If you’ve been in the content creation game for long, you know that if you create something in multiple parts and tell your audience when to expect the next part, inevitably something will come up to delay that. That’s exactly what happened with the second part of my look at the 2022 metal albums of the year. But, while we’re a little late on the top 5, we made it and that’s what counts!
If you need a little refresher on the bands and albums we’ve covered so far, take a look at my choices for the numbers 6-10 on my metal albums of the year countdown. And as a reminder, all of these albums are ranked purely on my enjoyment of each. There are no wrong answers here! Now, without further ado, let’s check out my top 5 metal albums of the year from 2022.
2022 Metal Albums of the Year: 5-1
5) Malevolence – Malicious Intent
As we covered last year, hardcore isn’t a genre that I have a whole lot of exposure to. It’s one of those genres that for most of my life I just wrote off as ‘not really my thing’ without ever giving it a fair shake. Then 2021 happened and I discovered incredible albums by bands like Every Time I Die and Dying Wish. They really opened my eyes to what I had been missing with the genre, and how many great albums could be found if I was simply willing to look.
From that point on I made it a conscious point of emphasis to make sure I was checking out hardcore albums to see if anything hit me the way those two albums did. Sure enough, I found another one in 2022. We kick off the top 5 of my 2021 metal albums of the year with “Malicious Intent” from Malevolence.
This is an album that ranked highly in my “top metal albums of the year…so far” piece that I wrote back in July. Though much came out between then and the end of the year, this is an album that had staying power for me. Even after several repeat listens, I’m in love with this album as much today as I was when it first dropped. The combination of crushing riffs, wonderful harmonies, and a distinct voice on the clean vocalist really made this album stand out in a sea of great albums. 2022 gave metal fans a ton of great records and this is one of the ones that took me by surprise
4) Arch Enemy – Deceivers
“Deceivers” from Arch Enemy was one of my most anticipated albums of 2022 and had been for a long time. The band had been teasing this album for a long time before we finally got to hear the full effort in August. So much so that I even raved about one of the singles on a podcast episode months before the album finally dropped.
The wait was well worth it! If you’re a fan of melodic death metal, this is an album you need to check out. One of the criticisms of Arch Enemy throughout the years has been that a lot of their songs wind up sounding the same. They’re not known for pushing the envelope or really testing the boundaries of what the genre can be. They know their wheelhouse and they stick with it.
While “Deceivers” doesn’t deviate too far from that tried and true formula that has made Arch Enemy a melodeath titan, there is enough experimentation throughout the album to keep my ear interested and really hooked.
The star of the show is Alyssa White-Gluz finally displaying her clean vocals on “Handshake With Hell” and showing a side of their artistic expression as a band that we’ve seldom seen before. I would have liked more of this from them on the album, but that’s a discussion for another time.
What we got with “Deceivers” was straight-up melodeath goodness. White-Gluz’s vocal delivery is as powerful as ever, but between the addition of cleans on the aforementioned single and a larger focus on Jeff Loomis’ solo virtuosity, it felt like the step up from the band that fans have been waiting for.
3) Lorna Shore – Pain Remains
While “Deceivers” was one of my most anticipated albums of 2021, “Pain Remains” from Lorna Shore was easily my most anticipated album of the year. Lorna Shore took the metal world by storm when they released “To the Hellfire” and unleashed the unholy noises of Will Ramos upon the world. While that song was the impetus that got me – and most people – to sit up and take notice of Lorna Shore, it was the rest of the “…And I Return to Nothingness” EP that really grabbed my attention.
For me, both “Of the Abyss” and the title track were better songs than “To the Hellfire”. Hellfire had the shock value to bring in the ears, but the other two tracks were where the band really got a chance to shine and show their true potential. Potential that was fully realized with the release of their first full-length album with Ramos.
The star of the show on this album was the first part of the Pain Remains trilogy: Dancing Like Flames. This song really showcased that there’s more to Lorna Shore – and the deathcore genre as a whole – than just trying to be lower, slower, and more brutal than the next band. With Pain Remains, and to steal a line from The Charismatic Voice, Ramos and the band truly achieve the next ascension of emotional tension. The breakdowns and animal noises are great. But deathcore that can make you cry? That’s where the good stuff is!
Rest assured, “Pain Remains” isn’t Lorna Shore going soft. The first part of the trilogy may qualify as a “ballad” by deathcore standards, but the rest of the album still goes hard as fuck. There is plenty of absolute destruction on this album to satisfy even the most staunch of deathcore purists.
This isn’t a case of, say, a Whitechapel putting out an album that is a ton of cleans, a ton of experimentation, and really just a “deathcore” album by way of being put out by a deathcore band. Instead, Pain Remains stays true to the genre while also giving enough variety to push the genre forward in new and exciting ways.
2) Enterprise Earth – The Chosen
If you follow me online or know me in person, it’s no secret that the deathcore genre has a chokehold on me right now. It has ever since Whitechapel, Lorna Shore, and Slaughter to Prevail dropped their albums in 2021 and opened my eyes to the potential of the genre. That chokehold ramped up to 11 in 2022, as evidenced by the genre holding the top three spots in my metal albums of the year countdown.
The second of the three deathcore albums on this list comes from Enterprise Earth with their release “The Chosen”. As we’ve established, I’m a guy who loves songs that tackle difficult subjects, and who appreciates vocal or instrumental variety in his music. I love songs that make me feel, and albums that have enough variation to keep my ear interested and keep me from getting bored. So from the moment, I heard the song “Overpass”, I was hooked.
“The Chosen” hits on everything I want from an album. There are great melodies, there are crushing, brutal vocals. We have some clean singing in parts. There are songs, like “Overpass, that tackle tough subjects such as addiction and suicide. Enterprise Earth even gave us songs that hype you up, give you a pep talk, and make you feel like you can take on whatever shit the world throws at you.
The album doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the world around us. Instead, it tells us that “You know what? The world around you is shit. But you are THE SHIT. Now get out there, rise up, and conquer whatever it is you’re dealing with”. I think that’s a message we could all use a bit more of these days.
1) Fit for an Autopsy – Oh, What the Future Holds
In a genre where everyone is trying to be heavier, more brutal, and more outrageous than the last guy, Will Putney, Joe Bad, and the guys in Fit for an Autopsy said “Nah, fuck that”. And it worked tremendously. Fit for an Autopsy might be the forgotten step-child of the deathcore genre right now, but for my money they’re at the top of their game – and the genre as a whole. And that’s reflected not only in my 2022 metal albums of the year ranking, but also on the charts.
Oh, What the Future Holds was quietly a massively successful album for a deathcore band. The album topped out at #2 on the US Heatseekers chart, #3 on the US Hard Rock charts, and #23 on the Billboard Top 200. One listen to the album and it should be obvious as to why this album had such wide-ranging appeal, and what makes it my top metal album for 2022.
With Oh, What the Future Holds, Fit for an Autopsy chose to eschew the accepted norms of the deathcore genre and really take it back to the hardcore roots. The breakdowns are a far cry from the heavy, brutal sounds of the previous deathcore efforts on this list.
Instead, they embrace their hardcore roots and make you want to get out on the floor and throw fists. The vocals aren’t trying to get lower or more absurd than some of their genre brethren, either. Joe Bad isn’t blowing anyone away with his lows like an Alex Terrible. He’s not making inhuman noises like Will Ramos or Dickie Allen.
On the contrary, he’s giving you an incredibly consistent, heartfelt, angry performance that draws the listener in and makes them feel the anger and resentment at what the world around them has become. That’s the central theme of “Oh, What the Future Holds” – anger at what we’ve become, with a hope for a better future. Things may be fucked up right now, but it’s within your power to rise up and change it. Things may look bleak now, but Oh, What the Future Holds…