Tuesday, December 29, 2009

21 Best Metal Albums of the Decade

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.

Honorable Mention:

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.



Rob Liz said...

Thanks for mentioning MW and 3 inches. I hadn't heard their stuff before and after checking out quite a few tracks from each I'm definatly digging it.

MW reminds me of old school Anthrax with Joey Belladonna and 3 inches has alot of old school Priest, Manowar, and Maiden influences,etc. Good revisionist stuff.

Randy said...

Yeah, even now I am realizing stuff that was cool, which I didn't put on there (such as Gojira and a lack of certain genres of metal such as black metal, Immortal probably should have been on there!), but like I said it's hard to ever be completely happy with an end of decade list.

Glad you are enjoying the 3 Inches of Blood and Municipal Waste. Like you said they are both great throwback bands.

I still want to check out a Municipal Waste live show, because I hear it's always a good time.

Randy said...

Ah another essential album I forgot about...

Nevermore - Dead Heart in a Dead World

Un salsero said...

Lateralus should have been on the top 10!!!! O the other hand, some of these -toxicity e.g.- are not even Metal per se!

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Arnulfo said...

Nothing can be more absurd than enter the internet looking for "best albums of metal" some lists doesn't have two albums in common, heck some look like different genres. If you want to hear the best 20 albums, you'll end up listening 50 or more. I love metal, I just can get all the metal there is, (and all the sub-variations, pseudo metal crap, and shit).