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The Top 30 Album Covers of 2022

A maelstrom of artistry compiled as we look back at a year of strong audiovisual cohesion.

Artwork by Noah C. Meihoff

From Day 1 to 365, our eyes remain on the musical arts and 2022 kept busy with exquisite offerings on a regular basis. There's no shortage of tantalizing sights across the spectrum, but only few manage to get a grip on keen audiences, encouraging repeated viewership and deeper engagement. Those compiled here today do just that, offering an entry point to a world waiting to be discovered in unison to its musical companion. Additionally, they incorporate years of creative growth, a wealth of historic and cultural influence, and an intentionality to deliver works that inform, that excite, and create an avenue for understanding. Gaze through them all and form your own narrative.


Here are The Top 30 Album Covers of 2022:

 

30. Red Rot - Mal de Vivre (Niklas Sundin)

Cover Artwork by Niklas Sundin

29. Warforged - The Grove | Sundial (Samuel Nelson)

Cover Artwork by Samuel Nelson

28. Dream Unending - Song of Grief (Benjamin Vierling)

Cover Artwork by Benjamin Vierling

27. Rhythm of Fear - Fatal Horizons (Mario Lopez)

Cover Artwork by Mario Lopez

26. Vein.FM - This World Is Going To Ruin You (Autumn Morgan)


Autumn Morgan excels at bridging distinct elements for a harrowing collage that exists in synchronicity to the exhilarating songcraft Vein.FM layer quite well throughout this beast of a record. For those keen, our Behind the Cover column highlights this exquisite take on a nightmare and walks you through its expansive creation. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Autumn Morgan

25. Mortuous - Upon Desolation (Marald Van Haasteren)


The Bay Area death metal unit partnered once again with the visual prowess of Marald van Haasteren for a piece sprawling with detail reflective of an inner struggle and blindness to our carelessness. There's much to uncover and our Behind the Cover provides but a piece to the larger puzzle. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Marald van Haasteren

24. Haunter - Discarnate Ails (Elijah Tamu)

Cover Artwork by Elijah Tamu

23. Cave In - Heavy Pendulum (Richey Beckett)


Richey Beckett's contributions to this monumental Cave In release harnesses a planetary symbolism to catapult the band's driving message to staggering, emotional success. Saturn crashes into a blood red sea as asteroids follow behind amidst starry skies. pairing well with contrasting blend of serenity and aggression found throughout the record's diverse tracks. It's a beauty and we dove into it earlier this year through Behind the Cover. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Richey Beckett

22. Crippled Black Phoenix - Banefyre (Lucy Marshall)

Cover Artwork by Lucy Marshall

21. Trace Amount - Anti-Body Language (Jesse Draxler)


They say that the best art provides you only one piece of the puzzle, allowing for viewers to complete it in their own unique way. The industrialization/mechanization focus across the protagonist's face here is a proper entry point for the experience, but it's simply that: an entry point. Trace Amount's Brandon Gallagher and Jesse Draxler elaborate on this piece in an extensive interview. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Jesse Draxler

20. Wormrot - Hiss (Jon Chan)


Hell looms near on this Jon Chan album cover, apt for the utterly brutal grind embodied within. It's hard to imagine what you'll get from an album portraying a protagonist rising from the water, but know that you'll get battered in once you get past that curiosity. From the bubbles in the water to the dripping detail down her face and hair textures, the attention invested into this simple yet frightening work is to be appreciated. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Jon Chan

19. Spiritworld - Deathwestern (James Bousema)

Cover Artwork by James Bousema

18. Dødsengel - Bab Al On (Mitchell Nolte)

Cover Artwork by Mitchell Nolte

17. Tómarúm - Ash in Realms of Stone Icons (Mariusz Lewandowski, 1960-2022)


The world lost a giant of the arts earlier this year, one that left behind an inspirational presence throughout metal's contemporary visual identity. Though Mariusz Lewandowski has passed, his art lives on and his contributions to Tómarúm's full-length are emblematic of the emotional depth and staggering detail that were present in each and every one of his paintings. A spirit rises from a corpse laid upon a cliff and meets death among the skies as souls seemingly fall into despair; a tale told by the band's atmospheric black metal. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Mariusz Lewandowski

16. Temple of Void - Summoning The Slayer (Ola Larsson)


Towering like their doom, Ola Larsson's nightmarish creature creation is fitting for the slow burning rage that Temple of Void pile on. Vivid blues take over a large part of the cover's dimensions as a swarm of poor souls look up to their demise. Winged beings swarm around our commanding protagonist, who could very well act as a boss in the Temple of Void universe. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Ola Larsson

15. Allegaeon - Damnum (Travis Smith)

Cover Artwork by Travis Smith

14. Malevolence - Malicious Intent (Eliran Kantor)

Cover Artwork by Eliran Kantor

13. Bad Omens - The Death of Peace of Mind (Oswaldo Cepeda)

Cover Artwork by Oswaldo Cepeda

12. Innumerable Forms - Philosophical Collapse (Stefan/Khaos Diktator Design)

Cover Artwork by Khaos Diktator

11. Becoming the Archetype - Children of the Great Extinction (Dan Seagrave)

Cover Artwork by Dan Seagrave

10. Dreadnought - The Endless (Reza Afshar)

Cover Artwork by Reza Afshar

9. Incandescence - Le Coeur de l'Homme (Adam Burke)

Cover Artwork by Adam Burke

8. Olhava - Reborn (MarGoat)

Cover Artwork by MarGoat

7. 070 Shake - You Can’t Kill Me (Nicola Samori)

Cover Artwork by Nicola Samori

6. Meslamtaea - Weemoedsklanken (Maya Kurhuli)


For as many purposes as art can serve, it stands as the byproduct of an artist's lives and understanding of a particular subject matter, a subject matter perceived in a myriad of ways by the diverse audiences dissecting every element to it. It's here that Dutch black metal outfit Meslamtaea and artist Maya Kurhuli excel, providing a disheartening view of life in the future as they complete a trifecta of cover illustrations that began with 'Niets en Niemendal’ (2019). It's a harrowing canvas for thoughts narrated by black metal. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Maya Kurhuli

5. Jesse Jo Stark - Doomed (Greg Hildebrandt)


The trailblazing talent of Jesse Jo Stark met the revered artistry of Greg Hildebrandt for one alluring work of boundless qualities explored earlier this year through our Behind the Cover feature. The cathartic lyricism and songcraft of the musician was brought to life by Hildebrandt's visual investment, one that always looks to capture emotion and intention in a matter respectful of the subject material. The result of their fruitful collaborative process was nothing short of divine as it delivers vulnerability, doubt, despair, positivity, and hope in one wondrous image of ethereal duality. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Greg Hildebrandt

4. Lifesick - Misanthropy (Paolo Girardi)


The Italian mastermind put out an array of standout album covers that could've each been included on this list, but Lifesick's 'Misanthropy' showcased a unique take on Girardi's otherwise gruesome output that stood tall among this year's most emotional ones. A protagonist sits shirtless in flames, flames seemingly self-inflicted with the torch that lays nearby. It's an extension of the album's core themes of misanthropy, utilizing red as the central color choice to represent its anger. Beyond this, it's an ambiguous work that could very well symbolize mental anguish and the connotations associated with depression. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Paolo Girardi

3. Ante-Inferno - Antediluvian Dreamscapes (Stefan/Khaos Diktator Design)


Stefan Todorovic has excelled at interdimensional artistry, artistry that extends into a series of works created uniquely to fit Ante-Inferno's ambitious new full-length. Death looks down upon a wandering figure within portals floating in the sky, underneath red capes and stormy skies. The vibrant blues, gold, and rest contrast nicely with an otherwise melancholic color palette for one exalting cover of foreboding scale. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Stefan Todorovic

2. Funeral Harvest - Redemptio (Artem Grigoryev)


None are more regal, more majestic than what Artem Grigoryev delivers here. It's a Renaissance-esque feat of wonder that displays stippling and pointillism of the highest order, drawing many eyes to the Norwegian/Italian black metal debut. Titled "Dies Irae", Latin for the day of wrath, Grigoryev portrays a glorious arrival of death, falling from the sky with horns signaling the end of times at the hands of the deity. - Luis

Cover Artwork by Artem Grigoryev

1. Ghost - Impera (Zbigniew M. Bielak)


Ghost's ongoing partnership with Zbigniew M. Bielak is emblematic of the contemporary strength of the art of music, comparable even to Iron Maiden & Derek Riggs, Motörhead & Joe Petagno, and Megadeth & Ed Repka of the modern day. One could argue that it's a stretch to compare Ghost & Bielak to legends of this magnitude, but what happened from 'Meliora' (2015) to this year's 'Impera' has pushed the boundaries for audiovisual cohesion, setting a high standard for intentional creative direction. Riddled with architectural technique that reinterprets a famed Aleister Crowley photograph, 'Impera' is a magnum opus in cover illustration that layers worlds within worlds throughout its squared dimensions. Better yet, it's only an introduction to a universe spread across the album's physical booklet, which includes additional artwork by Bielak, rounding out comprehensive experience that introduces new elements with each passing glance. May we continue to see this partnership flourish and further cement a legacy solidified by the band's theatrical presence - Luis

Cover Artwork by Zbigniew M. Bielak

 

Congratulations to all for another fantastic year in cover artwork, and thank you to all of the artists, musicians, publicists, labels, managers, and affiliated individuals responsible for keeping us enriched with releases on a daily basis. Another great year awaits...


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