Best Metal of 2022

What can we say about 2022? Late Stage Democracy hit terminal velocity in 2019 and in response to the flu erased three years with a panicked response. The wolves at the door from Asia and Eurasia as usual want to take over. Pop culture became an even more polished average product.

Underground metal, which essentially reigned from 1989 to 1994 and then fizzled, continues through a few non-terrible bands who are virtually hidden in a constant flow of people imitating recombinant versions of successes of the past, slowly working speed metal and hard rock into death and black metal.

In such situations, all that one can do is to preserve the best and defecate voluminously on the rest. Here are some exceptions to the entropy:

  • Unformulas – Post Mortem Visionary

    This album plays with texture from doom metal to Incantation-style death metal to something like post-metal with intestinal fortitude, wresting its own language from the ability to move notes simultaneously in different directions at different paces, producing the type of ambiguous catacomb atmosphere that the arthouse hamster bands and crypto-normie acts can only dream of, running the gamut of a wide range of riffs for songs that make their point through internal conflict and then fade out sort of like early Burzum.

  • Trenchant – Commandoccult

    Keeping a sense of musicality, Trenchant nonetheless plunges deep into grinding war metal that eschews the stream of evenly paced chromatic intervals that has become trendy lately for simply rhythm riffs that rise into melody. More precise than Blasphemy or Sarcófago, with a slower version of the pulsing rhythm of Zyklon-B or Mythos, it aims for the abrasive assault of Order From Chaos or Revenge, but gives it the dark atmosphere of a doom metal band.

  • Ravenous Death – Visions from the Netherworld

    Ravenous Death offers a festival of powerful riffs presented with high energy and an evocative hypnotic rhythm, making primitive death metal that incorporates melody and even keyboards for atmosphere in the midst of speed-metal-influenced chugging riffs that build in a kind of basic groove. It rebels against the attempt to make metal fancier and more technical, and instead develops the rich language of the past on its own terms into a new voice.

  • Rotheads – Slither in Slime

    These songs fit riffs into rhythms to make a song move like an organic mass, its different parts pulling each other along and making repetition intensify rather than provide entropy, using death metal riffs without filler from other genres or phraseless placeholders. This band uses relatively basic riffing to maintain and develop a mood, producing not so much an old school feel as their take on the effects on a listener of the old school methodology.

  • Disma – Earthendium

    Disma bring forth a dialect of the death metal riff-language that emphasizes drone and the domination of guitars over drums with a type of ambient sonic contrast that moves songs forward like a lava flow saturating, falling, and then piling up in an inevitable progression toward total incineration of all life in its path. The album maintains a coherence within songs and a consistent atmosphere in which internal textural shifts signal development, then melody expands upon that, for a grimly devastating experience of crushing hopelessness leading to ideation of violence.

  • Ehlder – Faderland Norr

    Remember the first Lord Wind album that was played with very light distortion so it had a folkish sound, and used simpler drone riffs in place of flowing black metal phrases? This release hybridizes folk and black metal in the same way, keeps the energy flowing, varies songs internally while managing consistent themes, and by taking them toward gestured emotional changes without hammering those out explicitly like propaganda, manages its own aura of mysterious positive melancholy.

  • Reincarnated – Of Boötes Void Death Spell

    A qualified sense of rhythm and dark groove pervades this album of old school riffs and atmospheres, but injections of periodic trudge riffs and chaotic leads detract rather than enhance the experience, getting very close to a quality death metal album but falling off with some disorganization and too much use of obvious symmetrical balance in phrasing to anchor its riffs, leading to a sensation of material that fills a structural role without having value in itself. On the whole, a lot of good ideas and a thorough understanding of the morbid mood it aims to create.

  • Blazemth – The Return of Lucifer

    Blazemth relies on chromatic ascending and descending verses followed by a melodic restatement of the primary theme clearly inherited from Dissection. The band demonstrates a great faculty for building those themes into fragments of a powerful statement which, like suddenly being suspended in the air above a battlefield, open perspective on the surrounding chaos.

  • Concilivm – A Monument in Darkness

    Mixing together the sounds of Incantation, Demigod, and melodic Swedish bands like early Unanimated, Concilivm create a thundering atmosphere of descent with a strong forward energy and songs where the riffs relate to each other and a theme, developing slowly in rolling conflicts that produce a cavernous doom metal sound within a death metal context while keeping a martial energy.

  • Abhordium – Omega Prayer

    Seeking the holy grail of death metal that has the appeal of heavy metal and melodic speed metal, Abhordium keeps these elements as a minor influence while making winding riff staircase death metal that does not go anywhere particular but consists of riffs that mostly relate to each other in every song, producing small essays about a rhythm and a fragment of a mode and the emotions it induces as these transfer over time into a meditation on the beauty of misanthropic detachment.

  • Mist of Misery – Severance

    Sentimental aesthetics mark this band as from the melodeth field but the pacing of songs is closer to that of a doom metal band even when riff texture is fast tremolo, and like Dimmu Borgir on their second album this band use keyboards as the actual lead and counterpoint it with simple guitar riffs that mostly keep the pace at a lower intensity so the keyboards can dominate with a gothic air not unlike Gehenna, definitely on the emotional side but they know how to write songs that hold together and leave an impression of some kind of emotional transfer in response to a real-world stimulus, which places them ahead of almost all metal now.

  • Deathsiege – Throne of Heresy

    This album of raging war metal goes back the roots of war metal in Blasphemy and early Angelcorpse, keeping shorter grindcore-styled riffs in play in order to minimize song footprint and ensure hard-hitting and distinct songs populate this album. All riffs relate to a theme which forms itself of a few intervals and pure unrelenting rhythm that carries forward each song like an army hustling across a ridge into a battle whose outcome is far from certain.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 thoughts on “Best Metal of 2022”

  1. Blinding Rays says:

    Mist of Misery sounds interesting. I’ve always enjoyed the first two Dimmu Borgir albums, they have an almost whimsical atmosphere. Cheesy for sure, but the music was sincere.

    1. First two Dimmu Borgir albums are great, but are like Dissection, aiming for heavy metal glory, not the black metal canon as we knew it which aimed for inhuman otherworldly timeless and adualistic theocratic martial music.

  2. Shea O'Connor says:

    where’s serpent ascending?

    1. Metal Mystic says:

      A surprising amount of good releases this past year, especially compared to 2020/2021. I agree with others that the new Serpent Ascending and Imprecation albums deserve to be here.

  3. Not Sure says:

    Imprecation is my favorite

  4. :D says:

    Good to see a list can still be made in these dire times. Look forward to giving them a listen or relisten. Any reason Desecresy and Imprecation didn’t make the list? The former in particular sounded good to me.

    1. There were some good releases of potential. It’s hard to find listening time but that is the (only) criterion for a good reviewer: listen with an open mind but a fascist attitude toward quality. Art is fascism, or something even more extreme. Natural selection lets anyone who can feed themselves and reproduce survive. Art bashes down everything lesser when something new rises. This is what made metal suffer, in part: after Hvis Lysset Tar Oss, Legion, Blessed Are the Sick, and Obscura, the bar had been raised.

      My pronouns are Fist/Christ.

  5. Warkvlt is High IQ Music says:

    That Disma EP is excellent. Much better than whatever cr*p nu-Incantation puts out (and Incantation are far from the worst, when it comes to “once good bands” that can’t keep it together). Why no Sissourlet though?

  6. :^( says:

    Thanks for sorting among the turds once again!
    Brett, do you have discogs or something? I’m curious of how an oldschoolers collection looks like!

    1. I have a Discogs, but have never filled it out accurately. That is a project for when I break a leg and cannot do anything else. Some time ago, I posted the collection on one of these sites, excluding duplicates, but that was probably a decade or so ago.

  7. lordxxx says:

    Good list, still quite a few things to check out. I would definitely add Imprecation as well.

  8. Stephen Cefala says:

    I wish to quickly apologize to DMU readers for having put out a somewhat selfish Dawning album a year or two ago. It is important to not use album releases as therapeutic but rather to maximize the listener’s enjoyment. Putting out albums is a self sacrifice in metal due to production quality expectations among other reasons. Musicians we are basically subordinate to the listener. Oh well. I’m probably out of line. It’s just these bands sound pretty fucking good and they deserve to get paid.

    1. It is important to not use album releases as therapeutic but rather to maximize the listener’s enjoyment.

      I agree. That Rotten Copper album was better than most gave it credit for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Classic reviews:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z