In the words of ABBA, thank you for the music. I know I said that last year but it’s true every single year. This has been an interesting year; a certain virus being somewhat manageable that we can live life the way we did before and being able to really reflect on how far I have come in terms of managing my wellbeing. In the meantime, let me take you through my top ten albums of 2022.
10: Vanaheim – Een Verloren Verhall
It’s been a great year for debut albums so it’s natural that my top ten albums is kicking off with one. The album in question is VANAHEIM’s debut album Een Verloren Verhaal. I came across the band themselves through a YouTube advert of all things, I loved their Symphonic Melodic Folk Death sound so I naturally went to check the album out. From the moment I pressed play, I immediately want to don that war paint, wield my battle axe and stand proud on top of rock. As you know, I am huge fan of bold, strong melodies and Een Verloren Verhaal is packed with them; each one gets the balance of Symphonic, Folk and Death just right. Someone holler a battle cry to ENSIFERUM and FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, their child of the Norse gods has been found.
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9: Warkings – Morgana
This is a late addition to the list having only come across the album recently. WARKINGS latest escapade Morgana is a mighty one with brutality, anticipation and grandeur. I had heard mixed reviews about it and that the band were trying something different, so I was greatly surprised when I took to this album immediately. This album offers up a great array of tracks including the majestic To The King, the Viking-esque Row (Into The Storm), the mysterious Heart Of Rage and the epic Shame. The urge to shout “this is Sparta” whilst listening to this will grow stronger when listening to this record. If you wish to unleash the inner viking gladiator within you, give Morgana a spin.
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8: Dynazty – Final Advent
Over the past couple of years, I have really come to like DYANZTY and their latest album Final Advent has sealed this. The press release stated that there are no fillers, only killers and I found out really quickly this statement stood true. Each song is bold, strong and makes you feel like you can overcome anything that comes in your way; this is done brilliantly through the music and lyrics. These can be found in the empowering Advent, the sinister sounds in Instinct, the eighties sounding All The Devils Are Here and the poignant Achilles Heel. It closes with Power Of Now which relays that all important message of appreciating every moment that comes your way.
The album was that great that it received one of my rare track by track reviews. You can read that by clicking here.
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7: Tungsten – Bliss
I had heard the name TUNGSTEN around the Power Symphonic metal circuit, mainly due to ex-HAMMERFALL drummer Anders Johansson being the band founder. They were part of this year’s line-up for Sabaton Open Air so out of curiosity, I checked their latest album Bliss out. I was completely taken with the diverse content this band had to offer up; I could tell very quickly that you can’t pigeon hole this band’s sound into one genre. It kicks off with melodic death metal greatness in In The Centre, On The Sea wouldn’t be out of place on a nautical themed power metal album and Afraid Of Light is a great, fun folk metal track. Up to Viking themed closer Northern Lights, TUNGSTEN does a great job of keeping you guessing; in fact, they do such a great job that deciding on a track to accompany this post proved to be a mighty task. Want to get the full scope of their sound? Listen to the whole album.
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6: Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters – Mythos, Confession, Tragedies and Love
I first came across BETH BLADE AND THE BEAUTIFUL DISASTERS a few years ago through their album Show Me Your Teeth and fell in love with the straightforward hard rock greatness. Their latest record Mythos, Confession, Tragedies And Love takes a much darker tone through the music and in the lyrics. Examples of this rawness can be found in tracks such as The Otherside, Sin Eater, Persephone and Trigger Warning. The track Hold Your Heart brought my emotions to the surface due to what it explores and the beauty of Beth’s voice expressing fragility and the sadness this song portrays. Who You Are is an anthem for those who need a reminder to be their true, authentic selves; my inner teenager is loving this great track. Tonight I’m With You is that song you will be singing with your friends on a night out at your favourite pub.
This album made a great impact on me and I related to a lot of the lyrics expressed. You can read more about that in my review by clicking here. I also interviewed Beth Blade herself about this record amongst other things, you can read that by clicking here.
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5: Ghost – Impera
I am aware that GHOST are a Marmite band, you either love them or hate them. I have yet to meet a person in the rock and metal sphere who is indifferent to them. I personally really like them; their mysterious persona whilst performing a straightforward sound has always caught my attention. I had liked their previous albums but not as much as their latest album Impera. From the moment my ears graced this record, I have had it on loop ever since.
I had an unexpected family bereavement at the end of March and I came across this album around the same time. Through the array of content, it really helped me in one of my crucial times of need. Whilst it’s important to move on from an unexpected bereavement, it’s also important to acknowledge when you feel sad and need comfort. Through the sombreness of Call Me Little Sunshine and Darkness At The Heart Of My Love; I felt that comfort and reassurance that I wasn’t alone when feeling what I needed to feel.
It also contained some uplifting tones through Spillways and my personal favourite Griftwood; there is nothing more cathartic than turning these up and singing along to them at the top of your lungs.
There are no fillers on this track, they each stood out on their own and provided whatever release of emotion you need.
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4: Kissin’ Dynamite – Not The End Of The Road
Many of you know by now that KISSIN’ DYNAMITE are my go to band when I need that morale boost. They do this in their latest album Not The End Of The Road and much more; it was clear from the opening title track that their song writing takes a completely different turn and it absolutely works. In this album, they acknowledge that things go wrong in the world but maintain the message that things will get better and to not give up.
There are some tracks that take a dark turn such as Only The Dead where the lyric “only the dead will be free from sorrow” hits hard, Yoko Ono which looks into someone luring you in before trapping you and from my understanding, Voodoo Spell looks at falling for a toxic individual. There are also those uplifting tracks such as Good Life that managed to help me feel better when having COVID, the reminiscing tones of Coming Home and the party anthem All For A Hallelujah.
I would also like to give a shout out to the track Scars, it’s the album closer that vocalist Hannes Braun during a personal crisis and it shows us that we are not alone when carrying around scars and wounds. It’s completely stripped down of distortion which works to display the fragility and vulnerability someone feels. You can read more about this in my interview with Hannes by clicking here.
Overall, KISSIN’ DYNAMITE knocked it out of the park with this record. You can read more about it in my album review by clicking here.
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3: Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles
As mentioned earlier, this has been a brilliant year for debut albums and FELLOWSHIP’s The Saberlight Chronicles is a great one. FELLOWSHIP is another name I had heard around the Power Symphonic metal circuit and The Saberlight Chronicles is my first experience of their majestic sound. I don’t know how; I instantly knew from the first enchanting notes of Until The Fire Dies that I was in for a treat with the rest of the album. This is based on a novel that vocalist Matt Corry wrote, and I have got to tell you that reading that whilst listening to the album is a fantastic experience.
My personal favourite chapters included Until The Fire Dies, Hearts Upon The Hill, Scars And Shrapnel Wounds and The Saint Beyond The River; I shall tell you why.
Until The Fire Dies is now a track I turn to when I need that morale boost; it contains a new favourite lyric “live your life with a battle cry” and the image of people gathering around a fire as the mighty tale is being told. Hearts Upon The Hill is a grand and majestic track that sets you up for adventure. Scars And Shrapnel Wounds is from the point of view of a more mature character explaining his experiences to the main character Atlas and you can hear that maturity within the music and lyrics.
The Saint Beyond The River was a powerful chapter to read in the book so it needed a powerful song to match. Reading this chapter alongside listening to this song is an empowering experience.
If you’re looking for a new band of questers, join the FELLOWSHIP clan.
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2: Halestorm – Back From The Dead
Over the past couple of months, I have been feeling the effects of Imposter Syndrome and my lack of confidence has really come to the surface. I chose HALESTORM’s Back From The Dead as my album of the month last month and I will explain why.
During the opening tones of the title track, I started to feel awake and being reborn. The line “back from the dead alive, hell couldn’t hold me” confirmed that feeling with a huge impact. I cried when listening to this as it was relief for all that anguish, I had been feeling for a long time. Each song played an important part on this crucial record and below are just some examples.
Strange Girl had my inner teenager is rejoicing at this anthem. It’s a shout out to those who need a reminder to be themselves and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up in the next series of the Netflix show Wednesday. Brightside is uplifting and punchy; this is ideal for a song about finding the light at the end of the tunnel during dark times. The Steeple was the first song I heard from this album, and this looks into being with your people. My Redemption is that kick up the backside track I now turn to when I need to get my head out of the sand.
HALESTORM hit the nail on the head with ballads and this album contains two beautiful ones. Terrible Things captures what’s going on in today’s world and you can hear this sadness through the lyrics “we learn our lessons then we defy them” and “I see a sickness in a world on it’s knees”. Raise Your Horns is that anthemic closer that fills you with hope whilst with those iconic horns in the air.
Lzzy Hale wrote this album during a crucial point in her life when she needed that release. This album has come along in my crucial time of need when I need a release for those emotions.
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1: Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates
I have been a fan of VISIONS OF ATLANTIS for a long time, they were one of the bands that got me into Symphonic Metal many years ago. I took a break from them for some reason and The Deep & The Dark reinvigorated my love for the band. The moment I joined their latest voyage Pirates, I knew this was an adventure I wanted to be a part of time and time again.
The thought-provoking lyrics in each of the songs really allows you to reflect on your own life and what you have overcome. The majesty and grandeur of the pirate theme told through the gallant music; it also allows you to escape for the hour. Below are just a few examples of what this album offers up.
The adventurous and uplifting Legion Of The Seas caught my attention instantly. Melancholy Angel is a stunning melody that shows the vocal power between Clementine and Michele at it’s best. These were the two of the singles to be released so I was right to have high anticipations for the rest of the record when listening to these.
Heal The Scars brought emotions to the surface, the lyric “I could love you dearly and still let you go” was incredibly relatable. Loosing someone you deeply care about is a devastating loss and the emotion was communicated clearly and beautifully through this track.
Other tracks that caught my attention were the exciting sounds of Clocks, the reflective tones Freedom and the fun, nautical In My World.
In terms of song writing and production, this is VISIONS OF ATLANTIS’ best album to date. It’s a Symphonic Metal gem that needs to be cherished and admired for years to come. For those reasons explained, this is my album of the year.
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What were your top albums of 2022? Let me know in the comments below.