Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022
Welcome to the 18th edition of the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year!
In my opinion, 2022 was simply an unbelievable year in terms of new releases. It rivals 2010 and 2018 as some of the best years for new music in the last 15 years.
I knew that 2022 would likely be a good year because there were so many bands that had charted quite well on prior Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year lists with their previous albums. The previously high charting bands that had a follow up album in 2022 included:
• Thundermother whose previous album Heat Wave finished at #1 in 2020;
• Stryper with Even The Devil Believes at #2 in 2020;
• Kissin’ Dynamite with Ecstasy at #2 in 2018;
• Tango Down with Bulletproof at #2 in 2016;
• W.A.L.K.E.R with Bringing Rock Back at #4 in 2019;
• The Cruel Intentions with No Sign of Relief at #4 in 2018;
• L.A. Cobra with Shotgun Slinger at #4 in 2017;
• Crashdïet with Rust at #7 in 2019;
• Sammy Hagar & The Circle with Space Between at #8 in 2019; and,
• Ghost with Prequelle at #10 in 2018.
For the first time since I had the honour of taking over the reigns of my favorite website (back in mid-2015), the number one album of the year is one that I didn’t personally review myself. I don’t count the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2014 edition since that was done very quickly and compiled differently than all subsequent years. In fact, I didn’t personally review three of Sleaze Roxx‘s top five albums of 2022. Part of that has to do with the delay in getting CDs these days with Amazon, in my opinion, being a lot slower in delivering parcels ever since the Covid pandemic reared its ugly head.
Productivity wise, it’s been a slower year for Sleaze Roxx but we still got to 1,000 news articles and will get to 100 CD/DVD reviews, which was no easy feat. Part of the reason for the slowdown is that I had to do some long overdue and unfortunate “behind the scenes” work on the website this year. Hopefully, that is mostly behind me going into 2023 so that I can focus more on the music itself.
Once again, I am very grateful for some of Sleaze Roxx‘s contemporaries and in particular Vinyl Writer Music, The Metal Voice and music journalist Andrew Daly (who branched out writing for many different publications) who consistently provided full interviews or transcribed excerpts from their excellent interviews for Sleaze Roxx to convert into “news” articles. A big ‘thank you’ goes out once again to all of the photographers that allowed Sleaze Roxx to use their professional photos with a particular shout out to the Big Three — Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography, Joe Schaeffer Photography and Christopher Lee Helton.
Without further ado, here is the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022.
p.s.: Don’t forget to cast your vote for the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2022.
“Are you ready motherfuckers?” Those are the words that can be heard before the album Automaton launches into its first real song. What should have been said instead is, “Are you ready motherfuckers? You’re about to hear the best album of 2022!” I have to say that I had pretty low expectations for Crashdïet‘s new studio album. I knew that it would be good but the two singles — “No Man’s Land” and “Together Forever” — that were released in advance didn’t quite forewarn me how great that Automaton was going to be. To make matters worse, the Automaton CD that I purchased via Amazon seemed to take a couple of months to arrive (I think that I had to re-order it at one point) so Sleaze Roxx writer James Walsh (of wrestlingepicenter.com fame) beat me to the punch to review the album. While I agree with a lot of what James indicated in his review, I do disagree with him that there are tracks that rub the wrong way or there are somehow influences from pretentious European power metal festivals. To me, Automaton is right up there with Crashdïet‘s other two magnum opus records — Rest In Sleaze (2005) and Generation Wild (2010). It’s mind blowing to think that Crashdïet have been able to release three albums of such high quality with a different singer on each of those records. I love every song off Automaton and it has not left my vehicle’s CD player (it can hold four CDs) ever since I got it many months ago.
Crashdïet‘s “Shine On” video:
I can’t recall which interview it was but I do recall that Hardcore Superstar frontman Jocke Berg stated at one point that Abrakadabra was the true follow up to the band’s ‘Black Album‘ which was released way back in 2005. Considering that Hardcore Superstar‘s ‘Black Album‘ is their best one out of their 12 studio albums, finally releasing the rightful follow up to that record is what I always wanted from them. I rank Abrakadabra as Hardcore Superstar‘s second best studio album so it should be no surprise that it figures at #2 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. I know the Sleaze Roxx readers loved the Swedish rockers’ prior record You Can’t Kill My Rock ‘N’ Roll since they voted it to #1 on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2018 but to me, that album was simply a step in the right direction after the disappointing HCSS (2015) and the stepping stone needed for the band to come up with Abrakadabra. From the speedy “Catch Me If You Can” to the easy to sing along “Forever And A Day” and “Weep When You Die”, Hardcore Superstar have hit a home run with Abrakadabra.
Hardcore Superstar‘s “Weep When You Die” video:
Ever since Kissin’ Dynamite‘s latest studio album Not The End of The Road was released at the beginning of 2022, it has served as the benchmark for what should be the best album for the year. If Kissin’ Dynamite had released Not The End of The Road during another year, they would like have snatched the top spot. Unfortunately, the German “stadium” rockers seem to have a knack for releasing their albums when there is some stiff competition. In 2018, Kissin’ Dynamite‘s Ecstasy was only beaten out by The Lazys‘ Tropical Hazards, which I also ended up ranking as the #2 album on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top 12 Albums of the Decade (2010-2019). This year, Kissin’ Dynamite faced opposition from three groups (Crashdïet, Hardcore Superstar and Stryper) that the Sleaze Roxx readers voted to the top spot in prior years and two (Crashdïet and Thundermother) that Sleaze Roxx previously placed at the top. So yeah, the competition was quite tough for Kissin’ Dynamite in 2022. That being said, they did release a killer album in Not The End of The Road from the easy to sing along rockers “Only The Dead”, “Yoko Ono” and the title track, to the beautiful ballads such as “Scars” and “Gone For Good.” One thing is for sure, Kissin’ Dynamite have to now be considered among the upper echelon of any bands out there. I would really like to see them break through to the North American market or at the very least get the opportunity to play on the Monsters of Rock Cruise or some kind of US rock festival.
Kissin’ Dynamite‘s “Yoko Ono” video:
What a difference that a new lead vocalist can make! If you would have told me at the beginning of 2022 that Skid Row‘s upcoming studio album would finish at #4 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022 or even anywhere within the Top 10, I would have thought that you were crazy. You see, I had dismissed Skid Row many years ago and had zero faith that they could ever come up with a record that even came close to the level that they reached with their first two albums — Skid Row (1989) and Slave To The Grind (1991). Even if Skid Row would have reunited with their former singer Sebastian Bach, I would have been very skeptical that they could have come up with a studio album worthy of the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. All that changed instantly in late March 2022 when Skid Row announced that their new singer was going to be former H.E.A.T frontman Erik Grönwall. All of a sudden, the possibilities were endless and after hearing the first single “The Gang’s All Here” a few days later, the only question in my mind was whether Skid Row could come up with a few more great songs like that one to cement their spot in the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. About six months later, Skid Row‘s new studio album The Gang’s All Here was finally released and after one listen to the album, the only question that I had was at what spot that the record should be placed within the top ten best albums of 2022.
Skid Row‘s “Tear It Down” video:
It seems almost unfair that even though Christian rockers Stryper have delivered one of the best albums of their career and arguably their very best with The Final Battle, they were unable to clinch the #1 spot or even any of the top four spots on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. That’s how tough the competition was this year! Stryper have been able to produce one great album after another during this last decade. Most of the credit must fall on frontman Michael Sweet‘s shoulders since he is the primary songwriter for the band and the one whose voice arguably gets better with time. I don’t know how Sweet does it, and particularly since he is involved in so many other projects (such as Sweet & Lynch, SunBomb and Iconic) but whatever the case, he always seems to save his very best for the band that put him on the map — Stryper. The Final Battle is one of the heaviest records that Stryper have ever come up with, and probably the heaviest album featured on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022 so the group should now really be considered a “metal” band. There are so many great songs on The Final Battle including “Transgressor”, “Same Old Story”, “Rise To The Call” and “Ashes To Ashes.” This is one album that everyone should have in their record collection.
Stryper‘s “Transgressor” video:
Out of all the albums that were released this year, my expectations were the highest for Sweden female rockers Thundemother‘s latest studio album. You see, Thundermother have seemingly gotten better with each and every one of their studio albums, and they started pretty strong right off the bat with their debut record Rock ‘N’ Roll Disaster (2014). The group took it to the next level when it was forced to undergo a major line-up overhaul in early 2017 that left guitarist Filippa Nässil as the lone woman standing and that ended up bringing lead vocalist Guernica Mancini and drummer Emlee Johansson to the fold. Thundermother‘s next two albums — Thundermother (2018) and Heat Wave (2020) — were progressively better with the latter reaching #1 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2020 and being voted to #6 on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2020. Thundermother‘s line-up is now rounded up with bassist Mona Lindgren. Although Black And Gold is a very good album with such standout songs as the faster paced “Watch Out” and “Looks No Hooks”, there are also a few weaker tracks which has caused the album to not fare as high this time out as its predecessor.
Thundermother‘s “Watch Out” video:
Deraps‘ self-titled album is the highest charting debut record on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. For those not in the know, Deraps feature the team of Canadian guitar virtuoso Jacob Deraps (who also handles the lead vocals) and drummer Josh Gallagher who happens to live across the world in Perth, Australia. Deraps‘ line-up is rounded up by Canadian bassist William Lachance. I am not quite sure how these guys have been able to make this long distance arrangement work but Deraps‘ debut album is simply phenomenal. If you love old school David Lee Roth era Van Halen, you’re going to absolutely (or you should) love Deraps‘ self-titled record. The guitar work alone is worth the price of the album. Throw in Jacob Deraps‘ tongue in cheek singing, the great vocal harmonies and the swagger of the awesome rhythm section duo of Gallagher and Lachance, and you have one of the most exciting debut records in a long time, or certainly at least for 2022. Deraps offers a lot of variety from the fast paced “Sex, Drugs & Rock N’ Roll” to the fury of “Fuck Off” to the ’80s sounding “Veins of My Heart” to the acoustic instrumental “Élizabeth.” Even my wife who hardly likes any hard rock / heavy metal tunes couldn’t help but be impressed by the musicianship displayed by the Deraps‘ band members when I forced her to listen to the album on our drive back from Florida to Toronto (under the guise that I needed to stay awake). That’s saying quite a lot right there. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you check out one of the best debut albums that has come out in the last decade.
Deraps‘ “Sex, Drugs & Rock N’ Roll” video:
If you closed your eyes while listening to Klassik ’78‘s album Phantoms and you didn’t know who you were listening to, you would likely think that KISS have uncovered some lost tracks from back in their ’70s heyday. That’s how close that Klassik ’78‘s songs on Phantoms are to those first six KISS studio albums. Klassik ’78 is the brainchild of Tom Higgins and Joe McGinness who were backed up on drums this time around by none other than Anthrax‘s long-time member Charlie Benante. That’s how good the Klassik ’78 material is that Benante, as a huge KISS fan, would want to lend his drumming services to Higgins and McGinness‘ latest Klassik ’78 record. I don’t know how many more albums that Klassik ’78 have in them but hopefully there will be a few more in the coming years. What Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons should really do is hire Higgins and McGinness to write the next KISS studio album (if there was to be one in the future). Then again, at this point, I would rather hear Higgins singing the Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley like vocals, and McGinness handling the Paul Stanley like vocals, than hearing the original KISS guys try to sing like they did back when they were in their 20s. If you love classic ’70s era KISS songs, Klassik ’78‘s latest album Phantoms is a must for your record collection.
Klassik ’78’s “Living Fantasy” visualizer video:
If I hadn’t known that former American Bombshell guitarist Steve Boyles was part of Kung Fu Overdrive‘s debut EP Fists of Fury, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t have listened to the EP in the first place based on the rather cheesy C or D level cheap movie type album cover. Given that Kung Fu Overdrive‘s songs are pretty short, the EP ended up getting played repeatedly while I drove my vehicle one day from Ottawa to Toronto, and the more that I heard the EP, the more that I liked it. Clearly, the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to the “interesting” cover for Kung Fu Overdrive‘s debut EP. There are only four songs on the EP but I found them so good (and in particular the title track) that I simply couldn’t exclude the EP from the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. Boyles now has the distinction of being one of four musicians — along with Crashdïet guitarist Martin Sweet, Skid Row frontman Erik Grönwall and former Pröwess guitarist Scott Roby — to have an album “chart” on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year with two different bands.
Kung Fu Overdrive‘s “Fists of Fury” video:
There’s always an album that sneaks into the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year within the last few weeks of the year, and in 2022, the honours goes to Donna Cannone‘s debut self-titled album. Frankly, I likely would have never known about this amazing record if it wasn’t for Ginger Likes… frontman Ypke Dijkstra e-mailing me out of the blue and suggesting that I check out the group’s debut record. I am super happy that he did because Donna Cannone have truly come up with a gem of an album. Truth be told, the song quality on the record varies a little bit but the great songs such as “Cross The Line” and the made to be a hit single “Is It True” (featuring former Crucified Barbara lead vocalist Mia Karlsson) are really great! Interestingly, Donna Cannone‘s line-up includes two former Thundermother members — rhythm guitarist Giorgia Carteri and drummer Tilda Nilke Nordlund — but the two ladies have forged ahead with a new sound along with standout bandmates Luca D’Andria on lead vocals and bass, and melodic death band Soilwork‘s frontman Björn Strid on guitar. This is definitely a band to watch out for in the future and make sure you pick up their debut album if you haven’t already done so.
Donna Cannone‘s “Cross The Line” video: