From Omnium Gatherum’s debut, Spirits and August Light, to the transcending record of Souvenirs from The Gathering, February 2003 was an alluring month for metal. We collected ten strong records that recently celebrated their twentieth-anniversary last month. 


01) Cult of Luna, The Beyond

The Beyond is the sophomore album by Swedish post-metal outfit Cult of Luna, released in February 2003 via Earache Records. The album was a step further from their initial sludge sound, as the concept took listeners to a bleak futuristic world filled with heavy riffs and haunting instrumental melodies. 





02) Dark Fortress, Profane Genocidal Creations

Germany’s melodic black metal outfit Dark Fortress released their sophomore effort, Profane Genocidal Creations, in February 2003. With subtle hints of Emperor and Satyriocon, the record successfully molded melodic and black metal elements into a cohesive whole, proving there are no limits to exceeding musical boundaries. 





03) Ministry, Animositisomina

Animositisomina is the eighth studio album by the industrial metal giants Ministry, released in February 2003. The record marked the last record with former bassist Paul Barker. It continued to execute their industrial roots before moving forward to a more metal direction on their next effort, 2004’s Houses of the Molé. 





04) Septicflesh, Sumerian Daemons

Sumerian Daemons, the sixth studio album by the Greek symphonic death metal titans, could have been their last. Imagine if Septicflesh remained defunct after their 2003 breakup. The 2007 reformation would have ceased to exist, and their rebirth with the vigorous 2008’s Communion would have been left with invisible imagination. 





05) Omnium Gatherum, Spirits and August Light

Spirits and August Light officially introduced the musical genius of Markus Vanhala, which began with the Finnish melodic death metal act Omnium Gatherum.





06) The Gathering, Souvenirs

What happened after the solid 2000 record of The Gathering’s If Then Else? Well, the Dutch rock outfit, with legendary vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen still with the group at the time, transitioned towards a softer, experimental approach with their seventh album, Souvenirs, released in February 2003, through their own independent label, Psychonaut Records, which was founded by the band in 1999. The album features a more atmospheric and dreamy sound compared to their earlier works and eventually was the beginning of their continued multi-transitional directions.  





07) Strapping Young Lad, Strapping Young Lad (SYL)

Strapping Young Lad, or SYL, is the third album from the Canadian metal outfit formed by the one-and-only Devin Townsend. It’s arguably the most successful record from the group that is, sadly, no more. 





08) Dragonforce, Valley of the Damned

In February 2003, Valley of the Damned arrived, marking Dragonforce’s debut album. Initially, under the name of Dragonheart, the lineup for Dragonforce was much different twenty years ago, with ZP Theart behind the mic. It was the perfect introduction to the lightning-fast guitar riffs and electrifying energy, one that persists roughly two decades later.  





09) Sonata Arctica, Winterheart’s Guild

Winterheart’s Guild is the third studio album by the Finnish power metal giants Sonata Arctica, released in February 2003. With fast-paced anthems and melodic ballads, this classic record is now arguably considered one of the top power metal albums ever.





10) God Dethroned, Into The Lungs of Hell

2003’s Into The Lungs of Hell is the fifth record by the Dutch metal outfit God Dethroned. It was the first step toward their more melodic death metal style, which has since evolved.