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We say this every year, but 2022 was a fantastic year in metal. With literally too many killer releases to cover, especially with the increase of digital-only/Bandcamp releases.

And as usual, there was a mix of veteran acts that are still at the top of their game, and fresh new blood to get excited about and the future of metal seems to be in good hands.

Our carefully cured lists cover a whole gamut of styles and releases, so feast your eyes on our best of 2022 staff lists, check out the linked reviews and feel free to comment, let us know what we got right or wrong, and post your own lists in the comments.

Here’s to 2023 continuing the trend of great years as we get the likes of Metallica, Obituary, In Flames, Insomnium, Distant, Ne Obliviscaris, Extermination Dismemberment, Sanguisugabogg, and no doubt, exciting debuts from up and comers.

As always, thanks for reading, sharing, liking, and commenting. You are why we do this (and maybe some early free music). So please keep coming back here for your metal reviews, features, and general metal fuckery.

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Keyboards, keyboards, and more keyboards. That was my theme in 2022. Whether melodic death metal, deathcore or black metal. “It needs more keyboards” was my mantra as all but a handful have keyboards of some sort, whether subtle, sweeping or bombastic.

Symphonic/orchestral/blackened deathcore in particular was spectacular in 2022, in addition to those on my list, physical and digital releases from the likes of Shadow of Intent, Hanging the Nihilist, Hammer of Dawn, Downfall of Mankind, Despite Exile, The Archaic Epidemic, Sold Soul, Synestia, Rotten Tongue, Art of Attrition, Devoured by the Abyss, Draconian Reign, Mire Lore and others showed the genre wasn’t about to go away (OK, Assemble the Chariots, hurry the fuck up an release an album already). And even regular deathcore delivered the goods with Enterprise Earth, Ingested, Angelmaker, Crown Magnetar and …And Hell Followed With. 

Slam had a solid year as well, with the Analepsy and Fleshgore making my list, the killer debut from newcomers Kanine as well as Crypt Rot, Xenotheory, 9 Dead, Peeling Flesh and veterans Organectomy. 

A shout out to Windrose for Warfront– the only power metal album in 2022 that got me remotely excited. “One Last Day” is so goddamn epic. Let’s see what Twilight Force can do in 2023.

Interestingly I could not settle on the best label of the year as lots of labels had good years, including Unique Leader, Century Media, The Artisan Era, Napalm Records, and Nuclear Blast.

As with most years, my top 5-10 is pretty solid, but everything after that was stuff I liked, and the order is pretty fluid.

  1. Lorna ShorePain Remains (Century Media). No real surprise here. Despite the album being half-released digitally before it came out, the entirety of the album was still worth it. Particularly the epic “Pain Remains” trilogy of songs, which is the most enthralling and emotional 20 minutes of music I heard in 2022 if not the last five years. A real bar setter for deathcore and symphonic deathcore, if not all extreme music moving forward.
  2. Imperial Circus Dead Decadence――死へ耽る想いは戮辱すら喰らい、彼方の生を愛する為に命を讃える――。(Radtone Music) The utterly bonkers, brilliant love child of Sigh, Babymetal, Cradle of Filth and an Anime soundtrack.
  3. A Wake in Providence – Eternity (Unique Leader Records), Just pipped by Lorna Shore as the year’s best symphonic deathcore record. A brilliant answer to losing Will Ramos to Lorna Shore.
  4. AmorphisHalo (Century Media Records). You forgot about this one, didn’t you? Like a fine wine, these guys get better and better with a string of superb albums that not many bands can match. ” Seven Roads Come Together” is just stunning.
  5. GreylotusDawnfall (The Artisan Era). A perfect supergroup of Artisan Era styles on one dynamic, epic, progressive album.
  6. WolfheartKing of the North (Napalm Records). These guys keep getting better and better and more and more epic. Kings of the North indeed.
  7. AllegaeonDamnum (Metal Blade Records). A sprawling display of American technical and melodic death metal. Pity Riley Mcshane left after a killer performance here. Curious to see who they replace that huge void with.
  8. Epoch of Unlight At War With the Multiverse (Dark Horizon Records) is The best reunion of the year. Well worth the 17-year wait.
  9. VehemenceOrdalies (Antiq Records). Early in the year, this was a contender for the best album of the year. Brilliant French medieval black metal.
  10. XaonThe Lethean (Self Released). Gloriously lush, lavish, catchy melodic death metal with some of the best keyboards of the year. One of my favorite new finds of 2022.
  11. Worm ShepherdRitual Hymns (Unique Leader Records). Another band nipping at the heels of Lorna Shore, both in quality and style.
  12. Necrom All Paths Are Left here… (Osmose Productions). The best HM2 Swedish-styled death metal release of the year. Pity about the ‘other’ stuff’ .
  13. Bonecarver Carnage Funeral (Unique Leader Records). The sudden change to Lorna Shore styled synths in their deathcore core ended up being a really good decision.
  14. Molder – Engrossed in Decay (Prosthetic Records). The most fun I had with a death metal record in 2022.
  15. AethereusLeiden (The Artisan Era). The Artisan Era continues its run of excellent technical, progressive death metal.
  16. AnalepsyQuiescence (Miasma/Agonia Records). The best slam record of the year from Portugal’s answer to Dying Fetus.
  17. Fleshgore Carnival of Flesh (Xtreem Music). A late-year addition that like Analepsy above, is pure Dying Fetus worship but from the Ukraine.
  18. The Devils of Loudon Escaping Eternity ( The Artisan Era). See 17  and just add 90s synths.
  19. Fall of Stasis – The Chronophagist (Self-Released), A crazy debut of female-fronted folky, The Black Dahlia Murder and crazy symphonics. Looking forward to more from these guys
  20. I Am the NightWhile the Gods Are Sleeping (Svart Records). Old-school Emperor worship at its finest.
  21. Katharos Of Lineages Long Forgotten (Willowtip). Later era Emperor worship at its finest.
  22. The Mist From the MountainsMonumental – The Temple of Twilight (Primitive Reaction). More 90s-era black metal homage, this time to Borknagar.
  23. Pestilent HexThe Ashen Abhorrence (Debemur Morti Productions). The Third black metal supergroup on this list playing homage to the classic 90s sound.
  24. Inanimate Existence- The Masquerade ( The Artisan Era). See 15 and 18.
  25. Exocrine The Hybrid Suns (Unique Leader Records). Superb tech death with some nice orchestral and experimental flourishes.
  26. Spire of Lazarus Soaked in the Sands (Reality Fade). A name change didn’t change the quality of this techy, video game-influenced deathcore outfit.
  27. Blood of the Wolf: IV: The Declaration of War (HPGD Productions). Sheer, apocalyptic black/ death devastation.
  28. Horror Within Awaiting Extinction (Pathologically Explicit Recordings) Deathcore with an HM2 buzz saw guitar tone. Fuck yes.
  29. Freedom Of Fear – Carpathia (Self-Released). EVP Recordings. Killer technical, sweep-filled, symphonic black/tech death from Australia with Obscura’s Mannes Grossman on drums.
  30. She Must BurnUmbra Mortis (Self Released). A strangely beguiling yet heavy mix of Cradle of Filth, Make Them Suffer and Bleeding Through. A nice comeback, but I Still miss Aimy Miller though.

Best EP:Winter’s GateThe Voyage in Becoming. Some of the best keyboards of the year and one of my very favorite songs of the year in “Preordained”. Needs a CD release (also see below).

Best 1 song album:Ode and Elegy. Self-titled – 50 minutes of enthralling folky, post-metal chamber music from the guy behind The Pax Cecilia.

Best digital-only releases/please do a fucking CD:Winter’s Gate – The Voyage in Becoming, Pillaging Villagers – S/T: Rousing blue collar thrash/death metal mixed with Irish pub anthems. Xenotheory – Dawn of the Eyeless Realm (who does cassettes only????) Killer slam based on Alien/Aliens movies?. Oh hell yes. SynestiaMaleficium . Stunning orchestral deathcore from Finnish/Minnesota duo and Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s Francesco Ferrini.  C’mon guys not all of us are ready to move purely to digital music.

Biggest Surprise: – The killer amount of quality melodeath – Xaon, The Halo Effect, Defacing God, Grenadier, Norrskold, Brymir, Soilwork, Wolfheart, Clamoris, Burned in Effigy all released killer melodeath albums in 2022. Let’s see if In Flames can keep it going in 2023.

Guilty Pleasure: Bloodywood Rakshak. Indian tribal nu metal core? Yep. Now, if they only got rid of the rapper guy…..

Best Reunions:- Epoch of Unlight and Defleshed. Two 17-year hiatuses. Two glorious returns to the scene with killer albums.

Best Album Cover Art: I AM Eternal Steel, KanineKarnage.

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