There is so much heavy, extreme, and beautiful metal music being conjured all around the world that it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Metal Has No Borders has curated the best of the best of experimental metal released this year.
Check out our hand-picked choices below including Japanese Avant-Garde Black, Ukrainian Avant-Garde Black, and Greek Avant-Garde Black Metal… ok, I guess that’s more avant-garde black metal than I anticipated.
More lists incoming soon including Riley and Rafi’s personal picks!
Also, be sure to see who won the Readers’ Vote, Extreme Metal, Metalcore, Progressive Metal, and Folk Metal Awards.
Experimental Metal Album of the Year (Gold Tier)
Sigh – Shiki
Released via Peaceville Records
It is simply unarguable that Sigh is one of the most creative forces in the international extreme metal scene. When artists are labeled as “avant-garde,” we expect the unexpected, and further more, to the point of crossing uncomfortable boundaries. Yes, this project brings unorthodox elements to the table, but what I genuinely appreciate most about Sigh, is their unfathomable ability to deliver that experimentation with comfort and care. Sensual saxophone tidbits, retro synth interruptions, regional folk instrumentation cameos, and an overall mish-mash of musical moods are presented in Shiki with remarkable ease, never sounding abrasive or unwarranted. With roughly three decades of experience knee-deep in black, thrash, and doom metal, Sigh continue to gorgeously, yet aggressively innovate.
Shiki by Sigh is awarded Experimental Metal Album of the Year (Gold Tier) for 2022
Favorite Songs: “Satsui – Geshi No Ato,” “Kuroi Kage,” “Fuyu Ga Kuru”
For Fans Of: Ihsahn, Arcturus, Triptykon…
Experimental Metal Album of the Year (Silver Tier)
White Ward – False Light
Released via Debemur Morti Productions
For me, black metal has a therapeutic quality. It’s aggressive, almost too aggressive. But the moment it pulls back, the release after being held in the claws of intensity for so long, is beyond relief. White Ward executes this with perfection. High walls of hedgerow maze the listener in, with each heart-pacing minute of musical barrage edging anxieties. The excess of saxophone present leads the way to the exit, like breadcrumbs, like a north star. With a few tracks clocking in over 10-minutes, the band’s compositional ability to transform the piece’s mood from hopelessness to bliss is monumental.
False Light by White Ward is awarded Experimental Metal Album of the Year (Silver Tier) for 2022
Favorite Songs: “Phoenix,” “Leviathan,” “Cronus”
For Fans Of: Shining, Blut Aus Nord, Møl…
Experimental Metal Album of the Year (Bronze Tier)
Aenaon – Mnemosyne
Released via Agonia Records
There’s very few albums for me where the word “awe” comes to mind. Mnsemsyne had me on the edge of my seat for nearly fifty minutes, finding the most captivating balance of brutality, beauty, and spectacle. There is drama, comedy, and tragedy throughout this record by progressive, blackened death, experimental metallers Aenaon. I know, I know. Ridiculous. But, you won’t prove me wrong. Go listen to this bold, crucial, punishing, saxophone-filled, provocative, and inspiring, even “awe”-inspiring, music.
Mnsemsyne by Aenaon is awarded Album of the Year (Bronze Tier) for 2022
Favorite Songs: “Psyche,” “Trauma Cultura,” “Synastry of Heartbeats“
For Fans Of: Rivers of Nihil, Dimmu Borgir, The Faceless…