Check out this Spotify playlist for the full list, honourable mentions, singles and a few not-metal releases.
5 – EQUINOX VIGIL – INEXORUM (USA) June 17, 2022
The most death metal band on this list, it’s whiplash inducing fast with just the right amount of blackened vocals, death metal riffs, tight solos and cascades of blast beats. Full of melodic fervour, this third release from INEXORUM will keep you on your toes with an incredible amount of variance. The clean chorus on “Equinox Vigil” adds a very slight symphonic feel and juxtaposes against the coarse vocals of the otherwise confidently heavy and punishing album.
Favourite Track: Dark Sky Sanctuary
FFO: Hypocrisy, Dissection, Naglfar
4 – MONUMENTAL – THE TEMPLE OF TWILIGHT – THE MIST FROM THE MOUNTAINS (Finland) January 28, 2022
A truly savage assault of melodic black metal from the opening track to the closer. On this debut record, there is little time to breathe as they drag you through the cannon fire of drums and unforgiving riffs complimented by grainy black metal vocals, deep gutturals and at times gentle cleans. The keyboards were not a surprise, they are Finnish after all, and they punctuate the songs with folky melodic textures, acoustic overtones and choruses of strings. Highly unpredictable, and highly enjoyable.
Favourite Track: Thus Spake The Tongueless Serpent
FFO: Ensiferum, Old Man’s Child, Thulcandra
3 – ORIGINS – SAOR (Scotland) June 24th, 2022
If the picturesque and stunning Isle of Skye had a soundtrack, it would no doubt be composed by SAOR. Unparalleled beauty covered in a blanket of mist and gloom can describe both the Caledonian metal he creates and his homeland. With the hints of local instruments like pipes and flutes bolstering the atmospheric black metal foundation, listeners are invited to carelessly waft over pummeling black metal riffs, harmonious choruses, and elegant piano.
Favourite Track: Aurora
FFO: Sojourner, Primordial, Moonsorrow
2 – AMONG THE FIRES OF HELL – SAKIS TOLIS (Greece) March 19, 2022
In most cases, when a vocalist sets out to have their own music project it ends up sounding very similar if not identical to their original band. That’s not the case with the debut album from SAKIS TOLIS of ROTTING CHRIST (“Silence Will Save Us” being the exception). Diverging from the blackness of RC, this one cranks the melody up a few notches, veers into melodic death territory and adds empowering narration. As much as the vocals carry TOLIS’ very distinct cadence and pattern, it is a completely new sound full of potent messages and dramatic solos.
Favourite Track: The Dawn of the New Age
FFO: Behemoth, Insomnium, Moonsorrow
1 – RUSKA – VERMILIA (Finland) September 9, 2022
This delicate yet visceral album has everything that brings me joy. Empyreal feminine vocals enrich harsh growling further complimented by haunting strings that pull you through each ethereal bar. The deep tones of the acoustics give way to black metal distortion, punctuated with melodies influenced by nature. VERMILIA’s vocals elevate you with amazing range echoed with choirs, the symphonic guitars clash against the thundering drums that pull you back down and drown you in cavalcades of tribal rhythms and clamouring of cymbals. My favourite album of the year, it’s something you can dance to, mosh to, or simply summon a demon to.
Favourite Track: Kuun Tytär
FFO: Wardruna, Heilung, Myrkur