State of the Vortex: 2022 wrap-up

by Snyde

Tue, 10 Jan 2023

Read in 7 minutes

On and on it spins.

2021 was pretty horrendous, musically. So bad in fact, that most of my music listening that year shifted away from the new releases and onto discovering past glories. That proved to be a much more rewarding experience than trawling through endless bandcamp pages searching for gold and going weeks and weeks without finding any.

In 2022, I took yet another step further into my new role as a tourist, only listening to current albums that I truly had an interest in or had been brought up from the mire of the vortex. For the first time in 10 years, I have listened to less than 270 new albums and I’m quite fine with that.

The vortex, however, is a place where misery is tantamount to currency and as a community, more albums have been logged in 2022 than in any other year in vortex history - just shy of 6000 as of writing this, and likely to surpass that number before the sheet is permanently closed on the 1st of March. Having consumed an unprecedented amount of albums, surely the top 10 must be the best yet, right?…

(10.) Veilburner - VLBRNR

Votes: 13 | WAVG: 6.10

…no. But I’ve got to give it to Veilburner. They’ve managed to trick 6 vortexers into giving their overwrought, bloated mess of an album a green score. Some woozy guitars, stock dissonant melodies and admittedly a couple of slick riffs scattered across (mostly the back half of) the record seems to be enough to throw some into a tizzy.

(9.) Aeviterne - The Ailing Facade

Votes: 23 | WAVG: 6.14

A hold-over from the mid-year list, Aeviterne shockingly managed to cling on to the top 10 until the end. Not an album to please masses, The Ailing Facade is an oppressive experience and (unlike VLBRNR) a good example of dissonance as an ethos, rather than superficial decoration.

(8.) Daeva - Through Sheer Will and Black Magic​.​.​.

Votes: 21 | WAVG: 6.16

If you had told me that Crypt Sermon would release one of the best albums of this year, I would’ve laughed at you. Not one yotta of Crypt Sermon’s thoroughly banal heavy doom can be heard on this riff fest. The terrible reverb-drenched vocals would have been better left unheard as well. Not a dealbreaker, but it does hold back the overall sound of this otherwise great, energy-filled record.

(7.) Worm - Bluenothing

Votes: 20 | WAVG: 6.21

I have spoken before on Worm’s clever ploy to market themselves as funeral doom. The funeral fanatics will eat it up and disseminate their music as something exciting for the genre, leading unsuspecting masses to believe they enjoy fun doom. They first did it by playing death metal on Foreverglade and now switched to shred for this one. But only for one song, wouldn’t want things to get too interesting.

(6.) Desolate Shrine - Fires of the Dying World

Votes: 26 | WAVG: 6.35

I’m pretty sure Fires of the Dying World is no one’s favorite album this year. I struggle to even find things to say about it. What is it doing on this list? Well, the scores don’t lie and the fact is, nobody disliked this record. Above average for the genre and below average for the band, Fires of the Dying World makes it on the list through sheer indifference.

(5.) The Antichrist Imperium - Volume III: Satan in His Original Glory

Votes: 21 | WAVG: 6.38

My personal album of the year, Vol. III has all the hallmarks of a prototypical great album: it features excellent performances on nearly every instrument, vocals included, it’s got a clear focus and delivers on it with an unrelenting, laser-like focus and it’s wonderfully produced with a thick, punchy sound. One could argue there’s too much of those things and I wouldn’t disagree, but at this level of quality, it’s hard to complain.

(4.) Imperial Triumphant - Spirit of Ecstasy

Votes: 27 | WAVG: 6.44

Vile Luxury and Alphaville were virtually impossible to follow-up on and I’m under the impression Imperial Triumphant were also aware of this. Spirit of Ecstasy is a fair bit more scattershot than its predecessors - less of a true sequel and more of a side story. The next IT album will be a key point in their career: will they find that next big concept to move forward in their musical experimentation or will they wallow in known waters?

(3.) Immolation - Acts of God

Votes: 28 | WAVG: 6.53

Speaking of known waters, Immolation, the most consistent band in metal. Over 30 years in the business and still delivering some of the most ravenous, hostile, dark and uncompromisingly heavy music on the planet. Every single song in Acts of God has at least one moment that makes you think “fuck yes, this is why I keep listening to death metal despite all the endless mediocre garbage the genre churns out daily”. Another winner.

(2.) Messa - Close

Votes: 26 | WAVG: 6.58

I’ve written way too many words on Messa and I have yet to grasp what I’m supposed to like about it but surely there must be something. It has remained near the top of the vortex for the entirety of the year and it has faffed its way onto #2 on the year-end community list. I have quite literally nothing to add to what I wrote on the mid-year post so check that out, I suppose.

(1.) Wormrot - Hiss Votes: 25 | WAVG: 6.74 Hiss is a rare album that manages to meet expectations and at the same time throw those expectations in the trash and deliver something more. Grindcore is a tough genre in which to pull off truly compelling music. Very few albums have much to be enjoyed beyond the surface level aggression and speed. Wormrot has been bending those tenets to great effect throughout their career and Hiss is their most accomplished yet, slowly descending from the grind you’ve come for and into something deeper and more sinister than any of their peers.

Spreadsheet statistics [taken January 2nd, 2023]:

Albums appraised: 5994

Album rate average: 4.55/10 [weighted: 4.80/10]

Average rate given: 4.85/10

Number of scores logged: 16,307

It wouldn’t be a State of the Vortex without our favorite unicorn. Like me, he wasn’t very impressed with 2022. Here’s Ferday’s Fortune for 2022:

Taking my own advice from last year, I have accepted that average is the new good. Sadly it did not send me to some nirvana as hoped, but it did send me to a new level of idiocy in 3000+ albums, and still 0 excuses. Ironically, despite such, my personal enjoyment level on the year was up despite the quality level dropping yet again, but the very presence of irony implies that I have succumbed to hipsterhood and should be banished to the kombucha scented hallways of RYM.

The year-end vortex average has dropped even further, directly implying that not only has the basement not been reached, but this may actually be a bottomless pit. Maybe covid actually killed us all and this is conicidentally our shared personal hells. Heaven knows that endless goregrind and field recordings sure feels like it. There is a positive in all this, however… I believe we’ve reached the official tipping point of “it can’t get any worse”, because all of our neuron pathways have wired themselves into a twisted mass of sadistic enjoyment regardless of external stimulus. Just listen to the impossibly boring top 10 and tell me you didn’t bop while hating it.

The yearly participation has once again been acceptable, and my prayers from last year were indeed answered by a small group of metaphoric (and possibly actual) retards who have complimented the festering mass of vortexery quite nicely. A new, inverted power has also risen in the darkened corners which has provided some needed conspiracy. Once again, I submit that this is an underappreciated resource that the entire internet should be so lucky to have, but they should stay away from.

The vortex is dead, long live the vortex. And don’t forget, music sucks.

Also, I beat you autothrall, fuck you.

Have a great new year!