25) BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE - THE POISON (2005)
As the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal began to pick up pace, the UK was left begging for a young metal band to rise up and be noticed. In 2004, that call was answered when a young group of lads from Bridgend, South Wales, released a self-titled EP that’d set the underground alight. As frontman Matt Tuck explains today, the momentum that would then carry Bullet into the studio to record a full-length follow-up was so fast that they could barely keep up with it.
“The whole process of making that record, and the aftermath of it, is a bit of a blur, really!” he laughs. “We ended up in a studio with Colin [Richardson, producer], and at that point we only had five songs!” Wait, five songs?! “Yeah, we had to think on our feet and write a lot of the album while we were recording it. It was a high-pressure situation, but everyone was so buzzing that we just took it with both hands and fucking ran!”
And the rest, as they say, is history. In October 2005, Bullet would release The Poison, and metal would never be the same again.
“That album just captures something magic, you know? It just connected. It was a case of right place, right time, right songs, right era. As soon as it came out, all hell broke loose, and we haven’t really stopped since!”
What we said: “Cocky, arrogant, big-headed… whatever. This is pop metal, in the best possible way, and at its most exhilarating and fantastic.”
24) CELTIC FROST - MONOTHEIST (2006)
Not just an act of atonement but a momentous entity in its own right, Celtic Frost’s first album in 16 years finally slayed the ghost of the misjudged Cold Lake, while bringing Tom G Warrior’s biblically imposing muse back into full, earth-shattering effect. It would prove to be a fitting swan song for a band whose influence on extreme metal remains immeasurable.
What we said: “The atmosphere is as dark as Satan’s privy, the riffs monstrous, and Fischer chucks in some death grunts.”
23) ARCHITECTS - LOST FOREVER // LOST TOGETHER (2014)
BAND PICK: “We toured with them in Australia, and when I saw them perform, I was like, ‘Dude, I gotta get that record.’ It’s aggressive, and it’s super-heavy. I love how raw it sounds, and Sam’s singing voice is really good, but you can tell in his screams that he really means it. I instantly clung to that record, and they’re just such cool guys.” - JAKE LUHRS, AUGUST BURNS RED
What we said: “Lost Forever… deserves to be cherished, but given the path Architects have had to tread, it’s nothing short of a genuine triumph.”
22) OPETH - BLACKWATER PARK (2001)
BAND PICK: “Blackwater Park is just massive. Getting Steven Wilson in to produce changed things, and there’s definitely a notable difference in the kind of progressive they were doing. It’s more classic prog; there’s more 70s vibes and more Mellotron and that kinda stuff, so it’s got more of a classic sound. It was ballsy, but it works so well.” - JOSH MIDDLETON, SYLOSIS
What we said: “The album retains a certain cachet and charisma, introducing clean vocals to a genre so dominated by the obsession with growling and snarling.”
21) DIMMU BORGIR - DEATH CULT ARMAGEDDON (2003)
Not only was Death Cult Armageddon Dimmu’s most thrillingly grandiose album yet, it smashed Norway’s black metal renegades into an unsuspecting mainstream as its towering, symphonically enhanced standout track, Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse, swept through the trailers for both Hellboy and Stardust like an avenging comet.
What we said: “Listening to Death Cult Armageddon is like walking into a Star Wars movie. It succeeds in moving the bar higher than anyone dared imagine.”
20) IRON MAIDEN - THE BOOK OF SOULS (2015)
READER PICK: ”The Book Of Souls is the best Iron Maiden album of this century. It’s the absolute peak of Iron Maiden in recent years; great production, mind-blowing riffs, amazing vocals and lyrics, and fascinating new Mayan themes which remind us of the nostalgic Powerslave theme. There are not enough words to describe this masterpiece!” - PIOTR PAWLAK, READER
What we said: ”This is as bold as music gets and we’ll happily take years to assimilate its treasure chest of densely wrought heavy metal gold.”
19) MEGADETH - ENDGAME (2009)
The thrash legends’ finest album in nearly two decades, Endgame offered a state-of-the-art update of Dave Mustaine’s ageless musical blueprint. Producer Andy Sneap made everything sound huge, and the songs, from the vicious This Day We Fight! to the brooding grandeur of the title track, were up there with Megadeth’s finest.
What we said: “If Endgame’s sheer clinical ease suggests Mustaine can now make records such as this in his sleep, let us give thanks for the fact he has done so again.”
18) LETLIVE - THE BLACKEST BEAUTIFUL (2013)
BAND PICK: “The Blackest Beautiful is such a huge step up from Fake History. Fake History put Letlive on the map, and frankly they needed a big follow-up album, and I think they totally crushed it. I’ve known those dudes for a long time, and with Jason believing so much in what he does, there was no way that album was going to fail.” - JONATHAN VIGIL, THE GHOST INSIDE
What we said: “It’s hard to pick out highlights when every track sounds so fresh, joyous and casually rulebook-torching.”
17) TOOL - LATERALUS (2001)
Invoking concepts from philosophy, maths and physiology, Lateralus contained layers of meaning within its clicking bass, muscular riffs, swirling distortion and impassioned cries. Set aside from an emerging scene of baggy trousers and wallet chains, its cerebral heft was unbeatable, and its impact was felt for years after.
What we said: “Lateralus towers above a sea of marketing-led whinging nu-Oedipal brats like Godzilla above Tokyo.”
16) AT THE DRIVE-IN - RELATIONSHIP OF COMMAND (2000)
Possibly the greatest swansong in the history of music, producer Ross Robinson managed to capture the post-hardcore pioneers’ live insanity on record, while the band seamlessly melded free-form jazz tempos and post-punk riffing with huge choruses. A punk game-changer that would set the standard for over a decade to come, and consolidate a legacy for life.
What we said: “We’ve had this album for a week and we’re about of a third of the way into its depths. We’ll get back to you some time next decade.”
15) GOJIRA - FROM MARS TO SIRIUS (2005)
Gojira’s third album moved their sound and their appeal forward, enabling them to reach beyond their native France and begin to enchant and pummel the rest of the world. For the opening riff to first track Ocean Planet alone, From Mars To Sirius deserves to be regarded as a genuinely earth-moving experience, and firmly set the Duplantiers on the road to greatness.
What we said: “A cosmic-sized display of brains and brawn working as one, this is a band reaching the peak of its powers.”
14) MESHUGGAH - OBZEN (2008)
BAND PICK: “I heard this album for the first time when I was 17, and I just lost my mind. I had no idea that this heavy sound could exist outside of the usual style that I was listening to. It’s insane just trying to keep up with that record. It’s legendary – a record made by a band that have their own style and just belong in a genre of one.” - AARON MATTS, BETRAYING THE MARTYRS
What we said: ”Meshuggah have unveiled a summation of their own esoteric craft and, in doing do, set a new benchmark.”
13) MARILYN MANSON - HOLY WOOD (IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY OF DEATH) (2000)
Following the fallout of the Columbine Massacre, the Double M rallied with the boldest, most devastating bullseye of his career – an unrelenting, ferocious, 19-track dismantling of popular culture itself, replete with some of the greatest Manson songs ever and a hammer blow to anyone left doubting his credibility as a serious, relevant artist.
What we said: “On the concluding chapter of his triptych, Manson plays it safe, but when all the hype and hoopla is dispensed with, Holy Wood deserves to be heard.”
12) DEFTONES - WHITE PONY (2000)
BAND PICK: “I think that album was really inspirational and outside of the box. They could have just done what everyone else was doing and been massive, but they pushed themselves as a band. And it still sounds better than most records now. Anyone that thinks they’re a good singer needs to look at that record. Chino is a genius.” - SAM CARTER, ARCHITECTS
What we said: “What a mesmerising blend of idiosyncratic nu metal, soothing soundscapes and indecipherable lyrics. This is worth the three-year wait.”
11) TRIVIUM - ASCENDANCY (2005)
BAND PICK: “I think it was a big turning point in metal. The guitar work was amazing, the way they made the guitars work with the vocal melodies was really, really clever, and it didn’t just sound old-school; it felt fresh and something that kids could like. It definitely inspired a new wave of metal in the United States.” - JAKE TAYLOR, IN HEARTS WAKE
What we said: “Ascendancy draws on many influences, which are so brilliantly applied that it never sounds derivative. This is truly amazing.”