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!
05. EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY – THE EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE
Sometimes I love to take a break from all of the heavy music and just chill out. Nothing is more relaxing than listening to some beautiful post-rock while sitting and reading, or even writing. There are a ton of great bands out there, but Explosions In The Sky are definitely my favorite. They have many albums, all very strong pieces of music crafted as if they were the soundtrack to their own silent films. But one of their albums, specifically their third one, is not only their best record, but probably one of the best of the entire genre.
This album is the epitome of post-rock. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened, nor can I tell you how many scripts I’ve written up for it in hopes of making an entire silent film accompanied by this album. From start to finish it is just beautiful, taking their signature minimalism and accelerating it skywards at an incomparable rate. It gives listeners the ability to take the album and think of their own storyline, which I think is spectacular. Any album that makes you think beyond the realm of music and into the life of the real world is a winner in my book.
This album is, as the band calls it, their “attempt at writing love songs.” This band sure knows how to serenade. This record is 5 songs that are each perfect not only as standalone pieces but also as a group. This album is one that draws your attention without being too forward, always waiting for the next pause to be through and for the big finish to come in. Also, the production on this record is superb, and every instrument has its place without fighting for being right up front, which is something I love.
This record is emotional, and this record is heavy. Not heavy in the guitar tone and dark lyrics, but heavy in the sense that it encourages thought and provokes emotions that some people didn’t even know that they had. And, if you ask me, this is the album to put on when that special moment arrives and let it play in the background as a soundtrack to your experience. Let it play, everyone. Play it loud.
04. ISIS – PANOPTICON
As with Tool, I have addressed this album and its importance to me. Check it out!
03. MACHINE HEAD – THE BLACKENING
Probably the greatest thrash-influenced album to come out since Reign In Blood, this album is a powerhouse of insane. Fast songs, slow songs, anthems, awesome lyrics… it’s everything I want and more from any album. Robb Flynn and company were out to show that they could make an album that was memorable and more intense than anything they have created, and they did so with this record.
This album is 8 songs of pure heavy metal. Start to finish every song is heavy, hard hitting, and filled with those signature pinch harmonics I love so much. Even the lightest song on the album, ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’, has an awesomely heavy bridge before the solo comes in, and I really dig it. Speaking of solos, Phil and Robb are both on point throughout the entire album, and their solos have gotten even better. Whether they trade off lead harmonies or it’s just one solo, they really know how to cater to the needs of a specific song.
Also, Adam and Dave make this record for me. There are parts where you can hear the bass behind the lead guitars with the drums, and it’s awe-inspiring. I love the fact that the bass is a prevalent instrument on each of their albums, because nowadays there is so much low-end going on that people neglect it. That bass tone is also a personal favorite, along with the drum tones. This album also has some really awesome lyrics, including a whole song devoted to Dimebag yelling at some douche who said that he sucked and it was good that he died. It’s still a staple of their live set.
This album embodies everything that metal has built up to. There are fast parts, slow parts, chugs, great solos and harmonies. There are so many different influences on this album from all over the spectrum it is ridiculous. But that doesn’t do it any harm, because this album is not only Machine Head’s opus, but it’s our generation’s Reign In Blood. It’s THE album we will remember and celebrate 30 years from now, and it’s one album I hold near and dear.