Decade In Review

author PP date 26/01/20

Looking back at the decade gone by, it's best to remind ourselves of the musical landscape we were dealing with as the fireworks went off ten years ago. It was the last surviving breaths of emo in its modern, Kerrang!-infused form, which had seen the genre painted as one wearing skinny jeans and eyeliner while sporting a multi-colored, funky haircut in the process throughout the decade. Bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco, not to even mention My Chemical Romance had either written themselves into irrelevancy or were in severe decline at the very least, alongside the main emo platform, Myspace, which had been largely replaced by Facebook at this point.

In the meantime, the other big winner of the 2000s, metalcore, was in a similar state of identity crisis: the Victory and Rise Records-led push for more breakdowns at the cost of actual songwriting was risking turning the genre stale and cliché, proving in true metallers eyes that the genre was basically poser metal just as they had been saying all along.

Time was therefore ripe for change: emo, post-hardcore, metalcore, punk, and hardcore were all in a varying state of identity crisis in the face of the surge of electronic music into the mainstream and the decline in their core appeal. The choice was simple: change or fade away back into the nichés. And looking through the records near the top of our lists from these genres, they're almost exclusively records that found a way to translate the energy and passion that's always defined these genres in a new, fresh manner to the audiences.

The emo/punk movement went basically in two directions: on one hand, The Menzingers and The Wonder Years blew the gates wide open by showing pop punk needn't be polished nor driven by cliché songs about girls; thus revealing a whole new, as of yet unseen side to the genre. In the meantime, bands like Title Fight introduced an indie-flavored, dreamy and shoegaze-influenced style of post-hardcore that dominated the first five years of the decade. Better yet, we saw other bands start to properly challenge their respective genre's defined boxes: bands like Torché, La Dispute, Japandroids, Fucked Up and Sonic Boom Six wrote innovative and unique records that to date have not been replicated by others.

This in turn allowed for the resurgence of the festival format: Groezrock had its glory days throughout the early 2010s, FEST became the main theme for any punk rock fans early on, both festivals followed by Slam Dunk and Manchester Punk Fest in the UK towards the second half of the decade.

And while this introduction has almost exclusively concentrated on emo/punk/hardcore and its subgenres, similar changes could be detected in the metal world, too, visible in the massive success of festivals like Hellfest and Roadburn, not to even mention Copenhell here at home.

So here's our view on the best records of the past ten years - show these lists to anyone who dares claim music went stale in the last decade. There's enough here to convince even the most hardened skeptic about just how much great music was released in the last ten years. PP

Petteri 'PP' Pertola

As the editor in chief for, I spent the last decade in a deep-dive into punk, emo and hardcore, and all their related genres, dissecting through probably two to three thousand albums in the genres and discovering just how much great music is being put out there. Constructing this list was a nightmarish scenario; I had to leave another fifty or so fantastic albums out that deserved to be on this list. Check out, in particular, the records #1-#17 as these could each be nominees for the album of the year in their respective years. And boy, was 2012 a great fucking year for music or what? PP>

Aleksi 'AP' Pertola

Our editor AP is a disciple of the riff, which means that you’ll most often find him scouring the realms of doom, prog, stoner and all things prefixed with post- for his fix. In general though, as long as the music creates bold fusions, pushes boundaries or leaves him perplexed, AP is probably the most genre-agnostic writer we have. What he abhors most are cheap tricks and clichés.

Honourable mentions:

Michael 'MAK' Hall

MAK joined the Rockfreaks team halfway through the decade, so quite a lot of his choices released prior to joining weren’t covered around the time of the release. What this list does show is the change in tastes MAK had as the decade went on, starting out more as a metalcore and hardcore fan and progressing to be more of a punk and ska fan for the most part as the years passed.

Kristoffer 'KW' Witt

My only rule for this list has been this: one album per artist. I have probably forgotten a lot of fantastic records, but can at least vouch for every single entry in here being stunning records in their own right.


A daunting task as it may be, we would love to hear your thoughts on what were the best records of the past ten years. Leave them in the comments below for debate!

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