December 28, 2022
Well, here we are again – at the cusp of a new year and as the old one fades off into eternity we look back at the best offerings of 2022; the best albums of the year. This year has been a great one for fans of extreme music, and compiling this list was a painful and difficult one.
There were so many great records that surfaced this year, and a lot of records that deserved end of year recognition had to be culled to trim this collection down to a mere ten albums. A task that took a long time to complete, as the Modern Free Press jury took a hell of a long time to come to a decision. Of course, the titans of the genre shone bright and some the smaller groups that deserved praise for their efforts were possibly shaded out in favor of a more known act, but such is the music business. Cruel, harsh and mean.
See Also: Ten highly anticipated upcoming metal albums in 2023
After the dust had settled, the following ten albums remained – thus we crown these the shinning achievements in metal for the year that was 2022.
10. Voivod “Synchro Anarchy”
After all these years, the fact that Voivod are still finding new avenues to explore is beyond comprehension; beyond words – and beyond realms. Yet, once again, that is the case here with Synchro Anarchy, the fifteenth studio full-length release, putting aside all the EP’s and live recordings from these incredible Canadians. On Synchro Anarchy, Voivod again prove that there is still a planet’s worth of ideas to pull from. We can’t wait.
What more can be said about Voivod that hasn’t already been expressed a hundred thousand times already? In a single word, Voivod are pioneers. Forever pushing the envelope and forcing metal to grow with each riff and each note they’ve ever written and recorded. Easily one of the most influential extreme music artists of all time, Canada’s Voivod have been at the helm of progression since the early 80s. By now, every self-respecting – and self-deprecating, metalhead knows of Voivod. On par with the giants of the genre, and stull pushing boundaries more than
Best Track: Planet Eaters
09. Fit For An Autopsy “Oh What the Future Holds”
In ninth place, is one of the heaviest entries to this years list of top albums – the impressive Oh What The Future Holds from Fit For An Autopsy. And yes – we are aware, some people are going to disagree with this pick, and that’s fine. Wrong, but fine.
Although the influence Gojira have had on Fit For An Autopsy is beyond obvious, it doesn’t distract from the fact that Oh What The Future Holds is an incredible album, chock full of tasty riffs, and nasty breakdowns. Skin-melting vocals and – yes, some serious Gojira worship. Still, what Fit For An Autopsy have crafted here is one of the most interesting and diverse heavy albums of the year that was, and we aren’t afraid to award that merit with a spot on our prestigious list (well, we think it’s prestigious at least – and that’s good enough for us.)
Best Track: Far From Heaven
08. Rammstein “Zeit”
One of the most iconic metal bands of the last few decades, Rammstein are still plugging away and create epic sounding albums that are massive sounding mechanical, melodic soundscapes with such intricacies abound within them. Truly immense works that continue to revel themselves to their audience with continuous listening’s. Throughout the years, Rammstein have honed their craft so beautifully. Figuring out what works, and have reached a point where there is never any doubt that the new material is going to be brilliant. We all already know the next record is going to be great – you can set your watch to it.
With Zeit, Rammstein continue to create such bountiful atmospheres and wonderful ambiances with masterfully using keyboards and organs, choirs and all sorts of other sounds to build gorgeous soundscapes. A Rammstein album is an experience – and we haven’t even begun to talk about the live setting.
Best Track: Giftig
07. Slipknot “The End, So Far”
From their smash-hit self-titled debut album back in 1999, these masked madmen from Iowa have steadily grown despite every pundit saying they wouldn’t or couldn’t last. That their self-destructive nature would cause them to implode from within. Yet, here we are. Nearly twenty years on, and Slipknot are bigger than they have ever been. Three years on since 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind dropped – and album that saw the band try new things, Slipknot are again evolving their sound.
Although, there is a lot of experimentation on this album – and a lot of fans weren’t so keen about it, it still registers as being one of the best heavy albums of the year and is worthy of its inclusion on this list. Through the experimentation, it is clear that this is the same band as it has always been – still pushing envelopes and still looking for fresh ways to punish the ears of their faithful. And let’s be honest – it’s still bloody heavy!
Best Track: The Dying Song (Time To Sing)
06. Amorphis “Halo”
These amazing Finns have been pushing the musical envelope for what seems like forever now, going from straight up death metal, to acoustic folk, and everything between before finally bringing elements of every incarnation of the band together in a melting pot that ultimately yielded one of the best albums of the year, with Halo. Although, it certainly needs pointing out that Amorphis have never had a disappointing album – Halo certainly stands out as one of their best, and there are a lot of quality albums to choose from throughout their discography.
With Halo, the growling death metal vocals are used as frequently as the clean singing that Tomi Joutsen is better known for- an aspect that has slowly been creepy back for the past few records now. So much so, that it almost feels strange to be hearing so much of it, despite it being a major staple of their early recordings. As the record hinds on, the duel vocal stylings work more and well in symbiosis – Halo seemingly blends days or yore with latter day Amorphis.
Best Track: On The Dark Waters
05. Lamb Of God “Omens”
Probably one of the biggest draws in heavy music today, Lamb Of God have crafted a recipe that works and continue to use it to create thumping great albums with. There may not be a lot that changes from album to album, in terms of song structure and all that, but you’re locked onto a winning theme, why would you tinker with it too much? Sure, here and there, small nuances maybe – but on the whole, fans know what they are going to get when the mighty Lamb Of God announces a new record is on the horizon. Omens was yet another solid slab of heavy as hell music; just what we wanted it to be.
The result is, simply put, as we have come to expect. Straight forward, no nonsense, heavy as balls metal. Filled with saucy riffs and and giant grooves, pissed off vocals from the one and only Randal Blythe and all the key elements that put the band of the map all those years ago, and have kept them there ever since. While you might find any shocks or surprises here, you will certainly get what you came for – your socks thoroughly knocked off and a perforated eardrum or two. What more could you want from a Lamb Of God record?
Best Track: Grayscale
04. Ozzy Osbourne “Patient Number 9”
As we were pulling together the finalists for this collection, the prince of darkness Ozzy Osbourne turned 74 years of age – and still made the final round-up on the nothing more than the merrit of this new record. Patient Number 9 is every bit as great as the records that cemented Ozzy’s legacy as the madman of heavy music.
For this record, Ozzy brought together an incredible grouping of guest musicians that included the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Mike McCready and longtime collaborators like Tony Iommi, Zakk Wylde and Robert Trujillo. The late Taylor Hawkins, as well as Chad Smith, Duff McKagan and Josh Homme also make appearances. Yet, the most brightly shinning star of the bunch remains the great Ozzy Osbourne himself, who still emits such radiant and powerful vocals throughout the record, despite his age. Just four days after the release of this great record, Ozzy announced he was under way writing its follow-up album.
Best Track: One Of Those Days
>> Testament at London Music Hall, London
>> In Flames at Corona Theatre, Montreal
>> Ghost at Centre Videotron, Quebec City
03. Megadeth “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead”
Although delayed, With The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead, Dave Mustaine and Megadeth once again proved themselves among the greatest metal acts in the history of the genre. Although the band has had it’s many up and a few downs, this is undoubtedly one of the better albums the group has penned in at least a decade. It might not touch the sheer genius of the Rust In Peace album, but there sure is a hell of a lot to like about The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead.
The lead-up to this record has been turbulent to say the least, with every possible scenario imaginable seemingly against The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead ever seeing the light of day. From serious illness, a global pandemic and the firing of Dave Ellefson following a scandalous accusation of the bassist and Megadeth co-founder caught in sexually explicit videos of him masturbating while chatting with an under-aged girl online. Front-man and guitarist Dave Mustaine underwent fifty-one radiation treatments and nine chemotherapy sessions during his battle with cancer – won the war, and tomorrow the new record will be released. Iron will.
Yet, here we are – through the fire, the tribulation …and the hurdles and onto the Modern Free Press best albums of the year list. Hard work pays off!
Best Track: We’ll Be Back
02. Amon Amarth “The Great Heathen Army”
What can we say – the Viking horde was too strong to be denied this year, with their very, very impressive The Great Heathen Army album. With each recording, Amon Amarth continue to push boundaries, like an advancing army invading fresh shores, and The Great Heathen Army is quite possibly Amon Amarth at their best. With such powerful melodies and pulse pulverizing choruses and leads, it is little wonder that this is at the top of the pile in this year end review.
There is so much to love about this album; the riffs, the way every song makes you want to raise a horn and drink until you collapse, while screaming along to the lyrics – just the overall feeling. This is one hell of a record and although we argued about it sitting so high on the list, at the end of the day – I think we can all agree that The Great Heathen Army deserves its spot.
If we had taken their live show into consideration, they would again place in the podium positions in an end of year competition. We didn’t do that, though, because not every artist on this list were witnessed by the selected staff jury, and thus was deemed an unfair selection process.
Best track: Saxons And Vikings
01. Ghost “Impera”
Perhaps the sole title on this list that was unanimously designated as king of the hill by the Modern Free Press staff, and probably a pick that will leave some of the more true metal fans in a guffaw – but there is no mistaking the impact that Ghost has had, and will continue to have on the heavy music community. Major awards and accolades aside; Impera is a flippin’ great record, and although there may be a few too many “pop” moments for metal purists, it is also a hard hitting slab of heavy metal, and for that reason, Impera emerges at the top of the heap.
The way this collective of secretive and largely unknown misfit musicians can create massive, and often epic soundscapes is second to none in the heavy music realm. On the side of song structure, the writing on Impera is impeccable, its imagery profound, lyrics both absurd and thoughtful and most importantly of all, Impera – and Ghost as a whole, are just plain fun! That is something that a lot of artists have forgotten about over the years and something that was more sorely missed than anyone realized until Ghost found their true calling and grew to be one of the biggest metal acts in history.
Truth is, Ghost is metal enough for us to consider it the best album of the year – and as such, we would like to congratulate and thank Ghost for such an amazing recording.
Best track: Kaisarion
Honorable mentions to MMXX “Sacred Cargo”, Primitive Man “Insurmountable” and Midnight “Let There Be Witchery”.
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