Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage
It speaks volumes of just how high the quality was on the two following albums that Killswitch Engage would release – 2002’s Alive Or Just Breathing and 2004’s The End Of Heartache – that their debut rarely gets a mention these days. Which, to be honest, is fucking mad. Make no mistake about it: Killswitch Engage is one of the single greatest metalcore debuts ever, melding the searing riffs of melodic death metal kings At The Gates with the brutalising metallic hardcore of Earth Crisis to create a sound that bands would begin ripping off for decades to come.
Lamb Of God - New American Gospel
After releasing an album as Burn The Priest, the Richmond, Virginia metallers signed to Prosthetic and changed their name to Lamb Of God (it was less “juvenile”, according to guitarist Mark Morton). The name might have been toned down, but their aural attack wasn’t. New American Gospel displayed the immense groove metal they’d become known for, enhanced by viciously heavy production from Steve Austin of Today Is The Day. Coming as Pantera began to implode, it generated a ton of hype that would throw them to the forefront of the emerging, media-fuelled New Wave Of American Metal.
Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water
Its namesake is a jizzy arsehole but it sold over a million copies in its first week… so, yeah. Limp Bizkit’s third album is possibly the most obnoxious rock record ever; the hits keep coming and there’s not a lull until the 13th track, and that’s just because Hold On’s subdued, Scott Weiland-led tones aren’t riposted by a man bouncing around in baggy trousers shouting ‘FUCK! YEAH! ASS!’ This album is ridiculous. Hot Dog into My Generation into Full Nelson, My Way, Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle), Livin’ It Up… imagine having the cheek to think that’s acceptable behaviour. Experimentation was traded for songs basically everyone ended up knowing, whether they wanted to or not; so many people pretended to hate Bizkit at this point, stowing away copies of Chocolate Starfish… and doing the Rollin’ dance in private.
Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory
On October 24, 2000, a little-known band from California called Linkin Parkreleased their debut full-length, Hybrid Theory. And while the unsuspecting sextet didn’t realise it at the time, that album would go on to become not only the biggest-selling record in the world the following year, but also, more importantly, a generation-defining modern rock classic.
Its fusion of razor-edged metal riffing, slick electronic beats, twisting raps, eye-gouging screams and effortless pop sensibility saw it catapult the six nobodies from nowheresville to rock superstardom in a fashion that will probably never be equalled. An absolute dreadnought of a record, to call Hybrid Theory a phenomenon would be to almost undersell it.
Iron Maiden – Brave New World
With Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith joyously reinstated in the Iron Maiden ranks, Brave New World was always destined to be a stormer, and so it proved: The Wicker Man was their finest single since the ‘80s, Ghost Of The Navigator was a thrilling reinvention of the classic Maiden sound, Blood Brothers was a ballad with incisive emotional clout… and so on. Only the slightly cack-handed Out Of The Silent Planet let the side down, but no one noticed because they were too busy bellowing along to Dream Of Mirrors… “I only dreeeeam in blaaaack and whiiiiiite…!”
Mudvanye - L.D. 50
Let’s face it. L.D. 50’s basically on here because of Dig. The deranged nu metal smash hit filled dance-floors and boasted a memorable video with an aliens- on-acid vibe. But the rest of the album was interesting in its own way, with hardcore and jazz influences popping up alongside Chad Gray’s fearsome outbursts and the on-trend, downtuned guitars. It was co-produced by Garth ‘GGGarth’ Richardson and the band, and executive produced by none other than Slipknot’s Clown, which could go some way to explain its manic energy. Rather than jumping on a bandwagon, the freaky, face-painted Illinois crew were riding their own.
Marilyn Manson – Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death)
Marilyn Manson as the crucified Christ: that’s the cover and that’s what he was. A scapegoat to some and a martyr to others, but every household in the land knew his name following the Columbine shootings of 1999. The horror was pinned on Manson and instead of just taking it, he respectfully cancelled his remaining shows, hid away and recorded his masterpiece: Holy Wood.
No stone is left unturned as guns, god and government are all taken down a peg or 15, the sardonic sonic rage of Antichrist Superstar brought back and infused with Manson’s sharpest set of lyrics. Fight Song and Disposable Teens are rock club classics but even they’re disgusting, spiteful attacks on America. The juddering Cruci-fiction In Space. The fucked-off, relentless groove and rage of Burning Flag. The full-on industrial of King Kill and the chilling, closing throes of Count To 6 & Die. It’s all there. It’s all perfect. Manson has yet to better Holy Wood and that’s fine – nobody’s really bettered it. The flow of the record, the delivery of its concept, the clarity with which it strikes its opponents. A gargantuan artistic feat that will go down in history as Manson’s defining statement.
Nasum – Human 2.0
When Nasum frontman Mieszko Talarczyk lost his life to the tsunami in Thailand on December 26, 2004, the metal scene lost both a truly revolutionary artist and a band whose forward-thinking, ethically exacting approach had made them grindcore’s standard bearers, as well as a galvanising cause célèbre in their own right. While most of their peers were busy wading in gore-obsessed mulch, the Swedes’ crust-inflected fury and rare sonic discipline was honed to axis-shifting perfection on their second album, Human 2.0. Its 25 short blasts of righteous, riotous venom were stunning in their distinct groove and clarity, leaving even the mighty Napalm Death in catch-up mode.
Nile – Black Seeds Of Vengeance
Towards the turn of the millennium, death metal was in a fairly stagnant state until Nile arrived. Schooled in Egyptian mythology and the works of HP Lovecraft, the South Carolinians’ riffs were mind-bendingly technical and their second album – the follow-up to 1998’s Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka – breathed new life into the genre.
Within Temptation – Mother Earth
Mother Earth was something of a sleeper hit for Within Temptation thanks to its staggered release across Europe over the years that followed its initial release in the Netherlands. Still, the Dutch clearly knew what was up: fans began flocking to see the band, who’d evolved their initially primitive take on symphonic metal into something quite majestic. The opening one-two hit of Mother Earth and Ice Queen remain the genre’s definitive moment, while The Promise further flexed their knack for big, bombastic heavy metal songs soaked in melodrama. It still sounds massive.