This might be a little strange to see my top ten of the decade list prior to my top ten of the year, but I want to give myself a month or so to listen to anyting that I may have missed at the end of 09. On top of that, I have been listening to the stuff on this list for years. Not months and not days, but years. Years of my life where this music stayed relevant, never felt old and never got boring. I am going to do this on in reverse order, so we are starting with number ten and counting down to my favorite album of the decade.
10. Deftones – White Pony: This is my oldest album on the list being released in 2000. The Deftones were one of my favorite bands at the time and this release was easily the best stuff they have ever done. They successful converted from Nu Metal to doing their own thing and leaving all of their peers in the dust. KoRn never did anything this good and I don’t even want to remember what other Nu Metal crap I was listening to in the late 90’s. This album mixed the heavy and soft (on of my favorite things, need variety) and had some awesome tracks on it. To this day I can never pass listening to Passenger (w/ Maynard from Tool) when it pops up on my iPod. Digital Bath, RX Queen and Change all had this emotional edge to it that you could feel. The Deftones kind of fell of my radar since this release. They have gotten a little too spacey for their own good, but this one will always hold a special place in my heart.
9. Underoath – Define The Great Line: I am sure I might lose some “cred” with this pick, but I think this is about as good as heavy music can get. The vocals are punishing and the music is brutal. All at the same time it has softer touches that help to break up all of the ass kicking. This falls under “post-hardcore” and it’s about as good as you can find in that genre. The vocals are really what made me love this album. A lot of times screaming gets old or it just sounds bad. Spencer, the screamer here, has a certain tone in his voice that works better than any other screamer that I have heard from any other band. You can feel what he is talking about and it brings you closer to the music.
8. Aerogramme – My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go: I knew noting of this band when I randomly listened to this after it’s release. Obviously I was impressed. This one did take quite a while to grow on me, it wasn’t love at first listen. Aerogramme started as a heavy band with lots of feedback and lots of screaming…. that’s not at all what happens here. This is laid back, acoustic guitars, string arrangements and some of the best vocals I have heard. The album is one that conveys the emotion of sadness and depression, but as you will see in my list, I’d rather feel a little depressed than not to feel anything at all. When a band can successfully transfer their emotion on to the listener, that is what makes music into something bigger than just music. It becomes part of your life. This is one of those discs.
7. Katatonia – The Great Cold Distance: This came out in 2007 but I have only listened to the group for about the last year. They released Night Is The New Day towards the end of 09 and that CD was equally as good as this one, so I had a hard time picking between the two for my list. I went with The Great Cold Distance because it is one of those discs I will never forget listening to for the first time. This was another random listen that I picked up, because I liked the band name and album cover. Very superficial, but when you listen to as much music as I do, you take chances here and there on superficial interests. I put it on my iPod as was blown away. Katatonia fall under the Doom Metal genre but they don’t do anything you would expect a Doom bnd to do. They sing instead of scream, the songs are never drawn out and compared to a lot of Doom, this is easy listening. I guess that might turn off the “true” Doom or Black metal fans, but for me it took a genre that I loved the music of and put clean vocals over the top to make some of the best depressive music you will find anywhere.
6. Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf: This is an interesting one for me. I tried really hard to get into it when it first came out but I just couldn’t understand the hype this was getting. Then at some point 3 or 4 years after it was released I revisited the album (thanks to Rock Band) and didn’t understand what I had missed the first time around. Josh Homme is one interesting dude. Between Kyuss, The Eagles of Death Metal and QOTSA he has done some amazing stuff. With the Queens his vocals are stright up crooning. I am talking about stuff that Frank Sinatra would be proud off. And all of that laid back loungeyness to Homme’s vocals end up as a perfect mix with this excellent guitar work. Also worth northing is Dave Grohl’s drumming. A good drummer can make a huge difference and he helped to make this the best thing the Queens have done. Since I finally “got” the album I have played it quite a bit and gotten into all of their other stuff. One of the best heavy bands of the 2000’s.
5. Isis – Panopticon: The last 2 years have been filled with post-metal/rock discovery for me. This is another genre I tried to get into early in the 2000’s but the song lengths (anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes) were just too long. I’m guessing I became a more patient person sometime during the decade and learned to love this stuff. Isis is the post-metal band in my book. They build songs that ebb and flow like the ocean. At some points it’s calm but there is always a storm coming. Beautiful and brutal at the same time. If you ever wanted to get into the post-metal/rock genre, this is a great place to start. Others might rather see Oceanic here, but I’ve always like Panopticon best. You can’t go wrong with either.
4. The Postman Syndrome – Terraforming: The rare band that releases one album and then calls it quits. This is progressive metal at it’s finest. Another release that goes from light to heavy in a second. Vocals are sung and screamed in unison. There are layers upon layers of guitar tracks in each song. All of that adds up to an extremely interesting listen. Unfortunatley they broke up after this. Since then, different members have formed differetn groups. East of the Wall, Day Without Dawn and Biclops all rose out of the ashes of The Postman Syndrome, but none have done their original group justice.
3. A Wilhelm Scream – Mute Print: Mixing technical metal and punk, this become one of my favorite bands of the last 5 years. They play faster and better than their peers. They write extremely catchy songs and the vocals are perfectly fitting with the music. This one has some of my favorite songs of the decade but the main track that has always stuck out is The Rip. That track has the group at it’s finest in every area. Some people might think that a punk/metal hybrid isn’t worth thier time, but those people haven’t heard A Wilhelm Scream yet.
2. Wintersleep – Untitled: Probably not on many people’s radars but Wintersleep is one of the best bands this decade. Wintersleep plays a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Most of the music is repetitive and at times feels like it’s droning. The group adds multiple layers of vocals to each track which help to offset the drone of the backing music. The mix works perfectly. They have been called the Canadian Pearl Jam, but Pearl Jam hasn’t release anything in the past decade that was up to this standard. Not for everyone, but one of my personal favs.
1. Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me: Here it is, number one of the decade. Looking over my Last.fm stats, this is the album I have listened to most since I have joined. A perfect mix of heavy and light (see that theme a lot here) and the group is able to transfer what they are feeling to the listener. I love groups that I can connect with and there are few that I am as connected to as Brand New. If you still think this is “emo”, do yourself a favor and listen. This might be one of the best things you have heard.
So there it it, my list. There were some other things that I could’ve swapped out for something like Tool’s Lateralus or Thrice’s Vehissu. Those can just remain as honerable mentions. The 2000’s were the decade I went from music fan to music addict. Some might even say music snob. That’s OK, just keep the good music coming.