Just about everyone at the major metal publications has posted up their best of the decade lists and of course no one completely agrees with any of them.
I came up with a list of albums that I think have shaped or changed metal in the 21st century or were just damn fun to listen to. These aren't necessarily "THE BEST", but these are the ones that I immediately thought of when making a decade list.
Here are my picks, starting with an honorable mention and descending from #21 to most essential after that.
Pantera - Reinventing the Steel
Why it almost made the list: I really enjoyed this Pantera release (especially "Revolution is My Name"). It's some of Pantera's heaviest work, even if the band would break up shortly after. This decade will always be remembered for Dimebagg's tragic death. Spin this one for him.
21. Slipknot - Iowa
Why it made the list: Let's face it, Slipknot inspired a lot of people to get into heavy metal and is arguably the biggest band to come out of Iowa. Plus tracks like "People = Shit" are just great mindless fun.
20. System of a Down - Toxicity
Why it made the list: Yeah, another "mainstream" metal band on my list. System of a Down are damn good when that guitarist isn't squawking around. "Toxicity" is the shining moment on this album, but it's definitely solid the whole way through.
19. Tool - Lateralus
Why it made the list: Tool has made better albums in the past, but who doesn't remember the constant radioplay of Tool's Schism back in the day?
18. Municipal Waste - Hazardous Mutation
Why it made the list: It seemed like out of nowhere party thrash exploded back into the metal scene over the course of the last decade. Municipal Waste prove that they are true party kings on this breakout album. Check out "Mind Eraser" and "Thrashin' of the Christ" for all around good times.
17. God Forbid - Earthsblood
Why it made the list: You may notice this is my only 2009 release on the list... why? Because it's that good. I never listened much to God Forbid until seeing them on tour a few years back with Anthrax, but the guys slay live and the album features some great songwriting, even if the album didn't sell for shit. Give it a shot.
16. Opeth - Blackwater Park / Damnation
Why it made the list: Sure, Blackwater Park is a fine piece of ace, but for some reason I spent more time listening to the softer Damnation, until I lost my copy of the CD that is. A great mood setter and epic background music. However, I'll throw up both albums as a tie, so the true fans don't have a heart attack.
15. Meshuggah - Catch Thirtythree
Why it made the list: When this album came out, I thought it was terrible (along with the previous one Nothing). Years later, I have finally begun to "get" this cerebral album that takes you on a journey like none other. Then again, I still kind of hate it. Damn you Meshuggah!
14. 3 Inches of Blood - Advance and Vanquish
Why it made the list: One of the most fun and rockin' metal albums of the decade. Sure the high pitch vocals are over-the-top, but that's the point! "Deadly Sinners" and "Crazy Nights" are the key moments on the album.
13. Into Eternity - Buried In Oblivion
Why it made the list: Badass power/death metal combo that is very effective. Sadly the band could never top this, although the The Scattering of Ashes with that newer vocalist is pretty damn good as well. "Beginning of the End" is my personal favorite track.
12. Strapping Young Lad - Alien
Why it made the list: Alien is another album I didn't really get into at first, but I later recognized it to be one of the most aggressive albums I have ever heard. This one needs to be cranked loud to fully appreciate it's awesomeness and Devin Townsend has some amazing moments both vocally and instrumentally throughout the entire album.
11. Black Label Society - Stronger Than Death / 1919 Eternal
Why it made the list: I can't help but love(former) booze smashing and (still) guitar thrashing madman Zakk Wylde. I couldn't decide between these two albums, so they are both at number 11. Here's to hoping he can channel some of the energy of past releases in the next decade!
10. Iron Maiden - Brave New World
Why it made the list: I remember that sticker on the album declaring "Brand New Maiden for the 21st Century" with the return of frontman Bruce Dickinson. Brave New World was Maiden's true shining moment of this decade and almost nothing tops "The Wicker Man".
9. Mastodon - Leviathan
Why it made the list: This is Mastodon's best album hands-down. Crack the Skye and Blood Mountain are fine-and-dandy, but there is just something about this album that rocks much harder than the rest.
8. Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Why it made the list: "The Glass Prison". Enough said.
7. Megadeth - The System Has Failed
Why it made the list: Maybe it was getting Chris Poland to do some lead work, but Megadeth just seemed to get it all right with this album. The later releases haven't been able to top the memorable songs on System, such as "Kick the Chair", "Back in the Day", and Tears in a Vial".
6. Sepultura - Dante XXI
Why it made the list: Derrick Green-era Sepultura always gets a lot of shit, but throw this album on and give it a chance. For me, it is one of the band's finer moments and just an intensely fun album to listen to.
5. Children of Bodom - Follow the Reaper
Why it made the list: Children of Bodom mixed elements of neo-classical music with vicious death metal, creating a very interesting addition to the metal scene. This is easily COB's masterpiece.
4. Killswitch Engage - Alive or Just Breathing
Why it made the list: I'll be the first to admit, when I saw the music video for "My Last Serenade", I thought these dudes were douchebags. Turns out, later I would eventually buy Alive or Just Breathing and be blown away. One of the best guitar tones on a metal album in the 21st century.
3. Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake
Why it made the list: Lamb of God has one of the best instrumental sections of any metal band out there right now and Randy Blythe finally was able to blend his growling vocals with the rest of the band to perfection. Nothing beats the pummeling riffage in "Now You've Got Something to Die For" or the groove of "What I've Become".
2. Shadows Fall – The Art of Balance
Why it made the list: I got this CD on Christmas Eve after it came out and it is one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. The Art of Balance is an amazing metal record, combining both clean and growling vocals (as would be popular throughout the decade) with guitar solos that came straight from the 80s heydays. "Destroyer of Senses", "Stepping Outside the Circle" and "A Fire in Babylon" seal the deal.
1. In Flames - Clayman
Why it made the list: "Old" In Flames put out some of the best Swedish Death Metal around. "New" In Flames is what got me into the more extreme forms of metal and is still a personal favorite to this day. "Pinball Map" is the perfect example of how extreme metal with growling vocals can still be catchy as hell. In fact the whole album is a lesson in memorable songwriting.
The band definitely influenced the direction of metal in the 21st century and continues to show innovation with each release. You can do no wrong by checking out this album.
THE END! The list is complete. I highly recommend any album on here if you haven't heard it. It may not be obscure, but these are the albums I still enjoy pulling out to this day.
CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR THE METAL SHOW'S END OF YEAR LIST!