The Top Ten Bands Of The Decade: Metal Continues To Rule Supreme

Perfection is difficult to find when you sift through 10 years of bands' antics, but some valiant musicians have managed to come very close to living the dream.

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Perfection is difficult to find when you sift through 10 years of bands' antics, but some valiant musicians have managed to come very close to living the dream. Of course, that could translate to mean everything from impressive record sales to critical acclaim to simply not sucking. We felt that the trusted UG community would be the best judge of which groups deserved to be recognized for making the music world a better place, and you did not disappoint in our Top 10 Bands Of The Decade poll. We see more than a few of the usual suspects appearing, but you can't knock voters for their ability to be consistent. What sticks out like a beautiful sore thumb is that at least half of the Top 10 were already going strong during the 1990's. Long story short: It seems that any up-and-coming bands in the next decade should bring their A game because we don't think the Foo Fighters are going anywhere. And in a striking victory for headbangers everywhere (and we're including all of you who blazed the trail back in 1980, too), Metallica has once again been declared the most powerful metal band in the world. Now that's what we call the epitome of consistency.

Honorable Mentions From The Top 30

Radiohead

When you listen to Radiohead's body of work over the past ten years, it doesn't even seem like these are same individuals responsible for the radio-favorite Creep. Not to say that the 1992 single from Pablo Honey wasn't a melodic masterpiece in its own right, but Radiohead has become veritable music gurus particularly when it comes to experimentation since that time. Even better? Vocalist/guitarist Thom Yorke and his bandmates play by their own rules, even allowing fans to pay whatever they felt the 2007 digital release In Rainbows deserved. We simply love a band thumbing its nose at a music industry that looks more like an assembly line these days.

Slipknot

Proving they can make a statement with much more than just their visually disturbing masks, the lads in Slipknot earned a coveted spot in the Top 30. They already had the it factor with their nine bandmates, a memorable stage show, and various ongoing feuds with other rock stars, but respectability always must nudge its way into the mix. Slipknot has been nominated for seven count em seven Grammy Awards over the past decade. Their latest album All Hope Is Gone, released in 2008, marked their first record to peak at #1 on the Billboard Charts, making Slipknot one band that can say they tied the decade up with a pretty little bow.

AC/DC

Last year Angus Young and the crew earned the coveted #5 spot on our Best Bands Of The Year poll, but only 12 months later they almost slipped out of the Top 30. Of course, when you break down the facts, the truth of the matter is that AC/DC has been largely inactive studio-wise for a good part of the decade. If our Best Bands of the Decade lists proves anything, it's that AC/DC with basically only one album to its name in the past decade (2008's Black Ice) can still earn a higher ranking than some of these bands churning out full-length after EP after full-length. When you've got it, you've got it.

And Your Top 10

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers

When guitarist John Frusciante returned to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1998 after a long battle with his heroin addiction, an already-popular band was injected with more life (and dollar signs) than ever before. The 2006 release Stadium Arcadium, although nowhere near as legendary as the 90's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was still a Grammy-winning album that confirmed RHCP's status as a viable band after 20-plus years together. But something always has to rain on our parade, doesn't it? This month Frusciante announced on his website blog that he has officially quit the RHCP. Although the split appears to be amicable and it has more to do with a change in musical direction, it marks the end of a prolific and creatively charged era.

9. Lamb Of God

Although Lamb of God had been hovering under the industry radar for the first few years of the 2000s, the quintet's aggressive, riff-fueled music is now an integral part of the heavy metal world. Undoubtedly guitarist Willie Adler and Mark Morton's contrasting approach to the guitar (Adler focuses on heavy rhythmic work, while Morton is rooted in blues rock) lends itself to instantly memorable tracks like Redneck and Walk With Me In Hell. Not everyone can say they were up for a Grammy against the likes of Slayer (who ended up earning the coveted award), but Lamb of God managed just that feat back in 2006 with the album Sacrament. Confirming this is not a flash in the pan, Lamb of God earned yet another nomination for the upcoming 2010 awards. If they keep this kind of work up, they'll be a shoe-in for our poll in 2019.

8. Mastodon

Once thought of as one of rock's best-kept secrets, Mastodon was the ultimate band's band. United by a common love for sludge metal and 70's classic rockers Thin Lizzy, guitarist Bill Kelliher, drummer Brann Dailor, bassist Troy Sanders, and guitarist/singer Brent Hinds combined forces to create a sound just as eclectic as their combined influences. The band's debut record Remission certainly created buzz, but it was 2004's Leviathan and 2006's Blood Mountain that hooked critics almost across the board. The members of Mastodon have apparently sold their souls to the devil because everything they produce these days seems to be either Grammy-nominated or hailed as utter perfection by critics. Among the latest praise? The 2009 release Crack The Skye was awarded a score of 5/5 by Total Guitar and is the second highest-rated album of the year according to Rate Your Music.

7. Dream Theater

It always seemed a bit odd that Dream Theater's first big splash onto the music scene was via the early 90's single Pull Me Under, a song which featured an extremely catchy hook and was given regular airplay with the hair bands on Headbanger's Ball. It definitely is a far cry from the fare you'd hear from the progressive metal band today. Dream Theater's technical prowess, complex arrangements, and solid grasp on memorable melodies are only a few reasons why the Long Island natives have earned a top spot in the poll. They probably deserve a slot just by their work on 2005's Octavarium and 2007's Systematic Chaos alone, but the quintet has also opened up the playing field for other forward-thinking bands by launching the Progressive Nation Tour. Drummer Mike Portnoy is usually the man behind the plan, and adding to his coolness, he's also not afraid to release a few bootlegs here and there.

6. Megadeth

There has always been a rumor swirling around that Megadeth guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine isn't the easiest to work with, and that idea is probably not far off of the mark judging by the revolving lineup. The past decade hasn't been all smooth sailing, with a brief breakup caused by Mustaine's arm injury, a reformation, and a slew of guitarists in and out of the band. When a comeback album The System Has Failed hit the shelves in 2004, it did in fact seem that Megadeth a veteran band that almost veered more toward rock than metal in the 90's had rediscovered its roots. Mustaine discovered he also had skills as a tour creator when he founded the Gigantour Festival, which has brought out the likes of Lamb of God and Dream Theater. While the recent releases United Abominations and Endgame might not have sold quite as well as an iconic album like 1992's Countdown To Extinction, critics are fully embracing Megadeth's latest musical direction.

5. Foo Fighters

After over 20 years of performing, Dave Grohl still hasn't tarnished his image as the nicest guy in rock. That certainly didn't hurt Foo Fighters' chance at being named one of the most impressive bands of the decade, but the Seattle group has long since proven that it has the talent to back up the sweet talk. Foo Fighters is one of those bands that has the uncanny ability to appeal to everyone from metalheads to, well, your grandmother. While some musicians have a difficult time maintaining their popularity, the Foo Fighters have done the unthinkable by hitting their peak record sales a good decade after their debut record. The 2005 release In Your Honor not only showed that the Foo Fighters aren't afraid to explore their sensitive side on an all-acoustic second disk, it also featured one of the biggest hits to date for the Foo Fighters, Best Of You.

4. Green Day

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tr Cool took some big risks over the past 10 years, and rarely have such career moves been so lucrative. When the trio created the punk opera American Idiot, it was a case of perfect timing. With its cynical views on politics and the state of the Bush administration, American Idiot struck a universal chord that earned Green Day multi-platinum status. The 2009 release 21st Century Breakdown labeled yet another punk opera didn't receive quite the warm reception that its predecessor did, but it still marked Green Day's best chart performance to date. While some fans might be calling foul on the band's new grandiose musical direction, it's also understandable that Armstrong, now approaching 40 years of age, might not relate all that much anymore to the Dookie era.

3. Muse

Armed with an eclectic approach to music, Muse has shown that it's not afraid to fuse genres that might seem at odds with one another. Dabbling in everything from classical to jazz to its primary forte, rock and roll, the British trio exploded with one critically acclaimed album after another this decade. An immediate impression was made with 2003's Absolution, which five years later would be deemed the 23rd Best British Album Of All Time according to a Q Magazine public poll. The follow-up CD Black Holes and Revelations didn't do too shabby in that same poll, earning a spot at #34. At the helm of Muse is vocalist/guitarist/pianist Matthew Bellamy, who somehow has managed to make his live show just as impressive as the labor-intensive studio albums.

2. Avenged Sevenfold

Although Avenged Sevenfold has been fairly prolific this decade, it wasn't until 2005's City of Evil that the tide truly turned for the Huntington Beach band. The decision to abandon pure metalcore for a more alternative/straightforward rock approach driven by guitar harmonies seemed to be a wise move in terms of popularity, as vocalist M. Shadows and the gang suddenly found them thrust into the mainstream music world (including MTV's Total Request Live and Guitar Hero II). The self-titled 2007 release left you all severely divided (Avenged was at the top of both the annual best and worst polls), and we can only hope that the upcoming fifth full-length produces a similar love/hate relationship with our readers. It's just too entertaining.

1. Metallica

For as many times as Lars Ulrich pissed off his fans due to the whole Napster debacle, it does seem that quality music wins out in the end. Of course, we weren't so sure Metallica could pull it off. When we witnessed the band's dramatic therapy sessions in the 2004 film Some Kind Of Monster, things weren't looking so good. The changing lives of Metallica's bandmates now family men with very different routines seemed to doom the course of their musical career. It's true that 2003's St. Anger was met with as many scowls as smiles (Pitchfork went as far as to give the album only .8/10; yes, that's a point before that 8), but the legendary quartet put the drama aside and renewed our faith with 2008's Death Magnetic. This year there seems to have been a general consensus across the board that Metallica, after 28 years as a metal institution, deserve its just rewards. Congratulations to James and the boys for going where few metal bands dared to go: The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

And Those That Rounded It All Out

11. Slipknot 12. Between The Buried And Me 13. Trivium 14. Coheed & Cambria 15. Radiohead 16. Opeth 17. Tool 18. Linkin Park 19. System Of A Down 20. Iron Maiden 21. Children of Bodom 22. Bullet For My Valentine 23. Rise Against 24. Queens Of The Stone Age 25. Wolfmother 26. blink-182 27. My Chemical Romance 28. The White Stripes 29. AC/DC 30. Disturbed 31. Arctic Monkeys 32. Protest The Hero 33. Paramore 34. Killswitch Engage 35. The Mars Volta 36. Alter Bridge 37. Coldplay 38. Porcupine Tree 39. Slayer 40. The Strokes 41. Kings of Leon 42. Dethklok 43. In Flames 44. Limp Bizkit 45. Brand New 46. Them Crooked Vultures 47. Nickelback 48. Billy Talent 49. August Burns Red 50. Audioslave Text by Amy Kelly Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009

1,209 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    PlayFreebirdNow
    Metallica released one horrible album and one mediocre album and are number one? What a load of crap.
    SheKILaDZE
    Hey look! I have something to say! PROTEST THE HERO! if only more people gave them a listen no really i'm a fan of ALL the bands up there in the top 10, except maybe greenday, and alot of them in the top50 list and protest blows them all off in this decade. thank you, for the time you spared to read my not very objective comment.
    zappp
    jimmy_neutron wrote: ugh, I dont like metal :/
    at least half of the bands on the list are not metal
    Heminator89
    Good to see bands like Dream Theater still finding a place in these lists. Progressive music isn't really for the masses but Dream Theater have been holding the torch for a long time. BTW the choice for no 1 was obvious
    sk8r0915
    lefthandman9876 wrote: what a crap list, green day, muse, foo fighters, metallica? your kidding me right?
    That's exactly what i said!!! Except Foo Fighters. Great band imo, but def not the best
    Lemoninfluence
    godsend003 wrote: this list is crap. metallica shouldve died in the 90's. i get muse and radiohead. i think they shouldve re defined wat this list was for. they choose successful bands, not good bands. still wish btbam wouldve made the 10... theyre practically icons now.
    I'll say this once more for the slow amongst you. This list was decided by votes cast by the UG userbase. Checked
    RATM_TM
    Green Day, Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica? Are you kidding? Who was this poll conducted by, 15 year olds?
    IcePauloTea
    foo fighters?! avenged deserve that spot much more then them... their work is just great!
    The Stiv
    Yeah, where the **** is Machine Head? The Blackening and Through the Ashes of Empires were both amazing and somehow Green Day gets on there by doing what? They asked if you knew your enemy multiple times a day. Cool. Them Crooked Vultures, they are respectable, but they haven't done anything nearly important enough in their short existence to be placed on this list. And last rant, I am a Metallica fan, no doubt about it. However, there is no way in hell they should be placed at number one or even on this list for that matter, they did nothing this decade except get inducted to the hall of fame for shit that they made over a decade ago. Argh.
    Crazyeyes135
    i an actually quite happy with this list, i agree that Slipknot should be a little higher, but i grinned at the mention on Coheed and Cambria, System of a Down, Bullet for My Valentine and Killswitch Engage. And im quite happy with Avenged Sevenfold being number 2, theyre just an amazing band!
    elRobbo
    I'm glad Muse are on there though, 3 really good albums from this decade, and each time they've tried something different... not sure on Green Day though, but that's just me
    Darkraxx
    what a crap-mtv list... green day? seven avengedfold? foo fighters?!... and iron maiden got 20?!?! what the ****ing hell were these guys thinking? yes Dream Theater should be the first one in this list, i mean.. FIVE.. not 2 not 4.. FIVE excelent albums!...and megadeth should be better ranked than metallica.. its three 4-stars albums against one crappy -10star album and one 4-stars album
    ASILAYDYING182
    Eurasian_C wrote: Why is Slipknot on the list twice, and why is Avenged Sevenfold even on there?...
    They're on there becausethey make awesomemusic, Slipknot has the best drummer and one of the best singers and Avenged has the two best guitarists and The Rev was an amazing drummer
    killeranndy
    BTBAM should had won number 1, they push their music past what people expected from them and release not one good album, but five amazing albums in the decade. Their five albums doesn't only show how much they knew their instrument, but how much theory they knew as well. The album of the year is going to end up being The Great Misdirect next year unless Metallica releases another crappy album that is overhyped cuz its Metallica. I also want to point out that The Dillinger Escape Plan is not on the list at all D:
    junil
    and avenged sevenfold at #2...totally unacceptable! give them a place in the list but not #2! make fresh list!
    MetalFan66678
    I'm gonna give my take on the top 10 bands but first let me state... Avenged Sevenfold DO deserve the #2 spot if not the #1 spot on this list. They have become immensly popular and play huge shows and sell millions of copies and are extremely talented. They are the Metallica of this decade. 10. Trivium 9. Shinedown 8. Atreyu 7. Slipknot 6. Muse 5. Children Of Bodom 4. Green Day 3. Buckcherry 2. Bullet For My Valentine 1. AVENGED SEVENFOLD
    pbass996
    1. The Beatles of course 2. MUSE 3. The smiths 4. Tool not that anyone cares...
    Tool is def the best band ever
    Hotdogs753
    Metallica definitely deserve to be #1 on that list while some of the other bands in the top 50 I thought could have been higher like Rise Against and Paramore.
    b015ftw
    1. The Beatles of course 2. MUSE 3. The smiths 4. Tool not that anyone cares....
    xmurderoticax
    serb_detritus wrote: metallica??? why??? name one song that was good in the last 10 years. and if someone says st anger, he can go and jump off some tall building. im a fan of metallica, but all their glory is owed to their past work, and hope of their fans that theyre finally gonna release something worth hearing. mastodon better than rhcp? gimme a break. this is a lousy list to say the least. wheres limp bizkit? you have slipknot, and no limp bizkit. AT ALL!
    dude, HAVE YOU HEARD LEVIATHAN? I haven't heard anything RHCP put out sound better than that album and they fell of when they went corporate and mainstream. As far as slipknot goes, I don't like their music much anymore but I gotta give them props for still being around making music successfully, where's limp bizkit on that one? but on to more pressing matters... HAVE YOU HEARD LEVIATHAN??!!
    obgem
    buttermilkie wrote: theres a lot of metal... they need some variety
    Metal is my favorite genre of music, but I agree, the list should be diversed. ----- I guess this is more like a popularity contest, like 100% of the criteria for judging is obviously based on popularity, rather than the quality of the album they released on the year, or the quality of the band itself (You know what I mean when I say "quality", I know there's no standard for good music but people who genuinely love music know what I'm talking about.) I'm sure some people here would agree with me that Amorphis or Obscura should get some credit but I guess they rather deserve the applause from the less-mainstream scene. Another thing, I won't be surprised if Jonas Brothers made it to the top 10.
    Metozzica
    serb_detritus wrote: metallica??? why??? name one song that was good in the last 10 years. and if someone says st anger, he can go and jump off some tall building. im a fan of metallica, but all their glory is owed to their past work, and hope of their fans that theyre finally gonna release something worth hearing. mastodon better than rhcp? gimme a break. this is a lousy list to say the least. wheres limp bizkit? you have slipknot, and no limp bizkit. AT ALL!
    name one good metallica song? how about all nightmare long? that's a pretty good one. the only reason you don't like new metallica is because it's new. if they recorded death magnetic the same exact way, just with the old vocal style, you'd think they recorded it in the 80's (with the exception of the guitar solos, they're not so hot on the new album) and do you honestly think that limp bizscut or however the hell you spell the stupid name deserves a spot, but not metallica? have you even hear of them since like 2002? they played at download fest of 09, and they weere the stupidest, least interesting act of the whole show.
    BrixDK
    AND Radiohead should have been in the top three at least. As should Qotsa
    omgiplayguitar
    Gtherocker wrote: Crap, Rage Against The Machine was not on the list.
    It's bands of last decade...reading failure And apparently the bands that sell the most records are the "best" bands. In that case Britney Spears should be number 1...UG just failed big time
    Devon Moulton
    MADIronMaiden wrote: If you don't like metal, it's simply because you don't know ANYTHING about it and think that noisy untalented bands like Slipknot are what metal is all about. Fact. I bet that you think that bands like Metallica are the most melodic that metal can get.
    thank you for the diss on Slipknot
    Devon Moulton
    [quote]Guitarlord44 wrote: serb_detritus wrote: metallica??? why??? name one song that was good in the last 10 years. and if someone says st anger, he can go and jump off some tall building. im a fan of metallica, but all their glory is owed to their past work, and hope of their fans that theyre finally gonna release something worth hearing. mastodon better than rhcp? gimme a break. this is a lousy list to say the least. wheres limp bizkit? you have slipknot, and no limp bizkit. AT ALL! The Outlaw Torn Ronnie Until it Sleeps King Nothing Fuel The Memory Remains The Unforgiven 2 The Unnamed Feeling Purify Invisible Kid The Judas Kiss Cyanide All Nightmare Long Is that enough for you? You whining about it isn't going to change the fact that they're the best band of the decade.
    omg you are so right, they are the best band in the decade, there was only that one album that wasnt great, the rest were kick ass
    Metozzica
    is anyone else pumped that Dethklok made the top 50? hahahaha i thought that was awsome!
    templar08
    Muse should be owning this list tbh. Most innovative band around atm and the fact that they've combined it with mass success is pretty impressive.
    DimeBagrulez
    good list, really pleased with the top 2 =P wouldve been better if Trivium and Slipknot were a bit higher, but thats just my opinion XD
    KnotParkDay
    Doodleface wrote: Dream Theater are like the prog metal ambassadors to the mainstream. They're just as popular (and more successful) than bands like BTBAM, Opeth, and Slipknot. On a guitar website there very popular as well. I'm very happy to see Porcupine Tree made it into the top 50 though, they were my pick!
    Sorry to rain on your parade, but Slipknot are quite a lot more successful than Dream Theater. I too am happy about Porcupine Tree's inclusion, but disappointed by the absence of Converge
    serb_detritus
    metallica??? why??? name one song that was good in the last 10 years. and if someone says st anger, he can go and jump off some tall building. im a fan of metallica, but all their glory is owed to their past work, and hope of their fans that theyre finally gonna release something worth hearing. mastodon better than rhcp? gimme a break. this is a lousy list to say the least. wheres limp bizkit? you have slipknot, and no limp bizkit. AT ALL!
    Myfirstpubes
    ugh, the most overrated bands enter the top 4, while the good ones are always left out. Oh well, its not like I didnt see this coming.
    Doodleface
    Heminator89 wrote: Good to see bands like Dream Theater still finding a place in these lists. Progressive music isn't really for the masses but Dream Theater have been holding the torch for a long time.
    Dream Theater are like the prog metal ambassadors to the mainstream. They're just as popular (and more successful) than bands like BTBAM, Opeth, and Slipknot. On a guitar website there very popular as well. I'm very happy to see Porcupine Tree made it into the top 50 though, they were my pick!
    !SOAD!
    Isnt this suppose to be a metal list and the best bands from 2000 till 2009? Anyway i quite like the list comparde to the top ten bands of 2010 which failed big time. the fact that metallica is #1 makes me sad for this oke who made this column. u should get your head examined.