Anyone who claims they only enjoy listening to heavy music is probably lying. Even the most brutal and brainy metal fans and musicians have an admiration for non-metal stylings; after all, your ears need an occasional reset so the heavy hits even heavier the next time around. While there were a shit-ton of headbangable beauties released in 2022, there were also a bunch of amazing non-metal records that contain qualities most metalheads can surely appreciate.
From the heady rap of metal fan Denzel Curry and psychedelic trap of Yeat, to the industrial sludge-pop of Black Dresses and shimmering shoegaze of Alvvays, these are the 10 best non-metal albums from 2022 that metalheads should open their ear-gates to.
Alvvays - Blue Rev
Alvvays' Blue Rev is the the perfect palette cleanse between helpings of heavy. The Canadian band's third and best album yet is loaded with massively catchy, robust-sounding dream-pop songs strapped with cutting shoegaze guitar leads that give highlights like "Easy on Your Own?" and "Pomeranian Spinster" a gutsy edge. The lyrics are wistful and balmy, but the band play with just enough spunk and jittery motion to keep your foot tapping the whole way through. Listen once, whistle forever.
Bad Boy Chiller Crew - Disrespectful
Bad Boy Chiller Crew are a group of naughty English lads who whip around on four-wheelers and down entire bottles of liquor in their TikTok videos. They also make music, and on the aptly-titled Disrespectful, they douse their fans in celebratory, rambunctious, drunk-off-bad-whiskey-and-dancing-on-the-table bass music. It channels all the boredom-fueled self-destruction of early punk and hardcore through ear-shattering electro-rap that's too stupid and fun to not get down with. Leave your shoes, shirts and dignity at the door for this one.
Black Dresses - Forget Your Own Face
Black Dresses make "scare the hoes" music, as the kids say. Every year, the duo of Ada Rook and Devi McCallion — who've collab'd with 100 gecs and Backxwash — return with another smack-across-the-face dose of experimental pop/industrial rap, and Forget Your Own Face is among their finest, gnarliest work. The production evokes the callous, chill-inducing menace of sludge bands like Dystopia and Acid Bath, filtered through the home studio fuckery of the SoundCloud era. And as singers, they wail and yawp with equal parts anguish and scabrous humor. As McCallion screams during standout opener, "u_u2": "You got this record deal but you're so ugly."
Bladee, Ecco2k - Crest
Metal bands are often great at transporting listeners to fantastical new worlds, and that's exactly what Bladee and Ecco2k do on Crest — albeit a frighteningly bright, colorful and kooky one. The Swedish futurists deal in emo-rap that's both bucolic and surrealist, heavenly but also unexpectedly cursed. Their bashful, fluttery vocals might be an acquired taste for those used to guttural screams, but their bizarre, auto-tuned trills are terrifying when juxtaposed with morbid lyricism. "Give it to me raw, death is beautiful," Bladee gleefully croons on "5 Star Crest," over and over like a cult member during a Midsommar death ritual
Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter
A favorite among rising metalcore acts like Knocked Loose and the Callous Daoboys, Ethel Cain writes the type of devastating singer-songwriter ballads that feel spiritually linked to metal — and sometimes go there sonically, like in the tidal-waves of distortion and screams that crash in during "Ptolemaea." Most of Preacher's Daughter rubs shoulders with folk-metal acts like Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle, but with twinges of catchiness and self-mythology that evoke Lana Del Rey in a dimension where she has a Red House Painters tattoo.
Denzel Curry - Melt My Eyez See Your Future
We all know Denzel Curry can get a mosh pit going — when he wants to, that is. Since his metal-tinged 2018 opus, Ta13oo, the Florida auteur has gotten funkier (Zuu) and more lyrically precise (Unlocked), and on Melt My Eyez See Your Future, he thaws out his hardened edges and glides through his jazziest, warmest, most intimate songs yet. It's more Tribe Called Quest than "Black Metal Terrorist," but his ear for detail, texture and evocative lyrics is sharper than ever.
Alex G - God Save the Animals
On God Save the Animals, Alex G gobbles up every genre he can sink his teeth into and spits them out more twisted, fucked-up and also beautiful than they were before. This cluster of magnetic indie-rock deconstructions — which weirdly nod to dusky post-grunge, psychedelic trap, bleating hyperpop, numbed-out slowcore, Aphex Twin-style electronic mish-mashery and heart-draining freak-folk — are just warped, jarring and weird-dream-verging-on-nightmare enough to win over metalheads who like a good sonic challenge. It helps that every track on here manages to be catchy, as well.
Pusha-T - It's Almost Dry
Metalheads love a good villain narrator, from the psychotic murderers in Slayer and Cannibal Corpse songs, to the unspeakable evildoers in Rammstein's twisted fairy tales. Rapper Pusha T relishes in such evil elegance, luxuriating over the spoils of his cocaine empire with the maniacal chuckles and toothy-grinned bluster of the most heinous antagonist you love to hate. The production on It's Almost Dry has an old-school, hard-edged classicism to it, and each boastful line falls out of his mouth and slams against the beat like a wad of cash smashing against the table.
Shygirl - Nymph
Are you a metalhead who loves to dance but doesn't want to shake your ass to mainstream pop stars like Beyoncé or Dua Lipa? Try Shygirl, the dark, shadowy nymph of modern club-pop who spins narcotic thumpers with breathy, bewitchingly sensual vocals. "Come for Me" has percussion that scrapes and claws like a trapped kidnapping victim, while "Shlut" and "Nike" are freaky bangers cast in the low-light glow of your local goth night. You know that absurd leather outfit you bought that's been collecting dust in the back of your closet? Nymph is a perfect excuse to pull that out.
Yeat - Lyfë
Channeling artists like Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert, Yeat makes rap that's just as overstimulating as your favorite extreme-metal band. Lyfë is party music with a gothic twist, supplying truckloads of 808-boosted trap beats — smeared with industrial flourishes and haunted melodies — that provide a clattering backbone to Yeat's deeply auto-tuned, kaleidoscopic vocal trills. It makes you feel like you're driving a monster truck with 30-foot wheels while your eyes are dilated, but there's a hollowness in Yeat's oaky voice that pierces through the hedonistic chaos. It's crazy, but it never sounds happy.