Lockdown might be over, but the ceaseless tide of albums and new recording projects it has given us has meant the past 12 months have been anything but quiet. From Rammstein's emotive Zeit to Slipknot's experimental (and somewhat divisive) The End, So Far, 2022 has offered up a veritable banquet of new metal records for us to sink our teeth into.
But while newcomers Heriot stormed the gates with Profound Morality and Dave Grohl dabbled in extremity with Dream Widow, only one band could take the crown position of Album Of The Year: take a bow, Sweden's satanic sensations, Ghost.
In a poll of the great and good who bring you new issues of Metal Hammer each month, Ghost's fifth studio album Impera stood head-and-shoulders above the rest, its insidious anthems and oh-so-memorable choruses ensuring few of us have managed to escape its grasp since the album's March 11 release.
A chart-topping success in the band's native Sweden (as well as Austria, Germany and Spain), Impera also reached number 2 in both the UK and US, held off top in the UK by singer-songwriter Rex Orange County and in the US by rapper Lil Durk. Ghost did nab the no. 1 spot for albums sold in the US however, selling over 37,000 copies in its first week to beat The Weeknd. What's more, Impera had the highest sales week for a rock record since Foo Fighters' 2021 release Medicine At Midnight.
The Metal Hammer review of Impera was equally as effusive, stating "Impera wins on bolshiness, bravado and skyscraping songs alone. Ghost have turned in a modern metal classic with an arena rock heart. It turns out the devil doesn’t have all the best tunes. Tobias Forge does."
But while Ghost have taken top spot, what of the rest of the list? In another insanely stacked year of brilliant new releases, it's no surprise that the Metal Hammer critics' poll has its fair share of curve-balls. Zeal & Ardor's self-titled took a very admirable second place, while metallic hardcore upstarts Ithaca came in third with They Fear Us. Rammstein, Venom Prison, Clutch and Soul Glo all also make their appearances in the top 10, while some of the year's biggest bands pop up further down the list.
Of course, if you want to see the whole thing, you'll need to pick up the latest issue of Metal Hammer, on-sale now. In it, we atomise the year that was, speak to some of 2022's biggest stars and count down the 50 albums our writers crowned above all others. Order your copy now.