After an incredible February, there weren’t quite as many outstanding new releases in March, but there are still plenty of quality albums. Here are our choices for March 2022’s best new heavy metal albums.
1. MWWB – The Harvest (New Heavy Sounds)
After issuing three full-lengths as Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, the UK sludge/doom band has slimmed down the band name to MWWB. The release of their latest album The Harvest was delayed a year due to the severe Covid-related stroke suffered by guitarist Dave Davies.
This album goes in more progressive and experimental directions than their previous releases. It works really well, with songs that are cinematic and atmospheric but still have the thick riffs MWWB are known for. There are influences of both Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath on The Harvest. Songs like the instrumental “Interstellar Wrecking” emphasize the psychedelic vibe, while tracks such as “Logic Bomb” bring doom front and center. Jessica Ball’s vocals are ethereal and dynamic, the perfect contrast to the heavy guitars. Their name is now shorter, but MWWB’s music is more expansive than ever. It’s our pick for March’s best new metal album.
2. Messa – Close (Svart)
We love to force sub-genres on metal bands, but if there is one band that defies pigeonholing it is Italy’s Messa. Their third album Close further reinforces this fact. Messa blend doom, psych, occult, blues, jazz, black metal, discordant noise, and most everything else under the sun to create a unique and uniquely breathtaking concoction.
Although they have evolved continuously from one album to the next, one thing is still certain: it is impossible to turn off Close once you start listening. The band continues to refine its songwriting, and with the amazing Sara nailing every vocal line, we are mesmerized from start to finish. Close is 65 minutes long, but with killer tracks such as the raging/ethereal “Dark Horse” and the Mediterranean-tinged “Pilgrim,” it sure flies by. One of the year’s must-own releases.
3. Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse (Century Media)
As their career has advanced, the length of time between releases for Swedish black metallers Dark Funeral has increased. After two or three years between their first few releases, that stretched to more than six years between Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus and their previous album, 2016’s Where Shadows Forever Reign. Almost six years have elapsed since that album their latest opus, We Are The Apocalypse.
There are a new bassist and drummer for the album, and it’s the second Dark Funeral record for vocalist Heljarmadr. The lone remaining original member is guitarist Lord Ahriman. And while there aren’t a lot of musical surprises, the execution is flawless. They shift from mid-paced grooves to blazing fast dense and chaotic sections and back again. Dark Funeral have been a consistently good black black band for decades, and that continues with the potent We Are The Apocalypse, which was well worth the wait.
4. Ghost – Impera (Loma Vista)
When they arrived on the scene with 2010’s Opus Eponymous, Ghost were a mysterious, anonymous band. That veil of secrecy has been lifted, with the band rising to the upper echelon of metal/hard rock. That continues with their fifth album Impera. It has already spawned their fourth mainstream rock number one song, “Hunter’s Moon.”
The album is packed with radio-friendly, ultra-catchy hard rock songs. You’ll be singing along to tracks like “Spillways” and “Watcher In The Sky” after only a listen or two. But Ghost always bring something new to the party on each album. “Twenties” has an orchestral beginning and a cinematic atmosphere driven by some heavy guitar riffs. If you weren’t a Ghost fan before, Impera probably won’t convert you, but those who enjoy Tobias Forge and company’s previous albums will find plenty to enjoy, with another collection of memorable songs.
5. Eucharist – I Am The Void (Helter Skelter/Regain)
Sweden have been major contributors of quality records in this short time in 2022. Due to space constraints, I won’t detail these albums, but I will list one of the front runners. Eucharist’s new album I Am The Void is certainly my favorite to come out of Sweden this year, and will definitely make my year-end album list.
What makes album so great? For one, it blends genres. One can’t tell if this is a melodic black metal album or a melodic death album. Like listening early At The Gates or Dissection, it straddles the fence between melodic death and black metal. I Am The Void takes some of the best elements both offer and comes up with a classic ‘90s Swedish album release in 2022. The length of over an one hour and seventeen minutes may be difficult for a full listen. I found it easier to digest in chunks. Eucharist have always been under the radar. Hopefully, I Am The Void really pushes them near the forefront. It’s arguably the best album of their long career.
6. E-L-R – Vexier (Prophecy)
Swiss band E-L-R return with their sophomore effort Vexier, one chock full of the otherworldly nature of shoegaze juxtaposed against a doom landscape. These long form compositions form movements with
two of the tracks topping the 12 minute mark. “Opitate The Sun” evokes a combination of Kylesa’s doom against the ethereal sounds of distant vocals as well as the variety present on a SubRosa track.
This album seems to reveal more on each listen with ample levels of subtlety peeling back layers of riffs and swirling levels of celestial complexity. “Three Winds,” while still an 8 minute track, is a lot more direct than the previous song. Riffs open this track, not needing an introduction as the listener is still awash in the atmosphere. If you are fan of the bands that thrive in the ability to build themselves up over the course of fully fleshed out tracks in the vein of Cult Of Luna and Neurosis among others, then E-L-R might just be your new favorite band.