Tuonela Magazine’s Annual Staff Picks 2022: Jani Lehtinen’s Edition

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Now that the year 2022 is coming to a close, we at Tuonela Magazine want to share the releases we enjoyed the most. Each of our staff members will share their own lists, here is the list of Jani Lehtinen.

There is a specific word for the awkward situation where one person is coming out of the door while the other person is coming in, resulting in a peculiar “dance,” by which one would try to manipulate the direction the other person should take. According to internet people, the word is “pfizon.” It is the only word even remotely suitable for describing this unbelievable and utterly demented circus side-show unfolding before my very eyes whenever I lay my eyes upon the news headlines. While the world has been busy pfizoning out of the pandemic into the next dystopian shit show, this strange transition period has been very much like watching your socially impeded nan dancing in her undies but, if there is one glorious silver lining in all these shenanigans, it is this: in terms of quality releases, the year 2022 has been a fertile breeding ground for awe-inspiring new music. Last year was pretty solid in this respect too, but it seems that the multiverse of madness that has played out in the last 12 months has ushered artists to go one louder. You’d better believe me that squeezing all those fantastic albums released in 2022 into a few lists, comprised of merely ten (or fewer) items each, has not been this hard since the buccaneer days of the early 1990s. I had to make hard executive choices between magnificent albums – hence, albums such as Songs From the Hard Shoulder by THE TANGENT, The Long Road North by CULT OF LUNA, A Model Life by LONELY ROBOT, and Empyrean by FALLUJAH couldn’t make it this time. Oh, they are definitely among the absolute best releases of 2022, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Perhaps the toughest call was to choose between THE TANGENT and BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, but at the very last minute, through a great effort of will and voodoo, I managed to tilt the scales slightly more toward progressivo Italiano, if only for the sheer abundance of all sorts of exotic flavors on this particular album. Let’s face it: the deeper I dig into the crates of this year’s essential music releases, the more I’m about to find albums worth mentioning. Devin Townsend, David Paich, SLIPKNOT, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX, THRESHOLD, BUSH, LAMB OF GOD, and OCEANS OF SLUMBER also released killer albums in 2022. Furthermore, AYREON and Kenny Wayne Shepherd dropped a killer reissue each – and, speaking of blues, SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE, Walter Trout, and Robin Trower released worthy new blues efforts as well. Then, bands such as TEARS FOR FEARS and SIMPLE MINDS dropped sublime albums, if only to remind us that some of those elderly statesmen of mainstream pop are still relevant. So yes, this year has been a gift that just kept on giving, setting a record level of awesomeness – a record that will be a tough one to break next year.

Apart from the #1 and #2 positions, the following lists are in no particular order. When it comes to the undisputed Album of the Year nomination, regarding both the international and Finnish albums, there is no question about the winners; ODDLAND and KARDASHEV both released something so spectacular that it will explode your mind to smithereens. I cannot possibly stress this enough: these two albums have the potential to rip a gaping hole in the space-time vacuum, suck you into the realm of machine elves, or some exquisite parallel reality where time stands still, so that when the last transient sound snippet on these albums fades into nothingness, you may be caught wondering whether you are a man who just dreamt about being a butterfly or a butterfly who just dreamt of being a human. Then, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT and SPIRITRAISER also released colossal albums that, no doubt, will be remembered and revered in the decades to come.

‘Nuff said, compose yourself into a lotus position and initialize the proper zen state of mind, here come the victors…

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Top 10 International albums

10. Antimatter – A Profusion of Thought

9. Alter Bridge – Pawns & Kings

8. Tim Bowness – Butterfly Mind

7. Thorbjörn Risager & The Black Tornado – Navigation Blues

6. Sylvaine – Nova

5. Neon Fields – Neon Fields

4. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso – Orlando – Le Forme Dell’Amore

3. Korn – Requiem

2. The Butterfly Effect – IV

1. Kardashev – Liminal Rite

Read more: REVIEW: Antimatter – A Profusion of Thought — REVIEW: Alter Bridge – Pawns & Kings — REVIEW: Tim Bowness – Butterfly Mind — REVIEW: Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado – Navigation BluesREVIEW: Sylvaine – Nova — REVIEW: Neon Fields – Neon Fields — REVIEW: Banco del Mutuo Soccorso – Orlando: Le Forme Dell’Amore — REVIEW: Korn – Requiem — REVIEW: Kardashev – Liminal Rite

Top 10 Finnish albums

10. Diablo – When All the Rivers Are Silent

9. Dirt – Deadbeat

8. Shape of Despair – Return to the Void

7. Sara – Pimeys

6. Ameeba – Mentalium

5. Frozen Factory – Of Pearls & Perils

4. Amorphis – Halo

3. Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

2. Spiritraiser – Ciklos

1. Oddland – Vermilion

Read more: REVIEW: Dirt – Deadbeat — REVIEW: Shape of Despair – Return to the Void — REVIEW: Frozen Factory – Of Pearls & Perils — REVIEW: Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu — REVIEW: Spiritraiser – Ciklos — REVIEW: Oddland – Vermilion

Top 3 EPs

3. Thisquietarmy X Away – Machine Consciousness, Phase III

2. Wheel – Rumination

1. Bernth – When It Rains

Read more: REVIEW: Thisquietarmy X Away – Machine Consciousness, Phase III — REVIEW: Wheel – EP: Rumination

Most promising act

For some peculiar reason, over the course of the past 12 months, a few quality outings that could/should be filed under “instrumental guitar mayhem” seemed to rekindle my old love for this sort of craft. You know, I used to be a die-hard fan of instrumental guitar albums in my 20s, in the golden era of guitar heroes, in time immemorial, in the age of guitar-slingers such as Joe Satriani, Tony MacAlpine, and Steve Vai. In terms of instrumental guitar albums, this year has been generous, what with sublime albums from guitar-slingers such as Vai, Bernth, Mr. Fastfinger, and Andy Gillion. Hailing from Prague, Czech, a dashing young blade named Jakub Tirco released a 9-track selection of spine-tingling, moody, and progressive ear candy in summer 2022, bearing the title, “Alaska.” Mixing post-rock and progressive guitar madness, this offering is in a league of its own. Mark my words: this kid is going places!

Top 5 music videos

5. Kardashev – Glass Phantoms

4. Alter Bridge – Sin After Sin

3. Fallujah – Embrace Oblivion

2. Korn – Start the Healing

1. The Butterfly Effect – Visiting Hours

Read more: REVIEW: Korn – Requiem — REVIEW: Kardashev – Liminal Rite — REVIEW: Alter Bridge – Pawns & Kings — REVIEW: Fallujah – Empyrean — REVIEW: The Butterfly Effect – IV

Top 5 international songs

5. Jakub Tirco – The End of All Things (feat. Baard Kolstad)

4. The Tangent – The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post

3. Thorbjörn Risager & The Black Tornado – Navigation Blues

2. Neon Fields – Meant To Be

1. Antimatter – Paranoid Carbon

Read more: REVIEW: Jakub Tirco – Alaska — REVIEW: The Tangent – Songs From the Hard Shoulder — REVIEW: Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado – Navigation Blues — REVIEW: Neon Fields – Neon Fields — REVIEW: Antimatter – A Profusion of Thought

Top 5 Finnish songs

5. Frozen Factory – Of Pearls & Perils 

4. Spiritraiser – Invisible Enemy

3. Ameeba – Tervetuloa Näkemiin

2. Kuolemanlaakso – Tulessakävelijä

1. Oddland – Feed the Void

Read more: REVIEW: Frozen Factory – Of Pearls & Perils — REVIEW: Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu — REVIEW: Spiritraiser – Ciklos — REVIEW: Oddland – Vermilion

Top 5 best last-minute songs

5. Nordein – Etna

4. Gunship – Ghost (feat. Power Glove)

3. Autumn’s Grief – Dead by the Dawn

2. Riverside – Self-Aware

1. Ne Obliviscaris – Equus

Read more: REVIEW: Nordein – Etna

Top 5 cover art

5. The Tangent – Songs From the Hard Shoulder

4. The Butterfly Effect – IV

3. Spiritraiser – Ciklos

2. Threshold – Dividing Lines

  1. Oddland – Vermilion

Read more: REVIEW: The Tangent – Songs From the Hard Shoulder — REVIEW: The Butterfly Effect – IV — REVIEW: Spiritraiser – Ciklos — REVIEW: Threshold – Dividing Lines — REVIEW: Oddland – Vermilion

Best Collaboration

Polyphia: Ego Death (feat. Steve Vai)

Best concert

Saturday and Sunday at Tuska Festival rank the highest of all the shows that I had the chance to witness in 2022, of course. JINJER, WHEEL, VOLA, AMORPHIS, and JINJER were so goddamn lit! It was a total bummer I couldn’t make it on Friday – from what I later heard and saw online, KORN had been frigging awesome as well!

Read more: https://tuonelamagazine.com/gallery-2-7-2022-tuska-festival-day-2-suvilahti-helsinki%ef%bf%bc/ — GALLERY: 3.7.2022 Tuska Festival – Day 3 @ Suvilahti, Helsinki

Top 5 most anticipated releases of 2021

5. Enslaved: Heimdal

4. Godsmack: Lighting Up the Sky

3. Riverside: ID.Entity

2. Katatonia: Sky Void of Stars

1. Ne Obliviscaris: Exul

Want to share your lists with us? Comment below with your lists.

The whole Tuonela Magazine team wishes you an inspirational 2023 filled with a lot of new music to discover. We hope to see you back next year!