As we reach the end of the decade, it's a good time to reflect on how great of a time it's been to be a metal fan - we've seen some of the genre's greatest albums released into the world, and while metal has been receiving less mainstream attention as time goes on, it's clear that the genre still remains as strong as ever!
Given how much incredible heavy music has been released from 2010-2019, limiting a list to just 20 albums was no easy task, but we managed to do it - here are what we think are the best 20 heavy records of the decade!
Deftones - Diamond Eyes (2010)
Deftones released three albums throughout the decade, but we have to give the edge to 2010's Diamond Eyes over their subsequent records Koi No Yokan and Gore (which are both still absolutely stunning in their own right).
Diamond Eyes took the melding of beauty and heaviness that the band had started to explore on their previous album Saturday Night Wrist, and perfected the formula across eleven tracks and 41 minutes of audio bliss. The impact Diamond Eyes has had on alternative music throughout the 2010's is undeniable, with standout tracks like 'Rocket Skates', 'You've Seen the Butcher' and '976-EVIL' giving this a very deserving spot on our list.
Gojira - Magma (2016)
Gojira became a dominant force on metal's world stage over the past decade, and their latest album Magma cemented their place at the top with a powerful mix of their signature planet-ending heaviness and hypnotic melody.
The passing of the Duplantier brothers' mother in 2015 resulted in an album of raw emotion ranging from sorrow to boiling rage, in a diverse collection of tracks which sound like nothing else out there.
It was incredibly hard to choose between and this and their 2012 record L'Enfant Sauvage, but Magma is simply an unforgettable album.
Meshuggah - Koloss (2012)
Meshuggah have been perfecting their brand of mind-bending devastation for the past few decades, but Koloss offered a nice change of pace from the unrelenting onslaught of previous records obZen and Catch ThirtyThree by giving songs room to breathe.
Koloss is still just about as heavy as anything out there, but a level of ambience helped break up moments of chaos, resulting in a more cohesive and digestible album that didn't feel like a challenge to get through.
In our opinion, it's the best album Meshuggah released this decade, and one of the best overall.
Tool - Fear Inoculum (2019)
Fear Inoculum was undoubtedly the most anticipated record of the decade - Tool had kept fans salivating for something new since 2006 with their last record 10,000 Days, but despite Fear Inoculum's hype reaching feverish levels by 2019, the record didn't disappoint on release.
Almost as if Tool never went anywhere, Danny Carey's intricate and creative percussion sets the tone for a lengthy experience which ebbs and flows with odd time signatures, atmospheric crooning from Maynard and tons of dynamics.
The album's mammoth 15-minute closer '7empest' is Tool at their absolute best, taking a multitude of different ideas and making the pieces fit in a way that only Tool can do.
We Lost The Sea - Departure Songs (2015)
Sydney post-metal band We Lost The Sea's powerful second album came about following the death of their frontman Chris Torpy in 2013.
Amidst waves of grief, the band decided to press on without a vocalist, and recorded Departure Songs as a tribute to their lost friend.
From the staggeringly-emotional opener 'A Gallant Gentleman' to the epic two-part 'Challenger' saga, Departure Songs is an incredibly moving experience which became an international cult hit.
The message is conveyed without a single world even spoken, pulling the listener deep into its instrumental moments of sparseness and soaring guitar work alike.
Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
Converge are easily one of the most consistent and influential bands in hardcore, and they proved it 22 years into their career with All We Love We Leave Behind - a hard-hitting but dynamic offering which is right up there with their iconic records Jane Doe and You Fail Me.
This album has everything that makes Converge great, from the oppressive onslaught of 'Trespasser', to the anguish of 'Aimless Arrow' and the brooding atmosphere of 'Coral Blue'. A hallmark in the genre.
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity (2012)
Everything about Cattle Decapitation's fifth album is insane - the artwork, musicianship, songwriting and the energy of it all is equivalent to throwing yourself head-first into a bunch of operating power tools. Some of the craziest vocals and drums to ever grace a metal record can be found here, with every song sounding distinctly different from each other - a rarity in the genre.
If a perfect extreme metal album exists, then Monolith Of Inhumanity would surely be a top candidate.
Cattle Decapitation's brand new album Death Atlas is also incredible, and definitely warrants your attention.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation (2016)
The Dillinger Escape Plan closed out their career on an absolute high in 2016 with Dissociation - their most experimental, intense and bleak offering of all.
A perfect swan song for a band that spent their 20-year run pushing musical boundaries with no compromise, it combined elements from different points in their history and resulted in one of the standout records of the 2010's.
Some fans argue that Dissociation is up there with 2004's Miss Machine, and we can't help but agree.
Rivers Of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name (2018)
American death metal band Rivers Of Nihil turned the heads of metal fans all over the world last year when they dropped their stunning third record Where Owls Know My Name.
This record managed to incorporate so many different elements to create a fresh take on the death metal genre, including the peppered use of saxophone, acoustic guitar and electronic bass to keep the listener guessing the whole way through.
That isn't to say Where Owls Know My Name isn't a death metal album at heart, but it's incredibly rare to have a body of music that manages to stay on track and flow perfectly despite its many twists and turns.
Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit (2018)
Let's be clear - mixing different genres together for the sake of it doesn't make a better album - but Zeal & Ardor's second LP Stranger Fruit is one of the few records out there that have managed to do it with real aplomb.
A summary of one review reads "If this album were to be a film, it would be directed by Tarantino- unpredictable and violent.". Stranger Fruit is exactly what its title suggests; a fruit which tastes somewhat bitter and confusing, before ultimately leaving a glorious sweet aftertaste in the mouth with repeated listens.
Zeal & Ardor mastermind Manuel Gagneux paints a powerful picture of a slave-era America using soul, black metal, gospel and electronic elements for a unique experience. Stranger Fruit earns its spot on our list for its sheer audacity and fearlessness to experiment, remaining as one of the most inaccessible but rewarding 'heavy' albums of this decade.
Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand (2017)
2017 saw Mastodon return to conceptual storytelling for the first time in the decade with Emperor Of Sand, resulting in an emotional, multi-layered journey through a soundscape of driving riffs, remarkable drum-work and winding song structures.
The album's theme revolves around the real-life challenges of cancer, after three of Mastodon's members had family members suffering at the hands of the disease prior to its recording.
It's probably Mastodon's most diverse record so far and it's a welcome addition to their already-stellar catalogue.
Judas Priest - Firepower (2018)
When the news came that Judas Priest were putting out an eighteenth album in 2018, it was difficult not to wonder how the band were going to pull it off with half of the members in their late 60's - but the legends proved that age is just a number with what might be their most ferocious output since Painkiller 28 years ago.
Despite aging vocal chords, and decades of touring and recording, A 67-year-old Rob Halford absolutely brought it with an astonishing vocal performance. Excellent instrumentation and songwriting made Firepower a creative peak for Judas Priest, and it will forever be a crowning jewel in their legendary career.
Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind (2019)
2019 saw a ton of old-school bands releasing new records in some kind of amazing alignment of the planets. Easily the most anticipated release of them all (except maybe Tool's record) was Slipknot's We Are Not Your Kind - and it delivered.
Slipknot grappled with a lot of change throughout the 2010's, including the tragic passing of bassist Paul Gray, the departure of longtime drummer Joey Jordison and the recent parting with percussionist Chris Fehn, but the band's energy and instrumental output remained fully intact for We Are Not Your Kind.
The record is an amalgamation of Slipknot's entire career so far, showing off heavy, primal elements from their earlier days with 'Nero Forte', healthy doses of dark/experimental ambience on 'My Pain' and 'What's Next', and catchy, pounding anthems like 'Unsainted' and 'Solway Firth'.
Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal (2013)
When Bring Me The Horizon signed to RCA in 2012, the label hailed them as "the new Metallica". Whether or not you agree with that sentiment (especially after the release of their more pop-centric records), you can't deny that their first major-label album Sempiternal was absolutely massive.
The addition of keyboardist Jordan Fish elevated the band's sound to new heights, and his footprint could be found all over the record in both songwriting and synth lines. A more accessible record resulted in a more anthemic one, and it saw a ton of other bands try to copy the style moving forward.
'Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake' , 'Shadow Moses' and 'Sleepwalking' are certified bangers.
Deafheaven - Sunbather (2013)
Deafheaven's sophomore LP is one of the most influential and controversial metal albums to come out this decade, but it also happens to be one of the very best.
Sunbather shines with all-encompassing beauty, exploring feelings of triumph, despair, joy, pain and sorrow with a sound that isn't quite post-rock or black metal, but somewhere smack bang in the middle.
It's this 'blackgaze' sound that catapulted Deafheaven onto the radar of many music fans outside the metal genre, but in turn they drew criticism from some die-hard black metal fans for their non-traditional take on the genre.
Sunbather is a record that listens like a journey, and needs to be listened to from start to finish. It needs listening to, period.
Fun fact - the album's pink cover is supposed to represent the colour you see behind your eyelids when you close your eyes while sunbathing!
Behemoth - The Satanist (2014)
Behemoth had already put out nine full-length albums before 2014, but it was their tenth effort The Satanist which saw them able to step into a higher realm by massaging their heavy and brutal sound with more atmosphere and melody than before.
The Satanist plants itself as one of the most vicious, brooding and evil-sounding records of the decade, using dynamics of brutal death metal riffs on tracks like 'Furor Divinus' and acoustic passages on 'In The Absence ov Light'.
It's arguably Behemoth's best record to date, and a standout release of the 2010's.
Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)
It's pretty insane to think that a band four decades into their career would have the fire and drive to create a double album this good, let alone one at all - but then Iron Maiden aren't just any old band, are they?
The Book Of Souls isn't Iron Maiden trying to reinvent their own wheel, rather it's the mark of a band who know how to take that wheel and make it perform better than ever.
Here you'll find some of the best material that the 'classic' Maiden lineup has produced, and 'Empire of the Clouds' stands as their longest track in history, clocking in at 18 minutes to serve as an unforgettable closer.
Interestingly, this was the first Maiden record to not feature founder Steve Harris as the principal songwriter across the album, as all six members brought a ton of their own ideas and material to The Book Of Souls' recording sessions.
Korn - The Serenity of Suffering (2016)
Following Korn's divisive foray into the electronic world with The Path Of Totality and the solid-but-safe The Paradigm Shift, the band released one of their most complete records to date in 2016 with The Serenity Of Suffering.
This record encompassed everything that made Korn great - eerie melodies, crushing drop-tuned riffs and an edge of aggression all wrapped up in a huge-sounding mix, evoking shades of their classic album Untouchables.
The album's opener 'Insane' hits like a god damn truck!
Code Orange - Forever (2017)
Code Orange's third album Forever made a massive impact on metal and hardcore with its unapologetic and violent nature. It stands out in the hardcore genre as a record that isn't afraid of trying different things, pulling back at the perfect times before taking to your eardrums with a chainsaw.
This record shot the band into the big leagues, where they found themselves opening for System Of A Down, Slipknot and more.
Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe hit the nail when he said that “It’s fucking ugly and they mined a lot of different influences: hardcore, metal, industrial, noise and made their own sound. The production is big without sounding over-polished – and the drums sound like real drums that an actual human is hitting, thank God.”
Alcest - Kodama (2016)
At just six songs in length, Alcest's Kodama is able to paint an incredibly rich and beautiful world of shoegaze, black metal and post-metal.
It's easy to lose yourself in a pensive state from the opening title track, as you're hit with layers of bright chords, dreamy reverb and flourishes of screeching vocals throughout.
The album's closer 'Onyx' in particular is a dense and haunting moment of ambience which softly lowers you back into reality. Such a memorable listening experience deserves a spot in this list.
That wraps up our list of the top 20 heavy albums from 2010-2019 - feel free to tell us what we missed or what your list would look like, and here's to another decade of amazing heavy music!