Top 10 Albums of 1992
Looking back on the best albums of 1992, we find an eclectic mix of acts who helped lead a creative infusion of new ideas on the standard hard rock and metal formulas. It was a time when we learned that hard rock and metal could be grungy (Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains), groovy (White Zombie), proggy (Dream Theater) and politically infused (Rage Against the Machine). And it also proved to be a year when some established bands like Pantera and Megadeth delivered their most essential works. So let's take a look back in time with our list of the Top 10 Albums of 1992.
It's hard to dismiss Faith No More's 'Angel Dust' from the Top 10 Albums of 1992 when it yielded so many quality songs. The album, the band's second disc featuring Mike Patton as frontman, proved to be a worthy successor to 1989's 'The Real Thing.' Songs like 'Land of Sunshine,' 'A Small Victory,' 'Everything's Ruined,' and their odd cover of the Commodores' 'Easy' all connected with audiences, but it was the lead single, 'Midlife Crisis,' that ended up being the big hit on this record.
Was there a bigger buzz band in 1992 than Helmet? It seemed as though everyone caught up to the rockers with their sophomore set 'Meantime.' The unique riffs of singer/guitarist Page Hamilton combined with the powerful low-end coming from drummer John Stanier and bassist Henry Bogdan made Helmet a critics list favorite. 'Unsung' became an anthem for the alt-metal scene and 'In The Meantime' earned the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.
Industrial metal favorites Ministry continued to evolve with 'Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs.' This was arguably the band's biggest release, with the propulsive 'N.W.O.' leading the way. Al Jourgensen's 'ding-danging' on 'Jesus Built My Hotroad' was pure genius. Plus, the sample-infused 'Just One Fix' kept things interesting.
The music world caught up to White Zombie in 1992. Though grunge had taken over, there was room for some variations on the metal genre, and White Zombie's groove-and-funk metal filled a niche. The hard-hitting yet equally danceable 'Thunder Kiss '65' became the first radio hit for the band, while 'Black Sunshine' went on to become one of Zombie's most popular live songs.
Dream Theater's 'Images and Words' has to be included among the best albums of 1992 as it was the disc that put the band in the collective conscious of metal and prog-loving fans. James LaBrie's vocals on 'Pull Me Under' made it worthy of becoming the band's first commercial hit. Plus, the overall playing of guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy on this record set the tone for plenty of masterful records to follow.
Rage Against the Machine's first three singles didn't connect, but 'Freedom' finally brought Rage to the masses almost a full year after their debut album release. Once they finally hit, new fans discovered such concert gems as 'Killing in the Name' and 'Bullet in the Head.' Zack de la Rocha's politically-charged vocals and Tom Morello's dextrous guitar playing was unlike anything going on in rock at the time and provided a blueprint for many acts of that ilk to come.
The second wave of grunge began in '92, and Stone Temple Pilots led the way. With the blistering opening of 'Sex Type Thing,' Scott Weiland introduced a brand new voice to the game. But while STP showed they could rock out with tracks like 'Wicked Garden,' it was the bluesier, moodier songs like 'Plush' and 'Creep' that set them apart from their peers. 'Plush' became one of the biggest hits of the '90s.
Megadeth's 'Countdown to Extinction' is a must for the 10 Best Albums of 1992, and is one of their best works. There was plenty of rich material for Dave Mustaine to address on this classic effort. 'Symphony of Destruction' spoke to themes of political power, and the memorable video ended up being censored due to MTV's concern over an "assassination" scene. 'Sweating Bullets,' meanwhile, offered a schizophrenic look at society and how our conscious handles events.
Alice in Chains released possibly their best album, 'Dirt,' in '92. Buoyed by support from their 'Singles' soundtrack song 'Would?,' the disc got off to a fast start. A string of hard rocking hits including 'Them Bones,' 'Angry Chair,' and 'Down in a Hole' followed, but their fourth single 'Rooster' proved to be their most ambitious song. Finding the perfect blend of moody and aggressive vocals, Layne Staley took Jerry Cantrell's words about his soldier father and helped craft an instant classic.
Coming in at No. 1 on our list is Pantera's 'Vulgar Display of Power,' which was a must for any self-respecting metalhead in 1992. 'Mouth for War' became the band's first-ever charting single with sibling rockers Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell leading the way. The album's fourth single, 'Walk,' with its stop-and-go time signature and Phil Anselmo's legendary vocals, would eventually become an iconic track. Twenty years later, it's one of the most covered songs in metal.