Metalise – The Best of Metal 2022 & How We’re Blessed in 2023

All things metal with Josh Nixon

Blink and you miss it, they say. And in preparing for this 2022 wrap in Metalise world, you start reflecting on the year that was at odd moments.

In my case, that odd moment was a tweet from the host of Triple J’s The Racket, which was posited back on 20 November:

There’s normally a handful of metal records every year that stand above the rest in terms of wider cultural reception/impact but it’s kind of hard to think of any that fit that for 2022. Plenty of great records… but which ones will stand out for the history books? Idk

Idk indeed. Thus, I began to look into my 2022 collection and, on the surface, he was onto something…

Metal in the 2022 Zeitgeist

Internationally, Ghost won a Grammy, but they’re not really smashing the culture barrier.

I don’t know if it’s recency bias, but it feels like the biggest international story was the reunion of Pantera with Charlie Benante and Zakk Wylde taking the respective roles of the late Vinnie and Dimebag.

Domestically, the biggest metal radar blip I could think of would be the also-quite-recent appearance on ABC’s Australian Story of Parkway Drive.

They were enduring a quasi Some Kind of Monster episode, with facilitated mental health counselling sessions. They also put out a new album called Darker Still and, while I am supposed to cover this genre for you fine folk, I have to admit I’ve not listened to it.

I enjoy their success, I loved Viva The Underdogs and the Australian Story piece. But stadium metalcore was not heavily featured on my Spotify end-of-year wrap genre list.

I love that they made Jia “Pie” O’Connor a full member after all these years, tho.

A Snapshot of Metal in Canberra 2022

Locally, it was a year of rebuilding audiences and venues, with The Basement and Transit Bar leading the charge, and the Pot Belly Bar taking large strides toward being a regular home of great gigs.

Pot Belly’s resurgence is largely thanks to their Canberra stalwart sound engineer, and adept musician, Kurt Neist, who somehow conjures great mixes out of a little iPad. He’s done this for shows from Melbourne’s Remains at their Grind ‘Til Death launch, to Sydney’s Potion winter tour, and a tonne of other stuff.

I was discussing the pleasing developments of the improving health of the venues with Mick at the Witchskull/Reaper show a couple of weeks ago, and he said he was stoked that it’s happening.

As the demand for spots on Canberra stages grows, there’s more options to fit local shows in with competitive touring schedules.

Canberra Metal New Releases

As such, there’s a bunch of local bands in, or soon to be in, the studio, with new music either out or just about to drop. Expect output from PLOUGHSHARE, T Wretch, Hydranaut, Pilots of Baalbek, Bloodmouth, Hekate (pictured), Witchskull, and Pod People to name just a few.

As the local scene’s creative vein throbs, so too does the national and international in turn.

Good Things bought back a big scale, old-and-new heavy festival back in late 2022, and the line-ups for the big European summer fests are all on the up. Covid is still with us, but I think my vibe of ’22 into ’23 isn’t one of a lack of history – as The Racket suggested – but one of rebuilding and rebirth.

Death To All!

Australia, and Canberra, had some cracking tours last year.

Dead Congregation and Blood Incantation did a wildly well received double header that, I sense, is at the nerve of current metal underground tastes; essentially stating that death metal is having a serious comeback.

From the gods of gore Carcass dropping at the end of last year, Autopsy released yet another insanely good record in Morbidity Triumphant just recently.

And it’s not just the old guard bringing eyes to the genre. Undeath and their Its Time…To Rise From The Grave record is a fitting call to arms for younger ears to come to the party.

Faceless Burial, who graced us some weeks back, also brought something to the celebration with At The Foothills of Deliration and toured it to great effect off the back of the supports they did on the Dead Congregation/Blood Incantation run.

This barely scratches the surface of the death metal material that came out this year. It’s shaping up to be a real golden age as we plough through 2023.

The Best of Local Shows 2022

If I look at one of the Local Show Highlights of last year, Canberra Metal Fest (CMF) topped the many standouts with pleasing old school flavoured DM, with Abramelin in career best form.

Another triumph—with an incredible performance—and my award for Filthy Bass Tone Of The Year went to Melbourne’s Carcinoid. These guys are in the studio as I type and I’m really looking forward to what they produce.

My Discovery Of The Year for 2022, and a band that put in two stunning sets at both Sun Burn and CMF, was the rule eviscerating Goat Shaman.

It’s no secret to you folks that I’m a doom fiend at heart, and these four blokes under 25 bring a hefty sense of anticipation for their forthcoming album. Seriously, what a concoction: 4-piece, three singers, seven-string guitars, the most insanely talented drummer I’ve heard in years and, most importantly, crack level addictive good songwriting. I’m all about it.

Sus out their self-titled and produced EP, and don’t miss them at the upcoming Sunburn and CMF respectively in 2023.

Dark Mofo

A huge highlight for 2022 I can’t leave out was 16 mad drunken hours in Hobart at Dark Mofo in June. It was my third trip to the DM festivities, and it never disappoints.

Hymns Of The Dead was the main metal night on the program and saw Tom G Warrior bring it back to the early ’80s with the Hellhammer set with Triumph of Death, with stunning performances from Cthe’list, Krypts, and Dakestrah.

From my conversation with the promoters for next year’s event, book airfares and accommodation now. It’s not just the gig, it’s the whole festival: the food, the art, the giant red neon inverted crucifixes at the airport… Get on board.

Best Metal Music of 2022

Departing from gigs & show to the topic of releases, great music was in no short supply.

I am not going to do an ordered list, but if I were, it would be hard to top the guitar tone on the comeback record for Cave In on their Heavy Pendulum release. Just listen to the first song New Reality – it makes the case all on its own.

Kryptograf from Norway produced a stunning ’70s flavoured masterpiece in The El Dorado Spell, with my streaming statistics telling me they were my most listened to artist last year (after Nicki Minaj and Justin Beiber because I share the account with my sub 10 year-old daughters… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it *cough*).

Extortion (finally!) were able to deliver their recorded work from early in the pandemic in the form of Seething, with 15 songs in ten ferocious minutes proving to be an absolute face melter.

In terms of dense, almost suffocating extremity, look no further than our own PLOUGHSHARE – Ingested Burial Ground. It’s a phenomenal listen. Don’t be scared.

In no order, my respect, congratulations, and appreciation go to the following for their art this year:

Voivod – Synchro Anarchy
Friends of Hell – Friends of Hell
Plague God – Absent in Body
Reaper – Veridian Inferno
Hydranaut – Hydranaut
Ghostsmoker – Astral Realm
Religious Observance – Religious Observance
Emu – Freedoms Power
Nembutolik – All Along The Frankston Line
Early Moods – Early Moods
Conan – Evidence of Immortality
Deer Creek – Menticide
Wormrot – Hiss
Blood Incantation Timewave Zero
Wadge – Grindcore Penitentiary
Gargantuan Blade – Gargantuan Blade

In Conclusion

So! Did the history books get impacted this year for metal?

Maybe not, at least as far as sticking the metal head over the cultural parapet of the mainstream goes.

But really, it’s a bit like the controversy surrounding The Chats taking home the Aria for best metal release. Who gives a shit about what’s happening in the mainstream that doesn’t get, or understand, metal?

There’s so much here for those already on board. The question of what’s happening outside of metal, or it’s perception in the mainstream, is utterly redundant.

With 2022 well and truly recapped, it’s on to all things 2023…

Over the summer, there’s a couple of big announcements for upcoming shows near and far.

Darkest Hour are back and at The Basement on Friday, 10 February with Immorium, Primitive, and DepriVation. Tickets going fast.

Variety is the spice of life, and when a variety of bands congregate at a bar with a variety of beers there can only be one winner. You, the punter! Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Mixed Bill Madness! is on at Pot Belly Bar on Saturday, 11 February and features Dead, Hydranaut, Rubber Necker, and The Leftards. Will be a good complimentary mix!!

Coming up sooner than you think, you have the aforementioned Canberra Metal Fest happening on 17 & 18 February. Both nights are stacked. To whit:

Canberra Metal Fest – Friday, 17 February Line-up

Carnal Viscera
Goat Shaman
Mytile Vey Lorth
The Plague
Post Truth

Canberra Metal Fest – Saturday, 18 February Line-up

100 Years War
12 Gauge Rampage
Black Rheno
Flaming Wreckage
Hidden Intent
Laceration Mantra
The Neptune Power Federation
Pizza Death
Pod People
Point 11
Reign of Terror
Religious Observance
Womb to Tomb

Your tickets are available at Oztix right now.

Going Hammer and Tongs

Fuckin’ Anvil are here on Tuesday, 21 February!

[*RECORD SCRATCH!* At least, that’s what we’d love to report, but sadly we just got the following communique from promoter Hardline Media:

“Hardline Media are sorry to say that the ANVIL Australian tour has had to be postponed due to unforeseeable circumstances. The band hope to reschedule at a later date with their new album. Refunds can be sought from point of purchase, we are hoping for new dates soon.”

Sigh. Fingers crossed for that reschedule, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we hear anything – BOSSMAN SKO]

More old school neck damage is up for grabs on Tuesday, 7 March with Sacred Reich and Vio-lence coming to The Basement and your tickets are on sale now.

The brains trust that curates Dark Mofo’s heavy bands each year have started a new fest in Melbourne called Into The Fall and it’s happening on Saturday, 18 March at The Croxton. The line-up, unsurprisingly, is STACKED. Internationals Obscura, Gatecreeper, Stabbing, Undeath, and Cryptic Shift join Australian legends Inverloch, Freedom of Fear, Altars, Carcinoid, Resin Tomb, Pestis Cultis, and Growth.

That is a massive kick off for what is intended as an annual event, and tickets are on sale now.

That’s all for now. I hope you had a Merry 666mas – see you up the front in 2023.

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