The 10 best doom metal albums of 2022

Best doom metal albums of 2022: MWWB/Crippled Black Phoenix/End Boss/Konvent/BlackLab
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After the start to the decade we've all had, you can forgive us for indulging the sense we may all be doomed. Thankfully heavy metal has a genre dedicated to exactly that in doom metal, taking Black Sabbath's void-gazing blueprint and drowning it beneath a sea of fuzz, sludge and more melancholia than a Smiths reunion. 

That in mind, we've plunged the murky depths of metal's most depressing genre to find the gems that can soundtrack a bleak winter's night. These are the 10 best doom metal albums of 2022. 

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10. Kurokuma - Born Of Obsidian

The much-anticipated debut album from this near decade-old band of Sheffield-bred subgenre straddlers is an inventive, electrifying and absolutely unforgettable listen. Over five mammoth, thematically linked tracks the trio take you on a journey as they push at the boundaries of sludge and doom. EM

9. End Boss - They Seek My Head

After having caused a considerable stir in their native New Zealand, End Boss made the rest of the world fall for their charms on their debut album. Over the course of eight tracks the four-piece draw on doom (The Crawl), grunge (Becomes The Gold) and early Queens Of The Stone Age (Nail And Tooth) to ensure that They Seek My Head is a muscular and melodic record that goes right for the jugular. EM

8. Conan - Evidence Of Immortality

Conan’s fifth full-length is their first to feature the same line-up as the one preceding it. While bassist/ producer Chris Fielding has been with the band for almost a decade now, Dread Sovereign drummer Johnny King has also proved a reliable addition since 2017, and the faster pace he brought to previous album Existential Void Guardian is explored even further on songs like the d-beat powered Ritual Of Anonymity and Levitation Hoax

There’s just enough variation here to keep things interesting, while still feeling very much like a classic, reliably flattening Conan record. KW

7. Grave Lines - Communion

Few bands channel misery as effectively as Grave Lines, the British quintet harnessing the power of crushing, melancholic doom and twist it to more imaginative, cerebral ends. Like its predecessor, Communion boasts plenty of excruciatingly slow riffs, jagged dissonance and, via frontman Jake Harding, portentous lyrics that jab at the soul. 

The result is an album that is equally at home with Carcini’s absorbing, My Dying Bride-like blend of crestfallen melody and low-end brutalism as it is with Tachinid’s maxed-out surrealism or closer Sinensis’s seamless switch from fragile, acoustic reverie to strident post-metal pay-off. DL

6. Eight Bells - Legacy Of Ruin

Portland avant-garde doom trio Eight Bells' third album Legacy Of Ruin was a “swansong to a dying planet”, melding a 70s doom aura with more modern metallic tropes. The result was frequently spellbinding, the harmonised vocals of founding member/guitarist Melynda Jackson and ex-Cormorant bassist Matt Solis elevating the band’s sound. 

With more finesse than 2016’s Landless, Eight Bells channeled the best of psychedelic extremity through the ages to craft a captivating, cataclysmic trip. TOB

5. BlackLab - In A Bizarre Dream

Osaka doom duo BlackLab take no prisoners on their third album. While the lo-fi approach of their debut Under The Strawberry Moon felt fitting, the thick, churning guitar tone and crushing drum sound of In A Bizarre Dream means it packs a much greater wallop. 

Yuko Morino’s voice sounds more assured than ever as she switches between harrowing, throat-shredding shrieks and soaring clean vocals on tracks like bombastic opener Cold Rain. Easily the most robust and powerful record they’ve released thus far. KW

4. Shape Of Despair - Return To The Void

Return To The Void arrives seven years after the spellbinding majesty of Monotony Fields – an album rightly heralded as a classic. The essence of Shape Of Despair’s sound remains here, but somehow this seems an even heavier, darker and more unremittingly bleak affair. 

Beautiful and brutal in equal measure, epics Solitary Downfall and The Inner Desolation demand total surrender, as Natalie Koskinen’s ethereal vocals float up from the glacial melee, like the spiralling smoke-wisps of hope extinguished. Still magical, still undeniable: SOD will break us all in the end. DL

3. Konvent - Call Down The Sun

Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark, and it’s making the bands sound fucking glorious. Whether Halshug or LLNN, Baest or Bogwife, the whole scene sounds like somebody baptised it in tar and then flung it bodily into a thorn bush, all trudging sludge and jagged snarls like being stalked by the abyss after losing a staring contest. 

Utterly mired in lip-curling revulsion and misanthropy, Call Down The Sun sounds like the blackened tar anti-smoking ads warn you about: a grimy, implacable glob of filth that strangles your every breath. Or to put it another way, it’s just about everything you could ever want from the world of sludgy death-doom, Konvent striking black gold with their second album, making you want to cuddle it close like the world’s ugliest, grubbiest teddy. RH

2. Crippled Black Phoenix - Banefyre

If following 2020’s Ellengæst felt daunting to Justin Greaves and his latest line-up, you wouldn’t know it from the melancholic splendour of Banefyre. It synthesises an array of styles into a journey that flows from the depths of one’s innermost realms to celestial sensations beyond the five senses. 

Bonefire and Blackout77 burst with dark, goth rock menace, while Wyches And Basterdz patrols the kaleidoscopic reaches of psychedelia. But behind a squall of distorted guitars and the otherworldly vocals of Belinda Kordic, Banefyre finds its deepest resonance in the breath-taking post-rock majesty of Rose Of Jericho and Everything Is Beautiful But Us. You’ll still be spinning this 20 years from now. JD

1. MWWB - The Harvest

Upon releasing the final part of their original trilogy in the form of 2019’s spaced-out Yn Ol I Annwn, rumours spread that this would be Wrexham doom squad Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s final transmission – and unfortunately, it almost was, as guitarist Paul ‘Dave’ Davies suffered a near-fatal stroke after catching Covid at the beginning of 2021. 

Thankfully, Dave is on the road to recovery and The Harvest marks something of a turning point for the band; as the name change to MWWB suggests, this isn’t a complete reinvention, but more of a streamlining, trimming away some of the excess of their earlier records to focus on a tighter, more efficient sound. The Harvest still feels like a dense sonic journey in its own right, but whilst the band’s previous outings were content to float through space at their own pace, this one has already meticulously plotted out the trip in advance.  

Tracks like Interstellar Wrecking and the pulsating Betrayal push the band’s John Carpenter obsession into even headier territory, providing luscious, expansive synth drones, but the songwriting elsewhere also feels much tighter and more direct. Logic Bomb is one of the most immediate MWWB songs to date, vocalist Jessica Ball’s ethereal, dreamlike vocals drifting hypnotically through the song’s pounding morass. 

The Harvest still focuses on that fascinating tension between Ball’s shimmering voice and the murky darkness of the band’s unique spin on doom. But by cutting out any unnecessary flab, MWWB have produced their most dynamic, well-realised and engaging offering to date. KW

Rich Hobson

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.