1993 was another year where there weren't many mind-blowing all time great metal CDs, but there were a bunch of really good, solid releases. The benefit of doing these lists so many years later is that enough years have elapsed to judge which albums have stood the test of time, and 1993 was a good year for that. It was a really strong year for extreme metal, with groups like Death, Carcass and Entombed making the list along with more commercial bands like Anthrax and Type O Negative.
After coming in number 2 on my list of best metal albums of 1991, Sepultura made it to the top in 1993. Chaos A.D. was in the middle of the run of exceptional albums the band released between 1989's Beneath The Remains and 1996's Roots. Chaos A.D. was a masterful CD with music that was laser focused with complex rhythms and so many different elements packed into each song. The band took risks and infused some native sounds as well. The final result is an album that's a little slower in tempo than some of their previous releases, but the groove is stronger, and the experimentation worked.
Grindcore pioneers Carcass eventually evolved into more of a death metal band, and in 1993 everything came together perfectly and they released one of their best albums. Heartwork was as intense and punishing as their earlier material, but they managed to squeeze in a little more melody that made it even better. There are some monster guitar riffs on this album, and the songs are brutal, yet really memorable. This is a must own for death metal fans.
Death's Human ranked number three on my 1991 list, and Individual Thought Patterns continued the band's run of outstanding albums. There were a couple of lineup changes, as King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque and Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan joined the band. Their presence made for a more technically proficient and little less raw sounding album. There are some great guitar solos, and Hoglan is one of the best drummers in the business. Chuck Schuldiner's vocals weren't quite as strong here, but overall it's still a first-rate death metal album.
Morbid Angel released one of the classic metal albums in 1989 with Altars Of Madness, which I picked as the top album released that year. Covenant wasn't as influential as that groundbreaking release, but it was still one of Morbid Angel's best. They were a trio for this album with only one guitarist. The result was an album that was focused and brutal. It was also their most diverse album to date, both in terms of the music and lyrical approach.
Anthrax helped establish thrash metal in the '80s, and by the '90s were evolving. Sound Of White Noise was the first album with new vocalist John Bush (Armored Saint), who replaced Joey Belladonna. It's a polarizing album for fans, some who hated the band's more accessible sound and grunge influences. Others think it's one of their best, focused and melodic with plenty of old school speed metal with modern influences. Highlights include "Hy Pro Glo," "Only" and "Invisible."
Life Of Agony were a Brooklyn, New York band that mixed metal and hardcore. River Runs Red was their debut album. It was dark and angry with elements of thrash, hardcore and even Seattle style grunge. Vocalist Keith Caputo has a unique sounding voice that made LoA stand out. Their career would have its ups and downs and the band would split in the late '90s before reforming a few years ago. Their first release remains their best.
Cynic was a Florida band who released one album in 1993, split, and eventually reunited and released a new CD in 2008. Their debut album was an outstanding one. Focus masterfully blended death and thrash metal with jazz and electronica, creating a progressive and very unique sound. They combined extreme and intense metal with progressive and new agey music and made it work. They also had dual vocalists which added even more diversity. If you're a fan of progressive metal it's well worth your while to locate this often overlooked gem of an album.
By their fourth album, the UK band Paradise Lost had moved from the doom/death sound of their first few releases to a more gothic style. Icon is dark, dense and melancholy. Nick Holmes' vocals weren't as extreme on this album, but his growls fit in perfectly with Paradise Lost's musical evolution. My favorite tracks include "Embers Fire" and "Joys Of The Emptiness."
Entombed's 1990 debut Left Hand Path was a groundbreaking and highly influential release in extreme metal. Their third album was Wolverine Blues, and a high point for the band, who drew increasing criticism with each successive release until a critical rebound in the 2000s. It is a strong death metal album jam packed with songs that aren't played at breakneck speed, but have a massive groove. "Hollowman" and "Heavens Die" are highlights of an album from a group whose first few releases helped pave the way for Scandinavian metal.
Bloody Kisses was the third release from the New York gothic metal band Type O Negative, and the one that vaulted them to platinum success. Dark melodies and the unique baritone vocals of Peter Steele saw "Black No. 1" getting constant play on MTV and a lot of radio exposure as well. Their campy cover of the seventies lite rock song "Summer Breeze" was another highlight.