Of course this whole thing would end with a numerical stalemate. At this level, I wouldn't dream of harshing on either of these competitors. Both Altered State and Parallax 2 are stone-cold masterpieces, the pinnacles of their respective genres. And as you can see by the scorecard, each album has a different, nominal edge over the other.
Ultimately, what the scorecard doesn't show is how much today's final battle is actually a referendum on what I get out of metal at this stage in my life. If you could have sat 18-year-old me down with both these albums (because of course that's what you'd do with time travel), that version of me would have picked Between The Buried And Me to win it all. And present-day-me wouldn't blame anyone for making that choice; Parallax 2 truly is BTBAM in their final form. But as I sit here today, I cannot deny that Altered State feeds me more fully... nor can I deny that it likely cast a longer shadow in the world of djent than Parallax did in prog metal.
There's a reason why I'm happy to think of these albums as my two favorite albums from the last decade. But there's only one Gilded Arse left, and I award it to TesseracT! Congratulations to the victors!
I've written a few more words (surprise surprise) about why it was time for me to bring The Arsies to a close, and what doing this for ten years has meant to me. If you're curious, head over to Metalligentsia for more. Regardless, you have my sincere thanks for being a part of this, and encouraging this madness. I hope you're happy now.