It was another strong batch of new metal releases in July. Our picks for July’s best new metal albums are a varied group of artists from death to thrash to prog.
1. Imperial Triumphant – Spirit Of Ecstasy (Century Media)
After a live album last year and a studio album the year before that, the innovative New York avant-garde trio Imperial Triumphant are back with their fifth full-length Spirit Of Ecstasy.
The inscrutable album shifts back and forth between jazzy prog and extreme metal. Catchy riffs devolve into chaotic sections before melody returns.
With songs in the 6 to 8 minute range, there’s plenty of room for experimentation and forays into a plethora of styles and genres. Numerous guests add to the variety of the album. There are some you might expect, such as Voivod vocalist Snake and guitarists Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Trey Spruance (Mr. Bungle). However, I’m guessing you wouldn’t expect Kenny G to appear on a metal album, but the legendary saxophonist lends his unmistakable sound to “Merkurius Gilded.” Spirit Of Ecstasy is a challenging listen at times, but each spin unveils something new, making it well worth the effort, and it’s our pick for July’s best album.
2. Oceans Of Slumber – Starlight And Ash (Century Media)
The new Oceans Of Slumber album Starlight And Ash is a nice progression from past efforts. It shows a movement from 2020’s Katatonia-inspired self-titled album to a newfound state of serenity. The album shows a new vision fully come into effect. Gentle songs like “Red Forest Roads” really show off the new sound. The musicianship on the album is of a high quality with a bolstered production job helping matters. The lyrical concept of the South’s religion comes to full fruition with this novel sound.
The band has not yet released their masterpiece, but this is about as close as one will get. The atmosphere on Starlight And Ash is captivating and makes this one of the better albums of the year. Add in some stellar performances, especially the vocals of Cammie Beverly, and you have a very memorable album. The tunes are consistently enthralling and make their mark upon you in a big way. Also included is a cover of “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals. The music on this album is emotive and will have its effect upon the mood of the listener.
3. Municipal Waste – Electrified Brain (Nuclear Blast)
On their seventh outing Electrified Brain, their first since 2017’s Slime and Punishment, Municipal Waste aim to keep their nonstop party firing on all cylinders. Riffs are first and foremost on the album with tracks like “Demoralizer” and “Grave Dive.” You get the main riff and then get it cycled back for maximum efficiency. Making the most of a short affair, the Waste pull no punches and add a bit of flair every so often to break up the fracas.
This far into their career, Municipal Waste have shown zero signs of slowing down, and why would they? Electrified Brain is just what the hesher asked for in 2022. Fans of the band and the genre new and old should flock to this, with walls of death a requirement. Thrashing is their business, and business is good.
4. Krisiun – Mortem Solis (Century Media)
The legendary Krisiun are one of South America’s longest running and best known death metal bands. The Brazilian trio has been around since 1990, and Mortem Solis which translates to “death of the sun,” is their twelfth studio album.
Having played together for more than three decades, the chemistry between Alex Camargo (vocals/bass), Moyses Kolesne (guitar) and Max Kolesne (drums) is evident in both the album’s musicianship and songwriting. The songs are heavy and brutal, with Krisiun injecting melodies that make tracks like “Serpent Messiah” memorable. They move smoothly between groove and chaos on songs such as “Necronomical,” while they keep their foot on the accelerator on “Tomb Of The Nameless.” The songs on Mortem Solis have plenty of twists and turns, making it another in a long like of compelling Krisiun albums.
5. Antigama – Whiteout (Selfmadegod)
Polish grinders Antigama are here to rip your face off with some riff-heavy grindcore on their eighth record Whiteout. Directly from the outset you get everything you expect from the genre without the song lengths being too bite-sized.
“Debt Pool” is a master class in getting your point across in short order with riffs being the primary emphasis, allowing themselves to slow momentarily before launching headlong into their final offensive. Another firebrand is “Holy Hand” which has a modern day Napalm Death feeling to it, Sebastian Rokicki’s heavy riffs backed by Lukasz Myszkowski’s powerful vocal delivery buoyed by a masterful drumming performance of Pawel Jaroszewicz, a well-oiled grind machine if I have ever heard one. Whiteout is the grindcore album of the year so far.
6. Derek Sherinian – Vortex (InsideOut)
Derek Sherinian is best known as the once and/or current keyboardist for Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, and more, but he also drops the occasional solo album. Vortex is the follow-up to 2020’s The Phoenix. It features an amazing lineup of guest guitarists: Steve Stevens, Nuno Bettencourt, Bumblefoot, Steve Lukather, Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa, Mike Stern, and Michael Schenker. Additionally, Sherinian is again joined by Simon Phillips on drums and Tony Franklin on bass. In short, this album features a ton of big names.
Jazz, metal, funk, prog – it’s all represented, and all very slickly and cleverly. Sherinian is more than happy to relinquish the spotlight to his guest guitarists, all of whom absolutely nail it, but that doesn’t mean the keys take a back seat. In fact, Sherinian uses a number of excellent samples and keeps up with all his bandmates, dropping a few mind-bending solos of his own. Vortex will most definitely go down as one of the best instrumental prog albums of the year.
Other 2022 Monthly Best Album Lists
January 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums
March 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums
April 2022 Best Metal Albums
May 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums
June 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums