Our 2022 Annual Report Continue reading our Top 30 Metal and Hard Rock Songs List. Keep checking back for more awards, lists and articles about the best TV, film, or music of 2022 as the year ends. It’s all here! here.
Heavy music is entering a golden age. Artists continue to explore new styles and expand on the traditions of the past, as the family tree of music genres continues to grow. Spirit Adrift is a loveable update on vintage doom and thrash, while Boris strives to continuously challenge itself with new sounds and ideas. Any and every sonic direction is viable, and that’s the beauty of it …a never-ending well of art that has tirelessly evolved into a aural universe unto itself.
This year offered some welcome surprises and reunions, such as the return of punk supergroup OFF!, the revival of the Chino Moreno’s Crosses, and a blockbuster comeback single from metal titans Metallica, who snuck into our list of the top 30 metal and hard rock songs of 2022 at the last minute. Lamb of God (our other veteran act) is also included. Heavy Band of the YearSlipknot and Meshuggah also provided notable tracks that further reinforced their elite status. We heard from Soul Glo (our) and many other new artists. Heavy Album of the Year), Big|Brave, Chat Pile, and Vein.fm, among others.
It’s a damn good time to be a carnivorous listener of all things heavy, to explore the seemingly endless sub-genre tributaries. When we compiled our list of the top 30 songs of 2022, we weren’t actively making our selections based on sonic diversity — it just ended up that way. You’d be hard-pressed to find two songs that sound alike in the list below. Ironically, that’s the unifying trait of heavy music this past year. Everyone is doing their own thing, and we’re the beneficiaries.
— Jon Hadusek,
Senior Staff Writer
30. Spirit Adrift – “Mass Formation Psychosis”
Although they’ve only been around since 2015, Spirit Adrift have already proven to be among today’s best heavy/doom metal bands. Just listen to “Mass Formation Psychosis” for proof. Its gentle acoustic strums provide a false sense of security as battle-ready riffs and rhythms foreshadow frontman Nate Garrett’s gruff but poetic proclamations. The song is a hypnotic treat of heavy metal, with its mix of classic thrash metal fervor and calming lulls. — Jordan Blum
29. Taipei Houston – “As the Sun Sets”
One might expect the sons of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich to play, well, metal. Myles Ulrich and Layne Ulrich have instead created their own sound by using their brotherly bond to create a drum and bass format that is reminiscent of similar duos like Death from Above 1979 and the early White Stripes. The Ulrichs’ kinetic garage rock is in full flight on their debut single “As the Sun Sets,” which is rife with fuzzy bass riffs and deceptively complex stop-start rhythms. We can’t wait to see where Taipei Houston go from here. — Jon Hadusek
28. Dream Widow (Dave Grohl) – “Angel with Severed Wings”
Dream Widow could’ve just been a tongue-in-cheek tie-in to Foo Fighter’s first movie (Studio 666). Instead, it showed Dave Grohl executing his experiment in extreme metal. “Angel with Severed Wings” exemplifies that wonderfully. Although it starts with a simple blend of caustic instrumentation, bellowing verses, it quickly adds in a few bold deviations that make the song more melodic and challenging. This is why Grohl already has this style down pat. — J.B.
27. Clutch – “Slaughter Beach”
Everything we all know and love about Clutch is included in this rocker — the hollering of Neil Fallon, the gonzo riffs of Tim Sult, and the rhythm section of Dan Maines and Jean-Paul Gaster grinding it out mid-tempo. And out of nowhere in the middle comes a trippy, psychedelic detour…as if you’re momentarily transported away on a magic carpet ride. And while the song’s title sounds like an ’80s horror movie, I hate to burst your bubble — it’s actually the name of a town in Sussex County, Delaware. — Greg Prato
26. Jesus Piece – “An Offering to the Night”
Quickly paced, driving, and delightfully unexpected, Jesus Piece managed to sneak in some new material before the year’s end and it was definitely needed. A tease of what’s to come, “An Offering to the Night” is a short but potent showcase that vocalist Aaron Heard still has it …and so does everyone else in the band. It’s modern metalcore — pressurizing palpitating beats to an intense degree. What can we really expect? Jesus Piece are a band we admire with passion. — Cervanté Pope
25. Dead Cross – “Heart Reformer”
Dead Cross’ “Heart Reformer” hits you hard and fast, with massive drums from Dave Lombardo (Misfits, ex-Slayer) and barking vocals from Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle). The track — which also features Retox guitarist Mike Crain and The Locust bassist Justin Pearson — shows that this supergroup can churn out everything from ’80s-style thrash to hardcore punk, packaged into a tidy four-minute nugget. — Anne Erickson
24. Vein.fm – “The Killing Womb”
Since Vein.fm (formerly Vein), released their 2018 debut album, a lot has happened Errorzone. The Boston-based quintet had to alter its name due to legal reasons (adding “.fm” to its moniker) and released a remix album in 2020 amidst worldwide lockdowns. Over such a long span, there was reason to believe the band might alter its sound — as fellow metalcore act Loathe did with their pivot to ambient/drone — but “The Killing Womb” sees Vein.fm’s fierce brand of hardcore and metalcore airtight and intact. The album also features elements of industrial and alt-metal from early 2000s. — J.H.
23. Chat Pile – “Lake Time (Mr. Rodan)”
God’s Country was quite the debut for Oklahoma’s Chat Pile, throwing aural swords into the guts of the metal masses. It was nothing short of ferocity and fury, but they literally drove full speed ahead into country territory with “Lake Time (Mr. Rodan).” Coming off their full length soundtrack to the indie flick Tenkiller, the song is the band’s take on mainstream, beer chugging country rock. For a band that, for all intents and purposes, makes the noise that noise itself would listen to, it’s a drift from their usual reality that really isn’t bad at all. — C.P.
22. Anti-Flag – “Modern Meta Medicine” (feat. Jesse Leach)
Anti-Flag is more interested in social justice than writing catchy lyrics. That said, “Modern Meta Medicine” is rather infectious (not in the sickly way), with lines like, “Self-serve, it’s all that you can eat/ How will we pay? We’re the commodity.” You can add Killswitch Engage frontman Jesse Leach’s powerful vocals to make this song a very strong song both musically and lyrically. — Spencer Kaufman
21. Greg Puciato – “Lowered” (feat. Reba Meyers
Since the disbandment of his beloved band, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Greg Puciato has been quite prolific. “Lowered” highlights his sophomore album Mirrorcell and notably features vocals from Code Orange’s Reba Meyers, who sings lead for the second half of the track and duets with Puciato for the choruses. It’s a fine example of the melodic alt-rock style Puciato explored on his latest album, and the dual vocal is executed perfectly — especially the layered melodies in the chorus. — J.H.
20. Candlemass – “Sweet Evil Sun”
Sweet Evil Sun was a glorious reminder of why Sweden’s Candlemass are the reigning kings of epic doom metal. In particular, its title track is a true powerhouse of sinisterly sludgy guitarwork, resolute percussion, and gallant decrees (courtesy of returning frontman Johan Längqvist). The chorus is particularly catchy thanks to its layers of vocals. The midpoint guitar solo, while unrestrained and grimy, is delightfully dark and unrestrained. Simply put, “Sweet Evil Sun” encapsulates Candlemass’ beloved grandeur, refinement, and accessibility. — J.B.
19. Voivod – “Synchro Anarchy”
For all the hard angles and sharp points in their name and their album art, Voivod’s music is often as slippery and smooth as an iced-over pond. Even after multiple spins, the bleak, pulverizing title track of the group’s latest album manages to maintain an air of unpredictability. The time signature changes with each measure. Meanwhile, the chorus swoops in with energy and dire warnings about the future of humanity. — Robert Ham
18. Thoughtcrimes – “Keyhole Romance”
Thoughtcrimes, the hardcore outfit featuring ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Bill Rymer, broke onto the scene over the past couple years with a string of singles — each new song being more brutal than the last. “Keyhole Romance” was the epitome of this development, tapping into a higher level of aggression. When it was released, Rymer called it the “possibly the most ambitious track we’ve made,” with each band member pushing to the extreme on their instrument. This is top-quality modern hardcore, and one the best examples of this genre we’ve heard all year. — J.H.
17. Boris – “My Name Is Blank”
Imagine a Sonic Youth-style heavy metal band. Or at the very least, if they wrote a heavy metal song. “My Name Is Blank” is probably as close as we’ll get to that, in a sense. It’s not that Boris haven’t always possessed a propensity for reverb and noise, because they have, but there’s something about the particular angst of this song that recalls the Boris of yore, while also being reminiscent of cacophonic dread that infected the ’90s in a good way. — C.P.
16. OFF! – “Kill to Be Heard”
The return of punk supergroup OFF A pleasant surprise was Keith Morris and Company’s 2022 debut album, which was their first since 2014. LSD Free — a collection that received praise for its experimental inclinations. That said, the direct old-school hardcore throwback “Kill to Be Heard” was our favorite of the bunch. This track is a two minute long barrage of non-sequiturs and grimness (“False flag, rapture sham / At the children’s prison camp”Dimitri Coats’s amazing guitarwork combines big chord breakdowns with atonal, tremolo sections. The masters perform a hardcore workout. — J.H.
15. Elder – “Endless Return”
Prog/stoner/psych rock troupe Elder can seemingly do no wrong, as “Endless Return” (from Innate Passage) demonstrates. Tapping into the record’s overarching sense of surrealism and transcendence, its initial mix of ominously cosmic jamming and urgent verses eventually gives way to jaw-droppingly intricate detours, spacey respites, and everything in-between. Sure, that could be said of numerous Elder tunes, yet it’s the sheer fluidity and precision of said balance that sees “Endless Return” rising above its brethren. — J.B.
14. Crosses – “Vivien”
It’s funny how an artist can stylistically shift and change like a chameleon. Chino Moreno, who gambols back and forth among his various projects in Crosses and Deftones, fits this description. From a vocal perspective, Moreno’s croon was a necessary component of “Vivien.” The track tells of a tragic couple, drowning together in a lake of a “til death do them part” love. It’s instrumentally strange and romantic, sensual in its narrative agony. — C.P.
13. Nova Twins – “Cleopatra”
It’s a no brainer that a song carrying such a heavy but beautiful weight would end up on this list, and that’s not to say the load it bears isn’t one worth carrying. As an allegory of the grace and rightful praise that Black women deserve, I used the Queen. Consequence Rookie of the Year Nova Twins’ communication of Black divinity, pride and power is apparent on “Cleopatra,” unapologetically. “Blacker than the leather/that’s holding our boots together” — it doesn’t really get clearer than that. — C.P.
12. Ozzy Osbourne – “Patient Number 9” (feat. Jeff Beck
Two British blokes who played major roles in trailblazing heavy metal and hard rock back in the good ol’ days are Ozzy Osbourne and Jeff Beck — the former as the singer of Black Sabbath and the latter as the guitarist of the Jeff Beck Group. However, these two rock legends did not unite on a recording until the album-opening title track from Ozzy’s 13th solo studio effort overall. The song is sung from the standpoint of a troubled individual who seems to be permanently confined to a mental institution, but musically is among Ozzy’s grandest singles. — G.P.
11. BABYMETAL – “Divine Attack”
The lead single from BABYMETAL’s forthcoming concept album THE OTHER ONE introduced the LP’s complex science-fiction narrative and a new sound for the Japanese act. “Divine Attack” leans more toward alternative metal and melodic metalcore, and the pop/trance metal elements of the group’s past work are almost non-existent — a complete sonic evolution. The result is one of BABYMETAL’s darkest and most mature songs to date. — J.H.
10. Halestorm – “The Steeple”
Preach, Lzzy, preach! Halestorm delivered one of the most anthemic songs of 2022 with the powerful track “The Steeple” from their latest album, The Return from the Dead. Lzzy Hale and company rocked their way out of lockdown with a tune that champions the resiliency of humankind, as the singer used her robust voice to declare, “This is my armor/ This is my anchor/ It’s been a long road outta Hell up to the steeple/ For this is church and these are my people.” — S.K.
09. Meshuggah – “The Abysmal Eye”
Marking their first new song in roughly six years, Meshuggah’s “The Abysmal Eye” was worth the wait, offering a heavy, crushing concoction of metal that appeased fans upon its arrival. The song is a prog-influenced tune by the Swedish metal band. It features intense riffing, thick grooves and a lot of energy that draws you in. The song, which appears on the band’s new Unchangeable Record, with its pounding beats and fiery riffs, will hit you right in the gut. — A.E.
08. Slipknot – “The Dying Song (Time to Sing)”
Slipknot’s “The Dying Song (Time to Sing)” off the band’s latest album, THE END. So Far, It is an absolute rager with its crunchy guitars, staccato-style rhythms, and electronica. While it’s a very creative tune — including a proggy a cappella vocal by Corey Taylor — at the core, Slipknot’s sound remains intact, with the masked metallers serving up a meaty, two-guitar attack, gutting percussion, and wild tempo shifts. — A.E.
07. Big|Brave – “carvers, farriers and knaves”
Brave use volume as a form of expression and release, and they harness that massive sound on “carvers, farriers and knaves.” Drummer Tasy Hudson deliberately pounds at the toms while droning guitars swell and distort into an impressionistic swath of noise a la Boris and SubRosa.|Brave use volume as a form of expression and release, and they harness that massive sound on “carvers, farriers and knaves.” Drummer Tasy Hudson deliberately pounds at the toms while droning guitars swell and distort into an impressionistic swath of noise a la Boris and SubRosa. Robin Wattie’s seemingly freeform vocal performance cuts through the mix, guided by spiritual catharsis, tangible pain, and the colossal surge of the amplifiers. This minor masterpiece is a consistent post-metal band. — J.H.
06. Metallica – “Lux Æterna”
Early Metallica is the best form of Metallica. And whenever the lads get the hankering to turn back the clock and return to their thrash roots, we’re all ears. And the lead single “Lux Æterna” (Latin for “eternal light”) from the legendary metal act’s highly anticipated 2023 studio LP, 72 Seasons, certainly sounds like it would have fit snuggly on an album that had either the words Kill, LightningOr Puppets In its title. — G.P.
05. Amon Amarth – “Put Your Back into the Oar”
It’s a shame the stand-alone single “Put Your Back into the Oar” wasn’t included on Amon Amarth’s 2022 album The Great Heathen ArmyThis would have made it the best track on this album. This video teaches us how to row a Viking ship correctly. “Row! Row! Row! Row for victory!)” Amon Amarth has made a name for themselves by combining Norse mythology with melodic death metal with literary precision. This song takes that idea to the extreme. It will have the viking hordes singing and rowing at Amon Amarth shows for many years to come. — J.H.
04. Ghost – “Respite on the Spitalfields”
The powerful Ghost returned with Impera in 2022, and the album’s closer, “Respite on the Spitalfields,” is the standout. The imaginative track features Ghost’s trademark ’70s and ’80s hard-rock style, but with a twist. The song starts as a riff-intense, ballad and then slowly builds into a prog rock epic. It’s heavy, yet melodic, and leaves fans begging to hear whatever else Ghost can conjure up on their next studio album. — A.E.
03. Soul Glo – “Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?)”
The key lyric in this impassioned opening salvo from Soul Glo’s Diaspora Problems is the one repeated most by vocalist Pierce Jordan: “Can I live?” In three words, he sums up the mindset of so many people who watched the promise of the Black Lives Matter movement slowly melt into the dull hum of the status quo. Don’t let the bong rip that kicks off the tune fool you, these gents are angry and they are demanding both answers and blood. — R.H.
02. Lamb of God – “September Song”
The final track on Lamb of God’s massive album Omens doesn’t just share a title with one of Kurt Weill’s most beloved tunes. Both are ruminative odes of regret and passing time. But through Randy Blythe’s corrosive shouts and his band’s pushing death metal assault, the autumnal glow of Weill’s vision has been replaced by feelings of fated global destruction and unbridled fury at the indifference of the masses. — R.H.
01. Arch Enemy – “Handshake with Hell”
Guitarist Michael Amott rightly called “Handshake with Hell” a “standout track” on Deceivers. It starts off with a rousing drumming beat and chaotic six-string hammering. Of course, that captivating aggression never lets up, shifting expertly around vocalist Alissa White-Gluz’s trademark trade-offs between guttural verses and catchy clean choruses. Add in some blazing guitar solos and a chillingly soft bridge near the end and you have one of Arch Enemy’s most engagingly versatile tunes in years. — J.B.