Here are our choices for September 2022’s best heavy metal albums.
1. KEN Mode – NULL (Artoffact)
Canada’s hardcore/noise flagbearers KEN Mode return with fury on NULL, a thirty-five-minute exercise in catharsis. This is the band’s eighth album, and first to include collaborator Kathryn Kerr as a full-time member. She brings her multi-instrumental skills to bear throughout this post-pandemic release of emotion. NULL is a harrowing account of what the world has been through in recent years, delivered with the unbridled rage only KEN Mode are capable of.
NULL is theoretically part one of a two-part album series. The Matthewson brothers, Kerr, and Skot Hamilton unleash a wide range of fury on listeners, from the short hardcore blast of “Throw Your Phone in the River” to the more Swans-like ten-minute epic “Lost Grip” and everything in between. These eight songs dig deep into visceral emotions we’ve all had over the past two and a half years, and I’m sure even folks who don’t normally go in on this genre can relate to the songs. It’s our pick for September’s best new metal album.
2. Autopsy – Morbidity Triumphant (Peaceville)
Chris Reifert’s legendary death metal outfit Autopsy return after a 7-year gap in albums with Morbidity Triumphant. As the band’s drummer/vocalist, Reifert has always existed in a unique space for this exact reason. There just aren’t too many bands that do this on a rare basis, let alone still going after eclipsing 35 years.
With Autopsy you are typically going to get a fair amount of doom with your death metal and Morbidity Triumphant is certainly heavy on those moments. In 2022 where death metal is again one of the most consistent genres in terms of releases, Morbidity Triumphant is another play from the book of consistently well written and well played metal that they have played since the genre’s nascent stages, and one of the best death metal albums of the year.
3. An Abstract Illusion – Woe (Willowtip)
Woe is Swedish trio An Abstract Illusion’s second album, following their 2016 debut. At their core, the band is a progressive death metal act, but on Woe they bring so much more to the table. Adding elements of death, black, prog, electronic, and classical to an ambitious 60-minute song is a bold exercise, and thankfully they pull it off.
Broken up into seven acts, Woe delivers massive helpings of brutality, riffs, atmosphere, and poignancy. Piano solos are interspersed with guitar solos, some voiceovers and female clean vocals offset the main harsh vocals, and the song arrangements are impeccable. It is easy to get fully immersed in this album and have an hour of your day disappear.
4. Clutch – Sunrise On Slaughter Beach (Weathermaker)
Hard rockers Clutch bring something new to the table on every album. That’s also the case on their thirteenth studio album Sunrise On Slaughter Beach. Anticipation is always high for a new Clutch record, but since it has been four years since Book Of Bad Decisions it’s even higher.
Thick, slow grooves drive songs like the title track, while songs such as “Nosferatu Madre” are quicker and anthemic. Backing vocals from Broadway star Frenchie Davis and Deborah Bond on “Mercy Brown” give it a different flavor. “Skeletons On Mars” has some surf rock style guitars and a retro vibe while album closer “Jackhammer Our Names” is a ballad with Neil Fallon’s most emotive singing on the album. Sunrise On Slaughter Beach is only 33 minutes long, more than 20 minutes shorter than Book Of Bad Decisions, but Clutch do everything they need to do in that time frame to make it an effective, unique and memorable album.
5. Revocation – Netherheaven (Metal Blade)
Netherheaven is the eighth full-length foray for Boston’s Revocation and their first in four years. Stylistically the band manages to straddle the line between the technical end of death metal with thrash sensibilities and enough melody to drive the songs home.
Ripping through opener “Diabolical Majesty” is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for this well-oiled machine as they push their technical boundaries, crafting sizzling songs throughout the album’s 45-minute run time. There is a lot to be said about the assembly of this band’s anarchy, but they let the music tell the whole story. Netherheaven might well be the best album that Revocation has recorded to date, with plenty for fans of old to latch onto while the band continues to advance their sonic palate.
6. King’s X – Three Sides Of One (InsideOut)
2022 finally sees the release of Three Sides Of One from King’s X, their first studio album in 14 years. Worth the wait? That depends on your expectations – and King’s X have always been a band that defy expectations. If you’re coming to this record looking for Gretchen Returns To Nebraska, put that aside.
Opener “Let It Rain” aside (the closest they get to Zeppelin-style bombast), this album is drenched in King’s X trademarks – heavenly background vocals, emotional guitar solos, and dUg Pinnick’s soulful wail – spun in new directions. Take the djent riffing of “Flood, Pt. 1,” set off by a Beatles-esque verse, the eerie harmonies that permeate “Swipe Up,” or drummer Jerry Gaskill taking lead vocals on three tracks, making this the most vocally diverse record they’ve done. If you’re yearning for the Dogman-days of nothing but dUg, you might be disappointed. But like many of rock’s great albums, it takes a few listens to reveal its charms.
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
July 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums
August 2022 Best Heavy Metal Albums