Friday, January 08, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of the Last Decade: 2001

Once again, the ground rules: each band can only be on the list once. Each year is allotted five albums, i.e., 5 for 2000, 5 for 2001, and so on. I do not attempt to rank them from 1 to 50, or even 1 to 5 within a year, because they are all excellent. Ranking them would be a pointless endeavor.

Also, instead of filling out all 50 slots, I actually have only picked 3 for each year, because, as I learned with my last top X list, I don't know everything about metal (though I do know a lot more than I did then). I probably am unaware of at least two other great metal albums in each of these years, and I want to encourage you to add the rest by commenting.

So, on to the list for 2001, a year when three important bands really figured out who they were and what they wanted to do.

Opeth: Blackwater Park

I had a hell of a time with the rule I set up that each band could only be on the list once, because Opeth could have made the list in 2008, 2005, and even 2002 on top of this one. But this is where I decided to put them, with a phenomenal progressive death metal album which combines the brutality of death metal with melodic passages and even--gasp!--major chords as emphasis. This album marks Opeth's finding their real voice, and is certainly the first album to pick up if you're unfamiliar with these metal geniuses. The best track is likely "The Drapery Falls," but other top picks include "Bleak," "The Funeral Portrait," and the title track (though all the tracks are great).

Slipknot: Iowa

Again, an album I will probably catch flak for including. However, this is a masterpiece any way you look at it. I'm not sure what it is about nu metal that makes "true" metalheads hate it, but whatever that is, surely it should not apply to this band and certainly not this album. The whole thing is as brutal as the most brutal thrash metal albums out there. As this professional review notes, this is a serious metal band, and I quote:
Every genre needs its defining record, its high watermark, and this 66-minute tantrum is nu-metal's gift to history. A classic, terrifyingly.
Another source has this to say:
[I]f Slipknot act as a gateway drug for a few thousand future death metallers, well, all the better. Slipknot might be the biggest band in metal that no metalhead should actually feel ashamed for enjoying.
I agree completely. The best track is "Left Behind," but the whole thing is great (except, perhaps, for the title track).

Therion: Secret of the Runes

This album is where Therion perfected their brand of symphonic metal, on this nearly hour-long exploration of Norse cosmology. Combining pure heavy metal (and the traditional metal vocals) with a complete symphony and operatic vocals (in several languages), this disc delivers on the promise many saw in the combination of the two most dramatic forms of music. Standouts include "Ginnungagap," "Asgård," "Schwarzalbenheim," "Vanaheim," and the title track.

As before, I encourage you to leave a comment and let me know what other two metal albums deserve to be on this list, and be sure to check back next Friday for the list from 2002. When they're all posted, you can see the whole list by clicking here.

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