Nov 112022
 

 

It has become an annual tradition at our putrid site to launch our year-end LISTMANIA orgy with the appearance of DECIBEL mag’s Top 40 list, because they always seem to burst from the starting gate sooner than anyone else — and they’ve done it again this year, although about a week earlier than they did in 2021. There’s also the fact that, in my humble opinion, DECIBEL is still the best print publication out there for fans of extreme metal, and their list always generates healthy discussions, so it’s a fitting way to launch the latest LISTMANIA season apart from the list’s early-bird status.

The DECIBEL list will officially appear in the magazine’s January 2023 edition, which hasn’t yet hit my own mailbox, but DECIBEL again decided (for the eighth year in a row) to scoop their own list rather than letting leeches like me leak it (actually, this year they called people like me “enterprising dorks”). They published the list on-line yesterday, and so I can now again re-publish their list without too much guilt, beyond the sheepishness that comes from being one of the factors that forced them to start outing themselves in the first place.

Of course, there will be a lot more content in the January issue. It includes a cover story on “Undeath and The New Faces of Death” (a reference to what DECIBEL calls “the new wave of American death metal bands that dominated the year”), a Hall of Fame article on the making of Hammers of Misfortune’s The Locust Years, a bunch of new album features, editorial comment on the records that made their year-end list, and more. It will also include a Sanguisugabogg flexi disc. You can order a copy of the issue HERE.

Before turning to the DECIBEL Top 40 I’ll share again the thoughts that I share every year at this time about the phenomenon of year-end lists in metal. I see no reason to amend the words very much, especially since that would involve effort.

 

Such lists continue to serve several useful purposes. One, of course, is to introduce fans to albums they may have overlooked. I also know people who don’t buy much music during the year and actually wait to read year-end rankings before preparing their shopping lists. And, perhaps most obviously, they give us something to discuss and argue about. Because apparently we don’t have enough to argue about already, even within a viciously polarized society in which yelling about something (anything) seems to be the daily past-time of millions.

Of course it’s easy to argue over year-end lists. No matter who compiles them, they’re going to leave out albums you think should be included, they’re going to include albums you don’t think belong, and they’re going to screw up the rankings. I mean, that’s a given, isn’t it? The only list that could possibly satisfy any individual fan from start to finish is the one they make for themselves.

I usually try to hold my own comments to a minimum when I post these year-end lists from print publications and “big platform” sites, mainly because I can’t manage to make a list of my own. It seems to me kind of hypocritical to publicly take pot-shots at other people’s lists when you’re not willing (or in my case mentally unable) to put your own out there.

 

Having said that, I think most of us have come to expect that DECIBEL’s list — which this year reflects the combined tastes of nearly three dozen members of the DECIBEL staff — is always going to include some “safe” choices that include big-name bands and the biggest of metal labels, but will also seize the opportunity to spotlight some much more underground selections, and in doing so will introduce them to people who otherwise might have overlooked them.

There’s even one self-releases on this year’s list (but only one, though it takes a high spot), to go along with 4 from Relapse, 4 from Century Media, 3 from Metal Blade, 3 from Nuclear Blast, and 2 each from Season of Mist, 20 Buck Spin, and Prosthetic.

As usual, I haven’t heard all of the albums on the list, in some cases because I had no serious interest in them, which is another factor that militates against taking pot-shots at it. But of the ones I’ve heard, I thought (as usual) most were at least good and some were great. I was pretty sure those would get recognized, especially the ones from bigger names and those with a big PR push behind them, but among the less-vaunted names I was happy to see recognition given to the new records by Doldrum, Castrator, Daeva, Mother of Graves, Tzompantli, Escuela Grind, Mortuous, Nechochwen, and Blackbraid.

There are other interesting features about the list, including the appearance in the No. 1 spot of a band who just released their second album this year, one that we didn’t write about at all, along with 3 others in the Top 10 that we didn’t write about at all. And in that context, I was left wondering who the hell Soul Glo and Still/Form are (now I know). As another friend remarked, the list is also very centered on North America, with only a handful of the 40 from outside the U.S. and Canada.

Well, with that I’ll shut up and let you guys read the list and continue the conversation in the Comments. I’m quite sure you have opinions.

Islander

40. Temple of Void, Summoning the Slayer, Relapse

39. Gaerea, Mirage, Season of Mist

38. Sigh, Shiki, Peaceville

37. Still/Form, From the Rot Is a Gift, Hex

36. Midnight, Let There Be Witchery, Metal Blade

35. Doldrum, The Knocking, or the Story of the Sound That Preceded Their Disappearance, Katafalque

34. Amorphis, Halo, Atomic Fire

33. Imperial Triumphant, Spirit of Ecstasy, Century Media

32. Black Anvil, Regenesis, Season of Mist

31. Municipal Waste, Electrified Brain, Nuclear Blast

30. Castrator, Defiled in Oblivion, Dark Descent

29. Daeva, Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…, 20 Buck Spin

28. Ripped to Shreds, 劇變 (Jubian), Relapse

27. Mother of Graves, Where the Shadows Adorn, Wise Blood

26. Eight Bells, Legacy of Ruin, Prophecy

25. Tzompantli, Tlazcaltiliztli, 20 Buck Spin

24. SpiritWorld, Deathwestern, Century Media

23. Escuela Grind, Memory Theater, MNRK

22. Vanum, Legend, Profound Lore

21. Satan, Earth Infernal, Metal Blade

20. Mizmor + Thou, Myopia, Gilead Media

19. Dream Unending, Song of Salvation, 20 Buck Spin

18. Phobophilic, Enveloping Absurdity, Prosthetic

17. Negative Plane, The Pact…, The Ajna Offensive

16. Sumerlands, Dreamkiller, Relapse

15. Terror, Pain Into Power, Pure Noise

14. Voivod, Syncro Anarchy, Century Media

13. Chat Pile, God’s Country, The Flenser

12. Wake, Thought Form Descent, Metal Blade

11. Oceans of Slumber, Starlight and Ash, Century Media

10. Mortuous, Upon Desolation, Carbonized

9. KEN mode, Null, Artoffact

8. Kreator, Hate Über Alles, Nuclear Blast

7. Nechochwen, Kanawha Black, Bindrune

6. Soul Glo, Diaspora Problems, Epitaph

5. Immolation, Acts of God, Nuclear Blast

4. Blackbraid, Blackbraid I, self-released

3. Sonja, Loud Arriver, Cruz Del Sur

2. Cave In, Heavy Pendulum, Relapse

1. Undeath, It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave, Prosthetic

  24 Responses to “LISTMANIA BEGINS: THE DECIBEL TOP 40 FOR 2022”

  1. The only band I was turned onto by this list is Blackbraid and it’s fantastic! Totally deserves it’s spot high up. The rest I either agree with (Nechochwen), not interested in or absolutely love but think they need to be way higher (Sumerlands, Gaerea). Not a bad list though.

  2. “As another friend remarked, the list is also very centered on North America, with only a handful of the 40 from outside the U.S. and Canada.”

    Worth using this as a prompt to say, again, that print magazines are DESIGNED to cater to their audiences, especially around list time, when they’re primarily going to feature bands they’ve covered and which their readers will be familiar with. There may be a few small surprises, sure, but you can usually make a good guess – looking at who’s had coverage over the year – what’s going to appear. And since the magazine is primarily a US publication then of course it’s going to feature mostly US/North American bands.

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Or a good thing. It just *is*.

    • “It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Or a good thing. It just *is*.”

      Disagree…I don’t think it’s necessarily a positive thing for the thought process to be “which albums do people expect us to include” when the goal is to build a list of what’s meant to be the best releases of the year. Especially in something as subjective as music, which is obviously going to feature variation in taste.

    • I think your logic is at least partially flawed. Yes of course print magazines are designed to cater to their audiences, and I assume that Decibel’s audience is mainly North American. But North American audiences pay attention to music outside their home countries. So it doesn’t follow that the magazine must focus mainly on North American bands. Further, over the course of the year Decibel has written about bands from outside the US and Canada. I have no statistics on the percentages of geographic spread, but my gut tells me the percentage is higher than what’s reflected in the Top 40 list.

      • “But North American audiences pay attention to music outside their home countries.”

        Never said they didn’t. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

        However, as someone who does have at least SOME understanding/experience of the exigencies of putting together a print mag, MY gut tells me that there’s always going to be a slight bias (whether implicit or explicit) towards featuring bands from the “home-grown” scene (and I believe you can see this reflected in their list most years).

        Also, once again, I never claimed, at ANY point, that Decibel didn’t write about bands from outside North America. So I’m not sure what you’re arguing against there, but it’s not something I said.

        • I wasn’t putting words in your mouth but just responding to your conclusion that because “the magazine is primarily a US publication then of course it’s going to feature mostly US/North American bands.” I still don’t think that follows.

  3. Also, a bit too death-centric. For me, this yeaŕ s winners are White Ward and Forlesen

    • In addition to the US/Canada-centric nature of their lists, that’s another feature pretty much year-in and year-out: not a lot of black/black-ish metal in the bunch.

  4. “a reference to what DECIBEL calls “the new wave of American death metal bands that dominated the year”

    Ugh..they’re the ones who came up with this stupid name? Christ, a bunch of hardcore kids finally discovering OSDM doesn’t make it “the new wave of American death metal” any more than it was the “New Wave of Swedish death metal” or “The new wave of Incantation clones” when the trend kicked off roughly 12 years ago. In the paraphrased words of a wise woman…”stop trying to make this fucking shit happen. It’s not going to happen”.

    As for the list, there’s a few on here I legit agree with, but…

    A) I saw the Blackbraid dick riding parade coming from a mile off. Good album, but overhyped beyond reason.

    B) While I get that these lists are primarily about catering to their market, you would think there would still be some maneuvering room within that restriction. Yet, the only qualifier seems to be “Here’s 40 bands we think had the most hype/buzz surrounding them”

    • Sarin- you can’t turn back and Woorms-fatalismo are underrated as all hell. Post rock noise rock gems

      • Appreciate the effort, but generally speaking “post-metal/rock” falls a bit outside my personal preferences….I’m more of a “raw, cavernous, wall-of-thunder” kind of guy

  5. Sumerlands and Blackbraid both had killer albums, but any list without GOATWHORE is a fucking joke.

  6. I actually do appreciate this list every year because I’ve kind of used it as a way to dodge the usual ‘holy shit that was this year’ conundrum I run into whenever I’m writing stuff.

  7. it’s obvious that this list is “influenced” by the labels who support the magazine. music business at it’s worst tbh.

  8. I can’t quite get the hype around Undeath. It’s good but not AOTY material. Just decent death metal, nothing special. There are a lot of better bands in the genre this year.

    • Metal media always overcompensates when they miss the boat on a band. Decibel was apparently unaware of the buzz on the 2020 release, or they just ignored it, but either way it wasn’t on their list that year. Now they have to show that they’re still in touch with the underground, so they overpraise the new one

    • Agreed, Lesions was a lot stronger, imho. Great point by Surgicalbrute tho. I suppose if it helps bands be successful and get continued exposure so they can tour and build on that early buzz, it’s not the worst thing in the world. But It’s Time… damn sure wasn’t the best extreme album this year.

      And hey, we each have perfect taste, and it’s just all you other idiots that keep getting it “wrong.”

      Very solid list overall, I’ve heard most of these and agree they’re all worthy of consideration. Eight Bells was new to me and will definitely make my top 30-ish.

  9. Psyched to see Vanum on there. They deserve the attention

  10. Gaerea and Blackbraid are excellent choices… on the other hand, wtf Kreator are doing here? Probably their worst effort since “Outcast”

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