Old school anthems from hardened veterans, surging NWOBHM from returning favourites, proggy explorations from a new hero… 2022 was another fine year for classic heavy metal. And that means there are plenty of reasons to check out our best trad metal albums of 2022!
10. Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – Souls Of The Innocent (Global Rock Records)
He put the steel into Virgin Steele.
And four decades down the line this red hot record proved Jack Starr’s still on a mission to keep blazing metal alive.
In tandem with battle hardened screamer Alex Panza, Starr assaulted the senses on Souls Of The Innocent.
Painkiller-era Priest met Manowar as Burning Starr shone brightly.
And when Riot V frontman Todd Michael Hill joined the party, this was peak trad metal. Simon Rushworth
Read the full Rushonrock review here.
9. Phantom Spell – Immortal’s Requiem (Wizard Tower Records)
Kyle McNeill topped 2021’s Trad Metal Albums Of The Year list with Seven Sisters, the London-based NWOTHM stars who’ve spearheaded trad metal’s UK revival.
But this year, the singer/guitarist indulged his love of prog rock with Phantom Spell… and an album that drew as much from Kansas and Uriah Heap as it did Iron Maiden.
The eight-minute topping Dawn Of Mind saw McNeill’s trademark metallic thrust embellished with technicolour keys, while another stunning epic, Blood Becomes Sand rivalled some of his finest work with the Sisters.
Hell, there was even a cover of Rory Gallagher’s Moonchild thrown in for good measure… Rich Holmes
8. Leather – We Are The Chosen (Steamhammer/SPV)
Leather Leone lived and breathed heavy metal during the late 80s.
Reassuringly, the voice of Chastain still has the pipes to power a small country.
We Are The Chosen paid due homage to the much-missed Ronnie James Dio.
And guitar star Vinnie Tex teased every last note out of his trusty axe.
Seven-minute epic Hallowed Ground trod a familiar trad metal path with its expansive sound and canny storytelling.
But Leone never sounded better as she belted out self-reflective standout Who Rules The World. SR
Read the full Rushonrock review here.
7. Spell – Tragic Magic (Bad Omen Records)
On Tragic Magic, Canadian brothers Cam Mesmer and Al Lester drew on influences as diverse as Blue Öyster Cult, Camel and Candlemass to conjure ten tracks of über cool proto metal.
Spell’s graceful songwriting ran like a glistening stream through their fourth album… and while the band have been reduced to a duo since 2020’s Opulent Decay, they seem all the more focused for it.
Fever Dream ruled the night like an ethereal Mercyful Fate, Souls In Chains upped the pace and turned up the prog and Hades Embrace weaved between urgent 80s metal and wistful, starlit choruses. And they were just some of the highlights to be found on Tragic Magic. RH
6. Wolf – Shadowland (Century Media)
Looking for power metal par excellence?
Sweden’s Wolf delivered yet again with this untamed beast of a record.
Shadowland put peers in the shade with its 11 tracks of rabid riffage.
And from the first notes of NWOBHM-styled opener Dust there was no escaping this album’s addictive thrust.
Main man Niklas Stalvind doubled down on his rep as one of metal’s most strident servants.
And with riotous rhythm section Pontus Egberg and Johan Koleberg no longer new to the Wolf pack, this record exuded confidence, cool and prog-fuelled creativity. SR
5. Nite – Voices of the Kronian Moon (Season of Mist)
Combine the considerable talents of guitarists Van Labrakis (Satan’s Wrath, Mencea) and Scott Hoffman (Dawnbringer, High Spirits) and you get the heavy metal alchemy of Nite.
And it’s glorious.
On their sophomore album, this San Francisco act brought slick, melodic NWOBHM together with Labrakis’ netherworld rasp, and used it to birth pitch black anthems such as Acheron and Edge Of The Night.
Stacked with dazzling solos and astral riffs, Voices of the Kronian Moon felt like a metaller’s secret treasure vault. RH
4. Skull Fist – Paid In Full (Atomic Fire Records)
Raise your Fist and yell!
Canada’s rising force broke new ground with the punishing Paid In Full.
Zach Slaughter tore his way through a playbook for the NWOTHM.
And the driving force behind a full-throttle album crafted a career high in the process.
From the fast and furious Long Live The Fist to the more nuanced Madman, this was a record that posed as many questions as it answered.
Heavier Than Metal was one of heavy music’s anthems of the year. Skull crushing perfection. SR
3. Riot City – Electric Elite (No Remorse Records)
With their 2019 debut, Burn The Night, Riot City announced their arrival on the NWOTHM scene with a fistful of glistening, Priest-inspired metal.
Big things were therefore expected of Electric Elite.
And it didn’t disappoint.
Boasting a vocal masterclass from high octane singer Jordan Jacobs, the Alberta quintet (pictured below) tempered their Canadian steel with stronger melodies and a more mature approach.
Yes, opener Eye Of The Jaguar detonated like a hypersonic missile, but songs such as Tyrant and Severed Ties saw Jacobs draw on his enviable range, and add more emotional depth to ‘City’s attack.
Quiet Riot? Certainly not. But the Calgary crew showed they could evolve with Electric Elite. RH
Check out the full review of Electric Elite here.
2. Eliminator – Ancient Light (Cherry Red Records)
Blink and you might have missed this early contender for album of the year.
Way back in January – and hot on the heels of a triple header tour with Toledo Steel and Seven Sisters – Eliminator reinforced their reputation as the engine room of the UK’s trad metal scene.
Ancient Light was adventurous, assertive and aggressive metal played with the alacrity of Maiden in their mid-80s pomp.
An illuminating successor to 2018’s visionary Last Horizon, a robust record rarely faltered.
The Sculptor And The Stone Lady stood out but Foreverless was our favourite.
Chris Fielding’s (Conan, Winterfylleth, Alunah, Atavist) production elevated Eliminator to the next level as Ancient Light exceeded all expectations. SR
Our trad metal album of 2022 is…
1. Satan – Earth Infernal (Metal Blade)
We’ve been worshipping Satan since their 2011 rebirth.
Life Sentence, Atom By Atom and Cruel Magic crackled with ingenious songcraft and scintillating fretwork.
Newcastle’s NWOBHM veterans more than made up for lost time.
But even diehard fans couldn’t have envisaged just how majestic Earth Infernal would be.
The quintet conjured a record that would rival any early 80s classic. A tour de force of Satanic might.
Sparking off each other once again, Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey showered each song with electrifying leads, while frontman Brian Ross delivered some of his most dramatic performances to date – check out Burning Portrait and The Blood Ran Deep for the undeniable evidence.
We already thought the devil had all the best tunes. With Earth Infernal, Satan confirmed it. RH
Check out the full review of Earth Infernal here.
Read our interview with Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey here.