Best Albums of the Decade: Rock and Metal in the 2010s


Story by Anne Erickson, Judas Priest and Alter Bridge photo by Anne Erickson, Tool photo by Travis Shinn

Tool, Judas Priest, Alter Bridge, Myles Kennedy, Tremonti, Metallica and more top Audio Ink’s picks for the best 85 albums of the decade

The end of the decade is approaching, and as we look ahead to the 2020s, first, let’s recognize some of the great rock and metal records that came out in the 2010s. From Alter Bridge to Tool to Judas Priest, here are Audio Ink’s Top 85 Albums of the Decade for the 2010s. Here’s to another powerful decade of music ahead.

85. Switchfoot, “Native Tongue”

Christian rockers Switchfoot scored a massive hit with “Meant to Live” in the 2000s, and they followed that up with more inspiriting, uplifting melodic rock in the 2010s. The band’s 11th studio album, “Native Tongue,” is the band’s most musically diverse yet, with such as “Joy Invincible” and “Let It Happen” high-energy stand-outs.

84. Puddle of Mudd, “Welcome to Galvania”

Puddle of Mudd released their only studio album to arrive in the 2010s, “Welcome to Galvania,” in the fall of 2019. The set marks the triumphant return for Wes Scantlin, who has fought through his demons to get clean and sober, and it features the catchy, cool rock music that Puddle of Mudd fans love.

83. L.A. Guns, “The Missing Piece”

“The Missing Piece” marked L.A. Guns’ eleventh studio album, but more importantly, it was the band’s first album of original material featuring both singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns in 15 years. Fans of ’80s rock rejoiced, and the collection delivers with fun, catchy, guitar-heavy tunes that could come from the days of crimped hair and pegged pants.

82. Starset, “Transmissions”

Dustin Bates and Starset have found major success with the huge concept albums and feature film-worthy music videos. “Transmissions,” the band’s 2014 debut, instantly grabbed the attention of the modern rock audience, and “My Demons” was one of the most played songs of the year.

81. Quiet Riot, “Hollywood Cowboys”

Quiet Riot returned with a new collection of hair metal gems on 2019’s “Hollywood Cowboys.” On the record, Frankie Banali and the group offer up one of the most dynamic, varied albums in Quiet Riot’s entire catalog.

80. Baroness, “God & Grey”

Banroness are champions of that raw, real sound that bridges the gap between hard rock and metal. It’s just wild, in-your-face music that makes you want to pump your fist in the air, and that’s exactly what’s on the band’s fifth studio album, “Gold & Grey,” which arrived at the tail end of the decade.

79. Volbeat, “Rewind, Replay, Rebound”

Danish metallers Volbeat sound different on “Rewind, Replay, Rebound,” while staying true to the classic, Volbeat style of fusing rock ‘n’ roll with rockabilly and heavy metal. The album’s first single, “Last Day Under the Sun,” has been welcomed by U.S. radio stations, offering a catchy, fun beat with all that heaviness.

78. Babymetal, “Babymetal”

Japanese kawaii metal band Babymetal is a phenomenon. The band sells out shows all over the world, including the U.S. On the band’s 2014 self-titled release, Babymetal introduced their wild vocals backed by heavy metal instrumentation to the world.

77. Bush, “The Sea of Memories”

Gavin Rossdale and Bush returned with their fifth studio album, “The Sea of Memories,” in 2011, and the set marked their first venture away from a major label. The song’s first single, “The Sound of Winter,” with its warm guitars and vocals, was such a hit that it went to No. 1 on the alternative songs chart.

76. Adelitas Way, “Notorious”

Adelitas Way shine on their 2017 album “Notorious” with an explosion of rock sounds. “Ready for War (Pray for Peace)” is a stand-out, with its perfect blend of might and emotion.

75. AFI, AFI “The Blood Album”

AFI’s 2017 self-titled album, also called “The Blood Album” is one of their most ambitious and creative albums to date, showing the gothic punk band isn’t afraid to experiment. On it, they dabble in new wave and post-punk, creating something very different and special for AFI fans.

74. Gojira, “L’Enfant Sauvage”

It takes a lot to get older metal fans into a new band, but bring up Gojira around statesmen of the metal genre, and chances are, you’ll hear shining reviews. The band has an incredible amount of skill and precision, and nowhere is that more apparent than on 2012’s “L’Enfant Sauvage.”

73. The Afters, “Light Up the Sky”

Christian rock band The Afters might not have the mainstream exposure of other faith-based rock bands, but they sure have the appeal. Their 2010 album “Light Up the Sky” is a super positive-sounding collection of melodic rock, spearheaded by the album’s title track, which makes one envision fireflies sparking on a summer night.

72. Lacey Sturm, “Life Screams”

Lacey Sturn fronted Christian rock band Flyleaf for years, and then, she stepped out on her own with a solo project. Her 2016 release, “Life Screams,” has a hard rock appeal and dark sound, all while creating an aura of hope amid chaos and desperation.

71. Steel Panther, “Heavy Metal Rules”

Heavy metal rules, and hair metal gents Steel Panther understand that. After all, they named their 2019 album, “Heavy Metal Rules.” While Steel Panther often get more attention for their humorous, over-the-top live shows and tracks, “Heavy Metal Rules” shows they’re great musicians beyond all the fun and games.

70. Beck, “Morning Phase”

Is Beck really “rock” or strictly alternative? All labels aside, there’s no denying that Beck rocked the house at the Grammy Awards when he picked up the Album of the Year Grammy for his record “Morning Phase.” It was a triumphant moment for real, raw rock music, which has been getting shunned at the Grammys in favor of pop and hip-hop acts.

69. The Devil Wears Prada, “Dead Throne”

Metalcore band the Devil Wears Prada are known for their Christian beliefs, but their music is ferocious enough – and well crafted – to appear to mainstream metalcore fans. “Dead Throne” arrived in 2011 and proved to be one of the band’s most creative to date.

68. Green Day, “Revolution Radio”

Talk about a band that has gone through stylistic changes. Green Day, the band that got its start with tiny, simply, punk numbers, went on to craft an American rock opera in the 2000s with 2004’s “American Idiot,” and this decade also brought newness for the band. “Revolution Radio” features meaty punk-rock anthems that sound more mature and fit Green Day’s trajectory as a band.

67. 10 Years, “How to Live (As Ghosts)”

10 Years are a favorite among modern rock fans, and the band’s 2017 album, “How to Live (As Ghosts),” is packed with catchy hard rock. The album’s lead single, “Novacaine,” is a stand out, which singer Jesse Hasek describes as being about the numbness people go through as they go from youth to being an adult and the mundane daily life.

66. Dream Theater, “Distance Over Time”

On 2019’s “Distance Over Time,” progressive metal band Dream Theater displays a high caliber of musicianship. It’s not just musically interesting– “Distance Over Time” contains some radio-friendly rock singles that step outside the band’s usual fare.

65. Halford, “Halford IV: Made of Metal”

Rob Halford rules the metal world in Judas Priest, but he also delivers on his solo material. On “Halford IV: Made of Metal,” the metal icon joins forces with a bevy of strong, gifted instrumentalists for another solid set of heavy-yet-melodic metal.

64. Pearl Jam, “Lightning Bolt”

Eddie Vedder has one of the most distinct voices in rock music, and he and the guys of Pearl Jam offer up an equally original album in 2013’s “Lightning Bolt.” The band sounds as tight and comfortable as ever on “Sirens,” “Mind Your Manners” and the rest of the set.

63. Collective Soul, “Blood”

Collective Soul was one of the most played bands on the radio in the ‘90s, and they’re still churning out catchy alternative rock. “Blood,” the band’s 2019 release, offers a tuneful mix of sing-along rockers and feel-good jams.

62. Clutch, “Earth Rocker”

Clutch get heavier than ever on 2013’s “Earth Rocker.” With lightning-fast riffing and growling rhythms, the band channels classic rockers such as Motorhead, and it sounds sweet.

61. Periphery, “Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal”

Periphery is a musician’s band. The group is so technically complex that they wow even the biggest music snob, and that really stand out on on 2012’s “Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal.”

60. Trivium, “In Waves”

There’s no denying that Trivium offers some of the finest guitar work in modern metal music. Singer and lead guitarist Matt Heafy welcomed the decade with 2011’s “In Waves,” a set is so musically riveting that it sets them up for decades of continued success.

59. Zakk Wylde, “Book of Shadows II”

Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde doesn’t lack for other musical projects, from Black Label Society to his Black Sabbath cover band, Zakk Sabbath. On his 2016 solo album, “Book of Shadows II,” Wylde offers a heartfelt array of songs that really show off his musicianship.

58. Amon Amarth, “Berserketr”

Mention the name “Amon Amarth” to any true metal fan, and you’ll likely be greeted by lots of excitement. On 2019’s “Berserketr,” the Swedish heavy metal band’s 11th studio album, the band continues with their legacy of cutting, ingenious “Viking metal.”

57. Cold, “The Things We Can’t Stop”

Scooter Ward and the Cold crew released a new album towards the end of the decade, “The Things We Can’t Stop,” and it was a major hit with the band’s longtime fans and gained new ones. Cold has always maintained a loyal fanbase, and on “The Things We Can’t Stop,” the band delivers just what they love: Bold, passionate rock music with a special message and unique edge.

56. Seether, “Poison the Perish”

Seether’s final album of the decade, 2017’s “Poison the Perish,” brings a return to the band’s heavier music, which is what got Seether the notoriety they did in the start. Shaun Morgan and the band stand tall with angsty vocals and walls of guitar, making this a record that rocks as much as Seether’s earlier works.

55. The Pretty Reckless, “Light Me Up”

We know what you’re thinking. With massive rock hits such as “Follow Me Down” and “Heaven Knows” coming later in the decade, how could The Prety Reckless’ “Light Me Up” be their best album of the decade? Here’s why. Frontwoman Taylor Momsen was known as an actress for years, and “Light Me Up” is the album that introduced the musician side of Momsen. After hearing her raw, emotive vocals and strong songwriting on “Light Me Up,” Momsen laid the foundation for, later in the decade, becoming one of the biggest breakout singers of the 2010s.

54. Queens of the Stone Age, “Villains”

Queens of the Stone Age always put out imaginative desert rock, and the band’s 2017 release, “Villains,” is jam-packed with unique sounds. What makes “Villains” stand apart from the other Queens of the Stone Age records is that it’s just the band without any special guests, which is different for them. It shows Queens can rock it all alone.

53. Greta Van Fleet, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army”

If there was a new “movement” in rock towards the end of the decade, it was more of a return to a classic, raw and real rock sound. Greta Van Fleet’s “Highway Tune,” overnight, ushered in an era where Zeppelin-inspired rock was cool again, and the band’s debut studio set, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” features a bevy of other nostalgic tracks.

52. Theory of a Deadman, “Wake Up Call”

If you’re looking for meat-and-potatoes rock ‘n’ roll, look no further than Theory of A Deadman. Singer Tyler Connolly and company make solid rock with relatable themes and huge hooks, and “Wake Up Call’ is a solid example. The album’s first single, “Rx (Medicate),” addresses the prescription drug abuse epidemic in America, showing that Theory can write about serious topics, not just bad girlfriends.

51. In This Moment, “Blood”

Maria Brink and In This Moment have been crafting fiery metalcore since the mid-2000s. In 2012, the group released “Blood,” which shot them to the top of the mainstream rock chart. Song such as “Adrenalize” and “Whore” offered a catchy, fun sound with the the perfect metal edge, and the band has been huge ever since.

50. Candlemass, “The Door to Doom”

Swedish doom rockers Candlemass have such a unique sound that the second you hear them, you know it’s Candlemass. Their latest album, “The Door to Doom,” scored the guys a Grammy nomination for their collaboration with Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, and the entire set marks an apt return for vocalist Johan Längqvist.

49. Hatebreed, “The Concrete Confessional”

Hatebreed rules the hardcore world, and on 2016’s “The Concrete Confessional,” James Jasta, Wayne Lozinak and company show they are only getting stronger and heavier as the years progress. It’s one of Hatebreed’s best collections to date.

48. Halestorm, “Vicious”

Lzzy Hale is one of the greatest modern guitarists on the circuit, and her band, Halestorm, pairs those guitar chops with feisty songs. Vicious, the band’s 2018 release, is another banger, with a mix of heavy tracks and jarring songwriting that sounds, well, “Vicious.”

47. Slash, “Living the Dream”

How do you round out a band featuring one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Slash from Guns N’ Roses? For Slash, he snagged one of the greatest tenors of his era, Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, and put together a solid lineup for his band the Conspirators. In turn, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators released a killer set in 2018, “Living the Dream,” which is the project’s most tuneful to date.

46. Godsmack, “When Legends Rise”

Godsmack are statesmen of the hard rock genre, and Sully Erna and the crew not only continue to pack arenas but they also put out solid music. “When Legends Rise,” the band’s 2018 release,” topped the modern rock charts twice with the album’s title track and the heartfelt ballad, “Under Your Scars,” the latter which will make you look at Godsmack in a whole new, softer light.

45. Whitesnake, “Flesh and Blood”

Decades into his career, David Coverdale is still one of the most celebrated vocalists in the hard rock world. He bring pizzazz and excitement to all of his projects, and on Whitesnake’s 2019 release, “Flesh and Blood,” Coverdale surrounds himself with a great set of players that have incredible chemistry together.

44. Killswitch Engage, “Atonement”

Longstanding metalcore band Killswitch Engage returned with “Atonement” in 2019, and the set is just as brutally beautiful as fans could want. What’s extra special about “Atonement” is that in addition to vocalist Jesse Leach’s lead vocals, former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones makes a surprise appearance on the song, “The Signal Fire,” making this a truly well-rounded album for longtime Killswitch fans.

43. Sevendust, “Kill the Flaw”

Sevendust can go back and forth between the heaviest of metal sounds and soaring, melodic passages in an instant, and that makes their music constantly interesting. On 2015’s “Kill the Flaw,” the Atlanta metal band showed off some of the best songwriting skills of their time, and the album scored them their first-ever Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for the song “Thank You.”

42. Deftones, “Gore”

Deftones get as experimental as ever on their 2016 release, “Gore,” which is a good thing. It still sounds like Deftones, but the album blends trippy, alternative vocals with heavy guitars for a different vibe.

41. Flying Colors, “Third Degree”

Rock supergroup Flying Colors has some of the finest musicians of the day – Mike Portnoy, Dave LaRue, Casey McPherson, Neal Morse and Steve Morse – so it’s no surprise that their records always rock. On 2019’s “Third Degree,” the band presents another solid collection of songs that never get boring.

40. Stryper, “Fallen”

The guys of Stryper have been making metal music since the ‘80s, and even though they’re well known for being Christians, their music speaks for itself. It’s heavy metal with killer song construction, and that’s all over the band’s 2015 release, “Fallen.”

39. Dee Snider, “For the Love of Metal”

Dee Snider unabashedly loves metal music, and that’s the title of his 2018 solo album, “For the Love of Metal.” With Snider’s charismatic persona and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed’s production, “For the Love the Metal” is the kind of album that proves metal, indeed, is still alive.

38. Anthrax, “For All Kings”

Heavy metal band Anthrax maintain their classic thrash-y sound on 2016’s “For All Kings,” and the collection shows that they are evolving. Songs such as “You Gotta Behave” and “Blood Eagle Wings” are fresh and new, while still sounding like the Anthrax heavy metal fans adore.

37. Slayer, “Repentless”

Thrash metal icons Slayer have called it a day, and looking back at their career, the guys have no regrets. That’s the basis and theme of their final studio album, “Repentless,” which is written about reflecting on the past and feeling good about one’s decisions. Sure, repentless isn’t really a word, but we get it, guys.

36. Korn, “The Nothing”

Korn has changed a lot over the years, both in spirit (guitarist Brian “Head” Welch is a born-again Christian) and character. But, the second the band’s latest album, 2019’s “The Nothing,” kicks in, it takes just a second to realize this is Korn. The fact they’ve maintained the same distinct, recognizable sound over the decades is special.

35. Evanescence, “Evanescence”

Evanescence broke out in the 2000s with their massive 2003 release, “Fallen,” and they continued to craft gothic, majestic hard rock into the 2010s. In 2011, the band released their third studio album, a self-titled release that soared with heavy riffing, beautiful orchestral touches and Amy Lee’s powerful vocals.

34. Slipknot, “We Are Not Your Kind”

Slipknot rounded out the decade with a new release, “We Are Not Your Kind.” For those who thought Slipknot had their day years ago, this release proves the naysayers wrong, with some of the heaviest and strongest songs of their two decade-plus career.

33. Pop Evil, “Onyx”

Pop Evil make huge rock anthems, and those are all over the Michigan band’s 2013 release, “Onyx.” Songs such as “Torn to Pieces” and “Trenches” would go onto be played on rock radio for the rest of the decade.

32. Mastodon, “Emperor of the Sand”

Mastodon’s albums are always more than albums—they’re mini events. “Emperor of the Sand,” the band’s 2017 release, returns to the band’s grand concept records, with a theme that follows a desert wanderer who has been given a death sentence.

31. Skillet, “Legendary”

Skillet is the kind of hard rock band that fans can always rely on to give them a positive, inspiriting dose of music. On 2019’s “Legendary,” John Cooper and the crew sing about leaving behind a legacy they can be proud of—a “Legendary” legacy of being a good person and doing what’s right.

30. AC/DC, “Rock or Bust”

Sixteen albums in, AC/DC are still creating huge hooks and riffs, much to the delight of their classic rock fans. On “Rock or Bust,” the band breaks out with an unapologetically raw and real rock album that fits well in their catalog.

29. P.O.D., “Circles”

Rap-rock had a life in the 2010s, and P.O.D. is one of the chosen few who kept it going. The band’s 2018 album marked a new sound for P.O.D., with poppier tracks, but still carried those inspiring rhymes and reggae moments.

28. Black Sabbath, “13”

Black Sabbath’s “The End” tour ushered in the end of an era in heavy metal, and the band’s final studio album, “13,” is more than a proper send off. Ozzy Osbourne and his A-list band members sound sludgy and apocalyptic on “13,” and that perfectly fits the Black Sabbath legacy.

27. Rush, “Clockwork Angels”

Rush still have it, and that’s apparent on their 2012 studio album, “Clockwork Angels.” With complex songwriting and a strong purpose, it’s one of Rush’s best records yet.

26. Duff McKagan, “Tenderness”

Guns N’ Roses bass player Duff McKagan released a concept album of sorts in 2019, “Tenderness.” The set was inspired by McKagan’s experience touring the world on Guns N’ Roses’ Not In This Lifetime Tour, and it’s a fantastic listen.

25. Ozzy Osbourne, “Scream”

“Let me hear you scream!” Ozzy Osbourne calls out on the title track for his 2010 album, “Scream.” The fact the metal icon is even making albums these days is mind-blowing, but his is, and he’s doing it well. “Scream,” which is Osbourne’s only album to feature guitarist Gus G, features towering guitar solos and Osbourne’s distant croon all over it.

24. Michael Sweet, “Ten”

Stryper frontman Michael Sweet unleashed his 10th studio album at the end of the decade, appropriately title “Ten,” and the set is such a breath of fresh air for heavy metal fans. It’s a real, in-your-face heavy metal record with solid songwriting, and it’s simply a pleasure to hear.

23. Staind, “Staind”

Aaron Lewis spent much of the 2010s creating original country music, but he kicked off the decade with a new Staind album. The 2011 self-titled release brought a refreshingly aggressive sound that was still melodic enough to appeal to a mass audience.

22. Tom Keifer, “Rise”

Tom Keifer of Cinderella is an outstanding guitarist and songwriter, and that’s apparent on his solo music. Keifer’s 2019 release, “Rise,” stands out for its gritty songs and riffs, with each track offering its own character.

21. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “I’m With You”

Anthony Kiedis and the guys of the Red Hot Chili Peppers ushered in a new decade with 2011’s “I’m With You,” their first to feature guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. The Grammy-nominated album is one of the catchiest of the band’s career, and it even spawned a No. 1 alternative rock hit in “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” Now that John Frusciante is back in the band, it will be interesting to hear the Peppers’ next record.

20. Foo Fighters, “Concrete and Gold”

Dave Grohl is one of the most prolific guys in rock, and on “Concrete and Gold,” his band rocks out with 11 original, organic rock songs. With warm-sounding rock songs such as “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” and the album’s title track, this album is rock enough to appeal to heavy music fans, yet mild enough to snag the mainstream.

19. Hellyeah, “Welcome Home”

Rock supergroup Hellyeah released “Welcome Home” in 2019, which sadly features some of the final drum work from Vinnie Paul, who passed away the year prior. With haunting music about loss and heartache, “Welcome Home” truly seems like an apt send-off for Paul, and his drumming is impeccable.

18. Papa Roach, “Crooked Teeth”

Papa Roach scored a perennial rock classic in 2000’s “Last Resort,” and roughly two decades later, they’re still and feisty and high-energy as ever. “Crooked Teeth,” their 2017 release, shows that Papa Roach are still nu-metal greats, with Jacoby Shaddix and company churning out one hard-hitting rap-rock track after another.

17. Disturbed, “Immortalized”

“Down with the Sickness” hitmakers Disturbed took a sharp turn on 2015’s “Immortalized” when they decided to cover the SImon & Garfunkel classic, “The Sound of Silence.” Some might call it a risky move for a heavy band, but if it was, the risk payed off, as Disturbed crossed over into the mainstream with the track and earned themselves millions of new fans.

16. Stone Sour, “Hydrograd”

When Corey Taylor isn’t touring the country with his masked metal band Slipknot, he’s crafting softer, more sensitive tracks with Stone Sour. The band, which is known for ballads such as “Through Glass,” can also get heavy, and that is apparent on their 2017 studio album, “Hydrograd,” which offers a tuneful mix of pummeling rock and lighter fare.

15. Tremonti, “A Dying Machine”

While Myles Kennedy went acoustic on his debut solo album, “Year of the Tiger,” Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti went the opposite direction with his side band, Tremonti. On “A Dying Machine,” Tremonti tackles a meaty concept about artificial intelligence and packs in all the heavy guitars and fiery vocals you could want in a heavy record.

14. Myles Kennedy, “Year of the Tiger”

Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy released his debut solo album in 2018, “Year of the Tiger.” What’s extra special about this release is how it differs greatly from anything he’s done with Alter Bridge or in Slash’s band. “Year of the Tiger” is purely acoustic and shows off Kennedy’s unbeatable vocals and power.

13. A Perfect Circle, “Eat the Elephant”

Nobody ever said Maynard James Keenan was a simple guy, and he has there very different musical projects – Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer – that each glisten in their own unique way. On A Perfect Cirlcle’s “Eat the Elephant,” Keenan, guitarist Billy Howerdel and the band present their most experiment album yet. There’s no in-your-face rock single on this set, but each track is so delicate and complex that it takes multiple listens to properly digest.


Shinedown knows how to craft chart-topping rock hits, and it’s impossible to find an album of their that doesn’t have at least a few top tracks. “ATTENTION ATTENTION,” the latest from Brent Smith and the band, offers a variety of sounds and styles, from happy, dance-y beats in “Get Up” to snarling rock in “Monsters.”

11. Iron Maiden, “The Book of Souls”

Bruce Dickinson can do no wrong, and that’s apparent on the band’s 16th studio album, 2015’s “The Book of Souls.” The album is the band’s longest to date, coming in at 92 minutes, and presents triumphant, operatic metal at its best.

10. Megadeth, “Dystopia”

The 2010s brought a plethora of solid metal albums to the table, but not many of them scored a Grammy. Megadeth sure did. The longstanding trash metal band earned their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance with their 2016 studio album, “Dystopia,” which is an imaginative metal collection written about a scary, post-American society.

9. Chris Cornell, “Higher Truth”

Chris Cornell was likely the greatest vocalist of his time, with a nearly unhuman vocal range and the ability to make the listener literally feel what he was singing. His final solo album, “Higher Truth,” was undoubtedly his best, with its intimate approach, which perfectly showcased Cornell’s incredible vocals. There will never be another Chris Cornell.

8. Five Finger Death Punch, “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell,” Vol. 1 and 2

Five Finger Death Punch write rock hits with ease, so much that their 2013 album, “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell,” was divided into two separate albums. This first edition features the emotional hit “Wrong Side of Heaven,” which went on to become of the band’s biggest hits.

7. Soundgarden, “King Animal”

When Soundgarden released “King Animal” in 2012, nobody knew it would be the band final album with the late, great Chris Cornell. With triumphant grunge-rock songs such as “By Crooked Steps” and “Been Away Too Long,” the set offers that classic, slightly sludgy Soundgarden vibe.

6. Linkin Park, “A Thousand Suns”

Linkin Park channel U2 on their 2010 release, “A Thousand Suns,” and the album stands up as one of the best in their entire catalog. Songs such as “Waiting for the End” and “The Catalyst” present a poppier sound for Linkin Park, but there’s still that characteristic rap-rock angst with the late, great Chester Bennington’s soaring tenor as a compliment to Mike Shinoda and his rhyming.

5. Alter Bridge, “Walk the Sky”

Alter Bridge cut their teeth in the 2000s with their first two albums and went on to release four solid studio albums in the 2010s. Walk the Sky, their 2019 set, is Alter Bridge’s strongest album yet, with uber-catchy songwriting and hopeful, emotive lyrics with songs such as “Wouldn’t You Rather,” “Native Son” and “Godspeed.”

4. U2, “Songs of Experience”

When you’re arguably the biggest rock band on the planet, it’s a big deal when you release a new album. U2 is just that. Their 2017 record “Songs of Experience” served as the perfect follow-up to 2014’s “Songs of Innocence,” with U2’s big, warm hooks and weighty themes.

3. Metallica, “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”

It takes a lot to get a metal band to the top of the Billboard 200 chart these days. Thankfully, there are still a handful of bands out there, such as Metallica, that can do it pretty much every time they release a new album. “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct,” the band’s 10th studio album, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2016, marking the second time in history that any band of any genre would score six consecutive albums debut at No. 1. That’s not to mention that album’s killer riffs and songwriting.

2. Tool, “Fear Inoculum”

Maynard James Keenan and the Tool crew closed out the decade with a massive gift for patient fans: the band’s first studio album since the last decade. “Fear Inoculum,” the band’s 2019 release, is everything Tool fans have come to love from the band, from complex song structures to epic instrumentals to Keenan’s menacing vocals.

1. Judas Priest, “Redeemer of Souls”

Judas Priest has been crafting towering metal music for nearly five decades, and they’re still putting out some of their best work.

Of course, “Firepower” is an incredible record, but “Redeemer of Souls” has that old-school Priest vibe. “Redeemer of Souls,” which came out in 2014, showcases Rob Halford’s vocals, which are stronger than ever, and an incredible assault of instrumentals, including guitarist Richie Faulkner’s contributions for the first time. With the perfect mix of emotion and skill, “Redeemer of Souls” is a heroic cry to keep metal at the forefront of music, and for that, it’s Audio Ink’s top album of the decade.

Listen to Audio Ink’s best albums of the decade podcast:

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music, Rock

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