With the explosive return of live music this year, it was nice to have a slightly smaller selection of albums to sift over, and the opportunity to see a few pandemic discoveries live. I rounded up some of the albums I enjoyed and present them to you as my annual recommendations.
Check out this Spotify playlist for the full list, honourable mentions, singles and a few not-metal releases.
15 – RASHOMON – IBARAKI (USA) May 6th, 2022
This was a super interesting release from Matt Heafy, the guitarist and vocalist from TRIVIUM. Even though I only really enjoyed a handful of tracks in their entirety, I recommend it, just for the eclecticness and experimentation. With a variety of guests each putting their own spin on this progressive, core tinged empirical metal, there is a lot going on – elegant solos, black metal vocals, breakdowns, keyboards, mario coin samples, and soaring clean vocals. Sometimes it’s really good, at other times… ehhh…. it’s subjective. The single “Rōnin” featuring MCR’s Gerard Way has stuck with me so much this year, that I had to give this a nod; it’s a challenging listen, but worth it most of the time.
Favourite Track: Rōnin
FFO: Trivium, Arcturus, Ne Obliviscaris
14 – DETTE STEDET KJENNER BARE KULDEN – FROSTNATT (Russia) November 25th, 2022
Like a cold blast of Siberian air, this full length album from the solo project of Alex Evensen, is icy, unforgiving and stinging. Fully instrumental, it is bleak and expansive, an auditory illustration of the longing, and desolation of the mountains from which it came with the cadence of guitars taking the forefront of each song. While staying true to the confines of atmospheric black metal, FROSTNATT still leaves room for creativity resulting in an album far from monotonous.
Favourite Track: Jeg Venter Forsatt Pa Snostomen
FFO: Emperor, Shylmagoghnar, Urfaust
13 – BENEATH THE FLEETING LIGHT – NORDICWINTER (Canada) October 30th, 2022
Having released six albums in as many years under NORDICWINTER, Yves Allaire composes consistently compelling music. On this latest offering, you will find yourself transported to a creaky swing on a farmhouse porch, watching the thundercloud closing in and choking out the last faith gasps of light. This album has it all, morose piano, invigorating orchestrals, slow harmonies, thunderous double kicks, and pained depressive vocals that echo back into the forlorn music.
Favourite Track: Hallowed Darkness
FFO: Lifelover, Woods of Desolation, Nocturnal Depression
12 – LÉLEKHARANG – WITCHER (Hungary) October 8, 2022
The duo of Karola Gere and Roland Neubauer present a full bodied wall of black metal, which embraces the duality of both beautiful mournful keyboards, and the ferocity of pounding drums in the distance. They have been around for 10 years and on this, their fifth release it feels like they have not only they have found the perfect balance of symphonics, chilling vocals and canorous guitar passages to really entrap the listener and inundate them with tranquillizing, atmospheric black metal.
Favourite Track: Csendesen
FFO: Stormkeep, Summoning, Caladan Brood
11 – RAKSHAK – BLOODYWOOD (India) February 18, 2022
The debut album from BLOODYWOOD is a ton of fun and incredibly refreshing taking serious inspiration from Bollywood and incorporating traditional instruments into colourful, anthemic protest songs delivered through vocals that range from chanting in Hindi, nu metal rapping, and growling. The new metal rapping isn’t my favourite, however it is complemented with the traditional instruments, including flute and dhol which give it a texture completely different than anything else you’ve heard before. With infectious drums, endless energy, and the rebellious lyrics that stem from political and social themes, it’s pretty much impossible to not move to this, moshing or dancing.
Favourite Track: Aaj
FFO: Th Hu, Alien Weaponry, Limp Bizkit