Well, it’s been one hell of a year, I won’t endeavour to touch on the Geo-Political comings and goings, we all know what has been going on there so I will instead focus on events of a more personal nature. Or to put it in less ponderous terms, what the hell’s been going on in Reza’s world over the past year?
The end of 2021 saw a turbulent series of events for yours truly. Intense pressures in my former role within the Mental Health Team meant I had no choice but to take extended sick leave. Since then, I have been relocated to a less stressful role but nonetheless, the search for more fulfilling work continues.
My quest to search for more fulfilling work was kickstarted by the commencement of a voluntary position within the Eggcup organization who distributes food to the needy. Other good things also happened such as a trip to Canterbury for a few days break where I met up with fellow Shaman scribe and friend Lee Beamish for a Michael Gira (Swans) gig and of course continuing to write for The Shaman. So, after all this introductory waffle y’all will be wanting to know what my Top Ten of the year is.
As I’ve alluded to in previous years, choosing a Top Ten is next to an impossible task, especially what with so many amazing releases out there. If I liked, and had children, it would be akin to trying to choose my favourite, however, it must be done so here is my resultant selection.
10. The Catatonics ‘Hunted Down’ Reissue
Oh, Southern Lord, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways… not content with putting out some of the heaviest, experimental and downright intriguing albums in living memory, Greg Anderson also has a penchant for hardcore. Previous releases have included Neon Christ, Uniform Choice, The Offenders and YDI, but now is the turn of The Catatonics, Syracuse/Central New York state’s first hardcore band. This extended EP rips like DRI, SSD, Suicidal… all that good shit. Sadly, a short-lived band at the time, hopefully we will be met with new material soon…
Label: Southern Lord
9. Munly & The Lupercalians ‘Kinnery Of Lupercalia; Undelivered Legion’
Jayson Thompson, Jay Munly, or simply Munly has been making music since around the mid ‘90s, first as a solo artist, then as part of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Denver Broncos UK and so on. This latest release is his second as Munly & The Lupercalians and impressive it is too. If Michael Gira, The Birthday Party, 16 Horsepower/Wovenhand all tick your boxes then you’re in for a treat. It’s folk rock but infinitely darker and more engaging, if you were looking for the anthesis to the nicey nice bland musings of Mumford & Sons and Fisherman’s Friends, then look no further.
8. The Shenandoah Electric Company ‘LP1’
The Shenandoah Electric Company are a trio comprising of a former member of Octaves and current members of Pianos Become Teeth, this gem of an album has been on repeat since I reviewed it back in June. Cinematic alt-rock of the highest order, you cannot help but fall in love with its soulfulness and raw emotion, it’s what I wish a band like The National was. There are tasty experimental moments too that summon the spirits of pioneers such as My Bloody Valentine and Talk Talk that help keep you engaged and prevent the whole affair from becoming too cosy.
Label: Pax Aeternum
7. Lustmord ‘The Others [Lustmord Deconstructed]’
Welshman Brian Williams or Lustmord as he’s best known in the music world, has been making dark ambient/experimental music for decades, at least as long as I’ve been alive, so that’s a fair old while. This here release is a tribute of sorts to him, his album Other and features giants of the underground such as Mono, Ihsahn, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore and The Ocean. As mentioned in my review, it’s a massive release and needs some serious time invested as far as listening is concerned but persevere and you won’t be disappointed.
Label: Pelagic Records
6. The Lord ‘Forest Nocturne’
Greg Anderson has decided to spend some time alone away from his day job(s) and produced this, his rather fantastic debut solo album Forest Nocturne under the moniker The Lord. Inspired by legendary composers such as Bernard Hermann, Anderson decided to craft an album in a similar cinematic epic vein. Fans of Sunn O))) will certainly jump all over this as it has all the hallmarks of that band, what with its hypnotic heavy drone vibes, but to me at least, it feels a hell of a lot more engaging and inviting. His recent collaboration with Petra Haden, Devotional, a couple or so months ago is also worth investigating.
Label: Southern Lord
5. Grieving Sea ‘Donewiz’
Post-punk, goth and darkwave, when I spy those descriptions on the promo-lists bossman Shaman Lee sends out, I’m guaranteed to have my interest peaked and so was the case with Italian duo Grieving Sea. From the gorgeous cover art to the blissful haunting music and emotive vocals, this was an album that arrested my attention from the get-go. Joy Division, Christian Death, Bauhaus, all of these cool ass influences are present without feeling in any way slavish or an imitator. This is a different beast to the rest of Brucia Recordings roster, it’s a standalone work of beauty.
Label: Brucia Records
4. Tension Span ‘The Future Died Yesterday’
Members of Neurosis, Asunder and Dystopia unite with Tension Span to forge an album that sounds like it’s straight out of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Anarcho-punk and peace-punk vibes intermingle brilliantly with the dark and bleak post-punk of bands like Killing Joke, Factrix and their ilk. The artwork is classic Crass with the stark black and white imagery but with far better musicianship than that band could ever muster. Lyrically left leaning but nowhere near as didactic as bands such as Rage Against The Machine, the message is never hammered home, but the music certainly is.
Label: Neurot Recordings
3. Black Math Horseman ‘Black Math Horseman’ EP
Black Math Horseman are back with a new release nine years after their dissolution with this incredible Self-Titled EP that contains the best that the post-metal genre has to offer. Mix in elements of post-rock and darkwave along with some Siouxsie Sioux vocals and you have all the ingredients of something very special indeed. The release also has some psychedelic elements which makes for a genuinely mesmerising other worldly effect, not just trip out music to take drugs to. A stunning return for this underrated and overlooked quartet.
Label: Profound Lore Records
2. The Bobby Lees ‘Bellevue’
I do have a tendency to take myself a little too seriously with some of the austere and ‘challenging’ music I listen to, therefore its good sometimes to have something like New Yorkers The Bobby Lees fantastic recent record Bellevue to unwind and let loose to. Part The Stooges-esque garage punk, part scuzzy Pussy Galore/Jon Spencer Blues Explosion noise-rock/punk-blues and part Riot Grrrl, this all combines to make a devastatingly awesome musical blitzkrieg. Its short, belligerent, laden with attitude and a whole heap of fun.
Label: Ipecac Recordings
1. Mac Gollehon ‘The End Is The Beginning’
There was never any doubt as to who would occupy the number one slot of my 2022 Top Ten. Having enjoyed his recent collaboration with Gridfailure on Dismemberment Cabaret that narrowly missed out making my Top Ten last year, I knew The End Is The Beginning was a strong contender the moment I heard it. Using New York as the backdrop, the legendary Mac Gollehon (Duran Duran, David Bowie, Chic) plays some wonderfully discordant Jazz that conjures up images of the darker, seedier and less glamorous side of life in the Big Apple. Tremendous.
Label: Nefarious Industries
As ever, the following are six honourable mentions, which although excellent, didn’t quite make it to my top ten this year. These are:
Jerry A. Lang ‘From The Fire Into The Water’
A last-minute addition is the fantastic solo album from the legendary Poison Idea frontman.
Gramma Vedetta ‘The Hum of The Machine’
Superlative Progressive Doom from this London crew.
Chrome Waves ‘Recursive: The Rain Will Cleanse Remixes‘
Intriguing experimental mixes of last year’s The Rain Will Cleanse full-length.
Featuring Sepultura legend Igor Cavalera, harsh noise and industrial goodness.
Jarboe ‘Skin Blood Women Roses’
An excellent reissue of Jarboe’s then side-project with Michael Gira that contains jazz/blues flourishes.
False Figure ‘Castigations’
An awesome collection of death-rock and post-punk from this Oakland trio.
Scribed by: Reza Mills