In 2000, the world did not end due to Y2K. Faith Hill's "Breathe" was the biggest song of the year. Gladiator ruled the Academy Awards. The Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl. Visual artist Edward Gorey — whose work had inspired Nine Inch Nails' "The Perfect Drug" video — died. And a slew of heavy bands released badass albums — including the 15 below.
For AFI, 2000's The Art of Drowning serves as something of a bridge between their roots in the snarling punk underground and the mainstream spotlight into which they'd be catapulted following the record's release. An ace collection of fist-pumping anthems, The Art of Drowning captures the shape-shifting emo-goth-punk rockers in a beautiful moment of transformation.
Recorded after a tour on which the band supported Rage Against the Machine, At The Drive-In's explosive LP Relationship of Command has proven to be one of the most compelling works of heavy music since the dawn of the 21st century. Two decades on, the album's incendiary youthfulness doesn't sound dated or immature but instead transcends trends and phases to stand strong among both the band's musical peers and artists who rose up in its wake.
"You're so lucky to be alive," Stephen Brodsky sings on "In the Stream of Commerce" from Cave In's now-classic Jupiter, a work that saw the group push out of their hardcore shell to explore textural, spaced-out moods and psych-tinged passages unlike anything they'd produced before. The year 2000 was a time of exploration and change for many bands, but perhaps no one ascended to more beautiful or higher planes than the multifaceted Massachusetts rockers on their sophomore album.
Deftones were already breaking out far beyond the "nu-metal" tag, but 2000's White Pony cemented their status as something far more ethereal, artistically inclined and hard to pin down. Propelled by captivating standouts like "Change (In the House of Flies)," "Digital Bath" and "Passenger" (featuring Maynard James Keenan), White Pony flickers between ineffable, gossamer ennui and vicious, searing riffs settled beneath Chino Moreno's finely wrought wails. A timeless study in atmosphere and contrast.
Stoner doom is full of well-exhausted tropes — from smoking bongs to retro occultism — but Electric Wizard cast a hot-iron strike with their unique potion of droning, wicked riffs, synths, and buried vocal distortions on Dopethrone. They were magicians of an ancient, brooding musical spell that cast forth instant sonic monoliths like "Funeralopolis," an instant classic that launched a thousand basement jams. Part of a trilogy alongside Come My Fanatics and Supercoven, Dopethrone was when, according to main man Jus Oborn, the band "really found our mark."
Before Matt Pike was known as the grizzled, shirtless hesher we know and love today, he was already the incredible guitarist behind one of the greatest stoner-doom acts of all time, Sleep. Once that group temporarily folded, the dexterous metal ogre unleashed a heavier, faster, meaner facet of his talents with The Art of Self Defense, his then-new band High on Fire's ferocious debut.
Brave New World stands as a particularly momentous offering for the NWOBHM pioneers as it marked the return of vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith. Important as it is historically, musically, it probably ranks middling-to-good for dedicated fans. But average for Maiden still tops most other contenders. Indeed, no one can deny the arena-rousing greatness of absolute bangers like "The Wicker Man" that still rear their head during the band's epic concerts today.
While today they're known for globe-trotting tours packing large venues, Lamb of God were a very different beast (and newly minted after giving up the band name Burn the Priest) in 2000 when they released the groundbreaking New American Gospel. Produced by Today Is the Day leader Steve Austin with $5,000 budget and enough six-packs to fuel a frat house for a semester, the album showcases the underground rising stars at their grittiest and most volatile.
Manson's controversy-courting persona has always loomed large and sometimes overshadowed his music. But when rock-opera concept record Holy Wood came out just one year after the Columbine school shooting — for which the shock rocker was widely scapegoated — and touted lines like "Do you love your guns? God? Your government?" in flagrant mockery of the fucked-up American way, it was clear he was dialed in tight to deliver his message as only he could.
The year 2000 wasn't a great time for death metal, but with Steve Tucker manning the mic, Morbid Angel carried the torch high with the nasty, lumbering Gateways to Annihilation. Nothing here is revolutionary or particularly innovative for the Floridian trailblazers, but their refusal to compromise in an era focused around nu-metal and metalcore, it's an impressively stubborn piece of work from a band whose relevance has remained steady throughout their almost 40-year career.
Public opinion has ebbed and flowed over the two decades since Mudvayne established themselves as major players during nu-metal's heyday with their 2000 debut L.D. 50. While both beloved and reviled for their outrageous aesthetic, there's no denying the inventive songwriting and virtuosic instrumentation on the record. Nor can we ever forget the Technicolor cultural touchstone that is the band's mind-melting video for "Dig."
Pantera's Reinventing the Steel isn't just the band's swansong, it's also their most underrated effort. The only record in the band's catalog to not have hit the platinum mark, it contains one of four Pantera songs to get a Grammy nom ("Revolution Is My Name") and features some of Dimebag's most inspired guitar shredding and Phil's most anthemic chest-thumping choruses. The whole thing makes for a jaw-dropping collection that gets entirely too little credit.
Launching a side project is always a risky proposition — especially if you're the frontman of a band as revered and successful as progressive psychonauts Tool. Yet, when Maynard James Keenan teamed with guitarist and songwriting Billy Howerdel for A Perfect Circle's 2000 debut, Mer de Noms, they pulled off a more stripped-down and tightly wound alchemy that, for some fans, even surpassed MJK's main band in their affections.
Josh Homme's post-Kyuss project Queens of the Stone Age came into their own with Rated R. Effortless cool and boundless sexual charisma oozes from each track's haphazard construction and languid delivery, from the drug-fueled haze of opener "Feel-Good Hit of the Summer" with its confrontational ode to indulgence, to the slightly more nuanced but equally hazy sensuality of "Better Living Through Chemistry." No QOTSA record has smoldered quite like Rated R before or since.