MetalSucks’ Top Albums of 2022
Man, what a fucking year, huh? We laughed, we cried, we argued, we pissed people off. All in a day’s work here at MetalSucks.
As metal fans, we’re so lucky that we get to listen to and enjoy the best fucking music on the planet, played by some of the most talented motherfuckers around. And while there were squillions upon squilions of releases that came out this year, some stuck out above the rest for the MetalSucks staff and contributors. In an effort to highlight some of this year’s best albums, we’ve put together a totally non-scientific list to not only put a spotlight on the albums we enjoyed, but also to help you maybe find something you might have missed. Oh and we get to show how super kvlt and trve to the scene we all are.
So yeah. Check out the lists, which are done in no particular order, and feel free to complain about them in the comments or on social media.
Revocation – Netherheaven
There are very few albums that come out and hit your senses like a brick to the face. Revocation’s Netherheaven did that for me right away. Death metal’s always been a blind spot for me, so finding a band that kind of opens a whole new genre up for me really felt transformative in a way. Oh and “Nihilistic Violence” is so heavy it should be criminal.
Clutch – Sunrise on Slaughter Beach
Speaking of my affinity for groovy, stoner metal… I’m not going to lie — I was a little worried about Clutch’s Sunrise on Slaughter Beach. All that talk about experimentation during COVID and the album being their shortest yet, I was concerned that they’d lose the plot somewhere and the bangers would be lost among a sea of missteps. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, as what we got was an insanely infectious album that takes chances, sticks the landing, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a spry piece of music that I keep coming back to time and time again.
Dead Cross – II
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I will consume anything Mike Patton’s involved in. So when I finally got my hands on II, after already enjoying Dead Cross’ self-titled debut album, I was all in. Thankfully, the band continued on their set trajectory, bringing forth an album that’s as in your face punk rock as it is an experimental piece of art. Coupled with Justin Pearson’s high pitched screams, Patton’s delivery is every bit as big and frenetic as you’d expect from a Dead Cross record. We don’t know if we’re gonna get another one from this outfit, but I’d be stoked if we did.
The Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist
Boy, was I not ready for The Callous Daoboys. I’ll admit that I’d never heard of them until we premiered the music video for “The Elephant In The Room.” As I wrote in that post, I was skeptical as hell when they were compared to Mr. Bungle and Dillinger Escape Plan in the same sentence, though honestly — that’s kinda how I’d describe them. Their sound is so crazy, so all over the place, so intense that you just have to listen. You want to pay attention to parse the layers of sound they’re pummeling you with.
Ghost – Impera
Love ’em or hate ’em, Ghost are one of the biggest bands in metal right now and that’s entirely thanks to the musical mind of Tobias Forge. I remember the first time I got to listen to this record ahead of release and my immediate thought was “oh shit, this is going to be massive.” For me, “Spillways” is a standout song of the year and it honestly feels like this is should have been the actual follow up to Meliora, not the disappointing Prequelle.
Rammstein – Zeit
German industrial metal legends Rammstein put out one hell of a record earlier this year. From the melancholic “Zeit” and mournful, yet hopeful “Adieu” to their obligatory sex-charged song about big ol’ tiddies with “Dicke Titten,” this album checks all the boxes of a Rammstein release without sounding formulaic. God, I hope this isn’t their final album.
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems (Epitaph)
Philly hardcore crew Soul Glo combined hardcore punk with hip hop in a way that’s never been done before. Diaspora Problems expands the language of what heavy music can be in visceral and violent ways.
Blut Aus Nord, Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses (Debemur Morti)
French black metal experimentalists Blut Aus Nord released their best album since the 777 trilogy, probing the depths of avant-garde black metal for its most psychedelic qualities.
Mindforce – New Lords (Triple B)
New Lords is the most fun album of 2022, for this writer’s money. One of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it records, Mindforce are in and out in less than 18 minutes, but they manage to cram more than enough gang vocals, two-step breakdowns and Slayer-isms into that runtime. It’s impossible to not move your body when listening to Mindforce.
Ripped to Shreds – 劇變 (Jubian) (Relapse)
It’s hard to be the best in a genre as stacked as death metal, but Ripped to Shreds made the year’s best by far with 劇變. Ripped to Shreds’ third album is a whirlwind of what makes death metal great—technicality, melody, generally great riffs and musicianship—and mixes it with notes of other extreme genres. “Split Apart by Five Chariots” and “Race Traitor” are two of the best death metal songs you’ll hear this year.
Mzimor & Thou – Myopia (Gilead Media)
Funeral doom luminary Mizmor and prolific sludge crew Thou joined forces for a collaboration that ended up greater than the sum of its parts. The exact opposite of Mindforce, Myopia stretches out over nearly 75 minutes of demoralizing atmospheres. Its length and dark overtones can make Myopia a tough listen but the payoff is immense.
Ithaca – They Fear Us
One of the most exciting releases this year by far is Ithaca’s They Fear Us. Their previous album was solid, but nothing to prepare us for this monster of a release. It does a great job of touching on the nostalgia from the metalcore days, but also creating an entirely new sound worthy of 2022 nd beyond, all while wrapping in important social issues commentary.
Bodysnatcher – Bleed-Abide
Certainly one of the heaviest albums of the year, Bleed-Abide takes the fury of hardcore and the aggression of metal and blends it perfectly into what metalcore should look like in this day and age. It’s punishing and dark, but also catchy, and you’ll find yourself putting this one on repeat.
Undeath – It’s Time… To Rise from the Grave
When it comes to straightforward, old-school death metal, Undeath are where it’s at. This year’s strongest death metal release, every song is memorable and stand-out, yet you would be hard-pressed to make a case that there is anything outside of the genres tropes on this release. This one has the staying power of old-school Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel.
Escuela Grind – Memory Theater
Another surprise breakout this year, Escuela Grind have metallic hardcore down to a science. Another band that promotes inclusivity and also aggressive riffs and fun moshing, there’s nothing not to like about this ripper of an album.
Exhumed – To the Dead
A band that need no introduction, it’s a true testament to their legacy that Exhumed are still making heavy, catchy, and solid records. To the Dead proves that point well, tapping back into some of their more melodic tendencies, which should make old-school fans happy.
Djevel – Naa skrider natten sort
Unfortunately, the fact that Djevel’s Naa skrider natten sort is one of the GREATEST black metal albums of ALL TIME is not up for debate. Naa skrider natten sort, which is Djevel’s eighth full-length effort, is the second installment in a trilogy that began with the Spellemann / “Norwegian Grammy”-winning record Tanker som rir natten. Both masterpieces feature ex-Ljå’s Trånn Ciekals — Djevel’s mastermind, ex-Emperor’s Faust, and Mare’s Kvitrim / HBM Azazil. You won’t be able to stop listening to Naa skrider natten sort because it literally makes almost all else seem like a bad joke.
Khold – Svartsyn
Khold’s Svartsyn cuts like a blade aimed squarely at the heart of Being. It’s potent, direct, black to the core, and all-around magnificent. Svartsyn lacks nothing: It offers groove, aggression, killer riffs, etc. Khold never ceases to define quality and authenticity. As some may already know, Khold started when the highly artistic Tulus was asked to change their name upon signing with Satyr’s defunct label Moonfog. As Gard, a.k.a. Blodstrup, told Rauta: “We wanted to be straight in your face black metal.” Sarke similarly called Khold “a heavier form of Tulus.” Thankfully, Tulus was resurrected long ago. Gard’s wife, Hildr, pens the masterful lyrics for both bands.
Darkthrone – Astral Fortress
Scattered with miscellaneous surprises, Darkthrone’s Astral Fortress is an awe-inspiring triumph from start to finish. The Darkthrone duo has stated that their aim is to make caveman music, or rather, to keep pushing in a regressive direction. Astral Fortress reawakens the ghosts of decades past; and thus, takes you into what some might call “The Church of Real Metal.” The SUBLIME 10+-minute fourth track, “The Sea Beneath the Seas of the Sea,” is definitely a highlight of 2022 in itself. If you don’t take this album out into the woods for a nature walk, you are really missing something.
Black Anvil – Regenesis
Black Anvil’s Regenesis is a brutal, passionate, and incredibly beautiful record that will obliterate your preconceptions about True Black Metal. This fearless magnum opus takes you through a maze of unexpected twists and turns. The single “8-bit Terror” is possibly biggest earworm of the year. Regenesis’ sound is organic yet massive. In honor of their roots, Black Anvil recorded this effort with Colin Marston in Queens, NY. Regenesis was mixed and mastered in Sweden by ex-Funeral Mist’s Necromorbus, whose clients include legends like Mayhem. We should also thank frontman and bassist Paul Delaney, drummer Raeph, and guitarist Jeremy Sosville for their amazing work.
Mork – Den Svevende Festning (EP)
Mork is, of course, a fan-favorite Norwegian black metal band. We still can’t get enough of Mork’s fifth studio album, the awe-inspiring Katedralen, which dropped last year. The EP Den Svevende Festning includes two unreleased tracks from the sessions for Katedralen, an alternate arrangement of Katedralen’s “Født Til Å Herske,” and three live versions of other songs from Katedralen. (Eriksen performs and composes all Mork’s studio content by himself, but he plays gigs with a lineup of friends.) Den Svevende Festning’s title track is a tribute to Eriksen’s hometown of Halden and its famous Fredriksten Fortress — “et symbol på styrke” / “a symbol of strength.” The fortress is where Eriksen shot the music video that premiered last year for “Arv” — a track about his late father that he reprises here. Eriksen’s powerful lyrics are sure to work their way under your skin like razorblades.
Dødsengel – Bab Al On
Although we anticipated that Dødsengel’s Bab Al On would rock our world on December 16, it actually premiered online on December 5. Yes, sometimes Christmas does arrive early. This truly bizarre offering defied our expectations in so many ways. This is possibly one of the most idiosyncratic Norwegian BM masterpieces we have ever heard.
Cave In – Heavy Pendulum
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting this. Yes, I was expecting something good, but I didn’t really think I would be hearing one of the strongest, most complete records that’s been released in the past decade or so. This record has emotion. It has perseverance. It has so much soul. And it’s also heavy!
Black Anvil – Regenesis
Black Anvil’s best record. Another record that I wasn’t expecting. The songwriting has been elevated so much from their earlier endeavors and the introduction of a variety of different sounds and musical stylings makes this a novel and unique record in the realm of American Black Metal.
King’s X – Three Sides of One
The trio’s first new record in well over a decade is one of their very best. This is an introspective King’s X that isn’t afraid to get dark and get real. While it has all the elements we’ve grown to love from this band, it takes the listener to a place they haven’t been before compared to the rest of the KX catalog.
Greg Puciato – Mirrorcell
So the former lead singer of Dillinger Escape Plan releases a solo record that sounds absolutely nothing like Dillinger Escape Plan. Panic? No. Not at all. Puciato has so many influences from a wealth of genres and it all manifests in Mirrorcell. Not a particularly heavy record in terms of the sonics but massive in terms of the amount of affect Puciato can generate in the mind of the listener.
Dark Funeral – We Are the Apocalypse
Every single song on this record is a complete banger. There’s also a lot diversity and a lot of very fruitful experimentation when it comes to things like time changes and songcraft. The vocals on this record are also some of the best Dark Funeral has ever produced.
Undeath – It’s Time… to Rise From the Grave
Chris Barnes doesn’t like Undeath but it seems everyone else really loves them. If you listen to this record you’ll likely really love them as well. This is the best death metal record of the year and the rest aren’t even close.
Wolfie Von Eyezen
Megadeth – The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!
Leave it to Dave Mustaine to kick cancer in the balls and then unleash Megadeth’s best record in years. With piss and vinegar running through his veins, Mustaine seems reinvigorated by his latest lease on life. Moreover, the current lineup of Kiko, Dirk, James, and of course, Dave is Megadeth’s most stout since the acclaimed Rust in Peace era. Dave seems to think this lineup is the band’s best ever. And while that might be lip service, it’s not hard to see where he’s coming from.
Skid Row – The Gang’s All Here
For many bands, 2022 was the year of the comeback, and it could be said that no one did that better than New Jersey’s sleaze rock heroes, Skid Row. With Erik Grönwall out front, Skid Row has finally found a retort to its Sebastian Bach-defined past and then some. I’d be lying if I said they’re better than their Bach-led era, but I’d also be lying if I said they aren’t pretty damn close. This record is easily as enjoyable as Skid Row and Slave to the Grind. I’m not saying it’s better, but I am saying it gave me that level of enjoyment.
Saxon – Carpe Diem
This record came out so early in the year, and I think it’s gotten buried by the flurry of releases we’ve seen in the last leg of 2022. But when I first heard Carpe Diem, I was blown away. Byford’s vocals are in near-perfect form, and the guitars of Doug Scarrett and Paul Quinn are raging in all their frenetic fury. It’s refreshing to see that Saxon is sticking to their NWoBRHM roots instead bending to shifting tides and altering their established sound.
Anvil – Impact is Imminent
Say what you will about Lips Kudlow as a lyricist, but the guy can rock with the best of them. Lips’ seemingly endless ability to write hammering riffs continues here, and Robb Reiner finally has a capable rhythm section partner to buddy up with in Christ Robertson. If you want to moan about Anvil’s refusal to stray from what they know, you can, but it’s pretty arbitrary. Critics and snobs have always hated Anvil, and it’s that hated that breeds some killer music. The way I see it is that Anvil is a fans band. Lips and Robb know this, and it’s reflected in their music.
Melvins – Bad Moon Rising
Each Melvins release is an adventure, and Bad Moon Rising is no exception. Having said that, this is the most “Melvins sounding” record the band has put out in some times. I love that Buzz elected to open this record with a nearly 15-minute track in “Mr. Dog is Totally Right” and buried the most catchy track in “Hammering” later in the record. This album is a sublime blend of the band’s early experimental era and mid-90s Atlantic Records era, culminating in the chaos we’ve seen since. To me, it’s the perfect Melvins record.
King’s X – Three Sides of One
After 14 years of studio silence, King’s X returned in a big way with Three Sides of One. For the curious, dUg Pinnick’s golden voice is still in perfect form, and after several health scares, Jerry Gaskill and Ty Tabor are as glorious as ever. Linchpinned by near-perfect instrumentation, tasteful solos, deep bass grooves, and lyrics designed to lacerate your heart to its core, it does my soul good to see that King’s X – not unlike others on my list – have stuck to their guns, waving their middle fingers in the faces of critics, and commercial sheep.
Carpenter Brut – Leather Terror
An album for any situation – driving, fucking, showering and shitting. Leather Terror hits all the right notes by making electronic music as close to metal as it probably could be. The album also shows great versatility with the different vocalists involved on the different tracks. Never a dull moment.
Dark Prison Massacre – Triple Insanity
I don’t always listen to slam, but when I do, it’s usually Dark Prison Massacre. They are a band who are unafraid to let their groove metal influence creep in while experimenting with exotic sounds so it’s not the same old brutal beat down again and again.
Sigh – Shiki
Every Sigh album released comes with anticipation of the unknown. What may sound off-kilter for other bands just works when composed and arranged by Mirai Kawashima. On Shiki, the band’s prog elements grapple with the inherent wickedness that is the core of Sigh and hits you like a supernatural encounter.
Screaming Savior – Reveal the Unreal
Reveal the Unreal caught me completely off-guard with the sci-fi and electronic textures mixed with symphonic black metal. Sounding at times like blackened versions of Final Fantasy VII songs, this Shanghai-based band discovered something unreal with this release – a must listen.
Gorepot – How Much is a Gram Over There?
Every project of Taiwan’s Larry Wang can be certain to be brutal but Gorepot guarantees irreverence, leading to laugh-out-loud moments among the absolute chaos. There are 20 songs here – all filled with “brees,” farts, funny samples and titles like “My ex got hit by a bus and I lost my job as a bus driver.”
Wormrot – Hiss
Singapore’s Wormrot once again invites us to get lost in their broken maze with Hiss. Turn one corner – machine-like grinding. Turn another corner – hardcore-esque shouting. Yet another corner and there’s a bewildering violin coming at us. Once it all ends and you finally make it out of the maze, you stand at the entrance, take a breath, walk back in and hope this time you don’t find an exit.
Petar Spajic (Host of The MetalSucks Podcast)
Dead Cross – II
Energy translates and adapts to its prey, and creates something that pauses an individual’s universe. The philosophy that it generates is moments have you despite the majority of the day feeling the other way around. This is not new a connection and so many artistic expressions land into my existence that embodied an energy that I can’t explain but rarely do I feel they changed me in some way.
Armed For Apocalypse – Ritual Violence
Will I ever have a best of list without a record engineered by Kurt Ballou? Probably Not. Nick Harris’s drums lead such a charge throughout this album, which is in pure contrast of the hopeless soul that envelopes on the lyric sheet. The grand achievement though is 11 songs having their own identity, and seamlessly melding together as one.
Telekinetic Yeti – Primordial
I have a love for two piece bands, Local H is in my top five of all time, and when they can achieve a limitless sound with the limitations of being a two piece I fucking pay attention. I don’t think sonically a record made me feel surrounded by friendlies more than Primordial. The walls couldn’t keep this beast in and someone needed to call the cops, because this record made me feel young and invincible.
Fit For An Autopsy – Oh What The Future Holds
The older I got the healthier and more addicted to discipline I became, always having vegetables on the plate, and fruit as the snack. Now despite my intelligence finally achieving a positive imprint on my health, I still want fucking pizza everyday and refuse to acknowledge it’s negative affects. This album is Pizza everyday with the positive affects of vegetables on the plate and fruit as the snack. Yummy indeed.
Rattlesnake Venom Trip – Dead Empire
This album is quite an achievement in my ears, I feel it is the equivalent of beating Contra without using the cheat code in ’87. Dead Empire was supposed to find me and was my destiny in 2022, I will have a second half lifelong experience with it and will recommend it to my kids and all of you on this epic year. I want to see them share a stage with Clutch, COC, Down, Faith No More etc. If it gets to that audience it will be someone else’s destiny too, and I like destiny. Yours and mine.
Messa – Close
It didn’t take long for this Italian export to grow beyond their doom metal roots, but no one could’ve expected them to truly hit their stride with a combination of world music, mediterranean folk and jazz fusion. The best part is, the band’s core of catchy, emotive doom rock and spectral singing remains intact. Messa could play this style for the next few albums if they wanted. It sounds incredibly natural, and it seems they’ve only scratched the surface of the creative dividends this stylistic combination could have.
Conjurer – Páthos
Conjurer treats riffs like a paintbrush, which they use to create colorful tapestries of dynamic zeel and startling intensity. The UK band has more than followed up their incredible debut with Páthos. It’s heavy as hell, but never one-dimensional. It’s atmospheric, but never boring. These guys know when to let the groove ride out, and when to over-turn the vibe into frenzied chaos. Sludge, ‘core, prog, post… it’s all there to enjoy—joined together with intuitive songwriting and passionate melodies to boot.
Holy Fawn – Dimensional Bleed
Holy Fawn proves that there’s still creative blood flowing through the veins of the metal/shoegaze connection. In this case, the appeal comes from the band’s arresting beauty and depthful soundscapes. Even the black metal screams feel like a layer of ambiance, as the music ebbs and flows like a living organism. It’s music to truly get lost in, guided on a bed of clouds to arresting conclusions of oceanic distortion. It’s easy to take in as a glacial monolith, but looking below the surface reveals plenty of interesting ideas to chew on.
Elder – Innate Passage
Elder can’t really be called a stoner metal band anymore, but it’ll still transport you to another dimension like a particularly good trip. The riffs aren’t as punishing, and melody has retained its prominence from their last album Omens. But what remains in the spotlight is tight, evocative, emotional songwriting chops. Whether it’s their krautrock ruminations, mind-bending guitar solos or spaced out jams, the thought that goes into every facet of this record makes it both intricate and accessible. And best of all, good old fashioned doom riffs still shine through when it counts the most.
Worm Shephard – Ritual Hymns
No, I’m not going to be the umpteenth person to sing Lorna Shore’s praises. Instead, let’s talk about Worm Shephard, who has crafted a devastating blackened barrage of their own. While maintaining the trifecta of spooky atmospheres, inhuman vocals and ultra-heavy breakdowns, Worm Shepherd proves that this style can sound distinct while fitting into a like-minded troop of bands. Actually, those who find a never-ending wall of symphonic metal tiresome will find more bang for their buck here, as Worm Shephard’s riffs cut through the mix with arguably more catchiness and ferocity than their contemporaries. It’s great to see a band ride a wave with style and grace without depending on the tropes to succeed.