Doom Charts – 2022 Favorites – Joop Konraad

We’re almost there… The Doom Charts Top 100 will go up later today… But first you have to sit through a way too long Personal Favorites list… Ending the run of personal lists with my own. Still seems a bit much. But we went ahead and did it anyway. It wasn’t planned like that, but couldn’t find the time to finish it. Anyway, it has been a wild, crazy and often disturbing year once again. And musically speaking, once again, amazing! A big thank you to all the bands and artists delivering all that good and heavy rock that we all love so much. A thank you as well to all the record companies for releasing a lot or some of those albums, promotors for promoting them and bookers for their help in making all that magic come alive on stage. And another thank you to all of you, everyone that populates the Heavy Underground and follows one or more of the many blogs, zines and podcasts out there. And ofcourse a thank you as well to all the Doom Charts Contributors, not just for what they do for the Doom Charts, but especially for what they do on their own blogs, zines, websites and podcasts… Keep spreading the good word on all those amazing releases! For musically speaking… This is the best time to be alive!

Well, this list appeared on Stoner HiVe a few weeks or so ago and many of the albums were reviewed during the course of the year. Except for HELMS ALEE and ELDER, they are now blurbed for the first time.. And since I sort of reposted all those reviews here, this will become a long read post… Don’t say I did not warn you! Anyway, it was immensly difficult only listing twenty albums… On Stoner HiVe we published a list of 75 other albums we thoroughly loved as well and every day we discover more…

Every day… More and more… And we love it!

A late entry to the list of absolute favorite releases of 2022 for instance was that new two track release by TEMPLE FANG. Jerusalem​/​The Bridge gives you two sides of a dime, but both are lightning strikes and you will immediately feel that electric current running through the compositions, the musicians and your heart…


The record starts off with an amazing smash and grab track called Bait And Switch; relentless grinding bass work by the new addition to the INDIAN HANDCRAFTS clan called Leland Burmania. The fact they took this cat on board, opens up so much of the structuring for the other two. Four minutes long the opener begins with this scary computerized bit before the drums start their short build up, and then the ruthless attack begins! It’s kamikaze time! And it will immediately get your blood pumping and make the adrenaline shoot out of your ears. O’ man, that vocal work by the three of them after the half time mark, amazing! And if that first track doesn’t crush you into submission, it will surely happen with the following track Criminal. Opening with that double guitar, those drums, setting you up for a proper lift off. And fly you shall! Alarming! Alarms! Rapid dominance is what Indian Handcrafts is all about on this record.

(Black Throne Productions)

If you start your album with a snippet about Mescaline, you’re alright in my book and are allowed to call me any time of day. And if I realize it’s the four acid casualties united by a love for high fantasy, psychedelics, and heavy rock music on the other side of the line; it will drag me away from my masturbatory slumber and will make me feel alright about not fighting against all the injustice in the world. For if you listen to (Heavy On The Cosmic), you know there is nothing you have to do, ever, but feel all the warmth of all the people you’ve turned on, turned on to AAWKS that is. For AAWKS can do not wrong and everything right, they bring you catchy stoner, spacey doom and hard rocking psychedelics just as easy as thinking positive instead of negative can bring you extraordinary fortune. And in doing so, not only get better results for yourself but the entire universe. Cause that’s how the Great Magnet works. And out there in the cosmos you shall be overwhelmed first and foremost by that Star Collider track. Surfing the cosmic waves like a space age Fu Manchu addict; you suddenly become aware of the lead up to this track and how Space City that came before and The Electric Traveller before that all told you about this brutal interstellar adventure; and you will feel at peace with all of creation under this friendly dome and with eyes closed see that momentous eclipse in slow motion and you will understand. You will understand about all the spirals, going up and down this record. Going back then to Beyond The Sun, where the eclipse is yet to happen, the tonal doom and slow-moving riff currents that will start you off properly on the road to become the space surfer you always knew you were… And there are more pathways to cut through this psychedelic space doom labyrinth; none of it will lead you to the center but going around in circles is all you want anyway. AAWKS transports you into another reality all together; and it will have a profound effect on you…

(Ripple Music)

We simply dig the sound, the tones and the atmospheres that the VALLEY OF THE SUN quartet creates. It references everything we love about grunge and does so in a way that it never becomes too grungy. It does that same thing with hardrock and stoner; leaving everything in a fine balance on a tightrope somewhere, out there, in the shimmering distance, dangling fantastically high and indeed pretty low above a desert precipice. This time around the sound has become even warmer and steamier. If this is due to the new drummer or because the band, with solo surviving founding member Ryan Ferrier, at the helm, is simply that ever evolving entity, those heavy fiends that thirst to explore every avenue available, one can only guess. Opening with a bluesy, sixties guitar on Sweet Sands that instantly goes off into a riff and hook that keeps on circling, complemented by that awesome chorus and background vocals, it makes the opening track immediately that introduction you would love when you start a new album. It also promptly shows off what Mr. Ferrier is capable and most versed in, when it comes to vocal lines, and carrying a certain gritty energy to its logical conclusion. Freedom, escape, a yearning for wide open spaces and for travelling at the right kind of speed… The speed you want. That’s what you might take away from The Chariot and that is, for me, the ultimate example of what a band of desert pirates should wish to accomplish. And signing off your record with a strong composition like, Colosseum, the way the guitars seem to shimmer like a fata morgana across your stereo, that emotional charge in the vocals and the overall sound that creates this grandiose open plain, gives the album an extra bit of shine. The Chariot… It shines and gleams under the hot desert sun…


In my book this was immediately listed as one of the year-end-favorites. Not because of the brilliant guest spots by Igor Sydorenko (Stoned Jesus), Tommi Holappa (Greenleaf, Dozer), Nick DiSalvo (Elder) and Willi Paschen (Coogans Bluff). But simply because the songs, the riffs and the hooks just keep dragging you further and further along into an sultry ocean of sand. Most of the stoner influences go the way of aggression, the punk roots and seminal Shot Shot Shot Shot track, seems to pay homage to the Palm Desert and the Songs For The Deaf album by Queens Of The Stone Age in particular. After which a more Middle Eastern vibe starts to influence the compositions; Iranian singer Googoosh is responsible for the Talagh song and the lyrics for Payan have been written by Hossein Alavi. It all gives their stoner and desert rock even more depth, warmth and significance. Twenty years on, SAMAVAYO has become one of the most versatile and hottest bands in heavy rock!

(Blues Funeral Recordings)

It arrived like a bolt from the blue, and as the sky turned dark, you could hear the heavy rumbling approaching… And at once you realized you were listening to a hammer strike against the gods. One that would ring on into legend. And forever… An album labelled as avant-garde metal might not always lure you in. But as the debut record Folium Limina by quintet THE OTOLITH shows us, we probably should have let us be ensnared more often. For Folium Limina is a work of art that’s capable of fusing elements of sludge, noise, black, doom and metal into a brilliant symphonic almost operatic album, dizzying, stunning and grandiose. Rising from the ashes of equally stunning outfit SubRosa, the THE OTOLITH five opt for gigantic gestures, a massive amount of layers and the fierce ability to turn it all down to a mere trickle of sounds. And then they let the roar swell, with enough gravitas to bring the world around you to a halt. Which is part of the succor given by Folium Limina since much of the album is a desperate trek forward through all sorts of trials and tribulations. For those who see too deep and too much, for the outsiders, the hour-long existentialistic masterpiece will pierce and strike, and penetrate deep into your heart. The intensity of the experience not easily repeated, might suck the wind away, and might show you once again that we live with the reference of past experiences, not future events. But as such, Folium Limina will be the touch stone for you to see the inevitable. The simple fact that time, is like an ever-rolling stream, bearing all your sins, all your failures, all you dreams, all your realities away… Folium Limina will bring you into the now. The only time that truly exists. And for one hour long, the world around you will be brought to a halt. And that is something to be truly thankful for…

(Mrs. Red Sound)

Praised be the Parisians that have been rocking out under the moniker RED SUN ATACAMA since 2015! And praise be Darwin, their newest album! This is one of those records that immediately grabbed us by the throat as well! If Brant Bjork was here we would tell him that this is some true desert punk. Inspired by not only the Californian desert, but also the mystical magic from the South American ocean of sand, the six tracks on their new Darwin album have this furious and angular edge to it all; turning riffs into choppy and bouncy propellants. And it all starts so lovely, laidback, and classic with that one-minute opening intro 11-CH. But as it shifts gear into the eight-minute following second track Furies, the drums slowly but steadily preparing you for what will surely be arriving soon, the riffs circling, building it all even more into a hotbed of anticipation… And then… The release! Here we go! Kamikaze! Let’s attack! Let’s go! With psychedelic touches, mostly used for a moment or respite and to make what comes next even more volatile and dangerous, and with yes, a whole lot of fuzz the RED SUN ATACAMA three have delivered one of those legendary records that will surely turn everybody’s head and turn everybody on. And, well, make everyone go crazy! For Darwin is explosive, wild, stunning, and extremely addictive!

(Ripple Music)

If you want to tell a story, it’s all about setting the scene. And some bands are true masters in that respect. With the right kind of tones and approach, you can feel a dungeon breeze snatch your soul in its teeth and scarper off to a cobwebbed corner of your prison. You will see the scorched landscape, the burnt air leaving lingering tastes of something similar to bacon and you will see The Faceless King grin. That evil smile that will haunt your dreams for the rest of your life. The Los Angeles quartet VITSKÄR SÜDEN is back with a new dark fantasy story. It is called The Faceless King and as concept albums go, there shall be very few albums released this year that can rival this record in scenery, imagery and scope. For, if you are so bold as to dive into the story, and if you are so bold to order the deluxe version, you will also get a Dungeons & Dragons, 24-page long, fully illustrated RPG-module, that dives even deeper into the history of The Faceless King. And a mighty fantasy it is, with minor horror influences it creates its own mythopoeia about an anti-hero King, rising, dying and returning with an even more sinister heart. And then there’s the music, the beautiful music that would have told its tale even without vocals. For when opener The Way – Part 1 starts, you are immediately dragged into their world. Most of the album leans on half-time-heavy tempo or the slower approach like on this wonderful opening track. Seagull guitar, eerie synth touches, all giving you the feeling of something extremely mystical that is slowly seeping into your blood. And then the transition, with the vocals into the The Way – Part 2. This changeover into that heavier, creepier sound, so expertly done. Recalling weird memories of a Drywall song, but more prog, intense and so imposing. It’s easy to see this one as an immediate favorite, but then third track Archdiocese Of Worms hits, weaving its psych, prog and folk tapestry on an even grander scale. You feel the vampiric acid of the Archdiocese slowly transfer into your being as the guitar rings on and the drums, with its pronounced, yet subdued thrashing, and then those final instants when the bass rumbles and thumps, like a distant earthquake slowly closing in… It is a breathtaking adventure… And I am sure, that as the final tones of closing track The Broken Crown die away, and you take that huge breath of air, you will feel the wind dying down, and the silence descending, turning the night sky into a frozen reflection of infinite stars… And among those stars… That evil grin…


As soon as those first gnarly tones hit you… That lumbering opening of that first stonerrock track El fantasma de Belgrado on their new album Nomade you know the trio from MECÁNICOS are some real heavy mothersludgers; some ten-ton heavy motherfuzzers! MECÁNICOS hails from Argentina and is comprised out of Guido Braini on drums, Martin Siris on bass and Luis Braini on guitar and vocals. We already mentioned that amazing opening track; they continue that heaviness, that fuzzy and sludgy influence but on the second track ‘La maquina se detiene’, they open it up with soaring vocals, a gliding guitar that immediately turns it into more of a spacey stonerrock odyssey. Now, we realize the album art will surely push the listener into that direction anyway. But you soon have this feeling, even though my Spanish is severely limited, you are listening to the exploits of a space drifter that looks back at earth from all those million miles away and is saddened by what he sees. Third track Solaris enhances that emotion; with that lonely guitar sound in the middle before that slow rising end starts. The way they use those circling riffs, rumbling drums on many of the tracks also give off a bit of Greenleaf air; which as I’m sure everybody will say, is a good thing! There were a few times listening to this album where I wished the vocals had been a tiny more up front in the mix. But on the last session before jotting all this down, they actually felt perfect. Just check out fifth track Red Alert, it feels pushed back, but it will still make you ball your fist, wave it in everyone’s general direction and scream along, mouthing all the wrong words. Seventh track ‘Caras en el parque’ with its driving rhythm, that propelling drum work, has this ghostly element to it, but will also make you want to dance. Eight track Misa has you soaring off into space again and tenth final track Replicas closes the album off in fine stonerrock form. And if you are not in love with this album by now… Well… Love Is The One Thing we’re capable of perceiving That Transcends dimensions of Time And Space. And MECÁNICOS seems to hint at that once again. This world’s a treasure… Giving us so much… And Nomade is here to give you even more!

(Ripple Music)

STEAK’s new album Acute Mania is a righteous tour de force. Which might start off straightforward, easy and simple, but even then you feel this new album will become something larger than all of the records they produced before. For some strange and possible insane reason, you immediately feel the tracks will build and there’s an arc present underneath it all and that you will only be able to truly stand back and appreciate all you’ve heard when those final tones of the final track die away…  Cause, sure, we mentioned Corned Beef Colossus back in 2013 and Slab City in 2014, but Acute Mania is of a complete higher order. A higher and extremely dynamic order; in the overreaching arc of the album but also in every single track. Making more use of the width, length and air to let it all breathe. Just go back to opening track Wolves when you’re finished and listen minutely to the sparse, yet with golden thread written arrangements, the seemingly easy transitions into bridges, choruses and the way it all floats and lets so much of it just ‘hang’… Exquisite!  They were a good, tasty, meaty, and fun band before. But with Acute Mania, STEAK turns into premium class, high grade, with the very best of marbling, Japanese Kobe beef. Which, as it happens, will go great with their album cover, the Mad Lord Samurai of 100 Deaths movie they provided the music for and that wild STEAK Comic book. I’m gonna stand back now and truly appreciate the magnitude of Acute Mania

(Sailor Records / Kozmik Artifactz)

Immediately upon spinning Variant; we could not get over the fact that the vocals often shared the same color as Chris Goss and that there were these definite musical moments, mystical melodies that reminded of Goss’s Masters Of Reality as well. Second track Burns Like Basketweave being the pinnacle in that. And it turned Variant immediately into a household favorite and a much-played record. Variant is the classic and blues-tinged heavy rock, stoner infused album by Austin, Texas quartet GREENBEARD. And indeed, it’s not just simply that… For the way they implore all the different heavy rock elements, makes them move ever more away from the trodden path and into a wild, strange, definite desert and alchemic rock adventures. And in the way the album dares to dive into the wind and take a look behind the veil of existence makes it even more reminiscent of Masters Of Reality. And then there’s more, more in the way of a saxophone, in soulful gospel breakdowns, in the width of every composition and the warmth of the production. Variant can easily and instantly be recognized as an amazing album and one that will make every desert alchemist realize that this right here is yet another brilliant brushstroke added to the celestial canvas…


It’s Killing Spree by trio HIGH NOON KAHUNA. It’s here to bend your brain a bit! Opener Parachute starts with a skateboard rushing by, a wicked drum rhythm setting you up for that Dick Dale, Eastern tinged surf guitar you know is coming. And once it hits, so does the careening vocals, revving you up for a good run. In the park, in the ocean or in a mosh, this is the surf of legends. But then following track Danger Noodle and single, ups the ante, and gives the opener a run for its money. Menacing, threatening, with an intense drive and maddening surf groove, Danger Noodle worms its way without any qualms into your heart, brain and soul. This is the kind of music that would give your car an extra hundred miles even when you have run out of fuel. Third track Sharktooth and fourth, the other single, Another Way Around feel like they are answering each other and the questions they might have asked. But where Sharktooth keeps its cards close to its chest and rambles on, with that punky, skater attitude. Another Way Around opens up and often feels like that moment between swells where you await the coming of that perfect wave. And of course it comes and if you aren’t ready and don’t catch it you shall and will wipeout. Or perhaps you did, and crashed onto the beach. Where fifth track Black Lodge, picks you up and has you slowly and dizzy lumbering off into the brush behind, to see if you can scare up another bottle of dark plantation rum or push one of those pesky Keith Richards out of a palm tree. With a lot of surf, circling riffs, bobbing bass work, sweet and choppy drumming, they spin the yarn of a few tension arcs, before ending it all with a pretty scary almost extradimensional dread. Closing track Sandstorm is here to show the squares you can surf in the desert as well. Almost ten noisy, doomy, stoner soaked, and steaming hot minutes of fierce guitar work, and blistering clamor that ends with everything in the vicinity of the three artists being struck before the distortion slowly dies away…

(Sargent House)

Atmospheric sludge, grunge metal, alternative everything… Whatever genres you come up with, HELMS ALEE is here to bend them, break them and turn it all into something devastatingly beautiful. It does not necessarily make sense and it definitely does not have to make sense, just take the title for instance: KEEP THIS BE THE WAY. It has a certain ring to it, a certain cadence that makes you understand it all on a totally different level. And that’s how HELMS ALEE seems to work. For me at least. It taps into something subconscious and activates all your senses. Turning all their seemingly chaotic compositions into a finely tuned clockwork of delicate grace. For even though their hardcore, noise and sludge might be brutal; whenever the wave breaks and starts the roll back, the calm, the tranquility and the expanse that opens up immediately quenches all that mouth watering sour with equally savoring sweetness…

(Metal Assault Records)

The digital album materialized somewhere in February of this year and has been spinning ever since. Together with a few others it immediately charmed its way into my heart, mind, and soul. We’re talking about Ealdor Bealu’s third album Psychic Forms. Another one of those albums that manages to bring you all that heavy rock we all love so dearly… For, of late, the modern prog, ethereal psych and atmospheric metal albums have been abundant and many of them seem to have been produced right there at the crossroads; soul signed away for that perfect record. Are we now immediately stating the Boise, Idaho four sold their soul and that Psychic Forms is a perfect record? Hell no, but perhaps in all that imperfection hides humanity, that longing for something we cannot name and a heart-breaking tranquility. For even though the tracks on Psychic Forms have their explosive moments; their gut-wrenching dark twists and turns… It is the overall arc of tranquility, natural and even delicate atmospheres that seem to engage you the most while tangling with all the booming riffs, surging drums and intense bass work. And then they have all the different vocals parts not soaring above it all; but subdued, almost scurrying underneath to give even more air to all the progressive and folk inspired psychedelic compositions. From the already amazing second record Spirit Of The Lonely Places to this; is another definite step towards the top of the mountain… Where do we go from there? Shall we step to the edge? Shall we spread our wings? This album is sure to make you fly…

(Psycho Waxx)

Okay, let’s start raving about the new album Palo Verde! Let’s rave about that spacey sound PSYCHLONA does so well, well on Palo Verde, they use that space rock touch to make every sound they produce sound soaring and extremely cosmic. And at the same time give it this impressionistic, magical realistic touch. And that is not just because the cover art moves in that direction and might put those thoughts in your mind. No, no, PSYCHLONA turn themselves more and more into the Van Gogh‘s of stonerrock. Painting shimmering compositions of truly celestial heavy rock. Turn your ear to third track Rainbird for instance, a glowing, euphoria filled composition of pure ecstasy. Slow moving, laidback, the ‘it’s all happening-groove’, before finally building to a higher platform to dive from, and dive hard into a maelstrom of colorful muddy rock n roll. The starry night comes out to dazzle you on every track, but on the sixth track Jetplane they even announce it with the vocals: “Out come the stars.” And the effects on the vocals might be one part to help you see that starry night, and to hear all the colors vibrate, but musically, PSYCHLONA has managed to convey the power of nature, of a very warm sound, with a color palette and style all of their own. Their musical paintings seem to bridge all limitations, transcending boundaries and sparking your imagination. For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. And with PSYCHLONA I see them…  

(Magnetic Eye Records)

BESVÄRJELSEN was formed in 2014 by members from bands like Dozer, Greenleaf, Afgrund, Lastkaj and V. And they released their first five track called Villfarelser a year later. Vallmo and Frost followed in 2018 and 2019, but with ten track Atlas they dwarf both of those releases. Imploring ever more influences from every nook and cranny of music you can think of; the ten tracks take you on a journey, that feels like you’re just rocking out to some awesome heaviness one minute and then to some earthshattering prog influenced album the next. For there’s an arc here and a setting, but many of the songs can also be listened to individually. Opting for grandiose and gravitas, the songs all have this highly organic feel and natural psych touch. Whirl winding, maelstrom inducing, are all words that fit the bill when you talk about Atlas. Closing track Dividing Minds, might actually be one of the best that uses that whirling dervish approach, it will perform miracles, it has supernatural powers, and through all that physical exertion you cannot help but go through while listening to Dividing Minds, you shall attain a true ecstatic trance! Or start with that proper blast off, first track, stoner, desert, highly energetic and propellant Cardinal Ride. Hooks abundant, riffs galore, the Cardinal Ride sets up the pieces. And by the time second track Acheron arrives you’ve been checked and mated. That starting guitar, those pounding drums, the snake biting its own tail riff… It has to be done right… For that’s when that enigmatic voice starts, for the vocals provided by Lea Amling Alazam sit exactly right on Atlas. You already heard it on that opening chorus of Cardinal Ride, but when it drifts and slides across Acheron you will feel blessed, and chills will run across you body. And you will know that all of this… Was the joy of admiration and of BESVÄRJELSEN ability, and of the listener growing together…


There’s evening redness in the west. The mountains the color of blood. In a dream I once had, I walked among those stones, till I saw the sun rise and the mountains shine in that morning light. Stumbling forward through the rocks, the next valley was nothing but a gateway into a savage land, where death danced upon the graves of many and many were dancing, claiming they would never die. When the July edition of the Doom Charts arrived; I did not die, but was saddened to see that one of the albums I loved so much and which feels so inspiring did not get high enough to receive a blurb. And as you already know from the title, I’m referring to SAMÁN’s new album II. Montaña Roja. The fourpiece hails from Bogota, Colombia and bring you an almost hour-long journey of stoner metal, which is either touched by doom and grunts or soaring with psychedelic warmth and atmospheric affection. I believe they’re named after one of the biggest trees in South America, and the Colombian four give you an extremely natural flowing album that moves through all the different heavy landscapes effortlessly, seamlessly, and organically. For even though the album is oozing stoner metal and heavy trucking riffs, there are so many atmospheric and psychedelic elements in play to create the II. Montaña Roja universe, you often forget you just heard some intense grunts and doom-tinged stoner metal. Opener Montaña Roja Pt. 1 for instance, has some heavy riffs during the middle part, but for most of its five minutes, it sets its windswept scene with languid, dry guitars and rising rhythms. Following track El Sueño has the same build up, but a much heavier and thicker center part, thundering drums building up to a righteous storm, accompanied by breezing vocals that turn into a harsh blizzard of guttural knives, slashing away the reverie that was there. And that’s how SAMÁN seems to roll for the entirety of the album, painting huge atmospheric soundscapes, where you can carefree enjoy the dreams and the virtuosity displayed, until you’re brutally, yet so full of smiles, jogged awake by the intensity that follows. You can feel the blood running warm, you can smell the sweat it took to create this. And judging from story the record tells, there might also have been a few tears… SAMÁN’s II. Montaña Roja is an album you simply must hear. It is a starkly beautiful masterpiece…


Ever since hearing Weight Of The World by Greek formation THE SAME RIVER I felt the urgent need to sit down to write a few words of love and praise for the album. But as usual, time eluded me and it took weeks, nay, months to finally get to it. THE SAME RIVER formed in 2019 but is only just now starting out, but the sound, the tones and the voice will surely remind everyone of All Them Witches. And that is not a bad thing! Weight Of The World has some bluer touches, some more metal thunders and perhaps more pounding than All Them Witches ever had. I might even be hearing a few; much heavier Madrugada touches, but that might just be me. Overall, THE SAME RIVER seems to embody heavy psychedelic rock to the very core. Lyrically the album covey’s the band’s “philosophical concerns about the decadence of human society filtered through the fears of an unknown world after this pandemic ends. Heraclitus, Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud and many mythological aspects of our heritage (with a deeper meaning), such as Sisyphus and Prometheus, blend in a way and fulfills in rhymes what their vision for this world is about; solidarity, peace and understanding.” Which is perfect ground to produce an album that is worth to stand next to all that ancient knowledge. It calls for honesty and pure of heart; something the nine tracks seem to thrive on. There are no masks in THE SAME RIVER. Recorded during the pandemic in three different studios, the album fits together perfectly and sounds like a grand piece of art. That moves and projects images and emotions on a blank canvas and for you to do with what you like. For me it becomes this huge and in-depth adventure into every universal aspect you might be able to think of. But whatever it turns out to be for the rest of the world, the fact remains that this is an amazingly strong, brilliant and awe-inspiring album… (And it was the reason we had to do this longread interview with vocalist Diamond PR…)

(Pale Wizard Records)

Let’s start with the most obvious conclusion, the good boys of SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF produced one of the catchiest songs of the year and one that will have to be on their setlist for the rest of time. Ya’ll will know which track we’re talking about, but we will say it out loud anyway: the second track Devil’s Daughter! That catchy returning riff, the vocals, the release and the energy of Devil’s Daughter is unparalleled… And now that we’ve gotten that most obvious of remarks out of the way let’s state the following as well, the new album This Sceptred Veil is meant for the ages, it’s one of those albums that will ring on forever and slowly turn SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF into a legendary band. Or perhaps it already has. Opener You’ve Stolen The Words goes the way of gigantism; with its wide arcs and the vocals, which by the way have become even better on this album than on all those that came before. It grabs you entirely, pulls you closer to the abyss, has you dangling over and just whispers in your ear to enjoy the view. Which you will; even if there is unbelievable peril in your heart, it will also fluster it with glee for all you see and hear…

Third track Absolute Blue has the same kind of wide vista, giant vocal lines and an emotional charge that will give you shivers and run a current of electricity up your spine. Are we biased? Of course, there is no such thing as objectivity and definitely not when it comes to music. Have we always been this much into SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF? Why yes, just check out our earlier reviews of Ride The Hoof or Zigurat. But the growth, once again, displayed on This Sceptred Veil album has the ability to not just shock and awe long time fans. This album should be heard by all heavy rock and metal crazies, cause it will undoubtedly become a favorite for them all. And I’m not just referencing metal fans here because of the highly eighties, NWOBHM-tinted seventh track Show Don’t Tell. There’s a lot of metal and it’s all used in such a way that it marries the psych, prog and stoner influences so it becomes this incredible immersive experience. And there will be moments when a heavy rock, heavy metal high, will induce euphoria and might bring you to tears. Or it might just be me… And then there’s the sound, the mix, the pristine production value. I’ve heard many records mastered by Tony Reed, but this record will belong to his best work ever, forever. How much we need to credit Mr. Reed or recording producer Josh Gallop, is of course unclear, what is clear, is the sound, and that they both helped deliver an album that can only be seen as sheer perfection. SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF and their new album This Sceptred Veil are, for me personally, already legendary…

(Armageddon Shop / Stickman Records)

Stoner HiVe was started in 2009 to count down the best albums of that year, according to the votes that were cast by followers and friends… And ever since the Dead Roots Stirring album from 2011, ELDER has been on it with every release and usually winning the poll. But ELDER has been around even a bit longer. And the band seems to be able to do the sheer unimaginable every time again. And that is to make yet another even more amazing album, when the one that came before was already unbelievably stunning. Innate Passage is their sixth studio album and is an even more progressive work of art compared to what came before. And even though some might question the vocals on this album. To me, founder, guitarist, vocalist and keyboard player Nick DiSalvo feels perfectly what every composition needed and exactly how the vocals should sit in the mix. Which is probably why Samavayo-vocalist Behrang Alavi adds his voice on two of the tracks. And all of this together makes you feel like you are listening to ELDER at its very best. Which is a feeling you will have throughout the record, just take the gorgeous guitar work on Endless Return, the beautiful keys on Coalescence or that majestic fourth track Merged In Dreams – Ne Plus Ultra with its intense tension arc, razorsharp riffs and pirouette interplay between strings and keys. It simply does not get any better than this… Well, at one point in time, ELDER will release a new album…

(Self-released / Stickman Records)

The three albums are all chapters of the same story, and Regenerator brings conclusion, reshapes the motifs of Acheron into more light and more prog and harkens back to the themes of The Burden Of Restlessness; but there is no rehashing of ideas and there’s so much difference in depth and width, that all three have their own character and play their own lead in this intense story. The seven tracks on Regenerator have their own stages and sections as well, all done with so much detail to the arrangements, the sounds, and the atmosphere that one might even forget about those sparse yet wonderful vocals. With his very own distinct voice, Sean McVay has quickly become one of my favorite vocalists. You can feel how arduous it has been to write what he wrote and that this great result might still be something he lies awake about on many a night. But where the lyrics and vocals have their own spotlight, KING BUFFALO is and will probably always be more about the tightrope dance between heavy psych, hard prog and atmospheric rock. That majestic balancing act between claustrophobic, tight, pressurized and all those wide-open spaces, giving air and on this album: almost angelic light…

And dare I say, that it is track four, a 3-minute-long Interlude and the following fifth track Mammoth that tells you all or most of what KING BUFFALO is about on this final album of the three. The daring, floating vocals during the interlude, the slow singing strings, turning the sound inwards, before blossoming and opening like a flower in the first morning sunlight. And that prolonged silence on CD, closing out the vinyl A side, the fact that you will have to put on side B, to hear that immediate slow marching Mammoth, both in bass, guitar tone and drums, is so perfectly done. A minute detail perhaps, but one that speaks volumes of the King Buffalo craftmanship. And to have the bass do that first fill instead of the guitar on Mammoth, feels effortlessly brilliant. Those soaring pastoral choir like vocals making the Mammoth take flight and touch the heavens, incredibly moving and giving so much comfort…

And that’s probably the biggest thing to take away from Regenerator, comfort, relief, reassurance; that yes, we suffered, and perhaps not all is well and not all will be well. But in some form and to some extent, we will be well… You, me, and the KING BUFFALO three… And because we are so much in love with Regenerator and the earlier two albums, we did this way too long interview with Sean McVay, and you can go back and read that HERE

2 thoughts on “Doom Charts – 2022 Favorites – Joop Konraad

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