No one really knows when they're making an all time classic album. Every time you go into the studio, you always want to try and find something that no one's heard before and hope that it finds an audience. Once you taste that success though, there comes the pressure of trying to actually follow it up, and these bands were more than up to the challenge.
Rather than go with a copy and paste job of what they did before, these are the kind of albums that refined what the band had already done and somehow managed to make it even better. Whereas the first record may have felt like lightning in a bottle, this is where we got to see the band at the peak of their powers and going for something a lot more mature.
That doesn't account for the switchups though. The best version of these are the ones that manage to switch it up on the next record, going for a completely different mood that somehow feels seamless coming off of the last record they made.
If you're lucky in rock and roll, you can count your blessings if you get this kind of thing right once. When your band gets it right twice right out of the gate, you've reached another level of rock god.
10. Linkin Park
If you were into nu metal back in the early '00s, the arrival of Linkin Park was something a bit different than the Korns of the world. As much as people like to rag on Hybrid Theory now for how angsty it is, this was the sound of nu metal reaching its peak, with songs that had strong enough hooks to cross over to the mainstream. Especially when you have a Diamond certification to your record, that's going to be tough to beat...and the band were more than up to the challenge.
Writing while on the road to promote Hybrid Theory, the band blew all of the naysayers out of the water with Meteora, which managed to take everything they did on the first record and take it that much further. Along with the amazing blend of influences from metal and hip hop, there were the first attempts at softer material as well like on Breaking the Habit.
In just under half a decade, these would become the anthems for an entire generation of rock fans, with people being able to sing along with the entire rap verse of something like In the End or Faint without having to try all that hard. Though Linkin Park would take even more bold and exciting risks on their next few records, this is still the moment where their heavy riffs were untouchable.