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Gary’s Top Ten Rock Albums Of 2022

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The coming of a new year brings with it optimism and hope for better things. It is also a suitable time to reflect upon what has given pleasure during the previous twelve months.

For a lot of us music equals life and thus it’s of paramount importance to indulge in that which has formed the nucleus of our personal pleasure dome.

For myself 2022 represented a year of coming. A year in which the emerging rock scene took on a truly tangible form. A definition which began to take shape some four years ago with the formation of a Facebook group under the banner of New Wave of Classic Rock. Much has happened since and the altar at which worship is conducted is wider and of greater depth than ever imagined.

Boundaries of genres have noticeably blurred as musicians take their favoured influences and alloy them in the fiery crucible of creativity. This, of course, is a time-honoured process but 2022 has seen a healthy expansion of sound; a desire to spread wings and seek previously uncharted territories to work alongside those well attended to.

There’s a place to take the metaphorical ‘wheel’ and purely push it forward nestling comfortably by one where it can be completely reshaped and shoved along a new furrow. Hopefully, my choices will reflect this is some way. From bands gate-crashing the UK Top 10 Album charts to tearing up festivals like Download and Steelhouse it’s been quite the year.

Compressing 2022 into a favoured top ten wasn’t an easy task to undertake but with a great deal of scratching of one’s cranium and a stretching of the grey matter here’s what I brought forth from the last 12 months!

10 – White Raven Down – Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Hard and heavy metal Essex’s very own Conspiracy! Just a month prior to its release vocalist Will Taylor stepped down from the mic; the remaining Ravens regrouped, and guitarist Stu Bailey stepped forward to ensure the conflagrant herd continued to thunder across the skies throughout ’22.

Go-to Track – Salvation

9 – Wet Leg – Wet Leg

A bit of a wildcard perhaps but this wondrous slab of indie quirkiness came hollering out of seemingly nowhere. The Isle of Wight duo struck pure gold with a fusion of punk and new-wave. Veering towards Elastica in one sense and Goldfrapp in completely the opposite therein lies the wonder.

Go-to Track – Chaise Longue

8 – Cardinal Black – January Came Close

Taking the four tracks from their acclaimed 2021 EP and expanding upon their silky-smooth take on blues rock Cardinal Black have championed the very essence of the Welsh valleys. As fiery as molten steel and yet as smooth as the purest chocolate there is a soul that possesses a delicious crunch within.

Go-to Track – Tied Up In Blue

7 – Junkyard Drive – Electric Love

Danish hard rockers Junkyard Drive grabbed our attention with sizzling performances at Copenhagen’s Nordic Noise festival back in 2017 and 2018. Going from strength since it was great to see them release this demon in 2022. Riff-heavy, hard-hitting their brand of arena-ready rock is deserving of a wider audience. In the meantime, I feel we’ll be heading over to Denmark shortly.

Go-to Track – Mr. Rock N’ Roll

6 – Black Lakes – For All We’ve Left Behind

Obsidian darkened alt-metallers Black Lakes so narrowly miss out on my personal top five. A really tough decision as these guys pour their hearts and souls into this mammoth production. A tempestuous angst-ridden powerhouse this has been a constant on my playlist since its release. 2023 promises so much for this industrious Welsh outfit.

Go-to Track – Verity In Flames

5 – Kira Mac – Chaos Is Calling

Much, much more than Chaos will be calling for Kira Mac in 2023. Landing with a mahoosive thump with a stunning set at Steelhouse in July the world is at this group’s collective feet. With a huge hook of southern rocking and a delightful twist of Americana country headline dominance is but a hair’s breadth away. The deal was struck, upon the midnight hour, at the lonesome crossroads.

Go-to Track – Mississippi Swingin’

4 – Mother Vulture – Mother Knows Best

Bristol’s Mother Vulture inject their youthful feral punked up blues-ridden rock into proceedings. This is a genre-melting energy that knows no boundaries nor indeed beholds to just the stage. It’s not just the crowd that can have the surfing fun! With a roar from Hades MV have torn up festivals like Call Of The Wild and Steelhouse during ’22 with the promise of more to come in ’23.

Go-to Track – Rabbit Hole

3 – Jack J Hutchinson – The Hammer Falls

Arenaceous blues-rock delivered from the lectern of Jack J. Hutchinson as he administers one-way tickets right to Hell. So very rarely does an album weave such a narrative and imagery as ‘The Hammer Fall’ does. Follow in Jack’s igneous footsteps as he despatches atonement from his very heart. Inspiring upon so many levels this is an absolute wrecking-ball of a feast that both reaper and preacher will cherish.

Go-to Track – Call Of The Wild

2 – Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters – Mythos, Confessions, Tragedies and Love

Upon reviewing this masterpiece in July, I wrote “Beautiful things are often borne of angst and tragedy; from the darkened environs those with inner strength and a purity of soul will overcome that which challenges them. Herein lies a telling of pain and the closing of one door to begin the transition towards the burning flame of justice. The enveloping chrysalis of anguish and torment has been cast aside and the luminous butterfly of pulchritudinous umbra stretches its wings and ascends unshackled.” These words ring true as does my prediction that this would be one of my favourites of 2022.

Go-to Track – Persephone

1 – Scarlet Rebels – See Through Blue

Ahead of Llanelli’s Scarlet Rebels confounding one and all by gate-crashing the top 10 of the UK Album charts I penned “This release sees Scarlet Rebels truly hit fully cohesive energies on all fronts. For me this is a serious, serious contender for album of the year; even this early in the calendar I’m confident it will be atop my list of favourites come year-end.” Chockfull of social comment and observation alloyed with an honest blue-collar rock n’ rolling ‘See Through Blue’ has transcended. Contagious hooks and catchy choruses are the order of the day upon The Rebels debut release for savvy label Earache Records.

Go-to Track – Take You Home

In truth these ten selections are the very tip of the iceberg, and it was when whittling the albums down to a top ten that I truly realised how the boundaries of defined styles had been well and truly knocked down. We’ve been lucky enough to have covered such eclectic festivals as Love Rocks and Steelhouse during the year and it’s sincerely hoped their shared variance comes through in this selection.

Reviewed by Gary Spiller for MPM

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