The 100 greatest metal albums of the 21st century

80) Cult Of Luna – The Beyond (2003)

Despite coming from similar hardcore roots to Isis, with The Beyond, Cult Of Luna laid out the template for what got termed ‘post-metal’ as much as Isis did for ‘post-rock’. A fevered pilgrimage borne on lava-thick riffs, The Beyond created a vast sense of scale only to be dwarfed by it, journeying towards a moment of reckoning that inspired scores of bands in their wake.

What We Said: “The future of doom music is here, and it sounds as extreme as you could possibly imagine.”

79) Asking Alexandria – From Death To Destiny (2013)

It took them three records, but by beefing up their riffs, polishing a few choruses and sprinkling over some rock’n’roll swagger, Asking Alexandria finally produced an album that was worthy of the hype. From the massive melodies of The Death Of Me to the 80s-influenced emotion of The Road, it proved to be a fitting swansong for departing frontman Danny Worsnop. Well... for a bit.

What We Said: “It remains to be seen whether a band can unite new and past generations of metalheads, but on strength of songs alone, AA have a real shot at it.”

78) Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade (2009)

The likes of Ghost Bath and Deafheaven may be taking the sound to glorious new heights now, but it was this absolute gem from the Washington mavericks that perfected black metal’s modern-day flirtations with the more ambient side of the spectrum. Four tracks, 50 minutes – and not a second of it wasted. The extreme metal scene has never been the same since.

What We Said: “WITTR have never considered themselves pioneers of a new BM sound, but with this powerful, glacial dreamland they’re playing it on their own terms.”

77) Anthrax – We've Come For You All (2003)

With doubts surrounding the potency of the Big 4 during nu metal’s domination, Anthrax took a sledgehammer to the idea they were finished by writing an album packed with the stomp, grit and pace to match anything in their back catalogue. Their defining work with John Bush revitalised the veterans, and introduced a new generation to the power of thrash.

What We Said: “Anthrax ’03 are sounding as sharp, solid and on the nail as they ever have. This album only consolidates their position as a bona fide metal institution.”

76) Children Of Bodom – Hate Crew Deathroll (2003)

Band Pick: “I picked Hate Crew Deathroll because it’s pretty close to my heart. It’s aggressive, and it has shitloads of fucking good songs on it. My favourite song has got to be Needled 24⁄7 – probably because I’m diabetic, so I do needles 24-7! The first time I heard this album, I was fucking ecstatic.” – Sami Hinkka, Ensiferum

What We Said: “The Finns turn out a consistently unique take on black metal, death metal and thrash, with technoflash guitar and cheesy tunes.”

75) Enslaved – Isa (2004)

Although Enslaved had already signposted their progressive tendencies, Isa proved to be an act of unfathomable, redefining magic – viking metal not as some anachronistic hoedown, but an expansive journey into the beyond. They may have refined their vision since, but this is where it first fully emerged into 360º, breathtaking splendour.

What We Said: “This is a remarkable album, and all that stops it from grabbing a perfect score is that at times Enslaved can be a little bit too polished.”

74) Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living (2012)

One of modern hardcore’s most brilliant bands raised the bar and made their greatest album yet, by dialling up the heavy and unleashing more thunderous, metallic riffage than ever before. R.A.T.S remains one of the greatest opening gambits of recent times, while the likes of Bricks And Mortar and Road Sick display a raw honesty about life in a band.

What We Said: “Relentlessly brilliant, this is beyond a shadow of a doubt the finest moment in a career that has already been littered with fine moments.”

73) Dream Theater – Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence (2002)

While sounding heavier than ever before, Dream Theater also pushed the prog fader firmly into the red for this remarkable double set. From towering prog metal behemoth The Glass Prison, to the 42-minute conceptual splurge of the title track – which explores the stories of six people with mental health problems – the NYC virtuosos were seriously raising the bar.

What We Said: “Where Dream Theater sit in the world remains to be seen, but Six Degrees… proves that they stand in a genre of one.”

72) Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage (2006)

While power metal diehards across Europe were already gravitating towards Dragonforce’s irresistible mix of cheese-powered choruses and fret-melting shreddage, it was their third opus that took them to the world stage – partly thanks to a certain, ultra-hard Guitar Hero track, but also due to their most polished and emphatically delivered set of anthems yet.

What We Said: “This is a revolutionary album. While most bands want to be bigger than Metallica, Dragonforce have the capacity to be bigger than Star Wars.”

71) Korn – Untouchables (2002)

Rarely seen as part of Korn’s ‘golden run’ and yet absolutely teaming with killer cuts like Thoughtless, Alone I Break and the un-fuck-with-able Here To Stay, Untouchables was the last great Korn album to be delivered by their classic lineup – and 14 years later, it still merits recognition as their finest post-90s output.

What We Said: “Does it sound like a million bucks? At the end of the day, this could have been made in a garage for $400 and it would doubtless still shine as brightly.”

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