Major shifts took place in the world of heavy metal in the 2010s. Whereas the likes of metalcore and nu-metal dominated the 2000s, the 2010s started making room for more extreme forms of metal.
From 2010 to 2019, we saw mass audiences converge over technical death metal, doom, noise, and other experimental subgenres.
Much like our ranking of the 30 best metal albums of the 2000s, we are now ranking the 30 best albums of the 2010s. Similar to this list, no record here is a dud and is absolutely amazing in its own right. One rule we had going into this list is that only one record per band could be mentioned (so no band is mentioned twice). Without further ado, here are the 30 best albums of 2010, ranked.
30. Meliora – Ghost (2015)
Ghost not only made their musical debut in the 2010s, but among the records they released during that time, Meliora is the strongest record they put out. A brilliant fusion of the band’s creepy vibe with pop-rock elements, Meliora is a thrilling banger from start to finish.
29. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us – Architects (2016)
Metalcore was a dominating force in the 2000s, and in the 2010s, it was still going strong. One of the best records to come out of the genre during that time is Architects’ All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us. From the moment it kicks off, the album goes full throttle into melodic and epic heaviness.
28. The Serpent & the Sphere – Agalloch (2014)
It’s hard to know whether or not Agalloch’s return means new music. Either way, The Serpent & the Sphere stands as one of the decade’s best. A captivating and immersive experience of doom and folk metal, The Serpent & the Sphere is a stupendous experience of heavy meditative quality.
27. Heritage – Opeth (2011)
When it comes to the progressive side of metal, Opeth’s Heritage marks an excellent step forward for the genre. By this point, the band was starting to learn further into elements of prog-rock, blues, and jazz; with these styles, Opeth provides an astonishing blend of sound and musical quality throughout Heritage, the record representing some of the finest progressive music has to offer.
26. Unto the Locust – Machine Head (2011)
While The Blackening gets a lot of love, Machine Head’s Unto the Locust is also an absolute thrash-groove banger. With the band providing exhilarating and emotional songs one after another, Unto the Locust is easily one of the best albums Machine Head has ever made.
25. 13 – Black Sabbath (2013)
Of course, we have to shout out the final album to come from Black Sabbath. It’s surreal that, toward the beginning of this new decade, Black Sabbath was calling it quits; before hanging up their hats though, the band would release this awesome heavy metal experience.
24. Created In The Image of Suffering – King Woman (2017)
One of the most emotionally engaging and remarkable works of heavy music to come out in the decade is King Woman’s Created In The Image of Suffering. Each track provides an impressive blend of minimalist and abundant doom metal, exuding an atmospheric presence that is enchanting and chilling.
23. Our Raw Heart – YOB (2018)
Another remarkable doom metal record is YOB’s Our Raw Heart. As a deeply personal record – inspired by health issues Mike Schiedt went through – Our Raw Heart makes for a profound experience that has the power to move folks to tears.
22. Where Owls Know My Name – Rivers of Nihil (2018)
Back in 2018, Where Owls Know My Name was the talk of the metal community. A modern work of excellent technical death metal, Rivers of Nihil crafted a record brimming with jaw-dropping technicality, an array of exciting stylistic flair, and an overall presentation that feels cinematic for every second of its runtime.
21. Mariner – Cult of Luna w/ Julie Christmas (2016)
When it comes to the alternative/post-metal scene, Cult of Luna’s collaboration with Julie Christmas is one of the most unique works to be released in the 2010s. From droning blooms of bass to the deeply shocking and haunting atmospheric tension that comes from minimalist instrumentation – Mariner features a captivating range of heaviness.
20. The Children of the Night – Tribulation (2015)
Gothic chills and thrills are in abundance when it comes to Tribulation’s The Children of the Night. An awesome work of horror meets metal, The Children of the Night is the perfect record for those who love theatricality and heavy metal with sinister vibes.
19. Koloss – Meshuggah (2012)
Coming off of their critically beloved obZen, Meshuggah provides an even more technically and creatively extreme work in Koloss. Overwhelming with superb displays of stylistic and ferocious heaviness, Koloss beautifully shows off the talent of Meshuggah’s artistry.
18. Dissociation – The Dillinger Escape Plan (2016)
For a lot of folks, it was upsetting to hear that The Dillinger Escape Plan was coming to an end – but at least the band ended on one hell of a banger. After 20 years, Dissociation is the most thrilling, daring, and abrasive-sounding work the band has ever released. It’s a truly remarkable sendoff for such a great talent.
17. The Satanist – Behemoth (2014)
If 2009’s Evangelion was Behemoth starting to really hone their sound, then The Satanist is the perfection of that sound. There is no time wasted on this album at all, for from start to finish, Behemoth offers listeners a captivating journey into darkness and all-out heavy extremity.
16. Blackjazz – Shining (2010)
Among the records featured on this list, Shining’s Blackjazz may be the weirdest release mentioned. That’s no negative criticism by any means, for Blackjazz is an extraordinary experience of speedy, intense, and maddening metal that embraces the playfulness and experimentation of jazz.
15. Love In Shadow – Sumac (2018)
Blending elements of sludge, noise, and doom together, Sumac’s Love In Shadow is not only a record brimming with brilliant technical performances, but it is also a wonderfully moving record that explores what it means to love and to seek love from others.
14. Mirror Reaper – Bell Witch (2017)
Among the records on this list, there is no other album like Mirror Reaper. Consisting of one song that clocks in at roughly one hour and 20 minutes, Mirror Reaper is a profound work of doom metal, using the qualities of the genre to explore themes of grief and loss.
13. Repentless – Slayer (2015)
Similar to Black Sabbath and The Dillinger Escape Plan, it came as a great shock to folks to hear that Slayer was calling it quits. But with their final album Repentless, Slayer not only went out on a high note, but they also put out one of the best albums of the decade.
12. L’ Enfant Sauvage – Gojira (2012)
Gojira has become one of the biggest names in modern mainstream metal, and while they’ve gotten a lot of love for From Mars to Sirius, L’ Enfant Sauvage is the record that put them on the map big time. Blending gripping groove metal with powerful doses of melody and bringing in a prog metal mentality – Gojira’s 2012 album is truly one of the prominent highlights of the 2010s.
11. Death Atlas – Cattle Decapitation (2019)
Take the blistering instrumentation, the theatricality, and the poetic lyricism displayed on Monolith of Inhumanity and crank it up to 15 – that’s Cattle Decapitation’s Death Atlas. Not only does this record utterly crush it in terms of heavy performances, but it’s also a brilliant subversion of death metal – a record that not only gets one to headbang but to even weep.
10. The Dusk In Us – Converge (2017)
16 years after the release of Jane Doe – one of the best albums of the 2000s – Converge released the remarkable The Dusk In Us. Beautifully chaotic in all its metallic thrashing and emotional lyricism, The Dusk In Us is a powerfully moving work of art that will have you aggressively head-banging and all up in your feels.
9. Starspawn – Blood Incantation (2016)
Blood Incantation’s debut LP Starspawn put the band on the death metal map big time. Weaving together crushing riffage alongside surreal blends of ambient and eerie atmosphere, Starspawn is a captivating adventure into cosmic death metal.
8. Forever – Code Orange (2017)
Forever represents an astonishing evolution within Code Orange. While the record itself makes for an exhilarating rush of metallic hardcore with industrial qualities, Forever‘s arrival toward the end of the 2010s marks a very interesting note, for in the years since its release, Code Orange has continued to push the boundaries of what hardcore music can be.
7. Caligula – Lingua Ignota (2019)
In her follow-up to All Bitches Die, Kristin Hayter doesn’t just deliver another astounding work of art – she provides a musical experience that is deeply haunting. Still incorporating qualities of noise and metal, Hayter showcases even more of her artistry on this record by using orchestral elements to provide an even more intense atmospheric presentation. Expressing tension and a palpable atmosphere through abundance and minimalism – Caligula takes hold of the listener.
6. Devil Is Fine – Zeal & Ardor (2016)
In the past decade of metal, Zeal & Ardor’s Devil Is Fine is one of the most fascinating albums released, 100%. Not only does the record feature a unique presentation of style – mixing black metal with soul and blues – but in using these styles, band mastermind Manuel Gagneux crafts a musical journey that’s emotional and sonically unique for every second of its runtime.
5. Nightmare – Avenged Sevenfold (2010)
Nightmare is a heavy metal epic through and through. Providing nothing but bangers from start to finish, the record features the tightest performances from Avenged Sevenfold to date. Offering moving ballads and compositions brimming with thrashing instrumentation, Nightmare has it all, and as heavy metal history continues, it will forever hold a place as a classic.
4. Koi No Yokan – Deftones (2012)
Deftones released multiple amazing records throughout the 2010s, but among those albums, the one that deserves the most praise is Koi No Yokan. Fully displaying the band’s ability to craft hard-hitting metal alongside shoegaze cuts, Koi No Yokan best captures the brilliance of Deftones’ artistry.
3. Sunbather – Deafheaven (2013)
It’s probably fair to say that Deafheaven’s Sunbather is the most polarizing album on this list – but damn it’s awesome. While blackgaze was already a popular subgenre, this is the record that helped to popularize the sound, which has now become extremely abundant in the scene. But besides being such an influential album, Sunbather stands on its own as a powerful work of heavy music, offering overwhelming emotion with each song.
2. We Are Not Your Kind – Slipknot (2019)
Among the band’s entire discography, We Are Not Your Kind is the album that best represents who Slipknot is. While many folks will continue to champion Iowa, We Are Not Your Kind not only shows off a band that has greatly evolved but who has become masters of their craft. Incorporating harsh metal aggression, exciting hooks, captivating atmospheres, and bizarre touches of experimental ambiance, We Are Not Your Kind is a superb testament to Slipknot’s career.
1. Nightmare Logic – Power Trip (2017)
If there were one album to really sum up what makes the 2010s of heavy metal special, it would be Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic. Let alone that this record is an amazing time of thrash metal brutality, it also represents a big movement we’ve seen in metal over recent years – the desire to reinvigorate classic subgenres with fresh style. Whether that’s hardcore-infused death metal, or blackgaze, or the modern revival of nu-metal, metal as a whole is experiencing unique evolutions across the board. Nightmare Logic is a fantastic example of this, for it features all the classic elements we love about thrash, but those qualities are elevated via creative new twists and exciting technical flair.