Nice work on the lists, gents! My turn now...
Starting things off with some honorable mentions, as is the way of things...
Panzerfaust - The Suns of Perdition, Chapter III: The Astral Drain: A worthy, if slightly disappointing follow up to their previous couple masterworks. I like Panzerfaust better when they quicken their pace, which they don't much here, but they're competent enough at slow, brooding, nightmare fuel as well.
Hersker - Hudangst: By far the best blackened hardcore release I've heard in years but came across it too late in the year to warrant a place in the top 10. Needs more time to sink in for now.
Prehistoric War Cult - Under The Sign Of The Red Moon: Best war metal release I heard this year, bar none.
The Chasm - The Scars of a Lost Reflective Shadow: Legendary band returning with an excellent album that should've garnered a lot more hype and acclaim than it did. But I guess these guys have always flown under the radar so it only makes sense.
Pharmacist - Flourishing Extremities On Unspoiled Mental Grounds: I had this one as a lock to make my top 10 all year long and it hurts to leave it off now. Best early Carcass worshipping album I've heard.... maybe ever? They give Exhumed a run for their money, and some. Straight up facts!
Grima - Frostbitten: Another album I previously had as a lock for the top 10 but was knocked out by some late-year powerhouse releases. I really appreciate Grima's lean, straight forward approach to melodic/atmospheric black metal with no agonizingly long, meandering build-ups that go nowhere or banal samples of trees rustling in the wind or anything like that. To the point melo-black, done very very well.
The top 10
10. Downcross - Hexapoda Triumph (Black Metal, Belarus)
Very well-rounded, very headbangable black metal that's lighter on the atmospheric side but doubles up on riffs. These guys paint with very broad strokes and cover a lot of the black metal spectrum without ever boxing themselves into any one specific sub-sub genre. A little bit second wave, little bit melodic, little bit black n' roll, a little bit of dissonance but a whole lot of awesome!
9. Stangarigel - Na Severe Srdca (Pagan Black Metal, Slovakia)
Side project from one of the Malokarpatan guys and damn near equal in quality to the main band. Emotive, folky and atmospheric is the name of the game, no goats to be found here. This is black metal of the mystical, enchanted forest variety. Very approachable and warm-sounding. The perfect compatriot to a rainy stroll though the woods.
8. Kampfar - Til Klovers Takt (Pagan Black Metal, Norway)
I'm a longtime lover of this band. Kampfar are lowkey the most consistent, and overlooked, Norwegian black metal act and firmly in the upper tier of Pagan BM. 'Til Klovers Takt' is another strong addition to their impeccable catalogue and only a slight step down from the band's best work. If you liked any of their previous albums, you're pretty much guaranteed to enjoy this one.
7. Immolation - Acts of God
Everyone knows who Immolation are and where they stand with them. Immolation are for sure my favourite death metal band. They are, in my opinion, the closest any metal band has ever come to having a perfect discography. Even the worst Immolation album is still a solid 7.8/10 in my books. Acts of God does fall into the lower half of my Immolation discography ranking, however, though that's more of a testament to how amazing some of their other albums are. My favourite death metal release of 2022, easily (though it didn't exactly have any stiff competition).
6. Daeva - Through Sheer Will and Black Magic (Blackened Thrash, USA)
Black/Thrash has long been a micro-genre that I've enjoyed but not loved... until I discovered this album. This record absolutely smokes! If you want blistering speed, face-melting riffs and unhinged vocals, Daeva’s got you covered. If you want dark, foreboding, sinister atmosphere replete with all the grit one needs in extreme metal to sound truly nasty, Daeva's got you covered. This album ticks every box.
5. Sisyphean - Colours of Faith (Black Metal, Lithuania)
Icelandic Black Metal.... from Lithuania. Yeah, that's how'd I'd describe Sisyphean in five words or less. Very modern sounding, slightly dissonant and borderline atonal. A rather tempered sound for this style of black metal but Sisyphean really excel at crafting thrilling and engaging songs that are coherent and don't ever feel like a mere collection of riffs. Just a very well written and well arranged album. Really enjoyed this one.
4. Wake - Thought Form Decent (Post/Black/Death/whatever, Canada)
Wake really impressed me with their 2020 release, 'Devouring Ruin', claiming the number three spot on my list that year. Their follow-up EP, 'Confluence', later that same year was also fantastic. 'Thought Form Descent' picks up right where the EP left off with a more melodious, emotive and blackened twist on their death/grind/post-metal hybrid. I wasn't quite as blown away by this new one and I do miss the sheer "fuck-your-face-off" aggression of past albums like 'Misery Rites' but there's no denying that Wake have really come into their own with a unique brand of progressive black/death metal.
3. Ultha - All That Has Never Been True (Black Metal, Germany)
This album really caught me off guard as upon seeing the album cover I thought for sure there was no way I was gonna like this. Never judge a book/album by it's cover, so they say, but we all do it. 'All That Has Never Been True' is a visceral, atmospheric and melodic opus of Black Metal and a very rewarding listening experience. The album expertly flows between harsher and moodier sections while finding creative ways to supplement the atmosphere without going into cliché heavy/acoustic/heavy/mellow structures. Unquestionably one of the very best of the year.
2. Misþyrming - Með hamri (Black Metal, Iceland)
Misþyrming are one of my top favourite bands. I've loved every one of their albums with their last one being my AOTY for 2019 and this Icelandic juggernaut knocked it out of the park again with their surprise, late year release 'Með hamri'. These guys have an immaculate talent for blending melody with dissonance that that I absolutely adore. They also had a real anthemic angle on their last record which I'm glad to hear has carried over to give some fist pounding clamor to the overall hostility of their sound. Black Metal at its most malignant and abrasive but also melodious and triumphant. Misþyrming hold my favor as one of the best bands in the genre.
1. Gevurah - Gehinnom (Black Metal, Canada)
Well, after six long years since the band's debut, and four since their excellent 'Sulphur Soul' EP, Gevurah finally graced us with what should go down as their magnum opus. 'Gehinnom' is a statement of intent that solidifies the band as one of the most lethal and menacing forces in contempoary black metal. Seriously, this record is just viscious, but not without dynamics. What really strikes me about this album is how rare it is for both atmospheric and dissonant black metal bands to riff this hard, and minus a handful of tempo reprieves, this record is a punishing onslaught of furious riffing set to pummling blasts. A standard setting release and I would hope a trend setting one as well. I would very much like to hear more black metal bands take a page from Gevurah's playbook.
Less Gaerea, more Gevurah!