Best Rock & Metal Releases of 2022

2022 was a massive year for the rock, alternative, and heavy music scenes. Through my blog I’ve featured almost 650 different albums and EPs. Below, I’ve created a bunch of lists featuring my favorite releases of the year, first my favorite albums and EPs of the year, then I’ve broken it down into the subgenres that I enjoy.

All of the albums are taken from the timeframe of December 2021 through November 2022. I’m not including December 2022 because by the time I started creating this list it was too late to include that month. I also feel like you don’t have time to properly enjoy December releases the year that they come out.

Here I’ve created a Spotify playlist featuring all of the releases featured below.

In case you want to take a look back through the entirety of my features from the year, here’s the link to a copy of the spreadsheet that I keep for it.

And without further ado, here are all of my favorite albums of 2022. Enjoy!

My Top 10 Albums of 2022
(In order from least to greatest)

My 10 favorite rock and metal albums, described in 10 words or less.

  1. Atlas – ‘Ukko’
    Ever heard of Northcore? No? Well, now you have.
  2. Coheed and Cambria – ‘Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind’
    Catchy melodies; fun guitar parts; fantastic vocal performance
  3. Evergrey – ‘A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’
    Stellar guitar work; can’t get enough of Tom Englund’s voice
  4. Dayseeker – ‘Dark Sun’
    Meaningful lyrics; nice electronics; remarkably catchy choruses
  5. Animals As Leaders – ‘Parrhesia’
    Guitar gods
  6. Demon Hunter – ‘Exile’
    Long-time fan. Nothing’s changed. Ryan Clark’s lyrics >
  7. Bloodywood – ‘Rakshak’
    Rap laden nu-metal; Indian folk instruments; so much fun!
  8. Cold Night for Alligators – ‘The Hindsight Notes’
    Beautiful melodies; so much groove!
  9. The Devil Wears Prada – ‘Color Decay’
    Such lyrical tension and emotion; awesome riffs and choruses
  10. Fit For An Autopsy – ‘Oh What The Future Holds’
    Heavy as bricks, soaring guitar parts, and thoughtful lyrics.

Over these twelve months I featured nearly 500 albums, and I learned about a lot of new bands. In fact, six of the ten bands featured here I’ve never listened to until this year.

I also realized two things about myself. 1. I prefer a good melody over insane heaviness. 2. A band’s image or “vibe” is just as important to me as the music. If I’m to put my full support behind a piece of music, I need to also believe in the musicians and songwriters behind it. If I can’t, then I feel like the music just falls flat, no matter how good it is. That’s what makes these albums special to me. Not only do I enjoy the music, but I’m proud to support these bands.

On top of this, each of these albums emotionally moved me in some way, whether it was the fun rhythms in ‘Rakshak’, the grief-stricken melodies in ‘Dark Sun’, or the primal riffs in ‘Ukko’. I’m very excited to share this list with you and I hope you’re able to find some new music through this that moves you as well.

My top 10 EPs of 2022
(In order from least to greatest)

My 10 favorite rock and metal EPs, described in 10 words or less.

  1. A Sense of Purpose – ‘All the Grief Was Gone’
    Nice guys making no-holds barred proggy metalcore
  2. Nightlife – ‘fallback’
    Creative combination of R&B and alt rock/post-hardcore
  3. No Bragging Rights – ‘No Bragging Rights’
    Punk-y hardcore with hopeful lyrics
  4. Circles – ‘The Stories We are Afraid of, Vol. 1’
    Djent-y progressive metalcore; smacks while grooving
  5. Alpha Wolf/Holding Absence – ‘The Lost & The Longing’
    Great collab; heavy and melodic metalcore
  6. Senna – ‘A Moment of Quiet’
    Progressive post-hardcore; been excited for this since 2021
  7. Anberlin – ‘Silverline’
    So glad to have my fav alt rock band back
  8. Orphantwin – ‘Future Classic’
    Norma Jean side project; creative; chaotic and heavy
  9. Spiritbox – ‘Rotoscope’
    Short but mighty; groovy; Courtney LaPlante’s vocals
  10. Big Drink – ‘It Was Supposed To Be So Easy’
    Fun, chunky riffs; uncommonly catchy choruses; crystal-clear easycore

Over the course of the last 12 months I’ve featured over 160 EPs. I’ve heard A LOT of music, but not many of them stuck out to me like these ten did. For their short duration, EPs should be all killer no filler, and that’s exactly what these brought to the table. Each one is unique and represents some of my favorite attributes in the rock/alt/heavy music scene.

My Top 10 Punk of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Action/Adventure – ‘Impostor Syndrome’
Belmont – ‘Aftermath’
Big Drink – ‘It Was Supposed To Be So Easy’ EP
Dragged Under – ‘Upright Animals’
In Her Own Words – ‘Distance or Decay’
Like Pacific – ‘Control My Sanity’
Nate Parrish – ‘Soul Surgery’
Simple Plan – ‘Harder Than It Looks’
State Champs – ‘Kings of the New Age’
The Wonder Years – ‘The Hum Goes On Forever’

In the list above I’ve included some varieties of punk including pop punk, easycore, and a bit of grunge. If you’re into any of that type of stuff, I highly recommend any of these records.

My Top 10 Alternative Rock of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Amongst Liars – ‘Amongst Liars’
The Dangerous Summer – ‘Come Home’
The Faim – ‘Talk Talk’
Flight Paths – ‘American Renaissance’
Heart of Gold – ‘Beautiful Dangerous’
Muse – ‘Will Of The People’
Palaye Royale – ‘Fever Dream’
Port Noir – ‘Cuts’
Slowly Slowly – ‘Daisy Chain’
Valleyheart – ‘Heal My Head’

I tried to stay as true to the actual rock genre as I could, saving the stuff that leaned more in the post-hardcore direction for later. Instead, there’s some nice variations of pop rock, indie rock, and a dash of punk rock scattered throughout. With that said, these are all, without a doubt, alternative rock.

Give these a listen if you’re looking for something on the lighter side that’s still driven by distorted guitars.

My Top 10 Hard Rock of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Alter Bridge – ‘Pawns & Kings’
Blacktoothed – ‘JULI’
Cold Kingdom – ‘Life//Love’
ENMY – ‘Breaking Down’
Fight the Fade – ‘APOPHYSITIS’
Seventh Day Slumber – ‘Death By Admiration’
Shinedown – ‘Planet Zero’
Smash Into Pieces – ‘Disconnect’
Stone Broken – ‘REVELATION’
Volbeat – ‘Servant of the Mind’

What I appreciate most about this list is the amount of sonic diversity that hard rock can entail while still remaining definitively hard rock. ‘JULI’ leans close to alt rock at times and ‘Breaking Down’ features elements of metalcore while ‘Servant of the Mind’ speeds around the spectrum from pop punk to heavy metal. Though hard rock can be a bit tricky to define nowadays, all of these albums are a blast. Each and every one of these records deserves your attention.

My Top 10 Alternative Metal and Nu Metal of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Awake Again – ‘No Matter How the World Turns’
Bloodywood – ‘Rakshak’
Disturbed – ‘Divisive’
Fire From the Gods – ‘Soul Revolution’
He Is Legend – ‘Endless Hallway’
Islander – ‘It’s Not Easy Being Human’
Korn – ‘Requiem’
Like A Storm – ‘OKURA’
Nothing More – ‘Spirits’
The Veer Union – ‘Manifestations’

Alternative and nu metal are actually kind of hard to pin down now. So many bands experiment with different styles and there’s been a massive trend lately in metalcore to pull from nu metal influences so trying to find true alt and nu metal releases was a bit difficult, but well worth the time. The alt metal scene has some of my favorite releases from this year, including Islander, Bloodywood, and Fire from the Gods. Though this scene has been around for awhile, I’m constantly impressed by how it manages to evolve while still remaining the same at its core. For some fun, de-tuned riffs, and vibey choruses, look no further.

My Top 10 Post-Hardcore of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Bilmuri – ‘GOBLIN HOURS’
Dayseeker – ‘Dark Sun’
Future Palace – ‘Run’
Glass Tides – ‘Wake Me Up’
Outline in Color – ‘Coast is Clear’
Rain City Drive – ‘Rain City Drive’
Royal Coda – ‘To Only a Few at First’
Sever – ‘This Should Have Been a Better Place’
Siamese – ‘Home’
Thornhill – ‘Heroine’

I’ve loved post-hardcore for years, long before I properly got into metal. Now I find post-hardcore a tricky sub-genre to define because it tows a fine line between alt rock and metalcore. ‘Rain City Drive’ is a good example of the more rock side while ‘This Should Have Been a Better Place’ strays dangerously close to metalcore. Others, like ‘Dark Sun’ and ‘GOBLIN HOURS’ have EDM and pop sensibilities while ‘To Only a Few at First’ has progressive tendencies. Whatever your preferred flavor of rock or metal comes in, there’s sure to be a post-hardcore band that fits that taste.

My Top 10 Metalcore of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Atlas- ‘Ukko’
Chaosbay – ‘2222’
Confessions of a Traitor – ‘Punishing Myself Before God Does’
Demon Hunter – ‘Exile’
The Devil Wears Prada – ‘Color Decay’
Hollow Front – ‘The Price Of Dreaming’
Norma Jean – ‘Deathrattle Sing For Me’
Of Mice & Men – ‘Echo’
Upon A Burning Body – ‘Fury’
Wolves at the Gate – ‘Eulogies’

This list (followed closely by post-hardcore) was the most difficult list to make because there were so many great metalcore albums released this year. There were easily 20 albums that could’ve made it to my top 10. Of all the metal subgenres metalcore is by far my favorite. Though metalcore has its problems, such as oversaturation and the over utilization of djent or butt rock, there are still some incredible bands out there. From the trademarked “northcore” style of Atlas to the proggy math rock flair of Norma Jean, these releases stuck with me more than the others.

My Top 10 Hardcore of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

156/Silence – ‘Narrative’
Boundaries – ‘Burying Brightness’
Counterparts – ‘A Eulogy for Those Still Here’
Ithaca – ‘They Fear Us’
Malevolence – ‘Malicious Intent’
Moments – ‘Tidal Waves’
Stick To Your Guns – Spectre’
Stray From the Path – ‘Euthanasia’
Varials – ‘Scars For You To Remember’
Vatican – ‘Ultra’

2022 was a big year for the hardcore scene. From the catchy melodies found in ‘Spectre’, to the raw ferocity of ‘Malicious Intent’, to the grief in ‘A Eulogy for Those Still Here’, hardcore fans were blessed with a variety of phenomenal albums. Though some of these could arguably be considered metalcore, I felt like the riffs, vocal performance, and overall tone of these all fit more into the hardcore realm. What impressed me the most about each of these albums is the amount of emotion that each one conveys. Few other albums carried as much emotional weight as these ones did. Wrap that up in chunky riffs and earth-shattering breakdowns, and you’ve got the best hardcore releases of the year.

My Top 10 Deathcore of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Bodysnatcher – ‘Bleed-Abide’
The Browning – ‘End of Existence’
Chelsea Grin – ‘Suffer In Hell’
Darko – ‘Oni’
Diamonds to Dust – Amidst the Hallowed and the Vanquished’
Enterprise Earth – ‘The Chosen’
Fit For An Autopsy – ‘Oh What The Future Holds’
Lorna Shore – ‘Pain Remains’
Shadow of Intent – ‘Elegy’
Within Destruction – ‘Lotus’

2022 was a smorgasbord of destructive deathcore releases. Deathcore is a relatively new genre for me. I only got into it last year and I’m constantly impressed by the new ways that bands are reinventing what it means to be heavy. From the gorgeous symphonic elements of ‘Elegy’ to the industrial components of ‘End of Existence ’, each of these releases have their own distinct brand of deathcore. I highly recommend each and every one of these, especially if you just need some down and dirty music to snap your neck to.

My Top 10 Death Metal of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Arch Enemy – ‘Deceivers’
Becoming The Archetype – ‘Children Of The Great Extinction’
Exocrine – ‘The Hybrid Suns’
Fallujah – ‘Empyrean’
The Halo Effect – ‘Days of the Lost’
Ingested – ‘Ashes Lie Still’
Kardashev – ‘Liminal Rite’
Once Human – ‘Scar Weaver’
Psycroptic – ‘Divine Council’
Soreption – ‘Jord’

Last year I first dipped my toes into the death metal scene and now I can’t get enough of it. This list was actually incredibly difficult to make because of the high quality of releases this year. 2022 featured so many high caliber albums that I kept going back and forth on which ones I wanted to feature. (There were also a couple that I forgot about until after I made this list but by that time it was too late.)

Arguably, a couple of these could also be considered deathcore but I tried to separate the two to the best of my ability. This list is focused more on melodic, groove, and tech death than my deathcore list. In the end, these 10 are my favorites of what the genre had to offer. What a feast!

My Top 10 Progressive Rock and Metal of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Atlantis Chronicles – ‘Nera’
Berried Alive – ‘Our Own Light
Coheed and Cambria – ‘Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind’
Cold Night for Alligators – ‘The Hindsight Notes’
Evergrey – ‘A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’
Meshuggah – ‘Immutable’
Moon Tooth – ‘Phototroph’
Satyr – ‘Totem’
Sikasa – ‘Matter Earth’
Unprocessed – ‘Gold’

Alongside bands that towed the line between rock and metal, it was progressive metal that really acted as a gateway into heavier music for me. As a (rather out-of-practice) musician myself, the astounding musicianship and compositions of bands like Dream Theater and TesseracT blew my mind. Though I tend to lean more into the “core” genres, prog metal is still one of my favorite things to listen to, and these last two years of reviewing music has only increased my appreciation of it.

All of these releases are absolutely stellar, each unique and drawing from many styles. Progressive bands always know how to keep the scene fresh and interesting. I highly recommend each of these unique albums.

My Top 10 Instrumental Rock and Metal of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

The Algorithm – ‘Data Renaissance’
Andromida – ‘Wrath of the Vanguard’
Animals As Leaders – ‘Parrhesia’
Haunted Shores – ‘Void’
I Built the Sky – ‘The Quiet Place Away’
Jason Richardson & Luke Holland – ‘II’
Lee McKinney – ‘In the Light of Knowledge’
Polyphia – ‘Remember That You Will Die’
Divided By Design – ‘Irretraceable Steps’
Secret Gardens – ‘Everbloom’

Alongside progressive metal, instrumental music helped me get my feet wet in the metal scene. It took me a long time to appreciate screaming so acts like Intervals, Plini, Polyphia, and Animals As Leaders showed me that instruments could tell stories and convey emotions just like singing can.

This year gave us some particularly tasty musical treats, including the acoustic ‘The Quiet Place Away’, the synthwave-y ‘Everbloom’, and the blackened ‘Void’, created by Misha Mansoor and Mark Holcomb of Periphery. Though some of my choices may technically have some vocal parts to them, the bands are still known as instrumental groups and the majority of the music is instrumental. Each of these albums are unique and filled to the brim with absolutely stellar musicianship. I cannot recommend them enough.

My Top 10 Other Rock and Metal of 2022
(In alphabetical order)

Astronoid – ‘Radiant Bloom’ [post rock, shoegaze]
Devin Townsend – ‘Lightwork’ [art rock, progressive metal]
Ibaraki – ‘Rashomon’ [black metal]
Lamb Of God – ‘Omens’ [groove metal]
Machine Head – ‘Of Kingdom And Crown’ [groove metal]
My Diligence – ‘The Matter, The Form And Power’ [psychedelic rock, doom metal]
Pymlico – ‘Supermassive’ [instrumental rock, fusion, funk, jazz]
Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Return of the Dream Canteen’ [funk rock]
Rolo Tomassi – ‘Where Myth Becomes Memory’ [art metal, blackgaze]
Zeal & Ardor – ‘Zeal & Ardor’ [black metal, blues, gospel, alt rock]

My lists are far from comprehensive and so with this one I want to feature a few albums that didn’t fit into any of the molds that I have featured thus far. A couple of them could have fit into my progressive metal or alt rock lists but I felt like they were different enough to be put separately. Ranging from funk rock to shoegaze to groove metal, I enjoyed each of these albums and thought they were all worth mentioning.

Making all these lists was a lot of work so you probably won’t be hearing from me for a bit as I need a break. But don’t worry, I’ll be back. I always have plans to expand this blog and I’m excited to enact them in the new year. Until then, stay metal!

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