As 2022 approaches its halfway point, the number of quality releases so far this year is impressive. The supply of excellent new albums continues in May. Here are our picks for May 2022’s best new heavy metal albums.
1. Cave In – Heavy Pendulum (Relapse)
After the death of Caleb Scofield in 2018, there was speculation that 2019’s Final Transmission might be Cave In‘s last album. They decided to carry on, and there still are contributions from Scofield on Heavy Pendulum. Nate Newton (Converge, Old Man Gloom) plays bass on the album. They also worked with producer Kurt Ballou for the first time since their 1998 debut.
It features some exceptionally catchy songs such as “Floating Skulls” with mostly melodic singing along with heavier tracks like “New Reality” and “Searchers Of Hell” with a more even mix of harsh and clean vocals. Cave In slow the pace on the title track and “Blinded By The Blaze.” The lyrics for the urgent “Amaranthine” came from a lyrics notebook Scofield’s wife gave to the band. The album wraps up with the 12 minute “Wavering Angel,” which starts quietly before ramping up the intensity. At 70 minutes it’s a bit long, but Heavy Pendulum maintains interest throughout with a varied collection of memorable songs. It’s our pick for May’s best new album.
2. Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) (Napalm)
Swedish progressive/power metal veterans Evergrey issued Escape Of The Phoenix last year. While historically the band has gone two to three years between albums, the pandemic pause in touring gave them the opportunity to begin writing sooner. The result is A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament), the band’s thirteenth studio album.
The short gap between records did not hamper the quality at all. Evergrey are able to alternate between mellow, brooding moments and heavier metal parts, and this time around they amped up the heaviness. There are a lot of catchy songs such as “Call Out The Dark,” and the band used fan participation on “Save Us” and “Midwinter Calls.” Tom S. Englund’s passionate vocals along with well-written and diverse songs make for another outstanding Evergrey album.
3. Moon Tooth – Phototroph (Pure Noise)
Ten years into their careers, Long Island prog metal quartet Moon Tooth drop their third album, Phototroph. 2019’s Crux was a fabulous release, a rare album (in this genre) that managed to be both entertaining and complex at once. Phototroph manages to carry on that tradition by serving up eleven frenetic yet catchy tracks.
Moon Tooth strut their stuff across the entire album, brilliantly offsetting progressive tendencies with plenty of swagger and groove. Nick Lee (who also plays for Riot V) can shred with the best of them, and John Carbone’s unique vocals work perfectly. “Alpha Howl” and the title track are super gems, with the only near miss on the album being “The Conduit.” Aside from that track and the absolutely brickwalled master (a horrific DR4, for those into that sort of thing), Phototroph is a blast.
4. Lord Belial – Rapture (Hammerheart)
Rarely mentioned in the same breath as fellow Swedes Watain, Dissection, Dark Funeral and Marduk, Lord Belial are still a top tier black metal band in the Swedish scene. The group originated in 1992, making them one of the oldest BM bands in Sweden, and also the world. Two years after their last album The Black Curse was released, Lord Belial are issuing their latest record Rapture.
Rapture has all the trappings of a Lord Belial album including a cold black metal sound, blasts and, much like Dissection, they mix speed with slow, emotional melodies. I don’t remember the group being this fast. I didn’t hear the last album, but I’ll say this one really goes for the throat in the speed factor. The vocals are diverse with a combination of shrieks and clean-throated narrations. I’ve listened to the album several times, and Rapture is a winner.
5. Ibaraki – Rashomon (Nuclear Blast)
Ibaraki is the long awaited collaboration between Trivium’s Matthew Heafy and Ihsahn. Rashomon was primarily written by Heafy, with Isahn producing and contributing some song structures. The album title is a Japanese demon from feudal legend. The album explores a lot of musical styles. While there are some black metal influences, Rashomon is not a black metal album.
“Kagutsuchi” goes from extreme to mellow and progressive and back again, while “Jigoku Dayu” takes the opposite approach of a quiet beginning before the brutality kicks in. The songs are lengthy, most in the 6 to 8 minute range, with a lot of twists and turns. There are guest vocalists as well. Nergal’s harsh vocals add an air of menace to “Akumu” while Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) guests on “Ronin.” Ihsahn appears on “Susanoo No Mikoto.” Rashomon is an ambitious and diverse album that allows Heafy to explore different musical pathways. Ihsahn’s solo work was certainly an inspiration here, but Ibaraki have made a very unique and engaging album.
6. Tómarúm – Ash In Realms Of Stone Icons (Prosthetic)
Ash In Realms Of Stone Icons is the debut album from Atlanta duo Tómarúm. The seven songs are spread across sixty-one minutes, a deft blend of technical death metal and progressive black metal. With the focus on themes of mental illness, it is a heavy-hitting album, both musically and lyrically.
This is an incredibly well put together debut, considering the length and scope of the material. Tómarúm blast their way through dense walls of black metal, dextrous displays of tech-death, with plenty of modern embellishments along the journey. Kyle Walburn (guitars, vocals, programming) and Brandon Iacovella (guitars, vocals, contrabass) display an immense amount of talent, although the contrabass could be more defined in the mix. While there’s still room for improvement, Ash In Realms Of Stone Icons is a fabulous debut.