Top 3 Trade Destinations for Dalvin Cook

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is the focus of persistent trade rumors
Photo Credit: Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

One of the most persistent storylines of the NFL offseason has circled around the Minnesota Vikings and the future of their star running back, Dalvin Cook. The trade winds have swirled for months, and the rumors just don’t seem to go away. Cook has been linked to a number of teams during this saga. Yet, for now, he remains in Minnesota. 

It feels like it’s only a matter of time before the Vikings ship Cook off somewhere, but where? Here are the top three trade destinations as I see them for Cook, with a wildcard thrown in just for fun – and maybe some chaos!

Dalvin Cook Trade Destinations: Top 3

Arizona Cardinals

For my money, the Arizona Cardinals make the most sense to pull off a trade with the Vikings for Dalvin Cook. They are a team that has been making moves for a couple of years, trying to make that next leap into consistent playoff relevance.

The Cards have their quarterback of the future, Kyler Murray. They have a star wide receiver in Deandre Hopkins – who has his own trade rumors swirling. A consistent threat at the running back position could be the piece they need to put it all together.

One of the big things holding the Cardinals back is health. Kyler Murray is set to miss the beginning portions of the season. Current starting running back James Conner has had an extensive injury history in the NFL. Cook has had his own injury history, but he’s mostly been able to battle through and be a consistent presence in the Vikings backfield. If he can provide that for the Cardinals, they may have what it takes to compete with the 49ers for the division.

Dallas Cowboys

I’ll be the first one to admit that, on the surface, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys to pursue a trade for Dalvin Cook. They seem poised to move on from their cornerstone running back Ezekiel Elliott after a significant dip in his production.

Bringing in another aging, slowing running back would be questionable decision-making, to say the least. Add in the fact that they just signed running back Tony Pollard to a franchise tag deal, and it makes even less sense.

On the other hand, we all know who runs the Cowboys: Jerry Jones. Jones has always been one to make flashy, high-profile moves – whether it makes sense for the team or not. At this point in the NFL offseason, he couldn’t pull off a flashier move than making a trade with the Vikings for Cook.

Do I think it will happen? No. But will I be surprised if Jones up and decides he absolutely has to have Cook, damn the cost? Also no.

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are the team most heavily connected to the Vikings in a trade for Dalvin Cook. The rumors have been floating about for months, and just when you think they’ve died out, they come back with a vengeance. On the surface, trading Cook to the Dolphins makes some sense.

Miami has been making a hard push in a competitive AFC. They traded for former Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb last season. Earlier this offseason, they traded with the Los Angeles Rams to bring in Jalen Ramsey. What’s one more trade, right?

The problem with this scenario is two-fold. The first and most obvious thing is that trading for a running back doesn’t make much sense for a team that has already expended so many resources making a push. The second issue is that Cook doesn’t really fit the mold of what this new Dolphins team is after. With the guys they’ve brought in and drafted over the past few seasons, they clearly have one thing in mind: Speed.

That being said, bringing in a running back like Cook could provide the Dolphins with some much-needed versatility in the backfield. Right now, they don’t have a back who fits that traditional “thumper” mold like Cook could. If brought in, Cook could provide the perfect complement to guys like Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and third-round pick De’Von Achane.

Dalvin Cook Trade Destinations: Wild Card

San Francisco 49ers

Out of all the options we’ve explored for a Vikings trade of Dalvin Cook, this one probably makes the least sense – but is also the most fun. That’s why this is my wildcard option. The 49ers are almost assuredly not going to trade for Cook. They have a potent offense already with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle – the best tight end in football.

They also just played this game last season, making a trade with the Carolina Panthers for Christian McCaffrey. Not only does it not make sense for the 49ers to turn around and expend more assets at the position, but McCaffrey is also a much better fit for what the 49ers want to do on offense. It would be a pipe dream to think San Francisco would be interested in trading for Cook, much less be willing to pull it off.

And yet, one can’t help but dream. Cook would add a new dimension to the 49ers’ offense they don’t currently have. The offense in San Francisco is already so innovative and fun. Can you imagine what Kyle Shanahan could come up with if he had the ever-present threat of simply running the ball down a team’s throat? Cook could open that offense up even further with his presence alone, and that’s fun enough to include here.

2023 NFL Draft: Tyjae Spears Scouting Report

The path to the 2023 NFL draft has been challenging for former Tulane running back Tyjae Spears. Matt Forte left an indelible mark on the Tulane Green Wave program, and Spears looks to be the next great back in that lineage. But this wasn’t always the case for the talented prospect. With the NFL draft quickly approaching, it’s time for my first scouting report of the season — on Tyjae Spears.

Tyjae Spears scouting report
Photo Credit: Tulane Athletics

Tyjae Spears Background

Spears arrived at Tulane in 2019 and was promptly behind several backs on the depth chart as a freshman. He was seldom used that first year, seeing action in only four games, with just under 200 yards rushing. His sophomore season was going to be better. Spears was named the starter and got off to a fast start rushing for 274 yards and two touchdowns in the first three games. Then disaster struck.

Spears suffered a torn ACL in the third week of the season and was forced to miss the remainder of the season, cashing in on his redshirt. An ACL injury isn’t good, no matter your position, but it can spell disaster for a running back. But, to Spears’ credit, he battled back and was the Green Wave’s starting running back again in 2021, playing in 12 games and rushing for over 800 yards and nine touchdowns.

It was Spears’ senior season when the breakout finally came. The Tulane football program experienced unprecedented success in the 2022 season, spearheaded by a great season from their skilled back. Spears burst onto the college football scene in a big way, rushing for over 1500 yards, averaging nearly 7 yards per carry, and scoring a whopping 19 touchdowns, adding 22 receptions for 250+ yards and two more touchdowns.

Stats are great, but football isn’t played on paper. Box-score scouting is how you get yourself into trouble. What traits does Spears have that allowed him to put up such gaudy stats this season? Let’s dive into the Tyjae Spears scouting report!

Tyjae Spears Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Extremely explosive
  • Better agility than scores indicate
  • Surprisingly good receiver
  • Nice vision and contact balance
  • Scheme versatile

Weaknesses

  • Small frame
  • Less-than-ideal contribution in passing game
  • Injury history

Tyjae Spears NFL Draft Outlook

In other years, we might be talking about Tyjae Spears as the top running back in the class. That’s how good his scouting report indicates he can be. Unfortunately for Spears, he’s up against one of the strongest running back classes in recent memory, with the likes of Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Zach Charbonnet.

Spears is an explosive back whose skill set indicates that he can be scheme versatile. His small stature may preclude him from being used in power schemes, but his vision, shiftiness, and explosion should lend well to either zone or gap-running schemes.

Though he didn’t see a lot of action in the passing game, he did show a surprising amount of ability in that department. Spears is sure-handed – likely due at least in part to massive 10” hands – and is a force to be reckoned with in the open field. He likely won’t contribute much to a team in blocking, but he should provide a quarterback with a nice safety valve out of the backfield and can be lined up outside, too.

The biggest knock on Spears outside of size will be his injury history. Though he’s only had one significant injury in his college career, it’s about as big a one for a running back as possible. ACL injuries tend to hamper the shelf-life of an already depressed longevity position. The medical checks will be significant for Spears. Spears was able to play and exceed expectations on that knee during the 2022 season, so I don’t expect any major surprises come med check time. However, it is something most teams will note.

Overall, Spears is a great prospect who, thanks to a tough class, will likely be pushed down the board and drafted lower than his talent may warrant. He’s still a top-100 player in the 2023 NFL draft and should hear his name called no later than the middle of the third round. However, we’d likely be talking about Spears as an early second-type player in other years. Some team will surely get an outstanding running back prospect.

From ‘Ascendancy’ to ‘In the Court of the Dragon’: Ranking the Trivium Discography

Since their formation in 1999, American heavy metal band Trivium has released ten studio albums, sold over one million albums worldwide, and have even been nominated for a Grammy. They’ve achieved a level of stardom few metal bands reach and are one of the kings of modern metal. 

While all of Trivium’s albums are solid metal releases, some are certainly better than others. Here is a ranking of every album in the Trivium discography, from worst to best. All albums are ranked solely on the criteria of how much I enjoy listening to them and how much replay value they have to me.

I will not be including Trivium’s debut album, “Ember to Inferno” in this list, as it’s the only album I’ve never listened to front-to-back.

Trivium Album Ranking: The Bottom Tier

Silence in the Snow

I’m going to take a page out of my co-host Larry’s playbook and reiterate that there are no bad albums in Trivium’s discography. Rather, there are albums that I don’t enjoy listening to as much as the others. When you’re ranking a discography from top-to-bottom, inevitably, one has to be at the bottom. For me, that is Silence in the Snow.

You’re going to sense a theme with the bottom-tier albums in this Trivium discography ranking: The reduced – or, in this case, absent – screaming era was just not for me. I’ve been vocal on the podcast about letting bands grow, evolve, and experiment with their music. It’s natural, and it shouldn’t be something that gets a fan base to turn on the band. But that doesn’t mean you have to like the direction they went.

Very little about this album works for me. At its core, it’s just a jumbled mess of mediocre songs, one right after another. Part of that disconnect is the lack of harsh vocals. Lead singer Matt Heafy blew out his voice a year before the recording this album, which likely played a role in making an album composed of only cleans. 

To Heafy’s credit, he worked hard on his clean vocals, which shows on this album. The quality of his clean singing improved dramatically from previous records. However, it doesn’t feel like the vocals fit with the backing music. His cleans are great and work with the choruses, but the instrumentation of nearly every verse feels like it’s begging for a sorely lacking harshness. 

Unlike the next album on this list, there really isn’t a song on this album that I come back to.

Vengeance Falls

Taking and showing obvious influence from a band can be a risky proposition. When done well, it can make for something beautiful – as we’ll see later in this ranking. When not done well, you get something like Vengeance Falls. David Draiman produced this album, and the Disturbed influence is evident. And not in a particularly good way.

For better or worse, Trivium, throughout their career, has drawn a lot of influence from, and comparisons to, Metallica. For me, this album feels a lot like the “Load” and “Reload” era of Metallica. The album isn’t bad per se; it’s just not what the average fan wants from their Trivium. There were a lot of good things and a lot of lessons learned from this era of Trivium, but on the whole, it doesn’t hold a candle to the rest of their discography.

The only saving grace for this album is the song “Strife.” Strife is an incredible song and doesn’t deserve to go down in history with the rest of this album. That may sound harsh, but compared to the rest of Trivium’s discography, they laid an egg on this one.

In Waves

The era immediately after the release of the “Shogun” album for Trivium was a bit of a weird one. It’s an era where they were trying new things, forming a new sound, and for me personally, it largely didn’t work. It comes closest to working on the “In Waves” record, but even then, it doesn’t rank nearly as well as the rest of the albums in the Trivium discography.

My biggest gripe with this album is the overall production of it. Whereas a lot of metal in the early-to-mid 2000s seemed to suffer from a lack of production, Trivium went too far in the other direction with “In Waves.” It feels overproduced and lacks any real depth of emotion for me throughout most of the album.

“In Waves” sees the band start to drift away from the thrash sounds they had – in my opinion – perfected on “The Crusade” and “Shogun” and explore more of their metalcore roots, and even some radio rock sounds. 

You can’t blame a band for wanting to expand their sound, and it’s hard to fault a band for trying to appeal to a larger audience. It’s simply not the sound I’m looking for with my Trivium. The saving grace on this album for me is the title track. Not so much for enjoying it on the album itself, but rather for the fact that it has made a great closing track for Trivium live sets.

Trivium Album Ranking: Mid-Tier Albums

In the Court of the Dragon

“Mid-tier” is a bit of a misnomer here. All of the albums in this tier are excellent in their own right. On other bands’ discographies, these would be at the top. The fact that these albums fall into the middle of their album ranking is a testament to how good Trivium has been over the years. A fact they highlighted on their most recent effort, “In The Court of the Dragon.”

This album is excellent. Many listeners would make a case that this is one of the top two or three albums in the Trivium discography. And I would have a hard time disagreeing with them too heavily. ITCOTD, along with What the Dead Men Say, were a true return to form for Trivium in all the best ways. So why is this album so low in my ranking if I think so highly of it?

For me, it comes down to replay value. Whenever I listen to this album, I think, “This is an excellent album. I’m not sure why I don’t listen to it more often.” But then I’ll go long stretches without listening to it, only to repeat the cycle again and again. The album just doesn’t have the staying power for me that the efforts ahead of it do.

But make no mistake about it; I really like this album. Heafy’s cleans and screams are right up there at the top of their discography. The rhythm section is always a strong-suit for this band no matter the era they’re in, and Corey’s lead playing on this album is some of the best work he’s done in the band. It all comes together well, but there’s just something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Ascendancy

For me, as with many Trivium fans, “Ascendancy” is where it all started. But it’s not where my love affair with the band began. A friend of mine introduced me to the “Ascendancy” album back in 2015, thinking it would be right up my alley. He wasn’t exactly right, but he wasn’t wrong, either.

I admit I wasn’t in love with this album when I first heard it. There wasn’t a lot for my ear to latch on to and hook me on those first few listens. But there was enough there that made me think, “I’m not feeling this, but I want to explore them more. I get the feeling they have other stuff I’ll really enjoy”.

And that was incredibly prescient in retrospect. It was soon after that first exposure to “Ascendancy” that I discovered Trivium’s “The Crusade” and “Shogun” albums, and THAT is where my love affair with this band really blossomed.

I have revisited this album many times in the years since, and I enjoy it considerably more than I did on that first listen. It’s still not one of my favorite albums in the Trivium discography, but it’ll always hold a special place in my heart for being the album that led me to the ones I *do* love.

The Sin and the Sentence

The Sin and the Sentence was my first new album as a Trivium fan. As previously mentioned, I was introduced to the band in 2015, but didn’t really become a fan of their music until later on in 2016. So, I came in just after Silence in the Snow had been released. TSATS was my first taste of being a Trivium fan in the moment of a new album release, and they did not disappoint!

This album from front to back is incredible. Every album on the list from this point on is. It’s really splitting hairs trying to rank these albums, and depending on my mood I’ll flip this album and the next, What the Dead Men Say. What really makes this album for me is that it’s a strong return to everything I love about Trivium. It brings back the more thrashy sound. They embrace unclean vocals again. Everything I want from Trivium is present on this album. And unlike In the Court of the Dragon, the replay value is there, as well.

The Sin and the Sentence is the album that current drummer Alex Bent first appears on, and with Bent it finally feels like Trivium has found stability with that position. Trivium has always had killer drumming, but they’ve not stuck around long. With Bent, it feels like they finally have a drummer who is the total package. A drummer who can write killer music for the albums, can replicate it live, and can gel with the guys on a personal level.

As for the music itself, the only reason this album isn’t higher in the ranking is because Trivium’s discography is just that good to me. I would love to have this album in the top two or three, but at the end of the day I simply can’t put it above “The Crusade” or “Shogun”.

What the Dead Men Say

If there was an album that encompasses everything that Trivium has been throughout the years, What the Dead Men Say probably comes the closest. There’s such a variety of influences present on this album. And, unlike some other efforts in their discography, I think everything comes together really well on this album. There’s a lot of heavy metal, metalcore, and thrash present on this album. But beyond that, they delve into a lot of progressive and even some melodeath influence.

WTDMS is an amalgamation of everything they had put out up to that point, and a sign of things to come, in the best way possible. This album is so good front-to-back that it’s almost in the “god-tier”. I love so much about this album, but what I appreciate the most is the lyrcial content we get on this one.

There’s songs that delve into the state of the world around us and the bleakness of everything. There’s songs influenced by science fiction. Heafy even explores the pain and sorrow of having to put down a beloved pet. It truly is a summation of everything that Trivium has been – and been through – during their career.

Truly the only thing that keeps this album from being ranked higher is how in love I am with the following albums. WTDMS is a phenomenal album and would be the peak of a discography for a lot of bands.

Trivium Album Ranking: The God-Tier

The Crusade

When I was first introduced to Trivium, I wasn’t feeling it – but I had a feeling that if I explored their discography a bit, I would find something that I was feeling. That album was “The Crusade”. This was the album where it truly “clicked” for me and I became a massive fan of the band. It was love at first listen, and to this day it’s one of my most-listened albums on a consistent basis. It’s just so damn good!

Unlike its predecessor “Ascendancy”, “The Crusade” mostly abandons the metalcore sound in favor of a more heavy, thrash-inspired sound. To me, Trivium is at their best when they’re embracing the thrash side of their influences, and that sound is there in spades on this one.

This album is almost a love letter to Metallica in its sound and fury. You can really hear their influence throughout, and it’s one of the reasons I love this album, as a massive Metallica fan. But beyond that, once again I come back to the lyrical content.

“The Crusade” more than any other album in the Trivium discography touches on tough subjects. There are songs on the album about police brutality. Songs that tell the story of a troubled mother killing her children. A lot of the songs revolve around famous murders in one capacity or another, but there are also songs that lift you up and make you feel like you can conquer the world.

There’s a really nice balance on this album that I think more fans should appreciate. “The Crusade” tends to not get the love I think it deserves as an absolutely fantastic album. For me, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard, regardless of the band. It’s an all-time great for me. Only exceeded in the Trivium discography by the next album.

Shogun

We’ve finally reached the pinnacle. “Shogun” isn’t just the top album in the Trivium discography for me, it’s one of my favorite albums of all-time. If someone were to reach inside my brain, pluck out my musical tastes, and write an album based upon that information, it would be “Shogun”. This album has everything I want in my metal. There’s pounding riffs. Blistering solos. Heafy has an incredible balance between clean and harsh vocals. There’s incredible diversity in the song structures, the instrumentation, and the lyrical content. Everything about this album is perfect to me.

What really separates this album from “The Crusade” – and from most other albums – is the closing track, the titular “Shogun”. The song structure alone puts this song, and album, into a category all its own. “Shogun” is one of the most beautifully composed songs I have ever heard. It’s brutal and angry, yet beautiful and even bluesy in parts. The bluesy solo that Heafy busts out in the middle of the song is unexpected, yet fits perfectly and is one of the greatest bits of music I’ve ever heard.

There isn’t a bad track on this album. There aren’t enough good things that I can say about this album. It truly is Trivium at their finest. Everyone in the band was at their peak on this album, and it stands alone at the top of their discography for me by a pretty wide margin.

There you have it, my definitive ranking of the albums in the Trivium discography. You may disagree with my rankings, and that’s fine. The lead singer, Matt Heafy, himself disagrees! Not too long ago he took to Twitter asking the fans for their rankings, and dropping a few different rankings of his own. Almost universally, one of my favorite Trivium albums, The Crusade, was near the bottom of his list.

That’s the great thing about music, we all hear it differently. We all get different things out of it, and we all have different aspects of it that we like and dislike. Yet, it brings us together despite those differences. The love of music conquers all.

2022 Metal Albums of the Year: Part 2

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…

2022 Metal Albums of the Year (Part 1)

Chris Spooner's 2022 Top 10 Metal Albums of the Year

The year has come to a close, so it’s time to talk about the metal albums of the year for 2022. Last year was another great year for metal music. There were a ton of solid releases from bands all across the extreme music spectrum. 2021’s releases were a bit more top-heavy than what we got this past year, but I have no problem saying that 2022 was more consistent across the board. There wasn’t as much that blew me away this year, but there was a ton of really good, really consistent metal all year.

This year’s Metal Album of the Year piece is going to look a little different than how it was laid out last year. My methodology has gotten a little bit more precise in my second year of ranking albums, and the scoring is going to reflect that. I want to give a big shout-out to Thrash Metal Dad on TikTok for inspiring me to get a bit more granular with the way I grade each album.

At the end of the day, the grading is still all about my enjoyment of each album. How much did I enjoy listening to it initially, how much replay value did I get out of it, and how much did I enjoy it upon a year-end re-listen? If you caught my mid-year article outlining the best metal albums of 2022 so far, you’ll notice a few big changes. Another big change is that this year the list is coming out in two parts!

Now, without further ado, let’s get into my choices for the best metal albums of 2022, starting with 10-6!

Metal Albums of the Year Methodology

Inspired by Thrash Metal Dad, I have taken a deeper look at the rankings for the 2022 version of the Metal Albums of the Year article. Last year it was based mostly on just vibes and arbitrarily attributing a score to how much I enjoyed listening to the albums. This year is largely the same, but we’re getting a bit more granular with it and judging each song individually, and then the album as a whole. But what does that mean, exactly?

For me, it means that I’m judging my enjoyment of each song on a scale of 1 to 5. A 1 would be a song that I would likely skip were I listening to the album on my own outside of writing a piece on it. A 5 would mean that the song is something I’m going to listen to repeatedly, and is one of the best songs on the album – if not the best. An extra point was given to the songs that I felt were the best singles of the year.

As far as the album ranking as a whole, this took things like the overall storyline of the album, production quality, overall lyrical content, and sonic diversity into consideration. Again, graded on a scale of 1 to 5. Once all of the songs were scored and averaged, the rankings were added together and divided by the number of songs on the album. That score was then added to the overall album score to get a final grade out of 10. And now, onto the rankings!

2023 Metal Albums of the Year: 10-6

10.) Korn – Requiem

We’re starting off our look at the 2022 metal albums of the year with a throwback of sorts. If you’re of a certain age, like me, the Nu-Metal wave had an absolute chokehold over some of your formative years. You couldn’t grow up in the late 90s and early 2000s and not hear bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Slipknot absolutely dominating the airwaves. Korn was certainly the leaders of the movement – whether they wanted the ‘nu-metal’ moniker or not.

While the genre was largely derided at the time, it has persisted into the present day. Looking back on the genre, I would argue that it was just as important for the popularization of heavy music for my generation as thrash metal was for the generation before me. You can see it in the nu-metal influences popping up in today’s new music, even in genres you wouldn’t expect.

You can plainly hear the “Iowa” influence in Slaughter to Prevail’s “Kostolom” album from last year. Tallah is leading the nu-metal revival wave. And the titans of the genre, Korn, have come back with a vengeance

2022 saw Korn drop arguably their best album since the “Untouchables” era. This album has all of the classic nu-metal sounds the genre is known for, but it doesn’t feel dated at all. It has enough modern metal flair that it feels in place with things that are coming out new and fresh today.

It still packs the emotional punch that Korn is known for, and was an absolute masterpiece in the genre’s revival. The newer bands have taken the torch and ran with it, but the old guard still has plenty to contribute!

9.) Machine Head – Of Kingdom and Crown

From one titan of heavy music to another. Machine Head has been kicking people’s asses in the groove metal genre for decades now. They’re a band I never really got into until pretty recently. But once again, if you’re of a certain age they’re a name you can’t help but have heard at some point in your heavy music journey.

I never caught their previous album before, “Of Kingdom and Crown” but the consensus was that it was… not a great effort, to put it mildly. This one, however, was a true return to form for one of heavy music’s stalwart bands. Of Kingdom and Crown comes in and from the very beginning grabs your ear and tells you to strap in for a heavy journey.

OKAC is a concept album, which gets bonus points from me. I love when an album has a cohesive story that you can follow throughout its entirety. An album with general themes that pop up in every song is great, but I love a good, well thought-out story that plays out from cover-to-cover, and for the most part that’s what this album gave us.

There were a couple of interludes that I felt took me out of the story for a bit, and are the reason this album isn’t higher on my 2022 Metal Albums of the Year list. Overall, though, I thought this was a fantastic album.

8.) Shadow of Intent – Elegy

If you’ve followed along with the Blast Beats Twitter account or know me in real life, you know that I’ve become somewhat of a Deathcore fanboy over the past year-plus. It started with the 2021 releases by Slaughter to Prevail, Whitechapel, and Lorna Shore, and it has only grown from there.

Indeed, the deathcore genre will be well represented in this look at the top metal albums of the year in 2022, and it all starts here at number eight with Shadow of Intent.

Lorna Shore and Will Ramos take up the lion’s share of the headlines when it comes to the Deathcore genre, and for good reason. They are absolutely blowing up lately, and as we’ll get into in a bit, their “Pain Remains” release was a masterpiece. It’s been great to see what they’re doing in the genre, but it can overshadow some other worthy bands and vocalists. I think that’s the case here, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of it myself.

When “Elegy” first dropped in January of 2022, I was a fan of it, but it didn’t hit me quite enough to be a top 10 album for me. It was good. I really liked it. But there was just something that was getting lost on me. Something that kept it from really making that top-tier category. After seeing Shadow live a couple of times this year and after going back to Elegy, what it was was not appreciating Ben Duerr’s vocal performance enough.

My main “complaint” about Elegy when I listened to it initially was that I wanted more vocal variety from the album. Initially I felt that the vocals were a bit too flat and one-note for me. After going back and listening a few times in getting my top metal albums of 2022 list settled, I realized that I’d really discounted just how much variety there was. It’s a different type of variety than Lorna Shore and Will Ramos’ vocal acrobatics, which I think slipped by me the first time.

With “Elegy”, the variety is in the layering. Duerr isn’t going back-and-forth between gutterals, mids, and crazy highs like a Ramos. Instead, those tracks are all layered and in such a way that it can be easy to miss if you’re not intently listening. That’s not to say Lorna Shore doesn’t do their fair share of layering – they absolutely do – but the vocal performances are drastically different in how they’re done.

After going back and giving “Elegy” the attention it deserves, this album is a masterpiece. It easily holds up against anything else the Deathcore genre has to offer, and I truly believe that Ben Duerr should be held up with the esteem of the likes of Ramos, Alex Terrible, Phil Bozeman, and the titans of the genre.

7.) Venom Prison – Erebos

For someone who isn’t a fan of ‘progressive’ as a genre, I really tend to gravitate towards progressive elements in my music. I can’t really explain what it is about the ‘progressive’ genre that turns me off from it, but I love when those elements are introduced into other genres. Like the death metal genre with Venom Prison’s “Erebos”.

This album has everything I want musically speaking. There are a plethora of parts that are just heavy and punishing. It gives you parts that are melodic and catchy. There are parts that push the boundaries of what the death metal genre is and what it can be. Lyrically, it covers topics that always resonate with me, like social justice and reform, loss and sorrow, and pure, unadulterated anger.

I’m honestly surprised this album didn’t score higher for me; and initially it did. This is one of the albums that slid down my rankings a bit when I finished my end of the year re-listens. Not entirely because the album didn’t hit the same way for me, but rather because a few albums caught my attention more on re-listen than I gave them credit for. But make no mistake about it, I absolutely loved this album.

Some things have come to light recently about Venom Prison that have put a bit of a sour note on this album for me personally, but this list was completed before those things came to light and did not have an effect on my rankings. What ultimately made me lower on this album than I was initially is that there are a few tracks in the middle of the album that, while good, don’t quite live up to the rest of the album.

It sort of lost me in those moments, but for the most part “Erebos” is a fantastic example of pushing the boundaries in a genre that can feel like a lot of the same things over and over.

6.) Revocation – Netherheaven

One of my favorite discoveries of 2022 was stumbling upon the band Revocation. I’ve missed a lot of music that came out between 2005 and 2020, unfortunately, and it seems like Revocation is one of those big misses. I still need to go back and do a deep dive on their discography, but they made a massive first impression on me.

My first exposure to Revocation was in the early portion of 2022 when I saw them out in Chicago. They were on the bill with Shadow of Intent, Whitechapel, and the headliner Cannibal Corpse – who I also fell in love with, but that’s a story for a different time. After Shadow of Intent played, I was expecting Revocation to come next, simply because I’d never heard of them and knew that Whitechapel was a decently big name.

Revocation wound up being the band right before the headliner, and they showed why they were deserving of that bill. Their brand of technicality, speed, and catchiness was infectious. It was absolutely one of those “holy shit” moments for me, and I’ve been a fan ever since. So when Revocation started dropping singles for Netherheaven, I was all the way in.

When the album finally dropped, it exceeded my expectations. I don’t know whether to call this band a tech death band or a death-thrash band, but no matter what label you put on it, it’s incredible. The tones on the album are everything I want from my thrash metal. There’s so much anger and aggression in the lyrics. The features with Trevor Strnad (RIP) and Corpsegrinder were phenomenal and left me wanting more.

I can’t wait to see what comes next from this band, and I can’t wait to see what’s hiding for me to discover in their back catalog.

Come back later this week as we dive into my top 5 metal albums of 2022! Until then, here’s hoping the first part gave you something to go back to that you may have missed. See you next time!