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Top 20 Metal & Hard Rock Albums of 2022 (So Far)

The first six months of the year have yielded a widely diverse range of heavy albums

top 20 heavy albums 2022 so far
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    Our 2022 Midyear Report continues with our favorite metal and hard rock albums of the year so far.


    The pandemic rages on, but the music industry has finally settled into some semblance of normalcy in 2022. Album cycles and tours have been less affected by delays and postponements, as we all cautiously move forward with a general sense of resignation. That said, the world feels no less dystopian. War broke out in Ukraine, climate change seems like a ship that’s sailed, and there’s uneasiness and unrest abound.

    One thing’s for sure: Heavy music remains as vital as ever. The catharsis of these times demands music that can satiate the anger, the disillusionment, and the despair — or at least momentarily distract us from it. Of course, any genre of music or art can serve this function. But there’s something about heavy riffs and loud volumes that can invigorate the heart and mind during times of utter bleakness.

    When building our list of the best heavy albums of 2022 thus far, we were struck by the sonic diversity of the selections — from the vitriolic hardcore of Soul Glo to the arena rock leanings of Ghost to the metal-meets-blues of Zeal & Ardor. Every entry here possesses its own idiosyncrasies. But what also stood out was the sheer urgency of the artists themselves. This is music made with intent, seemingly in spite of a growing, pervasive nihilism within the cultural consciousness.

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    We hope that you discover something in this list that inspires you to buy a record, go to a show, and acknowledge the music beyond merely streaming it. Directly supporting these artists is now more important than ever.

    –Jon Hadusek,
    Senior Staff Writer

    Animals as Leaders – Parrhesia

     Top 20 Metal & Hard Rock Albums of 2022 (So Far)

    The eccentrically aggressive Parrhesia further solidifies Animals as Leaders as masters of instrumental progressive metal. Specifically, tracks such as “Gestaltzerfall”, “Micro-Aggressions,” and “Conflict Cartography” brandish an almost non-stop frenzy of interlocking rhythms and riffs. Conversely, “Red Miso” and “Asahi” lean toward cosmic calmness. Really, each track accomplishes a typically inventive balance between the djent abrasiveness and soothing respites, with plenty of quirky changeups and lovely nuances to give each piece as much personality as possible. — Jordan Blum

    Boris – W

    boris w

    “Hypnotic” is not used often as a descriptive term within the realm of heavy metal. But the Japanese trio Boris continue to lean heavy on the entrancing side of things on their 27th (!) studio album — the mysteriously titled W. Starting things off decidedly experimental and rather softly (particularly the album-opening “I Want to Go to the Side Where You Can Touch…”), it is not until the middle of the album (“The Fallen”) that the amps finally get properly cranked… before the remainder of the album falls back into mesmerizing mode. — Greg Prato

    Cave In – Heavy Pendulum

    unnamed 166 Top 20 Metal & Hard Rock Albums of 2022 (So Far)

    Despite all the ups and downs Cave In have gone through as a band, Heavy Pendulum is a record not of scorn or remorse, but of prosperous experimentation and expansiveness. There’s a bit of grunge, sludge, blues — you name it — and Cave In probably managed to work it into the incredible hooks and rhythms throughout the record. They may have been knocked down before, but they’re not a band to stay down, and Heavy Pendulum proves it. — Cervanté Pope

    Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind

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    Coheed and Cambria - Vaxis II - Album Cover - LO

    Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis II – Album Cover – LO

    Coheed and Cambria are back with their tenth studio LP, Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind, and the album’s slick, melodic songs fit well inside the band’s growing catalog. The song structures are typical Coheed and Cambria, with chugging riffs, soaring melodies, and lyrics that take the listener on a journey. It’s an epic concoction that should please longtime Coheed fans and newbies alike. — Anne Erickson

    Cult of Luna – The Long Road North

    COL TLRN Main Cover Top 20 Metal & Hard Rock Albums of 2022 (So Far)

    Cult of Luna continued their unbroken streak of brilliance by both closing ranks and seeking outside assistance. With guitarist and vocalist Johannes Persson returning to Umeå after a long stretch in Stockholm, the quintet was able to meet up more frequently to hone the explosive material on this new album. And for added texture, they called on saxophonist Colin Stetson and vocalist Mariam Wallentin for crucial contributions. The results are as engulfing and breathtaking as a tidal wave. — Robert Ham

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