Best of 2022: Erich Heintzelman

Spread the metal:

Erich’s Top 20 Metal Albums 2022

With live music finally returning to the highest levels in two years (let’s not talk about ticket prices), 2022 also saw a rash of superb metal releases. I continue to be pleasantly surprised that with the quantity of releases every year, and the staggering levels of competition, the quality of metal releases seems to be increasing each year. There is now so much high quality metal in countless sub-genres that it is no longer possible to absorb it all. Nevertheless, we must try, and here is my stab at what I found in heavy rotation during my listening year of 2022.

1. Ghost – Impera








Ghost has become insanely popular, but I was onboard ever since the release of the debut album in 2010. IMPERA is possibly the most accessible Ghost album yet. The blend of catchiness, a few sinister riffs, and the tongue-in-cheek dark imagery/lyrics makes IMPERA imminently listenable, even if it is not the heaviest sound on Earth.

2. Kreator – Hate Über Alles








I have said it many times, but Kreator has arguably been the most consistent metal band – particularly if you compare them with bands of their vintage – in metal the last ten years. The concept of “Become Immortal” was fantastic, even if the execution was not at a level to match. You cannot say that about the rest of the album though. Mille’s vocals are among the best of the harsh style of singing because of his articulation. Simply put it’s all here: riffs, solos, melodic interludes, and skull-crushing heaviness, delivered in the only style Kreator knows.

3. Queensryche– Digital Noise Alliance








Album opener “In Extremis” is one of the best Queensryche tracks in years, but the album as a whole continues the quality of releases since Todd La Torre joined the band.

4. Hardcore Superstar– Abrakadabra








Still the best glam metal band going that was not spawned in the 80’s, ABRAKADABRA checks off all the boxes you would expect. Fun, uncaring, and infectious, there are at least two or three tracks on this album that belong on any best-of compilation playlist.

5. Stryper– The Final Battle








Stryper is one of those bands that became heavier, better, and more consistent in the last 10 years than in their halcyon days of the 80s. Opening track “Transgressor” sets the tone with a memorable riff, and the eternally youthful vocals of Michael Sweet. Comfortable with who they are, THE FINAL BATTLE offers solid and uncomplicated tunes that hit the sweet spot for melodic, traditional metal.

6. Gwar– The New Dark Ages

GWAR - The New Dark Ages

Gwar are from my home state of Virginia, hence I have a bit of soft spot for them. THE NEW DARK AGES continues to validate the decision to continue without Dave Brockie. The lyrics, visuals, and premise are as silly as ever but the music is cutting and quite serious, particularly the viscous “Mother Fucking Liar.”

7. Crashdiet– Autamaton

Crashdiet - AUTOMATON








8. Megadeth– The Sick, the Dying…and the Dead!








9. Skull Fist – Paid In Full








10. Bloody Hammers – Washed In The Blood








11. Edenbridge – Shangri-La








12. Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)








13. Blind Guardian – The God Machine

Blind Guardian - The God Machine

14. Hammerfall – Hammer of Dawn








15. Scorpions – Rock Believer








16. Skid Row- The Gang’s All Here








17. Candlemass- Sweet Evil Sun








18. Avatarium- Death, Where Is Your Sting








19. Avantasia- A Paranormal Evening With The Moonflower Society









20. Seven Kingdoms- Zenith








Best EP

The 69 Eyes- Drive








Best Live Release

Tyr– A Night At The Nordic House








Best Live Show

Iron Maiden & Within Temptation – Legacy of The Beast World Tour, Amalie Arena Tampa, Florida, October 27, 2022










Biggest Disappointments

Iced Earth – A Narrative Soundscape – Let met start by saying this is not a disappointment to me in terms of expectations, because I no longer listen to Iced Earth. But, when this popped up in my Spotify Discover, I let the first few tracks play. Pathetic! Just a way to rip off any loyal remaining fans to cover Jon Schaffer’s legal costs. Spoken word, no metal, no value.

Death of John Zazula – It is fair to say that without John Zazula, much of the metal that we know today might not have been discovered and given a platform to wow the world. His impact on Metallica, thrash metal, and metal in general is incalculable.


I do not believe induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame validates a band’s influence and impact on music. However, this politically charged body coming together to induct Judas Priest is nothing short of a triumph for the band, who had basically earned every accolade but this one.

Hopes For 2023

Affordable Concert Tickets – I could wax on about this, but the outrageous costs and greed by third parties like TicketMaster is pricing many fans out of seeing their favorite bands.

Ozzy/Judas Priest Tour Happens – The plan for this has been in the works since 2019. Here is hoping they get it done in 2023.