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Influential Metal Albums - Part V

by MetalMike & Sargon the Terrible

Some people might think that influential Heavy Metal albums have to be old but as the true fan knows, this is a style of music that is at once traditional and evolving. While the basics may remain the same, innovation is constant and shockwaves can come from the more recent past. In the fifth installment of this series, Sargon and I look at some records from 1996-2005 that have moved the field in one way or another.

Amon Amarth – Once Sent from the Golden Hall (1998)

Deeply influenced by the likes of Entombed, Dismember, and Dissection, Amon Amarth fused it all together into a synthesis that stands on its own. Not really Melodeath, nor quite the old-school Swedish sound, Amon Amarth took the old ways and updated them for a new generation, and their relentless success proves they know what they are doing. Sargon (Reviews: <1> <2> <3>)

Solstice – New Dark Age (1998)

Another album that maybe did not make a big impact when it was released, but still makes waves almost twenty years later. Solstice have slowly grown in reputation over the decades, and are now considered almost as defining a Doom band as Candlemass. New Dark Age has fingerprints all over modern Epic Doom and Trad Metal on both sides of the Atlantic. Sargon (Reviews: <1> <2> <3>)

Hammerfall – Glory to the Brave (1997)

Hammerfall's debut may not be the best Power Metal album of the genre's resurgence, hell it might not really be a Power Metal album at all. What can't be denied is the fun, excitement and yes, speed, of tracks like "The Dragon Lies Bleeding" and "Steel Meets Steel." These Swedes took all the elements of early Heavy Metal like high, soaring vocals and wicked guitar solos and gave them a modern production to bring the sound into the (nearly) 21st century. Showing they weren't afraid to look to the past at the same time, Hammerfall covered the classic Warlord song "Child of the Damned" and started a whole new generation of fans digging for the roots of our favorite style of music and showed a host of bands to come that you could be respectful of the past without necessarily repeating it. MetalMike

Agalloch – Pale Folklore (1999)

One of the most massively original metal albums ever made. Agalloch combined Black and Doom Metal with an epic, folk-inflected style and created something totally new. You can hear a lot of bands influenced by this band, and this album in particular, but almost none of them manage to carry it off. This is a sound almost impossible to take from without stealing, and yet it's impossible to get away from. Sargon (Reviews: <1> <2> <3>)

Agalloch – The Mantle (2002)

"Atmospheric" can mean a lot of things when applied to metal music but this Portland, Oregon group took so many disparate elements, from Black and Doom to percussion instruments made from animal bones, and forged them into a sound unlike anything before. Before this album, this type of music was something you'd put in on the background while you did something else. With The Mantle, you want to sit with no distractions and let the music take you to a different place. MetalMike (Reviews: <1> <2> <3>)

Immortal – At the Heart of Winter (1999)

Immortal spent years as just another Black Metal band, but then they added Thrash and Trad Metal to their riffs and suddenly found themselves with a masterwork on their hands. They have not really changed their style since, but they may not have ever done it better than the first time either. At the Heart of Winter is an acknowledged classic that has had a massive influence on the sound of Third Wave Black Metal. Sargon (Review)

Immortal – Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)

Black Metal that wasn't directly about Satan? Immortal weren't the most unique band but they were good and they did break the barrier that boxed Black Metal bands into singing about the devil all the time. Now they were free to sing about any kind of dark and evil topics. It may not sound like a big deal but Immortal brought new fans to a style that was previously somewhat exclusionary due to the lyrical themes. MetalMike (Review)

Weakling – Dead as Dreams (2000)

A stealthy album. When it was released in 2000 the band was already defunct, and it would be six years before Wolves in the Throne Room picked up the style and rewrote the book of US Black Metal. This album is not much heard, but its impact on the scene is enormous. Sargon (Review)

Nile – Black Seeds of Vengeance (2000)

US Death Metal was really in the doldrums in the late 90s, but then Nile came along and gave the scene a jolt it has never gotten over. Their debut was vicious and technical, and the Egyptian themes made them stand out from the gore-obsessed crowd. Black Seeds was a quantum leap in atmosphere, heaviness, and furious technicality, and once it was loose, the American Death Metal scene would never again be the same. Sargon (Review)

Nightwish – Angels Fall First (1997)

The presence of women in the male-dominated field of Heavy Metal has been steadily increasing, rightfully so, since the Wilson sisters set the standard with Heart back in the 70s. Ladies like Betsy Weiss (Bitch) and Lee Aaron weren't afraid to open the door with their sexually charged album covers. Others followed and eventually the focus shifted from looks to talent, but it wasn't until Tarja Turunen, a classically trained opera singer, joined Nightwish and a new style of Heavy Metal was born. Songwriter Tuomas Holopainen wrote Power Metal anthems while allowing Turunen room to adapt her operatic vocals to this marriage of styles. It took a few albums for things to really gel but it all started here and the number of bands following this blueprint beggars the imagination. MetalMike

Arch Enemy – Wages of Sin (2001)

After several well-received albums, Arch Enemy broke the mold by enlisting Angela Gossow as their frontwoman. The resulting album still stands as their defining work and with a single stroke made it cool to have a woman as a vocalist for extreme metal bands. Angela's hard-driving performance broke the gender barrier in Death Metal once and for all. Sargon (Reviews: <1> <2>)


Influential Metal Albums - Part I
Influential Metal Albums - Part II
Influential Metal Albums - Part III
Influential Metal Albums - Part IV
Influential Metal Albums - Part VI

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