Another year draws to a close, and the time comes once again when I reveal my annual Top 10. Without any further ramblings, let’s get right into my Top 10 releases and happenings of 2022.
10. Slipknot – The End, So Far
Slipknot’s latest album – and their last with Roadrunner Records – was divisive upon its launch. Some appreciated its experimental flair, others not so much. I’m firmly in the former camp. It’s not my favorite Slipknot album, but I appreciate The End, So Far for the few tracks it has that don’t sound like your bog-standard Slipknot tune, in particular Medicine for the Dead and Finale.
9. Meshuggah – Immutable
Well over 30 years into their career, Meshuggah have still got it. While by no means their strongest offering, Immutable at least presents a new production style for the Swedish metal quartet. It does have a few stand-out tracks, namely the opener Broken Cog, I Am That Thirst and Phantoms, the latest of which has perhaps the most impressive Meshuggah rhythm I’ve ever heard. If you know, you know.
8. Machine Head – Of Kingdom and Crown
2018’s Catharsis wasn’t Machine Head’s strongest album. Even though I named it in my Top 10 back then, I’ll admit that it wasn’t quite as memorable as their previous offerings. Of Kingdom and Crown, though, is a great return to form for the thrash quartet – perhaps thanks in no small part to the personnel changes. Anyway, while it doesn’t necessarily reach the same level of greatness as The Blackening or Unto the Locust, Machine Head’s “comeback” album definitely has some of the flair of the albums mentioned and deserves a spot in this list.
7. OU – one
Of the new bands/artists I was introduced to in the past year, OU is definitely one of the most interesting. The Chinese prog-rock collective released their debut album one in May, and I can confidently say that I’ve never heard anything quite like it. The group’s unique style shines through in every track, and Lynn’s vocals are positively haunting. This is definitely one prog band I’ll be following excitedly for years to come.
6. Stoned Statues – Stoned Statues
The Finnish rock trio Stoned Statues won me over with their energetic performance at the inaugural Knotfest Finland. Their self-titled debut album is one of the most solid debut offerings I’ve heard in my lifetime. Anyone who listens to this album should be able to tangibly feel the talent on offer here. The riffs are catchy and the production complements the songwriting flawlessly. Stoned Statues are proving to be quite a promising bunch and I’m already looking forward to their next record.
5. Porcupine Tree – Closure/Continuation
Of all the reunion announcements over the last two years, Porcupine Tree was personally the biggest surprise. Their first album since 2009’s The Incident is, if I can put this bluntly, the quintessential Porcupine Tree record. The bassline of the opener Harridan already sounds so fresh and yet so familiar at the same time, and from there all the way to the end, Closure/Continuation is nothing short of an excellent auditory journey.
4. Plini @ Tavastia, 2022-08-02
It’s not every day you get the chance to attend the first ever show of a band you like in your own country. When I heard that Plini was coming to Finland for a gig, I seized the fuck out of that opportunity. All I can really think to say about the show is that it was a great experience overall.
3. Tallah – The Generation of Danger
Tallah’s second studio offering, The Generation of Danger, is a stellar follow-up to 2020’s Matriphagy in all regards. One listen through the nu-metal bulldozer’s sophomore effort should tell anyone with a functional pair of ears that they’re packing (metaphorical) guns and are not afraid to use them. The Generation of Danger‘s aggressive sound outdoes that of the group’s previous album by several orders of magnitude and the production keeps up with it to a miraculous degree. If you’re going to listen to one album before the end of 2022, let it be The Generation of Danger.
2. Elementalism: Phase 1
Normally I would refrain from naming video game mods in these lists, but I was so excited for Elementalism: Phase 1 – more excited than I was for any actual video game that came out in the past year – that it warrants an exception. To say that this is one of the most gorgeous Doom map(set)s I’ve ever played is a massive understatement. Every map here is a true piece of art with several vistas I could screenshot and use as my wallpaper. And of course, it has gameplay to match. Round of applause for Bauul and co for finally releasing this. Looking forward to Phase 2!
1. The inaugural Knotfest Finland
I’ll confess that Slipknot is still one of my favorite bands, and when I heard about their flagship festival coming to Finland for the first time, I naturally had to go. Not least of all because the last time I’d seen the band live was way back in 2009. While it was the only music festival I attended in the past year, the inaugural Knotfest Finland was the single best experience of the entire year for me. Not only was the lineup great on both days, but the entire festival was incredibly well-organized – one of the most well-organized festivals I’ve ever been to, I might argue. I hope Knotfest Finland becomes a mainstay in the Finnish summer festival lineup.
On that note, see you in 2023.