, which relies on the delicate balance of the entire work. The bass lines are particularly at the forefront here, giving the depths and heights some unexpected power all through the album. They even managed to give each instrument its own moment in the spotlight, without ever threatening the cohesion or turning into musical mush.
The feeling of traveling through unknown landscapes but still feeling like you have been there before submerges you and getting lost in the six songs is one of the most soothing experience of 2022. We hope for the band that all will be better soon and that they do not have to wait seven mpore years to deliver an album of such quality.
Recommended Tracks: “Avatara”, “Prema”, “Pralaya”
5 / ELECTRIC CALLBOY
Whatever I may write about ELECTRIC CALLBOY will be far from reality. It is a musical U.F.O., mixing electronica, EDM, pop and angry metalcore in a musical bomb specifically created to eradicate subtlety from the world.
Because, yes, in 10 tracks for barely 30 minutes, the quintet finally achieves its transformation and goes from cringy edgelord to a monster of the dancefloor that manages to balance all the elements of its music so that it will get stuck in your brain for months and months.
Between the schlager, this insufferable German pop music, parody turning into a brutal death track (“Hurrikan”), an anthem to a… very special train (“Tekkno Train” and its growled “choo choo”) and a love letter to gyms (“Pump It”), everything is straightforward, unadulterated, no compromise fun and jokes.
All the styles are perfectly executed, the songs are all extremely catchy (even the more “serious” ones), it is extremely well produced and the singer change noticeably freed the formation who suddenly managed to reach a crucial new level.
With “Tekkno”, the germans reach their final form and force you to go along with their shenanigans, or stay outside the club forever. A must see in concert. And go check out the music videos, it is always incredibly awesome.
Recommended Tracks: “Neon”, “We Got The Moves”, “Fuckboi”, “Pump It”
4 / SHAMAN'S HARVEST
When singer Nathan Hunt explains that “Rebelator” was the most difficult album in SHAMAN’S HARVEST career, it is pretty scary, especially coming from a man who survived throat cancer. Between tornados, flooding, a pandemic and a singer almost getting his foot almost amputated, SHAMAN’S HARVEST really went through a lot, and it feels so in the music.
“Rebelator” is a collection of hard rock anthems and goes back to a simpler “in your face” sound. Everything is huge, powerful, well executed, with enough variations and subtlety, that it never is thick headed. Even the ballad “Mama”, which could miserably fail due to its minimalism, is a success because of the palpable emotion and because it never goes into soppy territories.
With influences going from blues, jazz, country, modern hard rock and alternative, the quartet demonstrates here the full range of its writing skills and manages to make a heterogeneous ensemble cohesive, mostly thanks to the voice of Nathan Hunt, as powerful as ever.
It is because the Americans have mastered the ancestral art of the killer chorus. All the songs check that box and it feels incredibly good to memorize the few lines we want to sing at the top of our lungs as soon as we hear them again.
“Rebelator” confirms that SHAMAN’S HARVEST is the best-kept secret of US rock and that it is about time they find a way to come play in France. When that happens, Rx3 will be there.
Recommended Tracks: “Under Your Skin”, “Bird Dog”, “Mama”, “Wildfire”
3 / HÄLLAS - "Isle Of Wisdom"
Every single music fan has known, at least once, the moment where they discover a band for the first time and, four notes in, wonders how they could have not known about this band earlier. This happened to me with HALLAS in 2022.
It is space heavy metal with progressive and psychedelic icing. They sounds like massive mix of influences from bands like HAWKWIND, BLUE OYSTER CULT, WISHBONE ASH, CAMEL, MANILLA ROAD… without actually sounding like any of those bands. Basically, I felt like this band specially crafted a record for me.
A bit less immediate and catchy than their previous work, “Isle Of Wisdom” makes up for it with a more pronounce epic side and most of all, an ability to captivate its audience with layered compositions which will make you shout “it shouldn’t fucking work !” (I have said it once per song, at least) Because indeed, none of it should work and yet, because it is perfectly written, with precise production and executed with the minutia of a mathematical equation, everything runs perfectly. Moreover, the conclusion gets obvious as soon as you reach the end of (The Wind Carries The Word”: HALLAS is an awesome band, pure and simple.
Between the killer riffs, fantastic arrangements, perfect keyboards and synths and a unique voice that blends it all together, don’t try to fight, take 45 minutes and dive into “Isle Of Wisdom” completely and then do it again until you’ve unlocked all of its secrets, I guarantee by the end you’ll smile and get an always renewed sense of wonder.
Recommended Tracks: All of them.
2 / RAMMSTEIN - "Zeit"
This is now the year 2023. What could I possibly write about RAMMSTEIN with could give you something even remotely original about the band? Yes, “Zeit” is a tour de force that even I was not expecting from them.
Without turning their backs on their past, RAMMSTEIN finally shows that they acknowledge they have aged and choose to talk about time moving on, from the beginning until the accepted end, with its inescapable solitude.
“Zeit” is a much more melodic album than what we are used from RAMMSTEIN. The grandiose production works succeeds in pushing this aspect forward without removing the powerful rhythm section and the importance of Till Lindemann’s always-perfect voice, which gives the ensemble majesty, wisdom and power we did not think they were capable of reaching for 45 minutes (« Zeit », « Angst », « Lügen »).
Once again, the particular attention to the lyrics and stories told here will force the listerner to dive deeper and deeper into the band’s universe without knowing how they will come out of it (“Adieu” will haunt you forever and wins the award for best album closer of 2022).
With this record in form of a farewell letter, exploring all of the band’s history, without repeating themselves, the six musicians leave us with one question: Is this actually a farewell from RAMMSTEIN? The will of a European juggernaut? No one knows but them. But whatever happens, “Zeit” is a great album, by a great band.
Recommended Tracks: All of them.
I am not going to lie; this one really shocked me. First spin I went quiet. Second spin same result. Then, the truth was revealed to me: “Spirits” by NOTHING MORE is my 2022 album of the year. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.
While all the other albums of this year gave me the feeling that they would help me manage the surrounding chaos, NOTHING MORE showed me they would tackle the chaos and just run all over it frontally. Without filters, without compromise, and by sharpening even more its sound and musical identity, the quartet even dares to explore further a land we thought they had completely conquered.
“Spirits” is generous to an almost painful level and explodes, track after track, in a hurricane of emotions so pure they are almost terrifying. It is quite simple, if the trilogy “Best Times”, “Deja Vu”, “Dream With Me” doesn’t make your jaw drop, you’re just dead inside.
Fifty minutes of combat against the aggressions of the outside world and the frustration of the past three years as much as the one coming from our own demons. Moreover, all of it is set to music by a singer who reaches new heights in his vocal performance and is supported by a band now in perfect symbiosis and whose performance is as magnificent as it is powerful.
And special mention to the mix and production, which push everything at the maximum to throw the listener into a huge wall of sound but never forgets to give them the key to solve it all and never get lost in songs that are not always easy to apprehend.
NOTHING MORE confirms the greatness showed since their eponymous record and “Spirits” is as beautiful as is it powerful. The best record of 2022 and a band you must see over and over again as much as possible.
Recommended Tracks: All of them, it is an experience through and through.
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