The 100 greatest metal albums of the 21st century

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.”

84) Atreyu – Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses (2002)

Band Pick: “I first heard it when I was in high school. I was more into punk, but it was when that screaming/singing style of metal started crossing over into the punk scene. It blew my head off. I was like, ‘What the fuck is this genre?!’ I fell in love. That record is why, when we started Amity, we wanted to have heavy music with that kind of singing.” – Ahren Stringer, The Amity Affliction

What We Said: ”Could this be the band to kill off nu metal for good and inject some heavy back in to proceedings? Maybe.”

83) Turbonegro – Scandinavian Leather (2003)

Part biker-style gang, part New York Dolls-influenced glam bam shock troop, Turbonegro reformed after a four-year hiatus with one of the most vivid and liberating albums of their career. Its open-road riffs laid the groundwork for Kvelertak and a new generation of Norwegian punk rock that is still going strong today.

What We Said: “Delicious, artless, scabrous, tasteless, ashtray-eyed, sallow-skinned, ill-mannered, snaggle-toothed, unwashed rock’n’roll from the pit of Hades.”

82) Airbourne – Runnin' Wild (2007)

How do you improve on a tried-and-tested formula? Play it harder, faster and with enough energy to power a fucking jet engine. Airbourne didn’t reinvent the wheel with their major label debut: they just drenched it in whisky, set it on fire and launched it into oblivion to craft one of the best pure rock’n’roll albums of recent times.

What We Said: “A classic 1970s rock four-piece that are sporadically great (when they sound like AC/DC) and daft (when they sound like Rose Tattoo).”

81) Hatebreed – Perseverance (2002) 

Band Pick: “I was in high school, and it was a very defining album for me. It was one of the first albums that I learnt the riffs to on my guitar. Hatebreed are a hardcore band, straight up, but that album was able to help bridge that gap between them and the metal fans. It’s a really great album, and it came at a great time for metal and hardcore music.” – JJ Peters, Deez Nuts

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