SBR Top 50 Albums of 2022

We reviewed 395 records in 2022. Most of the big-name releases came from Sweden, with Meshuggah, Candlemass, Cult of Luna, Soilwork and Watain all producing new albums.

Legendary artists such as Megadeth, Kreator, Destruction and Machine Head also returned this year to remind us that thrash metal is a strong as ever. Perhaps Conjurer and Lorna Shore were the two contemporary bands with the biggest expectations on their shoulders.

As you’d expect, heavy and extreme music continues to evolve through experimentation and taking risks. Progressive, avant-garde, post-metal, and metallic hardcore now produce a high number of innovative records for those bored by the lull in death and black metal. Norma Jean, The Callous Daoboys, and Terror Cell showed that mathcore is still a force in the underground. Older creative forces that once dominated the mainstream cannot be discarded, either. The rehabilitation of nu metal picked up pace again as the dilution of mainstream metalcore regressed even further. Other than gothic metal, is there a genre more tired than the formulaic predictability of melodic death metal?

Scenes solidify, movements enter their twilight, former novelties become entrenched. Nevertheless, it was an exciting year for new and established artists, and these are the SBR Top 50 albums of 2022…

50. Destrage – So Much. Too Soon.

49. Threshold – Dividing Lines

48. Tuskar – Matriarch

47. Zeal & Ardor – Zeal & Ardor

46. Absent in Body – Plague God

45. Sigh – Shiki

44. Enchantment – Cold Soul Embrace

43. Once Human – Scar Weaver

42. Darkthrone – Astral Fortress

41. Yatra – Born Into Chaos

40. The Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist

39. Norma Jean – Deathrattle Sing for Me

38. Thundering Hooves – Radiance

37. Ashenspire – Hostile Architecture

36. Everest Queen – Murmurations

35. Fallujah – Empyrean

34. Soulfly – Totem

33. Constellatia – Magisterial Romance

32. Wormrot – Hiss

31. Extinction A.D. – Culture of Violence

30. Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

29. Watain – The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain

28. Christian Death – Evil Becomes Rule

27. Terror – Pain into Power

26. Greg Puciato – Mirrorcell

25. Cult of Luna – The Long Road North

What we said at the time: “It’s the duty of all music reviewers to look beyond the hype and uncritical acclaim, but Cult of Luna are too enchanting to ignore. They might be the darlings of the sophisticated art-school side of metal, but they can still take to the stage with the world’s heaviest bands. This is a fine album that gets better with each listen.”

Genre: Post-metal

Country: Sweden

Released: 11/02/2022

Label: Metal Blade/Red Creek Records

Read the original SBR review of The Long Road North here.

24. Throwing Bricks – The Burden

What we said at the time: “Nine songs of hysterical outpouring and muscular guitars would not grow monotonous with this level of intensity and emotion, but Throwing Bricks enter that stage of psychopathy that shows erratic impulse control and a tendency to take risks. And it works wonders.”

Genre: Hardcore/Post-metal

Country: Netherlands

Released: 28/10/2022

Label: Tartarus Records

Read the original SBR review of The Burden here.

23. Messa – Close

What we said at the time:Close demands your attention and imagination. It allows you to daydream on its terms but never independent of them. This is sophisticated metal music that draws its power from the art gallery and biblioteca as much as the furnaces and factories of Western Europe.”

Genre: Avant-garde doom metal

Country: Italy

Released: 11/03/2022

Label: Svart Recordings

Read the original SBR review of Close here.

22. Voivod – Synchro Anarchy

What we said at the time: “We said… that Voivod could create a new cycle of classics, and they succeed here in completing the trilogy that started in 2013. In the late 1980s, Killing Technology, Dimension Hatröss and Nothingface were the most revered series of three in prog metal. Now they have a second one in their repertoire.”

Genre: Progressive thrash metal

Country: Canada

Released: 11/02/2022

Label: Century Media

Read the original SBR review of Synchro Anarchy here.

21. Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses

What we said at the time: “Now on their fourteenth LP, the trio continue to push their music into new realms, and Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses is yet another challenge to your idea of Blut Aus Nord. It might be easier to say it now – does anything sound like this?”

Genre: Atmospheric black metal

Country: France

Released: 20/05/2022

Label: Debemur Morti Productions

Read the original SBR review of Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses here.

20. – This World is Going to Ruin You

What we said at the time: “You might think This World is Going to Ruin You is a bit light on content with a modest running time of thirty-two minutes. Don’t be fooled by this… is a rebirth with a new name and an improved sound, and this LP will invigorate those looking for something chaotic yet exciting.”

Genre: Metalcore/Mathcore

Country: USA

Released: 04/03/2022

Label: Nuclear Blast

Read the original SBR review of This World is Going to Ruin You here.

19. Psychonaut – Violate Consensus Reality

What we said at the time: “We’re right to compare Psychonaut with the post-metal greats of today, and they could join this pantheon over the next decade if they produce anything as good as Violate Consensus Reality between now and 2030. This album is a stunning hybrid of imagination and aggression.”

Genre: Progressive/Post-metal

Country: Belgium

Released: 28/10/2022

Label: Pelagic Records

Read the original SBR review of Violate Consensus Reality here.

18. Strigoi – Viscera

What we said at the time:Viscera is a thrilling piece of grimy extreme metal that reminds you why the darkest path is often the most fertile for the creative imagination. Those of you that despair of the quantised guitars and typewriter drums of modern metal will have your faith restored after one listen to this record.”

Genre: Blackened doom metal

Country: England

Released: 30/09/2022

Label: Season of Mist

Read the original SBR review of Viscera here.

17. Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory

What we said at the time: “Rolo Tomassi might be one of the most acclaimed bands of the last decade, but the approbation is justified. This is another emotional rollercoaster that unites the worlds of alternative rock and extreme metal in a sparkling silhouette of beauty and brutality.”

Genre: Progressive/Post-metal

Country: England

Released: 04/02/2022

Label: MNRK Heavy

Read the original SBR review of Where Myth Becomes Memory here.

16. Kardashev – Liminal Rite

What we said at the time: “Seldom do you hear a record and wonder if its creators are onto something beyond the comprehension of that which came before it. Time will tell if Liminal Rite proves to be influential on the evolution of modern metal, but you can be sure it will go down as a cult classic.”

Genre: Progressive death metal

Country: USA

Released: 10/06/2022

Label: Metal Blade

Read the original SBR review of Liminal Rite here.

15. KEN Mode – Null

What we said at the time: “We know not to expect a party album from the Matthewson brothers, but their vision of extreme noise rock is every bit as imaginative and visceral as Botch and Neurosis. There’s a reason why many people are unaware of them – listen to their music. The mainstream would be a dangerous place if KEN Mode were part of it.”

Genre: Extreme noise rock

Country: Canada

Released: 23/09/2022

Label: Artoffact Records

Read the original SBR review of Null here.

14. Mass Worship – Portal Tombs

What we said at the time: “It’s too early to speculate if we’re witnessing the birth of a next generation leader, but Mass Worship are on to something unique here. This is a sophisticated record that will appeal to a sludge metal audience as well as the more artsy crowd of the avant-garde.”

Genre: Dark progressive metal

Country: Sweden

Released: 04/02/2022

Label: Century Media

Read the original SBR review of Portal Tombs here.

13. Famyne – II: The Ground Below

What we said at the time: “Doom metal has the capacity to evolve and experiment, yet it can also invigorate with the same colour palette and hand tools used by the greats. Famyne understand that the fundamentals need not change too much if you aim for immortality. This is a fine record.”

Genre: Doom metal

Country: England

Released: 13/05/2022

Label: Svart Records

Read the original SBR review of II: The Ground Below here.

12. Conjurer – Páthos

What we said at the time: “Conjurer’s heaviest riffs pulsate with discordant fret shapes that sting like violent splashes of vegetable oil in a red-hot frying pan. This is sophisticated music. Think art school metal from the factory floor rather than the coffee shop.”

Genre: Progressive sludge metal

Country: England

Released: 01/07/2022

Label: Nuclear Blast

Read the original review of Páthos here.

11. Knekelput – Teloorgang

What we said at the time: “This is an album that will often perplex you and will always keep you guessing, but it’s an exhilarating ride even if your mind cannot fathom every twist and turn. How did something as innovative as this remain on the shelf for fifteen years?”

Genre: Experimental blackened death metal

Country: Netherlands

Released: 25/10/2022

Label: Self Released

Read the original review of Teloorgang here.

10. Ithaca – They Fear Us

What we said at the time: “Music as urgent as this can create the illusion of invincibility, but you’ll find a fragile serenity underneath the bone-crushing violence and intricate guitar embroidery… The breadth of imagination will leave you in awe. Ithaca are the real deal, and this is a magnificent work of art.”

Genre: Progressive hardcore

Country: England

Released: 29/07/2022

Label: Hassle Records

Read the original review of They Fear Us here.

9. Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin

What we said at the time:Legacy of Ruin uncovers a glimpse of beauty among the maudlin angst of its creators, but you’re under no illusions – nothing lasts forever. We shall all perish in the end, and this is the record that can prepare you for the afterlife.”

Genre: Experimental doom metal

Country: USA

Released: 25/02/2022

Label: Prophecy Productions

Read the original review of Legacy of Ruin here.

8. Tranzat – Ouh La La

What we said at the time: “Seldom can we say that a modern LP deserves an instant comparison to Faith No More’s Angel Dust, but Ouh La La aims high and follows no rules. It’s a stunning tour de force that takes prog metal to bizarre new territory and blazes forth like the man whose feeding hand cannot be bitten.”

Genre: Progressive/Avant-garde metal

Country: France

Released: 01/04/2022

Label: Klonosphere Records

Read the original review of Ouh La La here.

7. Terror Cell – Caustic Light

What we said at the time:Caustic Light is the depiction of a person losing their ability to function in a society that will never recognise them. We’d be worried about the state of mind of the author if these lyrics were public posts on Facebook. This is art that captures the emptiness and despair of the unsettled mind. It’s also a magnificent piece of unhinged metallic hardcore.”

Genre: Hardcore/Mathcore

Country: USA

Released: 07/10/2022

Label: Fisher King Records

Read the original review of Caustic Light here.

6. Venom Prison – Erebos

What we said at the time: “This is a death metal album, and a colossal one at that. Erebos confronts the genre’s biggest weakness – overkill – and leaves you satiated like a diner who’s just finished their dessert with enough room to order another drink.”

Genre: Death metal

Country: Wales

Released: 04/02/2022

Label: Century Media

Read the original review of Erebos here.

5. Wilderun – Epigone

What we said at the time: “How Wilderun match the ambition and musicianship on future albums will be one of the most intriguing developments over the next decade. Epigone is a monumental effort that’ll caress and crush you in equal measures.”

Genre: Progressive metal

Country: USA

Released: 07/01/2022

Label: Century Media

Read the original review of Epigone here.

4. Northlane – Obsidian

What we said at the time: “Northlane earned the right to shape the mainstream on their terms with their last record, and they continue with the same momentum here. Obsidian shows that metalcore can evolve. Northlane might even be one album ahead of Code Orange in charting its future.”

Genre: Industrial metalcore

Country: Australia

Released: 22/04/2022

Label: Believe Records

Read the original review of Obsidian here.

3. Machine Head – Of Kingdom and Crown

What we said at the time: “Machine Head deliver here with middle fingers raised. But they also unearth a career highlight to follow in the wake of Burn My Eyes and The Blackening. The excitement does not abate after multiple listens. If only the metal establishment in their own country would put them on the same pedestal they occupy in Europe.”

Genre: Thrash/Groove metal

Country: USA

Released: 26/08/2022

Label: Nuclear Blast

Read the original review of Machine Head’s Of Kingdom and Crown here.

2. GGGOLDDD – This Shame Should Not Be Mine

What we said at the time: “They appealed to the indie rock and dark alternative crowds, but now they find themselves thrust into the uneasy listening world. It’s a borderland where metal, avant-garde and IDM listeners parlay when looking for something outside their comfort zones. This Shame Should Not Be Mine is a stunning piece of art that should see the Dutch group gain recognition way beyond Europe.”

Genre: Dark alternative

Country: Netherlands

Released: 01/04/2022

Label: Artoffact Records

Read the original review of This Shame Should Not Be Mine here.

1. Cage Fight – Cage Fight

What we said at the time: “Those of you that still harbour the wildest fantasies about what might have happened to Sepultura if they pursued a different direction in 1996 will be booking a week off work to cope with the euphoric fury of this album… This is a sensational debut effort that will resonate for years to come.”

Genre: Metallic hardcore

Country: England/France

Released: 13/05/2022

Label: Spinefarm Records UK / Candlelight Records

Read the original review of Cage Fight here.