A couple days before Thanksgiving I was in the grocery store waiting in one of two lines that wasn’t self-checkout (on account of I don’t work there), and the old guy in front of me (I’d estimate him to be around 80) kept looking at my Napalm Death shirt.
I kept trying to pretend like I didn’t notice, and then I accidentally made eye contact, and then the following exchange happened:
Old Guy: I was lookin at your shirt.
Me (assuming he wouldn’t understand what I meant by “grindcore”): It’s a heavy metal band.
Me: Yeah, since the early-to-mid 80’s.
OG: Well, as long as nobody’s gettin hurt and everybody’s havin fun, I don’t see any harm in it.
Me: That’s how I feel about pretty much everything.
OG: (placing his items on the belt): It was really nice talking to you, young man. Thank you for being so open.
Me: Thank you for not being judgy.
OG: The way I see it, there’s 8 billion of us on this planet, and all any of us really wants is to be heard.
Me: That’s a good way to look at things.
OG: I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving.
Me: Thank you very much, I hope you do, too.
Speaking as a man so hates small talk, and conservations in general, this small-talk conversation made me aware of two things:
First, not everyone is awful. It really seems like most everyone is, most of the time, but every now and then, someone will provide an exception to the rule, and I like that.
2. All any of us really wants is to be heard. I often forget that this is true. I spend so much time trying to not-talk-so-no-one-will-look-at-me that I forget that being looked at and being heard are two different things. I wanna be heard, too, just not looked at, which I suppose is why I’m a blogger and not a youtuberizer or tikkitytocker.
“Hey Joel, what the fuck does any of this have to do with your Top 10 Albums of 2022?” That’s a fair question, and I’m getting to it.
I don’t usually read anyone’s Top 10 Albums of (insert year here) unless it’s in a publication I already read, like Decibel, or if it’s written by someone I know in some capacity. I mean, I don’t care what some asshole I don’t know thinks about what music I should be listening to, y’know? But on the other hand, all that asshole really wants is to be heard, and besides, maybe that asshole isn’t so awful anyway. Also, I’m sometimes an asshole, even though I mostly try real hard not to be.
Having said that, I decided (for I think the first time ever) to make an Official Official Top 10 Albums of (insert year here)(specifically this year), in no particular order. I don’t expect anyone to give a hoot, but I figure I’m paying for the bandwidth, and I still have the physical and mental capacity to write, so why not write something, even if no one but me reads it? That’s a rhetorical question. Also, please don’t look at me while you’re reading this. That (along with being heard) is all I’ve ever really wanted.
MY TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2022:
Clutch – Sunrise on Slaughter Beach – My love of Clutch is not a secret. How every person on this miserable planet doesn’t also love them is a conundrum that shall haunt me for the rest of my days, but if you really know me, you know I love Clutch. Anyway, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach is an instant classic, right up there in The Elephant Riders Blast Tyrant territory. It’s a bit on the short side, and I wouldn’t be sad if it went on for another song or two, but it doesn’t really need anymore songs. It’s great. It has big, burly riffs, fat-ass grooves, and Neil Fallon’s voice hittin’ you upside the head like a velvet bag filled with crushed gravel. And a theremin!
Standout Tracks: “Nosferatu Madre”, “Skeletons on Mars”, “Slaughter Beach”
Goatwhore – Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven – To be perfectly honest, this is the first (and so far only) Goatwhore album I’ve listened to in it’s entirety, but I read positive things about it in Decibel magazine, and as and Acid Bath fan I already knew that I was a fan of Sammy Duet’s guitar. So anyway, I went into Landlocked Music one day with no agenda, and they had it for 13 bucks, so I bought it, along with another album on this list, and it was a good day. I know I need to check out more of this band, but for now, I can’t stop listening to this album. Which Goatwhore album should I check out next?
Standout Tracks: “The Bestowal of Abomination”, “Death from Above”, “Voracious Blood Fixation”
Voivod – Synchro Anarchy – My love of Voivod is only more of a secret than my love of Clutch because, generally speaking, more people have heard of Clutch. I love Voivod just as much as I love Clutch, and sometimes more. I’m not gonna talk about Voivod right now (I think I’ve talked about them plenty). [Just kidding, I’ll talk about Voivod any time (other than now).]
Now, I’m here to talk about Voivod’s newest album, Synchro Anarchy. This album continues building on the foundation this lineup laid with The Wake, which is sometimes my favorite Voivod album. That said, so far I like The Wake a bit more, but I haven’t listened to Synchro Anarchy quite as much, plus it’s completely fucking amazing, so that’s no knock on Synchro Anarchy at all. If you’re interested in digging into some heavy music that makes you think, I can’t recommend Voivd’s catalog enough. This album is as good a place to start as any.
Standout Tracks: “Synchro Anarchy”, “Planet Eaters”, “Holographic Thinking”
Sigh – Shiki – Like Goatwhore, I just started listening to Sigh this year, but unlike Goatwhore, I’ve listened to more than just the newest release. I don’t know how to begin to describe what Sigh does, but it’s fucking weird and heavy and cool, and I like it a lot. They started out in 1989 as a black metal band, but they’ve grown to eclipse any single genre of music other than “Sigh” (they’ve had a full-time saxophone player in the band since 2007, for chrissake). Shiki finds founder/bandleader/mastermind Mirai Kawashima ruminating on aging and death. All the lyrics are in Japanese, but that doesn’t matter. Music is the universal language. I recommend this one.
Standout Tracks – Just listen to the whole thing. Use headphones if possible.
Racebannon – Satan’s Kickin’ Yr Dick In (2022 Re-Issue) – I wrote about Racebannon, and Satan’s Kickin’ Yr Dick In particularly, on my old blog Stay Heavy, which still gets more views than this blog, even though I haven’t posted anything there since November 2019. I pre-ordered this without hesitation up learning of its impending release. As I already own the album on CD and vinyl, the big draw for me on this release is the second disc, which consists of remastered alternate versions of Parts I-V, plus live versions of Parts I, II, and V, and instrumental practice sessions of Parts I, II, IV, and V. (None of that likely means anything to you, but if you wanna know more about that, why not read my old post about it?)
The remastered alternate versions are dope, and are worth the price of admission on their own, but the live versions are very cool, and the instrumental stuff is cool, although I likely won’t listen to those versions as often. The original album is as great as ever.
Fun Bonus: I was surprised and super-stoked to find an excerpt from my old write-up of the album included in the liner notes to the second disc, nestled in there among quotes from Pitchfork, All Music Guide, Alternative Press, and others. I’m beyond honored to be a part of Official Racebannon Canon.
Standout Tracks: Disc One: “Part I”, “Part II”, “Part III”, “Part IV”, “Part V”; Disc Two: “Part I”, “Part II”, “Part III”, “Part IV”, “Part V”
Charley Crockett – Li’l G.L. Presents: Jukebox Charley – I bought four Charley Crockett albums this year, and I got to kind of see him live, albeit from all the way in the back of an oversold venue. My friend Chris recommended him, and like many recommendations I receive, I ignored it for a while, then one day at work I decided to listen to his newest album, The Man From Waco, which also came out this year. It’s also great, but I didn’t want to have two albums from the same artist on the list, and Jukebox Charley is the one I’ve listened to more out of the two. So anyway, I went into Landlocked Music one day with no agenda, and they had a used copy for 6 bucks, so I bought it, along with 2020’s Welcome to Hard Times and another album on this list, and it was a good day.
This is the fourth album Crockett has released under the “Li’l G.L.” line, and like the first three, these are all covers. All of them are fantastic, as Charley Crockett is great at what he does. He’s just about the only person I’d wanna hear sing a Tom T. Hall song other than Tom T. Hall himself (may be rest in peace), although an exception will always be made for Alan Jackson’s cover of “Little Bitty”.
Standout Tracks: “Where Have All the Honest People Gone”, “I Hope it Rains at My Funeral”, “Make Way for a Better Man”
A Vulture Wake – One. Kingdom. Animal – Not enough people know about this band, and that’s silly. They began as a sort-of “melodic hardcore supergroup” of sorts, if your definition of “supergroup” consists of members of bands that most people haven’t heard of. That is meant as no slight to the members of A Vulture Wake – there is an impressive punk rock pedigree on display with this band, from from the beginning until now. The only consistent member is singer/guitarist Chad Price, perhaps best know for his time as singer for ALL (perhaps best known for not being the Descendents) and/or his time as singer/guitarist of Drag the River (both are among my favorite bands, even when Chad’s not singin, and both very occasionally play live still, but I digress).
I love A Vulture Wake’s first album, 2018’s The Appropriate Level of Outrage, and quite frankly it made a direct impact in my decision to stop eating meat (almost 6 years ago now). I enjoyed 2019’s Fall Prey EP, and the Kingdom EP from June of this year, a bit less, but it’s still great.
Then in September, the band released a second new EP entitled Animal, and released both of this year’s EPs as a CD called One.Kingdom.Animal, and hearing the Kingdom songs in the context of the Animal songs really makes them make sense to me. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s catchy, it’s fucking excellent.
Standout Tracks: “Virus”, “Moths”, “We Are Living in a Dream”
Morgue Supplier – Inevitability – This band has been on my radar for a few years, and I’d heard and enjoyed some Morgue Supplier songs before purchasing Inevitability, but I decided to pull the trigger on this one, and I’m so glad I did. Inevitability picks up where Brutal Truth left off. That’s not to say that Invevitability sounds like Brutal Truth, but it does feel like a spiritual successor to that band’s very best albums. It’s not for the faint of heart (or ear), but if you’re itching for some music that’s heavy, noisy, chaotic, apocalyptic, and terrifying, Invetiability will scratch that itch.
Standout Tracks: “Absurd Identity”, “Empty Vacant Shell”, “My Path to Hell”
Cave In – Heavy Pendulum – Volumes have been written about Cave In by any number of writers better than yours truly, but the Big Deal surrounding this album is that it wasn’t supposed to happen. Longtime bassist Caleb Scofield passed away in a horrific car accident in 2018, the band released Final Transmission a year later, which featured the final recordings with Caleb. Then Converge bassist/backing vocalist Nate Newton joined up with the surviving members of Cave In in 2021, and they recorded this cracking motherfucker of an album. I haven’t listened to a lot of Cave In’s music, but Landlocked had this in a beautiful 180 gm 2xLP gatefold set and it wasn’t expensive, so I bought it, and I love it. Stephen Brodsky writes and plays some absolutely God-Tier Riffs, and this album delivers on those in spades.
Standout Tracks: “New Reality”, “Blood Spiller”, “Amaranthine”
The Tragically Hip – Live at the Roxy, a.k.a. Live at the Roxy May 3 91 – I love The Tragically Hip as much as I love Clutch and Voivod, even though I discovered The Hip much more recently. In 2021 they released a really solid 30th anniversary box set of their brilliant 1991 sophomore LP Road Apples on the heels of Saskadelphia, an EP of unreleased songs from the Road Apples era. Live at the Roxy was part of that box set, but it got a standalone release this year, which qualifies it for this list. This is The Tragically Hip at the beginning of the peak of their live powers, and if you’re a fan of blues-inflected, slightly jammy rock ‘n’ roll (but good), I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy Live at the Roxy.
Standout Tracks: “Twist My Arm”, “Three Pistols”, “Blow at High Dough”
I’ll write about both of these soon. One I just received in the mail a few days ago, and the other I’ve only listened to once, on account of I don’t listen to that type of music that often, but both came out this year, and both deserve a mention.
Specimen Box – Remote Communion
Noah Nordman – SHIPWRECKED! PT. I
That’s all I got for now. Look for more soon (but not too soon), and also check out these albums. They all rule.
And don’t be afraid to be heard.