– Death, Where is Your Sting
With a rich and shadowy atmosphere, Avatarium weaves a candlelit tale of sorrow and midnight encounters. It is a rich and Romantic sort of album, full of love beyond the grave and divine reflections.
39. IANAI – Sunir
This album affects me on different levels. Musically, it is beautiful, serene, gentle yet mighty, and abundantly diverse. On a human level, it makes me feel part of something larger, something transcendent. What an experience.
38. Elane – Blackvale
Full of whimsy and melody, Elane’s latest is a genuine and beautiful experience. Well-seasoned, diverse songwriting and poignant ideas soak every single track.
37. 49 Burning Condors
– Seventh Hymnal
The full-length debut of 49 Burning Condors proved to be every bit as sweaty, lumbering, and folksy as I hoped. I find something irresistible in their sweltering sound and haunted lyrics as they carry with them a storied and relentlessly memorable style. They are both mysterious and comfortable at the same time, and their music echoes with a thousand ages, a million tales, and countless souls.
36. Ivan Torrent – Onyria
This one slipped into my list at the very end of the year, as it released December 24th. Still, I haven’t been able to get enough of it since then. It is a gorgeous blend of classical, epic, and cinematic tones using rock, electronic, and pop music. The album is almost 2 hours long, but every single track feels important.
35. MMXX – Sacred Cargo
This album continues to grow on me. The MMXX debut features vocalists from metal, doom, and prog, and the result is a dark and beautiful album that feels varied. Strong guitars and memorable choruses are the icing on the cake.
34. Brandon Boyd
– Echoes & Cocoons
I was pleasantly surprised by this solo album from the Incubus front man. Echoes & Cocoons probably has his most creative music and most well-written lyrics in years, and there’s just something catchy and infectious about it. Some of the songs are quite odd, but that becomes the reason to revisit it, honestly.
33. Lustre – A Thirst for Summer Rain
Careful, methodical, and calculated, I love the attention to detail on this Lustre album. It is truly beautiful in its many layers, especially when one takes the time to close their eyes and just listen.
32. Wilderun – Epigone
A little more reserved than their previous record, this Wilderun album is a mysterious, illustrious, and ambitious offering. I love the sense of grace and vivid richness throughout.
31. Nordic Giants – Symbiosis
Leaning more into an organic and piano-led experience, this Nordic Giants album is deeply meaningful and enlightening. Beautifully human and cosmically purposeful, this is a multicolored gem that more people need to hear.
30. Threads of Fate
– The Cold Embrace of the Light
Playing a darkened symphonic metal sound, Threads of Fate beat my expectations for their full debut album. With lofty splendor and vivid light, the band takes us on a truly spellbinding journey.
29. Retrospective – Introvert
Possibly their best yet, Poland’s Retrospective prove here that they deserve to be a household prog name. Their sound is more refined than ever, but also deeply imbued with passion and soul.
28. Thy Listless Heart
– Pilgrims On The Path Of No Return
What a pleasant surprise this record proved to be! Thy Listless Heart’s debut is grand and Romantic, more varied than the doom label betrays. No, this album has real heart and visionary lyrics, and it only keeps growing on me. There’s just something about it that is instantly mesmerizing.
27. Charlotte Wessels
– Tales From Six Feet Under, Vol II
Charlotte’s sophomore solo record proved to be even better than her first. The diverse range of genre returns, but this album is even more meaningful and powerful. It can be addictive.
26. Cosmograf – Heroic Materials
Veteran skill meets a story about nostalgia in the latest Cosmograf record. I find this album potent as it portrays the bewilderment of watching the world circle the proverbial drain, at least from one perspective, while also loving the world and finding satisfaction in its possibilities—-and realizing that those possibilities may be in one’s past. It’s an emotionally complex, technically brilliant record.
25. Esthesis – Watching Worlds Collide
Esthesis returned with a groovy offering of ear candy. Smooth and flowing, rich and luxurious, this album should please any progressive rock fan that needs to sense a spark within the music.
24. Zoungla – Source
Zoungla always delivers, and Source is no different. This album is a bit more guitar-forward than past ones, but it works and retains all the squirmy, funky elements that I love about the project.
23. Etrange – Enigme
Etrange albums are a whirlwind of cinematic and spacey prog metal, and this follow-up to the debut ups the ante even more. With some truly spellbinding moments that remind me of various sci-fi films I love, this album feels golden and nostalgic as much as it feels fresh and technical.
22. Big Big Train
– Welcome to the Planet
David Longdon’s final BBT album proved to be one of their best. With spunky and truly interesting songs, and the expected gracious lyrics, Welcome to the Planet is pure class.
21. Hermyth – Starseeds
There’s just something about this cosmic drone album that speaks to me. In its spacious, ponderous passages, the album reflects and wonders and introspects, and all with beautiful vocals and unique songs. I love it.
20. Dance with the Dead
– Driven to Madness
Equal parts metal and synthwave, with a hefty dose of horror, Dance with the Dead created in 2022 a bold and addictive album. What started out as a good album in my eyes became something that I found myself visiting regularly. This album has grown enormously for me as I gave it time.
19. Tears for Fears
– The Tipping Point
Everyone loves Tears for Fears, right? But did I expect them to release a stunning record in 2022? Absolutely not. That is exactly what they did, though, with this rich and infectious album. From the lyrics to the strong hooks, this album hits just right.
18. Pure Reason Revolution
– Above Cirrus
I never listen to PRR in copious amounts, I’m not sure why. But when I do listen, I am in awe of their towering and kinetic style, and the sheer brilliance of their work. This might be their best album yet.
17. Darkher – The Buried Storm
Reserved, melancholy, and inky black, this sophomore Darkher album proved not only a worthy successor, but a refreshing and poignant offering. Some of the most haunting and beautiful passages of 2022 can be found right here.
16. Michael Whalen – Imaginary Trains
Michael Whalen’s illustrious and transfixing style is on full display with this record. I love the complex, layered tracks, but the shorter, more concise pieces are just as fresh and effective. This entire album flows like a river.
15. Imminent Sonic Destruction
– The Sun Will Always Set
This is the most balanced ISD album to date. With gigantic walls of guitars meeting tender melodies, this is a roller coaster that any metal fan should give a try.
14. Duncan Patterson – Grace Road
Somewhere in the sacred vividness of this record, Duncan’s music really won my affection. With gorgeous vocals, delicate piano passages, and a haunting haze adorning the entire album, this is a work of art that will please those looking for quiet beauty.
– The Last Great Adventurer
I love Galahad in all their modern prog rock glory, and this album really delivered. With its great lyrics and colorful keys, it paints vibrant pictures, and with its muscular guitars and rocking rhythm section, it sets off fireworks.
12. Stabbing Westward
– Chasing Ghosts
As a longtime fan of the band, Chasing Ghosts proved to be worth the wait. With some of Chris’ best vocals to date, and some of the bands most complex and engaging songs overall, this album is brilliant from beginning to end.
11. Nothing in Writing
– New Lives for Rent
Featuring Sean of Odd Logic on vocals and everything else but drums, this debut was truly a fantastic surprise in 2022. With melody and musical space at the forefront, the band crafted an album that stands tall with any other prog or rock albums last year.
10. Lo Moon – A Modern Life
This sophomore album began, for me, as a slight disappointment simply due to the scaled back sound, as the debut was far more rambunctious and layered. A Modern Life, though, has slowly oozed into my mind more and more, and I find myself preferring it to the debut now. Instead of young ideals, it presents stark, cold facts, and that is what I really needed in 2022. This album was a major motivation for me to finish a book I had been writing for several years.
9. Selenic – Resilience
Selenic is a hot new band with so much to say. Their debut is detailed, mature, and skilled from any perspective, and some of these songs will live in your soul.
8. AA Williams – As the Moon Rests
I liked AA Williams’ debut a couple years ago, but this sophomore effort is a truly wondrous and shadowy treasure. I love how confident and effective the vocals are, and how the music wanderings, muses, and climaxes in flowing fashion. This is a real grower.
– Every Moment, Everything You Need
Yet another sophomore effort here, Deserta’s latest is head and shoulders about its predecessor. With stronger writing, instrumentation, and structure, the album just sounds better, but I never expected it to grab me so hard. I can’t get enough of all the dark twists and bright melodies.
6. Devin Townsend – Lightwork
Devin is a proven genius, and this album shows that yet again. Instead of following a masterpiece like Empath with another album of its ilk, Devin chose a more reserved, melodic approach that hits all the right tones, songwriting hooks, and lyrical ideas that make for something special. This album is far more listenable than many albums Devin has made, but it is just as brilliant as any of them.
5. Borealis – Illusions
I’ve loved Borealis for a very long time now, and Illusions is probably their most ambitious and overwhelming work. While it combines keys and orchestras with fantastic riffs, it also feels subtle in various ways that remind me of the band’s 2008 debut, and that increased my love for it.
4. Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait
In all honesty, the next four entries could be switched around depending on my mood. The latest Evergrey album displays the band at one of their most creative peaks, featuring songs that are both nostalgic and completely new. It also contains my favorite song of the year, “Ominous”. The band just can’t seem to miss right now.
3. Silent Skies – Nectar
I loved the Silent Skies debut, but this follow-up has become something more than art or music. This album is a window into the soul of another, and in the most relatable way possible. With incredible vocals, introspective songs, and high artistry, this album is nothing less than a tapestry of light and emotion.
2. Oceans of Slumber
– Starlight and Ash
Oceans of Slumber embraced their Southern Gothic roots on what has become not only their best album, but one of the best metal albums of the last few years. This is a remarkably beautiful, deeply emotive, and highly skilled album from musicians who know themselves very well, and we are all the better for what they have offered here.
1. Remina – Strata
I wrestled back and forth between the top two on this list, but in the end, Remina’s enthralling debut is certainly my album of the year. With ghostly evocation, cosmic joy, and darkened corridors of longing, Strata is an album that is destined to become an all-time favorite. Poetic to its heart, doomy and haunting in its performances, and life-giving in its effect, this is a record that takes the most harmonious textures and transforms them into something unforgettable and illuminating.