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Metal Storm Awards 2022

Another feverish month of voting sealed and consigned to history: the 2022 Metal Storm Awards are over. We're into our third decade of holding the MSAs now (counting back to the very first edition in 2001, no longer archived here), and we have to say that it never gets easier to shut the festivities down for the season... or harder to predict most of the winners. Not that that really matters. In a playing field of literal hundreds of releases (and thousands more we weren't able to nominate), there are so many worthwhile albums to choose from, and if you've come away with even one or two bands that struck you somehow, then you, too, are a winner of the Metal Storm Awards.

Spiritually, anyway. You probably didn't win Best Grindcore Album or anything worthwhile. Let's take a look at some of the literal winners.

This was the first edition of the MSAs since 2015 - and only the second time in Metal Storm history - that we had a year without a studio album from the Melodeath Mafia (DarkInsOmniumGatherAmon'akor), and it's incredible to see how nature repopulates once the apex predators are removed. Obviously the #1 spot still went to In Fla- uh, The Halo Effect, but it was nice to have so much space for newcomers to the category. Ironically, Best Halo Effect Album went not to them, but to Kreator in Thrash. Best Halo Album went to Amorphis in Folk/Pagan/Viking (a choice of placement that attracted less criticism than expected). Okay, strictly speaking, there was an Amon Amarth album last year, and you will find it among the winners of the 2022 Metal Storm Awards... but not in the categories where nice people dare to tread. We won't count it for Melodeath purposes.

Following behind the mediocre heathen army in the realm of disappointments, Slipknot, Iced Earth, and Ghost all posted some impressive numbers (the last of them actually winning Hard Rock despite the discontent, in our peculiar tradition of divisive voting patterns). 2022 wasn't all downward slide, though, as other bands turned themselves around for the better. Machine Head and Soulfly actually placed second and third, respectively, in Alternative, which must signal genuine strength in their returns; Sakis Tolis swung back against Rotting Christ's declining fortunes with an unshakable win in Gothic; and Messa, still in recovery from a bad van wreck last year, may enjoy at least a spot of good news in taking home Best Doom Metal Album (and, despite Avatarium's best efforts, it wasn't particularly Close).

Djent/Math somehow wound up with no write-in votes whatsoever, which has got to be a first. In a way, we have to appreciate this - we can only conclude that nobody disagreed with our ten nominations for once, and it's not as though Meshuggah are any less immutable at the top of the genre as they are on record. Still, it's kind of creepy, you know? At the very least we'd expect a dozen or so people to write in albums from the wrong year or the wrong genre, just to keep things lively. The absence of alternative opinions is, of course, somewhat immaterial, since no write-in candidate has ever come close to winning a category before. We did see some impressive grassroots support for Megadeth and Candlemass, who were still soundly bested by their juniors, and we had Ethereal Shroud's Trisagion written in for Melodic Black, a category in which that album landed a solid third place in the 2021 MSAs. Believe us, if we could give it a second chance at the overall win, we would. Someone in Ambient/Drone/Noise reminded us that Alanis Morissette actually released an ambient album last year, which we might have done a disservice by not nominating.

The most, uh, unusual write-in was found in Biggest Surprise: "me - Actually getting back to work after 9 months off with a torn groin muscle". That's rough, buddy. We won't ask. To take our minds out of the gutter, let's consider Best Album Artwork. Thumos literally used The School Of Athens for the cover of The Republic, so to all of you who are in some way responsible for An Abstract Illusion winning, just know that you’ve overlooked a genuine Renaissance masterpiece and have pleb taste. But hey, kudos to the ever-popular Adam Burke for beating out Raphael, and to An Abstract Illusion for having the good sense to choose him. Sadly, we must also endure an early farewell to Mariusz Lewandowski, who passed away last July; his addition to the roster of go-to artists was recent, but his artwork dominated metal for the last few years and his recognizable style made a big impression on our world.

But already this year we've seen Obituary use one of his pieces, and for a better album than they've done in years to boot. That's one of the many special qualities of art: the creator fades away, the creation endures. And it's with this that we leave the 2022 Metal Storm Awards to close, for 2023 is already well underway and we have many more albums that we're eager to share with you this time next year. Until then, be excellent to each other.

The Best Alternative Metal Album

The Best Ambient / Drone / Noise Album

The Best Avantgarde / Experimental Metal Album

The Best Black Metal Album

The Best Death Metal Album

The Best Djent / Math Metal

The Best Doom Metal Album

The Best Extreme Doom Metal Album

The Best Extreme Progressive Metal Album

The Best Folk / Pagan / Viking Metal Album

The Best Gothic Metal Album

The Best Grindcore Album

The Best Hard Rock Album

The Best Hardcore / Metalcore / Deathcore

The Best Heavy / Traditional Metal Album

The Best Industrial / Cyber / Electronic Metal Album

The Best Melodeath / Extreme Power / Gothenburg Metal Album

The Best Melodic Black Metal Album

The Best Metalgaze Album

The Best Post-Metal Album

The Best Power Metal Album

The Best Progressive Metal Album

The Best Sludge Metal Album

The Best Stoner Metal Album

The Best Symphonic Metal Album

The Best Thrash / Speed Metal Album

Clandestine Cut Of The Year

The Best Album Artwork

The Best Cover Song

The Best Debut Album

The Best DVD

The Best Video

The Biggest Letdown

The Biggest Surprise