10. The Black Mages - The Black Mages - What do you get when you combine the genius of Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and shamelessly cheesy prog-metal? An album of top-quality instrumental tracks exploding with screaming guitar solos and ethereal synths. The track 'Force Your Way', the boss music from Final Fantasy VII, demonstrates why this a must-have for metal and FF fans alike.
9. All That Remains - The Fall of Ideals - Standing out from the plethora of similar metalcore albums, this record contains the perfect mix of raging screams, melodic choruses, technical guitar solos and pummeling drum beats. It's hard to pick a stand-out track, as this album really is all killer and no filler, but I guess I'll have to go with 'It Dwells In Me', because it contains my favourite solo of the record!
8. Reuben - Racecar is Racecar Backwards - This album represents for me a reworking of the 90s grunge style for a new century, containing a messy, raw energy combined with heavy metal brutality. The British trio's best track from this album is 'Let's Stop Hanging Out' in my opinion, a discordant and yet effortlessly catchy tune with an awesome refrain.
7. Sikth - Death of a Dead Day - I almost forgot this album! Technical metal at its best, jazzy discordant licks placed skillfully alongside ferocious metallic double-kick drums and some of the most original vocals of any album. The lead guitar on this record is truly sublime, matching up to the standards of guitar virtuosos like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, and the riffs also follow this pattern. 'Part of the Friction' would have to be my choice for the best track on the album, its incredible intro leading into a great song, filled with superb licks.
6. Trivium - Ascendency - After a period of not listening to metal, this was the album that brought me back to the genre, in particular encouraging me to grab my guitar and learn some brutal riffs! The record bursts at the seams with soaring twin guitar attacks and powerful rhythms, with the song 'The Deceived' being the one that sticks out for me, a brilliant combination of lead guitar and relentless chugging.
5. Enter Shikari - Take to the Skies - The main inspiration for my short-lived band Helvetica Outbreak, this album represents a triumph of originality. The combination of drum 'n' bass beats, dance-inspired synths and crunching riffs is extremely organic, topped off with catchy and memorable lyrics. Once again, there are so many good tracks on this album, but if forced to pick, I'd have to choose 'Return to Energiser', due to its awesome trance breakdown that morphs into a hectic metal beat-down.
4. Pantera - A Vulgar Display of Power - R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell, one the most amazing guitarists of all time, and the creator the brilliant riffs and storming solos from this iconic groove-metal album. There is a Southern States swaggering attitude that exudes from all the songs on this record, a perfect blend of punk savagery and heavy metal furiousness. The track 'Walk' is my definite favourite, having one of the best metal riffs of all time and an epic solo, cementing DBD as one of my major guitar heroes.
3. Deftones - White Pony - One of the first albums I bought during my teenage years, and probably the start of my love affair with the musical genre of metal. Because of this nostalgia I chose this album over its predecessor 'Around the Fur', which is also an exceptional record. There is an eeriness and intensity to all of the Deftones' music, and this album is has some particularly powerful examples of this. My favourite track from this alternative metal classic changes every time I listen to it! At the moment I'd have to say 'Digital Bath' is the one, not only for its weird title but also for the dark, edgy feel and brooding soulful vocals it contains.
2. Fear Factory - Obsolete - Another one of my teenage favourites. This concept album, based around the story of a dystopian future where machines have surpassed mankind (disclaimer: this came out before The Matrix), is an unrelenting industrial assault, with growling vocals and electronic effects to finish of the mix. I think it's the literary connection that makes this album so good for me; the story surrounding the songs is top-notch. 'Edgecrusher' is the best track here, because of its brilliant riff and also because of its subject matter, a dark renegade machine fighting against the evil autocratic government of the future.
1. Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine - We've reached no.1! What a journey. This is my favourite album mainly because of Tom Morello, the band's guitarist. When I started playing guitar, the riffs from this album were incredibly fun to learn and still great to come back to. Morello is a phenomenal player, mixing traditional pentatonic rock with avant-garde solos and effects, pushing guitar playing to the very limits of what it can do. I don't really listen to Rage for the political stuff to be honest, it's all about the music for me. And for the record, I didn't download "Killing in the Name of' for Christmas no.1. What's the point? It's just gonna make the record company more money. Anyway, my favourite track has to be the album opener 'Bombtrack'. Quality riff, takes me back to the days when I used to play bass in my brother's band, rocking the school variety show! Fight the power!
So there you have it, my favourite metal albums. I had to make some difficult choices, excluding some great bands like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Gojira, The Mad Capsule Markets and so on, but I'm happy with my final decisions. Feel free to comment, tell me whether you agree or think I've got it horribly wrong!