Hey, I’m Mike, friend of the Noob Heavy crew and also known as ProgPro on social media. Since there have been so many releases this year, I made a Spotify playlist so you can check out EVERYTHING I enjoyed from 2022. But for now, here are my top albums!
Albums I enjoyed that didn’t make the list:
40 Watt Sun – Perfect Light
A.A. Williams – As the Moon Rests
Ashenspire – Hostile Architecture
Assumption – Hadean Tides
Barn – Habitat
Cloud Rat – Threshold
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter
GGGOLDDD – This Shame Should Not Be Mine
Hatchie – Giving the World Away
Imperial Triumphant – Spirit of Ecstasy
Inclination – Unaltered Perspective
Izthmi – Leaving This World, Leaving it All Behind
Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B
Knoll – Metempiric
Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
Tzompantli – Tlazcaltiliztli
Undeath – It’s Time… to Rise From the Grave
Vermin Womb – Retaliation
Worm – Bluenothing
iRis.EXE – SMiLE
Starting off with the honorable mentions is iRis.EXE’s debut EP, which was quite an impressive debut. The production on this sounds incredibly professional and I can already see these songs becoming pop classics, if only they had more exposure. This EP has been making the rounds within the hardcore community due to Emma Boster of Dying Wish and Mike Sugars of Vatican being featured on it (plus iRis.EXE is featured on Vatican’s new album) but I’m not sure how far it’s spread beyond that. Either way, I’ve been coming back to this EP a lot throughout the year and it has me excited for whatever iRis.EXE releases next. Go give it a listen if you’re a fan of any type of pop music.
Favorite tracks: “ok, pixelate !”, “a thousand needles”, “sleep better”
Genres: glitch pop, hyperpop
FFO: Alice Glass, Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, Purity Ring, Yeule
Ada Rook – UGLY DEATH NO REDEMPTION ANGEL CURSE I LOVE YOU
After hearing this album I knew I had to include it here, it feels like it brings something totally new to the table. Combining the sounds of EBM/industrial metal in the vein of Youth Code with hyperpop, it gives off the nostalgia of Myspace but feels futuristic at the same time. This album has top notch production, catchy choruses, powerful screams and unique songwriting.
Favorite tracks: “999999999 IN A DREAM”, “PURGATOR3Y MODULATION ENGINE”, “COWARD 2 COWARD”, “UNDERNEATH IT ALL”
Genres: noise pop, industrial, hyperpop
FFO: Youth Code, The Garden, Kero Kero Bonito, Combichrist, Charli XCX, 100 Gecs, Sleigh Bells, Skinny Puppy
Vatican – Ultra
Right from the start this album goes in extremely hard. A full on assault on your ears with a futuristic vibe to it. Vatican drops the Zao-like style of their debut album and early EP’s to pursue a more straightforward metalcore approach, with the addition of clean vocals… and the cleans manage to work here. It balances out the extremity of the album’s heavy sections. There are nu-metal, electronic and industrial influences sprinkled throughout this album along with great technical guitar work. The strongest parts of Ultra for me are the heavy intro tracks and the ambient electronic outro track, which features iRis.EXE. They really show off the two sides of Vatican’s current sound and make me curious what they’re going to follow this album up with. I was very much a fan of Vatican’s older sound, but I like their new sound just as much. It feels like they’re bringing something new to the table.
Favorite tracks: “Slipstream Annihilation”, “I am Above”, “Where Heavens Collide”, “Mirror Dream”, “Did You Ever Notice I Was Gone?”
Genres: metalcore, nu-metal
FFO: Dying Wish, Orthodox, Vein, Year of the Knife, Code Orange, Veil of Maya, The Devil Wears Prada
Foxtails – Fawn
This was a very unique album that stuck with me throughout the year. The songs are primarily focused on the vocals, bass, and violin which makes it feel like there’s plenty of empty space in a way that I’ve never really heard before. That space leaves room for experimentation which they take full advantage of. Even though the focus is shifted away from what you’d usually expect to hear from a screamo band, it works out well and a lot of the songs have the same intensity as your regular screamo tracks.
Favorite tracks: “Star-Crossed”, “Catalyst”, “Paper Tiger”
Genres: screamo, midwest emo, post-hardcore
FFO: The World is a Beautiful Place, Pianos Become the Teeth, Gospel, Soul Glo, State Faults, Respire
Saidan – Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal
This album added a unique spin to the usual black metal sound, giving their songs positive-sounding riffs. The combination of that with the raw heaviness of the drums really made this click with me. Some have compared the upbeat nature of these songs to j-rock or power metal, which I can hear too. At times it reminds me of a blackened Astronoid. The vocals are raw and give off the vibe of George Clarke’s harsh vocal style in Deafheaven, specifically in the New Bermuda album. There’s also just a rapid energy to the music that keeps me coming back. The songs are melodic but they’re still fast paced and don’t meander the way I feel some melodic black metal does. Overall, this album is a very fun listen.
Favorite tracks: “Kissed by Lunar’s Silvery Gleam”, “Queen of the Haunted Dell”, “Pale Imitation”, “Yuki Onna”
Genres: black metal
FFO: Deafheaven, Lamp of Murmuur, Alcest, Bosse-de-Nage, Astronoid, MØL
Toadeater – Bexadde
This band name threw me off completely, when I first checked this album out I did not expect this style of black metal. It’s very atmospheric and ritualistic, in the vein of the Ultha and Wiegedood albums listed earlier. The vocals range from uniquely high pitched to crust-like, and sometimes even wander into DSBM territory with tracks like Let the Darkness Swallow You. The album is absolutely littered with blast beats and tremolo picks which is what I love about black metal.
Favorite tracks: “Asche”, “Let the Darkness Swallow You”
Genres: atmospheric black metal
FFO: Ultha, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Spectral Wound, Gaerea, Dödsrit, Wiegedood
Acephalix – Theothenatology
This album is pretty much everything I want out of a death metal release. It’s fast, heavy, crusty, and straight to the point. The production is raw and there are d-beat influences all over the place. It sounds like an album that could have been released in the late 90’s. For me this album is the standout death metal release. The blend of different influences fit really well together, the drumming keeps the momentum consistent throughout the album, and the vocals make this feel like genuine caveman music.
Favorite tracks: “Theothanatologist”, “Godheads”, “Postmortem Punishment”, “Defecated Spirit”
Genres: death metal, crust
FFO: Undeath, Vastum, Autopsy, Undergang, Mammoth Grinder
Soul Blind – Feel it All Around
This was a very impressive debut, right off the bat I already feel like I’m listening to a 90’s grunge album. The guitar tone is pretty heavy and got me hooked immediately. There are hints of bands like Deftones, Hum, and Failure throughout which also contributed to me enjoying it so much. With the constant high energy and great songwriting, you can tell that the band are giving it their all with this album. It makes me excited for what Soul Blind has in store for us next, and for the future of this 90’s grunge/shoegaze revival movement that bands like Fleshwater and Modern Color are also a part of.
Favorite tracks: “Seventh Hell”, “Stuck in a Loop”, “Tribe”, “Ain’t Hard to Tell”
Genres: shoegaze, grunge, alternative rock
FFO: Deftones, Far, Quicksand, Failure, Hum, Shiner, Fleshwater, Loathe
Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze
I almost completely missed out on this release, but luckily that album cover caught my attention when it showed up in my recommended songs. This album is quite the journey. The way the songs are structured has a very technical feel to it, which reminds me of bands like Ne Obliviscaris. The drum patterns have unique accents that throw you off sometimes, and there are beautiful guitar melodies throughout. The intro to “Mists Along Florencia” is a particular standout for me. It sounds like the type of thing that would come from the band Novembre, who are one of my favorites. This is a completely different side of black metal than the rest of the bands in this list, it’s progressive musically but the production is still raw.
Favorite tracks: “Hypoxic”, “Mists Along Florencia”
Genres: atmospheric black metal
FFO: Ne Obliviscaris, Mare Cognitum, Falls of Rauros, Ellende, Amiensus
The Top 15:
15. Mares of Thrace – The Exile
After going on a 10 year hiatus, Mares of Thrace are back with a crushing new album. I was a huge fan of their 2012 album The Pilgrimage and this felt like an extension of that, but with more focus on atmosphere. The addition of clean vocals was a surprise to me but it works, and the album cover is a good representation of what the music sounds like. Something about the way the riffs sound just evokes the imagery of sailing on a stormy ocean. This is a great album to listen to if you’re in the mood for heavy doomy music in the vein of Dark Castle.
Favorite tracks: “Dark Harbours”, “Offerings of Hand and Tongue”, “Mortal Quarry”
Genres: sludge, doom metal, post-metal
FFO: Dark Castle, KEN mode, Vile Creature, Thou, Rwake
14. Armed for Apocalypse – Ritual Violence
I saw that former members of Will Haven and The Abominable Iron Sloth were in this band and listened to this album immediately. It sounded exactly like what I expected, coming in extremely heavy and sludgy. They blend the sludgy guitars with an early 2000’s metalcore/metallic hardcore sound and it fits together really well. Every song in here is crushing and the vocals are reminiscent of early Lamb of God/Burn the Priest. There’s also a song in here that features Trevor Phipps from Unearth. If you want to listen to something unrelentingly heavy, this album is for you.
Favorite tracks: “Under My Shame”, “Full of Phlegm”, “Hourglass”, “Lifeless”, “Foredoomed”
Genres: sludge, metalcore, groove metal
FFO: Will Haven, A Life Once Lost, Conjurer, Black Sheep Wall, The Acacia Strain, Coalesce, Crowbar, Burn the Priest
13. Glemsel – Forfader
I have never heard of Glemsel before this year, and I checked out this album on a whim. I’m very glad I did though because this album hits hard. The riffs are very hypnotic and remind me of a more melodic Thantifaxath. They’re very dissonant but they also provide atmosphere, sometimes they’ll sit in one place for a long time and let the atmosphere build up like in the track “Savn”. It reminds me of what I love about post-metal so much, except here it’s continuous blast beats and tremolo picking instead of long and slow build-ups. I think the best way to describe this is that it’s the type of album you put on to get lost in the music.
Favorite tracks: “Mod Afgrund”, “Savn”, “Det Gamle Må Vige”
Genres: black metal
FFO: Thantifaxath, Ultha, Vanum, Wolves in the Throne Room
12. Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist
This album takes influences from everywhere. The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot, The Devil Wears Prada, sasscore, post-rock, church choirs, the Barney theme song… everywhere. With cleaner production than their previous album Die on Mars and more reliance on atmosphere, Celebrity Therapist makes for a more dynamic listen. The heavier parts feel like everything is turned up to 11, and the catchier parts show off really impressive songwriting. This album also gives room to show off all the instruments, and there are plenty of them. Multiple guitars, violin, synthesizer, and now the addition of the saxophone, the use of these instruments are well placed throughout the album and they all have their chance to shine without drowning out the others in the mix. This album has me looking forward to whatever Callous Daoboys have in store for us next.
Favorite tracks: “A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops”, “Title Track”, “The Elephant Man in the Room”, “What is Delicious? Who Swarms?”, “Star Baby”
Genres: mathcore, metalcore, post-hardcore
FFO: The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot, The Devil Wears Prada, SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Kaonashi, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, Heavy Heavy Low Low, iwrestledabearonce
11. Sylvaine – Nova
I have never listened to Sylvaine before hearing this album, so I had no expectations coming into it. I thought the intro track was beautiful but still didn’t know what to expect, it could have gone in a folk metal direction (which I’m not usually a fan of) but I was pleasantly surprised when “Mono No Aware” kicked in and I heard those shrill harsh vocals. For people who have already heard Sylvaine, I’m sure this comparison gets old after a while, but the first thing I thought of was one of my all time favorite bands…Alcest. And it wasn’t just a reminder of Alcest, it was the entire formula. A lot of bands have tried to capture Alcest’s sound but I’ve never heard anyone capture it this well. From the high pitched harsh vocal style that Neige does, to the dreamy clean vocal style that Neige does, to the guitar tone, to the bass and drums, to the atmosphere and production, everything just fits together perfectly. Sylvaine does add her own flavor to it though, there is still folky influence in here and the layered vocals are used in a different way. This is an album that I have returned to plenty of times throughout the year, and it was given a bit of an advantage since it was released back in March. If you like beautiful music, you will enjoy this album.
Favorite tracks: “Mono No Aware”, “Nowhere Still Somewhere”, “I Close My Eyes So I Can See”
Genres: post-black metal (or blackgaze, I guess)FFO: Alcest, Lantlôs, Les Discrets, Heretoir, Astronoid, Junius
10. Asunojokei – Island
This was the first album I’ve ever heard from Asunojokei and by the end of the first song I was already hooked. It was a pretty standard post-black metal track that served as a great intro for the album. The second track, “Chimera”, managed to sink the hooks in deeper. The upbeat bounciness of the song felt like it added something new to black metal and really gave this band their own sound. A lot of the songs on here honestly sound like blackened anime intros, which makes sense when you look at the album cover. There are also plenty of post-hardcore and skramz influences in here, highlighted in tracks like “Beautiful Name” and “The Sweet Smile of Vortex”.
Favorite tracks: “Heavenward”, “Chimera”, “Beautiful Name”, “The Sweet Smile of Vortex”
Genres: post-black metal, post-hardcore
FFO: Envy, Deafheaven, Show Me a Dinosaur, White Ward, MØL, Parannoul
9. Sigh – Shiki
I’ve been following Sigh for some time now, keeping up with their recent releases, but Shiki still came as a welcome surprise. Their 12th album, and the most impressive I’ve heard from them so far (I still need to dig into their early material), they seemed to throw a lot at the wall here and it managed to work super well. This isn’t unusual for Sigh, though, they’re known for being experimental and incorporating lots of different styles into their music. The opening track “Kuroi Kage” is a great way to start the album. It’s a very slow and evil sounding track that also incorporates some symphonic elements, with a saxophone break in the middle. After that the album speeds up with a fast paced thrashy track, and then “Shikabane” which has very great drumming and an electronic break in the middle. “Satsui – Geshi No Ato” comes in with rapid fire vocals and this is the highlight of the album for me. The mixture of those vocals and the symphonic elements in this song just work so well. Halfway through the song we get another electronic break, this one feeling more trip-hop inspired. There’s also the sound of an Xbox Achievement being unlocked thrown in there. I know that sound when I hear it. The next track has an ambient break in the middle with a flute playing, there are keyboard solos and accordions later on… This album manages to throw in such a variety of influences while still keeping a core sound, there’s so much stuff going on but it doesn’t feel all over the place. All the transitions flow perfectly into each other, and it has enough of a classic black metal feel to balance out the weirdness so I don’t think it would turn off fans of regular black metal. I definitely need to revisit some of the Sigh albums I heard in the past because while I thought they were good, there weren’t really any songs that I listened to repeatedly the way I did here. Once again, I’m curious if my tastes changed or if it was their songwriting that changed.
Favorite tracks: “Kuroi Kage:, “Shoujahitsumetsu”, “Shikabane”, “Satsui – Geshi No Ato”, “Fuyu Ga Kuru”, “Mayonaka No Kaii”
Genres: avant-garde black metal, progressive metal
FFO: Ihsahn, Dødheimsgard, A Forest of Stars, Arcturus, Kayo Dot, Enslaved
8. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – The Harvest
This band has become an unexpected favorite of mine in recent years. You might think you have their sound pegged based on their name but the actual music was pretty surprising to me. The heavy stoner guitars were expected, but they blend that sound with a shoegazey dream pop vocal style which makes them stand out. They also have psychedelic effects layered on top of their music that reminds me of bands like Ufomammut. Similar to their past two albums, The Harvest continues on with that same sound but both the production and structure of the album make it feel bigger and more cohesive. Every other track has an atmospheric interlude between it and while I’m generally not a fan of interludes, these ones tie every track together in a way where I can’t imagine listening through the album without them. This album is a very heavy and psychedelic journey that makes you feel like you’re exploring outer space.
Favorite tracks: “The Harvest”, “Logic Bomb”, “Altamira”, “Moon Rise”
Genres: psychedelic doom metal, stoner metal, shoegaze
FFO: SubRosa, Windhand, Monolord, Ufomammut, Elder, Electric Wizard, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine
7. Wiegedood – There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road
Well, here’s my second favorite black metal release of 2022. Right from the start it’s extremely chaotic, opening with the track “FN SCAR 16”, and this was such a great way to start the album for me because it had me hooked immediately. The second track was just as chaotic and by that point I had a feeling this would be in my Top 10. This was all the way back in January by the way. For some context, Wiegedood is a band that features current members of Oathbreaker and previous members of Amenra. They’re also part of the Church of Ra collective. I listened to their first few albums, the De Doden Hebben Het Goed trilogy, and thought they were decent. I also saw them live back in 2019, but their music never really stuck with me and by the time this album came out I forgot what they sounded like. After hearing this, either they changed things up and got more energetic and chaotic with this release, or my own music taste has changed and I need to go back and re-listen to their entire discography. Either way this album is insanely heavy, with high pitched wailing vocals similar to Ultha, and a unique style of songwriting. There’s also some throat singing in there which I wasn’t expecting.
Favorite tracks: “FN SCAR 16”, “And in Old Salamano’s Room the Dog Whimpered Softly”, “Now Will Always Be”, “Nuages”
Genre: atmospheric black metal
FFO: Oathbreaker, Amenra, Spectral Wound, Yellow Eyes
6. Black Midi – Hellfire
I saw a post from Dreamwell’s KZ that said “the only thing worse than Primus is Primus announcing the Kentucky Derby” and yeah… that about sums up what this album sounds like. But what if you like the sound of Primus announcing the Kentucky Derby? What then? I think this is an absolutely unhinged album in the best way possible. Primus is the main band that Black Midi gets compared to but this album takes inspirations from all over the place. Sometimes I’ll feel like I’m listening to Oxbow, other times I’ll feel like I’m listening to Kayo Dot. There’s rap in this album, jazz in this album, sometimes it sounds like a giant mess, but somehow everything blends together really well. If you’re into weird music, this album is for you.
Favorite tracks: “Sugar/Tzu”, “Eat Men Eat”, “Welcome to Hell”, “The Race is About to Begin”
Genres: avant-garde, post-punk, noise rock, jazz fusion
FFO: Oxbow, Kayo Dot, maudlin of the Well, Slint, Unwound, Chat Pile, Gospel, Primus, Ween
5. Ultha – All That Has Never Been True
After keeping up with them for a few years, Ultha managed to return with my favorite black metal release of 2022. Listening to this for the first time felt like I was listening to an already established classic black metal album, and I feel like years from now people will be looking back at this the same way they do with Wolves in the Throne Room’s Two Hunters or Altar of Plagues’ Teethed Glory and Injury. The atmosphere in here gives it a very ceremonial feel, and the vocals make me wonder if this is what Amenra would sound like if they played black metal. Their riffs are very melodic but they also have drawn out trance-like sections that feel similar to what post-metal bands do. They also have psychedelic elements at times that remind me of Oranssi Pazuzu. This album has me looking forward to whatever Ultha releases next, and I’m hoping I’ll get to see them play some of these songs live one day.
Favorite tracks: “Der Alte Feind (Jeder Tag reißt Wunden)”, “Bathed in Lightning Bathed in Heat”, “Haloes in Reverse”
Genre: atmospheric black metal
FFO: Weakling, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vanum, Yellow Eyes, Krallice, Oranssi Pazuzu
4. Morrow – The Quiet Earth
Fronted by Alex CF from the bands Fall of Efrafa and Light Bearer, this new Morrow album continues the epic crust sound that was paved by those two previous bands. The use of crushingly heavy riffs and an atmosphere made through the use of violins and cellos makes this an intense and emotional listen. They pull in influences from all over the metal spectrum and make it work well under a layer of d-beat drums. The production is crystal clear which makes the album sound HUGE and the layered vocals give it an extra boost of intensity. While I feel many metal genres are starting to get oversaturated, this style of epic crust is one of the few genres that only manages to get a new album every few years. This gives Morrow a unique edge that keeps me coming back throughout the year, and puts them pretty high in my list.
Favorite tracks: “Rejoice This Quiet Earth”, “Totemic”, “To the Fold”
Genres: neocrust, post-metal, d-beat, hardcore
FFO: Fall Of Efrafa, Light Bearer, Cult of Luna, Tragedy, Disfear, Conjurer, Amenra, Dead to a Dying World
3. SRSQ – Ever Crashing
An extremely beautiful album, every song on here feels like it could have been a hit from the 90’s. Combining influences from genres such as dream pop, darkwave and shoegaze, with the addition of soaring vocals, SRSQ really delivers with this album. The songs are catchy but are also given time to sit in an overwhelming atmosphere, and the strong choruses will get stuck in your head well after you’ve last heard them. These songs didn’t feel like songs that I first heard in 2022, they felt like songs that I’ve already been hearing throughout my life. It will always come as a surprise to me when songs that feel this classic get released in the current year, and I already know that I’ll be revisiting this album for years to come. The wide range of different influences make this album very dynamic as well, every song sounds different than the next.
Favorite tracks: “Saved tor Summer”, “Dead Loss”, “Used to Love”, “Ever Crashing”, “Fear”, “Élan Vital”, “Someday I Will Bask in the Sun”
Genres: dream pop, darkwave, shoegaze
FFO: Choir Boy, Drab Majesty, Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, The Cure, Spellling
2. Gospel – The Loser
When I saw that this album came out I thought “oh cool, a new Gospel album!” It was something that I was looking forward to hearing, but I did not expect it to be my #2. By the end of the first track, I was already completely blown away. It felt like being locked in a hot room while a crazy preacher plays organs and yells at you. A lot of the songs were very reminiscent of Genghis Tron and Rolo Tomassi’s cybergrind era, with the progressive elements of Between the Buried and Me and The Mars Volta layered on top of it… and the vocal style of noise rock bands like Lightning Bolt and Unsane layered on top of that…but the vocals are unhinged and rapid fire in a way that also reminds me of bands like Black Midi. In other words, it sounds like everything. If Everything Everywhere All at Once was an album, it would probably sound like this.
Favorite tracks: “Bravo”, “Hyper”, “Tango”, “S.R.O.”
Genres: progressive post-hardcore, screamo(?)
FFO: City of Caterpillar, Soul Glo, Chat Pile, Black Midi, The Mars Volta, (early) Genghis Tron, (early) Rolo Tomassi
1. Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory
This is the second time that a Rolo Tomassi album has taken my #1 spot, the first being Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It in 2018. Slowly creeping up from being a cool band that I discovered in 2012 to one of my all time favorites, Rolo Tomassi has evolved their sound in a way where every album feels bigger than the last. They’re able to make their songs catchier while still maintaining their experimental roots, and this makes them stand out massively among bands that lose those roots in the pursuit of a more mainstream sound. In this album you’ll hear shoegazey pop tracks right next to insanely heavy blackened hardcore tracks, with some sludge and mathcore influences thrown in there too. Yet instead of sounding like a bunch of different bands, every track has the core sound and atmosphere that makes it clear you’re listening to Rolo Tomassi. The production is top notch and this is one of those rare albums that I can listen to on repeat and not get bored. It’s the only album released this year where after listening to it for the first time, I went back and listened to the entire thing again right away.
Favorite tracks: “Cloaked”, “Mutual Ruin”, “Labyrinthine”, “Closer”, “Drip”, “Prescience”
Genres: mathcore, progressive metalcore, blackened post-hardcore
FFO: The Number Twelve Looks Like You, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Between the Buried and Me, Car Bomb, Converge, Ithaca, Spiritbox, (early) Architects