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2022’s best metal albums so far

Kirk Hammett – Portals

Portals

(Image credit: Blackened Recordings)

Kirk Hammett sidesteps the obvious for his debut solo EP, swapping out Metallica’s stadium metal for a quartet of songs inspired by his love of classical music, horror soundtracks and the works of composer Ennio Morricone. The result is a surprising yet classy showcase for one of metal’s most influential guitarists.

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Ibakari – Rashomon

Ibaraki’s Rashomon cover

(Image credit: Roadrunner)

Trivium frontman Matt Heafy’s long-awaited expedition into the world of black(ened) metal is epic and unexpected in equal measure. Assisted by sometime Emperor frontman Ihsahn, Heafy dives into his Japanese heritage on these complex, tumultuous, occasionally tender songs. The result is a brave, heartfelt and pointedly progressive move from a sincere student of the dark, metallic arts.

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Korn – Requiem

Korn

(Image credit: Korn)

Korn went back to basics with album 14, Requiem honing in on the base elements that made them so iconic in the first place. "In a tight, taut, careering and propulsive nine songs over a mere 32 minutes, Korn remind their followers of what they do and how well they do it," writes Stephen Hill. "Creative minds as restless as theirs will surely experiment again in the future but, for now, let’s enjoy Korn being Korn. Because, let’s be honest, no one does it better than they do."

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Meshuggah – Immutable

Immutable

(Image credit: Atomic Fire)

Meshuggah redefined? Nah. Refined? Absolutely. Immutable is an exploration of Meshuggah’s past decade: polyrhythms, jazzy solos, eight- string guitars with that tone. They haven’t reinvented the wheel. They already did that. Twice. But the band you love are still running rings around every progressive metal act. If you ask what Meshuggah’s classic album is, you’ll get at least three different answers. Immutable could very well be the fourth.

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Rammstein – Zeit

Rammstein Zeit album sleeve

(Image credit: Universal)

Hot on the heels – at least in Rammstein terms – of 2019’s untitled album, Zeit could only be the work of one band. All of the touch points of their sound are present and correct, from the grinding guitars to the low vocals. But although they haven’t fucked with the formula, they’ve at least roughed it up a bit, not least on penultimate track Lügen, featuring Till Lindemann’s heavily-autotuned vocals. They can singe your face with the full force of their attack, but they’re still capable of surprises.

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Rolo Tomassi - Where Myth Becomes Memory

Rolo Tomassi - Where Myth Becomes Memory

(Image credit: MNRK)

Continuing their evolution beyond the outer realms of post-hardcore, metalcore and prog metal, Where Myth Becomes Memory is a showcase for the sheer creative genius of Rolo Tomassi. "While in the early days, Tomassi’s disorientating racket was powered by chaos, stitching together jazz, prog and classical influences with chunky, jagged threads, the fluidity between the various elements of their sound now feels natural and unforced," wrote Dannii Leivers in a glowing 9/10 review. "Where Myth Becomes Memory feels like Rolo Tomassi have finally perfected their sound, but for a band dedicated to perpetual motion, it’s unlikely this spells the end of their progression."

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Sabaton - The War To End All Wars

Sabaton - The War To End All Wars

(Image credit: Nuclear Blast)

Somewhat unfortunately titled given the times we live in, Sabaton's tenth album The War To End All Wars nonetheless exhibits the flair and bombast fans have come to expect from the Swedes. "Most of these 45 minutes are spent delivering crystal-clear, Maiden-level singalongs and Priest-ready leads," wrote Alec Chillingworth. "But Sabaton have to work twice as hard and twice as much because they’re ‘The Tank Band’, and it’s bollocks. These Swedish nerds are the biggest power metal band on the planet because they’ve put the hours in. They’ve honed their craft and can reliably pump out 10-or-so major-key bangers every few years, always intrinsically linked to their military-themed shtick."

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Slash feat. Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators - 4

Slash feat. Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators: 4

(Image credit: Gibson Records/BMG)

Slash may have reconnected with Guns N' Roses, but his solo project with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators is still going strong, ten years on from their debut Apocalyptic Love. 4 sees Slash and co. roll out another blast of good times rock'n'roll, recorded live in the studio to really capture the energy of the band. In his Hammer review, Joe Daly described 4 as "an overwhelmingly strong and mature effort that sets the bar high for mainstream rock in 2022."

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Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems

Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems

(Image credit: Epitaph)

Soul Glo's Diaspora Problems mixes hardcore punk, rap and metal in a seamless and intoxicating way that makes full use of the breakdown of boundaries between genres. In his Hammer review, writer Stephen Hill said Soul Glo were "smashing through the calm like Animal from The Muppets getting pissed up and finding a snare drum at a funeral[...] an essential antidote to the safe, polished and controlled excuse for punk rock that is served up with depressing regularity these days."

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Venom Prison - Erebos

Venom Prison

(Image credit: Century Media)

Venom Prison have long-held status as darlings of the UK underground extreme metal scene, but with their third full-length Erebos, the band took strident steps towards the mainstream. Losing none of their ferocious sonic battery, the band expanded their sound to include more melodic segments and careful, measured applications of destruction, sounding bigger than ever. "Venom Prison maximise the sheer scope of their sound across these 10 tracks." wrote Rich Hobson. "With Erebos, Venom Prison now have fully realised their potential, and there is no plateau too high for them."

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Zeal & Ardor - Zeal & Ardor

Zeal & Ardor

(Image credit: MNRK)

With each new release Manuel Gagneux's black-metal-meets-delta-blues project Zeal & Ardor gains more life and depth beyond its (admittedly fascinating) elevator pitch. The band's self-titled third record is testament to the incredible evolution the band has undergone. "[Zeal & Ardor] has more ideas than Will.i.am drunk-texting Elon Musk. More twists than M. Night Shyamalan shagging a rollercoaster. But the difference is, Manuel knows what he’s doing," wrote Alec Chillingworth. "Stranger Fruit started the journey, but Zeal & Ardor cast its anchor and bought a house there. We’re just lucky to be invited."

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Metal Hammer line break

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.