2022 was the year music returned to normal. After the tension and anxiety of the pandemic, the last 12 months felt like one long sigh of relief. Everyone stepped away from Zoom, the gig calendar filled up, and a whole bunch of bands released albums that proved the metal scene is in rude health.
Several big hitters released knock-out albums, including Korn, Machine Head, Rammstein, Slipknot and Ozzy Osbourne. Equally, they were matched by metal’s next generation of superstars, with stellar releases from the likes of Zeal & Ardor, Venom Prison and Oceans Of Slumber, while the likes of Nova Twins, HEALTH and Carpenter Brut proved just how broad a church the modern metal scene is.
In the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, we count down the 50 greatest albums of 2022, as voted by the magazine’s writers. Check out the list below and let us know how many you’ve heard.
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50. Meshuggah – Immutable
Immutable played with Meshuggah’s long- established, peerless sound, from Tomas Haake’s percussive persistence and Fredrik Thordendal’s dial-up-connection solos to Jens Kidman’s mecha-rasp.
Each track was a smouldering exploration of concept, adding more flesh to an increasingly organic sound driven by the remorseless mechanism concealed within. With genre-inventing and defining records in their rear-view mirror, this melding of man and machine ploughed ever forward.
49. Darkher – The Buried Storm
For all the drones and hide drums that have followed in Wardruna’s wake, this year’s most potent summoning of that ‘solemn space’ came from the north of England.
Steeped in folk’s ageless undercurrents and a sense of slowly percolating awe, the second album from Jayn Maiven, aka Darkher, was akin to the lament of a sole, ghost ship inhabitant, drifting into a state of abandoned grace. A journey between ungaugeable marker points, The Buried Storm left a deep, indelible mark.
48. Jo Quail – The Cartographer
A cellist whose next- level musicianship has made her an in- demand artist in the metal scene, Jo Quail’s knack for weaving the most organic and enrapturing of spells took on new dimensions with The Cartographer.
Commissioned by Roadburn festival, this was a five-movement suite that, like Darkher, had an adrift-at-sea aura, but one whose ultimate, ecstatic destination was encoded into every strand. Keeping you on tenterhooks throughout, this was the vast, immersive vision of a true master.
47. Kreator – Hate Über Alles
Has any thrash band aged more gracefully? Four decades after leading the scene’s Teutonic movement, the Essen aggressors are still walloping their hordes with lightning rhythms and melodeath guitar chops.
Hate Über Alles wowed once again by scooping in a dollop of power metal, making the choruses of Midnight Sun and Strongest Of The Strong mighty enough to fold steel. Other songs, like the title track and Killer Of Jesus, raged faster than some bands still in their 20s.
46. Korn – Requiem
Anyone wondering what a ‘happy’ Korn album would sound like got their answer with Requiem. Following 2019’s pitch-black The Nothing, which found vocalist Jonathan Davis grappling with grief, on the nu metal veterans’ 14th album he turned a corner.
While these tracks remained knee-deep in the band’s trademark tar-thick grooves, a dash of hope glimmered in the towering Let The Dark Do The Rest and Start The Healing, resulting in their most nuanced effort to date.
45. Fit For An Autopsy – Oh What The Future Holds
Relentlessly crushing and unflinching in its purpose, the New Jersey natives elevated the deathcore genre on their sixth album, resulting in a modern classic from a band on career-defining form.
Encompassing the savage and the serene, the record never fell into repose over its 10 eargasm-worthy tracks. From the expansive grooves of the Gojira-esque Far From Heaven and Pandora’s triple-guitar Gothenburg riffery, to filth-encrusted breakdowns and impassioned screams later on, Oh What The Future Holds was their most explosive work to date.
44. Blood Command – Praise Armageddonism
On their fourth album and third vocalist, the future looked wobbly for Norway’s deathpop pioneers. Praise Armageddonism smashed any doubts, like Paramore suplexing Refused through Turbonegro’s denim dinner table.
Ex-Pagan vocalist Nikki Brumen was the missing link, screeching, singing and going ‘UGH!’ over the band’s most anthemic bevy of bangers to date; that Saturday City didn’t ignite some kind of TikTok twerking trend is baffling. They might have had to nick Nikki from Australia, but Blood Command’s gamble paid off.
43. Alexisonfire – Otherness
There were many who thought it would never happen, but 2022 was the year Alexisonfire finally returned from the wilderness. The Canadian post-hardcore legends’ first album in 13 years found them on fiery form.
From the arty Sans Soleil to the breathless, hulking Dark Night Of The Soul and sprawling closer World Stops Turning, Otherness pushed their legacy into brand new dimensions. An incendiary reminder of why we all fell in love with them in the first place.
42. Sabaton – The War To End All Wars
Sabaton made a Sabaton record! Their 10th LP remembered the valour of those who served in WWI (again), backed by the turbo-boosted power metal for which they’re known.
It’s easy to rip the piss out of these cosplaying Swedes, but when they delivered a track like Christmas Truce, you couldn’t doubt their sincerity. Sodden with synth and steamrolling through choruses Eurovision contestants would give a glittery leg for, this was a triumph.
41. Heriot – Profound Morality
Heriot had the metal world shitting their pants this year. The debut from these Birmingham/Swindon upstarts had everyone from Architects’ Sam Carter to LOG’s Mark Morton raving.
Profound Morality was a frighteningly refined effort that saw the band boil down sludge, industrial and metallic hardcore with a swirl of ethereal melody, putting themselves forward as a seriously exciting new noise.