Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Best of 2022, Part 2: Ozzy, Zeal & Ardor, Whiskey Myers, Parkway Drive, Amon Amarth, Alestorm, Skid Row

Continuing my Best of 2022 list with the top 10: 

No. 10. OZZY OSBOURNE – PATIENT NUMBER 9: Who’d have thought that an Ozzy Osbourne record would ever crack my Top 10 again? This one really kind of hit home for me despite some questionable production choices. The title track with Jeff Beck is the best thing that the Prince of Bleeping Darkness has done in ages, and there’s plenty more to like here with guest shots from Tony Iommi, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and Mike McCready. Though it doesn’t quite capture the classic Ozzy energy, there are certainly shades of all of his incarnations to be found in the songs here, and it’s probably the first Ozzy album that I’ve truly enjoyed since 2001’s Down to Earth. (And yeah, I know most people dislike that one, too, but I don’t.)

Standout songs: “Patient Number 9,” “Immortal,” “No Escape from Now,” “One of those Days,” “A Thousand Shades,” “Evil Shuffle,” “Mr. Darkness”

Monday, January 2, 2023

Best of 2022, Part 1: Blind Guardian, Megadeth, Soilwork, Ward Davis, Disturbed

If there was one good thing that came out of the misery of 2020, it seems that a lot of artists used their lockdown time to create fantastic albums that trickled out through the year. For me, 2022 was an embarrassment of musical riches that featured some rock steady releases, some fantastic returns to form and even a couple of new discoveries.

The year wasn’t without its disappointments, and some of them were tough ones. The much-anticipated return of King’s X after a 14-year absence, for example, just didn’t connect with me the way that I’d hoped. But those were anomalies this year and certainly not the norm. I can’t remember the last time that I had 20 albums that I wanted to talk about at the end of the year, but here we are:

No. 20. HORIZON IGNITED – TOWARDS THE DYING LANDS: The second album for Finland’s Horizon Ignited was my introduction to the band. What they deliver on this first Best of 2022 honoree is not ground-breaking, but it’s very well-done melodic death metal in the vein of Soilwork and In Flames. Unfortunately for them, they were competing this year with a new record from Soilwork and four incredible songs from In Flames’ upcoming record, due in early 2023. That said, Towards the Dying Land is still a very enjoyable 40-ish minutes, and “Reveries” remains one of my favorite songs of the year.

Standout songs: “Reveries,” “Beyond Your Reach,” “Towards the Dying Lands,” “Servant,” “Eventide of Abysmal Grief”