Death metal was everywhere in 2022! It often felt that each new day bought yet another 200 old-school death metal albums indebted to Incantation, Immolation, Autopsy and Morbid Angel. And, for fucks sake, did we really need yet another vocalist attempting to ‘out-Drunen’, Asphyx‘s Martin Van Drunen? Probably not. But we got ’em anyway!
Subsequently, we wouldn’t dare to profess to having heard every single death metal album released in 2022 (impossible!), so instead of trying to determine the ‘greatest’ death metal albums of 2022, we’ve settled for singling out those death metal albums that had us involuntarily destroying our underwear with the sheer force of their death metal will!
Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Æthereus – Leiden [USA]
Released: January 14th, 2022 via The Artisan Era
We feel sorry for any humble technical death metal band attempting to forge a career (or even get noticed) amidst the current glut of supreme technical beings currently ruling tech death’s vast kingdom. Standards are high and the task is huge….thankfully, Æthereus are more than up to the challenge.
Progressive, dissonant and yet blessed with an ever-present hint of ‘melody’, it’s the likes of “The Living Abyss” which perfectly showcases Æthereus‘ technical audacity and songwriting nous. A mind-blowing epic which moves through a multitude of soundscapes, “The Living Abyss” is Leiden‘s centrepiece; one that is flanked by the more aggressive and direct “Behold, The World Eaters” and Leiden‘s brutally atmospheric title track.
A marked improvement on 2018’s promising Absentia, with Leiden Æthereus are no longer toiling away in the formidable shadow cast by Archspire, First Fragment, Inferi etc. Instead, they’re basking in the light of their own making…..a great start to the technical death metal year!
Altars – Ascetic Reflection [Australia]
Released: July 8th, 2022 via Everlasting Spew Records
9 long years after the release of their debut album, Paramnesia (2013), these dissonant death metallers finally returned….and with an album of considerable power in tow.
Proof that nearly a decade in hibernation had done nothing to quell their spirit, Ascetic Reflection‘s disciplined blend of devastating dissonance, fluid yet still often jarring shifts in rhythm and all manner of gnashing teeth belligerence resulted in an almost contradictory album of both nightmarish murk and astounding precision.
Those who shudder at the very thought of dissonant death metal needn’t be concerned though, as this was just a facet of Altars‘ sound. To be clear, Altars din’t dwell in full-on Gorguts, Altarage or Ulcerate territory. Instead, they incorporated it into a direct and deadly death metal attack – one ably led by ‘new’ bassist/vocalist Brendan Sloan (Convulsing), who put in a punishing performance throughout.
Autopsy – Morbidity Triumphant [USA]
Released: September 30th, 2022 via Peaceville Records
A Sonnet (kinda). For Autopsy.
Inspired by How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (because we got bored writing normal reviews and fancied a challenge).
How greatly do I love thee, Autopsy?
Let me count the ways. I love thee to death,
And doom, to the depth, the breadth and the height,
My “Slaughter Of Souls” can hope to reach.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Death metal need, by night and candle-light.
…And in the morning if the mood is right.
“Knife Slice Axe Chop”, “Maggots In The Mirror”.
Morbidity Triumphant delivered.
Consistent, malignant, belligerent,
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
When old-school turned to tech death metal’s muse,
Steadfast you remain, and, if
God Satan choose,
I shall love thee better after death (doom).
Corpsessed – Succumb To Rot [Finland]
Released: April 22nd, 2022 via Dark Descent Records
Masters of magnificently morbid (Angel) death metal, Finland’s Corpsessed returned in 2022 with their third album, Succumb To Rot; an album that revelled in abstract horror while delivering a succession of sick-ass riffs that reduced our flabby carcass’ into a fetid mass of steaming entrails and liquified brain matter.
Sonically crushing and primarily focused on a mid-tempo bludgeoning, Succumb To Rot showcased a change in pace from prior albums and was undoubtedly Corpsessed‘s finest release to date…. and, let’s not forget, that 2018’s Impetus Of Death was damn good!
Not entirely back-to-basics – but certainly not as infuriatingly challenging as much of the disso-death currently doing the rounds – Corpsessed made an impact simply by playing relentlessly catchy death fuckin’ metal.
And we fackin’ loved it!
Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge for the Blessed Ones [Italy]
Released: May 6th, 2022 via Profound Lore Records
Twisted mastermind and prolific extreme metal artist Gabriele Gramaglia created a lysergic-ally enhanced death metal masterpiece with his band, Cosmic Putrefaction.
Crepuscular Dirges For The Blessed Ones was an extraordinary and dizzying journey into a mind-altering realm of extreme metal that precious few of us have dared venture to before. Along with stellar drummer Giulio Galati (Hideous Divinity), Gramaglia unleashed one hell of an unholy attack; one that utilised brutal virtuoso guitar (that came tempered by plenty of melody), trippy keyboard work and mind-bending song-writing.
Morbid Angel may have first come to mind as an influence but that’s because Cosmic Putrefaction traveled within a similar death metal universe to that occupied by those denizens of atonal noise. In fact, we’d go as far to say that Gramaglia is gifted with the same sort of insane musical genius as Trey Azagthoth and it’s no stretch to suggest that on Crepuscular Dirge for the Blessed Ones, Cosmic Putrefaction exhibited a similar musical madness to Morbid Angel at their most unhinged!