The eleventh album by alternative/progressive rock darlings Anathema earns a low slot on this list, despite its sheer, inalienable brilliance, due to the simple fact that it's not really a metal record. However, given Anathema's doom metal roots and their intense popularity among metalheads, as well as the fact that The Optimist is the heaviest Anathema release in quite some time, it deserves to wriggle its way into the number twenty slot.
Instead of being a full-on metal attack, The Optimist is a diverse experience that encompasses all the connotations of the term "rock": at alternating points, it's melodic, it's fast, it's heartfelt, it's sombre, it's gloomy, it's ambient, but, most importantly of all, it's always undeniably Anathema.
Stylistically, The Optimist is the perfect bridge between the band's early, Gothic metal offerings, like the immaculate Judgement (1999), and their more modern, tranquil canon, which includes the serene Weather Systems (2012) among a great many other masterpieces. It continues the band's recent fascination with downbeat, beautiful compositions, yet it also features a greater emphasis on guitar-based antics than any other Anathema record of this decade.
For long-time fans of this continually amazing British six-piece, The Optimist is truly the best of both worlds.