After the '90s wave of grunge rock, metal had proven itself to be practically indestructible. If the disaffected fans of acts like Nirvana didn't have the power to kill off the genre, the age of Y2K didn't stand a chance. Metal was here to stay, and there were more than a few bands coming for the throne.
That didn't mean that metal hadn't gone through its fair share of changes along the way. As the era of nu metal started to dissipate, many of the biggest names in heavy music were twisting the boundaries of what metal could do, which meant more new and inventive ideas for what the genre would be. As opposed to just hitting you over the head with pummeling riffs, these songs had the power to stick with you long after they were finished, either because of the weird mood they gave off or the disturbing ambience coming through.
We hadn't forgotten about the diehard metalheads either, and some of the greatest albums of the decade came from bands that had the potential to tear your head off if you weren't careful. At this point, anyone could have made the same type of music that Black Sabbath helped invent back in the '70s. The real standouts are the ones who were able to bring metal into the next generation.
10. Death Magnetic - Metallica
For a band that was known as the gods of metal, the thought of a new Metallica album in the late '00s was actually triggering alarm bells for a lot of people. Since the last album St. Anger gave us all a mutual headache from the god awful production, it looked like the thrash band that we loved had disappeared and were content to release whatever audio turd they wanted to. When they got Rick Rubin behind the scenes though, Metallica actually discovered what made them so badass in the first place.
Coming after years of tinkering with their sound, this is the kind of music that most fans had been waiting for since the late '80s, with songs that felt more like events the more you listened to them. Even though you could still hear bits and pieces from the '90s hard rock side of the band, songs like All Nightmare Long and Cyanide seemed to have picked up exactly where tracks like One and Blackened left off 20 years before.
There are even callbacks to the early days in the flow of the album as well, from My Apocalypse perfectly blending their hardcore punk influences to The Day That Never Comes being one of the greatest ballads they have ever released. Metallica may have lost their way for a little while, but this was the moment where our favorite thrash band found their roots again.