The Aquanaut's Albums of the year: Part 1
15 to 11 of the Aquanaut's favourite albums released in 2022
Don’t worry, I’ll get back to my series on Slayer after the New Year. 2022 has flown by and there’s only two full weeks left until we’re on a new calendar year. For the whole month of December we’ve been digesting lists, best of, end of year, top tens of all our favourite media. It would be remiss of me to neglect sharing my feelings about my favourite hard rock and metal releases of the last twelve months.
The funny things is, this newsletter actually had a precursor where I shared my favourite metal albums of each year with a select few friends. In 2023 I aim to resurrect and publish them here for your amusement. But for now let’s take a look at my picks for the last twelve months.
I’ve picked 15 albums all of which I absolutely adore and have been the soundtrack to my life during various parts of this year. I’m listing them here in order of release and not rating, as I’m hard pressed to pick a favourite (though I’ll give you my thoughts on my top 3 in the last post of this series). So lets have a look at what was released way back in…
Infected Rain - ‘Ecdysis’
I first came across Infected Rain when they were the support act to other bands at a gig in November 2019. From Moldova, their metalcore, nu-metal sounds are fresh, tight, and aggressive. Lena Scissorhands is an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist and a startlingly energetic front-woman. Ecdysis is their fifth full length album and their most accomplished to date. If you prefer growls or clean vocals, blast beats or melodies, synths or guitars, Infected Rain have you covered. This band have break through act written all over them. Watch this space.
Zetra - ‘From Without’
Back in March Zetra were the support act for Unto Others* at a gig in my home town. Zetra are a two piece act, their appearance and sound is otherworldly and there are rumours that they are not in fact from this planet (though they’re possibly from the UK). If you’re a fan of bands like My Bloody Valentine, The Smashing Pumpkins, or even as extreme as Mayhem, you’ll love them. The two band members play guitar and synth, and are accompanied by a drum machine and an Atari ST.
I adore this band and I suspect many of the readers of this newsletter will too. They’re self described as a gothic heavy metal shoegaze band. If you enjoy synths, fuzzy guitars, and ethereal vocals hit them up on Bandcamp (or whatever streaming service you enjoy). Kerrang have a quirky article written about them here. Zetra are about to play some big shows in 2023, including Desertfest. Check them out now so you can claim you were a fan before they became global superstars.
(*as an aside, Unto Others had the standout Metal album of the year in 2021. Check it out here)
Amorphis - ‘Halo’
Amorphis have consistently been one of the best Metal bands in the world over the past 25 or so years. Finland produce a ridiculous amount of top tier Metal acts and in my opinion Amorphis are their finest. Obvious veterans of the scene, they produce epic, soaring Metal anthems, often recounting tales from the Kalevala, the national saga of Finland’s mythology. ‘Halo’ showcases Amorphis at both their heaviest and their most soulful in many years and has a general story arc of Tuonela, the underworld of Finnish and Estonian fable. If you’re not familiar with them, you really need to give them a click just to swoon over Tomi Joutsen’s mix of Death Metal growls and dreamy baritone crooning.
Cult of Luna - ‘The Long Road North’
Sweden’s Cult of Luna have been producing groundbreaking post-metal albums for over two decades now. Eschewing traditional rock cliches like having bridges and choruses and whatnot, instead they build a subtle wall of repetition with the guitars, bass, and drums. I often wonder if they’d be more famous if they tried clean instead of harsh vocals, but I think it just wouldn’t really work as well. They’re a band who seem to slightly improve upon each offering and their latest album is a great jumping in point for newcomers. Please check out the video for ‘Cold Burn’. It’s an astonishing video for an astonishing song.
Abbath - ‘Dread Reaver’
Abbath rose to fame as the lead vocalist of Black Metal legends Immortal (who I discussed previously here). He has been solo with his eponymous band since 2015. ‘Dread Reaver’ is their third offering, and their first since Abbath had a few messy and public incidents that led to a trip to back to sobriety. So, is sober Abbath still Metal? You bet your ass he is! Abbath is one of the few icons of Black Metal. He’s quite a character, and I hope he is on the mend. The Metal world needs him and he is one of the few exponents of writing genuinely awesome extreme Metal riffs. If you want to hear his take on a Metallica classic, click here. Otherwise check him out in all his glory in the below video for the lead single from this years album.
Next week: Tracks 10 - 6 of the countdown. No hints as I want it to be a surprise. Ok then one hint. Schöner, größer, härter!