Kelley Simms’ Top Albums of 2022
For me, 2022 was all about death metal — both old school veteran bands and modern up and comers who are taking the genre to the next level. The top 20 albums that I visited the most this year are represented here.
20. Kampfar – Til Klovers Takt (Indie Recordings, Norway) [Interview]
19. Razor – Cycle of Contempt (Relapse Records, Canada) [Interview]
18. Voivod – Synchro Anarchy (Century Media, Canada) [Interview]
17. Revocation – Netherheaven (Metal Blade Records, USA) [Interview]
16. Arch Enemy – Deceivers (Century Media Records, Sweden) [Interview]
15. Black Anvil – Regenesis (Season of Mist, USA) [Interview]
14. Inhuman Condition – Fearsick (Listenable Insanity Records, USA) [Interview]
13. Immolation – Acts of God (Nuclear Blast Records, USA)
12. Destruction – Diabolical (Napalm Records, Germany) [Interview]
11. Megadeth – The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead (Universal Music Group, USA)
Watain — The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain(Nuclear Blast Records, Sweden)
Two-plus decades on, Watain remains one of the most notorious and controversial bands to emerge from the genre. This new slab of vitriolic tunes surges with Satanic fury, along with some unexpected surprises, including the haunting track, “We Remain,” which features the chilling female vocals of Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil's Blood, Molasses) and an eerie guitar solo from Gottfrid Åhman (ex-In Solitude, PÅGÅ).
Wolf — Shadowland(Century Media, Sweden)
This Swedish heavy/power metal band may have faded into the shadows since its well praised self-titled debut album, but they have made a full comeback on its ninth full-length album. My earlier review makes the point of how the band’s catchy and distinctive trademark sound sets them apart from most heavy/power metal bands.
Satan — Earth Infernal(Metal Blade, UK)
One of the frontrunners of the burgeoning NWOBHM genre in the early ’80s, Satan proves that perseverance does pay off on its sixth full-length album. From the sinister guitar riffs and dual lead harmonies, to soaring, melodic howls, to the meaty rhythm section, there’s no mistaking Satan’s definitive sound.
Venom Inc — There’s Only Black(Nuclear Blast Records, England)
Who says there can’t be two Venoms? The 1989 lineup who recorded Prime Evil — guitarist Jeff “Mantas” Dunn and vocalist/bassist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan — plus new drummer Jeramie Kling (Inhuman Condition, The Absence, ex-Massacre), has given this version of Venom their own identity on its sophomore album.
Undeath — It's Time... To Rise Fro The Grave(Prosthetic Records, USA)
The Rochester, New York band has done some amazing things within the underground death metal scene in just a short period of time. Hailed as one of the best new up and coming modern death metal bands to date, their prolific recording output continues with its latest release. During my interview with vocalist Alex Jones, he explained how the band has found their definitive sound and how they crafted this new album.
Sigh — Shiki(Peaceville Records, Japan)
This Japanese avant-garde/black metal band never disappoints. On its 12th full-length album, the band creates a mesmerizing concoction of classical, symphonic, progressive and black metal music. Leader/vocalist/keyboardist Mirai Kawashima explained the musical blueprint of the new album in my interview earlier in the year.
Exhumed — To The Dead(Relapse Records, USA)
When it comes to horror-drenched, blood-soaked, gore-infested death metal bands, Exhumed are hands down the top of the heap. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey, who also plays in Gruesome, Left to Die, and Pounder, is a journeyman metalhead with a true sincerity for the genre. Exhumed’s latest album proves that there is a method to their madness.
Molder — Engrossed in Decay(Prosthetic Records, USA)
Newcomers from Joliet, Illinois encapsulate everything about old school death metal by injecting their brand with a grotesque modernity. In my interview with guitarist/vocalist Aaren Pantke, he spoke about what the essence of Molder is, which is filthy, putrid death metal. The future of death metal is in good hands with youngsters such as Molder.
Bloodbath — Survival of the Sickest(Napalm Records, Sweden)
This death metal “Supergroup” has changed members throughout its existence but has kept their vicious buzz saw attack and old school Swedish death metal aesthetic. The band’s sixth full-length album proves that Bloodbath are still masters of old school death metal brutality.
Autopsy — Morbidity Triumphant(Peaceville Records, USA)
When it comes to death metal, it doesn't get any more influential than California’s Autopsy. Drummer Chris Reifert formed the band immediately after leaving the legendary Death, and this latest slab is pure horrific old school death metal.