Thursday, October 22, 2009

15 Essential Hard Rock/Metal Albums of the 2000s! (Part I)

In case you didn't know, Hard Rock is not dead.

Of course with the rise of Hip Hop from a popular genre flirting with the mainstream (during the 90s) to basically becoming the mainstream, it would be very easy to see Hard Rock music as a dying genre, hanging on by the thinnest of threads (i.e. Emo-punk, Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, etc.). But I'm here to let you know that Hard Rock was most certainly alive over these past ten years, and anyone who was oblivious to this truly missed out.

So I guess this list can be viewed two ways then. If you've basically been ignoring my beloved genre of Hard Rock, view this list as a cheat sheet. Go out, or log on, and find these albums immediately. No one will be mad and no one will blame you. I'll act like you've been up on these future classics all along, and you can start fresh in 2010. On the other hand, if you've been as utterly obsessed with loud guitars, violent double bass, and guttural growling as I've been, then you probably have your own opinions as to which albums are the definitive Hard Rock albums of the 2000s. In that case, you can consider those opinions officially null and void, because this right here is the gospel! These are without a doubt the best albums that Hard Rock had to offer.

So dive in. Read. Explore. Download. Rock out. Get mad. Break shit. And throw up the horns! Do what comes naturally you godless heathens! This a celebration of all things loud, crass, obscene and satanic. Hard Rock, Punk, Metal...everything is fair game.

Let's start with 15 through 11...

15. Soulfly "Dark Ages"
I guess you could say that Soulfly’s “Dark Ages” was the closest we got to a proper Sepultura album this side of the new millennium; you know, a Sepultura album with the incredible Max Cavalera providing those raw-as-fuck, no bullshit vocals. Released in 2005, Dark Ages came as a bit of a surprise, since Soulfly’s previous releases had most definitely fallen short of the standard any true metal fan holds a guy like Cavalera to. Dark Ages is a beast of an album, encompassing everything that was great about Sepultura, and everything that is so refreshing about Soulfly. “Corrosion Creeps” slithers along like an anaconda on a war path, and “Bleak” sounds like the apocalypse, but the standout is definitely “Frontlines,” a brutal, rapid-fire call to arms that can only come from one man. Why the metal community takes this guy for granted, I’ll never understand.

14. Guns N’ Roses “Chinese Democracy”
Trust me; I’m obsessed with the original Guns N’ Roses lineup. And nothing on Chinese Democracy even comes close to “Paradise City” (or even “You’re Crazy” to be honest), but neither does anything else on this list. The fact of the matter is that Chinese Democracy was doomed to be critically-maligned by the time 2003 came and went without its release. But for what it is, it’s a crime that no one has properly given Axl the credit he deserves for making such a sonically-astonishing album. Give it at least 4-5 listens and you’ll understand. “If The World” sounds like the soundtrack to a James Bond film, “I.R.S.” rocks fucking HARD, and “Madagascar” is downright beautiful. Shame on all of you!

13. Shadows Fall “The War Within”
The War Within came out at the height of the metalcore, NWOAHM craze that swept the metal community around 2004-5, and at the time they were touted as the next Metallica. I guess people confused sounding like Metallica with being the next Metallica. Regardless, The War Within does everything right. Classical guitar intro? Check. Cryptic, yet totally badass song titles? Check (“Eternity is Within”, “Enlightened by the Cold”, etc.). Bone-crushing double bass and face-melting guitar solos? Check and check. Need proof? Listen to “The Power of I and I” and tell me that shit doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping. If you’re interested in even vaguely understanding 2000s heavy metal, The War Within is a must.

12. Green Day “American Idiot”
So “Warning” may be their best album, and “21st Century Breakdown” is where they perfected this whole rock opera thing they’ve been obsessed with lately, but only a moron would deny the importance of Green Day’s landmark album, American Idiot. Green Day seized a moment in time with American Idiot, striking a chord with everyone who came of age during the Bush Administration. The actual storyline of the album is complete bollocks, but the passion and intensity of the performances was more than enough to have every high school kid this side of 9/11 feeling like they’d woken up on some nightmarish holiday, speeding out of control down the boulevard of broken dreams that was the mid-2000s. And besides, “Give Me Novocain” is fucking epic.

11. Nine Inch Nails “Year Zero”
If we view Green Day’s “American Idiot” as an outraged and confused observation of the Bush years, Nine Inch Nails’ “Year Zero” is Trent Reznor’s frightening journey into the future. Public Enemy-styled dissonance runs rampant and ghastly, electronic rackets harass the listener throughout. Reznor injects into these songs the kinds of melodies that haunt as much as they seduce, as razor-sharp guitars sound like air raids over a funky, percussive backdrop that never lets up, even when it drops out of sight without the slightest warning (“God Given”). Could somebody let Marilyn Manson know that this is how you stay relevant once the hype dies down?

5 down, 10 to go!

Check back tomorrow for the next 5 most essential

Hard Rock albums of the 2000s!

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