Our 2022 Annual Report continues with our Top 30 Metal and Hard Rock Songs list. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists and articles about the best music, film and TV of 2022. You can find it all in one place here.
Heavy music has reached a golden age of sorts. The family tree of genres continues to branch out, with artists finding new ways to expand upon the styles of the past. For example, Spirit Adrift are a loving update on vintage thrash and doom, while a band such as Boris seek to constantly test themselves with new sounds and concepts. Any and every sonic direction is viable, and that’s the beauty of it … a never-ending well of art that has tirelessly evolved into an aural universe unto itself.
This year offered some welcome surprises and reunions, such as the return of punk supergroup OFF!, the revival of the Chino Moreno’s Crosses, and a blockbuster comeback single from metal titans Metallica, who snuck into our list of the top 30 metal and hard rock songs of 2022 at the last minute. Other veteran acts like Lamb of God (our Heavy Band of the Year), Meshuggah, and Slipknot also delivered noteworthy tracks, further cementing their elite status. We also heard from a plethora of up-and-comers including Soul Glo (our Heavy Album of the Year), Big|Brave, Chat Pile, and Vein.fm, among others.
It’s a damn good time to be a carnivorous listener of all things heavy, to explore the seemingly endless sub-genre tributaries. When we compiled our list of the top 30 songs of 2022, we weren’t actively making our selections based on sonic diversity — it just ended up that way. You’d be hard-pressed to find two songs that sound alike in the list below. Ironically, that’s the unifying trait of heavy music this past year. Everyone is doing their own thing, and we’re the beneficiaries.
— Jon Hadusek,
Senior Staff Writer
30. Spirit Adrift – “Mass Formation Psychosis”
Although they’ve only been around since 2015, Spirit Adrift have already proven to be among today’s best heavy/doom metal bands. Just listen to “Mass Formation Psychosis” for proof. Its gentle acoustic strums provide a false sense of security as battle-ready riffs and rhythms foreshadowing frontman Nate Garrett’s gruff but poetic proclamations. Along the way, the song interjects both calming lulls and classic thrash metal ferocity into its formula, netting a thoroughly hypnotic heavy metal treat. — Jordan Blum
29. Taipei Houston – “As the Sun Sets”
One might expect the sons of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich to play, well, metal. Instead, Myles and Layne Ulrich have forged their own sound, using their brotherly chemistry to match a drum-bass format that recalls similar duos such as Death from Above 1979 and early White Stripes. The Ulrichs’ kinetic garage rock is in full flight on their debut single “As the Sun Sets,” which is rife with fuzzy bass riffs and deceptively complex stop-start rhythms. We can’t wait to see where Taipei Houston goes from here. — Jon Hadusek
28. Dream Widow (Dave Grohl) – “Angel with Severed Wings”
Dream Widow could’ve just been a tongue-in-cheek tie-in to Foo Fighter’s first movie (Studio 666). Instead, it found Dave Grohl nailing his experimental tracks into extreme metal. “Angel with Severed Wings” exemplifies that wonderfully. It starts as a fairly straightforward blend of caustic instrumentation and bellowing verses; however, it soon throws in several bold deviations that make it more melodic and more challenging. As a result, it illustrates why Grohl has already mastered this style. —JB
27. Clutch – “Slaughter Beach”
Everything we all know and love about Clutch is included in this rocker — the hollering of Neil Fallon, the gonzo riffs of Tim Sult, and the rhythm section of Dan Maines and Jean-Paul Gaster grinding it out mid-tempo. And out of nowhere in the middle comes a trippy, psychedelic detour…as if you’re momentarily transported away on a magic carpet ride. And while the song’s title sounds like an ’80s horror movie, I hate bursting your bubble — it’s actually the name of a town in Sussex County, Delaware. —Greg Prato
26. Jesus Piece – “An Offering to the Night”
Quickly paced, driving, and delightfully unexpected, Jesus Piece managed to sneak in some new material before the year’s end and it was definitely needed. A tease of what’s to come, “An Offering to the Night” is a short but potent showcase that vocalist Aaron Heard still has it …and so does everyone else in the band. It’s modern metalcore — pressurizing palpitating beats to an intense degree. But honestly, what do we expect? This is why Jesus Piece is a band we laud with devotion. — Cervante Pope