Welcome to part two of our four-part series counting down our top metal album of 2022. You can find part one (and a brief explanation as to why I broke this up into four parts) here: Top Metal Albums Part 1
30. Dark Meditation – Polluted Temples
One of my favorite debut full-length’s of the year came from Seattle’s Dark Meditation. Playing a catchy yet goth-infused brand of trad metal, Dark Meditation conjured visions of witches dancing in magic circles and secretive wooded rituals on Polluted Temples. This is the type of record that I could easily imagine parents frantically trying to get banned during the height of the Satanic Panic in the mid-’80s, and as someone who lived through that era that’s about as high a compliment as I can dish out for a trad metal album.
29. Cave In – Heavy Pendulum
I can still remember the first time I saw Cave In live. It was the mid-to-late ’90s, less than a year after I first relocated to Connecticut for college. They played in this dumpy warehouse space in Northampton, Massachusetts that we used to always go to. They absolutely blew my mind and I’ve been a fan ever since. After over a decade Cave In returned this year with a new full-length album that also happened to be one of their most ambitious, and at times heaviest, releases to date. Welcome back Cave In, you were sorely missed.
28. Telekinetic Yeti – Primordial
Iowa duo Telekinetic Yeti may have a moniker that leans a little goofy, but rest assured there are some very crushingly serious riffs all over this album. Stoner doom is a sub-genre that, for me anyway, can grow stale if not done right. Telekinetic Yeti get it very, very effing right. Iommi-inspired riffs/solos and soaring vocals crest and crash against a brick wall of distortion, low-end thunder, and monstrous drumming. It’s enough righteous cacophony to wonder how only two members can pull it off. Fans of stoner rock expertly done entirely too heavy to ever find a home with mainstream rock fans should get on this record in a hurry.
27. Sumerlands – Dreamkiller
Did you ever have preconceived notions for a band’s new record and when it finally drops it wildly exceeds anything you expected? Me too. Welcome to 2022’s entry to that list, Dreamkiller from Philadelphia’s heavy metal traditionalists Sumerlands. It had been six long years since Sumerlands released their self-titled, debut album, and to be brutally frank it didn’t leave a major impression on me. So when this album first showed up in my inbox I actually wasn’t in a rush to partake. Shame on me, because this album absolutely shreds and I wound up spending about two weeks where this was the only record I listened to from start to finish. This is a powerful slab of heavy metal that will leave an impression long after the record stops.
26. Sigh – Shiki
In all the storied annals of heavy metal lore you’d be hard-pressed to find a band as unique and carrying a discography as interesting as Japan’s Sigh. It’s been four years since their last full-length album and in that time the world turned itself upside down in more ways than one, so it’s fitting that Sigh have also turned themselves upside down creating an album that hearkens back to their black metal roots while continue to keep it weird as it were. The kitchen sink is once again thrown in here alongside jazz, acid, and prog rock elements to create a sonic stew that really on this band could come up with.
25. Orm – Intet • Altet
If you’re going to set out to write an album about the four major life cycles, what a better way to do it than four tracks ranging from 19-24 minutes in length each. So says Denmark’s progressive black metal magicians Orm. Needless to say this is a complex album meant to be digested in one 92 minute session. That’s not to say you couldn’t digest pieces of it in individual sittings, but that would be akin to just watching a movie trailer on YouTube and thinking you understand the entire film. And at it’s heart that’s what this is – black metal done with a cinematic flair that’s meant to challenge and transport the listener on a sonic journey quite unlike anything else you’ll hear this year.
24. Mountaineer – Giving Up The Ghost
If you’ve read this blog before then there is a pretty decent chance you’re familiar with Oakland’s Mountaineer as I’ve been singing this band’s praises since their first full-length album back in 2017. 2022 saw the release of their fourth full-length album in almost as many years, and often times when I see a band releasing new material on a yearly or almost yearly basis it’s a bit of a red flag for me. Yet somehow this band keeps reinventing themselves and creating music so wholly engaging. Giving Up The Ghost find the band filling out their line-up and their sound with a brand of dreamy post metal that at times easily qualifies as their heaviest material to date. Fans of everything from My Bloody Valentine to Cult of Luna to King Woman will find something to love on this record.
23. In The Woods… – Diversum
Another band that’s been putting out fantastic, critically acclaimed albums for quite some time only to return this year with one of their best to date is Norway’s In The Woods… Mixing elements of doomy blackened metal and prog rock into a truly epic sonic experience In The Woods… write music that’s meant to be experienced as much as it is listened to. This album just officially released only a couple weeks ago giving it the distinction of possibly being the last great album of 2022, and if it indeed winds up being as such it’s the perfect way to close out another stellar year in metal music.
22. Clutch – Sunrise on Slaughter Beach
There are few bands in the world, genres be damned, who have put out as many records as the mighty Clutch who can make the very real claim that they’ve never put out a bad record. The question then is where does new long player Sunrise on Slaughter Beach rank in this act’s grand discography? Some of the riffs alone on this record would demand a pretty high ranking in my book. Once again Clutch have woven together an album’s worth of highly memorable material that you’ll be singing to yourself days after the record stops spinning.
21. Black Royal – Earthbound
Two years ago Finland’s Black Royal stormed onto my year end list like a roving band of vikings pillaging everything in their sights. That’s to say this band blew me away unlike many others. I’m happy to report that their follow up to that album, Earthbound, is equally devastating. Taking cues from sludge, doom, and death metal, Black Royal’s sound is a refreshing romp through some of the best genres along metal’s pantheon. This album in particular seemed to lean even harder into the sludgy realms, even when the pace quickened there were still breakdowns and riffs there to drag you into the sonic ether. Another brutal and exceptional offering from a band that’s quietly building an exceptional discography.