Sleaze Roxx Crew Members’ Top Five Albums of 2022
How time flies! Welcome to the eighth edition of the Sleaze Roxx Crew Members’ Top Five Albums of the Year!
Once again, I invited the most prolific Sleaze Roxx contributors to participate. You should note that not all Sleaze Roxx crew members participated in the Sleaze Roxx Crew Members’ Top Five Albums of 2022. so besides the names that you see below, I owe a big thank you to Christopher Carroll, James Walsh (aka Wrestlingepicenter.com), John Lewis, John Stoney Cannon and Ruben Mosqueda. In 2022, we had one notable newcomer to the Sleaze Roxx team (Jerzy Nykiel from Norway), the resurgence from Jeff Onorato (who went into temporary hibernation due to the Covid pandemic), retro CD reviewer Lance Lumley branding out to new releases, and Rockney Colin writing a whopping 25% of all CD/DVD reviews. Thank you as well to Marcelo Vieira (make sure to check out his music website if you speak Portuguese), Terry Martinson and William Nesbitt.
Favorite contribution of 2022: To be honest, my Sleaze Roxx contributions were quite a bit lower this year than in past years. I was just quite busy with other non-Sleaze Roxx stuff. I did less interviews and attended way fewer concerts than I used to prior to the Covid pandemic. Part of the issue for that latter point is that it doesn’t seem that a lot of bands make it across the USA-Canada border to play Canadian dates since the Covid pandemic. Something is wrong when the next “big” concert that I have to look forward to in the Toronto area is scheduled for the month of May 2023 (Helloween at History although I am less than enthused about the special guest Hammerfall). In any case, my favorite contribution for 2022 was interviewing frontman Jay Cee who announced that he was returning to the American Bombshell line-up after announcing the year before that he was leaving the group and retiring from the “band scene”. Make sure to check out American Bombshell‘s new EP Knives Out, which will be available as of January 29, 2023.
Jeff Onorato’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2019
Contributions: Photos, CD Reviews, Concert Reviews, Interviews
In full disclosure, I had some trouble coming up with a “top five” this year despite my obsessive, daily focus on music. I had no difficulty in determining my top two. These were in rotation through my stereo for much of 2022, and still are. However, I really had to sit down and calculate the remaining three releases that would round out my “best of 2022”. In hindsight, I think that’s partly due to the sheer volume of new music that I ingested. Week after week, I was consistently hearing new albums and that may have impaired my ability to let anything really grow on me at length. That isn’t to say that 2022 wasn’t jam packed with excellent new music – it was inundated. From the Scorpions to King’s X, Crashdïet, Megadeth, American Jetset, Wednesday 13, Slash (featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators), Lillian Axe, Machine Head, Shameless, Thundermother, Leather Duchess, Soulfly, Enuff Z’Nuff, The Hellacopters, Black Swan, and Queensrÿche. An abundant number of bands released fantastic product last year that I really liked. I got lost somewhere within that heap of new music and never let anything truly sink in. Hopefully, my perpetual state of catch up will be a bit less hectic in 2023, and I can focus on a narrower selection of releases. I’m also optimistically looking forward to long-awaited new albums from Lita Ford, Winger, Heavens Edge, Metallica and Extreme.
Number one choice: Eric Wagner’s In The Lonely Light of Mourning. Prior to his untimely passing in 2021 from complications related to Covid-19, the former Trouble frontman recorded what I consider to be one of the finest musical accomplishments of his career. In The Lonely Light of Mourning is a heavy, somber, and inspired slab of doom metal with strong similarities to his numerous works with the iconic band that made him famous. Given that this album was written and recorded just before his death, the lyrical content is haunting, reflective, and full of an irony that I can’t help but ponder each time I listen to the LP. When Wagner sings “I hope I never come here again” on “Isolation”, the line of the song takes on a whole new meaning given the unfortunate circumstances that were about to unveil in his personal life. It’s a reworking of “Victim of The Insane“ from Trouble’s fantastic 1984 Metal Blade debut, Psalm 9 (which was originally self-titled and later renamed).
In “If You Lost It All”, Wagner seemingly questions the human condition. More specifically, our societal infatuation with material possessions and worldly things, while looking into the void of his own dying time – eerie. It’s important to note that this is merely my personal interpretation of the lyrics, and I could be entirely wrong in my interpretation of the meaning behind them. “Strain Theory” is a full-on 180 back to Trouble and it should delight fans of the legendary Illinois metal band that Eric first rose to notoriety with. As an aside, In The Lonely Light of Mourning features brilliant playing by a slew of guitarists, and there are six musicians that are credited with expertly laying down the lead and rhythm guitar tracks on the album. Notably, Chuck Robinson’s lead on “Maybe Tomorrow” which sounds like a lion that’s just been unleashed on its prey. That trend continues throughout much of the CD, with heavy, stoner rock riffs and swampy, ‘70s-inspired grooves sharp enough to slice your fingers off. I’ve had this record since it was released last March, and still spin it at least once a week – it’s that good.
Eric Wagner‘s “In The Lonely Light of Mourning” video:
Number two choice: Warrior Soul’s Out On Bail. Do I consider Out On Bail to be the finest output of Warrior Soul’s long running career? Nope. Not by a longshot. Nonetheless, there’s something so unmistakable, authentic, and unapologetic about Kory Clarke’s songwriting/delivery on this album that it connects with me in a way that few other releases did in 2022. Much like his older, Geffen-era albums, Out On Bail is politically charged, snarling, and foaming at the mouth. “We’re Alive” kicks the album off nicely with a frantic guitar riff and Clarke’s seemingly tongue-in-cheek declaration that the band is still going strong in this world gone mad and oh so happy to have us, the listeners, along for the ride. If you’re still alive and kicking given the state of this world that we’re living in, Warrior Soul are pumped up about that.
“One More For The Road” is another gem and paints the picture of depravity and debauchery as only Warrior Soul can. Hard living can take its toll, but the band is no worse for wear here and elsewhere on the record. I’m far from a political person, but one can’t help but laugh at the lyrical content found on “Hip Hip Hurray”. Regardless of the very pointed lyrical content, this is one of my favorite songs on the album and I would consider it a soon-to-be classic in the Warrior Soul cannon. Above the bluesy guitar hooks of the title track, Clarke actually sounds as though he gargles with broken glass and whiskey prior to cutting his vocals. The same can be said elsewhere throughout the eight-song endeavor. Is his vocal performance perfected, ambitious, and artificially auto-tuned? Hardly. And therein lies part of the band’s appeal. Like the great Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.), what Clarke lacks in vocal prowess, he more than makes up for with articulation, punch, and sincerity. I’ll take it. Out On Bail reeks of pandemic-era fodder, with lyrical content that was likely cooked up in the doomsdays that were 2020. Following the “fun” detour that they took on their previous covers LP, Cocaine & Other Good Stuff, Warrior Soul are right back to slamming the government and prophesizing the end of days. We wouldn’t have it any other way. It will be very interesting see where Kory Clarke roots the subject matter in the next chapter of Warrior Soul’s career.
Number three choice: Skid Row’s The Gang’s All Here. Skid Row surprised many in 2022 with the unexpected news that they had once again shuffled lead singers, with the role this time going to Erik Grönwall. They then silenced naysayers with a string of phenomenal live shows leading up to the release of their finest album in years, The Gang’s All Here. The fans spoke, and the album debuted at #14 on the Billboard charts in the United States, their highest chart entry for a new album since the major label releases on Atlantic records many moons ago. The album debuted even higher in other territories around the world, scoring a #12 position in Canada and hitting the #2 slot in the U.K. — with good reason. The Gang’s All Here is a slamming record that goes right for the throat with opening track “Hell Or High Water” and doesn’t let up until the album is nearly over, coming to a close with the ballad “October’s Song”.
In their bid for a comeback, the band wisely chose to incorporate elements of their classic sound into the new album. That is, they adopted facets of their self-titled and Slave To The Grind LPs that made those albums so beloved by fans and the formula for the band’s continued success over thirty years later. Excluding the addition of new lead vocalist Erik Grönwall (whom I credit in part with rekindling the fire within the band), it’s more the distinct song structures and identifiable notches that are checked off that have rendered Gang a success over individual band member performances. To my ears, “Hell Or High Water” bears a striking resemblance to “Living On A Chain Gang”. No foul – both songs kick ass. And would you really want Skid Row to reinvent themselves and suddenly sound like White Zombie? The Gang’s All Here is Skid Row’s triumphant return to form for one of New Jersey’s greatest bands. If you loved their first and second albums, you’ll find a lot to like here too. And if you listen closely, a not-so-hidden Easter egg was tossed in… Tricky Little Vicky (from “Rattlesnake Shake”) has re-emerged and is up to her old ways on the album’s lead single and title track.
Skid Row‘s “Tear It Down” video:
Number four choice: Tony Martin’s Thorns. Quite a few solo artists released albums last year that I really liked – Michael Monroe, Ozzy Osbourne, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Zinny Zan, Joe Lynn Turner and James LaBrie of Dream Theater all dropped noteworthy LPs. 2022 was THE year for stellar solo albums, with one landing in the top spot and ex-Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin’s Thorns CD earning high marks from me as well. I’ve always felt that Martin is an underrated vocalist and that his work with Sabbath was overshadowed by comparisons to his gargantuan predecessors. To be fair, when one assumes the role of frontman for a legendary band, that’s pretty much an inevitability.
Thorns opens on a fast and furious note, with the steamroller that is “As The World Burns” bidding to blow your eardrums right out. I can only imagine how great this song would be performed in a live setting. It also proves that Martin’s pipes are still in fine form. “Black Widow Angel” serves in driving that point home even farther, with his voice soaring high above a heavy, dirty groove. It brings Martin’s former band to mind once again but is quite possibly my favorite song on the entire album. The track also ventures into unexpected territory with a slapping, funk-infused bass solo planted roughly midway through the song. I certainly didn’t see that coming the first time that I spun Thorns.
The greatness continues with the ominous slowdown of “Book of Shadows”. This is another song that I feel would translate well to a concert setting, and the same can be said of many songs throughout the album which is often a factor that I consider when rating a record. “Passion Killer” is among those (hint, hint Tony). It features a scorching opening guitar riff similar in style and tone to the late, great Dimebag Darrell. As I listen to it, I can picture the crowd at Wacken slamming around and bouncing in unison to this molten track. Fans of Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime disc will be interested to note that the title track on Thorns features vocals (co-lead and harmonies) by none other than Pamela Moore, who pairs up with Martin on the moody track. All in all, Thorns is a tremendous vehicle that serves in showcasing Tony Martin’s still-present vocal prowess and a penchant for crafting heavy, dynamic, and enduring music. Those stylistic shifts are evident on the folksy, acoustic-driven “This Is Your Damnation” which rounds out the eleven-song album near the end. Thankfully, Tony Martin doesn’t make any contrived efforts to sound current or musically relevant in 2022. God bless him for that.
Tony Martin‘s “As The World Burns” lyric video:
Number five choice: Stryper’s The Final Battle. Following the release of their 1990 effort Against The Law, the members of Stryper went their separate ways for an extended hiatus that lasted years. In 2005, the band returned with their first album in 15 years, Reborn. It would be the beginning of a new era for the band. It’s a second coming that, to be honest, astounds me at times as the band just seems to keep getting better and better like a fine wine. If you had asked me back then if I thought they would still be around (and going strong) in 2023, I honestly don’t know that I would have said “yes”. And that answer would not have been based on the integrity of their music. As we’ve come to expect from the band, opening track “Transgressor” is music with a message, and a true declaration of where Stryper stands in the here and now. Not to mention evidence of their shared musical virtuosity. It opens with frontman Michael Sweet’s piercing wail backed by the pummeling rhythm section of drummer Robert Sweet and bassist Perry Richardson. As much as I enjoy the more melodic, accessible side of the band, I love their heavier, aggressive songs equally if not more. I can’t wait to hear “Transgressor” live. It’s sure to strip the paint off the walls in any given venue.
“See No Evil, Hear No Evil” opens to a chugging rhythm that is intrinsic and in contrast with the first song on the album, but potent nonetheless. The sound of organ/keys delicately supplemented in the background are a nice touch that bring a vibe and warmth to the cut. The dichotomy between the first and second songs on the album continue throughout the album, albeit to a lesser degree. That keeps things interesting, and we find that “Same Old Story” is endowed with Robert Sweet’s phenomenal percussive talents, which are one of my favorite aspects of Stryper as a unit. I had the good fortune of seeing the band live last year, and the man is truly maniacal behind the kit. It just wouldn’t be a Stryper record without a tender, heartfelt ballad or two and those are present and accounted for on The Final Battle. “Near” is the first of those at roughly the halfway mark. Save for the updated production techniques, this song could fit right in on one of Stryper’s big ‘80s releases and I have no complaints with that. It’s a fantastic song. Though a bit more uptempo, I would consider “Til Death Do Us Part” the second of those. It’s equally catchy and I consider this a “mid-set” kind of song with a singalong chorus and feelgood vibe that’s sure to bring the lighters up.
“Out, Up & In” has been my favorite song on the album since my first listen. It incorporates all of my favorite elements that the band has to offer; an infectious hook, crushing rhythm and a scorching guitar solo intertwined with provocative lyrical content. I wonder if listeners know the meaning behind the song because I surely do not. I can only surmise that it’s about making the most of the time that you have on earth and doing right while you’re here. Once your number is up, there’s no hitting reverse and making amends. How did I do with that analyzation of Mr. Sweet’s lyrics? On a side note, I would like to commend the band on continually featuring brilliant album cover art! This is certainly a lost art form, but you would never know that by looking back over the last several Stryper album covers which are both amazing and thought provoking at the same time. I can only hope that some kid perusing the new albums at their local record store will see one of these and be inclined to check out the band’s music based on the masterpieces that essentially serve as a trailer to the audible contents within. With The Final Battle, Stryper continue their hot streak and unapologetically do what they do best – deliver skillfully composed, unpretentious hard rock of a high caliber. It has meaning and a purpose. Much respect to them for that in these trying times that we live in.
Stryper‘s “Same Old Story” video:
Favorite contribution of 2022: 2022 was a whirlwind year for me in terms of fantastic live shows and interviews that I had the honor of conducting with some of my all-time favorite musicians that I’ve long been a fan of. Back in June, I visited Obscenic Arts Recording Studio to interview original Lynch Mob bassist Anthony Esposito. Following his time in the Ace Frehley band as well as Red Dragon Cartel (which he hasn’t closed the door on), Esposito now operates a recording studio/compound where he produces up and coming bands and also engineers/records established artists. My interview with him ran over two hours but gave tremendous insight into the making of Lynch Mob’s first two albums, his stint with Frehley, and the trials and tribulations of getting a new band off the ground in the current musical climate. For those reasons, this interview was my favorite contribution to Sleaze Roxx in 2022.
Jerzy Nykiel’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2022
Contributions: Concert Reviews, Interviews
Number one choice: Crashdïet announced the release of Automaton quite unexpectedly and the wait wasn’t long. A new release by Crashdïet becomes by definition the most anticipated album of the year for me. This time was no different. And it’s a great feeling when an album lives up to your expectations. A ton of energy, immense hooks, well-crafted songs and more and more gritty vocals courtesy of Gabriel Keyes. I’ve had this album on repeat more than any other this year. Crashdïet is on a roll again. It’s only too bad that they haven’t been able to tour since the summer.
Number two choice: Venomous Anonymous by The Cruel Intentions is my number 2 this year. This album is as unrelenting as it is melodic. It’s dirty, sleazy, energetic, malicious, beautiful. It screams and roars. The musicianship is tight beyond comprehension.
Number three choice: Shiraz Lane’s Forgotten Shades of Life follows as number 3. It’s the best album which nobody has heard this year as the band chose not to promote it outside of Finland for some reason. The music is heavier but the song quality and emotions galore are there. The two ballads are a highlight for me.
Number four choice: A great slab of laid-back sleaze from Pretoria, South Africa in the shape of ‘Superstition is my choice number 4. The guys in L.A. Cobra have a flair for writing tunes which resonate with me.
Number five choice: Finally, Michael Monroe’s last effort is my number 5. It’s his strongest and most diverse album in the last few years.
Favorite contribution of 2022: My favorite contribution to Sleaze Roxx in 2022 was my interview with L.A. Cobra. It was my first time interviewing anyone. The experience turned out to be one to remember for life. I met the guys from L.A. Cobra in Amsterdam before their show. They are super nice guys with a lot to say and I enjoyed learning what their take is on their own music, their band, touring and life in general.
Crashdïet‘s “Together Whatever” video:
Lance Lumley’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2017
Contributions: CD Reviews
Affiliation: Lances Writes (blog including book reviews)
Favorite contribution of 2022: Before I rank my Top 5 albums, I want to say how much I enjoy reading the reviews of all the writers on here each year. If I were to choose my favorite contribution this year from me (although I was limited this year), I would say it’s my review of Fozzy’s Boombox, due to getting to write about music and pro wrestling. It’s two things I have loved since I was younger, and am passionate in writing and discussion on podcasts when I have been a guest on the past few years. In addition, since many think I only write retro reviews, I proved them wrong by finding some good new music to review as well. I like writing about the memories I have in my reviews which is one reason why music is so wonderful; we remember where we were, who we were with, and those memories also account to me in the wrestling world. With that out of the way, let’s get to my choices this year.
Number one choice: Dorothy’s Gifts From The Holy Ghost. I wrote on my blog page when I reviewed this album early this year that it would be tough to beat this CD for the best of the year for rock releases and in my opinion, nothing has. Ever since I started reading about this release, not being familiar with Dorothy Martin’s group before, I was intrigued. The past few years, my picks on here have been female-led at times, which is proving that there are solid females in rock music. The album is about Martin overcoming personal demons (along with some crew members) and although this is not a religious group, Christians like me can enjoy the music and themes as well. “Rest In Peace” and “Black Sheep”, along with the ballad “Close To Me Always” are some of the highlights. Martin surrounds her with great musicians and her vocals are powerful with emotion. I like studio albums that have some hard rock and a little bit of radio-friendliness to them. This is a band that many need to know, and if they stay on this route, they will be known more soon enough. Martin converted me in believing in this true artistic venture that I cannot praise more even after multiple listens.
Number two choice: Skid Row’s The Gang’s All Here. I have been a fan of Skid Row since their debut, which was one of the best in rock music (a perfect album in my opinion). Not being one to choose a singer like my take on Van Halen or other bands when the breakup of the original line-up happens, I enjoyed the band’s United World Rebellion EPs with Johnny Solinger (R.I.P.) as much as the Sebastian Bach-led records. I was excited each time the band announced a new singer, hoping for new music, but it seemed I was let down each time due to the singers leaving, and felt I’d not see another studio release. However, good things come to those who wait because they found a wonderful singer and a rocking release that has a throwback to the classic era and still a current sound to please everyone. Snake Sabo and Rachel Bolan don’t get enough credit for their musical talents. Instead, fans are more focused on singer drama, but Erik Grönwall will prove wrong the toughest critic on that. With the opening song “Hell Or High Water” to the slow groove of “Time Bomb” and the driving “Resurrected,” the album has power and quality musicianship all around. “October’s Song,” the only ballad on here has a Metallica Black Album vibe to it. The fact that the last singer ZP Theart still gets songwriting credit says something as well, which Sabo and the gang acknowledge his contribution to the band, a thing other bands may not do (i.e., KISS). I hope the band stays this solid because this is one release that delivers. For fans who checked out after Bach left the band, they should be playing this along with those early albums.
Skid Row‘s “The Gang’s All Here” video:
Number three choice: Sammy Hagar and The Circle’s Crazy Times. I have voiced many times in my reviews how much of a fan I am of Sammy Hagar and his fronting of Van Halen was what brought me into the band, but I will admit that some of his albums have too much filler on them at times (I think the Marching To Mars album is still my post Van Halen favorite). Producer Dave Cobb has created a revival in the past few years with his work with The Oak Ridge Boys, and the same goes for Hagar, putting out music that fans of the classic solo Hagar would love here. Michael Anthony’s vocals are upfront like in his Van Halen years with Sammy, and Vic Johnson is one of rock’s underrated players. Tracks like “Be Still,” “Father Time,” and “You Get What You Pay For,” which has wonderful drumming from Jason Bonham, a drummer I have not been a big fan of, but he impresses me throughout the record. Cobb helped bring back the classic Hagar/Anthony flavor that fans like me have been waiting for.
Number four choice: Fozzy’s Boombox. I have been a fan of wrestler Chris Jericho ever since I saw his debut in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and even met him at a signing when he was still in mid-level of WCW, where we talked about Christian metal bands. The first few albums from his band Fozzy didn’t strike me as anything special, but the group’s last few releases have not only gotten serious in terms of music, but hold their own against some of the superstar acts. Adding ex-Trixter’s P.J. Farley excited me even more for this release, a band I truly enjoy their debut. A nice remake of “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (a song I never cared for when it came out back in the ’80s) made me like the song with the heavy style. I wrote in my review of the CD on this site that the overall CD is solid with strong rock sounds mixed with a bit of the industrial sounds from the 2000s. At times, Jericho’s voice is tucked in where he sounds like Ozzy, but that’s not a bad thing, and the ballad “An Army of One” shows his strength vocally without the effects. Even though there are a few too many songs on the album, it is still one of my favorites of the year, and, as mentioned in the review, although his AEW work in wrestling isn’t his best in my opinion, I would not complain if he committed to full-time music if the band keeps putting out more like this.
Number five choice: Ozzy Osbourne’s Patient Number 9. My fifth spot was a tough one to choose between the releases from Stryper and Def Leppard but after hearing Patient Number 9, it was obvious this was one of the best releases I have heard from “The Prince of Darkness” in quite a while. While bringing in Zakk Wylde, Tony Iommi, and Duff McKagan to help out, the songs have extra energy to them. Songs like “Mr. Darkness,” which has the classic Ozzy sound, but then kicks into a rocking groove that isn’t dated, to the Eric Clapton guest “One of Those Days” and the track “Immortal” are notable. At 70 some years-old, it’s nice to still hear a solid full album from a legendary act that doesn’t disappoint.
Ozzy Osbourne’s “One of Those Days” video feat. Eric Clapton:
Marcelo Vieira’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2021
Contributions: CD Reviews, Interviews
Affiliation: Marcelo Vieira Music (website)
01. The Hellacopters – Eyes of Oblivion
02. Ghost – Impera
03. The Cult – Under The Midnight Sun
04. Queensrÿche – Digital Noise Alliance
05. Stryper — The Final Battle
Number one choice: The Hellacopters’ Eyes of Oblivion. In the more than a decade that separated Eyes of Oblivion from its direct predecessor Head Off (2008), the members of Hellacopters have been so busy — especially vocalist and guitarist Nicke Andersson, who with his wife Johanna Sadonis founded Lucifer in 2014 and since then, it has already released four albums — that many times fans must have doubted whether the band would ever record again. Well, not only did they come back, but they did so exceeding all expectations that may have been created. In what can only be described as a mockery of melancholy and debauchery, “So Sorry I Could Die” is one of the songs of the year, and Eyes of Oblivion, in its 34-minute glory, is as best explained as rock music could be — life is a party, let’s enjoy.
Number two choice: Ghost’s Impera. The rule is clear — every year there is a new Ghost album, it will be on my list. Not that I’m a club player, but only someone too detached from reality not to recognize the genius of Tobias Forge, one of the most complete artists in activity. Impera may not be Ghost’s best album — at least for me, Meliora (2015) remains unbeatable — but it includes in its repertoire some of the band’s best songs, such as the radio-friendly “Kaisarion”, the sinister “Call Me Little Sunshine” and the irresistible “Twenties”. Oh, and if there’s an award for 2022 guitar tone, “Watcher In The Sky” is the winner.
Number three choice: The Cult’s Under The Midnight Sun. Before the band engages in what appears to be something from Love (1985) subjected to an alternative post-2000s treatment, Ian Astbury announces: “Forget what you know.” That’s really the golden rule if the aim is to appreciate and absorb Under The Midnight Sun, The Cult’s latest manifesto in which the band reinvents itself once again. There are only eight tracks that add up to just over half an hour… but what a half hour!
Number four choice: Queensrÿche’s Digital Noise Alliance. Having apparently overcome the problems that knocked on the door in recent years, Queensrÿche reaches the fourth studio album with Todd LaTorre on vocals, preserving the quality that has been offered since the eponymous work released in 2013. Digital Noise Alliance marks the return of guitarist Mike Stone — who was part of the group from 2003 to 2008 — and the debut of drummer Casey Grillo in songs that rival in charisma and quality with the great classics of the prog metal precursors. Who says you only take the ascending curve once in your career?
Number five choice: Stryper’s The Final Battle. Jesus’ blood had power and, if it depends on what Stryper presents in The Final Battle, it also has weight, speed and technical perfection — whether in Michael Sweet’s vocals, or in the guitar doublings that the guy does with the recently recovered from cancer, Oz Fox. On their new studio album, the fathers of Christian metal incorporate the best of their distant and recent pasts and achieve the almost impossible goal that is to please both old school fans and those who prefer their metal with a modern wrapper.
Favorite contribution of 2022: I choose my review of Autograph’s new album Beyond.
The Hellacopters‘ “Eyes of Oblivion” video:
Rockney Colin’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2021
Contributions: CD Reviews
Affiliation: Rockney’s Roxbox (radio station)
Number one choice: Michael Monroe’s I Live Too Fast To Die Young. At 60 years young, the legendary frontman has produced arguably the finest solo album of his career!
Number two choice: Lee Aaron’s Elevate. Looking and sounding more sassy and seductive than ever, this is an unadulterated joy of an album.
Number three choice: Andy McCoy’s Jukebox Junkie. Not to be outdone by his former bandmate, this is a killer collection of covers illustrating that McCoy has lost none of his brilliance either.
Number four choice: Wild Heat’s Hustle. A flat out, ballsy rocker of an album that’s chock full of quality hard driving songs.
Number five choice: The L.A. Maybe’s Dirty Damn Tricks Deluxe Edition. A fantastic album that should remain on every rock fan’s playlist for years to come.
Michael Monroe‘s “Everybody’s Nobody” video:
Terry Martinson’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2007
Contributions: CD Reviews
01. Stabbing Westward — Chasing Ghosts
02. Sometimes Y — Sometimes Y
03. Warrior Soul — Out On Bail
04. Imperial Circus Dead Decadence — Mogari
05. Septik — Marked For Death
Number one choice: Really, no further explanation is necessary. If you had ears in 2022 and heard a note from Stabbing Westward’s Chasing Ghosts, you immediately fell hard given that the disc is perfection on a silver platter and I triple dog dare anyone to conjure up an intelligent dispute otherwise. The lead off single “Ghost” is ridiculous. It is pounding, anthemic, energetic, infectious and downright soul crushing. I simply love it and have to wonder whether Christopher Hall is as broken as he writes and sings about or the most well adjusted person in the room. Either way, “Ghost” is a textbook example of not so subtle, yet brilliant songwriting. I mean, c’mon — “I’m just a ghost trapped in these memories” and that haunting xylaphone-esque rhythm with the keyboard overlay is magical as well as hammering home the entirety of the song. Chasing Ghosts is Stabbing Westwards comeback after a 21 year hiatus and if it takes another 20 years for the follow up, it will be sad, but if I’ll wait as this record is well worth it.
Favorite contribution of 2022: Gunshine. Posting in February when the first video for “Wall Said To Call” dropped. The band is monsterous and continues to release top shelf independent music.
Stabbing Westard‘s “Ghost” video:
William Nesbitt’s Top Five Albums of 2022
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2014
Contributions: CD Reviews, Concert Reviews, Interviews
01. Ghost – Impera
02. Iron Allies – Blood In Blood Out
03. Soulfly – Totem
04. Megadeth – The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!
05. Hammerfall – Hammer of Dawn
Number one choice: Ghost’s Impera. It’s new. It’s old. It’s heavy. It’s soft. But it all holds together. With something for almost everyone, their sound gives an updated blend of ’80s hard rock and metal. A complicated combination of styles, Ghost’s look builds on the visual aesthetic of KISS and King Diamond by mixing it with religious imagery such as the Day of The Dead. They’ve got the look. They’ve got the sound. As strong as Impera is from start to finish, Ghost haven’t peaked yet. What’s next?
Number two choice: Iron Allies’ Blood In Blood Out. Although I think vocalist David Reece’s lone album with Accept, Eat the Heat, is better than some people would have you believe, Blood In Blood Out is the album we wish they had made. Groovy, thrashy, and riff-heavy with strong vocals from Reece, this is an album with a lot of energy. Former Accept guitarist Herman Frank and former U.D.O. drummer Francesco Jovino give Blood In Blood Out emotion, power, and stomp. Iron Allies sound like their collective heart is in this and they are proving a point. Point proven, point taken.
Number three choice: Soulfly’s Totem. Relentless from start to finish.
Number four choice: Megadeth’s The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!. This is their best since 2009’s Endgame, which is their best since 1990’s Rust In Peace. Also, time continues to wear down the high-end whine on Dave Mustaine’s voice.
Number five choice: Hammerfall’s Hammer of Dawn. Solid. This was a tough one as so many legacy acts released albums this year: Queensrÿche (Digital Noise Alliance), The Cult (Under The Midnight Sun), Scorpions (Rock Believer), Skid Row (The Gang’s All Here), Def Leppard (Diamond Star Halos), and Ozzy Osbourne (Patient Number 9). However, Hammer of Dawn is the one that gets me going the most.
Favorite contribution of 2022: My concert review of Ghost, Mastodon and Spiritbox live on September 6, 2022. This was my first major concert since KISS in April of 2019. All three bands killed it. Spiritbox was a good opening band. Mastodon gave a superb hour of music. Ghost sounded great, looked great, and put on a tight and kinetic show. Ghost gave the blueprint for how a rock show in the 2020s should look and sound. The one or two songs I really wanted to hear each band play — “Yellowjacket,” “Holy Roller, “More Than I Could Chew” and “Rats” — they played. Outstanding show. Parking was even free.
Ghost‘s “Call Me Little Sunshine” video: