There’s no denying at this point that it’s been a relatively insane couple of years when it comes to new music. Last year, we were staggered by the amount of cathartic tunes that came our way. But this year, you can multiply the “wow” factor by… well, at least two. And that’s a lot.
It’s tempting to harp on the fact that just like in 2021, many of 2022’s chunkier musical nuggets are still tangibly influenced by the ebb and flow of global pandemic. However, last year was also the year many of us learned to let go of some of that baggage. 2022 upped the ante in such a big way that the moment we started thinking about compiling a Top 25, we knew it wouldn’t be enough – so today, we present the Top 50 Math Rock Releases of 2022.
Hopefully that about covers it. The list doesn’t follow any particular order, except for maybe around the time you get to the last few, but even then, take it with a grain of salt. When’s the last time you ordered a margarita without salt? Oh, they’re better that way? Guess we’ll have to try it.
50. Cloutchaser – This is Real Math Rock
To start the list off with a banger we have Cloutchaser’s bizarre and borderline satyrical debut, whose devious, semi-metallic sound cements their place as one of North Carolina’s most exciting new exports. The album itself is a bold claim, but they’re far from wrong – this is real math rock.
49. Catbamboo – Fervor
For Catbamboo’s full length debut, Ky and co swung for the fusion fences with dueling guitars, funky drum and bass grooves, and bouncing, post-hardcore energy on tracks like “Jelly” and “Flee.” The band has come a long way, and Fervor shows off just how hard they’ve worked to get there.
48. daydream plus – Clues Recalled from Memory
The simple, nostalgic appeal of Daydream Plus is hard to deny, taking listeners back to simpler times with every spin through its glassy, impeccably produced tones. Clues Recalled from Memory coasts easily through one’s mind, and while it wears its influences on its sleeves, even coming across as a tribute at times, there’s more than enough charm here to go around.
47. The Pieces of Shit! – Calming One Minute Meditations
This April bombshell from The Pieces of Shit! was an unexpected joy, flooding our brains with bite-sized, Tera Melos flavored bits of punk and riff-happy math rock. “Glad” is one of our most listened to songs of the year, with an anthemic and relatable chorus for any of us coming to terms with the woes three-dimensional adulthood.
46. Sorry Kini – Intervalos
Spain’s Sorry Kini dropped a sleek and soaring record this year with Intervalos that stuck around in our heads long after we reviewed it. The band’s dreamy vocals and massive post-rock sections are peppered with tons of percussion and twangy math rock lines, and if you missed this one, we highly recommend redeeming yourself this instant if you’re a fan of bands like Delta Sleep, Totorro, and ASIWYFA
45. Satyr – Totem
Satyr was primed to release something excellent this year with a huge amount of talent under the helm, but the band’s offering to 2022 was damn near indestructible. Totem sees Satyr roaring with passion and calculated instrumental passages that put them a cut above a number of their post-metal and post-progressive influenced peers.
44. Garrett Gleason – Guitar Songs II
This collection of heady loops and spacey guitar etudes is as respectful of the past as it is born of the future, often coming across as something between John Scofield, Flying Lotus, and Chevreuil. There are layers upon layers here, but the effect cascades into something really special on just about every track here, so don’t sleep on this if you haven’t checked it out yet.
43. Cuzco – A Miracle Sun Design
A Miracle Sun Design is a classic swan song through and through, laced together with every last possible bit of care. It’s a love letter to themselves, and also to the fans, packed with standout moments from everyone involved. It’s always hard when band’s go out with such solid records, but hey, at least they were nice about. Dammit, Cuzco, we will miss you.
42. Ginji – In Mauve
Nathan Glass’s crazy-good guitar skills are on full display here, but so is his evolution when it comes to production, lending the latest Ginji record a surprising amount of color. It’s a given that In Mauve would be chock-full of tap-happy, tastefully phrased lines, but the distinct mood and overall flavor it gives off is an achievement in itself, making for, as my mom put it recently, “the perfect driving music.”
41. Holy Western Parallels – S/T
This Steve Marek-led collective project flew under the radar for some this year, but Holy Western Parallel’s bass-heavy, hip-hop influenced debut was thoroughly excellent, and really has a vibe all it’s own. Marek’s close association with Nnämdi through Monobody makes it all the more interesting that both of them released amazing records this year, probably much of which was recorded at the same time in the same studio.
40. A.M. Overcast – S/T
This high-speed thriller goes everywhere at once, and it is glorious. Alex Latinski’s compositional prowess levels up yet again here, with renewed energy and, if we’re not mistaken, a good amount of enthusiasm as well. It’s in the record’s nature to disappear before you know it, with most songs ending before the minute and thirty second mark, but it’s hardly worth complaining about when everything here is so damn sweet.
39. Elder – Innate Passage
Elder continues their ascent through the atmosphere into the realms of spacey, progressive tunes that emerge somewhere between ISIS and Town Portal. Innate Passage immediately picks up where Omens left off, and wastes no time in establishing that what we’re witnessing is an exciting trajectory for the band as they further complicate their sound, yet never abandon their rock-heavy roots.
38. FES – With Regards from Home
UK’s beloved FES brought the house down in the Spring of this year with their infectious and downright celebratory new record With Regards from Home. Whether it’s the chewy, nervously pacing guitars or the powerful vocals, there’s never a dull moment, betraying the fact that behind the band’s unassuming “three piece guitar pop” facade is fully formidable math rock act.
37. Teen Prime – No. 4
This absolute bundle of formless, sprawling joy truly caught us by surprise this year. Fans of Don Caballero will no doubt recognize the influence here, but Teen Prime pulls off far more than a sonic salute with No. 4. The album’s relentless slew of calmingly chaotic loops and jazz-tinged destruction makes for a truly math-y mantra, and if you’re looking for something to truly help you accommodate your beehive of buzzing thoughts, this is one we’d highly recommend.
36. Zeta – Todo Bailarlo
Longtime readers of the blog will easily recognize the incomparable Zeta, and this year the band put out their truest, most passionate statement yet with Todo Bailarlo. Zeta’s fascinating journey comes to a new head on this one as well by inverting their normal formula – whereas before their sound was very punk and post-hardcore with traditional Venezuelan music in the background, it’s flipped the other way now, giving the band an exciting fresh start just when they needed it.
35. Holy Fawn – Dimensional Bleed
One of the most celebrated records of the year, and for good reason, Holy Fawn’s infinitely dynamic approach to encapsulating emotion boils over on Dimensional Bleed. The band threads together lo-fi, post-rock, alternative metal, and indie while keeping the band’s signature dream-sheen alive and well, but don’t worry – at no point is this absolute banger of an album going to put you to sleep.
34. Tricot – Fudeki
Tricot have been in an experimental period for a few years, trying things like mini-movies and multiple videos for one single, not to mention trying a ton of new things musically. Fudeki sees a much needed shift in focus that realigns many of the band’s core strengths, resulting in some of our favorite Tricot songs to date.
33. Odradek – Liminal
Did we have a heavy math band from Brazil making Half Life references on this year’s bingo? No. But man, are we glad to see them in our Editor’s Picks this year. What the hell are these things, and why are they wearing science team uniforms? Anyway, Odradek bring the heat on this one with maddeningly scatter blasted riffs and licks, framing the band as the instrumental math rock equivalent of heavy music boundary-busters Sikth and Destrage.
32. A Wilhelm Scream – Lose Your Delusion
It’s so good to see these skate punks back in action. A Wilhelm Scream have never released anything sub-par or merely passable, but it had been so long, part of us wondered if we’d be witnessing just that when we heard the long dormant band would finally return. Luckily, that part of us was wrong as hell – Lose Your Delusion is damn near a return to form, with fearsome poetic lyrics and mile-a-minute riffs abounding. The band has grown up though, so while you get to hear them at their most rested, you also get to hear them at their most mature, resulting in one of the best AWS albums across the board.
31. Coordinated Suicides – This Could Be Heaven
This seething entry harkens back a bit to the grungier, nearly-nu-metal grooves of the early 2000’s, but with a distinctly modern twist. The same people talking to you about bands like Chat Pile, KEN Mode, and Body Void will soon be talking about this band if they’re not already, and they add a lot to the conversation when it comes to sludgy, midwest doom.
30. Youth League – Somehow Those Were Days
Youth League’s return to the scene this year was one of those feel good moments we really needed, and Somehow Those Were Days serves as a triumphant statement of hope for the future while also explicitly holding space for the past. Portions of the band’s introspective lyrical musings are downright perilous with nostalgia, but their rousing, cathartic setting keeps everything beautifully suspended with waves of post-rock and sonic fireworks.
29. Invalids – Permanence
The low-key legendary quasi-collective dropped Permanence the last week of November, and we have a feeling it’s only starting to build momentum now. Fantastic songwriting with jazzy four-part vocal harmonies and borderline Nintendo-core clean guitars? Yes. All of that and more, and done well to boot. Sure, it’s a lot, but that’s what you’re here for, right?
28. Paranoid Void – Travels in My Universe
2022 also saw Paranoid Void drop the long awaited followup to 2017’s Literary Math, which embraces both futuristic breaks and heavily pedal-effected math rock while introducing a sense of cavalier looseness. The band’s new carefree attitude is an unexpected delight compared to the pristine, laser-cut sounds of its predecessor, making it apparent that the band is making a statement they’re far more than cookie-cutter act, and that we never know what they might have in store for us. It’s a bold move, and resulted in one of our most listened to records of the year.
27. Iran Iran – Previously, on Iran Iran
These outstanding UK gents are also back at with their first record since 2017, churning out gutsy, low-tuned heavy math for the ages on Previously, On…, with outrageously chunky production to match. The band’s crushing swells of methodically compounded meters are some of the closest moments math rock will ever have to Meshuggah, and for that, we thank them.
26. False Pockets – Selfish Prophecies
The second we heard the band tear into “No Multiple of Mine,” we had a funny feeling we’d be seeing it on this list, and that was back in February. The way the New York trio applies slight tongue in cheek humor to zany guitar lines and bubbling, non-linear structure comes across as distinctly modern, but there’s definitely some vintage prog building blocks in there too, and it all comes together in a sweet package with Selfish Prophecies.
25. Dome Dwellers – It’s Just Us
This obscure little nugget from Denton, Texas nearly slipped our attention, but thanks to the Heavy Blog is Heavy Facebook group, we caught wind of it. Dome Dwellers take a psychedelic pop approach to prog and math rock, layering nimble arrangements with crazy vocal arrangements, chirping synth pads, and whammy-pedal guitar goodness that sort of brings to mind Fang Island, which is always a plus in our book.
24. A-Tota-So – Lights Out
A-Tota-So came out swinging this year in a big way – not only did the band introduce a host of heavier new sounds to their palette in their downtime, they also brought in a bevy of guest vocalists to help enunciate the charge. There’s still a distinctly math rock core to Lights Out, but it’s also a great example of how to incorporate other flavors while preserving your own.
23. Elephant Gym – Dreams
Elephant Gym rarely approach records the same way twice, and this year they served up an utterly elegant foray into… tech-y adult contemporary? Well, not quite. The band has always maintained a strong jazz undercurrent despite their expansive book of tricks, and here it reaches a sort of maturation as Dreams‘ counterpoint. On paper, it might not sound too exciting, but trust us, whatever it lacks in boundary pushing, it makes up for in style and execution. There are still a lot of math rock moments, but it’s more incorporated into the mix now, and ultimately, the band walks away with all the more for it, and so do the fans.
22. Two Brothers – Star Thief
Two Brothers’ debut was one of the more anticipated releases of the year for us, and really it’s no surprise they didn’t let us down. Star Thief a gritty, eclectic post-everything rager, and comes with a splash of sardonic wit that reminds us of bands like Fear Before and Exotic Animal Petting Zoo. If the band keeps it up, they’ll be joining that same pantheon of influential post-hardcore in no time.
21. In Angles – Cardinal
Progressive post-hardcore heavyweights In Angles shred as hard as ever on their latest, but go for the jugular with the lyricism, adding heavy existential weight to everything you hear. Cardinal also contains many of the best guitar licks this year this side of Save Us from the Archon, showing off a massive bag of tech-y tricks while keeping sight of the emotional goal.
20. Science Penguin – Why Am I Like This?
Germantown, Maryland’s dynamic instrumental duo put out a wildly engaging and fresh record this year, honing in on structural strengths and focusing less on the razzle-dazzle. This honest and somewhat minimalist approach provides the band a route to keep experimenting with what they have, and thankfully, they’re really good at what they have.
19. Marmalade Butcher – Onomatomani[a]kus
If you’re not in Japan, you might not be hip to Marmalade Butcher yet, and hey, maybe we’re partially to blame. That being said, the band’s latest album is an absolutely bonkers thrill ride that plays like a J-rock prog metal fantasy made for math rock fans. Somehow, it’s like the perfect hybrid between Nuito and Dragonforce. It might be overwhelming for some, but for us, it truly does the trick.
18. Perfect – S/T
Were you looking for a dimly lit, acid soaked lounge trip through bizarre, Mars Volta-endorsed timelines? Because that’s what you’ve got here. While certainly not for everybody, Perfect’s eponymous debut is an absolute monster of progressive jazz, noise rock, and ecstatic soul experimentalism. Don’t miss it. That is, if you can handle it.
17. Lower Automation – Strobe Light Shadow Play
One of our favorite heavy releases of the year, Lower Automation’s Strobe Light Shadow Play lives up to its name with disparate, chaotic parts appearing then reappearing in an instant, playing off of sludgy mathcore and spasming post-punk. The band’s distinct wail might push buttons for some, but for most of us, its sweet, untethered catharsis, and lends them a unique edge against the competition.
16. Drill for Absentee – Strands of a Lake Vol. One
DFA’s quietly triumphant return to active status was heralded earlier this year with the first of two EP’s, Strands of A Lake, Vol. One. It’s been over twenty years since we heard from the band, but you’d never guess it with songs like “Hum” and “Skating” taking the band’s signature dynamic to even loftier conceptual heights. It’s an engaging affair from beginning to end, and as far as we can tell, Michael Nace and co seem poised to once again position themselves as prime movers of the math rock underground.
15. Lack the Low – God Carrier
You didn’t hear it from us, but Lack the Low’s latest is one of the most enrapturing releases of the year, delicately grinding every genre in its path to create a singular, expansive narrative. Kat Hunter (who, um, you know, halfway started this blog with Nikk back in the day) fully comes into her power here, but with a sound so big, how could we ever know its limits? God Carrier‘s commanding deconstruction of sonic boundary isn’t just a disarming snapshot of 2022, but a picture of truly something timeless.
14. Ahleuchatistas – Expansion
Even when we recently reviewed Expansion, it was hard to conjure up words as interesting as the music itself. It’s a masterclass in form and composition, and the patterns that kaleidoscopically expand throughout are some of the best the band has yet to put forth. There’s some additional magic here too when it comes to personnel, which features Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle and Fantômas as well as Danny Piechocki of Terms, and formerly of Yowie. Pedigree aside however, the nigh-unpronounceable band get comfortably weird on their latest record, and we hope its as much fun for them as it is for us.
13. Fox Lake – Repose
Our latest Winnipeg obsession, Fox Lake’s Repose is a direct salvo of youthful energy to the chest, full of wild-eyed wonderings and hopeful stares into the sunset. The fanfare of interplay between the guitars and various vocal lines is damn near constant, and maintains an exceptional level of quality and originality throughout. The band might have some distinctly punk and emo influences, but they use them more as references to create an emotional thrill ride you can’t really find anywhere else.
12. Standards – Fruit Town
Oh, Standards, when will this cuteness end? Hopefully, never. Marcos Mena never fails to outdo himself when it comes to guitar and presentation thereof, but Fruit Town shows off a project fully vibing and at peace with itself, allowing for Standards’ juiciest, most rewarding record yet, landing itself the potentially coveted position of ‘Fecking Bahamas Most Listened to Record of the Year.’
11. Polyphia – Remember That You Will Die
This polarizing blast of 90’s cool jazz theory and sleazy, hyper technical shred might seem antithetical to a lot of math rockers, but Polyphia shred many a skeptic’s expectations on Remember That You Will Die. Though it gets a little stifled with guests, the underlying intensity is at an all time high for the band, and perhaps more than any musical prowess, it shows off the band’s growing ability to make the songs as flashy as they are memorable.
10. Giraffes? Giraffes! – Death Breath
Although it’s not necessarily a full-blown stylistic departure, the latest from math rock’s beloved Giraffes? Giraffes! breathes new life into the band’s tried and true sound. While it isn’t quite the band’s first foray into vocal-centric territory (check out 2013’s severely underrated 10″, for instance) it is their first with this amount. Either way, it comes across as an entirely natural move, and allows their 90’s punk and grunge influences to surface in a number of exciting ways.
9. And So I Watch You From Afar – Jettison
ASIWYFA always had a cinematic streak, but this takes it to a whole new degree, as it is ultimately a score for a visual creation. This has been metaphorical for the band in the past, being that their high energy and towering dynamics fit just about any scenic moment, but on Jettison you get the sense that they really tried to reverse engineer the process, challenging both the audience and themselves. It might not hook you in on the first listen, but give it time – and headphones. It’s worth it.
8. Disheveled Cuss – Into the Couch
Honestly, Nick Reinhart’s wickedly clever, 90’s horror-obsessed sophomore solo record as Disheveled Cuss weighed pretty heavily on us since it came out. Into the Couch is one of the most affecting records of the year without question, but every uncomfortable moment is mitigated by signature Reinhart musings, and the duality of these things often creates a secret third thing that just has to be experienced to be understood. The best part is, you don’t have to be in on anything particular to enjoy the hell out of these songs.
7. Horse Lords – Comradely Objects
This freakish layer-cake of an album features a myriad of meter-modulating, mind-bending loops and drum patterns that constantly threaten to burst into flames. It times it feels like it approaches the minimal, but Horse Lords know how to take a single idea and take turns stretching it in ways that are sure to leave one foaming at the mouth if not adequately prepared. Consider yourself warned.
6. JYOCHO – Let’s Promise to Be Happy
One would be tempted to think that the fountain of JYOCHO’s reliably gorgeous flurry of glowing melodies and touching vocal lines would have run dry years ago. On the contrary, it seems like the band is all too happy to keep pushing themselves and their craft. Let’s Promise to Be Happy seamlessly establishes itself as one of the most engaging achievements of their career, as well as one of the most enjoyable releases of the year.
5. Nnamdï – Please Have a Seat
Easily one of the best records of the year no matter what genre you believe in, Nnamdï’s most vulnerable record yet also features a number of his best songs, period. He’s never sounded better, and that’s saying something considering how skilled he is with production already, although we shouldn’t too be surprised given that the record was ultimately mixed by Brok Mende, formerly of Audiotree. All things considered, it’s always amazing to see the drummer of Monobody and Para-medics spitting absolute fire, but the heartfelt nature and down to earth delivery of Please Have a Seat had us clutching our chest and reaching for the recliner.
4.God Alone. – ETC
This rough and ready quintet out of Cork, Ireland floored a number of people this year with the stunning ETC and it’s danceable fury. The band keep their heavy instincts intact, but put a lot of effort into changing it up this time around with Adebisi Shank-style turnarounds, ambient interludes, and incendiary group chants take the foreground. Somehow, it goes by fast, but God Alone.’s latest opus is truly worth every second.
3. Hikes and Into It. Over It. – Reciprocity
Two of math rock’s most treasured forces come together on this 2022 split, resulting in one of the year’s most memorable collaborations. Ney’s impeccably soothing voice sits like a cloud on top of a mountain of instrumental glory. Hikes are at their fullest, most expressive yet, and they just keep getting better. Into It. Over It. don’t slouch here either, putting out another round of emotionally reflective post-punk gems.
2. Chat Pile – God’s Country
Not a single karmic stone is left unturned when it comes to the scathing, all-engrossing mania that is Chat Pile’s full length debut. The darkest cornerstones of modern society are held up to the light on God’s Country, from homelessness and serial killers to panic attacks and religious trauma, and that’s far from it. Featuring a vocal delivery from Raygun Busch that will literally haunt our dreams forever, you’d be hard pressed to find a more harrowing band in noise rock.
1. black midi – Hellfire
One of the most rambunctiously creative records of the year, black midi once again deliver proof that they’re simply in a league of their own with Hellfire. More than just a relentless future-fusion hailstorm of noisy, disparate ideas, the band conjures up a living, breathing scene as their cast of hapless characters meet all sorts of sordid ends. Black midi’s grisly anecdotes portray social and psychological subtleties of war with unsettling conviction, creating the most important album of their career yet, and for us, the Album of the Year.
Cheers everyone, happy new year! Buy us a coffee here sometime, but more importantly, listen to the bands above. Thanks for reading!