Well here we are again. Another year in the books. It was…definitely a year. With like…months in it and holidays and whatnot. Life did improve and there is definitely light at the end of the very dark tunnel that has been my life for the past few years. Luckily, this year was absolutely fantastic for music. So many new releases, reissues, and random stuff I found that I didn’t know how I was only going to pick five favorites. I did manage it somehow… and without further ado…
Voivod, Synchro Anarchy – I got into a Voivod kick at the tail end of 2021. Imagine my good fortune when I found out they were releasing a new album in ’22. I’m not a long-time fan but Synchro Anarchy certainly seemed like it came from a band that had not lost one ounce of energy since their glory days. I know they’d lost their guitarist who really developed the sound of the band. But I’d put Synchro up against Dimension Hatross or Nothingface any day.
Chagall Guevara, Halcyon Days – At first glance this could almost be considered a disappointment – it’s only nine songs long and half of them are older ones that just never made it on an album and I think there’s…two covers? But….it’s just so good! I listened to it over and over – its brevity being a strength in that regard. I do wish this had at least two more tracks on it, but it’s a stellar record and I’m glad I kickstarted it.
Imperial Triumphant, Spirit of Ecstasy – Ah, yes, another band where I said “I don’t think I’d want album after album of this oops I bought more albums.” This album hit at a time where the chaotic avant-garde black metal jazz was exactly how I was feeling inside. Also features Kenny G on one track.
King’s X, Three Sides of One – Come on…there was probably no way this wasn’t going to make the list. It’s a different sort of release for this band. Dug Pinnick isn’t quite as out front as usual which allows Ty and Jerry to sing more. Some of the tracks on here are the best they’ve written in a long time. Not every track is a winner (“Festival” for example), but overall this is a great release from a great band and hopefully we won’t have to wait another friggin’ fourteen years or however long for the next one.
Queensryche, Digital Noise Alliance – Queensryche was pretty terrible after Chris DeGarmo left and Geoff Tate took over. It became more of a Tate vanity project than anything else. Todd LaTorre is a phenomenal vocalist and a perfect addition to the band after Tate left and lost the rights to the band name. The albums with LaTorre, however, have been…good…but not great. They’ve always seemed to be missing something. Digital Noise Alliance was the first LaTorre album that I felt complete. Nothing was missing. The band was firing on all cylinders and every track was a banger. I hope this trend continues!
The Reconciled, Skin and Bones
D’Virgilio, Morse & Jennings, Troika
Skid Row, The Gang’s All Here
Disappointments of 2022
Star One, Revel In Time – I used to love Arjen Lucassen but lately I’ve been getting the feeling that I’ve kind of heard everything he has to offer. I’m familiar with all his tricks. Nothing has really wowed me from him since maybe The Source. Revel In Time is definitely not a bad album. But it’s not ground-breaking. It doesn’t offer anything new that you haven’t heard on any other Ayreon or Star One album. It’s perfectly pleasant but totally forgettable. And I can say that because I completely forgot this album while I was listening to Voivod and Amorphis.
Devin Townsend, Lightwork – Much like Arjen Lucassen, I feel like I’ve heard all of Devin’s tricks. Lightwork is actually a good album. Probably the best thing he’s done since Z2 in 2014. But even with some of the smooth Peter Gabriel-esque pop that comprises the bulk of Lightwork, I can still hear a lot of old Devin tropes. And I’m not sure whether the problem is on my end or what. I enjoyed my time with Lightwork but I don’t quite salivate at the prospect of a new Devin album like I used to.
Flotsam and Jetsam, Blood in the Water – I am a full on Flots fan at this point. Blood in the Water released sometime in ’21 but I snagged it in January of ’22 and it pretty much dominated the first quarter of the year. Huge hooks, infectious riffs, tight vocals. Everything you could want from a Flots album and a great album in general.
Best Reissue of 2022
Slamcat, Greatest Hits and Misconducts – Slamcat was a band I heard about back in the day but never got to listen to. Roxx reissued the band’s El Gato De La Slam and combined it with all their demo material – this comprises Greatest Hits and Misconducts. If I would have heard this when it came out in ’95 or ’96 I would have adored it. Tons of groove. Lots of hooks. I’m glad they put this collection together because it made the spring a little easier to deal with.
I Have to Talk About Camelot 21
Deliverance released the rerecording of their 1995 album Camelot-in-Smithereens. The original was a good album. Maybe not one of my absolute favorites, but it was good. It was a concept album that was kind of robbed of its concept. The original plan was to have voice-overs and a book to tell the story of the album. Jimmy Brown always wanted to redo this album and make it what he always wanted. Boy howdy did he succeed. This is like the difference from watching a tv show on an old tube television to watching a show on a HD4K curved television. Everything about this album is a million times better than the original.
Best Random Album I Found in 2022
Phil Keaggy, Beyond Nature – I’m not usually one to groove on instrumental albums, but this is an exception. I found a copy of this at Goodwill. Once I listened to it, it got in my bones. I listened to it almost every day in the summer. I would literally start each day with a listen of Beyond Nature. Truly a masterwork of guitar if there ever was one.
I think that just about wraps it up for this year. I feel like I’m missing some things. We got new albums from Soccer Mommy, Alvvays, and Megadeth that were all wonderful. I listened to a ton of cool death and black metal albums from the likes of Marble Tomb, Drudkh, Artificial Brain, and GODIA. Amoprhis put out a new album that was absolutely amazing. So much good stuff. I was truly blessed to hear as much great music as I did this year. I can only hope 2023 brings a good bounty as well. See ya’ll next time!