1994 is considered to be one of the best years for music in general, being no exception in the realm of heavy metal music. Many, many classic albums came out that year. In no order, here are the ten best of those in time for the the year’s closure. Also check out our top ten alternative rock albums of 1994.
10. In Flames – The Lunar Strain
A band that has been infamous in the metal world for jumping the shark over and over for about the last ten years, but don’t let that make you forget how awesome their early albums were. The Lunar Strain is the debut album by these Swedish melodeath pioneers, featuring many of the genre’s early tropes such as melodic riffs and occasional clean vocals. It has more folk elements then later albums, incorporating acoustic guitar and violin in certain songs. After this album, In Flames and Dark Tranquility would swap vocalists.
9. Pantera – Far Beyond Driven
Pantera’s seventh album and their second best next to Cowboys from Hell. Far Beyond Driven is known for, at the time, being the heaviest album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The album spawned many Pantera classics such as “5 Minutes Alone” and “I’m Broken”. Not much to say about this album since its pretty well known… if you’re not already a Pantera fan, check it out!
8. Cannibal Corpse – The Bleeding
The final album with Chris Barnes and the bands finest hour. On this album, Cannibal Corpse plays a slightly more slowed down style of death metal as opposed to the previous three focusing on speed; the vocals became more decipherable, so now you can hear Cannibal Corpse’s beautiful lyrics nice and clear! Another change on the album was an increase in technicality, mainly in the bass.
7. Edge of Sanity – Purgatory Afterglow
From Sweden comes a metal album that was dedicated to Kurt Cobain. The style on this album is a fusion of melodic death metal and progressive metal. The brain child of Dan Swano (who did vocals, keyboards and on certain tracks guitars), this fourth offering by the band is the closest they ever had to commercial success. The clean vocal track “Black Tears” possessed one of their only music videos. This album is a great one to start with if you want to get into the band (or Dan Swano’s works in general)
6. Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
The debut album of these Norse black metal pioneers, which was actually started in 1987 but kept getting pushed back due to original vocalist Dead’s suicide and guitarist Euronymous’s murder. All of the tropes of second wave black metal is present here, including dark atmosphere, black beats, minimal musicianship, and low-fi production. These elements make for one of the most influential black metal albums and a good place to start for someone looking into 2nd wave black metal.
5. Emperor – In the Nightside’s Eclipse
The debut album by another great band from the Norse black metal scene, In the Nightside’s Eclipse is different from most other black metal albums at the time as in it was a lot more technical and had heavy use of keyboards. This album is normally considered to be the first symphonic black metal album. On later albums the prog and symphonic elements would increase (as well as anger from black metal elitists).
4. Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
Kyuss are mostly known for being Josh Homme’s original band, and Welcome to Sky Valley is the third album by these stoner metal/rock pioneers. The album has very good flow as it was meant to be listened to as a full album. Its easily Kyuss’s best album and one hell of a psychedelic whirlpool.
3. Darkthrone – Transylvanian Hunger
The pinnacle of the 90’s Norse black metal scene, Transyvlanian Hunter is this two piece band’s fourth album and third as a black metal band. Very minimalistic in its musicianship, Transyvlanian Hunter strips away any of the band’s influences that aren’t black metal; on earlier releases from Darkthrone, present were elements of death metal, doom metal, punk and classical, however this album just uses elements known in black metal, making it a pure black metal release.
2. Amorphis – Tales from the Thousand Lake
Opus by the ever changing Finnish band Amorphis. Here on their second album, the band transitions from a straight up death metal act to a fusion of melodeath and doom metal. This album adds clean vocal parts and synthesizers elements that were not present on their debut. There are also signs of folk and electronic influences. The album is based on the Finnish epic called the Kalevala. Amorphis will play this entire album at 2015’s Maryland Death Fest.
1. Acid Bath – When the Kite String Pops
And the list goes to a close with one of the most underrated albums of the 90’s. Hailing from New Orleans, Acid Bath were a sludge band at its core, mixing in elements of goth, grunge, psychedelic rock, death metal, black metal, folk music, and country. No two songs sound the same and the lyrics are very dark and artsy. They would only release one more album before splitting due to bassist Audie Pitre’s death. Sammy, the guitarist, would then go on to form Goatwhore and Dax, the lead singer, would have many later projects, more notable being the indie rock band Deadboy and the Elephantmen.