00s Essentials – Volume One

Truthfully, the title says it all, but it never hurts to reiterate. After much deliberation, Metal Review proudly presents The 100 Most Essential Heavy Metal Albums of the 00s.

The idea for this compilation emerged many months ago. Since then, a smattering of similar lists have sprung to life; but in the (presumed) haste to recap the decade, many of the resulting products have been–to put it mildly–less than comprehensive. Now, by no means are we declaring this list to be infallible. Lists never are, and that’s part of their appeal. Our intentions were far simpler: to compile a retrospective that would not only celebrate the most impressive albums of the past ten years, but also to provide a versatile guide for enthusiasts that may be new to the genre.

Whittling this tome down to a svelte 100 entries was no easy task. Collectively, the MR Team nominated nearly 400 albums. After an arduous voting process to establish the top-ranked albums, it was then decided that each band would only be represented once. So, if you think (for whatever reason) that Soundtrack to Your Escape should’ve gotten the nod over Clayman, feel free to raise hell.

And if you don’t see your favorite album in this first post, hang tight. This is only the first edition in a series of ten. We’ve broken the list down into ten-album volumes, attempting to take a cross-section of the decade with each swipe. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a ranking of the “best albums of the decade.” This is just a comprehensive collection of killer albums that every metalhead of the 00’s should have in their library, and hopefully a solid jump-off point for the acquisition of at least 100 more.

Without further verbosity, we present the first ten essential works of heavy metal:


By the turn of the 21st century, most of the big golden-age death metal bands had ground to a creative halt. Not so forMorbid Angel. Though Trey Azagthoth, Pete Sandoval and the rest of MA’s rotating cast have explored varying degrees of dizzying speed throughout their storied career, Gateways to Annihilation delves deeper into their Lovecraftian ooze than ever before. A rich, full production, Steve Tucker’s savage vocal performance, and Azagthoth’s most alien soloing to date give Gateways an unearthly psychedelic bent that has yet to be replicated in the death metal world. [Earache, 2000]

• • • •


In Flames’ stock had been steadily rising prior to the release of Clayman, and it turned out to be the album that elevated them to metal’s upper echelon. In turn, it jump-started the emergence of the melodic death metal style, which, ironically, the band would shift away from on subsequent albums. No less than four of Clayman’s tracks remain staples of the band’s live set, an impressive feat given their ever-expanding catalogue and a credit to the album’s enduring nature. [Nuclear Blast, 2000]

• • • •


While spending a majority of their early years either plying black metal or lurking beneath the shadow of fellow Polish warriors Vader, Behemoth exploded in 2002 with this death metal masterpiece and exposed a far larger audience to Nergal and his esoteric-yet-bombastic death metal. To this day, the album’s monstrous title track and “As Above, So Below” stand as death metal personified. Now certified as international death metal superstars with three critically acclaimed albums under their belt, it was Zos Kia Cultus that truly opened the floodgates for Behemoth. [Avantgarde/Olympic, 2002]

• • • •


Before the so-called “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” became an image-obsessed caricature of itself, the redneck thrash machine known as Lamb of God dropped this little nuke. As the Palaces Burn is the sound of a band and musical movement at their most creative and unfucked-with, giving an entire new generation of thrashers their version of A Vulgar Display of Power in a package filled with groovy, beg-to-be-played thrash riffs and searing vocals courtesy of a man unstable enough to make them believable.  [Prosthetic, 2003]

• • • •


YOB are living proof of the power of execution. Though they’ve never forged deep into new territory, their blend of classic doom grandeur, heady psychedelia, distinctive wailing vox, and masterful craftsmanship has earned them a well-deserved spot near the top of the doom genre.The Illusion of Motion, their third album, brought YOB to a far broader audience and established the mind-expanding yet skull-crushing formula that’s characterized each of their releases since. [Metal Blade, 2004]

• • • •


If ever a band perfectly captured and conveyed the concurrent frailty and power of the human spirit, Primordial did on The Gathering Wilderness.  Unmatched in its emotional intensity, this record’s Pagan black metal celebrates the power and beauty of the band’s native Ireland with the infusion of that country’s melodies and folklore.  Even as the album as a whole is crafted with dazzling skill, it is Nemtheanga’s impassioned vocals that consistently astound; experience “The Coffin Ships” and know his pain. [Metal Blade, 2005]

• • • •


Despite the praise heaped upon their Hate.Malice.Revenge debut, no one could have foreseen the impact that Oakland, CA’s All Shall Perish would make with their sophomore effort. The Price of Existence all at once revitalized, redefined, and laid the deathcore genre to rest. As numerous imitators and countless pretenders make their way to the scene, The Price of Existence continues to stand as a landmark release that is unlikely to be equaled. [Nuclear Blast, 2006]

• • • •


Neurosis aren’t the kind of band who can satisfy themselves with repetition, and much of their 21st century output reflects that restlessness. A Sun That Never Sets and The Eye of Every Storm exhibited a growing preference for desolate ambience over heaviness. Given to the Rising violently reversed that trend. Neurosis’ tenth studio album is a stunning recapitulation of the band’s storied past, blending many of their various approaches into a titanic blast of cosmic heaviness. Given to the Rising serves as a powerful reminder that the fathers of post-metal can still put their offspring to shame. [Neurot, 2007]

• • • •


It’s tough to crack through the thick, charred shell that encases this album, but when it’s finally broken, the reward is sickly cathartic. A devastating, cacophonous hybrid of nearly every extreme strain hurled forth in this decade—sludge, doom, and death, with a black-as-tar delivery—Folie Circulaire encapsulates a seething hatred that is primed to spill forth into the decade to come. A violently textured harbinger for a forthcoming societal implosion, and the sonic manifestation of the wreckage to be left in its wake. [Prosthetic, 2008]

• • • •


Riding a creative upswing in the new millennium, British grindcore innovators Napalm Death released Time Waits For No Slave nearly twenty-five years after their first record, and they’re still as pissed-off as ever.  (Hell, maybe even more so…) Stripping back some of the more progressive additions to earlier albums, Time gets back to modern Napalm doing what modern Napalm does best: raging solid, with Embury and Harris’ razor-sharp death/grind riffs beneath Barney’s inimitable bellow. Violent, vicious, unflinching, unfailing, brutal and brilliant. [Century Media, 2009]

• • • •


Ninety albums left. See you next week…

Posted by Last Rites


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