Determining the “best” album of a single year is hard enough, let alone a whole decade. Though I have amassed a great collection of musical experiences over the past 10 years, it’s only fair that I relegate these posts as “favorites” in lists that follow my own arbitrary rules.
“We have the passion of the unbrokenSum 41, “God Dave Us All (Death to POP)”
And our souls we will not sell
You can beat us down but when we come around,
We’ll damn you all to hell.”
10. Rise Against – Endgame
Politically charged and honed to its sharpest point, this album came in the midst of their prime, harnessing rebellious youth and matured rage. It’s an album that incites action for the greater good.
Defining Moment: Listing the names of those who took their lives too young in “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” gives the song a haunting weight.
9. Beyond the Black – Heart of the Hurricane
With vast portals of musical wonders opening up to me over the past decade, perhaps the greatest gift discovered in my spelunking was that of symphonic power metal.
With the caveat of a female vocalist, Beyond the Blake takes the popular European sub genre and envelops a harmonious grace with a ferocious blaze.
Defining Moment: The first “MY GOD IS DEAD” in the song above sucked whatever wind I had left in my lungs.
Also, I can see many of you crumbling beneath the weight of the grand chorus in “Fairytale of Doom.” My life force is reinvigorated in such elements – that is how you and I differ.
8. Sum 41 – 13 Voices
I’ve seen the likes of Shinedown, Bring Me the Horizon, Papa Roach and Linkin Park fall prey to beat-driven pop rock, crushing the very spirit of the genre they once represented.
When Sum 41 returned after a tumultuous five-year hiatus that saw frontman Deryck Whibley on the verge of death, they retained their edge and then some while vowing to keep the spirit of rock alive and well. More than that – they want you to feel something. Do you?
Defining Moment: The thunderous intro to “Fake My Own Death.” As the first single they released for this album, it was an absolute relief to know the boys came to shred.
7. 30 Seconds to Mars – This is War
Expecting nothing from this album, the first six tracks rocked my core after the first listen. Shortly after its release, I visited Los Angeles and This is War took on new life while I ambled along the neon streets. The result was a new and short-lived version of myself that yearned to risk everything for a dream.
Even if it didn’t pan out, I felt as if my life had direction and purpose for the first time.
Defining Moment: “I believe in nothing but the beating of our hearts.”
Also, Kanye West laying fire on “Hurricane” (the 2.0 version).
6. Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere
Year: 2016 (The Roundtable’s No. 5 Album of 2016)
My 2016 review says it all with the full potency of my intentions.
If you’re going to be angry, by God, have some sensibility behind it.
Defining Moment: I saw Thrice on tour during the turning point of this new America. They capped the show with “Long Defeat,” a song I thought little of until that night. That performance was exactly what everyone in the crowd needed. I wished I could have shared that moment with the world:
“So keep holding on to hope without assuranceThrice, “The Long Defeat”
Holding on to a memory of light
But will the morning come?
For all I know we’ll never see the sun,
But together we’ll fight the long defeat”
5. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
This was the album that opened up my world to Europe’s symphonic power metal – a genre so deep and spectacular I created a monster playlist dedicated to it.
The pacing, the self-affirmations, the badassery – this album checks all the boxes. If you’ve been following this site, you know that your author thrives on pure yet refined energy. Within Temptation has evolved significantly over the years, but I credit them with leading me down an endless cavern of riches.
Defining Moment: The intro gives me chills every single time: “Someone has to take a stand against evil – why should it not be me?”
I’m about head out and raid some castles, probably slay some demons.
4. Wovenwar – Wovenwar
Year: 2014 (The Roundtable’s No. 5 Album of 2014)
In the middle of the decade, my circumstances had scraped away everything that defined who I was. This carved its way into my music tastes, when I had ditched rock in favor of safer alternatives (ie. Alternative). I was soft, dull and without backbone.
By the grace of Dio, Wovenwar assaulted me with a defibrillating shock, awaking me from my temporary slumber. This album rocked and then so did I. And I haven’t looked back.
Defining Moment: Skip to 2:25 above – that was my ringtone for a while because of its sheer divinity. The lyrics stay with me as a constant reminder: “Who stands the storm if not the brave?”
3. Starset – Transmissions
Year: 2014 (Reviewed previously on The Roundtable)
Though Wovenwar received the top-10 treatment in 2014, Starset gets just as much credit from breaking me out of my mid-decade identity crisis. This is my repayment.
I said it when I initially reviewed this album, but Starset is the rock music of the future. Having released two albums since Transmissions, they have proven this twice over. They single-handedly gave me hope for the genre and, through their unconventions, they have become one of my favorite bands to date.
Though I would rate their two subsequent albums better than their debut here, this is the one that started it all.
Defining Moment: Starset has had some intricate live sets: space-age mixers, actual string accompaniment and space suits. Because of this, when I saw them a couple of years ago, they were not known to do encores. Until they hit up Lawrence, Kansas, that is! They played “Let It Die” by request and the place was frothing.
2. Red – Of Beauty and Rage
I can’t say enough about this album, as evident by my multiple write-ups on it. To re-hash my 2015 top-10 review: I felt everything.
Defining Moment: The vocal performance in “Darkest Part” remains one of the more devastating performances I have ever heard.
1. Stone Sour – House of Gold and Bones (1&2)
Brutal as all hell and vulnerable in all the same ways. This collection is the epitome of modern rock: No gimmicks – just bloody fists and a newfound sense of purpose.
Defining Moment: It’s when “Do Me a Favor” on disc two barrels into a refrain of “Rumor of Skin” from disc one. During the elation I feel after the 1.5-hour wait to reach this refrain, I can harness the savage power the rock gods themselves. It is as close to whole as I have ever felt.