1998 didn’t go down as a banner year in heavy metal history, but then, things could have been worse – in fact they had been much worse, verging on cataclysmic, in recent times …

Since the advent of grunge, in fact, heavy music (at least the kind performed in leather, not flannel) had generally been marginalized in America, if not the rest of the world, and the recent emergence of nu-metal as a commercial bright spot offered little consolation.

So as one looks back at the strongest, most enduring albums released in 1998, the overarching impression is that of a transitional period: one where numerous younger styles – nu-metal, stoner metal, goth-metal, etc. – were still scratching for a foothold, while one older style, in particular – death metal – had achieved maturity and was producing some of its best works.

’98 was also unkind to heavy metal’s wizened ‘80s survivors, most of whom issued LPs not worthy of this list, but that of course meant hope for the future in the shape of many impetuous upstarts with nothing to fear, and everything to gain.

The final selection of the 10 Best Metal Albums of 1998 therefore turned out, half grab bag, half death fest, but one thing’s certain: it’s rarely predictable and never boring.