It may be a bit late, but I’ve been exceedingly busy these days. The constant battles with internal demons, computer issues, also a recent familial loss (RIP to my Grandma K), and everything else billowing like the smoke from life’s perpetual dumpster fire, has suffocated endlessly along the way. On a better and personal note, it seems the planets aligned in a most unusual way during last summer, and I found myself taking on a new and beneficial occupation. It really is amazing how odds can favorably shift, long after all fucks have ceased, but unfortunately this also caused much time and energy to be diverted away from writing, which explains the recent breaks in my posting consistency. Devotion to my enterprise here is still resolute despite the setbacks, and I hope those interested will bear with me as I adapt once again to changing circumstances.
Though extra time was spent tying up some loose ends, there are many other great efforts from last year that unfortunately weren’t covered, and since I undoubtedly listen to more music than I’m able to write about, some of those unreviewed releases also appear here. Narrowing down a selection of favorites is still difficult, and so their order will mostly follow the arbitrary format of preceding years, as each reflects a personally memorable point in time from 2022. The main difference for this list is due to time constraints, with the featured entries reduced to 31 (It was supposed to be 30, but I miscounted and ended up writing one extra) and a focus solely on full-length albums. Finally, I extend my sincerest thanks to everyone for the continued interest, support, and patience, which has motivated me to push onward through challenging times, and I look forward to diving into the greatness well underway in 2023.
One of several disturbed manifestations to appear from this mysterious entity last year, Metamorphosis perhaps strikes closest to a dismal core, with its ghastly forces easily engulfing sanity in a whirl of torments. The sense of being lost within a haunted abode at the astral level is induced throughout, and the depth of its abyss is defined by an oppressive and ominous proliferation of tranced-out currents. This work effectively harnesses the most primitive forms to cast an imprint of lasting horror.
SPARTAN Of Kings and Gods
My interest in Greek Mythology was reignited by the magnitude of this new odyssey, with its melodic and power elements charging ahead through that legendary age, and a notable virtuosity is wielded throughout to construct riffs laden with intricate designs. They combine with rhythms that gallop and strike across a multitude of grand auras, which become more immersive when encountering certain vocal or narrational passages, and the force of these elements crafts an epic journey for eras to come.
DARK FUNERAL We Are The Apocalypse
The Swedish legends brought forth oblivion on their latest campaign, with acts that sustain a signature wrath while also relenting for other dark varieties, and they include some slower points that highlight dreary melodic details. These exhibit another elevated dynamic along with the advancing riff and percussive arrangements, which are carried out with a notably vicious and revitalized attack, and the exploration of vampirism and death further heightens this doomsday exercise of blackened arts.
HERMÓĐR To The Nightside
The creative streak of this solitary Swede is beyond human, and besides the multiple EP’s released last year, To The Nightside is a mighty opus that easily stands among the greats of 2022. The raw and cold riff auras continue to satisfy, and enchanted settings are forged in their interactions with a myriad of atmospheric keys. A dark natural and melancholic splendor extends to melodic layers and female vocal sections, along with other moments of pure grimness for a venture laden with mystique.
MORMÂNT DE SNAGOV Exquisite Aspects of Wrath
Exquisite is an apt descriptor for the elements alchemized on this new exhibition, and intrigue is driven by arrangements weaving grand melodic textures among layers of malice and melancholy. This extends to grooving rhythmic and thrashy elements alongside points of blasting wrath, and vocals also rage through another dimension to further diversify their effects. The shades of ambient enchantment and lead currents seize intoxicated moments for a work exemplifying an unbounded potential beyond the genre’s core.
DEATHSPELL OMEGA The Long Defeat
This new exercise in dark artistry witnesses the French innovators wielding a different aspect of their sound, with a seething malevolence taking favor over chaotic tendencies, but those forces still surge as other varieties employ nuance through unsettling melodic shapes. They progress and evolve alongside auras of ancient ritualistic immensity, and the corresponding story contains a deep symbolism and significance that heightens the evocative quality of these compositions. A mighty and contemplative experience is ultimately offered by their collective designs.
HEXEREI Ancient Evil Spirits
The torment remains long after first encountering this dose of utter madness, with its phantasmic hallucinations and hostility from 2021 arriving on the material plane last year. A dingy and spectral aura is cast across its hellish medium, where areas marked by a cold dissonance are spawned alongside others of swaggering rhythmic power, and various warped shapes persist among the shadows with unsettling potency. The possession is magnified during tranced-out leads, and vocals likewise reflect a devotion to the most wretched influences for a trip that spirals endlessly through spellbound regions.
DRUDKH Всі належать ночі (All Belong to the Night)
Disastrous circumstances couldn’t prevent these Ukrainians from advancing their next orchestrated strike, which effectively merges anguish and contempt with a persevering attack, and this vehemence is further marked vocally while a bleak majesty emanates from the riffing storm. A distinct folk essence and various tormented shades also engage the conflict, along with the impact of other dreary melodic passages, and a lasting eminence is asserted by the visceral force within these four massive hymns.
BLACK FUCKING CANCER Procreate Inverse
Malignant forces abound on this latest mass from the US, and its primal essence is amplified through a multitude of warped and dissonant formulas, where fretted intricacies are observed among an abrasive thrashing attack. Chaos also manifests across turbulent rhythmic maneuvers, and other striding paces induce trances that often peak with intoxicated leads. These elements are augmented further by the ominous tones and desolation of atmospheric encounters for a work laden with compelling torments.
VRYKOLAKAS The Necromantic Revocation
The Singaporean deathlords delved into their ancient grimoires to reanimate this collective, where raw and chasmic auras rise through alluring riffs, and these are witnessed alongside other monstrous currents buried in the murk. Various levels of stride and frenzy are matched by reverberating drums, including grooves that creep with a massive sinister force, and they especially augment the madness of noted shapes and laughter on “Baptism to Beelzebub.” The layers of bestial vocal savagery continue echoing these underworldly regions, and the total mass harnesses death metal’s darker and more primal tendencies for a slab of satisfaction from the foulest abyss.
EMBARLA FIRGASTO Temporal Capsule
The first full exhibition from this Polish maestro inflicts a decimating strike, with desolation and death conjured through its dissonant contorting riffs, and turbulent rhythmic maneuvers drive the madness while various unsettling vibrations are induced by the disharmonies. Intricate fret designs are glimpsed amid the cavernous reverberations, which evolve toward points of elevated grandeur alongside nuanced atmospheric qualities, and the totality marks a cataclysm of meticulous and mighty proportions.
OUIJA Fathomless Hysteros
These formidable Spaniards are back in full force with their latest incarnation, and the immensity of an endless black vortex radiates from its compositions, with the familiar harsh fury resurging alongside a prevalent melodic quality. Those detailed riff formulas mark a favorable counterpart to the hostility, and both advance with a dark splendor, which is driven further by dynamic vocal and percussive techniques. This revitalization is also directed at reanimated classics for an expansive work that commands renown among its realms.
BEHEMOTH Opvs Contra Natvram
New conjurations from these Polish titans are always noteworthy, especially considering their selective output over the last decade or so, and they continue dividing critics with the alterations to their musical course. This effort didn’t capture me as quickly as those from the past either, and many spins were required to fully absorb the material. It exhibits a steadfast BEHEMOTH spirit that exchanges portions of fury for different rhythmic and atmospheric dynamics, but all the varieties are exercised in arrangements reaching evocative magnitudes, including points marked with leadwork and other mighty forces. One reviewer claimed “Once Upon a Pale Horse” just played the same riff without going anywhere, and my input would be to listen again, because it clearly unfolds into a raging torrent with soloing. While not a flawless work, the brutal and blackened elements are still highly pronounced, and they merge with other distinct ritualistic auras for an opus deserving extensive contemplation.
ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ Malocchio-The Seven Tongues of Δαημων
The arcane masters of Greece underwent a marked transfiguration on their latest grimoire, but a core identity remains intact while crossing various mystical paths. Its darkest recesses are matched by areas of aural euphoria, with points of transcendent awareness sustained when forces gather alongside fervent invocations, and incorporeal shades become manifest among different arpeggiated and riffing haunts. Melodic tremolo and lead elements course throughout to augment those formulas, and the result is a compelling exercise in nightside devotion.
WATAIN The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain
These Swedish masters unleashed their latest venture into the dark mysteries, which resumes the compositional path of works predating The Wild Hunt, and the dualities of its title are attained by wielding an orchestrated power alongside various elemental forms. Melodic and arpeggiated haunts permeate the rites, where other aural qualities further summon a deathly grandeur, and notable guest contributions are also joined to drive its ascent toward a rapturous conquest.
BELPHEGOR The Devils
Austria’s mighty adepts have conjured striking extremity within these new diabolical rites, and their elemental dynamics extend the band’s eminence toward greater planes of perversity. Alluring forms progress in riffs that crush and groove with harmonic points, and blasting force is balanced with areas of slower intoxicated trance, which are further elevated by melodic and lead qualities. Numerous atmospheric evocations are traversed, with other sampled and vocal dynamics also noted among those realms, and this spellbinding collective affirms a lasting devilish influence.
KAMPFAR Til Klovers Takt
Epic forces abound within the realms traversed by this Norse clan, and their new journey wields fierce concentrations to pursue an ongoing conquest. Ancient influences are recognized in a multitude of ambient and instrumental encounters, and they sustain an immersive effect matched by the riffing, which is ravaged by melodic details and other qualities inspiring further captivation. Massive auras are forged through the dynamism of these compositions, and they project a vitality that extends ambitiously toward vast regions ahead.
FEELING WORTHLESS CDVR
An unexpected encounter is likely to remain psychically imprinted, with this Mexican force inducing layers of torment across dissonant and dismal textures, and their effects are channeled through an organic and filthy sound that enhances the anguish. Varied degrees of despair extend to some other distinct melodic forms, which alternate effectively with the more oppressive areas, and these arrangements are compounded by vocals exemplifying the depressive spirit. This first full effort ultimately builds on the band’s introductory acts for a mass seething with malignant allure.
VITAL SPIRIT Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind
The untamed West is typically foreign to metal, and this Canadian horde has set out to conquer that terrain, with their debut capturing a spellbound portrayal of its essence. Acoustic and atmospheric elements are key to the epic settings formed throughout, but those auras are strikingly paralleled by heavier melodies and riffs, which then merge into engaging compositions laced with psychedelia. This journey offers a harsh alternative to the cold and proves no realms are untouchable within dark extremes.
The uncompromising black metal essence has accommodated another rare and intriguing perspective, which evokes the splendor of natural settings along with a prevailing Native American spirit, and this is achieved as melody harmonizes with heavy striking rhythms to form grandiose compositions. Further enchantments are woven during acoustic passages with flutes and distinct atmospheric qualities, and their effects are driven by other fierce energies to reflect a marked union between this genre and a notable heritage.
EMPTY Omnia Amet Lorem
These Spanish morticians unveiled another level of dread on their newest creation, with its riffs descending into abysmal realms alongside various melodic shades of misery, and they combine with other instrumental energies to reflect an aural disembodiment. Areas of striking rhythmic entrancement seize further captivation among the arrangements, where fierce expressions of anguish are paralleled by points of calmer desolation, and the mournful formulas of majesty and malevolence here exemplify the appeal of orchestrated negativity.
DJEVEL Naa skrider natten sort
These eminent Norwegians quickly followed last year’s Tanker som rir natten with another mighty opus, and it further demonstrates a mastery at evoking harsh but hypnotic elements in the arrangements, which gather and develop a distinct Norse spirit that persists with compelling grandeur. A haunting myriad appears in the instrumental diversity featured among different melodic and rhythmic forms, and the proximity of these two massive works affirms an inspired depth to match the vastness of their epic natural surroundings.
MEDIEVAL DEMON Black Coven
This Hellenic order summoned their latest act of devilry, and it continues an adept disposition toward utterly spellbinding creations, with ritualistic auras infusing a distinct spirit among its classic riff elements. A melodic splendor courses across those masses, along with the theatrical quality forwarded by organ and saxophone arrangements, and intoxicated points are achieved as the atmosphere culminates to the pace of entrancing rhythms. The dark and potent allure demonstrated here ultimately haunts with irresistible influence.
HETROERTZEN Phosphorus Vol I
The deepest chasms of despair have been traversed on this dark masterwork, and illuminative glimpses are obtained by persevering through its ordeals. The impact of different incorporeal auras persists, along with the deathly multitude brought to manifestation by other ominous tides, and their power lies in crafting known elements into a dynamic proliferation of shadows. The scenes conjured within these rites are enhanced by a lyrical substance revealed during many invocations, and the blackened spirit radiates throughout to achieve an ecstatic immersion with oblivion.
NEGATIVE PLANE The Pact…
The chasm between releases is enough to highlight this opus, and its substance also justifies that acclaim, with labyrinthian structures formed through a myriad of melodic and heavy riff elements. These combine with other features to reflect the grand and grim aspects of a looming cathedral, which becomes central to a story accompanying the hymns, and their mystery intensifies when uncovering the atrocities hidden within. The detailed songcraft and content here seizes an experience that persists with haunting appeal.
MOEROR All That We Seem
Darkness becomes unfathomable on the return of these Hellenic masterminds, who’ve persevered with a vehement and nihilistic encounter that strikes across songcraft laden with interwoven riff details. Their unsettling vibrations are matched by the abyssal voids from different atmospheric points, and vocals with distinct identities complement varying depressive and enraged forces while also honoring X.’s legacy. An exemplary work is apparent when other post-black and experimental influences join its arrangements, which effectively prolongs captivation through the unwavering intensity.
RAVENOIR In The Womb of Sin
This Czechian horde has returned with a second mighty act of infernality, and its fulfilled portents are matched with a fleshy and indulgent celebration. Here a demonstrated vitality soars evermore boldly through the night, with sharpened riffing and dark melodic textures conjuring a storm of aural wonders, and the intensity is further marked when atmospheric notes rise alongside points of crushing magnitude. These rites are drenched in a nocturnal grandeur and perversity that will lure even the most devout toward paths of temptation.
New ORIGIN releases tend to become summer highlights when they arise, and Chaosmos was no exception as it crashed into last June with a torrent of grinding wrath. Many captivating forms are noted among the lightspeed wizardry, along with other varieties that traverse heavier grooving masses, and the marvels of space are evoked when they develop into imposing structures with leadwork. This voyage is laden with quantum details embodying the chaos of the cosmos and its infinite allure.
KING SATAN Occult Spiritual Anarchy
This carnivalesque exhibition is truly a marvel to behold, with an array of keys and samples weaving discord over its heavy riff structures, and beats driven by a live drummer introduces a striking new dimension to their industrial style. Many remarkable auras are evoked by symphonic and psychedelic influences throughout, and the euphoria is carried further among melodies and leadwork, along with the command of different vocal energies. “The Pagan Satan” is one highlight noted for its futuristic and primal fusion, and the collective experience triumphs in its aims to shatter conceptions of normality.
KRVNA For Thine is the Kingdom of the Flesh
The vampire ethos has achieved a new level of mastery on this dark epic, and while past efforts have exercised a fierce predatory instinct that proliferated death across the masses, this new conjuration shows the reach of its menacing character is just beginning to unfold. Grandiose and imposing ruins exalt a nightside allure, along with other atmospheric realms proving ideal for the fiendish undead, and these are enriched further by a prevailing Wallachian spirit. Its intrigue combines with other areas of fable and history for a bloody offering that will satiate the foreseeable times ahead.
And I suppose if an AOTY is necessary, mine would be…
This Canadian order cast their second full act of shadowy devotion, and it wields malevolent formulas in songcraft transcending the next elevated plane, particularly with a sinister allure progressing from different arpeggiated shapes throughout. Areas of slower noted menace are balanced among the chaotic concentrations, and various lead melodic, acoustic, and tremolo currents invoke further hostility over harsh riffing masses, which forwards a ritualistic offering that remains exalted across the multiverse.