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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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2023 best metal according to my own peculiar sensibilities



1.Cell Block Autopsy Fertile Soil of Immorality (Brute Productions)

In 2022 there were none more underground than Cell Block Autopsy.  Written and recorded in prison (fucking…prison.  Sure, Burzum, but whatever this is terribly rare) by two men serving life sentences. The music is perfectly 90’s authentic, texas death metal.  I suppose life inside served as a time capsule of sort. 25 years of riffs incubating, pulsating in the confines of a mind in a concrete cell unleashed.  Considering the circumstances we can all look past the thin guitar and bass sound.  Just jack the bass and mids up on your stereo or device.  Based on the cd liner notes it’s possible that mastermind Torch is out on parole now and the best case scenario is that one of his terms is  having to release more Cell Block Autopsy records.  Props to contributing member Eric on the ripping yet sorrowful solos.  This is one of the last reviews I wrote for TOTD and it’s been my agenda this year to get more ears on the album.  Joi of Brute Productions, if you’re reading this, thanks for putting this out but please level up the promotion.  Hit me up, I’ll front for a remix, and put out the tape version. 

2.VoldtVandalism – (Independent). Voldt’s sound was so refreshing and specific to hear.  The influence of classic European heavy metal and power metal is apparent but given a very modern retrofit.  I can’t help but also hear the soaring epic rock of Queens of the Stoned Age.  Although, trade the desert for the distinctly dank urban setting of Hamburg, Germany and much more double kick drums.  It’s all right there in their very cool video for opening track “High Command”.  Vocalist/Guitarist Al Shirazi in that slick, Iranian gangster fur coat, his warm croon pull together the dramatic guitar arrangement and tight modern drumming of rising star Wanja Groger, plays out like a racing, ensemble cast Guy Ritchie film.  

3.Grenadier – Trumpets Blare In Blazing Glory (Drakkar Productions). Have you wanted to be a fan of Arghoslent, but couldn’t condone the subject matter?  Try Grenadier.  Classic metal riffs with low, round death metal bellows, thematically centered on post-medieval grand history.  As similar in style as they are qualified of music.

4.Tot Aus Dem Wald – Satan No Mono (Wolfmond Productions). Always on the hunt for a specific sounding necro black metal I often come up disappointed by over saturated production or production so lo-fi it strip the music of any power.  German horde Tot Aus Dem Wald delivers on my narrow requirements:  Shrill guitars, craggy blown-out vocals.  Simple, fast, cutting drums.  Hard contrast black and white cover featuring corpse painted Teutonic maniac with a horned helmet and cloak.  Any frills were burned with the villagers, but the brief interludes of midnight hour primitive folk are a right touch.  Pass me a mace, and my flagon of mead.  

5.Inhuman Condition – Fearsick (Listenable Insanity Records). 2021’s Rat God was cool but the slight tweak in production that isolated and pushed the meaty guitar more to the front, and removed the gauzy haze that coated the whole production made their 1990 classic reboot sound, where thrash was morphing rapidly into death metal, more striking.  This is an album you can play in a minivan full of metalheads on the way to the fest and no one will be bummed. 

6.The Elder Flame – Undead Tales (Independent). The older I’ve become the more I find myself leaning to mid-paced atmospheric black metal, still raw, heavy on the synths.  This is almost like dungeon synth-influenced black metal.   It wades through the marshes, and meanders the forest thicket on a dangerous journey into lands only vaguely known from children’s tales.  The task is fairly urgent, but our hero has time somehow to take dinner breaks and play flute.  Definitely Lord of the Rings-y.  There very well might be better albums but I this hit the spot for me. 

7.Krallice – Crystalline Exhaustion / Psychagogue (P2 Loggia). I’m cheating and combining both 2022 albums.  The Krallice/ Menegroth studio crew were again impressively productive this year. It’s tough to pick one over the other.  I might prefer Psychagogue for the shorter run time and “Deliberate Fog”.  But Crystalline Exhaustion is more so the widescreen sci-fantastic adventure. I’m a bigger fan of Krallice since Demonic Wrath than I had been.  The progression to synth driven music that brings to mind heady, large scale science fiction wonder of writers such as Peter Watts, Frank Herbert, and the like, appeals to both my current adult form, and inner child.  

8.Gates of Dawn – S/T (Independent). This is in the same stylistic sphere as Krallice. Perhapsh more “post” in a sense.  Ethereal, psychedelic, shimmering fractal aura of ambient black metal that functions like the exoskeleton of an Onehohtrix Point Never album interior. 

9.VenatorEchoes From The Gutter (Dying Victims). After really liking their split from 2020, hearing a true knack for songwriting I looked forward to this.  When it dropped I wasn’t really in the mood but revisiting later in the year it’s really enjoyable.  Half of the songs are a bit too long, but  so are most bands.  The production is a warm and true 1987 vintage.  With Steve Grimmett and with him, Grim Reaper, having passed this year I would point readers to Venator as a band carrying the torch forward for that specific sound of celebratory, yet emotive heavy metal.  Additionally, I love that they came out of the gate with this metal masked character/mascot for the album covers.  I mean, tell me you don’t want to get cut and go rid the streets of criminal scum. 

10.Vile ImpregnationSlave (Reality Fade).So many guest vocals it’s spiritually similar to a rap mixtape (slam for ya I guess).  Just so dumb heavy and sludged out. Exceptionally creative cover art for that realm. Why could I listen to it so many times?  Because it doesn’t waste anyone’s time at a cool 21 minutes. 


Honorable Mentions

Teratology – The Lingering Stench of Anatomopathological Scum (Lord of the Sick)

Ancient North – The Gates (Independent)

Heltekvad – Morgenrodens Helvedesherre (Eisenton)

Immolation – Acts of God (Listenable)

Labyrinth of StarsSpectrum Xenomorph (Translation Loss)

Ateiggar – Tyrannemord (Eisenton)

Lamentations Passion of Depression (Willowtip Records)

Forbidden Temple – Step Into The Black Pentagram (Gramschap)

Blood Tyrant – Codex Cruor (Tour de Garde)

Gauntlet Ring – Tyrannical Bloodlust (Blood and Crescent)

Funeral Euphoria – Bacterial Miasma (Rectal Purulence)


Disappointment of the century


Genocide KommandoAnthems of Mass Massacre (Drakkar).My love for their 2002 album Black Metal Supremacy is unmatched.  When I saw there was suddenly a follow up album pre-order I was both pumped and somewhat fearful.  What if it lacks all of the small details in sound that I love in Black Metal Supremacy…  Well, [long shallow sigh] where that album is piercingly sick in tone from the high, perhaps detuned, remorseless guitars, buried programmed drums that barely rise above their function, and intimidatingly scathing vocals Anthems is really another affair.  It’s more of a bestial war metal record with a fuller wall of sound production, real drums (boo!), and lower death metal vocals.  All of the members, new and old, are also in Gestapo 666, who carry on the sound of Black Metal Supremacy much more closely than this album.  Black Metal Supremacy was so convincingly mean spirited, and hateful.  I still contend no black metal record quite captures it’s tone.  Anthems of Mass Massacre is comparatively…uh…comparable to many other records in it’s lane.  It isn’t a bad album, it just doesn’t have the black magic of Black Metal Supremacy.  On top it, my excitement at Black Metal Supremacy FINALLY being released on vinyl was coldy tempered by the fact that the reissue received new cover art. Cover art so similar to the original it’s baffling why one would fuck with it, and like Anthems itself, a comparatively less intimidating version.  It just burns me. 


Sainte Marie des Loups – Obeissance… Jusqui’a la Mort (Amor Fati Productions). One of the best active black metal bands and no one realizes it.  FOOLS!  Every release is black gold.  Melodramatic French temperament isn’t just a stereotype.  

Gestation – Suffering From The Start (Suicide Of A Species). Southwest inner city grind grime.  Icky shit.  Pitch shifted gore vocals.  Battered analog basement recording. Dripping with criminal intent.  These dudes sleep in the tubs of abandoned homes and HAVE stabbed a motherfucker before.  Pairs well with obscure 90’s gangster rap from places no one cares about. 

Sermon Of Mockery – Crippler Crossface Murder Suicide (Comatose Records). Some gnarly dudes from Ukraine and John Paoline on vocals.  The man on every Mortal Decay record through Forensic.  What hole are you living in?!  This is gutter as hell, seen-some-shit 1999 brutal death metal.  Crawl out of said hole.

Insect Inside – Into Impending Apotheosis (Gorehouse). Gone are the hardcore vocals of the debut.  Heavy and grooving Russian brutal death metal that is less deathcore than the debut.  Just one of those bands that hits every checkbox of the genre.  The production is dark, nothing is thin, clean but not at all clinical, and mixed perfectly.  The bass is heavy when it needs to be but cuts through nice in other parts. The drumming is not too complicated or fast and the snare cuts through great.  Vocals are low and gurgle-y in the right way.  

Calcinated – Morgue Serenity (Rectal Purulance). Goregrind how you want it: raw grooves, and guttural vocals with weird reverb.  I mean, of course it’s Carcass worship but when has that ever been a bad thing?  I listened to it more than the new Pharmacist actually.  Writing this it’s apparent that I listen to more Carcass worship bands than Carcass.  …Somebody’s not going to be happy. 

Heteropsy – Human Is Pain (Independent). Japanese negative doom-death 1 track ep.  Just the right production and feel for this style.  No atmosphere just pain. 

Sex Virgin KillerMirror/Fear (Lilii Sound Loom).A single really.  Japanese black-goth-metal-rock with reverb drenched female singing.  Kind of Christian Deth influenced and more lo-fi than the average goth metal stuff. 

Skag – S/T. Vocalist, and guitarist/drummer from Sanguisugabogg, Dyskinesia, Murderman doing druggy, ping grind.  Ohio overdoses increased when this ep dropped. 

Adharcail – S/T. Colin Marston playing guitars and synth which sound like they’re tuned to each other.  I don’t know whats what.  Then you have Afterbirth‘s Will Smith on vocals, also possibly trying to match the same oscillating low tuning.  Long Island drone death-doom. 

Obscure SkuadronMysterious Existence (Independent).I’m a sucker for the weirdo UFO themed black metal.  

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