The first decade of the 2000s was a unique one for metal music. The mainstream media had broken off their love affair with hard alternative rock for an array of rap, pop-rock and child stars who seemed to get younger and younger. Although MTV and the like rarely played anything heavy, the rise of the Internet made both popular and underground metal acts more accessible than ever. Waves of post-hardcore, metalcore and deathcore swept the scene with short periods of dominance. Underground metal acts from around the world ensured that metal got heavier, faster and more experimental. The metal "tree of life" was constantly growing new branches as its roots remained sturdy. Here, Loudwire presents our list of the Top 11 Metal Albums of the 2000s:

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    'Frail Words Collapse' (2003)

    As I Lay Dying

    During the metalcore wave of the early-to-mid 2000s, bands around the globe began to become more and more influenced by new music due to the Internet. Although most metalcore bands drowned in the flood of Myspace-based acts, As I Lay Dying emerged as one of the genre's leaders. Showcasing the tracks, '94 Hours and 'Forever,' the album 'Frail Words Collapse' stands out as a highlight in the metalcore universe.

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    'Jane Doe' (2001)


    The 2000s marked a new peak in extreme metal. With the help of advanced digital recording, metal bands became louder and more aurally violent. Released in 2001, Converge's 'Jane Doe' showcased hardcore music with hints of math-rock and death metal, setting a new standard in extreme music. 'Jane Doe' topped various lists in 2001 and was named the No. 1 metal album of the decade by Decibel Magazine.

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    'Leviathan' (2004)


    'Leviathan' is a concept album about 'Moby-Dick' released by sludge/progressive metal band Mastodon, who reigned throughout the first decade of the 2000s with four full-length experiments that went beautifully right. 'Leviathan' was met with an outstanding amount of praise, topping several year-end lists. Recently, Mastodon started the second decade of the 21st century right with their fifth album, 'The Hunter.'

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    'The Art of Balance' (2002)

    Shadows Fall

    According to Shadows Fall, 'The Art of Balance' refers to the internal battle within the band to find the perfect balance between melody and aggression. The battle seems to have been won by the band, as their third album was received with critical acclaim and rabid consumption by fans. The album contains gems 'Stepping Outside the Circle' and 'Thoughts Without Words,' the latter exploring themes based on Buddhist meditation.

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    'Waking the Fallen' (2003)

    Avenged Sevenfold

    Avenged Sevenfold proved to be one of the most debated upon acts of the last decade. Perhaps the greatest musical representation of the Yin and Yang during the 2000s, the band attracting a cult-like following amongst fans and haters dedicated to the band's destruction. Undoubtedly, the fans have won the battle, with 2003's 'Waking the Fallen' selling more than half a million copies and acting as the launching point for the band's incredible success.

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    'Blackwater Park' (2001)


    Swedish progressive metal act Opeth are a difficult band to break down. Led by one of metal's finest clean and guttural vocalists, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth's importance in progression cannot be overstated. 2001's 'Blackwater Park' has been called Opeth's "coming of age" album and has sold over 100,000 copies in the U.S. -- a monumental achievement for a death metal band. The 12-minute title track combines Opeth's greatest qualities into one menagerie of gorgeous aggression.

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    'Follow the Reaper' (2000)

    Children of Bodom

    Children of Bodom are undoubtedly one of the most dominant metal acts of the past decade. Although already established at the time, their 2000 release, 'Follow the Reaper' is generally considered to be Bodom's magnum opus - boasting fan favorites such as 'Everytime I Die' and 'Hate Me!' The album is also a milestone in their home turf of Finland -- being the band's first and only platinum-selling album in the country.

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    'Lateralus' (2001)


    Tool may be the strangest band to ever be accepted by mainstream audiences. The incredibly deep and multidimensional band sold over two million copies of 'Lateralus' without abandoning their unique style worshiped by fans worldwide. The first single 'Schism,' consisting of 5/4, 7/8 and 13/16 time signatures, won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2002. Tool also based the title track on the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical pattern found within nature.

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    'Brave New World' (2000)

    Iron Maiden

    'Brave New World' isn't merely a brilliant album - it celebrated the return of frontman Bruce Dickinson after a seven-year absence and represents the birth of the Iron Maiden we see today. 'Brave New World' houses the classic Maiden track, 'The Wickerman' as well as the epics 'Ghost of the Navigator' and 'Out of the Silent Planet.' Dickinson recorded some of his finest vocal work on 'Brave New World,' which has gone gold in six countries.

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    'Iowa' (2001)


    Following the success of Slipknot's 1999 self-titled debut album, the possibility of a "sophomore slump" was very real. Instead, the band struck back with 'Iowa.’ Featuring the commercial success 'Left Behind' and the incredibly violent and hateful tracks 'People = S--t' and 'Disasterpiece,' the album went platinum in the U.S. and Canada. Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor would later refer to the album as the darkest period of his life.

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    'Toxicity' (2001)

    System of a Down

    System of a Down’s 'Toxicity' sent an addictive shockwave around the planet after its September 2001 release. The concoction of metal mixed with eclectic harmonies and Middle-Eastern influence sold over 12 million copies worldwide and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, despite System's underground status. The band pumped out the unique hits, 'Aerials,' 'Toxicity' and 'Chop Suey!' filled with monster riffs and diverse vocals. 'Toxicity' represents how a diamond in the rough can rise above commercial cliches with true originality and hardcore fans.