Following on from the first part of our albums of the decade feature, where we counted down from 20 to 11, we are back for the conclusion! This time, we will count down the Rock Sins staff collective top ten albums of the decade, finishing off with our album of the decade! If you missed part one, with albums 20 to 11, you can check out part one before carrying on to read part two. As before, we’re going on the selections of over a dozen of our team, assessed and weighted into points, tallied up and ranked. Without any further ado, lets get to album number ten….
10) Touche Amore – Stage Four (46 points)
Touche Amore’s fourth full length album, Stage Four, is the best post hardcore album of the decade. Over the eleven furious and despondent tracks centred around the death of lead singer Jeremy Bolm’s mother to cancer, the band have never sounded better. The chief difference between this and Touche’s other works is the physicality of the emotion.
Whilst ~ is a mediation on depression, anxiety and social isolation, and Survived By laments on the disconnect between perceived image and reality, Stage Four is anchored to something much more physical; the death of a loved one. Bolm’s storytelling is on top form, his delivery impeccable. Clayton Stevens’ guitar work weaves in and out of the frame, making every riff count The drums (Elliot Babin), bass (Tyler Kirby), and rhythm guitar (Nick Steinhardt) provide a perfect canvas, too. We can’t wait to see what Touche do next. WS
9) Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare (48 points)
As with Architects, the album that launched Avenged Sevenfold from a reasonably successful mainstream metal band to arena headliners was wrapped in tragedy. Featuring the last works of Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, Nightmare is a masterclass in how to deliver hard hitting metal for the masses. The heartfelt So Far Away will forever remain a lasting tribute to The Rev, while the likes of Danger Line and Natural Born Killers have Synster Gates and Zacky Vengence riffing like their lives depended on it. But it’s with Buried Alive (Avenged doing their best Metallica impersonation, in the positive sense) and with the album’s title track that they truly took it to the next level. That they’re still trying to top the levels of Nightmare (the song and the album) ten years on speaks volumes. The song says It’s Your Fucking Nightmare, but for Avenged Sevenfold, it was their salvation and the route to the top. JG
8) Machine Head – Unto The Locust (49 points)
Often overlooked because it had to follow a decade-defining album in the shape of The Blackening, Machine Head didn’t let up with their follow-up effort in 2011, Unto The Locust. You’d be hard-pressed to find an opening album track that matches the intensity and perfectly fused transitions scattered throughout I Am Hell (Sonata In C#). It throws curveballs in the form of strings set to the sounds of Machine Head’s trademarked downtuned tones. Back this up with the likes of Be Still And Know, This Is The End and the monumental Locust and you’ve got a recipe for a full-on groove metal masterclass indeed. So impactful was the might of Unto The Locust that it spawned a massive online campaign for the band to headline Download Festival. They might have had to settle for Bloodstock Festival headliners instead but the album left a lasting ten ton hammer imprint on the decade and is more than worthy of its place in this list. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s Machine Fucking Head. CF
7) Trivium – In Waves (51 points)
The album that many hold up as the yardstick for Trivium over the last ten years (although you could have flipped a coin between this and The Sin And The Sentence with some of our team members), In Waves took Trivium back close to the heights they’d achieved on Ascendancy some seven years earlier. They took the quality of previous album Shogun and paired down some of that album’s more proggy tendencies, resulting in the success of singles like Black and Watch The World Burn. The album’s highlights included the pounding Dusk Dismantled, but it was the now iconic title track that has remained the most indespensible song in Trivium’s live arsenal, almost nine years on from its release. All together now…..IIIINNNNN WWWAAAAAVVVESSSS! JG
6) Halestorm – The Strange Case Of… (53 points)
The Strange Case Of is the album that announced Halestorm properly to the world, leaping them out of the pack of US radio rock bands and firmly establishing them as having more about them than the vast majority of their peers. Album opener Love Bites remains to this day as the perfect introduction as to what Halestorm are all about, huge riffs, flamboyant instrumentation and sass in spades courtesy of frontwoman Lzzy Hale. Like all the best rock albums, there are headbangers and foot stompers (I Miss The Misery, Daughters Of Darkness) mixed with huge ballads (Break In) and everything in between. It also contained a truly global breakout smash hit in Here’s To Us, courtesy of the song being picked up by one of the 2010’s early hit TV shows Glee, bringing the band to audiences they never would have reached otherwise. Halestorm are on the cusp of becoming festival headliners here in the UK, and The Strange Case Of is a huge part of the reason why. JG
5) Oathbreaker – Rheia (57 points)
I Can Tell You About Pain. Such was promised by Converge on their latest record, The Dusk in Us. While the song went some way toward showing the hurt that our favourite artists often endure, it pales in comparison to the suffering of Caro Tanghe and her band, Oathbreaker, as demonstrated on the stunning Rheia. This decade has been defined by many things, but artistic agony was one of the prevalent themes in music. Whether it’s Converge, Lingua Ignota or indeed Oathbreaker, emotional struggle became synonymous with at least the latter half of the 2010s. Also defining the decade was the emergence of post-black metal and blackgaze, both of which could be attributed to Rheia. A record that takes the hellish rhapsodies of luminaries like Emperor and Bathory and mixes them with the subtlety and ambience of shoegaze, it may not be unique – Alcest, Deafheaven and Møl can all be heard doing broadly similar things – but it is masterful. There is barely a wasted second in this third record from the Belgian bastions of endurance, and every moment communicates a deep-seated sense of torment. So excruciating was the touring cycle for Rheia that it’s unclear whether or not the world still has Oathbreaker, but if this does turn out to be the full stop on their career, they can bow out knowing they have created a magnum opus difficult to best within the sub-genre. SS
4) Code Orange – Forever (61 points)
Code Orange have more buzz around them than a beehive in a sex shop right now and honestly it’s not hard to see why. 2020 has already seen the release of their newest opus Underneath, the follow up to the flawless Forever. One of the darkest, brutal albums to dominate the world of alternative, heavy music in a very very long time. Code Orange channel the golden age of Roadrunner Records through the prism of David Lynch. Forever was the album that announced the changing of the guard and it did it in the most uncompromising nihilistic way imaginable. Rarely has something so horrifying been so lovingly received. SC
3) Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (64 points)
Our metalcore album of the decade off the back of these results and one of the greatest metalcore albums of all time, rarely has triumph come out of a tragedy to such a level as with Architects’ All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us. The final full works of Architects guitarist Tom Searle, who passed away from cancer in 2016, Tom and the rest of Architects crafted a fierce, white hot emotional rollercoaster of an album unlike anything else on this list. The ferocity of the opening Nihilist and the tech metal vibes of Deathwise provide an audible assault so strong it could be arrested, and this is only the beginning. A Match Made In Heaven and Gone With The Wind are incredibly individual journeys powered by the vocal prowess of Sam Carter, before the album closing Momento Mori stuns listeners in the way that all great album closing tracks truly should. JG
2) Behemoth – The Satanist (68 points)
With The Satanist, Behemoth delivered a pure masterpiece of extreme metal. It thrust them into the mainstream world and broke barriers for the genre, scoring a Top 40 position in America’s Billboard 200 chart. A feat that remains unmatched by any other blackened death metal artist to this day. The music however was anything but mainstream. Counting the likes of Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel and O Father O Satan O Sun! on its tracklist, The Satanist changed the game for black metal and ultimately planted Behemoth firmly as the poster band for the genre to the masses. CF
1) Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms (80 points)
The album that released the Callous Heart to the world in 2017 has been crowned the Rock Sins staff album of the decade! It’s not hard to see why. Having achieved almost universal praise upon its release, it is crammed full of genuinely memorable tracks of the likes of Black Rain and Down Below. It has the emotional power of Crickets and Misery and the literally life affirming message of I Choose To Live. Add all these and more together and with Eternity, In Your Arms, Creeper have made Welcome To The Black Parade for the next generation. A band who always back it up live in spades, Creeper are worthy winners of our album of the decade. Their new album, Sex, Death and the Infinite Void is imminent, and we cannot wait. JG
So there we have it, Creeper top a fantastic collection of twenty albums to be named the Rock Sins album of the decade! Who knows what we will all be doing when the time comes around to start this process all again at the end of 2029 – but you can be sure, there will be an awful lot of good rock, metal and heaviness between now and then! Thanks for reading!
(Editor’s note) – there was some discussion over Behemoth’s inclusion in this list. While the band (and specifically their frontman) have been involved in things we as a team have been less than happy with in more recent times, we are not history revisionists, and so have kept The Satanist in the position by which it was voted by the team.
Words by Will Stevenson (WS), Jamie Giberti (JG), Claire Frays (CF), Sam Savigny (SS) and Simon Crampton (SC).