The 100 Best Heavy Metal Songs of the 2000s

Via Wikimedia Commons: Foto: Stefan Brending, Achim Raschka, Andreas Lawen, Fotandi
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Rock music, and heavy metal in particular, have a tendency to romanticize the past. The salad days of the ‘70s and ‘80s were a beautiful time of growth and exuberance. It’s indisputable that much of the music we all love has roots firmly planted in this time period, and that should be celebrated. 

By now, many of us have seen and have an opinion on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Songs of All Time from earlier this year. It’s an objectively solid cataloging of classics and with the exception of a few glaring snubs (for real, where the fuck is “Toxic Waltz”!?) I’m not complaining. To each their own and all that but “Black Sabbath” does belong at number one in any comprehensive list of that sort, and that’s a scientific fact.

To that end, there is one small issue with the Rolling Stone list as we see it: The overwhelming majority of the bands represented come from the pre-internet era. 

Heavy metal didn’t end with grunge and it sure as hell wasn’t killed off by the y2k bug. Recent decades have seen the emergence of new sound along with the renaissance of others. We live in a great time for heavy music, and it’s of overwhelming importance to showcase that where we can.

In this spirit, we at The Pit have formulated another 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Songs list. However, our list includes artists who have all made their recorded debut after the year 2000. 

If a band’s first record came out in 1999 or before, they are not eligible. Each band only gets one spot on our list, in the interest of highlighting as many well-deserving acts as possible. So don’t cry in the comments on Instagram when you don’t see Slipknot or Deftones. 

Without further ado, let’s hear it for the new school:

  • 100. Bleed – “Killing Time”
    99. Beastmilk – “Death Reflects Us”
    98. Haunt – “Light the Beacon”
    97. My Ticket Home – “Hot Soap” 
    96. The Devil’s Blood – “On The Wings Of Gloria”
    95. Bloodbath – “Eaten”
    94. Fleshgod Apocalypse – “Embodied Deception”
    93. Full Of Hell – “Crawling Back To God”
    92. Cult Leader – “Sympathetic”
    91. fromjoy – “daedalus”
    90. Obscura – “The Anticosmic Overload”
    89. Sumerlands – “The Seventh Seal”
    88. Lifelover – “Myspys”
    87. Cursed – “Fatalist”
    86. Nothing – “Eaten By Worms”
    85. Currents – “Kill The Ache”
    84. Oathbreaker – “Second Son Of R.”
    83. Narrow Head – “Nervous Habits”
    82. Pallbearer – “I Saw The End”
    81. – “Fear In Non-Fiction”
    80. Heilung – “Krigsgaldr”
    79. A Day to Remember – “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End”
    78. Wardruna – “Helvegen”
    77. Varials – “South Of One”
    76. Kublai Khan – “The Hammer”
    75. Judiciary – “Overthrone”
    74. Tetrarch – “I’m Not Right”
    73. Sanguisugabogg – ”Dead as Shit”
    72. Nails – “Unsilent Death”
    71. Undeath – “Lesions of a Different Kind”
    70. Fit For An Autopsy – “Heads Will Hang”
    69. Dream Unending – “Song Of Salvation”
    68. Myrkur – “Funeral”
    67. Yob – “The Screen”
    66. Harm’s Way  – “Human Carrying Capacity”
    65. Twitching Tongues – “Preacher Man” 
    64. Eternal Champion – “I Am The Hammer” 
    63. Kvelertak – “Blodtørst”
    62. Magic Circle – Departed Souls
    61. Death Worship – Superion Rising 
    60. Scarlxrd – “Heart Attack”
    59. Zeal & Ardor – “Devil Is Fine”
    58. Sworn In – “Snake Eyes”
    57. Funebrarum – “Grave Reaper”
    56. Thy Art Is Murder – “Reign Of Darkness”
    55. Chat Pile – “Grimace Smoking Weed” 
    54. Batushka – “Yekteniya I: Ochishcheniye”
    53. Ghostemane – “Mercury: Retrograde” 
    52. It Dies Today – “A Threnody For Modern Romance”
    51. Deathspell Omega – “Abscission
    50. Wolves In The Throne Room – “Vastness And Sorrow”
    49. Bloodywood – “Ari Ari”
    48. Knelt Rote – “Usurpation”
    47. The Devil Wears Prada – “Dead Throne”
    46. Pissgrave – “Euthanasia”
    45. Jinjer – “Pisces”
    44. Red Fang – “Number Thirteen”
    43. Knocked Loose – “Where Light Divides the Holler”
    42. Venom Prison – “Abysmal Agony”
    41. Counterparts – “You’re Not You Anymore”
    40. Mammoth Grinder – “Grimmenstein”
    39. Motionless In White – “Black Damask”
    38. Polyphia – “G.O.A.T.”
    37. The Acacia Strain – “Tactical Nuke”
    36. Municipal Waste – “Headbanger Face Rip”
    35. Baroness – “Chlorine & Wine”
    34. Blood Incantation – “Slave Species Of The Gods”
    33. Poppy – “I Disagree”
    32. Bad Omens – “Just Pretend”
    31. Fleshwater – “Linda Claire”
    30. Parkway Drive – “Carrion”
    29. God’s Hate – “God’s Hate”
    28. Watain – “Malfeitor”
    27. Every Time I Die – “Map Change”
    26. Undergang – “Efter Obduktionen”
    25. Revocation – “Dismantle The Dictator”
    24. Babymetal – “Gimme Chocolate!!!”
    23. Iron Age – “Sleeping Eye Of The Watcher”
    22. Code Orange – “Forever”
    21. Spiritbox – “Holy Roller”
    20. Between the Buried and Me – “White Walls”
    19. The Body – “Nothing Stirs”
    18. The Black Dahlia Murder – What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse
    17. Ghost – “He Is”
    16. HEALTH – “Feel Nothing”
    15. Loathe – “Two-Way Mirror”
    14. Norma Jean – “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste”
    13. Architects – “Nihilist”
    12. Liturgy – “Generation”
    11. Trivium – “Shogun”

10. Sunn O))) – ”Báthory Erzsébet”

When it comes to the sound of nightmares, nobody brings terror quite like Sunn O))). In 2005, the duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson invited some compatriots from the black metal scene to collaborate with them on various tracks. The resulting album, Black One, is a modern classic. “Báthory Erzsébet” features contributions from Oren Ambarchi and Xasthur’s Malefic, the latter of which recorded his vocals while locked in a fucking coffin…

9. Sleep Token – “Alkaline”
An ethereal ode to desolation if there ever was one, “Alkaline” has rightfully become Sleep Token’s anthem. The alchemy between rueful keyboards and swelling guitars is powerful as it is, but it’s the vocal harmonies that push “Alchemy” over the edge to die and be reborn as a thing of pure magic.

8. Lorna Shore – “To The Hellfire (… And I Return To Nothingness)”
A disorienting force of nature that transcends conventional deathcore genre boundaries, Lorna Shore have created an operatic masterpiece. “To The Hellfire (… And I Return To Nothingness)” drips with sweat and pathos. Kinetic riff changes and impossibly high shrieks bring us to a place of total disorientation. Who knew that symphonic black metal could benefit from a bowel-liquifying breakdown or two?

7. Gojira – ”L’Enfant Sauvage”
A masterclass in mounting tension, as if the song itself was being conducted by Alfred fucking Hitchcock. A single riff becomes drawn out to the breaking point. The band stops, only to repeat the riff again. This simple repetition sets the stage for the kind of breakdown that would melt the heart of even the most jaded most pit veteran. It’s a simple enough formula but one that requires expertise and patience, which are two elements that Gojira have in spades.

6. Deafheaven – “Dream House”
The pink gradient that lit thousands of nerd’s ire on fire, Deafheaven’s Sunbather was a culmination of decades of change in black metal. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the album’s opener “Dream House,” a song that manages to conjure feelings not often heard in heavy metal: nostalgia, wistfulness, longing. As mad as hordes of internet-dwellers may be that dudes with short hair from America wrote a black metal album, it’s a work that still stands as one of the greatest achievements in the genre. 

5. Bring Me The Horizon – “Shadow Moses”
The crown jewel in the catalog of these British metalcore kings. The song “Shadow Moses” is a precision-calibrated sonic weapon. From the ethereal ambiance of its introduction to its devastating final breakdown, Bring Me The Horizon is downright surgical in their navigation of audience emotions. Although the band had flirted with melody before, it was “Shadow Moses” that showcased Oli Sykes and crew in their fully realized, perfect form: a sandpit turtle.

4. High On Fire – “Blessed Black Wings”
A towering epic of primal fury, “Blessed Black Wings” touches on every element that makes High On Fire the institutional force they are today. A recognizable vocal melody just serves to pour salt on the scorched earth that the riffs leave behind. A landmark of turn of the century doom tinged rock and roll created by the mind of a master. Matt Pike has spent a lifetime perfecting the templates set by Tony Iommi and Lemmy Kilmister. On “Blessed Black Wings” he shatters those molds and transcends into another realm altogether.

3. Killswitch Engage – My Last Serenade
Originally championed by MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, this four-minute ballad established the benchmark for the decade of metalcore that followed it. Expertly melding harsh and clean vocals with melodic death metal guitar hooks it’s not a surprise that “My Last Serenade” remains one of Killswitch Engage’s most enduring tracks. A true anthem of survival in the face of betrayal.

2. Mastodon – “Blood and Thunder”
The opening track from 2004’s breakthrough Leviathan propelled Mastodon to unforeseen heights. A flawless demonstration of diabolical guitar worship, “Blood and Thunder” contains one of the most terrifying and hook-laden riffs this band (or any other band for that matter) has ever written. The sonic equivalent of drowning.

1. Power Trip – “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”
This is as good as it gets. A perfect synthesis of classic west coast thrash and Pantera-esque groove, performed with the intensity of a thousand stars colliding at once. “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” is a hook-laden anthem that elicits reverence from young heads and masters of the old school alike. This is the quintessential heavy metal battlecry for the 21st century.