While 2021’s top black metal albums list brimmed with US talent, 2022 saw European acts re-assert themselves, with Germany, Lithuania, Portugal and Belgium among the nations represented in our Best Black Metal Albums of 2022.
From Native American folklore and medieval uprisings to sermons straight from the depths of hell, our top black metal records of 2022 will scar your soul.
Prepare to embrace the darkness…
10. Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze (Willowtip)
A complex and stirring record, Liminal Shroud’s sophomore opus embodied the Canadians’ sense of adventure.
Yes, All Virtues Ablaze was at time reminiscent of Wolves In The Throne Room, Ghost Bath and Deafheaven, especially given the band’s use of light and shade.
But the trio took their own path on All Virtues Ablaze, one where you’ll find cascades of graceful fretwork and soaring, transcendental passages – Hypoxic being a prime example.
And the stratospheric brace of Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids and Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash, could have been an album in itself…
9. Abduction – Black Blood (Candlelight Records)
Abduction’s live rituals have become a must-see in the UKBM scene, but mysterious founder A|V has the writing flair to match his stage presence.
And this unholy offering built on the success of 2018’s Crown Of Curses and 2019’s All Pain Is Penance.
More polished and ambitious than its predecessors – though no less menacing – Black Blood saw Abduction spread its nefarious tentacles.
Indeed, Plutonian Gate and Lightless At The Grand Conjuration opened up new realms for A|V, with the psychedelic progressions of Enslaved coming to mind as the album voyaged onwards.
However, album closer In Exaltation Of The Supreme Being left Black Blood in a pool of steaming ichor.
And that familiar sense of dread was never far away.
8. Gaerea – Mirage (Season of Mist)
2020’s Limbo propelled Gaerea into extreme metal’s big leagues.
And the Portuguese act haven’t looked back.
Mirage’s release came at a time when the world was hungry for their incendiary black metal… and Gaerea delivered an album which raised their status even further, yet retained the explosive dynamics and sparkling flourishes that made Limbo a game changer.
Salve took its place among the quintet’s finest works, juxtaposing a barrage of stinging riffery with dramatic tempo shifts.
Arson’s flames lit up the night sky.
And the title track was an emotional rough ride laced with Cimmerian melodies.
Mirage? This was very real.
7. Terzij de Horde – In One Of These, I Am Your Enemy (Consouling Sounds/Tartarus Records)
Utrecht’s Terzij de Horde turned heads with their debut album, 2015’s Self.
And this opus cemented their status as one of Europe’s most exciting BM acts.
Bearing three offerings of richly layered, intense black metal, In One Of These, I Am Your Enemy was a visceral and engrossing record.
Yes, the title track stole the show, but angular opener Cherion and swirling post-BM masterpiece Precipice weren’t too far behind it.
Inventive black metal, from a band on the rise.
6. Blackbraid – Blackbraid I (Self-released)
The winds of the Adirondack wilderness swept through Blackbraid’s first opus, as creator Sgah’gahsowáh built a landmark for indigenous black metal.
His Native American heritage tied Blackbraid I’s roots to a ferocious, Nordic-inspired onslaught, typified by album opener The River Of Time Flows Through Me.
And it came to the fore in As The Creek Flows Softly By, an evocative ode to nature which marked a pause in hostilities.
A startling debut, Blackbraid I rekindled the spirit of black metal.
5. Sisyphean – Colours of Faith (Transcending Obscurity Records)
As Before the Light’s electronic pulse triggered the vortex-like Scorched Timeless, you could sense that this might be a special record.
By the time Conqueror closed Colours of Faith in epic fashion, those suspicions would be confirmed.
Sisyphean’s dissonant, all-enveloping assault was underpinned by razor sharp songcraft.
The Lithuanians channelled liquid riffs and vivid sonic auroras into songs such as Hearts of Mercury and Exiles.
They doused their work in sulphurous atmospherics while keeping each track honed and focused.
And their white-hot core thrummed with supernatural power.
4. Sacred Son – The Foul Deth Of Engelond (True Cult Records)
A black metal realisation of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, The Foul Deth Of Engelond burned bright with revolutionary fervour.
Pitchfork riffs dripped with vehemence, as the Londoners established themselves among UKBM’s vanguard with songs such as Le Blakheth and the stunning, 13-minute title track.
Indeed, this dramatic and atmospheric album was a landmark for Sacred Son, building on Arthurian Catacombs’ promise and crystallising the vision of founder Dane Cross.
And in a vibrant UK black metal scene, The Foul Deth Of Engelond stood tall.
Read the full review here.
3. Watain – The Agony & Ecstasy Of Watain (Nuclear Blast)
One of the world’s most high profile black metal acts returned in 2022 with a fierce reminder of their potency.
Like its predecessor, Trident Wolf Eclipse, the Swedes’ seventh album was a spear tip for Watain’s dark art, the band’s distinctive attack sculpted into polished shards of infernal energy. The Howling and Leper’s Grace cut particularly deep, courtesy of P. Forsberg and H. Eriksson’s lightning strike riffery.
OK, so we might never hear a 14-minute-plus epic like Waters of Ain again… but The Agony & Ecstasy Of Watain was still a fascinating work: mini-symphonies Funeral Winter and Before The Cataclysm, for instance, were awash with startling tempo shifts, and gleamed with twilight melodies.
Twenty-five years after their inception, Watain still dwell in the heart of black metal.
2. Imha Tarikat – Hearts Unchained – At War with a Passionless World (Prophecy Productions)
“I literally let myself go insane to create an absolutely authentic experience,” said Imha Tarikat’s founder, Kerem Yilmaz, on the making of Hearts Unchained….
And you could feel his raw emotion as it bled from Brute Majesty and Flood of Love (The Beast Trigger).
This was searing black metal straight from the gut, a tempest of anger, frustration, despair… and ultimately, catharsis.
Hearts Unchained… was also a step up from the German act’s breakthrough record, Sternenberster: Yilmaz expanded his sonic palette and stretched his songwriting here, and the results were extraordinary.
So which album bagged the number one spot in the Best Black Metal Albums of 2022?
1. Wiegedood – There’s Always Blood At The End Of The Road (Century Media)
Belgian act Wiegedood established themselves as a potent force in black metal with the De doden hebben het goed trilogy.
But they weren’t going to give us more of the same in 2022.
There’s Always Blood At The End Of The Road was a statement… and a jagged, rusting, unsettling one at that.
The kind of album that leaves scars.
Carousel warped minds as it accelerated into the void,
Nuages lurched like a devolved werebeast.
Now Will Always Be droned to the sound of a primordial hymn.
Was this the end of the road for Wiegedood?
It was the start of a new journey for one of BM’s most thrilling bands.
Read the full verdict here.