The 2000s mark an interesting point in heavy metal history. While nu-metal was still dominating pop culture at large, other subgenres started to emerge and gain more traction in the scene. Most noticeably, you have the emergence of metalcore coming about in the aughts.
It was also when the New Wave of American Heavy Metal kicked off, with many bands debuting in the 2000s that have since become some of the genre’s biggest headliners today. And while there were some fantastic death and black metal albums as well – especially more experimental records when it comes to the latter – there were also some fascinating works of avant-garde metal.
Going through the years that make up this era of music, we compiled a list of the 30 best metal albums to come out from 2000 to 2009. Every single one of these albums is incredible, so even if you notice an amazing record toward the back end of the list, that in no way means anything against the work.
Without further ado, here are the 30 best metal albums of the 2000s.
30. Dead As Dreams – Weakling (2002)
A visceral work of raw black metal, Weakling’s Dead As Dreams is a gripping demonstration of sonic ferocity. With instrumentation that sounds grueling and ferocious and sometimes beautiful, Dead As Dreams makes for one of the best black metal albums to come out of the 2000s.
29. Traced In Air – Cynic (2008)
As one of the best technical death metal albums to come out of the 2000s, Cynic’s Traced In Air is an astonishing record that features instrumentation both mesmerizing and crushing. Even to this day, Trace In Air remains one of the band’s best albums.
28. All Hope Is Gone – Slipknot (2008)
Not only is All Hope Is Gone the last Slipknot album to feature the late Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, but it’s also one of the band’s most stylistically creative works. Featuring an array of style, mood, and technical experimentation, All Hope Is Gone is one of Slipknot’s strongest records to date.
27. World Painted Blood – Slayer (2009)
Among the releases Slayer put out in the 2000s, World Painted Blood is by far their most riveting album. Featuring the band’s iconic brand of savage, rip-roaring thrash metal, World Painted Blood is a thrilling rush from start to finish.
26. To Die For – Integrity (2003)
An absolutely crushing display of metallic hardcore, Integrity’s To Die For is a gripping work. While the band had released other amazing albums before this one, To Die For stands as a testament to Integrity’s extreme and technical artistry.
25. Terrifyer – Pig Destroyer (2004)
When it comes to grindcore with the power to shred your eardrums, Pig Destroyer’s Terrifyer is one of the best around. Sonically, Terrifyer is a ferocious display of crushing metallic sound, and narratively, it’s poetic deep dive into nausea.
24. Kill – Cannibal Corpse (2006)
Pure fucking death metal through and through – Cannibal Corpse’s Kill is a stellar experience of sonic savagery. Considering how many records the band has put out, Kill is one of Cannibal Corpse’s best to date.
23. Ashes of the Wake – Lamb of God (2004)
With their second studio album, Lamb of God cemented themselves as one of the big acts to keep an eye on in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. While the band has gone on to make even stronger records, Ashes of the Wake represents the fresh new sounds coming into the genre back in the 2000s.
22. From Mars to Sirius – Gojira (2005)
Another one of those fresh sounds comes in the form of Gojira and their incredible record From Mars to Sirius. Providing captivating grooves alongside intricate technical performances, Gojira hit a home run with this record.
21. Evangelion – Behemoth (2009)
Although the band had released other records prior, Evangelion is the first album from Behemoth to really stand out. From beginning to end, the blackened-death act provides a truly epic display of menacing atmosphere and instrumentation; it is from this record that the band would cement themselves as an extreme metal act to keep an eye out for.
When it comes to the more experimental albums featured on this list, Sunn O))) and Boris’ Altar collaboration is truly one of the most captivating works to be released. A profound exploration into drone, noise, distortion, and atmosphere, Altar is a remarkable experience that is both meditative and heavy as hell.
19. Souvenirs d’un autre monde – Alcest (2007)
When it comes to creating avant-garde black metal, Alcest is one of the most unique acts around. Much like the other captivating records the act has made, Souvenirs d’un autre monde is a deeply emotional and atmospheric work of blackgaze.
18. Two Hunters – Wolves In The Throne Room (2007)
Another incredible black metal album to come out of the 2000s is the second studio album from Wolves In The Throne Room, Two Hunters. The four songs that make up this album provide a gripping ambient experience that is both haunting and enchanting.
17. Miss Machine – The Dillinger Escape Plan (2004)
During the time they were active, The Dillinger Escape Plan proved themselves to be an extraordinary and ferocious force of technical metal. Of the band’s discography, Miss Machine is a thrilling testament to the chaotic performances that The Dillinger Escape Plan was once known for.
16. Toxicity – System of a Down (2001)
As one of the most iconic albums to come out of nu-metal, and considered by some the best System of a Down album to date, Toxicity is a stunning achievement from the band. Brimming with performances displaying technical finesse and an array of stylistic intrigue, Toxicity represents some of the fascinating creativity coming out of the metal scene in the 2000s.
15. Bless The Martyr and Kiss The Child – Norma Jean (2002)
The debut studio album from Norma Jean, Bless The Martyr and Kiss The Child, is an awesome achievement of metalcore and is considered by many a landmark release of the genre. Even though it’s been more than a decade since this record’s release, the band’s abrasive presentation remains palpable as ever.
14. Alive or Just Breathing – Killswitch Engage (2002)
Considered by many to have helped popularize the metalcore sound, Killswitch Engage’s debut album is a breathtaking work of melodic aggression. In the decades that have passed, Alive or Just Breathing still has a remarkable power to stir great emotion out of folks.
13. Oceanic – Isis (2002)
A remarkable work of technical and avant-garde metal, Isis’ Oceanic is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Through tremendous uses of instrumental abundance, to profound moments of minimalism, Oceanic is one of the most surreal sonic adventures you can embark on to date.
12. Blackwater Park – Opeth (2001)
Among the plethora of awesome albums the progressive metal act has ever made, Blackwater Park is sincerely one of Opeth’s best. From its brilliant blend of style and sound to the amazing technical performances of each member, Blackwater Park is a masterpiece.
11. The Blackening – Machine Head (2007)
The Blackening was a game changer for Machine Head, and to this day, it’s one of the best records they’ve ever released. Song after song, the band unleashes pure unrelenting guitar shredding; through that performance, Machine Head also provides a variety of moods, making sure that each song comes with a unique sense of identity, and keeping the sonic aggression fresh throughout.
10. Leviathan – Mastodon (2004)
An absolute classic in heavy metal history, Mastodon’s Leviathan is absolutely one of the best records to ever come out of the 2000s. While their debut LP is a great record, Leviathan was the first album to really show off what these progressive hard rocking giants are capable of.
9. obZen – Meshuggah (2008)
As one of the greatest works of extreme and progressive metal, of course, Meshuggah’s obZen is going to be in the top 10. By far one of the most technically intriguing works across the entire genre, obZen is an experience in surreal and crushing metal.
8. Lateralus – Tool (2001)
Another phenomenal progressive and technical metal album to come out in the 2000s is Tool’s Lateralus. Leaning more into psychedelic heavy than something like obZen, Lateralus was a record that proved how metal and the concept of heaviness could be greatly expanded upon.
7. The End of Heartache – Killswitch Engage (2004)
Among the band’s discography, The End of Heartache is a high achievement of emotional and hard-hitting metal. Hell, the self-titled song alone is one of the most iconic songs of the decade. With a collection of songs offering heavy and melodic performances, The End of Heartache is one of the finest albums to come out of the 2000s.
6. Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park (2000)
There are a lot of great heavy albums that capture the struggles of being a teenager and adolescent angst, but Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory is the strongest of them all when it comes to that exploration. Along with its heartfelt and sincere thematic depth, Hybrid Theory is packed with incredible instrumental performances brimming with amazing blends of musical style.
5. Panopticon – Isis (2004)
Through mesmerizing uses of drone, metallic-sounding instrumentation, and beautiful somber sections, Isis’ Panopticon is a masterpiece of avant-garde metal. No two songs sound alike on the record, with each track providing its own stunning and unique take on atmosphere. Along with the beautiful creative palette of sound the album has to offer, Panopticon is also brimming with remarkable technical performances that will have your jaw hitting the floor.
4. Iowa – Slipknot (2001)
When it comes to metal albums released during the 2000s, Iowa is one of the most ferocious, vile-sounding records to have come out. To this day, many still champion Iowa as the best thing Slipknot has ever done; while the band has certainly built upon their artistry, it’s tough to admit that they’ve ever created anything else that sounds as ridiculously heavy and as disturbing as Iowa.
3. Jane Doe – Converge (2001)
Among the most prominent genres representing the 2000s is metalcore, and besides releases from Killswitch Engage and the like, Converge’s Jane Doe is one of the most thrilling works to be released during that time. From start to finish, Jane Doe is a stunning marriage of poetic lyrical depth and chaotic, though intricate, technical performances. When you put on this album, you are about to adventure into one of the greatest musical experiences ever crafted.
2. Crack the Skye – Mastodon (2009)
Crack the Skye is one of the most deeply emotional and captivating works to not just come from Mastodon but from any band in the 2000s. Throughout this record, the themes of grief and death are explored through atmospheric performances, the band masterfully transitioning from heavy to somber and minimalist presentations, and vice versa. Even with the great stuff the band has made in the years since its release, Crack the Skye will forever be known as a truly great work of heavy metal.
1. White Pony – Deftones (2000)
When it comes down to the best metal album released in the 2000s, Deftones’ White Pony deserves the crown. Through the array of awesome performances that are featured on the record, the Deftones offer audiences a gripping and captivating work of metal that was not only amazing for its time, but has become one of the most influential records in heavy metal history. In all its heavy moments, in all its dreamy bliss, White Pony is one of the most enthralling experiences to ever come out of the genre.