10 Best Metal Albums of 1993
A look back at 1993 reveals that it may not have been a big year for mainstream metal, but for those willing to delve a bit further and cross into the underground world of extreme metal, the year featured a number of landmark discs.
With extreme metal on the upswing, some death metal luminaries released standout albums in 1993. Those who came in at the end of the previous decade were readily adapting to the idea of change and left fans divided at the lines drawn in the sand. A host of high quality albums were released in 1993, including several that were incredibly heart-wrenching to leave off this list. Take a look at our list of the 10 Best Metal Albums of 1993:
Brazilian thrash titans Sepultura shocked fans when they started to abandon their signature sound in favor of a more groove-oriented midtempo slugfest. Naturally, this is where some fans call it a day for Sepultura, but those with an open mind embrace ‘Chaos A.D.’ What this album has going for it is that just about every single riff that Andreas Kisser and Max Cavalera lay down is better than the last. Whether it’s the opener ‘Refuse / Resist,’ ‘Propaganda,’ or ‘Biotech is Godzilla,’ this entire album is a moshpit masterpiece that will leave you black and blue.
In 1993, Carcass released a divisive album. While some fans yearned for the sloppy, gorier days that the band made their name on, many were content with Carcass evolving into melodic territory and forsaking the pitchshifter. Michael Amott (who would go on to form Arch Enemy) lent a significant hand in writing on ‘Heartwork’ as his affinity for melody had started to creep in two years earlier. With their sound polished up, Carcass took a simpler approach with more traditional song structures to work in harmony with the catchiness of ‘Carnal Forge’ and ‘No Love Lost.’ Despite this musical shift, the album is definitively Carcass with Bill Steer’s roaring guitar tone and Jeff Walker’s vicious vocal bite.
NOLA sludge outfit Eyehategod unleashed a definitive album that harbors hate, addiction, crust-punk influences, and groovy downtempo, downtuned mammoth riffs. Vocalist Mike Williams wretches his metaphorical lyrics forth, sounding like a man that can die at any moment. The band fine-tunes what their debut started as the quintet hit their stride. The ebb and flow of the writing is almost too perfect of a storm. Most members cite this as their favorite album they’ve done and with jams like ‘Blank’ and ‘30$ Bag,’ who can blame them?
Often overlooked because of the poor production value, ‘Breeding the Spawn’ is one of the finest slabs of death metal anyone has cooked up. The title track and ‘Prelude to Repulsion’ are holy writ when it comes to writing a perfect death metal tune. The band wanted to record at Morrisound Studios in Florida, but Roadrunner declined and sent them to someone who had never produced death metal. The drama led to Mike Smith’s first departure, but left the band with an extra edge. The sound here isn’t great, but anyone who has seen Suffocation live have heard these songs the way they were meant to be heard.
Rotting Christ were among the pioneers of the Hellenic black metal sound. While most other black metal bands were playing as fast as possible, this Greek outfit were content with a predominantly midtempo pace that allowed for their melodic playing to stand out. The production on ‘Thy Mighty Contract’ is haunting with the warm guitar tones and eerie synths. ‘Transform All Suffering into Plagues’ and ‘The Fourth Knight of Revelation’ borrow from the traditional metal style in their approach as a blackened twist is masterfully applied.
Progressive/alternative metal band Tool were one of the few bands to keep the heavy metal flame burning by crossing into the mainstream in the 1990s. The peculiar band’s debut album has since gone on to be certified double platinum by the RIAA. What is so fascinating about Tool’s success is that they took the grunge aesthetics and applied them to the antithesis of the popular movement’s aim by creating incredibly complex music. Music fans weren’t tired of complex music, they just wanted something new and Tool bridged the gap.
Cynic took what Atheist and Nocturnus were doing with the melodic and technical death metal formula and thrust it through a wormhole. In another dimension on the other side of that wormhole came the cult favorite ‘Focus.’ Paul Masvidal applies jazz-fusion techniques to his death metal savagery to concoct a truly unique blend that can immediately be identified only as Cynic. Utilizing a vocoder to separate the vocals from just the extreme is just another way that has made songs like ‘Veil of Maya’ and ‘How Could I’ so memorable and timeless.
Matt Pike has come to closest to imitating Tony Iommi’s megalithic riffing and Al Cisneros isn’t far behind in posing as Geezer Butler. While these two worship Black Sabbath like no other, they are more than just imitators. Sleep’s brand of psychedelic stoner doom takes on its own personality. The band captures just a tiny bit of the grunge feel from the ‘90s and blends it in well with their spaced out music. The opener ‘Dragonaut’ was featured on the ‘Gummo’ soundtrack as well.
Morbid Angel signed with Giant Records in 1993, becoming the first death metal band to ink a major label deal. While this panned out well for Morbid Angel with ‘Covenant’ going on to be the biggest selling death metal album in history, the suits were not impressed with the numbers. They just didn’t understand the ceiling of death metal. It takes a specific kind of person to appreciate the turmoil that Trey Azagthoth conjures on ‘Rapture,’ ‘The Lion’s Den,’ and the single that received air-time on ‘Beavis and Butthead,’ ‘God of Emptiness.’
Peter Steele and company found their sound with the genre-defining album ‘Bloody Kisses.’ With nearly all the Carnivore leftovers gone, Steele’s baritone croon pours through the speakers to set the mood for the goth metal masterpiece. Two of the Type O Negative's biggest songs, ‘Christian Woman,’ and ‘Black No. 1’ kick off the album with a dark and somber mood. Cuts like ‘Too Late: Frozen’ and ‘Blood & Fire’ are a little brighter sounding; so much so that everyone but Steele did not want the latter included on the album.