Below I have compiled a list of music that I feel has changed the way metal was presented, the way it was looked at and what it has become. Metal has become a part of my life beyond anything I would have thought when I started this site (originally Metal Head Music) in 1998. Some albums you might agree with, some not, but to me these albums have changed the way our small community will exist. And if you agree or disagree, it’s a list of 21 must own albums of the last 10 years.
Demoncy “Joined in Darkness”
Genre: Black Metal
This album was Demoncy complete work of art. This is one of the best black metal albums to ever come out (especially out of the US), and this album pretty much tied everything together. If you’re into black metal, this is what you need to own.
The Dillinger Escape Plan “Calculating Infinity”
Genre: Mathcore, Experimental Metal
The Dillinger Escape Plan has released a number of amazing albums, but “Calculating Infinity” is a staple in the mathcore/experimental world, if not a founder. This album is as heavy as TDEP got, but it is near perfect.
At the Drive-In “Relationship of Command”
Genre: Post-Hardcore, Alternative
At The Drive-In started its success with this album, and then unfortunately broke up. However, this third full length from ATDI is the pioneer of a genre we all hate, post-hardcore. That being said, this is one of the best rock (not metal, not hard rock, just overall rock) albums of the last decade, so it needed to make an appearance.
Nasum “Human 2.0”
Genre: Grindcore, Death Metal
25 tracks of some of the best grindcore you will ever hear. Nasum’s “Human 2.0” was their second release, and my personal favorite. Unfortunately, Nasum lost a founding and amazing member with the tragic death of Mieszko Talarczyk in the 2004 tsunami disaster in Thailand. I would probably recommend picking up “Grind Finale” instead though, since it contains every Nasum song made. “Human 2.0” will remain a favorite in the grind world though.
Converge “Jane Doe”
Genre: Metalcore, Mathcore
Converge are one of the greatest metalcore bands of all time personally, and “Jane Doe” is the album that stands out the most. “Jane Doe” proved to the world that metal and hardcore can co-exist in perfection. Scattered and frantic, this is one of the best albums of the decade.
Genre: Progressive Rock
I know Robby (Thrash writer) is spewing angry words with this one, but Dredg’s “Leitmotif” is one of my favorite albums of all time. This is straight up progressive rock at its best. I also know this was originally released by the band in 1998, but the official release was 2001 by a label, so oh well.
Porcupine Tree “In Absentia”
Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock
Porcupine Tree released “In Absentia” in 2002, and the world shook. Seriously though, this is another album that just amazes you each listen.
Killswitch Engage “Alive Or Just Breathing”
Killswitch Engage are not “ground breaking musicians,” (not to take their talents away though) however this album is one of the best metalcore releases of all time. This is also what got them, along with every copy cat act over the next 8 years started. This album truly shows how perfect a band can sound when they are having fun writing music.
Genre: Art Metal/Experimental
Sometimes hidden gems are just that, and Atrox’s “Orgasm” fits the bill perfectly. Hailing from Norway, the band has been creating music since 1988 (although their first release was 1997), “Orgasm” was definitely this avant-garde metals best work. This album is truly surreal.
Lamb of God “As The Palace Burns”
Genre: Heavy Metal
10 tracks of Lamb of God perfection. This is the second album (under the name Lamb of God), and my personal favorite. A lot of people will argue with “Ashes of the Wake” being their best effort, but I am a bigger fan of “As The Palace Burns” and “New American Gospel.” This album is unrelenting. Some of the best drumming, guitar work and as always amazing vocal screams by Randy. This is a must own for fans of metal.
Bloodbath “Nightmares Made Flesh”
Genre: Death Metal
I might be targeted for this one, but “Nightmares Made Flesh” is my favorite Bloodbath album. I love all 3 full lengths from the band, but with Peter Tägtgren giving the death growls, this album is an instant classic. This is what straight up death metal needs to sound like, you just shiver as you listen to it; its that good.
Arsis “A Celebration of Guilt”
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Arsis is a band that just hit it right from day one. Although, they are death metal at heart, the music is just to technical to be classified as death metal. Their debut album, “A Celebration of Guilt” is all but perfection. Arsis have also managed to nearly match this record with all their works since, which is near impossible to imagine, any Arsis album is a must own for death metal fans.
Darkest Hour “Undoing Ruin”
Genre: Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore
Darkest Hour have continued to produce solid releases, however nothing since 2005’s “Undoing Ruin” has been as masterful. The music is a perfect blend of technicality, brutality and overall perfection that would be hard to match anyways. This album is also progressive on many fronts as well, something you don’t see in the “death metal” world.
Buried Inside “Chronoclast (Selected Essays on Time-Reckoning and Auto-Cannibalism)”
Genre: Metalcore/Chaotic Hardcore
“Chronoclast” was the first album in the chaotic world that struck me to think someone else could possibly outdo an album like Converge’s “Jane Doe.” The music is perfection, the vocals close behind. Canada’s Buried Inside have released another amazing album as well, 2009’s “Spoils of Failure”, but “Chronoclast” will forever remain on my mix list. The entire album is solid from beginning to end.
Celtic Frost “Monotheist”
Genre: Doom/Black Metal
Everyone loves a comeback album right? Celtic Frost had been making amazing music from the early 80’s until the early 90’s before disbanding for 10+ years. In 2006 we saw a regrouped effort of music that had been dwelling for all that time, music that should have come out a long time ago. Some bands fail miserably at the regroup effort, in fact most do, but Celtic Frost proved they still are an innovator in the doom/black metal genre with “Monotheist.” Unfortunately, they disbanded again shortly after the release, but if this was a final farewell, they left the world with an amazing effort and possibly their finest work.
The Ocean Collective “Aeolian”
Genre: Experimental Metal
The Ocean Collective have released a few albums, most of which were on the “softer” side of experimental metal, I would even classify some of it as more rock (especially “fluXion”). However, “Aeolian” is nothing short of straight up metal. The album, which was supposed to be the heavier disc 2 of “fluXion” became its own beast through various problems. This German group however, featuring 7 vocalists “Aeolian” on released nothing short of an amazing metal masterpiece. With solid vocals, and some great drum and guitar work, this is my personal favorite from The Ocean.
Between The Buried And Me “Colors”
Genre: Progressive Metal
“Colors” is Between The Buried And Me’s work of art. The album features some of the best metal written of this decade, hell even metal overall. The guitar work is amazing, the drumming is brutal, and Tommy’s signature shrieks, growls and harmonies. “Colors” sum up, what I feel, the band wanted to become. This should be in any metal heads collection.
Pig Destroyer “Phantom Limb”
15 songs of pure grind mayhem. “Terrifyer” was a huge step up from previous works, but “Phantom Limb” took Pig Destroyer to a new level. Musically this is as extreme as it gets, yet they manage to produce a “catchy” grind that not many bands can do. Lyrically, “Phantom Limb” is as deranged as all their previous works as well.
Decrepit Birth “Diminishing Between Worlds”
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Decrepit Birth marked the reason I started to enjoy death metal, especially American death metal again. Personally, they are my favorite death metal band; musically they should stand up to any other death act around. From start to finish this album is brutal, technical (yet catchy) and just overall leaves you wanting more. Thankfully they should have a new album out this year.
Genre: Folk Metal
Hands down the best metal release of the decade. Musically, this trumpts anything else. This album has so much passion and technicality with it there is nothing stopping it. The entire album flows perfectly. Guitar solos soar, the drumming is as fast as ever and the vocals will remind you of Children of Bodom style, so if you dig that you won’t miss with this album. Plus, its folk metal, what more could you want.
Nile “Those Whom the Gods Detest”
Genre: Death Metal
Hell, I could have sworn I don’t like death metal that much. After making this list though, I might want to reconsider my thoughts. This album might not be perfect, but it is what death metal was meant to be. Angry, heavy and fast. This puts anything and all to shame of the last year, and this wasn’t a bad year for death metal as a whole. This was also the album of the year in my 2009 list.
Conducting From The Grave “When Legends Become Dust”
This album is probably my guilty pleasure of the year, if not the decade. Although a new release, it will be cemented in my head as the one of the best deathcore albums of all time, and hopefully an album that will shape how deathcore bands approach music. The musicianship is terrific, the vocals rock and the lyrics are well above their genre (standard deathcore music is what it is). Although this band is more than just deathcore, I would still probably classify them in this genre.