The best punk and metal from the Bay Area in 2022
Ready for another year-end list? How about eight?
In celebration of all the great music released by Bay Area artists over the past year, we’ll be sharing daily wraps of our favorite releases of 2022. Starting today, every day we’re publishing a new list highlighting the best music from the Bay Area across a wide variety of genres, including dance, downtempo, folk, hip hop, metal, and rock.
Read on for our favorite punk and metal from the Bay in 2022, or shuffle the playlist. (All reviews and selections by Ronny Ker except where noted.)
Procreate Inverse - Black Fucking Cancer
Black Fucking Cancer. With a name like that, what more can be said? Well, the Bay Area black metal band’s newest album Procreate Inverse on Sentient Ruin Laboratories arrived at a fitting time. By the time of its release—two years since the first day of shelter in place in the San Francisco Bay Area—at least six million people had already died as a result of the pandemic and many more millions had had their lives upended either through ongoing symptoms of long COVID, the crushing economic effects of widening wealth disparity, or just good old fashioned political stupidity, neglect, and maliciousness.
Early in the pandemic, starry-eyed idealists like myself may have hoped and wished the pandemic would serve as something like an alien invasion, uniting all people across the planet to set aside insignificant differences to fight together against this common scourge. Instead, two years into it, we had Russia launching a full-scale invasion in Ukraine, threatening a nuclear world war between superpowers while dozens of other violent struggles, apartheid states, and injustices with less or no press coverage silently went on. And so, what better soundtrack for this dark place and time, than a cynical sting of an album from a band called Black Fucking Cancer?
Conversation? - FOG LAMP
Enjoy the pleasantly discordant, industrial, post-punk energy of Conversation?, brought to you by FOG LAMP on SF-based Willow House Records. Packed with timeless dark synth anthems one after another, the seasoned goth as well as newly-initiated heads will be pleased to hear the call of familiar motifs from olden days, a nostalgia that’s been successfully resurrected in 2022 (and with even better production). With this album, FOG LAMP showcases that the majesty of post-punk is far from dead and absolutely welcome.
— Elise Mills
Billionaire Blastoff - George Crustanza
Come for the hilarious fucking band name, stay for the explosive hardcore punk. Billionaire Blastoff is a 10-track romp through minute-long tirades of industrial-strength drum fire, thick and sinuous bass, thrashy gasoline-drenched guitar, and a ferocious singer with something to say: The lyrics may be hard to parse, but it’s clear that George Crustanza isn’t a band about nothing. Turn it up and imagining blasting your least favorite billionaire into outer space. Launchpad? San Francisco.
Nocturnus: Dreaming - Harjo
“Experimental electric guitar trio Harjo make heavy slabs of blown-out sound that aim to capture the buzz of present-day anxieties.” Formed in New York in 2010, SF-based drone metal band Harjo released Nocturnus: Dreaming way back in January—and it quickly became one of the Bay’s best albums of the year. Clearly inspired by drone masters Sunn O))) but also citing classical experimenters John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, and Arvo Part as well as sludge rockers Melvins as influences, the band uses a thinner, less crushing production style than your standard doom, but makes up for it through intriguing, always transforming tones.
Reckoning - Hell Fire
Live at the Hallowed Halls - High Tone Son of a Bitch
Diner Coffee - Mamaleek
Voices of the Kronian Moon - NITE
“The San Francisco Bay has a history steeped in heavy metal and NITE carries that torch with pride.” Voices of the Kronian Moon is the second full-length album by NITE (featuring current and past members of Satan’s Wrath, High Spirits and Dawnbringer), released by Philadelphia label Season of Mist. It’s an interesting juxtaposition: the voice is raspy and shrouded as one would expect from a black metal, but the drums and guitars are all classic heavy metal, reminiscent of classics by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, and the Scorpions.
Alight and Resound - Rip Room
This year SF post-punk trio Rip Room released their debut full-length album Alight and Resound on Seattle indie label Spartan Records. It’s all here: funky buzzy basslines, angular guitars, vox that give no fucks, and nary a song over three-and-a-half minutes. The perfect thing for fans of Fugazi, Minutemen, Devo, and the Raincoats. (For more on their influences, check out this great Spotify playlist they put together.)
Lick the Flesh - Vorlust