As the world burns, music remains an indelible source of hope and happiness for me so… hello to you the wonderful readers of The Shaman. It’s that time of year where I once again pore through all of the records that I have listened to throughout the year and painstakingly decide who is going to make my illustrious Top Ten, famously read by around about four members of the public all immediately related to me.
Now, what I will say is… dang! What a great year it’s been for music again. I feel like I say this every year but 2022 has seen a litany of killer music, especially from the extreme side of the genres. I usually can’t keep up with the sea of great music that is being produced across the planet and this year is no different so this list may change as I continue to purchase new records from my billion-page long wishlist!
It’s also been a crazy year personally for me, I married my best friend in front of all of the people I love most in this world and crippled myself financially for the remainder of my sweaty, tubby existence. I’m also finally back on the live music wagon as I got to attend the UK Deathfest after two years of Covid related postponements and met my new best friend in Susan the cat… it’s been a whirlwind. Let’s get into it!
10. Chaotian ‘Effigies Of Obsolescence’
Some Danish decimation to kick this list off with Chaotian! After a few splits and demos, this four-piece have really come together to nail their debut full-length to the rotting corpse that is the death metal scene. This thing is an absolute bulldozer and a high quality one at that. High standards of playing and writing come together to create a killer experience and one that I think a lot of people burst their speaker cones too and couldn’t care less that they did!
9. Inanna ‘Void Of Unending Depths’
I reviewed Void Of Unending Depths for The Shaman early this year and I’m still coming back to it to this day. This Chilean monolith is a murky and complex affair, chock full of atmosphere and savagery. From the excellent production to the oppressive vocal performance, you really get drawn into his one and will struggle not to pay attention to it from start to finish, it really is a great listen. I mentioned in my full review that I had a sneaking feeling Inanna would be making an appearance here and well, there you go, just call me Mystic Meg.
Label: Memento Mori
8. Heaving Earth ‘Darkness Of God’
Dissonant death metal has been featuring on my end of year lists for a while now and 2022 has produced a litany of great records within this genre. Heaving Earth and their latest album Darkness Of God is on the lighter side of the suffocating dissonance scale but makes up for that with a ton of pulverising death metal twisted into the mix. From start to finish, the pacing, the performance and production perfectly marry together to create this killer album!
Label: Lavadome Productions
7. Autophagy ‘Bacteriophage’
One of those surprise records that fell into my lap, featuring Jesse Shreibman of Bell Witch, this gore soaked death metal album has been in constant rotation for me since it came out. The wonderfully swampy and tendinous tone just makes this thing sound extra filthy, something I’ll always get behind. All the members of Autophagy are on top form, and this shows how consistently strong the tracks on here are. So, if you fancy a dip into a record you might not ever manage to scrub off, then Bacteriophage is for you!
Label: Pulverised Records
6. Cruz ‘Confines De La Cordura’
Cruz, a Spanish five-piece, have possibly produced the ripper of the year, this thing absolutely slays from start to finish. It’s an absolute slab of death/thrash madness that will no doubt leave you in an absolute puddle. What I love about Confines De La Cordura is how fun it is and how that fun doesn’t have to be gimmicky or obvious, it’s a serious record that is performed with such savagery that you just can’t help but enjoy yourself, highly recommended!
Label: Nuclear Winter Records
5. Live Burial ‘Curse Of The Forlorn’
I was stoked to catch Live Burial at UK Deathfest and in the London venue the Black Heart, the five-piece slayed. It left me baying for new material from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne horde. Luckily my wish was granted as Curse Of The Forlorn was released shortly thereafter by the fine folk at Transcending Obscurity. This is the group at their most unique, stepping away from that death worship and adding their own twinge to the sound. Packed full of riffs, head bangable moments and killer vocals, this thing just rules. Make sure you get out and catch them on tour!
4. Shrouded Infinity ‘Through Caverns Unknown’
Shrouded Infinity and their Through Caverns Unknown EP absolutely blew me away this year, a punishing five-track slab of relentless death metal born out of Kentucky, USA. The trudging, abrasive and dark death will please most death metal fans but especially if you dig groups like Morgoth and Autopsy. Also, having your music released by Transylvanian Recordings is usually a pretty good earmark that it’s going to rule, and this is no exception. I cannot wait for more music from this two-piece, here’s hoping for a full-length in 2023.
Label: Transylvanian Recordings
3. Worm ‘Bluenothing’
Featuring high up in my end of year list from 2021, Worm are back in here with their latest EP Bluenothing and, like Foreverglade, it’s a bloody masterpiece. Winding, unpredictable and bewitching madness are the ingredients in this witchy brew! There is so much to pick through on here that you’ll constantly be finding your favourite parts and replacing them two minutes later with another favourite moment. The amphitheatre-esque size of the riffs are perfectly produced, making this thing sound utterly huge. It’s a real experience as you sit back and let it overcome you.
Label: 20 Buck Spin
2. Vacuous ‘Dreams Of Dysphoria’
God damn, the UK is killing it right now in the death metal scene and there is none better this year than Dreams Of Dysphoria by London maniacs Vacuous. This record is vicious with an absolute rotting pile of attitude, the ever-evolving rhythms constantly keep you entertained and you literally enjoy being skinned alive by the five-piece’s derangement. What the group do best is atmosphere as they manage to take that vicious sound and drape it in this bleak, light draining atmosphere… cest magnifique!
1. Artificial Brain ‘Artificial Brain’
No surprise here, one of the most consistently excellent bands in the game, the final piece of a trio of records that will forever remain close to my heart. This self-titled finale is the perfect cinematic level finish to their first two records, Labyrinth Constellation and Infrared Horizon. These guys just epitomise disso-death for me, the peculiar rhythms and incredible musicianship from the five-piece will constantly leave you baying for more and more.
The level of atmosphere that Artificial Brain conjour up is nothing but insane, the blackened edge to the tone and the underlying brutality delivered by vocalist Will Smith and drummer Keith Abrami really match the Gorguts influenced dissonance laden melodies. You could liken the tonal melodies to being almost like a swarm that surrounds the record which help Artificial Brain to twist and turn the sound which constantly keeps your attention.
Sadly, it is also the last record with original vocalist Will Smith and the perfect way for him to exit the band. Although I’m gutted he’s leaving the group, I’m super excited for what happens next. Basically, thank you Artificial Brain, I love these three albums, you killed it again.
Label: Profound Lore Records
Any of the below could have made the above list and are seriously worth your time…
Obscene ‘…From Dead Horizon To Dead Horizon’
Begrime Exemious ‘Rotting In The Aftermath’
Molder ‘Engrossed In Decay’
Acausal Intrusion ‘Seeping Evocation’
Sedimentum ‘Suppuration Morphogénésiaque’
Cheers if you got this far, have a killer end to 2022 and an even better 2023, here’s to a billion more killer records for me to find and add to my collection!
Scribed by: Matt Alexander