Laura’s Top 10 Albums Of 2022
By Laura Barnes
2022 is almost over! This is my first year writing for Ever Metal and I’ve gotta say, it’s been a great one. I’ve met so many lovely people and listened to so much interesting music, which means that narrowing down my favourite releases to a mere ten has proven difficult. As assessing each album objectively has proven to be difficult, I am ranking these albums solely based on how much I, personally, enjoyed them. Before we begin, I have a few honourable mentions. Blackbraid, Suffer In Silence, Backxwash, White Ward, Sigh, Lamentations and Euphrosyne have all released cracking albums this year, and you should absolutely check out their music if you have time. Now, onto the list!
10 – Banshee – Fairy Metal
First up we have the experimental artist Banshee, with her second album “Fairy Metal”. For those who don’t know of Banshee, I can promise you that her music is like nothing you will have ever heard before. Imagine Trap mixed with Black Metal. Imagine Ashnikko doing a collab with Septicflesh. With “Fairy Metal”, Banshee has carved herself a brutal niche and is using her platform to take a stand against rape culture and provide an emotional outlet for abuse survivors. The album also features a guest appearance from horrorcore rapper and producer Backxwash, another fantastic experimental artist (you should also check out her new album, “His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering”). I’m so glad that gatekeepers are a dying breed in the metal scene nowadays – the breaking down of boundaries means that we get more weird and wonderful stuff like this.
9 – The Halo Effect – Days Of The Lost
“Days Of The Lost” is a masterclass in Melodeath. It has absolutely beautiful melodic riffs, harsh yet accessible vocals, and choruses you can belt your heart out to. This may be The Halo Effect’s first album, but make no mistake, these are experienced musicians who are absolute masters of their craft and – Aw, hell. I can’t keep this up. I wanted to get through this whole segment without mentioning The Band That Shan’t Be Named, but I just can’t. This is old school In Flames. The Halo Effect is made up entirely of ex-In Flames members. I like this album because it sounds like In Flames. Are you happy now?
8 – Oceans of Slumber – Starlight And Ash
After their brilliant and doomy self-titled album back in 2020, it would have been easy for Oceans of Slumber to simply rinse and repeat. That, however, is not their style. Oceans of Slumber are one of my favourite bands ever, and one of my favourite things about them is their determination to make every album different. “Starlight And Ash” is Oceans of Slumber’s most radical departure yet, as they venture into the world of Southern Gothic. Of course, they still include their trademark choruses (see ‘Waters Rising’), but the real focus of this album is atmosphere. Which is, incidentally, what Oceans Of Slumber are best at. The result is a thoughtful album that can be listened to again and again on dark and stormy nights.
7 – Night Of The Vampire – Eternal Night
Is this technically an EP? Yes. Does that matter? No. The truth is, in just three tracks Night Of The Vampire achieves more than a lot of bands do in an entire album. Combining Synthwave with Black Metal is a GENIUS idea and I’m honestly shocked that I’ve never encountered anything like this before. The result makes you feel like the Final Girl in an 80s slasher movie – stylish and deadly.
6 – Parius – The Signal Heard Throughout Space
My stance on Death Metal has always been this: make it fun. If I feel like being depressed, then I’ll listen to Black Metal, thank you very much. For me, Death Metal is about pushing the limits of musical extremity, and Progressive Death Metallers Parius do this to a tee on “The Signal Heard Throughout Space”. Here’s the thing: this is a goddamn Space Opera. A Death Metal Space Opera! There is quite literally nothing more fun than that. Steeped in melodrama and unafraid to do the unexpected, this is without a doubt one of 2022’s most memorable releases.
5 – Sonja – Loud Arriver
A loud arriver indeed! This is the debut album of Pennsylvanian Gothic rockers Sonja, and it’s a killer. Vocalist Melissa Moore tears her way through eight gloom-tinged goth club floorfillers. “Loud Arriver” has a large emotional scope – from the compelling defiance of ‘Wanting Me Dead’ to the unashamed desire of ‘Fuck, Then Die’ to the haunting mystique of ‘Daughter of the Morning Star’ – that makes for a fascinating musical journey. There is also a certain timelessness to this album that makes me feel as though I could put this album in a time machine and send it to the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2030s, and 2040s, and each generation would find something different to enjoy. If this is what Sonja’s arrival sounds like, then I’m awfully excited for the rest of their stay.
4 – Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom
Sometimes, things are popular because they are very, very good. Battle Beast are a perfect example of this. Over their 17-year career, they have consistently delivered top-tier Power Metal hits, and “Circus Of Doom” is one of their best efforts yet. If all the inmates of Arkham Asylum escaped and set up a travelling fairground together, it would sound a little like this. Brash, catchy, and so theatrical that it borders on silly, it’s impossible to listen to this album without having fun. Of course, most power metal is fun, but there is something distinctly heartfelt and authentic about Battle Beast that separates them from the pack. Hell, go listen to ‘Eye Of The Storm’ and tell me you don’t have goosebumps!
3 – Sarayasign – Throne of Gold
I already sang this album’s praises when it was released back in June, so I’ll try and keep this short and sweet. “Throne of Gold” is the debut concept album from Swedish Melodic Hard Rock band Sarayasign, and it is as catchy as it is cinematic. Despite this being their first album, Sarayasign have a strong sense of identity that shines through on every track, and before you know it you will be engrossed in the fantasy world of Saraya. It’s a beautiful cocktail of the classic, guitar-based sounds of bands like Dio and Uriah Heep mixed with the ambitious Progressive Rock of Dream Theater, Coheed and Cambria. What’s not to like!
2 – Venom Prison – Erebos
I don’t think I really need to explain this one. They’re fucking Venom Prison! “Erebos” is an absolute tornado of sound and fury, a beast with gnashing claws and knife-tip fangs, yet there’s also a profound level of depth to Venom Prison’s music. This album uses all its might to fight against injustice, taking direct aim at the prison and immigration systems. While Venom Prison aren’t strictly a Death / Hardcore band anymore (“Erebos” certainly has some strong Metalcore elements), Venom Prison are the perfect embodiment of Hardcore values: they’re fierce, they’re fast, and they have something to say.
1- Ghost – Impera
If you haven’t heard this album yet, then where the hell have you been? Ghost’s “Impera” is an absolute classic, and it hasn’t even been out a whole year yet! It is without a doubt Ghost’s most beautiful album to date. Tracks like ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’, ‘Darkness At The Heart Of My Love’, and ‘Respite On The Battlefield’ are filled with so much heart and passion that it’s impossible to listen to them without feeling some sort of way. This is an album that wants you to sing along with every word and listen to every note. It seems fitting that “Impera” is the album that saw Cardinal Copia be transformed into the new Papa Emeritus; this album shines with the promise of a glorious future.
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