The first decade of the new millennium was a big one for me, and also for the metal community. After the nu-metal craze and all the hoopla about grunge music, many metal acts began to feel disjointed, releasing boring or bad albums that stagnated them instead of letting them progress further. But metal always prevails, and in these first ten years it has seen a resurgence of bands that are the future. Some bands on this article are not “metal”, but are a type of rock music that is heavy in it’s message and lyrics, and not necessarily guitar tone. This list is dedicated to what I think are the most important albums of that first decade, and I hope you enjoy!
08. TOOL – LATERALUS
I’ve spoke about the importance of this album in my life before, and also why it is so great, so I will be succinct in this piece. I love this album. It embodies everything Tool have done, and set the new standard for experimental progressive metal music, leapfrogging the band from a really good cult band to one of the most important metal bands to come around in the past 30 years, and I speak no bull.
07. MASTODON – CRACK THE SKYE
In all honesty, I could have put any Mastodon album up here, because they have yet to release a bad one. Every album is a progression of their sludge-influenced progressive metal, and with each release the band gets bigger, along with the venues, and the fans fall even more in love with the Atlanta quartet. The reason Crack The Skye is my favorite from the first decade, however, is because of its story, and the picture painted with two guitars, a bass, and a set of drums.
Bran Dailor, as we all know, lost his sister to suicide when he was 16 years old. In this album he revisits that difficult time in his life, and it comes out during the songs, especially the title track, specifically because it was named after his sister, Skye. It’s the heaviest song on the record, but has a beautiful chorus in the midst of all the sludgy low end. Brann also sings on this record, which is something I love. When a band can incorporate many different voices it can sometimes be too chaotic, but the band have found their niche with the vocals.
Brent also suffered a difficult time after the fight at the VMAs, and he used that rough time to write the majority of the music o this record to reflect it. In ‘The Last Baron‘, and in ‘Oblivion‘, those solos to me represent his struggles in the hospital and during his recovery, both of which are truly remarkable stories that are told in the “Making Of Crack The Skye” DVD that came with the special edition of the CD.
Bottom line is this: if there was ever an album to listen to that was raw, heavy, had tons of low end, and yet was still a catchy record you could hum anywhere, then you should pick this one up. Seriously. You would really be missing out if you didn’t do so, and be depriving your ears of an album that hits homes for many of us.
06. OPETH – BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth are the talk of legends around the metal world, especially for their seamless genre-defying albums that cover everything from prog-rock to death metal. They have come out with great album after great album, and combine my need for prog with my love for death metal. But this album in particular is not only the one that got me hooked on the band, but also the one that shows the best aspects of Opeth in one release.
This album is filled with 10 perfect songs. Though the standard CD comes with 8 tracks, I ordered the deluxe edition with the songs ‘Still Day Beneath The Sun‘ and ‘Patterns In The Ivy II‘. I must say, if you have the funds, do it, because those two songs help round out the record with two beautifully crafter acoustic tracks that are both haunting and melodic, with some of Mikael’s best vocal work. The album throws many pleasant surprises at the listener. From the delicate piano outro on ‘The Leper Affinity‘ to the groovin’ verse riff on ‘The Funeral Portrait‘ that’s reminiscent of some Pantera, the album never ceases to bring it every time I listen.
The best pat about this record is Mikael’s lyrics. He is one of my favorite lyricists to this day, ad his work on this album is simply nothing short of immaculate. I also really enjoy how every song has a some hidden gems that you discover after the 15th listen, because it keeps the album fresh and doesn’t let it get stale or boring. Every musician is on point, and this is my favorite Opeth album not only from this era but also with the “classic” lineup of Mendez, Lopez, Akerfeldt and Lindgren.
This was probably the first death metal record I owned. I needed something to kind of wean me in to the heaviness that came with death metal, and I figured this would be good because it mixes soft prog-rock stuff with the signature growls and blasts of death metal. Little did I know that this album would become one of my all-time favorites, and the reason why I recommend this band day after day.