2022 Metal Releases Ranked

this is the primary project i'm using this website for because i think AOTY is more useful for lists like these than RYM is. albums with no reviews were added prior to converting this list to AOTY with some exceptions

Mizmor & Thou - Myopia
I usually rate albums and then review them immediately so that my impression of them is fresh in my mind, but reviewing this was such a daunting task and listening to it left me so speechless that I put it off for two weeks. Myopia is a genuine masterpiece that delivers on all levels. Gloomy and melancholic riffs that still get stuck in your head, all of that despite their simplicity. Perfectly placed black metal influences that give the music a sense of pace when it most needs it. Drumming that drives the music forward but maintains the slow tension inherent to doom metal. Very few albums make the time fly by quite like this one, despite it's 73 minute length it feels like half of that. It's a must listen.

Verdict: Strongly recommended
Neptunian Maximalism - Set Chaos To The Heart Of The Moon
My review is too long to fit in this blurb so head over to the album page if u wanna read that
Saidan - Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal
It might be hard to believe, but Onryō II is one of the best black metal albums I've heard in a long time. Saidan has achieved a level of mastery over the USBM riff that hasn't been seen since Arrows of a Dying age. Saidan justify their use of Japanese aesthetics through these riffs, their soaring and melodic flavor with a tinge of punk influence is reminiscent of burning spirits. Every element is perfectly produced too, this is the kind of black metal album where I don't mind some cleaner production because it allows the riffs to really shine. It's just absurdly good, one of those albums that only comes along every once in a while.
Verdict: Strongly recommended
Krallice - Crystalline Exhaustion
Krallice returns to normal form (as normal as Krallice gets) after a few experimental releases with some surreal synth driven black metal. Great album overall but the title track is what puts it over the top. Easily my favorite metal track of the year so far.
Lamp Of Murmuur / Ebony Pendant - Plenilunar Requiems
Plenilunar Requiems sounds like what you'd expect from a split between Lamp of Murmuur and Ebony Pendant - underground black metal boiled down to it's purest form, nonstop riffs from front to back. There's little more to it than that, and it's excellent. I expected to prefer Lamp of Murmuur's side to Ebony Pendant's since Submission and Slavery was among my favorite metal projects from last year, but Ebony Pendant really delivered. That riff from Resplendent Fountain of Anguished Tears hasn't left my head since I first heard it. Essential for all fans of black metal.
Verdict: Highly recommended
Slægt - Goddess
On Goddess, Slægt seamlessly blend black metal, heavy metal, and progressive metal into one neat package. Aggressive but infectious tremolo picked riffs give way to intricate dueling guitar leads and soaring NWOBHM styled solos, all in the form of sprawling and complex progressive compositions. Don't be scared away by the corniness or tedium conjured by the genre of progressive metal either, it doesn't go over the top. It does go over the top in some other ways, it is a heavy metal album after all, but not in any negative ways.
Verdict: Recommended
Ärid - XII - From Anthropophagic Waste Breeds a Writhing Mutagenesis
XII - From Anthropophagic Waste Breeds a Writhing Mutagenesis is only the second full length from prolific raw black metallers Ärid, and it's a hell of an effort. It's filled with what I like to call motion sickness riffs - the guitar tone is a blanket of prickly distorted sound, shifts and lurches separating from the wall of noise like waves on an ocean, unified yet independent. The drum tone is punchy but not too up front in the mix, allowing the drummer to execute some highly technical breaks without being too disruptive to the overall soundscape. Wasn't expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did but it's a pretty unique and well executed take on raw black metal.
Verdict: Recommended
Vothana - Sâu Bệnh / The Pestilence
Someone finally uploaded a vinyl rip of this to slsk so I don't have to monetarily support the artist or label to listen to it. Cheers for that!
The Pestilence doesn't reinvent Vothana's tried and true formula. Atmospheric black metal with extremely dense and layered riffs laid out in long form songs that have a hypnotic feel to them and are easy to get lost in, aggressive yet filled with subtle intricacies. The compositions have a distinctly martial feel to them which is a typical feature of NSBM but Vothana takes it another step further, many riffs throughout this album almost seem like black metal reinterpretations of military marches. It's quite an atypical style of composition as far as metal goes and it's utilized to great effect. Every song, save for the final one, begins with a lo-fi sample of Vietnamese military music which is a great mood setter if nothing else. This is a great entry point for Vothana's long form music since his albums can run rather long and this one is a manageable 45 minutes.

Verdict: Recommended
Mornai - Haine canalisée
Haine canalisée is the debut demo from Mornai, the solo project of a former member of Alcest and Peste Noire. Who this is in particular is not specified. Considering the pedigree of the artist involved and the solid track record of the label releasing this demo, Asylum Tenebris, my expectations were decently high going in, but they were still exceeded. Haine canalisée is filled with layered and intricate compositions with a depressive tinge. The vocals are incredibly expressive without falling into the irritating elephant wails that black metal vocals like these oftentimes do. My only problems with it are the first track, which lacks those layered compositions and opts more for a black'n'roll type thing which I generally dislike, and some questionable mixing choices.
Unknown Artist - Untitled II
When one of the metal curation channels you subscribe to uploads a new album and you feel compelled to listen to it, that's a call you should always heed because it can lead to discovering gems like this. Going into this I expected some mysterious noisy dense atmoblack that Rhinocervs has conditioned me to associate with unknown artist albums. Instead what I get is a lo-fi melodic black metal album with a sprinkling of punk influences, and it's superb. The first aspect of the music that stands out is the guitar tone. All of the lower register has been picked clean from the tone until the guitars are ethereal and gleam with treble, like a ray of sunshine. The riffing is on point, somewhat melancholic but still incredibly catchy. Every element is grounded by pounding drums mixed front and center. It's stylistically a bit one note and maybe doesn't earn it's 50 minute run time being as lacking in variation as it is, but this is still a must listen in my book.
Verdict: Recommended
Dark Funeral - We Are The Apocalypse
In which Dark Funeral discovers the secret to getting my ADHD having ass to enjoy a, by all measures, incredibly generic black metal record - just make it so it goes fast the whole time. What everyone else is saying about the mixing is completely correct, the drums and vocals are mixed too loudly. For the life of me though I just can't bring myself to care.

Verdict: Recommended for fans of the style
Naramedha / Vadhakarmadhikarin / Sewerhermit / Biological Warfare - Impending Insidious Indo-Asian Imperium
My review is too long to fit in this blurb so head over to the album page if u wanna read that
Black Fucking Cancer - Procreate Inverse
Black Fucking Cancer's music is reminiscent of orthodox black metal in that it's incredibly infernal, visceral and aggressive, yet the music isn't dumbed down in any way in order to achieve this, large scale and complex compositions still being utilized throughout. Another excellent release continuing Sentient Ruin's hot streak for 2022.

Verdict: Recommended
Pure Wrath - Hymn To The Woeful Hearts
I think every music listener has experienced the joy of discovering a great band and then finding out they drop a new album soon. I received Ascetic Eventide in an album exchange not too long ago and loved it, checked their RYM page and saw that they have a new album coming for 2022. With that album as my only reference point, Pure Wrath has sadly shifted towards a less distinctive style compared to their early work. The folk elements aren't as prominent or as well integrated into the music as on their earlier albums. Hymn to the Woeful Hearts is a much more generic effort, but the riffs are just so damn good. Melodic, lushly produced, emotional and evocative. That's really what Pure Wrath's music is about above all else - evoking a feeling, both of triumph and of melancholy, and they do it so well.

Verdict: Recommended
Feral Light - Psychic Contortions
I, Voidhanger's first metal release of the year comes to us courtesy of dissonant black metal outfit Feral Light. On Psychic Contortions they showcase a cleaner brand of disso, not focused on evoking hellish atmospheric moods but instead focused on the compositions. Asymmetric guitars playing intricate and technical melodies clash together to create dissonant and texturally nuanced soundscapes. The band makes much more extensive use of alternate guitar tones to expand their sonic palette to a greater extent than most other projects in the genre. Even so, Feral Light's music isn't stylistically all that original, but their proficiency and their solid songwriting more than make up for it.
Verdict: Recommended
Spider God - Ett främmande språk / A Foreign Tongue
Spider God is a breath of fresh air for underground black metal. They're not here to convey some ultra raw atmospheric soundscapes, their music is enjoyable in a very conventional way but doesn't compromise any of what makes the genre great. Conventional songwriting is heavily utilized, most songs having a verse/chorus/verse/bridge etc structure. The riffs are catchy and fun, and the vocals, while still traditionally growled or screamed, form vocal melodies and rhythms that you don't typically find in black metal. It's great to find black metal that has conventional appeal without falling into any of the annoying pitfalls that can come along with black metal like that.

Verdict: Recommended
Anatomia / Undergang - Anatomia / Undergang
Japanese death doomers Anatomia and Danish death metal band Undergang are a match made in heaven. Their brands of putrid, brain liquifying death metal are similar yet play to different strengths, which makes for a cohesive split listening experience you don't find too often. Anatomia focuses on neck destroying low tempo riffage and oppressive cavernous soundscapes whereas Undergang plays mid tempo Scandinavian style death metal with a greater emphasis on leads. Both band's vocalists are pulling at imitation of Demelich's vocalist, albeit with the burp factor deemphasized significantly. The only complaint that comes to mind immediately is that Anatomia's drummer's kick has pretty much no punch to it and sounds like a marshmallow, but if your release doesn't bring to mind any more criticisms more significant than that then you're doing something right.
Verdict: Recommended
IIRA - Demo
Serpent Column worshipping dissoblack/mathcore demo, formulaic but well executed with some surprisingly evocative compositions.
Grand Belial's Key - Kohanic Charmers
Huh. I had always just assumed that Grand Belial's Key was one of those bands that disbanded before my time honestly. If it weren't for me offhandedly mentioning it to a friend of mine I would have just assumed this was an upload of an old album. Anyway, this is GBK just doing their thing - mid tempo black metal that takes the soup of early extreme metal subgenres that was first wave black metal, removes it's rough edges and refines them into a fine tuned riff machine. Their style of riffing is somewhere between the mean pentatonic edge of hard rock and heavy metal and the triumph of melodic black metal. What of the other elements of this album? They don't matter really. Big riffa is what it's all about baby. The vocalist is at least worth mentioning, he gives a great and dynamic performance. Just maybe forego looking up the lyrics.
Verdict: Recommended
Voivod - Synchro Anarchy
Avant-prog-thrash legends Voivod return with their fifteenth studio album Synchro Anarchy. I'm ashamed to say this is my first full album experience with the band. My classic metal knowledge is a bit lacking. Anyway, Synchro Anarchy doesn't see the band taking any significant risks but they still execute solidly. Compositions are as technical and intricate as ever but not to too great an extent as to make the music inaccessible. Snake's strange nasally vocals are a bit off-putting but I think they add to the overall nerdy aesthetic of the whole affair, and I mean that in the best possible way. The only major element I dislike is the slicked back modern metal production, but that's about par for the course with major label releases like this. Overall you're not going to be blown away by this album but it's a solid addition to their late career catalogue.
Verdict: Recommended
Festung - Der Turm
Good Paysage d'Hiver worship with some interesting twists included, especially towards the back end of the record.
Deathspell Omega - The Long Defeat
A transitionary album for Deathspell. The change to analog recording equipment is very noticeable and the newly introduced post-metal elements are quite nice, but they've yet to fully master these newfound tools and I'm excited to see what they do with them in the future.
Μνήμα [Mnima] - Disciples of Excremental Liturgies
Μνήμα's approach to blackened noise has always been more nuanced than other acts in the genre, and Disciples of Excremental Liturgies displays this in full form. The riffs are catchy and atmospheric but also drenched in ear shredding noise, compromises are made in neither aspect of the music. The dungeon synth interludes are also great, grimy and ominous in a way that actually evokes the image of a dungeon.
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AOTY June Playlist