2022 was the year when live music returned but the economy dived. A year when legends were lost and new stars born.
And through it all a constant flow of new music raised our spirits and raised the bar.
We’ve listened to hundreds of albums during the last 12 months — everything from outlaw country to death doom and AOR to hardcore.
But only 40 of the finest records made our end of year cut. And today we count down numbers 40-21 in Rushonrock’s Best Albums Of 2022.

40. Halestorm – Back From The Dead (Atlantic)

In 2022 Lzzy Hale and co. were gloriously resurrected…as acutely relevant recording artists and one of the most compelling live bands on the planet.

Back From The Dead was the US quartet back to their best.

Vicious producer Nick Raskulinecz squeezed every last drop of emotion from Halestorm’s self-styled metal queen.

And killer tunes including The Steeple and set closer Raise Your Horns allowed Hale to hit new highs.

Back From The Dead saw Halestorm back on the attack. And it was a blast from start to finish. Simon Rushworth

Read the full Rushonrock review here 

39. Inclination – Unaltered Perspective (Pure Noise Records)

Hopes were high for Inclination’s first full-length.

The Kentucky straight edge crew – featuring Knocked Loose guitarist Isaac Hayle – had released two acclaimed EPs in 2017 and 2019.

And the promise showed on Midwest Straight Edge and When Fear Turns To Confidence was realised on Unaltered Perspective.

From the off, Inclination set about laying down barrage after barrage of tense metallic hardcore.

Bystander and Connections burst veins with their emotional heft and abrasive delivery, while Predetermined and Marooned showed a more nuanced side to the band’s songcraft.

In a burgeoning USHC scene, Inclination laid down a marker with this impressive debut. Rich Holmes

38. Slash Ft. Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators – 4 (Gibson Records)

Earlier this year Rushonrock was invited to the Gibson Rooms for an exclusive playback of 4.

Slash and Myles jumped on a Zoom call (Covid still loomed large) to talk us through the key points.

And great fun was had by all.

We knew it would be good. But this good?

It would be easy for this storied Guns N Roses/Alter Bridge supergroup to rest on its laurels and churn out the same old shit.

And while 4 was reassuringly familiar, it saw Slash and sidekick Kennedy honing their craft as classic rock’s most exciting songwriting duo. SR

Read the full Rushonrock review here 

37. Blacklab – In A Bizarre Dream (New Heavy Sounds)

Lost in a fever of Iommian ecstasy, In A Bizarre Dream was a head-spinning offering from Japanese duo Blacklab.

Guitarist/vocalist Yuko Morino and drummer Chia Shiraishi harnessed everything from psych-doom to d-beat on their third album.

It worked.

Really, really well.

Crows, Sparrows and Cats – featuring Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier ­– was a match made in avant-rock heaven, Abyss Woods smelt of Lee Dorrian’s locks and Dark Clouds rained acidic hardcore.

And throughout In A Bizarre Dream, Blacklab shone brightly. RH

Read our full verdict on In A Bizarre Dream here

36. Chemia – Something To Believe In (Absolute Label Services)

As ex-Duran Duran man Andy Taylor bravely battled stage four prostate cancer, he clearly needed something to believe in.

Step forward pugnacious Poles Chemia.

Taylor has been working with these hard rock heroes on and off for more than two years now.

And he produced one of the albums of the year in Something To Believe In.

Try pigeon-holing this guitar-driven amalgam of addictive styles and you’d go mad.

Chemia knows no boundaries and frontman Luke Drapala can do Draiman, Cornell, Stapleton and more…often within the same song.

The Widows Soul had the wow factor but power ballad The Best Thing was, well, the best thing here. SR

Read the full Rushonrock review here 

35. Grave Lines – Communion (New Heavy Sounds)

A bridge between the sonic intensity of Neurosis and the Peaceville Three’s unending gloom, Communion was an enthralling – if at times, uncomfortable – record.

Jake Harding’s tortured vocals and Oliver Irongiant’s corrosive riffery made for a visceral experience, as Grave Lines flailed themselves over seven scarring tracks.

On Sinensis the Londoners mined Killing Joke’s proto-industrialism.

With Carcini, they built a masterpiece from jaw dropping doom dynamics.

And Gordian aped eyehategod’s oppressive lurch.

This was soul sapping music. And all the better for it. RH

Read the full verdict here

34. Fantastic Negrito – White Jesus Black Problems (Storefront Records)

A top two pick in Rushonrock’s Best Blues Albums Of 2022, Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz pushed the envelope for rock fusion.

White Jesus Black Problems was lyrically rich and sonically ambitious.

And one of 2022’s most diverse releases put the ‘fantastic’ into Fantastic Negrito.

Think you know rock?

Think you know blues?

Think you know Dphrepaulezz? Think again. SR

33. Midnight – Let There Be Witchery (Metal Blade)

An Iron Fist of motörriffs and a mouthful of Venompunk? It could only be the latest Midnight record.

Main man Athenar followed Rebirth by Blasphemy with this gutter-dwelling album… an opus that truly epitomised Midnight’s blackened rock ‘n’ roll savagery.

From Telepathic Nightmare onwards, Let There Be Witchery gave us one riotous tune after the other.

And we’d like to think Lemmy, Philthy and Fast Eddie will be raising a glass or 10 to Snake Obsession. RH

Check out the full review here.

32. Thunder – Dopamine (BMG)

As Danny Bowes continues to recover from this year’s serious head injury, it’s worth remembering the pocket rocket frontman at his absolute vocal peak.

And Dopamine was a dazzling double album advert for one of finest exponents of British blues rock.

Thunder were on a roll long before this Luke Morley-penned classic provided Bowes with a fresh platform to excel.

But what made Dopamine addictively different was its determination to regularly divert from the norm.

Ballads Unravelling and Anybody There? were typically affecting. SR

31. Sacred Son – The Foul Deth Of Engelond (True Cult Records)

Immersed in the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, The Foul Deth Of Engelond was a black metal embodiment of revolutionary fervour.

Londoners Sacred Son painted bloody pictures of 14th century carnage and thrust pitchfork riffs into songs such as Le Blakheth.

And while The Foul Deth Of Engelond showed a clear musical evolution from its predecessor, Arthurian Catacombs, raw emotion and rich atmospherics still ran through the heart of this opus.

Mainman Dane Cross has been accused of making ‘hipster trash’ in the past, but this illustrious album should make any doubters think again. RH

Check out the full verdict here

30. Eliminator – Ancient Light (Cherry Red Records)

We described Ancient Light as ‘adventurous, assertive and aggressive’ as Eliminator just missed out on top spot in Rushonrock’s Best Trad Metal Albums Of 2022 list.

And that just about sums up one of the most ear-bleedingly brilliant records of the year.

Eliminator paid tribute to Maiden, Priest, Saxon and more on the moshpit-ready Ancient Light.

But the band’s no slave to nostalgia.

The Sculptor And The Stone proved these denim and leather clad warriors can carve their own niche as pack leaders of the buoyant trad metal scene. SR

29. R.A.M.B.O. – Defy Extinction (Relapse Records)

After a 17-year break, Philadelphia hardcore crew R.A.M.B.O. made up for lost time with Defy Extinction.

Railing against anti-science idealogues, climate change deniers and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, the quartet vented their spleens via a cocktail of crossover, crust and melodic punk.

River Of Birds and The End Is Nye, among others, reminded us of what we’d been missing.

More melodic than its predecessor, Bring It, yet still blazing with righteous rage, Defy Extinction was a vital record for a world in flames… RH

Check out the full review here

28. Iconic – Second Skin (Frontiers)

With a name like Iconic, excellence must be guaranteed.

But Frontiers’ latest supergroup was never going to fail.

Dual frontmen Michael Sweet and Nathan James ensured Second Skin was a first class lesson in vocal perfection.

And a supporting cast including Whitesnake stars past and present meant polished blues rock was hardly at a premium.

James might have made his name with prolific party starters Inglorious.

But Iconic provided the powerful frontman with the high profile platform he craved. SR

Read the full Rushonrock review here 

27. Russian Circles – Gnosis (Sargent House)

Russian Circles may be labelled as a post-metal outfit.

But on Gnosis, the Chicago trio eschewed many the of the gentler aspects of that sound for crushing metallic riff-outs.  

The instrumental band’s eighth album carried an enormous emotional weight: Conduit brought a raging doom storm to 2022; the dramatic Vlastimil was daubed in corpsepaint; and Betrayal revelled in a sense of deep foreboding.

Indeed, you had to make it to album closer Bloom for some respite… but the damage had already been done. RH

26. Von Hertzen Brothers – Red Alert In The Blue Forest (Doing Being Music)

When Rushonrock caught up with Mikko Von Hertzen in May he explained there was a common thread running through Red Alert In The Blue Forest.

An appreciation and respect for Mother Nature stitched together this truly remarkable record.

And the Von Hertzen Brothers managed to make a folksy, prog-tinged album that soundtracked childhood memories, current fears and fact-based warnings for the future.

If it all sounds a little bit convoluted then it was.

But lose yourself in Red Alert In The Blue Forest and you’ll quickly see the wood from the trees. SR

Read the full Rushonrock review here 

25. Kurokuma – Born Of Obsidian (Self-released)

Psychedelic sludge? Mystical doom? Shamanic stoner? A Sabbathian Ozric Tentacles? It’s not easy to pigeonhole Kurokuma.

But however you want to define them, there’s something very different about this Sheffield band.

Perhaps they’re interdimensional travellers, rather than mere metal musicians…

On Born Of Obsidian, they opened a portal to ancient Mesoamerica, with crushing fretwork, pulsing krautrock and primal percussion as their keys. Jaguar was written as an invocation, rather than a song, said the band: one listen and you’ll know what they meant.

Was Kurokuma’s debut album actually of this Earth? Maybe. But not one we inhabit today. RH

Take a trip into Born Of Obsidian and read the full review here

24. The L.A. Maybe – Dirty Damn Tricks Deluxe Edition (Self-Released)

Somehow, shamefully, we missed Dirty Damn Tricks first time around.

But 2022 was the year Rushonrock discovered your favourite new band.

And The L.A. Maybe rewarded that ‘find’ with a newly expanded version of their sleazy debut Dirty Damn Tricks.

Sugar had already made its presence felt as a one-time Record Of The Week.

But there was more to Dirty Damn Tricks than that sweet-ass live favourite.

Think Axl Rose fronting Bad Company or Brian Johnson jamming with Faster Pussycat.

No ifs, buts or maybes. Just gold-plated rock and roll courtesy of The L.A. Maybe.

Read the full Rushonrock review here 

23. Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North (Metal Blade Records)

You could feel the temperature drop as soon as Cold Burn thundered into life.

You could taste the tension in The Silver Arc’s every chord.

Cult Of Luna make records which fully envelope the senses.

And like A Dawn To Fear, Mariner, Vertikal et al. The Long Road North was one of them.

The twilight melancholy of Into The Night, the relentless march of Full Moon, the volcanic detonation of the title track… Cult Of Luna’s ninth opus was typically expansive, and typically brilliant. RH  

22. Rosalie Cunningham – Two Piece Puzzle (Esoteric)

Memories of Cunningham’s colourful prog rock past continue to fade.

But it’s credit to the experimental singer songwriter that her impact as a solo artist continues to put former band Purson in the shade.

Freed of unfairly suffocating expectation, label pressure and creative anxiety, Cunningham continued to blossom on Two Piece Puzzle.

Her second solo record was more 60s psych than 70s prog…and better for it.

Best enjoyed on coloured vinyl, under dim lights and with a spliff for company, this throwback classic ticked all the right boxes.

And it confirmed Cunningham is crazier than ever. SR

21. Cave In – Heavy Pendulum (Relapse Records)

Heavy Pendulum swung into our lives in May.

And it was a poignant record, given the tragic passing of Cave In bassist Caleb Schofield in 2018.

The reconstituted line-up – which now features Converge’s Nate Newton – did their friend proud with a vibrant celebration of hardcore, metal and alt-rock.

With Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou behind the mixing desk for the first time since 1998, Cave In demonstrated their exquisite songwriting over 14 thrilling tracks, from the downer anthem of Blinded By A Blaze to the spikey riff-fest of Floating Skulls.

Culminating in the magnificent, 12-minute Wavering Angel, Cave In’s seventh album soared to the heavens. RH