Hello everyone and welcome to the 5thy rendition of my monthly look at the top 10 albums of each month, in my eyes. This month, we, of course, are tackling the month of May 2022, a month that had nearly too many good releases come out and that just makes me happy. Of course, when I limit myself to ten, I can’t show off all of the albums that I’ve enjoyed in a month like this, but I can show off what has hit me the most and has meant the most to me. And in a month like we have had that has sucked in every way except for music; we music fans need some good stuff to listen to and help us get through these continuously trying times. So let’s get into the rules and begin!
1.) These will be Original Studio ALBUMS. Not EPs, live albums, cover albums, rarities albums, lost albums, splits, collaboration efforts, etc. Simply Original Studio Albums from bands. Simply enough, right?
2.) These will be ALPHABETICAL ORDER. Not ranked. I don’t give away my secrets about what will be in the top 100 that easily. At least buy me a drink first!
3.) These reviews will be like my top 100 list where I give the band name, the album, and the FFO section; followed by a paragraph review. I could easily go track by track on every album, but then I will have given everything away. I want YOU to check any of these albums out and make up your own thoughts if you dig them or not. I’m just here to let you be aware these albums are out and for your listening pleasure.
4.) There is nothing sponsored here nor stolen content. Just my own thoughts. I have been given almost every album I review as a stream or promo and anything I missed I checked out on Spotify or Bandcamp after release.
5.) I will be covering more albums in audio form on my podcast every week there is a new show. There may be some crossover, other ones may just be in audio form. So check out both for the optimum experience.
6.) None of these albums are set in stone for the best of 2022. I may be high on them now, but that could change for a multitude of reasons (mainly if the band does something asinine).
7.) Any album not featured here or in the podcast can EASILY still be featured in my top 100. I can’t hear every album and some will slip through the cracks now or even then. So I just need to hear an album and make assertions from there.
8.) These are done for YOU. So I hope you can discover some new music on my behalf and be shown that new music has never stopped being great. Just go discover it.
So let us begin!
Depressed Mode- Decade of Silence
FFO- Symphonic, Death/Doom
In what I can only imagine is a reference to the band being put to sleep for a decade; the band has returned with Decade of Silence, easily their most devastating, sorrow-driven, and grandiose release to date. This year has been a ridiculously great year for the most depressing music of all, Death/Doom Metal and Depressed Mode have continued the trend to make this quite possibly the best overall year for the likes of Death/Doom, Funeral Doom, and Doom Metal in general. Every song has a way of feeling like you are being plunged into the grave metaphorically, mentally, or physically. The production is absolutely perfect for the style and I would not change a single thing. This is an absolute standout album among the wreckage of dark albums of 2022 and if you give it the time, you just may agree.
Elegeion- Plight of the Heretic
FFO- Atmospheric Doom, Folk Metal, Black Metal
Another band who has been on rest for a decade (at least from releasing new material) is Elegeion, the Australian doom juggernaut who has truly taken the past 10 years and the damage it’s done to create a perfect soundtrack to the world we now are all a part of. Whether it’s a look at isolation, not feeling good enough, or what feels like a true look at the last couple of years in particular when it comes to the final track The Disease (Beware The Ides of March), the band has truly put out a spectacular album with gorgeous instrumentation, mature songwriting, haunting lyrics and truly adds to the atmospheric title to their style. Agalloch fans should be eating this album up immediately. What a stellar album in every sense of the word.
Evergrey- A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)
FFO- Dark Metal, Melodic Metal, Progressive Power Metal
Evergrey has gone through many changes in its 25-year career. Lineups, labels, musical styles, but somehow, Tom Englund and Co. have always sounded like Evergrey, whether they are writing your style or not. In 2022, the transformation has happened again and the band has written their catchiest album since Monday Morning Apocalypse, which might be their most expansive album to date and what might be my favorite album from the band since I discovered them all the way back when Recreation Day was released in 2003. The production is so crystal clear, the lineup is solidified and truly makes the band feel like they are enjoying this stage of the game, and is a true outlier; The song Reawakening feels like the most positive song the band has ever written, where most songs are about the dark depressive state of our own lives, this song feels like a true “never give up” song; something I never would have expected from the band. Not that I ever expect the band to sing about lollipops and rainbows, but it makes me so happy to see even Evergrey can take the dark times we live in and say “keep going, keep trying” even if no one else needed to hear it...I did. Seriously, this is the best Evergrey album in such a long time I dare say it may be their best work. I don’t say that lightly, just listen and find out why.
Famyne- II: The Ground Below
FFO- Doom Metal
The Sophomore album from this UK Doom outfit feels like it came out at the perfect time. The world is burning, and everyone is suffering in some way, why not create an album that truly fits the mold of the world in 2022? A perfect blend of Candlemass, Paradise Lost, and Opeth, with all clean vocals that make for a style that feels even darker than most doom can be. With every lyric being so clear, you can truly feel and recognize the pain being brought forth. The music is mindblowing as well with changes you just don’t expect in doom while fitting seamlessly. This is one of the most standout albums of the classic doom metal styles in 2022 while being completely innovative. Give this one a spin, then again, and again.
FFO- Black Metal, Extreme Metal, Progressive Metal
Matt Heavy has had the idea of making an extreme Black Metal band for quite some time and in 2022, everything became solidified to make it happen. Features the rest of Trivium contributing at least to a song, and featuring bigger guest spots from the likes of Nergal from Behemoth, Ihsahn, and even Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance doing Black Metal screams (I did not have that on my 2022 Bingo card), this album is so much more than a Black Metal album. It is a grand look at Japanese culture warfare, the right blends of additional Ihsahn songwriting and quirks, and yeah; this does feel like a Trivium meets Ihsahn for extreme music that has just the right amount of Trivium mainstream appeal (which is such an odd thing to read and say out loud). But for an innovative album, you’re not going to find many more albums that push the boundaries this far and in different ways (well, outside of already experimental and avant-garde bands that exist) in 2022. Ibaraki is a hard left turn from what you expect, but it is a rewarding one if you survive the trip. A very inspiring album.
Moon Tooth- Phototroph
FFO- Progressive Metal
Is it possible to be more mainstream and more abstract at the same time? Somehow, someway, Moon Tooth found out how to do such a thing and it is a sight to behold. Holding back on the more aggressive side of their vocal abilities, but making up for it by hitting almost every style of rock and metal in a 42-minute album that not only sounds whole but complete and every note is served with purpose. A lot of people like to say that there is no innovation in progressive metal anymore and I would like to give the rebuttal of “Then you have not heard Moon Tooth!” Heavy enough for the Progressive Death/Black Metal fans among us, but also something that even the classic prog fans that enjoy Yes, Rush, or Genesis can truly appreciate. This is going to be ranking quite high on my year-end list and for good reason. Moon Tooth shows you how you make Progressive music…progress.
Nechochwen- Kanawha Black
FFO- North American Folk Metal
If you are a fan of bands like Agalloch and Panopticon and have yet to hear Nechochwen, you are missing out big time. A band that embraces Native American culture and writes a gorgeous tapestry for it. In their first album since 2015, the band has truly taken the time to be able to refine their style and create, easily, their best work to date. It's bombastic in sound, it hits all the tropes you’d imagine in a style such as this and when they throw in more of the acoustic side, you will feel it with such a fire like you’ve never felt before. It’s a majestic album that you need to experience. Please take the time and check this one out, you won’t be disappointed if this sounds like something that would be up your alley.
Remains of Destruction- New Dawn
FFO- Power Metal, Modern Metal
The debut album from this Finnish powerhouse is a jaw-dropping Power Metal album that won me over immediately. It gets truly heavy for Power Metal, yet it can be so catchy and have just the right amount of Modern Metal tendencies that make this band stand out. No matter your style of Power Metal, you will find something to love about this band. If you want traditional speedy Power Metal, it’s here. If you want more emotional, it’s covered, If you love symphonic and orchestral moments, of course, that’s represented. I truly hope that this album (which releases May 28th, so the day after this article comes out) skyrockets the band as if this is what they can do on just a debut album, their potential has nowhere to go but up and I can’t wait to see what can come next.
Serpentent- Ancient Tomes, Vol 1: Mother of Light
FFO- Dark Folk, Doom Rock, Art Rock
Anne K O’Neill’s debut is something that has a magic sense behind it that can be fully appreciated by just being able to sit down, relax and press play. The beginning of a trilogy of albums that focuses on the death of Death and the dark problems that can come from it. When you close your eyes, you can really feel your imagination take hold and it paints a visual landscape that fits the concept. The music is so soothing you could easily fall asleep to it for a great night's sleep, but when you pay attention to the vocals, you just may get some vivid nightmares that will keep you awake for time to come. If you dig the lighter sides of bands like Agalloch (they have come up a lot on this month’s list), and Ancient VVisdom’s first couple of releases, this is an album you need to get and enjoy. It’s a gorgeous yet haunting experience and I can’t wait to see what Vol. 2 has in store for us all.
Zero Hour- Agenda 21
FFO- Progressive Metal
It really feels like this list is about bands making triumphant returns doesn’t it? Might as well with that trend as a band I did not think were ever going to get back together is back and released their best album with Agenda 21. Seriously, until I got the promo for this album, I thought the band was dead and gone and my jaw hit the floor whe3n I realized they are back and better than ever. Taking everything I and others have loved about the band, turning things up to 11, going even more epic in song lengths, concepts, and musical ability and it’s created for what will be one of the best traditional prog metal albums you’ll hear in 2022. If you are unfamiliar and want an example of what they sound like. Imagine taking Nevermore, Dream Theater, and Spiral Architect but add in the band’s own flavors and spices and you got Zero Hour. For any Prog Metal fans, this is not an album to miss out on. It’s a musical sight to behold and I am so happy the band is back, after listening to Agenda 21, you will be as well.
And there you go folks, my Top 10 albums of May 2022. It’s filled with a lot of return albums, doom, and some prog, but it’s been a great month for that. As I’ve mentioned, there is a ton of other great albums I didn’t cover on this list that came out in many other styles in the rock and metal worlds, but these are the ones I kept returning to the most and I really wanted to showcase. I hope you’ll dig something here and come back next month for The Top 10 Albums of June 2022. Who knows what will be in store (probably Porcupine Tree….)
- Josh Rundquist (Heavy Debriefings)