The Metal Wanderlust 2022 Favorites: Deckard Cain

Intros be damned!!!

NOTE: The numbers do not correspond to any ranking methodology. Rankings are boring. Enough said.

Onwards!!!!

1. Fer De Lance – The Hyperborean

Label: Cruz del Sur Music

Release Date: April 22, 2022

“Spearhead” in French, Fer De Lance falls squarely within the epic heavy metal scene. A close parallel would be the brilliant Atlantean Kodex. For the band focuses a little less on the uniqueness of the riffage at play and a sustained focus on later era Bathory-like atmosphere. I recommend multiple listens for this.

2. Inanna – Void of Unending Depths

Label: Memento Mori

Release Date: April 25, 2022

This might just be my favorite death metal record of the year. A record that’s got this pervading sense of melancholy and mystery, and deftly interwoven as they come. Take a song like “Evolutionary Inversion” which describes a transformation of a human form into that of a sea-dwelling creature of yore. References to the Cthulhu mythos abound of course. It doesn’t become Lovecraftian without a few tentacles after all.

3. Riot City – Electric Elite

Label: No Remorse Records

Release Date: October 14, 2022

Follows the path set by that new crop of bands, like Traveler, Trial (Sweden), Striker, and Enforcer who seek to harken back to an era of getting stuck between Hellion’s claw and Metallian’s paw. Priest-powered metal indeed with even their own brand of metalized spirit animals in toe. Riot City’s sophomore is a riff-o-rama well worth your time.

4. Eirð – A Voidchaser’s Elegy

Label: Solitude Productions

Release Date: January 14, 2022

This was honestly a brand new find suggested to me by my good friend Gautham Khandige (Djinn & Miskatonic). Cathartic as much as it is doused in intentional ambient monotony. You get this strange feeling that you are interrupting some ancient shamanic séance.

5. Phobophilic – Enveloping Absurdity

Label: Prosthetic Records

Release Date: September 16. 2022

We’ve always had those Demilich and Timeghoul try-hards around. This one was surprisingly fun. Solid stuff.

6. Dusk – Imaginary Dead

Label: Cyclopean Eye Productions

Release Date: January 28, 2022

Probably one of the oldest extreme metal bands from the South Asian region, let alone Pakistan. Dusk’s fifth full length is glorious! I don’t think I’ve loved a death doom release this much off late. What sets it apart from say death/doom’s, say common, proclivity for those gradual build-ups of atmosphere, is the band’s ability to craft distinctness to each of the songs. Each song has these carefully crafted structural motifs/elements that render them unique. There’s something weirdly cerebral about the whole album, that makes you want to constantly revisit it.

P.S. We did a video premiere of one of their songs earlier this year!

7. Cloud Rat Threshold

Label: Arttofact Records

Release Date: October 7, 2022

Absolutely relentless grind/hardcore as usual.  But they experiment/slow things down to a more pensive sort of pace and that’s when they are truly beautiful and poignant at the same time.

8. Thy Listless Heart – Pilgrims on the Path of No Return

Label: Hammerheart Records

Release Date: November 18, 2022

This is the debut album by a one-man band by Simon Bibby of the brilliant Seventh Angel (which played a kind of thrash akin to say the atmospherics of Believer and of course theologically inclined). Thy Listless Heart on the other hand falls more in line with the atmospheric doom of bands like Clouds and Kauan. And Simon Bibby’s musical pedigree shines through!

9. Desecresy – Unveiling the Abyss

Label: Xtreem Music

Release Date: April 19, 2022

Probably just rehashing their brand of Finnish OSDM album for a straight seventh time. Well…. that’d be the layman’s argument. Fuck that guy. I’d say Desecresy is a band that continuously gives with each careful listen.

10. Morrow – The Quiet Earth

Label: Independent

Release Date: March 25, 2022

If you’ve ever listened to the brilliant Fall of Efrafa and their brand of crusty post-metal, then that’d be a decent reference point to Morrow. For its Efrafa’s own vocalist whose been in a ton of equally brilliant, if not better, bands (Archivist, Lightbearer, etc.) leads Morrow.

11. Hällas – Isle of Wisdom

Label: Napalm Records

Release Date: April 8, 2022

These guys walking down the vintage hard rock path set by their debut Excerpts from a Future Past.

12. Heaving Earth – Darkness of God

Label: Lavadome Productions

Release Date: May 27, 2022

A beast of an album that channels the dissonance of Hate Eternal to far more intricate heights.

13. Evil Invaders – Shattering Reflection

Label: Napalm Records

Release Date: April 1, 2022

A continuation of the sometimes anthemic brand of speed/thrash firmly established on Feed Me Violence.

14. Corpsessed – Succumb to Rot

Label: Dark Descent

Release Date: April 22, 2022

Krypts’s 2013 release in Unending Degradation and Corpsessed’s debut full-length Abysmal Thresholds in the following year were slowly being churned out from the Dark Descent factory of death metal. They carried the oppressive atmospherics of Incantation and mixed that with the sparse melodic refrains of old-school Finnish death metal acts such as Purtenance and Abhorrence. This is clearly their best release yet.

15. Norma Jean – Deathrattle Sing for Me

Label: Solid State Records

Release Date: August 12, 2022

At one point they were one of the most maligned bands in metalcore land. But since their more math-ier and experimental makeover since Meridional, they’ve never really looked back. One of the greatest reinventions by a popular metalcore band. This latest release continues that trend.

16. Aeviterne – The Ailing Façade

Label: Profound Lore Records

Release Date: March 18, 2022

Drawn from some of the most technically accomplished bands out there in the Flourishing, Artificial Brain, and Castevet, this is some really intricate yet incredibly satiating death metal.

17. Mindforce – New Lords

Label: Triple B Records

Release Date: September 16, 2022

New kids in the crossover thrash block that includes Power Trip, Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan, and the like!

18. Trenches – Reckoner

Label: Independent

Release Date: January 1, 2022

Excerpt from my full review of the album here.

“Perhaps they fully realize it’s 2022, that the dull and dreary slow sucking of life the pandemic has brought in its wake, requires an urgency that, to my mind, is captured powerfully and poignantly on Reckoner. We all reckon with our past… always have….. and always will.”

19. Dream Unending – Song of Salvation

Label: 20 Buck Spin

Release Date: November 11, 2022

While last year’s Tide Turns Eternal received a lot of praise, I was, frankly quite underwhelmed. But hey this album more than just makes up for it. Truly atmospheric death doom.

20. Immolation – Acts of God

Label: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: February 18, 2022

Self-explanatory

21. Sonja – Loud Arriver

Label: Cruz del Sur Music

Release Date: September 23, 2022

Apart from Melissa Moore’s work with Absu, if you’ve ever heard her riff-craft on Rumpelstiltskin Grinder’s fun debut, then you’d be not surprised. This is some gothic-influenced heavy metal, much like The Cure tinted stuff that Unto Others put out not so far back. Fantastic release!

22. Counterparts – A Eulogy for Those Still Here

Label: Pure Noise Records

Release Date: October 7, 2022

Scratching that Misery Signals itch better than Misery Signals themselves. While I’d say Tragedy Will Find Us is probably their finest hour, this does come close indeed!

23. Inexorum – Equinox Vigil

Label: Gilead Media

Release Date: June 17, 2022

If you’ve ever loved the “castle metal” (to bring forth a certain medieval architectural marvel and melodic black metal) put out by Obsequiae then this’d be your jam. In fact, Inexorum is made up of the live musicians for Obsequiae. They aren’t a B-team by any account and can comfortably hold their own.

24. Illumination – Worship Death More than Life

Label: Personal Records

Release Date: March 4, 2022

This was a great suggestion by my friend Rohit. Pegged as an EP, but I sort of see this as a solid full-length debut from Brazil. Atmospheric black metal that weaves in melodies without losing a step!

25. Elder – Innate Passage

Label: Stickman Records

Release Date: November 25, 2022

Always a cut above the usual let’s-just-jam-and-make-an-album sort of stoner/psych rock bands.

26. Disillusion – Ayam

Label: Prophecy Productions

Release Date: November 4, 2022

Back to Times of Splendor was crucial in getting me into heavier music. It’s a fork in the road that I constantly head back to. And to see them finally hit their stride again is nothing short of awesome. At least now I hope they get the recognition they duly deserve.

27. Hellish – The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents

Label: Unspeakable Axe Records

Release Date: December 16, 2022

I think by now I’d just blindly trust Unspeakable Axe records’ thrash releases every year. They’ve been nothing but consistent in terms of quality. And this year was no different with some solid releases from Algebra and Critical Defiance. But the new Hellish edges the others out with their brand of Teutonic thrash served raw and blackened.

28. KEN Mode – Null

Label: Arttofact Records

Release Date: September 23, 2022

I kinda lost track of this sludgy noise rock band after their stellar Entrench. But Null has pulled me right back in. Into their Unsane inspired sound that radiates a Godflesh-like mechanical aura.

29. Stangarigel – Na Severe Srdca

Label: Hexencave Productions

Release Date: January 7, 2022

The Slovakian band Malokarpatan brought new life into that quirky Central European black metal sound that was aced by bands like Master’s Hammer, Root, and the Hungarian Tormentor. Stangarigel then is a variation to that theme of longing for the past, but this time grounded in a much more wistful setting.

30. Negative Plane – The Pact

Label: Invictus Productions

Release Date: April 30, 2022

Stained Glass Revelations is still hard to get into for me. But Negative Plane with its more heavy metal-ey bent on this release has pushed me to indulge in the band again! Glorious release!

BONUS!!!

31. Cult of Luna – The Long Road North

Label: Metal Blade Records

Release Date: February 11, 2022

The foghorn-like intro to “Cold Burn” is a clarion call for the genre, or at least to me. To look back at some of the finest in the post-metal realm. Yet another solid release. Perhaps a bit of a letdown from their collaboration with Julie Christmas, but solid as hell.

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