Check out this Spotify playlist for the full list, honourable mentions, singles and a few not-metal releases.
10 – CATHARSIS – HIGH FELLS (USA) November 25, 2022
A completely outstanding debut release from this Texan quartet; who knew something so cold and icy could come out of The Lone Star State? They break the black metal mould by adding hints of death and prog to ensure that their sound delivers that little bit extra, and the faintest amount of core can also be found in the harmonics and guitars, presumably due to two of the members being in BLACK AEVUM, but fret not, elitists – they sacrifice nothing and charge forward with all the key black metal elements that will claw at you from the void and leave you satisfied.
Favourite Track: Hiraeth
FFO: Wolves In The Throne Room, Agalloch, Panopticon
9 – HYMN TO THE WOEFUL HEARTS – PURE WRATH (Indonesia) February 18, 2022
I originally picked this up based on the album art, and it did not disappoint. Each of PURE WRATH’s cohesive and beautiful album covers depicts bleak moments and within is equally beautiful and bleak music. The piano interludes are the perfect contrast in between the aggressive turmoil that swirls around in the harsh, yet enunciated vocals, and black riffs. The title track is slow, acoustic and dreary and exemplifies how talented Januaryo Hardy is as a musician, and how his creativity is not restricted to the realm of black metal.
Favourite Track: Presages From Restless Soul
FFO: Winterfylleth, Drudkh, Enslaved
8 – THE GREAT BELOW – KVAEN (Sweden) March 25, 2022
This isn’t your average black metal release, it is a turbulent frenzied display of some of the best elements of several different genres. It has solid injections of speed metal, death metal, and folk metal into the classic Scandinavian black metal foundation. The one man act has seamlessly blended all the key elements of Nordic metal together into one well produced package. There are black metal solos, speed metal solos, death metal solos – so many good fucking solos and an impressive who’s who of familiar regional musicans that add the icing to this merciless album.
Favourite Track: in Silence
FFO: Watain, Necrophobic, King Diamond
7 – A THIRST FOR SUMMER RAIN – LUSTRE (Sweden) August 26, 2022
When it comes to black metal, atmospheric or not, LUSTRE is doing things completely differently. Overlaying the sombre, despondent black metal are hypnotic keyboards that add an uplifting layer, this is the soundtrack for drifting through a forest during a light rain shower, surrounded by mist, dew and the smell of pine, the sun warming your face. The distant riffs are haunting, the vocals are anguished, yet the calm MIDI tones offer solace and usher you through each track unscathed.
Favourite Track: Thirst
FFO: Unreqvited, Ashbringer, Bròn
6 – BLACKBRAID I – BLACKBRAID (USA) August 26, 2022
In this phenomenal debut you are given no choice but to withstand the pounding of drums that will hammer into you core, you are forced to embrace a storm of aggressive riffs as powerful vocals rip through you. Respite can briefly be found in brief sections such as the meandering acoustic guitar and pan flute on “As the Creek Flows Softly By” but otherwise it’s almost non stop relentless devastation that takes you careening through the majesty of the Adirondack Mountains. Its as moving as it is brutal, as eerie as it is soothing.
Favourite Track: Sacandaga
FFO: Mgła, Uada, Wayfarer