Acknowledging that we couldn’t possibly have heard every single death / doom album released this year, these are our 5 Greatest Death / Doom Metal Albums of 2022.
These are the 5 death / doom albums that blew us away, the albums that warranted endless spins, the albums that prompted involuntarily head-banging and generally put a big fuckin’ smile on our grumpy ol’ faces!
5. Assumption – Hadean Tides [Italy]
Released: May 20th, 2022 via Everlasting Spew Records
Doom / Death or Death / Doom, the line between these two closely neighbouring sub-genres can be a confusing one and Italy’s Assumption leaned toward the former on their 2nd album, Hadean Tides. But, at the end of the day, it’s all gravy, right!
Settling somewhere between the cavernous sound of Incantation and the funeral-doom despair of disEMBOWELMENT, Assumption were just as comfortable blasting out tremelo riffs as they were dragging their swollen carcass into a lumbering crawl.
It was all horrendous in the best possible way, and Hadean Tides‘ oppressive atmosphere conjured images of a feverish nightmare made flesh – no more so than on the squealing, subterranean horror that was opening track, “Oration”.
4. Dark Millennium – Acid River [Germany]
Released: January 7th, 2022 via Massacre Records
Dark Millennium’s Ashore The Celestial Burden (1992) is a masterpiece. It’s a staggering work of progressive death/doom that remains virtually peerless. Now that we’ve got that particular public service announcement out of the way we can fast forward 30 years and concentrate on the release of Dark Millennium’s 5th opus, Acid River.
Acid River found the band in a playfully nostalgic mood, honouring their own illustrious past with another batch of constantly challenging, highly immersive and atmospheric songs that were very much in the vein of their classic releases; the aforementioned Ashore The Celestial Burden (1992) and 1993’s follow-up, Diana Read Peace.
With lead single “Threshold” being the kind of multi-faceted beast you’d immediately expect from this band, any notion that Dark Millennium were resting on their laurels was swiftly dispelled. In comparison, “Godforgotten” was relatively upbeat….that is until prime death/doom kicked you in the soft bits – and normal service resumed. As experimental as ever, Acid River was the work of a cult band with not only a huge legacy to live up to, but the hunger and desire to maintain their reputation while forging ever further into realms unexplored.
3. Druid Lord – Relics Of The Dead [USA]
Released: January 21st, 2022 via Hells Headbangers Records
Druid Lord’s latest collection of grotesque offerings spewed up a smorgasbord of unsavoury treats for death/doom lovers to chew upon. These fetid Floridians aren’t exactly prolific – fans waited 8 years for Relics Of The Dead – but then death/doom isn’t renowned for its speedy approach, so we can forgive them for such tardiness.
At its rotten core, Relics of the Dead was neanderthal death/doom delivered with such a lumpen, laboured and laborious approach that your attention should surely dissipate after just the first few minutes of Relics Of The Dead’s self-titled, bum-numbing opener….and yet, such a convincingly morbid atmosphere of prevailing dread was established that you simply could not turn away.
A supernatural horror-fest made flesh, Relics of the Dead’s haunting sounds of the decaying, demented dead crawling from their graves to rip you apart limb from limb echoed the extremities of horror cinema (Andrea Bianchi’s cult classic Burial Ground aka The Zombie Dead springs to mind)…..which also brings to mind that age-old equation:
Horror + Death + Doom = Happy Metallers.
2. Night Hag – Phantasmal Scourge [USA]
Released: January 28th, 2022 via Rotted Life Records
Twelve years after their original demo, Night Hag finally released their debut full length album, Phantasmal Scourge….. and it was everything we’d hoped for!
Jon Ransom’s nasty-as-fuck vocals sounded like the man was struggling to swallow some particularly rancid phlegm and when accompanied by funeral dirges of such crushing power – amidst bursts of flurried speed, of course – Night Hag‘s ability to have you simultaneously gagging while head-banging was practically unsurpassed. Throw in a couple of juicy, maggot-infested covers of Mortician‘s “Ghost House” and Necrophagia‘s “Embalmed Yet I Breathe” and you’re on to an old-school death/doom winner!
Ultra slow and ultra brutal, Night Hag‘s late 80’s and early 90’s death/doom honouring full length debut was so drenched in the rotting remains of the dead that it couldn’t have dragged its slowly-decaying corpse from the tomb even if it wanted to! So it stayed. Where it belonged. In the earth and reeking of death. Go join them.
1. Innumerable Forms – Philosophical Collapse [USA]
Released: September 16th, 2022 via Profound Lore Records
Four years after their debut, Punishment In Flesh, demolished the death / doom scene, Boston’s Innumerable Forms returned with Philosophical Collapse….and these boys were as grim as ever!
With the sounds of prime Autopsy and Convulse ringing in their ears, Innumerable Forms have taken these burly building blocks and built a wall of crushing and cavernous death / doom from them. This shit is insurmountable, almost perfect in its construction and just as effective when unleashing blast-beat-laden death metal hell as when slowing down to a diabolical doom-led crawl.
As far as improving on their debut goes, Innumerable Forms rose admirably to the challenge. With their mix of thrilling death metal and morbidly morose doom now combining more effectively – and with a sense of freedom and almost lightness of touch – this was one album that retained its allure long after the majority of their death / doom peers had faded into the mire.
Ultimately, it was a keen grasp of dynamics that elevated Philosophical Collapse to must hear status in 2022. With moments of sparse, doom-led introspection proving grander and bowel-rupturing heaviness more scything, this vast and immersive album only improved with each listen – and we’re not done with it yet!
Honourable mentions: Dream Unending – Song of Salvation [USA/Canada] / Jade – The Pacification of Death [Germany/Spain] / Konvent – Call Down The Sun [Denmark] / Reeking Aura – Blood and Bonemeal [USA] / Tishina (Тишина) – Uvod… (‘Увод…) [Serbia]
This countdown was limited to albums only but we’d be remiss not to acknowledge WORM’s Bluenothing EP, a more than worthy follow up to 2021’s outstanding Foreverglade.