The world of metal was as vast in 2022 as it's ever been, and narrowing adown the hundreds of great metal albums released this year to a list of 30 was no easy feat. Throughout our picks, you'll find everything from the new wave of death metal to the OGs who influenced them, from the avant-garde to the meat-and-potatoes, from veteran post-metal acts to new boundary-pushing metalcore bands, from black metal to grindcore to thrash to bands who don't fit neatly into any subgenre. And even with all the various interpretations of metal on this list, there are still plenty of great albums we had to leave off, and even more that we just haven't heard yet.

For even more of 2022's great metal albums, browse the multiple metal year-end lists on Invisible Oranges including many of the writers whose words appear below. Head below for our picks, in alphabetical order, and let us know your favorite metal albums of 2022 in the comments...

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    Aeviterne - The Ailing Facade

    Profound Lore

    Born out of the ashes of the now-defunct Flourishing, and also counting members of Artificial Brain, Luminous Vault, and Castevet among their ranks, Aeviterne have turned into a beast of their own. Flourishing fans will recognize Garett Bussanick's distinct shriek off the bat, but neither that album nor Aeviterne's 2018 debut EP Sireless (recorded before Samuel Smith of Artificial Brain and Luminous Vault joined the band) could prepare you for their monstrous debut album The Ailing Facade. The record's informed by black and death metal but Aeviterne reshape those familiar styles in dark, twisted, experimental ways. The record is a journey through blasts of grindy fury, passages of psychedelia, dazzling guitar work, ghostly synths, and an eerie atmosphere that hovers over the intricate musicianship. As apocalyptic as this album can sound, it's also strangely beautiful. [Andrew Sacher]

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    Artificial Brain - Artificial Brain

    Profound Lore

    I won’t mince words: Artificial Brain is one of my favorite death metal bands of the last decade, so my bias will be apparent here. What I have always loved about the band is how they manage to perfectly balance aggression with atmosphere and dissonance with melody–sometimes all at once. They’re not technical to the point of incomprehensibility, nor are they so spacey that the music fails to grab my attention. The band’s self-titled album–their third and final one with vocalist Will Smith–marks the end of the era. His inhuman, bowel-churning croaks and roars are in top form throughout, but he is not alone. A trio of guitarists maps out entire galaxies with their constellation-spanning chords and lightspeed riffing; meanwhile the rhythm section mans the massive fusion drives capable of blasting right through the fabric of space time or leading the band in a waltz across wispy nebulae. It’s a fitting sendoff for Smith that also suggests that there are plenty of systems left to explore. [Alex Chan]

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    Ashenspire - Hostile Architecture

    Aural Music

    As Ashenspire's Bandcamp points out, "the term hostile architecture refers to design elements in social spaces that deter the public from using the object for means unintended by the designer, e.g. anti-homeless spikes, which the album presents as emblematic of a foundational contempt for the poor and working class, an exemplification of a status quo fortified in concrete." Self-described as avant-garde RABM (red and anarchist black metal), Glasgow's Ashenspire take a militantly anti-fascist and pro-working class approach to their music, and this album is full of explicit critiques of capitalism, greed, and the wealth divide, all delivered with lead vocalist Alasdair Dunn's theatrical shouts. On Hostile Architecture, Ashenspire are as committed to making experimental, outside-the-box music as they are to conveying their socio-political messages, and the result is a uniquely heavy album--fleshed out by violin, saxophone, hammered dulcimer, prepared piano, and more--that doesn't really sound like any other metal record you'll hear this year. [A.S.]

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    Candy - Heaven Is Here

    Relapse

    At the end of Candy's 2018, Triple B Records-released debut album Good To Feel, they switched things up from their usual metallic hardcore for a shoegazy noise pop closer called "Bigger Than Yours." It was a send-off that suggested there would be no limits to what Candy would do next, but not even that song could've prepared you for sonic assault of their sophomore album (and Relapse debut) Heaven Is Here. Metallic hardcore is still in Candy's DNA on this album, but Heaven Is Here veers closer to genre-blurring labelmates Full of Hell than to most of the hardcore scene. Their metallic side is heavier and more abrasive; they'll break out into circle-pit-opening D-beat on one song and dish out industrial noisegrind on the next. The record was produced by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Show Me The Body), who does some of his best work here, giving Heaven Is Here a finishing coat that makes it sound like something from a post-apocalyptic future. "Heaven is here" might by the title of the album, but on the song of the same name, vocalist Zak Quiram cries out, "The hell of myself/I'm burning in hell," and the utter despair in his voice is like a manifestation of the LP at large. [A.S.]

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    Cave In - Heavy Pendulum

    Relapse

    After releasing their final album with the late Caleb Scofield in 2019, Cave In pushed forward, recruited a perfectly-suited replacement (Nate Newton of Converge), and made one of the best albums of their career, Heavy Pendulum, an album that still has Caleb's spirit all over it. It contains some riffs and lyrics written by Caleb before his passing, and Stephen Brodsky told Decibel that "there were many points where we considered how Caleb might approach something." Opening track "New Reality"--which features one of Caleb's riffs--is one of the most immediate, instantly-satisfying songs Cave In have released, probably ever, and there's plenty more of that energy throughout Heavy Pendulum. It's got other ragers like "Floating Skulls" and "Amaranthine," ten-ton sludge riffs on songs like "Blood Spiller" and "Waiting For Love," slower-paced psychedelia ("Nightmare Eyes"), towering post-metal ("Blinded By A Blaze"), and a title track that kinda sounds like Alice In Chains. And then there's closing track "Wavering Angel," a 12-minute epic that starts out in gentle acoustic territory before gradually morphing into one of the heaviest songs on the record. It's like if Pink Floyd's '70s lineup would've stuck around long enough to get really into sludge metal, and it should come as no surprise that Cave In know exactly how to deliver on that concept. The sheer professionalism of Heavy Pendulum never lets you forget that this is a band fueled by 25 years of history, but it truly sounds like a fresh start. [A.S.]

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    Conjurer - Páthos

    Nuclear Blast

    Conjurer’s power in part derives from their cohesion: in the riffs, the vocals, in the songwriting, in their live performances. The way the band has woven together their patchwork of influences makes distinctions like “black metal riff” or “sludge part” difficult to discern, as if the distinctions aren’t there at all. This sound is just Conjurer, sprung forth fully formed from a blanket of heavy mist.

    Their heady amalgam of styles and influences (which results in a string of backslashes on the genre tab of their Metal Archives page) invites comparison in this world of labels. For better or worse, a “For Fans Of:” sticker seems to have accompanied damn near every mention of the band since they arrived on the scene. Gojira at their heaviest, Opeth at their most progressive, Mastodon at their earliest (even though Deeprose says Blood Mountain is his jam.) “If you ripoff four bands, you’re a ripoff,” Deeprose says, “but steal from 50? It’s your own thing.” Read more here. [Skot Thayer]

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    Cult of Luna - The Long Road North

    Metal Blade

    The Long Road North isn't a major departure for Cult of Luna, but it really does feel like a new version of this band, and it's very impressive that they can still do that over 20 years into their career. The songs are still lengthy, towering epics that toe the line between heavy and beautiful, and Johannes Persson's roar is still as powerful and throat-shredding as ever, but a lot is different about this one too. It's not really produced like a metal record, and Cult of Luna don't always play like a metal band. There's a lot of electronic manipulation going on, and drummer Thomas Hedlund often employs a skittering, propulsive style that feels more like In Rainbows than heavy metal. Some songs abandon the genre entirely, like the ethereal goth of "Beyond I" (with guest lead vocals by Mariam Wallentin of Wildbirds And Peacedrums), the Nick Cave-y "Into the Night," and the ambient closer "Beyond II" (featuring Bon Iver/Arcade Fire collaborator Colin Stetson), but even the heaviest, most aggressive moments feel like new territory for the band. It's an album that breaks down barriers between scenes and genres and is totally unafraid doing something out of the ordinary, and that's how the best music almost always gets made. [A.S.]

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    Daeva – Through Sheer Will And Black Magic...

    20 Buck Spin

    Blackened thrash metal is something usually left to the European founders of the genre but that didn’t stop Steve Jansson and his love of this style. With Eddie Chainsaw on vocals, couple this with the successful Pulsing Dark Absorptions EP in 2017, add two more members of Crypt Sermon for the final lineup and here we are with the well-oiled machine that is Through Sheer Will And Black Magic…. It's a punishing listen that shows off Jansson in a very different light, but being the heavy metal madman that he is, he never stops doing what he loves and that includes bringing genres up that nobody is talking about and shining only the blackest of lights on them. “Arena At Dis” is a perfect encapsulation of what the band should sound like: demonic shouted vocals, pounding drums, and guitars that riff and wail at a moment’s notice. One of the year’s heaviest releases for what feels like a genre classic going forward. [Tom Campagna]

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    Deadbody - The Requiem

    Closed Casket Activities

    Taylor and Colin Young (who play together in God's Hate and Twitching Tongues) are both absolute forces to be reckoned with in the metallic hardcore sphere, so it should come as no surprise that their new band Deadbody is another total monster. They handle vocals/guitar and vocals/bass, respectively, and they're joined by guitarist Miles McIntosh (Apparition) and drummer Jorge Herrera (ACxDC, Despise You). It's a hardcore LP in spirit, but the death metal influences are very strong, and I could see this album hitting hard with fans of either genre. [A.S.]

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    Dream Unending - Song of Salvation

    20 Buck Spin

    Especially with death metal making a big comeback, the metal scene can often seem like it's in competition to make the nastiest, goriest, heaviest, most gruesome album possible, but as for 2022's most beautiful metal album, that would have to go to Dream Unending. The duo of Derrick Vella (Tomb Mold, Outer Heaven) and Justin DeTore (Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands, The Rival Mob, Boston Strangler, Mental, Righteous Jams, etc) separately have tons of records under their belts, including multiple other releases this year, but together, they make music that stands out from everything else they've ever done. Song of Salvation, Dream Unending's sophomore album, owes as much to death and doom metal as it does to dream pop, prog, psych, post-rock, and other clean, melodic, atmospheric styles of music, and Dream Unending are masters at pushing their music to both extremes. Song of Salvation significantly expands upon the duo's great 2021 debut LP Tide Turns Eternal left off, and their in-studio extended lineup has gotten bigger too. Like the debut, Song of Salvation features additional vocals by McKenna Rae and actor Richard Poe and keyboards by Derrick's father David Vella, and it also brings in guest vocals from Derrick's Tomb Mold bandmate Max Klebanoff and Justin DeTore's frequent collaborator Phil Swanson (ex-Sumerlands, currently in Solemn Lament with Justin), as well as trumpet from Leila Abdul-Rauf (Hammers of Misfortune, Vastum, etc). The result is a vast, enveloping album that's full of surprises, even after multiple listens. Metal lovers may spot similarities to the Peaceville Three, while others may pick up on influences that range from Pink Floyd to The Cure to Mineral. It's an album that truly transcends genre, and it feels equally geared towards music fans of all stripes. [A.S.]

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    Fugitive - Maniac

    20 Buck Spin

    Power Trip lead guitarist Blake Ibanez said in a recent interview with Banger TV that he had a new project on the way, and hinted that it picked up where Power Trip's final album Nightmare Logic left off. And, while obviously nothing can replace Power Trip or their much-missed frontman Riley Gale, the debut EP by Blake's new band Fugitive makes very good on the promise he made in that interview. For this band, he's joined by Skourge vocalist Seth Gilmore, along with members of Creeping Death, Impalers, and more, and the four original songs (and cover of Bathory's "Raise the Dead") on their debut offering Maniac really do pick up where Power Trip's thrash/hardcore blend left off. And while comparisons to Blake's beloved former band are inevitable, Fugitive already do stand out as a beast of their own. There's a little more death metal in the mix, and Seth's gnarly scream goes great with Blake's crisp guitar style. It's a brief EP, but I'm hoping Fugitive are in it for the long haul; this is some of the most fun metal/punk crossover I've heard in a minute. [A.S.]

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    Immolation – Acts Of God

    Nuclear Blast

    With all the talk about the "new wave of death metal," it's pretty amazing to see OGs like New York's Immolation still churning out records that stand still next to their classics and rival all the genre's fresh new blood. Their 11th, Acts of God, is tight as fuck, as brutal as you'd hope, and it endlessly rips, listen after listen. [A.S.]

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    Knoll - Metempheric

    self-released

    Knoll are the young darlings of the grind scene, hailed by some as successors to beloved grind/noise act Full Of Hell. The Memphis-based six-piece are certainly not lacking in ambition. Their second full-length Metempheric ups the abrasive ante on last year’s Interstice, journeying deeper down into the band’s hellish musical labyrinth. In contrast to Interstice’s cryptic mania, Metempheric’s thirteen tracks are impressively focused. The hellish squeals of brass onto “Tether and Swine” and the creative riffs of “Felled Plume” and “Marred Alb” are just a few high points of this second successive gauntlet thrown down by the enfant terribles of the genre. [Tom Morgan]

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    Kreator - Hate Über Alles

    Nuclear Blast

    Of all the '80s-era thrash legends that are still kicking, do any still sound as purely evil as Kreator? Certainly not in 2022 at least. Hate Über Alles, the German band's 15th album, genuinely rivals Kreator's '80s material, and it reminds you that Kreator were always one of the meanest sounding thrash bands to ever do it. (Along with Slayer, they're regularly cited as a precursor to black and death metal.) Production from Power Trip collaborator and Sumerlands member Arthur Rizk helps Hate Über Alles sound entirely modern, and the band--still with original lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Miland "Mille" Petrozza and drummer Jürgen "Ventor" Reil--continue to churn out monstrous riffs, whiplash-inducing rhythms, and gnarly-yet-anthemic hooks that beg to be shouted along to. [A.S.]

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    Mamaleek - Diner Coffee

    The Flenser

    Who had sicko existential sitcom on the new Mamaleek album sweepstakes? Never less than fascinating, and never ones to repeat themselves, on Diner Coffee the brothers at the center of the band and their expanding convoy of musicians delivered this mediation on laugher & the little things in life through a prism of jazz and skronk, and featuring a cast of characters who stumble into each song from stage left ready to give the listener an earful of society's ills, expressed through unrealised potential and missed opportunities. It makes for a warmly humane listen; metal remains the band’s guiding philosophy but over and over again they find new ways to express what that means to them. Cast expectations aside, leave your kick pedals at the door, and take a journey in experimentation, sadness and disquiet - what could be more metal than that? [Luke Jackson]

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    Morrow - The Quiet Earth

    self-released

    Pulling from crust punk, screamo, D-beat, folk music, string-laden post-rock, sludge metal, and more, Morrow's third album The Quiet Earth was one of the most explosive and apocalyptic pieces of music to drop this year. The UK collective--led by Alex CF (also of Archivist, Fall of Efrafa, Anopheli, and more)--expanded to 14 musicians on this album, including members of His Hero Is Gone, Link 80, Drei Affen, and more. Two of the six songs pass the 10-minute mark, and both of those constantly-shapeshifting epics really earn their lengthy runtimes. With its overlapping vocals, multi-layered instrumentation, and ever-evolving sound, The Quiet Earth brings to mind stuff like Dead To A Dying World and Pygmy Lush, but they never really sound like one band in particular. Morrow are a force of their own. [A.S.]

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    Negative Plane – The Pact…

    Invictus Productions/The Ajna Offensive

    When I heard that Negative Plane was releasing a new album this year, I instinctively reached for my quill, ready to sign my name in blood wherever a dotted line might present itself. The members’ side projects (particularly Funereal Presence and Ominous Resurrection) are excellent in their own right and deal in similar sorts of psychedelic, doomy black metal, but at long last, the circle is complete again with The Pact…. All of our favorite idiosyncrasies are here in full force: warped heavy metal riffs decked with chiming bells and sinuous trills; theatrical snarls that transform every lyric into an occult incantation; and, last but not least, a downright spectral amount of reverb. After 11 years, Negative Plane have lost none of their potency, and The Pact… was well worth the wait. Now, if you’ll just sign here… [Alex Chan]

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    Phobophilic – Enveloping Absurdity

    Prosthetic

    North Dakota death metallers Phobophilic had been making noise for a few years across demos, EPs, and a split with Sedimentum before signing to Prosthetic and unleashing their most expansive release yet, Enveloping Absurdity. It's easy to see why Undeath vocalist Alexander Jones vocalist called this "one of the best death metal debuts in recent memory" and why Creeping Death guitarist Trey Pemberton praised it too. Like both of those bands, Phobophilic know how to churn out angry, brutal, old school-style death metal that keeps you coming back for more. On Enveloping Absurdity, they've got an arsenal of riffs, Aaron Dudgeon's growls are beastly, but it's not all a full-blown attack; Phobophilic know how to slow it down and quiet down when they need to too. [A.S.]

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    Ripped To Shreds - 劇變 (Jubian)

    Relapse

    Andrew Lee's San Jose-based death metal band Ripped To Shreds has multiple releases dating back to 2018 (and that doesn't count Andrew's many other projects), but 劇變 (Jubian) is an album of firsts. It's the band's first for Relapse, and the first one he made with the band's live show in mind. (Drummer Brian Do of Spinebreaker and bassist Ryan of Doomsday round out the lineup for this LP.) Throughout the record, Lee dishes out some of the most fiery thrash-indebted death metal riffs to hit shelves this year, while delivering throat-shredding screams that tackle real world issues like AAPI hatred. Even if his harsh screams and growls are indiscernible, his message is right there in the album artwork, which depicts a statue of Taiwanese sea goddess Mazu. Lee has said that one of the band's purposes is "to increase the visibility of ABCs [American-born Chinese] in extreme metal by being very blatantly Chinese," and 劇變 (Jubian) does that while offering up some of the most ass-beating death metal of 2022. [A.S.]

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    Rolo Tomassi - Where Myth Becomes Memory

    MNRK

    Having started out as a chaotic mathcore band in the mid 2000s, Rolo Tomassi have evolved drastically over the years, both genre-wise and lineup-wise. (Lead vocalist Eva Korman and co-vocalist/keyboardist James Spencer are the only two original members.) They sound less purely batshit now than they did in the beginning, but even more experimental, with elements of post-rock, dream pop, sludge metal, post-hardcore, metalcore, art rock, and so much more coming together to form a totally undefinable sound. Their 2018 LP Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It was their most ambitious (and most acclaimed) yet, but its followup Where Myth Becomes Memory takes things even further. Time hopped back and forth between a lot of different stuff, but Myth fuses everything together more seamlessly. Some songs lean more firmly into metal/post-hardcore territory, while others could pass for Sigur Ros or Mew, but more often than not, Myth is one super-genre where all of Rolo Tomassi's disparate interests come together at once. The band call the album the "final part" of the "unintended trilogy" that began with 2015's Grievances and continued with Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It, but even if this stunning album closes the latest chapter of Rolo Tomassi's career, it also opens the doors to so many new directions Rolo Tomassi could go in next. As is always the case with this band, the possibilities seem endless. [A.S.]

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    Scarcity - Aveilut

    The Flenser

    The duo of multi-instrumentalist Brendon Randall-Myers (conductor of the Glenn Branca Ensemble since Branca’s passing) and vocalist Doug Moore (Pyrrhon, Weeping Sores, Glorious Depravity, Seputus) take "avant-garde black metal" to a new level with their debut album Aveilut. Named after the Hebrew word for "mourning" and written during 2020 lockdown when both members were surrounded by death, Aveilut is one 45-minute piece broken up into five tracks that really does sound equally indebted to Glenn Branca as it does to black metal. The metal world and the avant-garde world have of course crossed paths before, but Scarcity is made up of musicians who are deeply rooted in both worlds, and the results of coming together is a collaboration that uniquely stands out, even within the context of other bands who seem similar on paper. [A.S.]

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    Sumerlands - Dreamkiller

    Relapse

    Dreamkiller is a culmination of a promise that Sumerlands started and lives up in every possible way. The riffs are sharper, the drums are as pounding as ever, the structures are insanely catchy, and new vocalist Brendan Radigan fills the massive shoes that Phil Swanson left with aplomb, though that’s perhaps not a shock given that Radigan has been fronting killer bands for years; readers might know him from his time in Magic Circle (RIP), Pagan Altar, Battle Ruins, Stone Dagger, Mind Eraser, or one of the other bands he's been in. Every second on Dreamkiller exudes confidence, a deep love for heavy metal, and a band whose musicianship towers above what most modern heavy metal can bring to the table.

    This is in no way a repeat of Sumerlands' self-titled album. Fans of Sumerlands may find themselves missing Swanson's wildly theatrical vocal performance or the sheer melancholia evoked by its dreamy atmosphere, but Dreamkiller is still clearly the work of the same band and the energy and catchiness on songs like "Heavens Above" defy any possibility of calling it a step down. Every listen that I give to Dreamkiller finds new things to love about it; fans of true heavy metal and casual fans alike take heed, for this is heavy metal to die for. Read more here. [Brandon Corsair]

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    Temple of Void - Summoning the Slayer

    Relapse

    Towering doom/death metal act Temple of Void have returned from the murky depths to deliver its fourth full-length album (and Relapse Records debut) Summoning the Slayer. Temple of Void’s knack for creating engaging grooves, enrapturing melancholic melodies and well-crafted tunes are just a few of the band’s musical highlights. Armed with an early ’90s British doom influence and an almost gothic vibe in some spots, Temple of Void combines these elements wonderfully into an original and unique concoction. The seven expansive tracks are so well crafted and highly fluid that they fly by in no time, which is truly a commendable feat as a songwriter to accomplish. Read more here. [Kelley Simms]

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    Tribal Gaze - The Nine Choirs

    Maggot Stomp

    The hardcore-infused wave of death metal continues to grow, and one of the most promising new bands making noise in that realm is Tribal Gaze. In just two short years since forming, they've already sound themselves in great company -- they run in the same circles as fellow Texas bands like Creeping Death and Frozen Soul, they're signed to the consistently great Maggot Stomp label, and their debut LP The Nine Choirs was mixed by in-demand producer Taylor Young (Regional Justice Center, Drain, the Mindforce album mentioned above, etc) -- and it's easy to see why. Their 2021 debut EP Godless Voyage was very promising, and their new full-length The Nine Choirs is even better. McKenna Holland's howl is monstrous, and the rest of the band churn out a razor-sharp mix of chunky, curb-stomping riffs and infectiously bouncy grooves. They're not necessarily trying to be the most groundbreaking band in the world; they just do what they do really well, and these songs have that special something that makes you keep coming back to them. [A.S.]

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    Undeath - It's Time...To Rise from the Grave

    Prosthetic

    The old school-style death metal revival has been upon us for the past few years, and it's not hard to see why Undeath rose (from the grave) to the top of it. They aren't really messing with the formula established by their late '80s / early '90s forebears, but they aren't doing anything overtly retro either. It's Time... has crisp, modern production that really opens you up to the onslaught of riffs, gore-obsessed guttural growls, and pummeling rhythms that make up Undeath's music. It's death metal that takes itself seriously but not too seriously, and it never wastes your time. There's a lot to be said for the many great recent death metal albums that push the genre in unexpected directions, but there's also something to be said for some good ol' fashioned death metal, and if you wanted that this year, It's Time...To Rise from the Grave always delivered. [A.S.]

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    Vein.fm - This World Is Going to Ruin You

    Closed Casket Activities

    Vein have evolved a lot in the four years since their debut LP errorzone solidified them amongst a new crop of bands redefining metalcore for a new generation. On their sophomore LP This World Is Going to Ruin You, they've toned down the twitchy nu metal vibes of their debut, beefed up and modernized their production, and leaned into their bludgeoning heavy side as well as their shoegazy side. World is both heavier than errorzone, and more melodic, thanks not just to Anthony DiDio's increasingly strong clean vocals but also a guest spot from Thursday's Geoff Rickly. It's an immersive listen that you can really lose yourself in, and it sounds as bleak as the title suggests it would. [A.S.]

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    Vomit Forth - Seething Malevolence

    Century Media

    It's been a great time for death metal bands with a hardcore punk spirit, with bands like Undeath, Frozen Soul, 200 Stab Wounds, and Sanguisugabogg all recently dropping deservingly buzzed-about albums that fit that description. And out of that same murky swamp comes Connecticut's Vomit Forth, whose debut album Seething Malevolence has just arrived via Century Media. It follows a 2019 EP and a 2021 promo on Maggot Stomp, the label that has been at the center of this current wave, and it was self-produced and then given to Arthur Rizk to mix and master. Throughout its 10 proper songs, Vomit Forth seamlessly bounce between old school-style death metal, thrash, and hardcore, and they sound totally ass-kicking the entire time. The riffs are thick and rhythmic, and vocalist Kane Gelaznik matches them with a burly growl that suits the vibe perfectly, as well as the occasional higher-pitched hardcore shout to shake things up. If you like death metal that puts pure sonic assault above everything else, you need Seething Malevolence in your life. [A.S.]

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    Wake - Thought Form Descent

    Metal Blade

    If you don't roll your eyes too hard at the term "post-grindcore," then you might use it to describe Wake. The Canadian band dramatically expanded upon their grind roots with their two 2020 releases, Devouring Ruin and the Confluence EP, and with the inability to tour in 2020, Wake got started on their next record Thought Form Descent as soon as Confluence was finished. Picking right up where its predecessor left off, Thought Form Descent has roots in grindcore, but it's really a towering, genre-defying post-metal album that stretches the very definition of extreme music, as the band intended: "The words 'brutal', 'crushing', 'devastating' are overused adjectives for extreme music. We wanted to force people to confront the idea that 'brutal' or 'extreme' ideas aren't just blastbeats or angular tritones, or, more importantly, 'brutal' elements alongside pointedly passive elements can create their own experience that can channel both and neither," the band said. Vocalist Kyle Ball also adds that the album is "a non-linear fiction story that focuses on escapism and existentialism," though personal issues and experiences do find their way into the songwriting, as "the character could more or less be me." From their narrative storytelling to the way they actively ignore genre boundaries, Wake stand out as anomalies within the world of modern metal. Thought Form Descent works to consistently challenge stereotypes within heavy music, but it's not just being different for the sake of it. These shapeshifting songs are an absolute thrill to listen to. [A.S.]

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    Worm - Bluenothing

    20 Buck Spin

    This new Worm EP (or mini-album) feels just as gargantuan as their breakthrough 2021 album Foreverglade. It's got four songs that click in at 26 minutes, and it treks through death metal, black metal, funeral doom, folk guitar, symphonic parts, shred solos (thanks to the addition of guitarist Philippe Tougas), and more in a way that feels truly towering. The production is crisp, the musicianship is as tight as can be, and the screams (delivered by a guy named Phantom Slaughter) are bloodthirsty. [A.S.]

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    Wormrot - Hiss

    Earache

    Hiss is Wormrot's last album with co-founding lead vocalist Arif, and Arif is going out with a bang. The Singapore trio's fourth album finds them cruising through grindcore, death metal, thrash, and punk, making a few pit stops along the way for some sludge, noise, and post-hardcore, and coming out with one of the most thrilling heavy albums of the year -- regardless of subgenre -- in the process. The album veers from pure brutality to mind-bending experimentation to parts that even the most metal-averse listeners could bang their head to. It's an ever-changing, unpredictable record that pushes one boundary after another. It's not easy to pigeonhole this record, but it's very easy to rock the fuck out to. [A.S.]

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