Metal Insider’s Zenae Zukowski’s Top 35 Albums of 2022

Posted by on December 29, 2022



20) Soulfly, Totem (Nuclear Blast)

While having two different backgrounds and musical styles, Max Cavalera and Mikael Stanne share the same hunger for living on the road and pumping out new tunes. Yes, many share the same similarities, but there was something about Soulfly’s Totem and The Halo Effect’s Days of the Lost that were neck to neck on the same level regarding the best album of the year. Cavalera has remained persistent with the consistency of Soulfly, and I will never forget their debut and sophomore offerings like it was just yesterday. With that, Totem is another part of the said consistency, always having one strong, tenacious record while welcoming more creative expeditions. 

Key Track: “Filth Upon Filth”



19) Zeal & Ardor, Zeal & Ardor (MVKA)

Manuel Gagneux is one of those creative geniuses that maybe doesn’t fully see the excellence we see. Zeal & Ardor is filled with musical freedom where Gagneux breaks all the rules, and it works so well! Zeal & Ardor’s self-titled offering is no different and only expands their direction.

Key Track: “Run”



18) Wake, Thought Form Descent (Metal Blade)

When it comes to death and even melodic death metal, I’ve been enjoying more blast beats as I get older. It’s almost an instant hitter, and the new Wake album has plenty to go around. Its frantic energy had me from the first listen. And not all albums have caught my attention this fast; some needed a lot more time to say, “hey, yeah, let’s put this one on the list.” I was surprised and blown away by Thought Form Descent, one of the unexpected records to make it onto the list. It had me at “Infinite Inward.” 

Key Track: “Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher”



17) Watain, The Agony & Ecstasy Of Watain (Nuclear Blast)

Watain left no room for remorse on this intensified record. It’s cutthroat from the beginning, giving a solid follow-up to 2018’s Trident Wolf Eclipse. The tracks continue to experiment, which you can hear in “Serimosa,” with slowed-down riffs and coarse arrangements.    

Key Track: “Ecstasies in night infinite”



16) Sylvaine, Nova (Season Of Mist)

Season of Mist is one of the best labels around bringing unique artists to the spotlight. Some of the best live performances I saw this year at Hellfest 2022 were all under this label, which isn’t much different from the records. And here is Sylvaine’s Nova. This record could have made it to the top five of my list if it wasn’t for such a competitive year. It’s captivating, emotional, sad, and angry; all feelings we have about life’s ups and downs translated into an extraordinary musical experience. 

Key Track: “Fortapt”



15) Devin Townsend, Lightwork (Inside Out)

Devin Townsend is a god. However, Lightwork didn’t grab hold of me like 2019’s Empath. Therefore, this is the first time (in a while) he didn’t make my top five. That said, it’s another fantastic album from the genius himself where nothing goes wrong. It has the production, quality, skillset and makes you always want to listen to Townsend.

Key Track: “Heartbreaker”



14) Ozzy Osbourne, Patient Number 9 (Epic)

Unlike 2020’s Ordinary Man, Ozzy returned to his classic roots, making Ozzy-classic tunes. There are no collaborations with Post Malone. He teamed up with Tony Iommi, Jeff Beck, Zakk Wylde, and more, bringing that Ozzy sound we love. There was no extra nonsense from the 2020 record. Patient Number 9 is straightforward and not over the top. It took me a few listens to place it on this list. It was initially going to be an honorable mention, and after a conversation about Ozzy himself and how amazing the record is, he got a big boost. It’s a simple album with not too many complexities, and it works well. 

Key Track: “Mr. Darkness”



13) Septicflesh, Modern Primitive (Nuclear Blast)

For anyone who has a sense of what I like, you know symphonic death metal will go instantly to the top of the list. These Greek symphonic metal giants have once again pushed through all boundaries creating one phenomenal blistering record.   

Key Track: “The Collector”



12) Belphegor, The Devils (Nuclear Blast)

It’s been five long years and Belphegor made an incredibly loud return. Despite lineup changes and the overall pandemic struggles, The Devils is finally here and it delivers with such joyous tenacity.  

Key Track: “Virtus Asinaria – Prayer”



11) In The Woods, Diversum (Soulseller)

In The Woods’ Diversum crushes you in all the dark places. With its morbid, progressive, melodic, and black metal mixtures, the doomy combination solidifies its sound, making no room for boredom. It’s a record of complete musical excellence. 

Key Track: “The Malevolent God”



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