Whether we are still witnessing the aftermath of the pandemic or entering a time when more doors are open for artists to release albums, 2023 has seen a significant number of releases. And may I say, they are really good ones too. From the major players to artists embarking on a fresh start with a debut or sophomore effort, we have been treated to many fantastic releases.

Out of the original thirty-page document with likely thousands of releases, I personally sifted through each and every one. I don’t think there was a single record, even if it belonged to a subgenre that doesn’t fully align with my personal taste, where I said, “this is horrible, why did they release this garbage?” Coming from me, that statement says a lot. I am immensely proud of the metal scene and the artists pushing out experimental work alongside their standardized structures. We’ve witnessed lineup changes, the introduction of new singers, and further ways of exploration. I haven’t felt this proud about new music in quite some time.

Now, crafting this list wasn’t an easy task. It has undergone numerous changes, and who knows if it will ever feel truly “finished.” To provide some context, I narrowed it down to the top 25 albums of 2023. However, there were many close calls. Consequently, there is an extended list of honorable mentions, featuring artists who came close to making the best albums of the year, bands deserving recognition, and artists who are become personal favorites.

You may notice some artists in my honorable mentions whom I assumed would be automatic picks for the best of 2023. While some have indeed elevated their game, I felt that others didn’t resonate with me as much as their previous efforts. Crafting this list was undoubtedly a challenging task, and I made an effort to diversify the subgenres. Here we go.


25) Bjorko, Heartrot (Svart Records)

Amorphis’ Tomi Koivusaari released his solo project Bjorko, and the debut is a masterpiece. His love for metal and many styles is shown with fantastic collaborations. It’s a must listen. There are sounds of black, progressive, symphonic, and more. 

Key Tracks: “Vaka Loka,” “Whitebone Wind”



24) Temperance, Hermitage – Daruma’s Eyes Pt. 2 (Napalm)

These Italian melodic metallers somehow fall off the radar, but not for me. Despite having a new vocalist with Kristin Starkey, musically, this one has raised the bar, giving Ayreon vibes, and possibly thanks to the mastermind himself Arjen Lucassen who narrates throughout the album. 

Key Track: “Daruma”



23) Thulcandra, Hail The Abyss (Napalm) 

Steffen Kummerer is a conceptualized visionary master. Known for Obscura, his other side is shown with Thulcandra, and Hail The Abyss is a vital record filled with darkness, giving a somewhat melodic approach to black metal.

Key Track: “The Final Closure”



22) Bloodbound, Tales From The North (AFM)

Between Twilight Force, Serenity, and some others into consideration, Bloodbound have the spotlight for the best power metal record this year. While I don’t always select the cheesy song, I couldn’t help but sing along to “Drink With the Gods.”

Key Track: “Drink with the Gods”



21) Tsjuder, Helvegr (Season Of Mist) 

Norwegian black metal outfit Tsjuder released, in pure black metal fashion, a nonapologetic harsh record from beginning to end. 

Key Track: “Gods of Black Blood”