"Hey, have you checked out this new band?" It's a message that's been traded among headbangers for decades, and when someone introduces a kickass band to a pal, the "new" qualifier is inherently a little vague. Sometimes, they're referring to a band who quite literally came into existence that same year; usually, the band in question has been around for a couple years and have one or two albums under their belts but have only just now popped up above the under-est of the underground.
So, yes, we know — most of these bands are not actually "new," but they are new enough to most potential listeners to merit an appearance on this list. From the skull-smashing death metal of 200 Stab Wounds and monstrous hardcore of Gridiron, to the spellbinding doom-punk of Witch Fever, these are the 10 best new heavy-music bands of 2022.
200 Stab Wounds broke skin when they dropped their blood-gushing debut, Slave to the Scalpel, at the end of 2021, but 2022 was the year they truly left their mark on the scene. They toured with some of death-metal's finest, from Obituary to Cannibal Corpse to Gatecreeper. They crossed over into the thriving hardcore underground by playing numerous punk-focused fests. And to cap it all off, they signed to Metal Blade records and dropped their best song yet, "Masters of Morbidity," confirming that they're more than just a great name, but one of extreme metal's most vital young acts.
The Callous Daoboys have technically been around for a while now, but very few people outside of the mathcore underground knew who they were until this year's Celebrity Therapist. In many ways, the Atlanta band's second LP felt like their debut — a fully formed, wildly ambitious concoction of mathcore skronkiness, deathcore brutality, nu-metal wingnuttery and incisive social commentary that intro'd them to the giant subset of headbangers who dearly miss Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die. Learn how to pronounce their name now (it rhymes with "Dallas Cowboys") because you're going to see it everywhere in the years to come.
Chat Pile hail from Oklahoma. Their members use off-putting pseudonyms like Raygun Busch and Luther Manhole. And their music is a darkly psychedelic fusion of abrasive noise-rock and gyrating Korn grooves. Does any of that make them sound like the next buzz band? No, but Chat Pile are smiling wide after their grim full-length debut, God's Country, became adored by grizzled metalheads and bohemian scenesters alike. Their sound has the effect of being so demented and gnarly that it's hard to look away from, and we're willing to bet there'll be twice as many eyes on their freak show by the end of 2023.
Riley Gale's 2020 death was tragic on multiple levels. Not only did Power Trip (and heavy music at large) lose an electric, hyperactive, open-armed frontman, but world-class guitarist Blake Ibanez no longer had an outlet for his riffery. Enter Fugitive: Ibanez's new band, also featuring members of Creeping Death and Skourge, who revealed their existence over the summer and dropped a totally bangin' EP called Maniac. Ibanez's signature, thrashy hardcore riffs take center stage, surrounded by instrumentation with a death-metal heaviness and vocals that evoke Lemmy's spit-hocking holler. This isn't Power Trip-lite; it's a whole new and exciting beast.
When Gridiron boast, "You on the bench/We in the trench," they speak with enough conviction to make you want to manifest your wildest dreams. This is fourth-quarter, third down, at the 10 yard line type shit, the kind of metalized hardcore that could transform a bespectacled shrimp into a 350-pound linebacker just by listening to their 2022 debut, No Good at Goodbyes, at the right volume. Boldly evoking the love-it-or-hate-it rapcore of E. Town Concrete and filtering it through the domineering brutality of late-Nineties beatdown à la Irate and No Retreat, Gridiron are making heavy hardcore with familiar touchstones that's also unlike any band before them. Mosh at your own risk.
Let's face it: Supergroups rarely live up to the sum of their parts. We say rarely and not never because L.S. Dunes are the latest star-studded band who don't sound like a marketing gimmick, but a genuinely impressive and worthwhile new project. Their lineup is insane — My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero, Circa Survive/Saosin singer Anthony Green, Coheed axman Travis Stever, and Thursday's rhythm section, Tim Payne and Tucker Rule — but what's crazier is that their debut, Past Lives, blends all of their individual strengths into one mighty whole. Gut-punching rock songs with the heart-on-sleeve vulnerability of emo, but none of its juvenile flaws.
When Scowl released their 2021 debut, How Flowers Grow, they felt like a promising new hardcore band on the rise. Fast forward just over a year later, and now it feels like hardcore isn't going to be be able to contain them for much longer. This year, the Santa Cruz band, led by the fearsome Kat Moss, leveled up into a powerhouse live act, opening for everyone from Limp Bizkit to the Bronx, dominating festivals like Sound and Fury and taking smaller hardcore acts on tour to show their continued commitment to the culture. The way they blend rage, melody and a sense of underdog fun-ness is infectious, so we recommend hopping aboard the train while there's still room.
SpiritWorld's riffs are impeccable, their moshy grooves are sumptuous and their scabrous-yet-singable vocal chants are irresistible. Musically, the Las Vegas crew are outstanding, but what makes them one of the most thrilling new acts on the scene is all of their extra-musical elements. Their cinematic cowboy outfits, the Wild West lore in their songs, their off-the-wall music videos — all of it feels more like a multi-disciplinary art project than a mere metal band, and there's plenty of mystique to dive into on their bronco-bucking new album, DEATHWESTERN. SpiritWorld are building a universe you can live in, and it's one we don't want to leave.
Undeath's come-up has been quick. In 2019, they dropped their demo. By 2020, their Prosthetic Records debut was turning every mutilated skull in death-metal's underground. And in 2022, they not only unleashed the best death-metal album of the year, but secured their spot at the helm of death metal's new wave by gigging with old-school greats (Deicide, Dying Fetus, Suffocation) as well as their foul-noised peers in Sanguisugabogg, Vomit Forth and 200 Stab Wounds. Equally faithful to the genre's sonic origins as they are determined to keep the energy fun, youthful and unpretentious, Undeath are the future.
Witch Fever's music has an enchanting dichotomy. Their 2022 debut, Congregation, is eerie, doomy and atmospheric enough to appeal to the average Ghost fan, but still raw, punkish and intimate in a way that resonates with lovers of more stripped-back sonic fare. That's what makes them so captivating. Will they follow their grandest ambitions in hopes of becoming Gen-Z's next arena ghouls, or will they be content to take over the punk scene in 2023? Interesting to ponder, but all you need to know now is that cuts like "Blessed Be Thy" and "I Saw You Dancing" are kickass rock jams. Allow yourself to be hexed by Witch Fever's spell.