THE MEANING OF GREATEST
We asked our panel to choose the albums in this list based on merit of lasting impact, influence and generally kicking ass.
Look, this shit has been keeping us up at night as it is without making it more difficult for ourselves. No exceptions.
NO ALBUMS FROM 2016
This year has been killer for heavy music, but to make an all-time- great list, you need a bit more distance. 2015-backwards only!
NO LIVES OR COMPILATIONS
That’s basically cheating. Though we’ve acknowledged some great 21st century live albums as a bonus because we’re nice.
100. HALESTORM - INTO THE WILD LIFE (2015)
Building on the momentum of 2012’s The Curious Case Of…, Halestorm delivered a war chest stacked with style, sheen, swagger and buckets of arena-ready anthems. With her ear-splitting screams and fearsome licks, Into The Wild Life cemented Lzzy Hale as one of the scene’s finest frontwomen, and Halestorm as one of 21st century rock’s most exciting names.
What we said: ”The quartet have come of age spectacularly. World domination seems inevitable.”
99. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - SONGS FOR THE DEAF (2002)
BAND PICK: “It’s so brave, with such out-of-the box thinking. It shows you can play hard music and still be super melodic. There’s borderline death metal on there, there’s minstrel campfire music, pop, rock… it’s very, very inspiring. I’d definitely say that that record has shaped a lot of things coming after it – ourselves included.”- A NAMELESS GHOUL, GHOST
What we said: “Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf is being hailed as the feel good album of the summer.”
98. SABATON - THE ART OF WAR (2008)
If anyone was still left thinking that Sabaton were a novelty act, fourth album The Art Of War took such cynical beliefs, loaded them into a panzer and fired them into the sun. Brimming with soon-to-be setlist staples and teetering on concept-album territory with a look at General Sun Tzu’s military tome of the same name, it solidified Sabaton as big players.
What we said: “The profile of the war-obsessed Swedes has been growing as fast as any metal band on Earth.”
97. ORANGE GOBLIN - A EULOGY FOR THE DAMNED (2012)
Proud upholders of the British heavy metal code, Orange Goblin have never been more enthralling than on their seventh album. Every single song, from the rampaging Red Tide Rising to the mesmerising, epic title track, is an absolute cast-iron belter, furiously running riot across the ears like a horde of zombie bikers on the windswept ride of their lives.
What we said: “This is Orange Goblin at their defiant, ribald, boisterous best. They simply don’t put a foot wrong from start to finish.”
96. OF MICE & MEN - THE FLOOD (2011)
For a band that could have so easily become also-rans of the scene, Of Mice & Men stood up when it mattered, melding infectious melodies with crushing heaviness to produce one of the best modern age metalcore albums. OG Loko remains the Cali crew’s defining anthem, while Austin Carlile silenced any doubts over his decision to leave Attack Attack! behind.
What we said: “It may not be reinventing the wheel, but when you have choruses as catchy as these, does it really matter?”
95. NAPALM DEATH - APEX PREDATOR – EASY MEAT (2015)
Undisputed gods of grind for the last 30 years, Napalm Death somehow surpassed even their own high standards of extremity on their 15th studio album. A wild experiment in distortion and unhinged noise, it ensured that the band’s furious humanitarianism hit home with massive force, while gleefully pushing sonic extremity into ever-more daring territory.
What we said: “Conceived as an exposé of modern slavery, this is perhaps the most experimental LP the band have made in the 22 years of the current lineup.”
94. CRADLE OF FILTH - MIDIAN (2000)
BAND PICK: “I really feel like Midian was when that incarnation of Cradle Of Filth was at its peak. They were such an influence on me as a young kid, and then further on as a musician as well. That was the golden run that they were on, culminating in that record, and I think that it’s been the standard they’ve set and aspired to ever since.” - SCOTT LEWIS, CARNIFEX
What we said: “There are reasons why COF remain one step ahead of the competition: they tell stories, constantly evolve, and have ambition and vision.”
93. CHIMAIRA - THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF REASON (2003)
The New Wave Of American Heavy Metal’s standard-bearers delivered one of the movement’s definitive albums in 2003, offering up a pummelling mixture of groove metal clobber, thrashy hooks and a touch of nu metal swagger. They may have become metal’s ultimate Nearly Band, but this was still a post-millennial classic.
What we said: “Utterly irresistible in its ferocity, if The Impossibility Of Reason typifies the NWOAHM, then bring it on with all speed.”
92. BABYMETAL - BABYMETAL (2014)
Offering extreme metal riffs countered by cutsey vocals from teenage stars-in-waiting Su-Metal, Moametal and Yuimetal, no one had ever seen or heard a band quite like Babymetal. Their debut catapulted them to Sonisphere’s Main Stage, and Wembley thereafter. Metal hasn’t been the same since.
What we said: “Babymetal is a celebration of something giddy and heedless that resonates with metal’s wilder impulses.”
91. BLUT AUS NORD - THE WORK WHICH TRANSFORMS GOD (2003)
Exhibiting a very Gallic sense of the perverse, Blut Aus Nord’s landmark album took black metal’s thirst for higher states of consciousness into new lysergic and licentious realms where no normal rules could possibly apply. Pitch-bending, yawning riffs whorled like a dust storm in five dimensions, creating an immersive nightmare that’s stained the scene ever since.
What we said: “Like peering over the edge of a precipice, there’s a sickening, vertigo-inducing thrill to The Work…, but you may not thank the band for it.”
90. AKERCOCKE - CHORONZON (2003)
Metal’s smartest Satanists were on peak form for their third album. A dizzying maelstrom of brutish death metal, avant-garde indulgence and eerie melodic detours, Choronzon was universally acclaimed for its inherently subversive approach to saluting the Omnipotent Goatlord. Akercocke were firmly on the map. Satan, we assume, was well chuffed.
What we said: “Akercocke are asserting themselves as standard-bearers for British extreme metal, and one of the genre’s boldest – and best-dressed – bands.”
89. MUNICIPAL WASTE - THE ART OF PARTYING (2007)
The mid-noughties old school thrash revival was never going to last, but its finest band deftly defined the era with this razor-sharp burst of crossover mayhem. The goofy, breakneck likes of Headbanger Face Rip and The Inebriator nailed the genre’s untamed spirit, while never forgetting that thrash metal is the most fun you can have without getting naked. Pass the beer bong!
What we said: “Municipal Waste will fuck you up. And you will enjoy every single second of it.”
88. TESSERACT - POLARIS (2015)
Tesseract’s third album saw palm-muted progressive odysseys, the soaring vocals of returning singer Daniel Tompkins and hooks that threatened to embed themselves in the mainstream. The massive chorus of Survival and the interweaving rhythms of Messenger are proof that they won’t stop pushing their own boundaries, and those of tech metal.
What we said: “This is the most distinct, coherent and engaging record the band have ever made. It’s affecting, captivating and bloody gorgeous.”
87. BEASTMILK - CLIMAX (2013)
A party album for an apocalyptic age, Climax became a word-of-mouth, lose-your-shit sensation. Its skeletal, tribal grooves, radioactive riffs, and Mat McNerney’s wracked-yet-wanton vocals came together to create a collection of unforgettable anthems that single-handedly kicked off a post-punk revival across the underground.
What we said: “Apocalyptic, post-punk nightmares from a bunch of fiery Finns with drug-induced fever dreams and flagellated guitars.”
86. ARCH ENEMY - ANTHEMS OF REBELLION (2003)
While 2001’s underrated Wages Of Sin marked the trajectory-changing arrival of Angela Gossow, it was that album’s follow-up – and most predominantly hook-riddled crushers such as Dead Eyes See No Future and all-time classic We Will Rise – that saw Arch Enemy make a deafening march on the metal mainstream. It remains their definitive statement.
What we said: “Just when you think a genre has played itself out, it jumps up and bites you in the arse. Metal is for everyone, and this is great metal.”
85. DISTURBED - THE SICKNESS (2000)
It spawned the ultimate nu metal club anthem in Down With The Sickness, with its angry breakdown about an abusive mother, while the equally powerful Voices and Stupify weren’t far behind. David’s Draiman’s distinctive bark became symbolic of the scene, while the album sparked the band’s ascent into metal’s upper ranks, where they’ve enjoyed a place ever since.
What we said: “You’ll return to The Sickness again and again like a hungry junkie, because it’s caked together with such black, black sugar.”