In 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a Baghdad press conference. Flo Rida's "Low" was the most played song of the year. The Dark Knight ruled the big screens; American Idol, the smaller screens. The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. Heath Ledger died. And a slew of heavy-music artists released badass albums — including the 10 below.
The prefix "Dis" gives you a hint right away — yes, Disfear nod to Discharge's bulldozing d-beat approach (along with that of Anti-Cimex, Doom, Mob 47, etc.), despite the death-metal bonafides of the personnel (members of At the Gates, Entombed, Edge of Sanity and more). While Misanthropic Generation gave us an idea of what this supergroup is capable of, it wasn't until Live the Storm that the band gelled into a cohesive unit, producing one of the best LPs of that year.
From Mars to Sirius opened the world's eyes to the monolithic power of France's Gojira; The Way of All Flesh cemented their status as one of the leading forces in modern metal. Lamb of God's Randy Blythe offered his support (via guest vocals on the crushing "Adoration for None"), but this is Gojira's show through and through, from the noodly downward spiral of "Oroborus" to the compulsive death march of "Vacuity," the band's go-to set closer ever since.
The original djent band re-established its sway over a generation of polyrhythmic riff acrobats with this head-spinning opus. "Bleed" is the showiest number here, especially Tomas Haake's inhuman drumming therein, but really, every cut is a master class in pummeling, mystical prog metal.
Coming after St. Anger, pretty much any album from the biggest of the Big 4 would seem great, but Death Magnetic actually was something of a return to form for post-group-therapy Metallica. Under the guidance of producer/guru Rick Rubin, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett (joined by bassist Robert Trujillo) revisited the mindset of their definitive trilogy, and while the result sometimes feels a little too by the numbers, fifth track "All Nightmare Long" is worth the price of admission in and of itself.
The Canadian prog-metal mathcore act's second studio album, Fortress, debuted at No. 1 in Canada and No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard Top Independent Album chart. Broken up into three movements, the LP is beyond technical, risky and frantic, and frontman Rody Walker's helium-dosed vocals went up a notch. The album rightfully put PTH on the map, and the group will celebrate it with a 10th anniversary run around North America early this year.
Upon it's initial release, Nachtmystium's Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1 was a revelation, moving black metal into the sunlight by incorporating influences from un-kvlt sources like Pink Floyd and Queens of the Stone Age. Leaning heavily on the unheralded genius of Chris Black (Superchrist, High Spirits) and Jeff Wilson (later of Wolvhammer, Abigail Williams), Assassins still holds up despite the years (and the law) not being so kind of frontman Blake Judd.
Norma Jean's 2008 fourth studio album, The Anti Mother, is the Southern metalcore group's most melodic offering to date, and even features big-name guest shots from Deftones' Chino Moreno, Helmet's Page Hamilton and Saosin's Cove Reber. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't fucking crush — indeed, it's 45 minutes of monstrous fury (hear ridiculously popular highlight "Robots 3 Humans 0") set the template of what metalcore should be, and the band still remains one of the hallmarks of the subgenre.
For a young band in the then-crowded field of post-rock/post-metal-isms, it's a story in itself that Russian Circles kicked in the door with their debut LP Enter. But it was their next LP, Station — which saw the addition of multi-instrumentalist Brian Cook (ex-Botch) — that put the group on its way to becoming the genre-crossing juggernaut that it is today.
Like the rest of Slipknot's discography, All Hope Is Gone is a direct product of collective pain. The four-year period leading up to it saw the band grappling with toxic relationships, drug abuse and creative conflict. Even so, All Hope Is Gone proved the opposite of self-pitying, proffering up some of the group's most cathartic and forward-thinking material to date, including the essential, punishing singles "Psychosocial" and "Sulfur."
Considering his like-minded work in the band Floor, Steve Brooks's project Torche felt like more of the same from the Florida-based riff lord after a close inspection of the sludge-pop group's self-titled and In Return efforts. Meanderthal was the breakthrough left turn, using the thundering doom riff as more of a punctuation to bubblegum songwriting and reminding us that musicians without the initials EVH could make records that were fun and ripping.