So many albums, so little time.
If an album didn’t cut it, it didn’t make the cut. Simplifying the process when it came to reviewing all the new albums released in 2022 eased the burden of writing reviews but prevented deeper dives that ultimately could have resulted in a worthy new album from making the Top 10 Best Albums of 2022 list.
That’s not to say those albums that failed to generate a review did not get a listen. (See below.) Granted, in some cases, a song or two was enough to know where things were going. All that to say, I only reviewed 12 new albums this year plus a live release, a 40th anniversary album and a Best of.
Like 2021, veteran bands proved their mettle. In fact, all the bands that made the Best Albums of 2022 have a proven track record that goes back decades. Perhaps that explains why some say most of today’s music has no business being recorded. OK, I made that up but you get the point.
Upon further review I felt a bit guilty leaving one of the albums off this list as I had decided months ago that a tie, yes a tie, went to two bands for the Best Album of 2022. I did a half-hearted search on how to execute a Top 10 Best list that includes a tie or two. Does that mean still only 10 entries or 11?
Bottom line, if I reviewed an album this year I liked it hopefully lending some credibility to this list. I briefly thought about a Top 12 Best List but the tie-breaking scenario seemed most judicious.
Best Albums of 2022
10. Porcupine Tree – Closure / Continuation
This one requires some work.
From the review: “A hard album to digest, Closure/Continuation features lengthy compositions with several songs stretching past seven minutes and the shortest nearly four and a half minutes. Don’t expect any of the songs to absorb on the first spin or even the second. Perhaps that’s the brilliance of it, but the album is easy to dismiss.”
Read the review: Porcupine Tree – Closure / Continuation
TIE – 9. Nickelback – Get Rollin’
OK, I said this album would not make any Top 10 lists despite a rather favorable review. But any album I would not hesitate to hit “play” on deserves a worthy mention.
From the review: “Nickelback is, well, back. Not that they went anywhere. But with adulthood in full swing for these guys maybe, just maybe, they find new stature for all the right reasons.”
Read the review: Nickelback – Get Rollin’
TIE – 9. The Black Moods – Into the Night
Who? Yeah, that’s what I said when I heard about them and immediately was drawn into The Black Moods’ fourth album. Wait they’ve been around for some time? Apparently so. Good old fashioned rock music with a modern flair.
From the review: “Sweeping bass lines, sometimes charging guitar without overbearing chords along with well-executed solos while other times softer melodic approaches curated by some pretty fresh hooks wholly define Into the Night.”
Read the review: The Black Moods – Into the Night
8. Lit – Tastes Like Gold
The 90s alternative rockers return with a gem. An enjoyable spin that settles almost immediately and if not for one ill-advised collaboration this one moves up a spot or two.
From the review: “Lit will always have their place in the sun but after Tastes Like Gold they should no longer have a view from the bottom.”
Read the review: Lit – Tastes Like Gold
7. Muse – Will of the People
Arguably one of their best. Drop the final track and this album moves up several spots.
From the review: “At times heavy metal, other times glam rock, sometimes pop rock, but Will of the People generally stays on point with a style of hard rock Muse developed into their own years ago.”
Read the review: Muse – Will of the People
6. Collective Soul – Vibrating
Collective Soul celebrated 30 years this year and with the critically acclaimed 2019 release of Blood seem to be aging like a fine wine.
From the review: “The Collective Soul brand works, this album doesn’t disappoint and, not that the band ever went away, it just feels like they are back.”
Read the review: Collective Soul – Vibrating
5. Envy of None – Self-titled
Alex Lifeson got me out of blogger “retirement” and though I wish he’d get together with his best friend and Rush bandmate to make music, his work on Envy of None suffices. The self-title debut sounds nothing like Rush and sounds nothing like Alex Lifeson. Instead singer Maiah Wynne shines on this alternative rock record. And, another Envy of None album is in the works.
From the review: “Outside the delightfully melodic pop “Never Said I Love You” to open the album and Lifeson’s sublime tribute to Peart in his instrumental “Western Sunset” which closes the album, expect a bevy of brakes-on alternative modern rock cuts that draws from 80s electronic like “Shadow,” Nine Inch Nails influenced industrial rock for “Liar,” “Dog’s Life” and “Enemy” while others come across more dreamy and ambiguous like “Look Inside” and “Old Strings.””
Read the review: Envy of None – Self-titled
4. Megadeth – The Sick the Dying… and the Dead!
Full metal Megadeth. Dave Mustaine returns with one of his best albums featuring plenty of mind-numbing head banging riffs but with far more intellect than one might expect from this type of ball.
From the review: “…abrupt time signature changes, slick guitar riffs and even slicker guitar solos permeate this album from start to finish. Not to mention some stellar drum fills.”
Read the review: Megadeth – The Sick the Dying… and the Dead!
3.TobyMac – Life After Death
A rap/hip-hip/pop/rock album made this list? Yes. And if you knew what TobyMac has endured in recent years you’d understand. Hardly my favorite genre but TobyMac mostly adheres to a traditional pop/rock format while incorporating rap and hip hop into his recordings.
From the review: “’21 Years’ is the first song TobyMac wrote after his son Truett’s death – at the age of 21. But (I think) it’s in “Faithfully” where the listener really gets a gut-wrenching insight into the days and nights that followed TobyMac after his son passed.”
Read the review: TobyMac – Life After Death
2. Journey – Freedom
An absolute delight and surprise in Freedom. If not for one song this album makes the case for a three-way tie for best album of 2022. Overall, a well-produced and recorded album and though my two experiences with Journey in concert fell short of expectations Freedom makes the case to try them live again.
From the review: “The Journey we most recognize leans on the softer side of rock music, something the band doesn’t stray from on Freedom. But much of the album comprises heavier rock with cunning guitar solos and a slight tone of aggression one not privy to recent Journey releases might find unexpected.”
Read the review: Journey – Freedom
Best Album of 2022
1. Scorpions – Rock Believer
From start to finish, Rock Believer shines. The core of this band in their 70s, Scorpions retain a musical youth that explains their 50-year presence in the music business and separates them from all others.
From the review: “A great blend of hard charging rock and slower melodic pieces that serve as finishing touches fill Rock Believer as the band has crafted a number of premium tracks that belong in the Scorpion’s Song Hall of Fame while others function a bit better than filler.”
Read the review: Scorpions – Rock Believer
1. Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos
Though Def Leppard generally makes their living off touring Hysteria and other songs released nearly 40 years ago, they stepped out of the box for Diamond Star Halos which seemed to hit or miss with fans. Unlike Rock Believer that goes down like Honey, Def Leppard’s new album requires a bit of marinating to get the full flavor.
From the review: “Hardly unconventional, in fact, Def Leppard embraces everything that worked for them in the last 42 two years, improves on it then welcomes some new ideas that fit in with the realm of Def Leppard.”
Read the review: Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos
Notable 2022 Albums – Unreviewed
Lots of albums missed this year but the following are those I attempted. Some I finished, others I moved on after a song or two. Some commentary provided for a few:
- Switchfoot – this is our Christmas album: Now I know why Drew Shirley left the band.
- Bush – The Art of Survival: From best album of 2020 to this?
- Kiefer Sutherland – Bloor Street: Where did Jack’s voice go? Sounds nothing like him.
- A-ha – True North: Take me up and away from this one. I did not get it.
- Simple Minds – Direction of the Heart: I was hoping for a winner, but tuned out
- Goo Goo Dolls – Chaos In Bloom: Rather generic
- Imagine Dragons – Mercury Act 2: Should have left the curtain down after Act 1.
- The Cult – Under the Midnight Sun
- Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9
- The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie
- Erasure – Day-Glo
- Death Cab for Cutie – Asphalt Meadows
- The Church – Hypnogogue
- The Alarm – Omega