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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #21 - The New Wave Of American Heavy Metal

Updated on March 1, 2014

A Roar From The West

A brief but unbelievably powerful movement of British metal that we know as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal would become renowned for influencing virtually every form of heavy metal we know and love today. Over a decade later, the seeds of what would become the next great movement in heavy metal were sewn and thankfully, it would last much longer. The overabundance of nu-metal in the early 2000s provided a perfect breeding ground for a heavier, louder, and faster crop of metal bands that we know now as The New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Though are largely seeing the end of this movement in the last few years, the good news is that since most of these bands are still going strong and likely will be for a good while.



Mastodon - Leviathan

The title of this album could not be more appropriate. Because this album literally was a monster. A concept album loosely based on Moby Dick, this album officially established Mastodon as one of the most progressive and respected metal bands around. The album was named as named as the best metal album by three separate major metal magazines and rightly so. It is technically masterful and beautifully heavy.

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Damageplan - New Found Power

You would be hard pressed to find a musician more responsible for the sound of modern metal than Dimebag Darrell Abbot. After bringing metal to a whole new level of extremity with his previous band Pantera, he joined forces with his brother to bring us the unrelenting force that was Damagaplan. Tragically cut short by his untimely death, this would prove to be his final recording, but what a recording it was. The music is as tight and heavy as anyone could hope for and Darrell proves that he is once and for all the master of groove metal and a shredding legend.

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Black Label Society - Mafia

Ozzy Osbourne has pretty much become the go to guy for finding amazing unknown guitarists and bringing them to the forefront for us to enjoy. Since becoming possibly the most widely recognized axeman to fall into that category (besides Randy Rhoads of course), Zakk Wylde has become one of the most respected and beloved metal guitarists in the world, and his work with Black Label Society is every bit as responsible for that as his work with Ozzy. Nowhere can you hear that better than on Mafia. The riffs are amazing and perfectly heavy, the musicianship and vocals are perfect, and if you are able to listen to the beautiful tribute to Dimebag Darrell "In This River" without tearing up, you are a stronger person than I.

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Machine Head - The Blackening

This is one of the most universally loved metal albums in recent years for a reason. It is damn near a perfect metal album. Heavy headbanging riffs combined with beautiful melodic guitar work and vocals, all wrapped up with epic songs, most of them long and complex so people from every corner of metal fandom can find something to love. This was a milestone, not just for the band, but for metal in general.

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Hatebreed - The Rise Of Brutality

One of the most renowned metal bands of recent years and one of the bands to best meld hardcore punk and metal together (even being named after a Misfits song, so you know they have good taste), the title of this album is unbelievably appropriate as every song is a roaring force to be reckoned with. This was their highest charting album until The Divinity Of Purpose, and while I'm surprised something this heavy would do so well, I can't say it doesn't make me happy.

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Lamb Of God - Sacrament

A band that began under one simple premise: We're tired of the lack of metal coming our way, so we're going to make out own. The result is a deafening roar of brilliant guitar work, courtesy of guitar masters Willie Adler and Mark Morton, perfectly complimented by a tight rhythm section and an appropriately aggressive sounding vocalist in Randy Blythe, that all culminated in them becoming one of the biggest metal bands known today with the metal masterwork Sacrament. The crowd raising riffs and improved production values saw this album driven to being the top selling metal album of 2006.

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Slipknot - Iowa

When Slipknot released their first album at the end of the 90s, they unleashed a Pandora's Box of sonic terrors that brought extreme metal to a new level entirely. When Iowa dropped, Slipknot truly became an entity in and of themselves and showed that we had only gotten a taste of the extremity they were truly capable of. As if the primal wall of percussion delivered expertly by the band's three drummers, very down-tuned guitars and bass creating as heavy an atmosphere as possible before that atmosphere is further intensified with the very disturbing samples and monstrous vocals weren't enough to make this an incredible work of modern metal, this was the one that got Slipknot it's first Grammy nods.

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Pantera - Vulgar Display Of Power

As with virtually everything related to metal as we know it today, it all comes back to Dimebag Darrell. Many point to Pantera as being the official launch of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, and a listen to this album will reveal the origins of all the characteristics we have come to associate with it. Dimebag Darrell left an incomparable legacy with both groove and nu-metal taking cues from his work. If you like extreme metal, this is an album that cannot be left out of your collection.

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Avenged Sevenfold - City Of Evil

Few bands have done as much to keep the new generation of metal heads aware of the power of a true guitar solo and give us a modern guitar hero in the form of the versatile and unbelievably fast Synyster Gates. M. Shadows voice was not in the best of shape while recording this due to a recent surgery, but the songs still hold up with very catchy melodies and absolutely blistering guitar solos.

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Trivium - Shogun

There was an article I read a while back saying that if there was any band in the running to be the next Metallica, it was Trivium. And while I truly think Metallica is a once in a lifetime band that we are unlikely to see the likes of again, listening to this album definitely gave some credibility to that statement. The guitar work is heavy, melodic, and technically very proficient, the lyrics are interesting and the vocals are diverse and perfectly suited to fit every song. This is definitely one of the most impressive offerings of metal in the 2000s.

Want To Check It Out?

Reaching To All Corners

The NWOAHM saw the fruition of what the NWOBHM had started come full circle. A new breed of metal bands branching off of what their predecessors had done while adding very unique touches to it to make it something unique. I for one am greatly looking forward to what is coming in the future.


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    • hotwebideas profile image

      Bruce Chamoff 

      4 years ago from New York

      Yeah, Zakk Wilde was so skinny and looked like a high school student and now he looks a mean biker who will rough you up and don't want to cross with.

      He comes on That Metal Show often and sometimes he roughs up the hosts.

      Have you seen that show?

    • smcgavin1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sean McGavin 

      4 years ago from Bowling Green, Ohio

      I've seen interviews from him from early days and yea it is hard to believe it's the same guy. Thanks for the vote man!

    • hotwebideas profile image

      Bruce Chamoff 

      5 years ago from New York

      Great hub and voted up. Zakk Wilde grew up two towns away from me in Jackson, New Jersey and when Ozzy found him, he was not that rough biker guy you see in Black Label Society. LOL

      I love all the bands you listed and will be reading and commenting all your heavy metal articles.

      Voted up!


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