Written By Jason Voorhees
The early 2000s saw the metalcore genre's birth as bands like Bullet for My Valentine, Trivium, Killswitch Engage, and Avenged Sevenfold burst onto the scene. While the metalcore style would continue to thrive during the (2010-2019) decade, long-time metal acts, including thrash and hardcore bands, once again became prominent in the metal community. There were many great metal albums released during this decade, and this is my version of the Top 20 Metal Albums of the 2010s. Without further a due, let's jump right in...
This was the 15th studio album by the thrash band. The album sparked high marks, and reviews by metal critics abound, and it was the band's first album to chart on the Billboard 200 in 17 years. Blabbermouth stated that Ironbound "is one of, if not the most ripping collection of tunes this legendary act has ever laid to tape." Frontman Bobby "Blitz" Elsworth continued his reckless vocal assault on the troops with his ferocious range. Tracks like "The Green and Black" and the title track marked another benchmark for the New Jersey band. Definitely one of the best thrash albums of the decade and a metal classic.
Like the title track, this was the thirteenth studio album for Megadeth and marked the return of one of its founding members, bassist David Ellefson. Megadeth had gone through many lineup changes during the prior decade, and this was the first to feature Ellefson since 2001. The album received great critical acclaim and many positive reviews. Thirteen debuted at #11 on the Billboard 200 while selling 42,000 copies the first week. Three singles were released, including the smash hit "Public Enemy #1." An extremely underrated album, this ultimately helped Megadeth climb back to the top of thrash and pop-metal alike.
FOR ALL KINGS (2016)
The Eleventh studio album for the thrash metal giants quickly became one of its best all-time. Of course, it was hard to follow up Worship Music, but this was a great attempt. It was the first album to crack the Billboard 200 Top ten as it hit #9. The album once again featured frontman Joey Belladonna and added a new guitarist in Jon Donais. The album tends to use the ever-powerful formula of old school thrash while mixing in some mainstream riffs and sound styles. For All Kings is an all-out sonic assault on what Anthrax has stood for since its inception. In your face metal, endless hooks and riffs, as well as Joey's signature vocals, put this one on the list.
IV: STURM und DRANG (2015)
Lamb of God
This marked the eighth studio album release for the American groove metal band. It was also the first album to be produced after its lead singer's manslaughter case. Randy Blythe had done time in a foreign prison, and many of the album's tracks were a first-hand account of his experiences. The album also marked the band's return to its stylistic roots as far as sound and vocals. The album was awarded Metal Storms' best thrash album of 2015. Lamb of God can bring it, and this one brings the house down musically and literally. Instant Classic.
GOD DAMN EVIL (2018)
This is by far the heaviest Stryper album of all-time. God Damn Evil also marked the debut of bassist Perry Richardson, formerly of Firehouse. Stryper seems to get better with age as this was not only their heaviest album but quite possibly the best overall album of their career as well. Michael Sweet has one of the greatest metal voices, and he matches that energy on the guitar where he can shred like a wizard. Oz Fox and Sweet are brilliant on this album, and it's a must-listen for all hair metal fanatics.
GOD-GIVEN RIGHT (2015)
The fifteenth studio album by the German power metal band drew instant praise. While the album returned to its stylistic roots, the band could infuse modern elements to captivate the audience. The result was a metal masterpiece. If you're a fan of speed metal, then this is your album. Punch in the mouth guitar riffs, escalator vocals, and crunchy hooks makes this one of Helloween's best. The album reached #27 on the Billboard Top 200 Rock albums while cracking the hard rock category's top ten.
OUTLAW GENTLEMEN & SHADY LADIES (2013)
Volbeat has been a band on the rise for the past decade and a half. Their fifth studio album was an instant classic. The track "Room 24" featured special guest vocalist King Diamond which was later nominated for a Grammy in late 2013 for best metal performance. The album charted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200. Volbeat is a Danish metal band that provides a unique blend of style and sound. In my opinion, this was their best overall metal album to date and belonged on the list for top albums of the decade.
WORLD ON FIRE (2014)
Slash w/ Myles Kennedy
This was the second studio album by Slash with Myles Kennedy on vocals. Myles is a fantastic performer in his own right, and pairing him with one of the greatest guitarists is perfection at its peak. This album has a GNR feel to it but also stands alone. The record has a ton of star power-producing hits. My favorite personal track is "30 Years to Life," which features another signature epic solo by Slash. I used to say that everything Slash touches turns to gold, and this album is no stranger to that. World on Fire reached #10 on the Billboard Top 200 during the first week and was one of 2014's best.
SOL INVICTUS (2015)
Faith No More
Sol Invictus marked Faith No More's first studio album since 1997. This was one of the most highly anticipated albums of the decade, and it did not disappoint. Musically the band continued to dabble in all metal genres on the album as it maintained most of the band's traditional sound. The album sold over 200,000 copies during its first two months of release and ranked in the top 5 on most metal media's top album lists for 2015. The album also won a Metal Hammer Golden God Award for best metal release that same year. Most fans said it was well worth the wait.
KING ANIMAL (2012)
Another highly anticipated drop was released by Soundgarden in 2012 when they put out King Animal. It was the sixth studio album by the band and the first since 1996. The album received great reviews and sparked a massive comeback in the band's following. The first track, "Been Away Too Long," was an instant classic and gave the listeners chills as it incensed the emotion felt from their thirteen-year hiatus. This would sadly be the band's last album before Chris Cornell's untimely death. The album was a cross between Down on The Upside and SuperUnknown.
Dystopia marked the fifteenth studio album released by the colossal thrash metal giants. Staying true to form, this album was an absolute smash hit. The band won a Grammy Award in 2017 for best metal performance on the title track "Dystopia." The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 during its first week and sold 48,000 copies. It marked the band's second-highest domestic release all-time behind Countdown to Extinction, which reached #2. Not bad for the metal band that is nearing its fifth decade of existence.
WORSHIP MUSIC (2011)
This was the tenth studio album for the New York thrashers. It also marked the return of original frontman Joey Belladonna. This album was an absolute masterpiece and had the classic Anthrax thrash metal persona. It debuted at #12 on the Billboard Top 200, while some media critics rated it their best album since Persistence of Time, which was released way back in 1990. It featured the original lineup and also included Rob Caggiano on guitars. Top tracks from the album have "Fight 'em Till You Can't," "In the End," and "I'm Alive."
HAIL TO THE KING (2013)
This marked the sixth studio album for one of the top metal bands of the past two decades. AX7 burst onto the scene in the late nineties and became a group with significant star power moving forward. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 while selling 159,000 copies its first week. The album was more of a traditional metal style, drawing comparisons to Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Pantera. The songwriting was more advanced—a must-listen for any die-hard metal fan and a no brainer for the best of the decade.
FEAR INOCULUM (2019)
The long-awaited arrival of Tool's next album finally came in 2019. This was 13 years in the making, and the results were astounding. The third album produced by the band in a row debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200. Selling 270,000 copies in its first week, which shattered their previous record. Oh, and finally receiving not one but TWO Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. Stone cold mortal lock.
BOOK OF SOULS (2015)
No list would be complete without Iron Maiden, one of the pioneers of heavy metal. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200, receiving ultra-positive reviews. It was also their first double studio album and became the band's longest full feature album ever. The song "Tears of a Clown" is based on actor Robin Williams's battle with depression and subsequent suicide. It was a powerful album with classic Maiden gallops and some new wrinkles that contained some drop d tuning: overall an excellent album and smash of the 2010s.
Ghost has been one of the best metal bands of the decade, and their third studio album was the crème de la crème. It charted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 and cemented the band at the top of the spectrum that year. Not only did the album score well, but it also received rave reviews for its power and energy—definitely the heaviest album for the band up until that point and louder than ever. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album of 2015. No more needs to be said.
WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND
Can you say WOW!!! An album that genuinely puts Slipknot on the map with the big boys. I was never a massive fan of the band, but their last few albums have progressively improved, and this was an absolute beast. Corey Taylor is one of the top frontmen in metal today, and his songwriting has become elite. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, selling 102,000 copies (third-most ever by the band) for a debut. The most experimental album of the band's history and finally one that belongs at the top.
This was the fifth studio album by the band and the first to not include "The Rev," who had recently passed away. It featured Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums and was the only one of his short stint. Nightmare quickly debuted at #1 and has since been certified gold. It was an incredible album, and a toast to one of the true giants on drums that had tragically went away far too soon. Excellent sound and must-have addition for the 2010's collection. In my opinion, this is the best overall album by Avenged, even though the City of Evil gets more credit.
HARDWIRED...TO SELF DESTRUCT (2016)
Tremendous album from a tremendous band. No major synopsis needed...take one listen to the album and you will ultimately agree.
Great release from top to bottom! The Metal Gods hit a home run on this album. Fourteen tracks of in your face metal and Rob sounds better than ever. It hands down the best metal album of 2018, and this also gets my vote for the most fantastic metal album for the decade. Richie Faulkner is an absolute shredder and has done more than an admirable job taking over for KK Downing. This album packs a punch, and it's all speed all the time.
Check out this cut from the firepower album...you will not be disappointed!
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.