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2022 is done! But a lingering feeling of curiosity as to the sonic adventurism that has defined this year remains, and will continue to do so for some time to come.
This has been a year of discovery for Discipline Mag. We brought in some new faces, developed some connections with new artists, explored differing areas of content, and tried to juggle this venture with the myriad of external responsibilities that our busy & digitised world throws at us.
Many thanks to those who have read, shared, and engaged with Discipline Mag content. You know who you are and it doesn’t go unnoticed.
But for now, enjoy our picks of the year…
Discipline Mag's Best Albums Of 2022
God Is War – Predation Perfected
Blending techno with power electronics, and throwing exhaustive titles into the mix is what we get from God Is War‘s Predation Perfected – e.g. track 2:
“PREDATION PERFECTED (I DON’T TO RESPECT ANY OG IN INDUSTRIAL OR POWER ELECTRONICS CUZ I AM ONE MOTHER FUCKER)”
Mack Chami (also of Terror Cell Unit, Koufar and others) appears to be outdoing himself here, but has at least softened up on the Lebanese politics. Some of you may have caught God Is War supporting Full Of Hell earlier this year.
Rome – Hegemonikon – A Journey To The Edge Of Light
Rome is the Luxembourgish neofolk project of Jérôme Reuter. Despite being from one of its smallest countries, his love for the wider vastness of Europe is a romance that will never die. The grandness of previous works such as Flowers from Exile is on display here. As are some synth and guitar combos that blend into some catchy cross-continental tales of European history.
Boris – W
What would a year be without new work(s) from Boris? W is an ethereal outing from Japan’s genre chameleons, leaning on the sounds of shoegaze and dream pop for this 40 minute record. Some doomy riffs make their appearance, but it’s by and large the atmosphere and placidness that engulfs the listener this time around.
Diamanda Galas – Broken Gargoyles
I’m not too proud to say this record scared me on first listen. I went in cold, and found myself deeply unsettled. Reading the description – things started to make more sense as to why – Galas uses the words of German poet Georg Heym from his pieces “Das Fieberspital” & “Die Dämonen der Stadt” – the former describing the state of people suffering from yellow fever and the latter telling of Baal as he watches from a rooftop as a town burns. But what sets this over the top and stands out in my mind is just how visceral this album is. In presentation, yes (it’s Diamanda Galas afterall), but in the way you experience this record as well. You feel every second of it – the vocal performance, the low piano growl, the sparse but haunting instrumentation all combine and leave you affected. It’s not a listening experience easily forgotten.
>> Review by Drew Zercoe
Merzbow – Animal Liberation – Until Every Cage Is Empty
Merzbow‘s animal rights activism and veganism is well-documented, but it seems the urgency of these values is only escalating with time, as evidenced by this here record. Blasts of noise, whips of static, and the faithful onslaught of full volume junk noise is what Masami Akita is throwing at us here. The oppressive assault of activist noise is contained within a Crass inspired stencil artwork. Released by the good people at Cold Spring.
Xiu Xiu – Torn Asunder
Xiu Xiu is definitely not a “noise” band, but if you look closely, Jamie Stewart’s personal influence from the experimental underground is been an ongoing undercurrent. Xiu Xiu covering Current 93, Whitehouse fandom, and Peter Sotos inspiration being some of these clues. Such inspiration manifests on Torn Asunder – this longform track being the studio recording of what was initially performed live at St Vitus bar in New York City. It wobbles, gargles, and buzzes through its 40 minute runtime, and brings context to to the wide array of influences that congeal into the increasing complex, yet rewarding, world of Xiu Xiu.
Locrian – New Catastrophism
Freezing, bleak, desolate – all words that come to mind when I think about Locrian’s ‘New Catastrophism’. This record remains uniquely its own when combining elements of dark ambient & post rock – two genres that too often have been manipulated into something bland or straight up cheesy in the wrong hands. But in the hands of Locrian, ‘New Catastrophism’ certainly feels like a statement, delivered on a carefully crafted sonic palette that serves as a perfect platform for you to reflect on these dire times.
>>> Review by Drew Zercoe
White Ward – False Light
If there’s a musical genre the Ukrainians do well, it’s black metal, and White Ward are keeping that flame burning. False Light expands on the archetypal black metal tropes, but always keeps blast beats and icy riffs in its back pocket. There’s genres aplenty with jazzy interludes, tastefully used brass, atmospheric passages, and even a clean vocal or two from guests. Post black metal with bite.
Discipline Mag first covered White Ward in our How To Support Ukraine article. The difficulties first outlined there have not subsided, but have gotten worse. Consider supporting via Bandcamp or elsewhere wherever you can.
Himukalt – Sex Worker III
Himukalt‘s Sex Worker III reads like a documentary on sex work with an industrial soundtrack. Consisting of interviews and candid conversations with sex workers, genuine experiences and perspectives from various working girls narrate these tracks. The humour, differing values between interviewees, and apathy make for an interesting listen.
Linekraft – Howling
Despite what you may think, power electronics doesn’t get a lot of interest in Japan. Sure, the Merzbows of the country can pull a crowd, but this is often thrill seekers who are looking for a bit of grunt, usually between death metal shows. This makes Linekraft a little bit of an anomaly within Japan’s musical DNA, with most of his fan base located abroad. On Howling, Linekraft fuses the murky electronics and Con-Dom esque washed gargles with lingering tonal frequencies and occasional samples.
Scarcity – Aveilut
Scarcity’s Bandcamp bio states, “Experimental black metal from NYC; meditations on loss and endurance.” Makes sense given the story behind the creation of ‘Aveilut’ (which I won’t rehash here, head to their Bandcamp page to read up on it), but the word I want to lock in on is ‘meditations’ because this band nails it, but not in the way you might assume when you see that word. Scarcity’s debut album is filled with pummeling rhythms, walls of guitars courtesy of Brendon Randall-Myers (Glenn Branca Ensemble) and a harrowing vocal performance from Doug Moore (Pyrrhon, Weeping Sores, Glorious Depravity and Seputus) that combine in such a way that its the only thing I find myself able to focus on while the album is playing – and once this record has you you’re stuck in. There is a masterstroke in composition in the way this record flows – pay particular attention to the way they build to the track ‘III’.
>>> Review by Drew Zercoe
JK Flesh – New Religions Old Rules
From the legend that is Justin K. Broadrick – rhythmic beats and grumbling tones dictate this 43 minute slab of industrial techno by JK Flesh.
Boris – Fade
Boris had a big year – their 30th anniversary as a band and the release of three records. My favorite from this cycle is ‘Fade’ – a classic massive drone metal behemoth. It has all the hallmarks, cool riffs, huge guitars, longform pieces, but what makes this all worth mentioning is how gripping this album is from start to finish. And I think this is so because you really hear a dialog here between the band, like eavesdropping on old friends having a conversation that has you so engrossed you forget yourself and the next thing you know an hour has gone by.
>>> Review by Drew Zercoe
King Dude & Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Black Rider On The Storm
Der Blutharsch team up with one of neofolk’s bigger profiles, King Dude. The result: a fuller sounding record with Thomas Jefferson Cowgill’s (the Dude side of the collaboration) at the forefront, with Der Blutharsch (And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand) bringing a more psychedelic element into the fold.
Der Blutharsch founder, Albin Julius, passed away this year. RiP to this pivotal figure of the neofolk scene.
Darkthrone – Astral Fortress
Through their exploration of metal genres, radio shows, and pretty funny anecdotes (remember when Fenriz involuntarily became a politician?), Darkthrone‘s relevance is eternal. They’ve been relatively busy on the albums front of late, and Astral Fortress is their latest offering. Speed metal, traditional doom, and heavy metal run through these veins. Another classic Darkthrone record from the duo of Fenriz and Nocturnal Culto.
Masonna + Prurient – Annihilationism
Speaking to the other half of this split, it had seemed that Maso Yamazaki’s Masonna had been retired in favour of the more meditative death industrial works of Controlled Death. Masonna‘s coming out of retirement sounds about as high spirited as ever. Vocal manipulations surge through a continual racket of screeching electronics. While each Masonna contribution is padded by a slightly more moderated “doom electronics” contribution from Prurient via the alternating sequence of tracks.
Dusk – Imaginary Dead
Taken from Discipline Mag’s Dusk Imaginary Dead review earlier this year:
Dusk is not simply a “Pakistani” doom metal band, but a doom band in their own right, and one which refuses to revel in the novelty of being a geographical outlier. On Imaginary Dead, Dusk’s unfleeting vision and well-established sound congeal into an ambitious package of death/doom familiarity and left of field surprises.
Read about Dusk‘s legacy and extreme music in South Asia in our Babar Sheikh interview from last year.
Ride For Revenge – Feed The Infamy
This was actually a very late release from last year – 20 December, 2021 to be precise. Too late for last year’s list, thereby qualifying it for 2022. However, we’ll always make room for Ride For Revenge, Finland’s lords of lo-fi black metal whose 8th album sits nicely within their impressively consistent back catalogue of experimental blackened sludge.
Feed The Infamy is a more straight forward affair than previous efforts. Its sounds have been diluted into their most purest, brushing the usual noise/power electronics segments to the side. But still rejecting your typical black metal formula with its sludge inspired bass crunch and drums at the forefront. This is the drunk and messy sound of blackened doom that executes on atmosphere in a way that your typical grimlord could only dream of.
Nadja – Labyrinthe
Four tracks and as many guest vocalists in Alan Dubin (Gnaw, Khanate), Rachel Davies (Esben & The Witch), Lane Shi Otayonii (Elizabeth Colour Wheel), & Dylan Walker (Full of Hell). Aidan Baker and Leah Buckaeff have released one of their heavier releases of recent times, presenting all that is glorious of vocal infused guitar drone.
Check out our Nadja interview where we discuss the recording of Labyrinthe with Aidan Baker.
Sutcliffe No More – Consenting Adult
Sutcliffe Jugend are finished. Slaves No More are, well, no more. Now we have Sutcliffe No More, the next stage of Kevin Tompkins and Paul Taylor’s depraved world view.
For fans of Sutcliffe Jugend (who is surely the vast majority of people following this project), some of this will be very recognisable, but other sections will be somewhat unexpected. Harsh electronics and oppressive narrations flow through a good number of tracks. But more song based and synth-wave elements make themselves known across different segments of this double album.
Bastard Noise + Merzbow – Retribution By All Other Species
A record that does what it says on the tin. The Bastard Noise Merzbow Retribution By All Other Creatures collaboration has been a long time coming (which we first caught wind of in this 2021 Bastard Noise Interview).
The first two tracks of the album follow the recent Bastard Noise formula of long tracks, atmospheric sections, and the various ranges of Eric Wood’s vocal abilities. The latter two tracks are distinctively more Merzbow led, bringing an extra layer of crunch and junk metal into the equation. Known animal rights advocates, this is a record that prays for vengeance against those who have wronged our animal friends – i.e. everyone.
Kollaps – Until The Day I Die
Taken from Discipline Mag’s Kollaps Until The Day I Die review earlier this year:
An album of dread and atonement. Of passion and compulsion. Of opiate affliction and energy. Until The Day I Die harkens back to a time when the outsiders were condemned to pave their own way through grit and determination. Not to feel for a trail left by others, then cry when lost.
Without fear of hyperbole, this is the strongest work of Kollaps to date. Until The Day I Die proves that perseverance and commitment, combined with a healthy dose of pain and misery, can and do yield results.
The Young Gods – Play Terry Riley In C
A classic band continuing to create some classic sounds. Named after Swans‘ classic EP, Young God, for a long time now The Young Gods have not been the band they used to be. Take a left turn down a dark alley, head straight to the basement of a disused arcade, and find a congregation of raggy-assed beatniks meditating around a burning trash can – now you’re one step closer to orientating yourself with Play Terry Riley In C. Classic stuff.
Current 93 – If A City Is Set Upon A Hill
Melancholy is one word that comes to mind. That, nestled amongst the searing violins, subtle and meandering synths, and the odd guitar riff or two. Verbal proclamations ensue; encompassing the inflections of a wise elder sharing unknown knowledge with a mass of adherents hanging off of every word. Like medieval story time with a man standing atop a box while surrounded by cobbled buildings. Such is the mysticism and romance of David Tibet’s Current 93.
Faust – Punkt
From the moment its off kilter drumming blends with rolling guitar feedback, you get the sense that this is going to be Faust at their best. When it doesn’t stop for 9 minutes, that feeling becomes confirmed.
If you’re wondering why/how Punkt sounds as on point in 2022 as Faust did in the 70s, you’re right to be suspicious. Punkt was actually recorded in Munich in 1974, but wasn’t released as a standalone release until 2022. A lost album, and a welcome one at that.
The sounds are full, and the gloriously obtuse nature of this music is on full display. Your favourite artists love Faust for a reason, and the excellence of Punkt, alongside the undeniable importance of their legacy, is precisely why.
Long live Faust.
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