Doing a year end list is, at least for me, never an easy task. There is so much music that is released in a single year that it’s almost impossible to keep track of it all, let alone narrow it down to a numbered list. As the calendar pages turn and months come and go, every day is met with a soundtrack, and these are the albums that stayed with me the most out of all of the music that blessed my ears. So without further delay, and in no particular order, I give you my Top 11 Albums of 2022.

Djevel – Naa skrider natten sort : Aftermath Music

For me, this is the black metal album of the year and its not even close. It’s truly perfect. Djevel have really come into their own with this and Tanker som rir natten, which in my opinion are instant classics within the black metal genre. Cold, frozen, hypnotic and well crafted mature songwriting are the main highlights on this album.

Draugurinn – Minningar úr undirheimum : Nordvis Produktion

When it comes to dark, moody atmospheric ritual/ambient music nobody does it better, in my opinion, than Draugurinn. Minningar úr undirheimum really takes you somewhere else when you listen to it. It is a perfect musical representation of a dark shamanic ritual, invoking the old gods of the underworld deep within the forests away from any sliver of civilization. This album spent the most time with me than any other album this year, especially during the cold solitude of winter.

Bhleg – Fäghring : Nordvis Produktion

Bhleg have been one of my favorite new black metal bands since they dropped Solarmegin. Fäghring is Bhleg at their best and I can only imagine what is next. This record truly shows what Bhleg is capable of, and the fact that they just keep getting better and better with ever release makes them a band that all eyes should be on moving forward, if they weren’t already.

Grima – Frostbitten : Naturmacht Productions

When it comes to “atmospheric black metal” nobody did it better this year than Grima. Frostbitten is one of the best black metal albums to come out of Russia in a long long time, and truly one of the better black metal albums of the year regardless of whatever unnecessary adjective people slap onto black metal (or metal in general) these days.

Haavard – Haavard : Prophecy Productions

The songwriter behind Ulver’s Kveldssanger wrote this album, and it truly can be looked upon as the second part of said record. The melodies, chord progressions, atmosphere and moods presented in this album are absolutely stellar. I can only imagine what comes next after this phenomenal debut.

Wraith Knight – Deep in the Dungeons of the Dragonlord : Dungeons Deep Records

There’s dungeon synth, and then there’s Wraith Knight. It’s a perfect example of an album that perfectly reflects its title and album cover with the utmost precision. The compositions on this album are phenomenal and only raise the stakes higher for not only Wraith Knight, but the rest of the genre. The bar has been set and I truly don’t see anybody coming within striking distance of what Old Nick has achieved here.

Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition – Chapter III: The Astral Drain : Eisenwald Records

Panzerfaust are an absolute force to be reckoned with. They truly found their sound on their EP The Lucifer Principle” and with every release since then have just continued to improve and master their craft. The Astral Drain reaches into an almost Neurosis level of genius and creativity while still bearing the weight and aggression they are known for. Do not sleep on this band.

Sylvaine – Nova : Season of Mist

To me, there was no album more beautiful, more emotional, more majestic this year than Nova. While Sylvaine may lazily be lumped into the post-black metal/shoegaze, whatever style you want to call it, I feel they truly transcend that style of music into something much much more potent and powerful. The beauty is there, the ethereal atmosphere is there, but there is also a pure sense of metal’s traditional roots in place. Never forget kids, 4/4 rock n roll will always reign supreme.

Mara – Loka Mær : Immortal Frost Productions

When it comes to black metal, to me the underground is, was, and always will be the most potent well to drink from. Mara create a very vicious and powerful style of black metal while still retaining its original spirit. This record is a great way to show that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This record may be short, but it certainly does not lack any ferocity, making its replay-ability very very high. Loka Mær is rabid, savage, evil and full of darkness.

Misþyrming – Með hamri : Norma Evangelium Diaboli

Nobody had any doubts (nor should they) that Misþyrming was going to deliver a crushing follow-up to Algleymi. But of course, it takes proof to believe and they did not disappoint. While Með hamri harkens back to the fury of their debut record, this album is not just a repeat of it and stands on its own feet. It’s as brutal and chaotic as you would imagine it to be, but goddamn did they ever incorporate some of the catchiest hooks and best head-banging moments of the year.

Watain – The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain : Nuclear Blast

For me, Watain fell off the wagon pretty hard some years ago. While they may have put out a song or two here and there I enjoyed, I feel the records just haven’t delivered since Sworn to The Dark. With The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain, they truly return to form and deliver one of the most ferocious black metal albums to come out in 2022. That dark ritualistic atmosphere we have grown accustomed to came back in full force and the energy was ramped up three-fold. This album delivers in a big way.

Honorable Mentions:

Doomsday – Depictions of Chaos
The Cult – Under the Midnight Sun
Graveland – Awakening of the Storms
Kjell Braaten – Blóta
Hoaxed – Two Shadows
Mortuary Drape – Wisdom – Vibration – Repent

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