I suppose 1992 should be remembered for heavy metal going into a
rather long hibernation from the public eye with the advent of grunge
and the alternative nation but for me 1992 was year zero. 13 years old, I
discovered heavy metal thanks to a feature in a tabloid called The Sun
about a British band called Iron Maiden and their “Fear of the dark”
album. That cover with the evil tree monster had me fascinated.
Memories mostly consist of saving up my weekly pocket money and
cycling every Saturday after school to the 3 record stores that stocked
bootleg heavy metal cassettes. I would spend hours examining each album
cover before finally buying one cassette. Also, my 14th birthday that
year was particularly sad. There was one store that had just started
stocking CDs and all I really wanted for my birthday was Iron Maiden’s
“Killers”(that was one hell of an evil looking cover and even better
than the tree monster). All my parents wanted to get me was a fucking
wrist watch. My parents won.
I’m not going to go into world events and shit like that here. If
you are Indian and were alive and old enough to comprehend in 1992, then
you know it was a shitty year all round. It started with getting our
asses kicked in the Cricket World Cup and ended with a whole lot of
crazy, religious douche bags destroying a mosque that was a few hundred
years old. Not good times.
What was good though, was the music. 1992 had some amazing albums
that have turned out to be seminal works by the bands’ concerned and
also albums with phenomenal staying power. So here’s a long and often
nostalgic look at my top albums from 1992.
In 1992, under the onslaught of grunge and the alternative nation,
good old heavy metal had just started a period of hibernation. Or maybe
that should be hiding. Quality albums were still being released but you
just had to look harder to find them.
Skyclad: Burnt Offerings for the Bone Idol
Was Skyclad the first folk metal band in the world? I don’t know really
but they are the only folk metal band I care about. Main man Martin
Walkyier moved away from the thrash of Sabbat to a more rock n roll/
heavy metal with a fiddle approach on Skyclad. The folk elements weren’t
as well integrated into the sound as they would be but “Burnt offerings
for the bone idol” still has really good songs and Walkyier’s excellent
lyrics. They would really nail their sound on the next album, the
awesome “Prince of the poverty line” but as a precursor to greatness,
“Burnt offerings for the bone idol” is well worth your time.
Standout track: The declaration of indifference
Manowar: Triumph of Steel
There was a time when Manowar wasn’t a joke. “Triumph of steel” is
probably the most bombastic and ambitious album Manowar put out. The
epic 28 minutes of the Achilles tale, “The Devil’s Whip” and the
ridiculous theatricality of “Master of the wind” all impressed the shit
out of me when I was a teenager. Along with “Battle Hymns” and “Hail to
England”, “Triumph of steel” is essential Manowar. The fold out sleeve
with the art of a warrior on the mountain surrounded by large breasted,
largely naked women was also a plus in the band’s favor.
Stand out track: The Demon’s Whip
Iced Earth: Night of the Stormrider
If this album had come out in the 80s then maybe Iced Earth would have
broken through a lot sooner. In 1992, this was a slightly odd album with
its shameless pandering to 80s heavy metal and Judas Priest worship.
Fucken great songs though and this is the only Iced Earth album I can
put on anytime and bang my head to. Also, it doesn’t have the excessive
drama that Barlow would bring to everything he did with the band and it
has aged a lot better as a result.
Stand out track: Pure evil
Danzig: III – How the Gods Kill
The first 4 Danzig albums are untouchable. Just really solid hard rock/
heavy metal and while I prefer the morose atmosphere of “4”, “How the
gods kill” is quality. The band was in top form, wrote some great songs
and the album was cloaked in this gloomy atmosphere that just worked
perfectly. “Sistinas”, “Dirty black summer” and the title song stand out
but there isn’t a weak song here.
Standout track: How the gods kill
Black Sabbath: Dehumanizer
This was the first Black Sabbath album to get a legitimate release in
India. I remember a huge sense of excitement that we were getting an
“original” tape! More importantly, Dio was back. Iommi, Butler, Dio and
Appice actually managed to craft a pretty good album and TV Crimes,
Master of Insanity and Computer God all kept the die-hard Sabbath fans
Stand out track: TV Crimes
Thrash metal is something I grew up with and it’s the one sub-genre
I’m really geeky about. Searching for forgotten thrash albums from the
80s and 90s is something I really enjoy and there were just so many
thrash bands then that the chances of discovering quality bands from
that era are still pretty high. By 1992, Thrash was on the decline and
“groove-thrash” or groove metal as defined by “Cowboys from hell” and
“Burn my eyes” was on the rise. 1992 had some commercial monsters like
“Countdown to extinction” and “Vulgar display of power” but it also had
its fair share of quality albums that never really got the recognition
Demolition Hammer: Epidemic of violence
I’m not sure where I first got this. It’s recorded on a 90 minute tape
with Comecon’s “Megatrends in brutality” on the other side and the
recording was pretty good too. Regardless, “Epidemic of Violence” was
just this violent, aggressive, kick to the face and something that left
me in awe. Just as traditional thrash metal seemed to be dying,
Demolition Hammer released one of the last classics of the genre.
Stand out track: Envenomed
Sadus: A vision of misery
Sadus used to be a big deal growing up but they hardly seem to get a
mention these days. “A Vision of Misery” is the 2nd album from this trio
and they just sound supremely confident and the high quality technical
thrash has a swagger to it. Memorable song writing, excellent
musicianship and a thick and heavy production makes “A vision of misery”
stand out to this day. Steve DiGorgio’s bass playing may have got the
most attention but honestly, all three of these guys could play and
create kickass music.
Stand out track: Slave to misery
Geisha Goner: Catching broadness
“Catching broadness” is a bit of a forgotten thrash metal gem. Maybe
this Polish band was just way ahead of its time (or maybe the silly name
and stiff use of English worked against them) but the technical thrash
on this album reaches breathtaking heights at times and that thick and
loud bass guitar is something else.
Stand out track: Yossarian
Fallen Angel: Faith Fails
On first listen, this Swedish band sounds like a Metallica clone and
there were loads of those around. Spend some time with “Faith Fails”
though and it turns into a complex and layered slice of thrash that gets
better with every listen. This is yet another band that never got its
due but is well worth hunting down.
Stand out track: Spectacle of fear
Stygian: Planetary destruction
Just the one album from this almost forgotten American band and this was
some classy thrash metal with memorable songs, great musicianship, a
thick and heavy sound and an adherence to traditional thrash when most
bands seemed to be headed in a groove direction. Also, extra points for
that epic thrash ballad about economic inequality and taxing the rich,
Stand out tracks: Catastrophic deed
1992 was a fantastic year for death metal. The originators had
progressed to a point where they were now proficient with their
instruments and the genre had well and truly exploded. Finland had a
banner year with Demigod, Convulse and Amorphis all releasing their
debuts while America and Sweden continued to dominate. My favourite
album though, came from the UK and the biggest problem for me was what
to leave out.
Bolt Thrower: The IVth crusade
When I first got this album on tape, it came with a typed out piece of
paper with the song titles and no album name. The album started with
“Embers” and ended with “Celestial Sanctuary”. The volume on the tape
would vary entirely on its own and I had paid good money for this. After
a cursory listen it went into the “bad buy” pile. It was only a couple
of years later, with a friend raving about “The IVth Crusade” that I
heard the album in the way it was meant to be. It was still on a
recorded tape but at least I had the whole album and now knew what it
was called. As for the music, I don’t think there’s anything left to say
about this album. Play the fucker and let Bolt Thrower burn your world.
Stand out track: The IVth crusade
This is the second album from Benton and gang. “Satan spawn: the cacao
demon” and “Revocate the agitator” should tell you all you need to know
but this is some hateful satanic death metal. Deicide would never match
the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the first 2 albums and while their
debut is an all time classic, “Legion” is very, very close.
Stand out tracks: Revocate the Agitator
Autopsy: Acts of the unspeakable
This was my first Autopsy album and it certainly wasn’t age appropriate
listening. Punkish death metal, chaotic lead guitars, slowed down doom
sections all combined to make this album stand out but when Reifert did
that whole “You fucking whore….. fuck you!!!” bit in the title song it
felt like I was listening to something really dangerous and evil. Also,
those lyrics still make me squirm. I loved it then and I love it now.
Stand out track: An act of the unspeakable
Cannibal Corpse: Tomb of the Mutilated
Cannibal Corpse was a sort of rite of passage growing up; if you could
handle “Tomb of the mutilated” then your street cred automatically went
up a few notches. Also, that fucking CD sleeve was worse than any porn
and it was photocopied and passed around a lot more than any porn too.
Getting caught with it by my parents would have meant a trip to a temple
to wash away my sins and then a visit to the psychiatrist to see if my
folks had birthed a crazy person. I’m not sure if the art, song titles
and lyrics can still shock today but leaving all that aside, “Tomb of
the mutilated” is some high quality death metal and the songs hold up.
The band would go on to greater things but 20 years later, this is an
important album in the genre.
Stand out track: Hammer smashed face
Gorefest’s debut album “Mindloss” is a fun but mostly standard death
metal debut. The follow up, “False” showed an incredible growth in the
band as musicians and songwriters and the result is an album of death
metal that has just stood the test of time. It doesn’t get spoken of as
much as some of the other acknowledged classics from 1992 but it’s as
good as anything that was released in that year. Right from album opener
“The glorious dead” all the way through to the mid paced hard rock
groove of closer “Tired moon” this album still sounds as fresh as when I
first heard it.
Stand out track: False
Demigod: Slumber of sullen eyes
This is the finest slice of death metal to come out of Finland. Ever.
Incantation: Onward to Golgotha
Debut album from this New York horde and “Golgotha” set the template that countless other bands would follow.
Amorphis: The Karelian Isthmus
“Tales from a thousand lakes” might get more acclaim but this one and “Elegy” are all the Amorphis I need.
Malevolent Creation: Retribution
Forever relegated to the second tier but “Retribution” just kicks so much ass.
In 1992, things were pretty bright for doom metal. The Peaceville 3
and Cathedral were all active. Solitude Aeturnus released their first
great album, Trouble was branching out towards newer sounds and while
Candlemass had a quiet 1992, there were another bunch of Swedes who
ensured that the country was represented.
Solitude Aeturnus: Beyond the crimson horizon
It took me forever to actually get this album. For years, all I had to
go on were snippets in magazines about its greatness and talk of how
rare an album it was. “Adagio” and “Downfall” were the only albums I had
and “Beyond the crimson horizon” was just one hard album to get. Then
Metal Mind re-released the album and it turned out all the talk of its
greatness was spot on. The guitars of John Perez and Edgar Rivera were
absolutely fantastic, Robert Lowe’s vocals were epic and the songs
fucking ruled. This is THE doom album of 1992.
Stand out track: It came upon one night
My Dying Bride: As the flower withers
My Dying Bride would go on to achieve doom metal immortality with “Turn
loose the swans” but as far as debuts go, this was pretty great. “As the
flower withers” is a dark and atmospheric doom metal album with plenty
of their death metal influence still intact. The gothic romanticism of
the lyrics gave the music a haunted and at times wretched feel. The band
would go on to far greater things but this is one hell of a starting
Stand out track: Sear me
Trouble: Manic Frustration
Imagine a doom band that secretly loved The Beatles and were finally
unafraid to start showing it. Trouble had started the change on their
previous self titled album and the music was slowly shifting from Bible
inspired doom metal to stoner friendly psychedelic metal. There really
isn’t a lot of doom here but there are a whole bunch of killer songs.
Trouble’s early material is often and quite rightly lauded for being
some high quality doom but Manic Frustration is their one essential
Stand out track: Memory’s garden
Count Raven: Destruction of the Void
Sweden’s Count Raven have always been worshiped by doom fans and ignored
by everyone else. Maybe Black Sabbath worship wasn’t fashionable in the
90s but these Swedes hit one out of the park with their second album
“Destruction of the void”. This is straight up classic heavy metal
influenced doom with some great songs, superb guitar playing and a
vaguely psychedelic bent that has helped “Destruction of the Void” stand
up really well over the years. A bit of an obscurity from 1992 but if
you like doom metal at all, then this is quite essential.
Standout track: Let the dead bury the dead
There are very few black metal bands from the 90s that I really care
about. Darkthrone sucked after “Soulside Journey” and Burzum was just
painful to listen to. Still, there was some interesting stuff happening
with black metal in 1992.
Immortal: Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism
I love this band. Immortal’s visual image was a bit goofy and comedic
but put that away from your mind and the music was often quite
brilliant. “Diabolical Fullmoon Myticism”, their debut still had traces
of the band’s liking for Celtic Forst, Mercyful Fate and Bathory and the
appearance of acoustic guitars and subtle keyboards managed to create
what was really their most atmospheric album. This may not have the all
out attack of “Battles in the North” or the other worldly icy cold
grimness of “Blizzard Beasts” but it still stands as one hell of a
Stand out track: Call of the Wintermoon
Marduk: Dark endless
The first time I heard Marduk, I didn’t know what I was listening to. I
had no frame of reference for this music. Death metal with a bad
production and screechy vocals seemed like a good description. On “Dark
Endless” Marduk is a death metal band that’s slowly but surely moving
towards the black. There are some great songs here that still sound
fresh. I love this band and “Dark Endless” shows where and how these
Swedes got their start.
Stand out track: The funeral seemed to be endless
After a few demos, this Brazilian band made its full length debut in
1992 with “Wicca”. What we get here is some harsh and aggressive black
metal that borrows from Bathory, thrash and death metal but manages to
add enough unique energy to the mix and make music that is honest and
uncompromising. Mystifier is almost like a precursor to the war metal/
bestial blackened bands that were to come later in the decade. Right
through the 90s, Mystifier stood alone and their 4 albums went largely
unrecognized till a sort of revival happened in the last few years with
Nuclear War Now’s stunning 6 LP box set and greater visibility on the internet.
Stand out track: Tormentum aeternum
Root: Temple in the underworld
Even as the second wave of black metal was taking hold, in
Czechoslovakia, Root was making some pretty unique music. They took
inspiration from Celtic Frost and Bathory but ran in a completely
different direction to their peers in northern Europe. In 1992, Root
unleashed “Temple in the underworld” and after 2 albums of raw,
dissonant black metal, vocalist Big Boss and guitarist Blackie had both
come into their own. This is epic, fearless and transcends the genre.
Big Boss’s baritone is powerful and Blackie’s guitar playing is often
brilliant. Even 20 years after the release of this album, there’s
nothing out there that sounds like this.
Stand out track: Casilda’s song
Samael: Blood ritual
“Passage” might be the acknowledged classic in Samael’s discography but
honestly, if you’re in the mood for some mid-paced Celtic Frost
worshiping black metal, “Blood Ritual” is perfect. Great songs, a thick
and heavy sound and lots of replay value. Early Samael was some kvlt
shit and “Blood Ritual” just doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.
Stand out track: After the Sepulture
1992 was a quiet year for grindcore. Napalm Death made a halfhearted
return to the genre with “Utopia Banished”, Agathocles released their
debut full length and in Sweden, a band called Nasum was born. In terms
of classic releases though, there really was just the one album.
Brutal Truth: Extreme conditions demands extreme responses
I only heard this album in the mid 90s when I knew of Dan Lilker from
Anthrax and Nuclear Assault but I had no idea what to expect from Brutal
Truth. When that opening riff started to build in “Birth of Ignorance”
it promised a storm but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for
Kevin Sharp’s vocal attack or the sheer, face melting intensity of the
next one hour. This was an album designed perfectly for the times and
Brutal Truth just effortlessly left their mark on grindcore.
Stand out track: Birth of ignorance
Agathocles: Theatric symbolization of life
Agathocles is a bit of an acquired taste. This is some dirty, chaotic
grind that has more in common with punk than metal. Their debut full
length came after a string of demos, splits and EPs and the album
occasionally flirted with death metal and hints of doom. Over the years
this Belgian trio has been a bit inconsistent but “Theatric
symbolization of life” shows a hungry band with something to say.
Stand out track: Lack of personality
Painkiller: Buried Secrets EP
Speaking of acquired taste, imagine John Zorn, Bill Laswell and Mick
Harris in the same band, playing music that mixed Zorn’s taste for
avant-garde jazz with grindcore and noise. Justin Broadrick and GC Green
of Godflesh turned up as guests on this EP and Painkiller was just way
ahead of its time. This is fucked up music and stands entirely on its
own while being in the grindcore genre. Not for the faint of heart but
well worth tracking down for genre buffs or fans of experimental music.
Stand out track: Buried secrets
Growing up, “industrial” was a term that could be used to praise or
revile bands. A metal band who claimed to have added “industrial
elements” to their sound were often looked upon with suspicion and metal
heads who claimed to like industrial, even more so. There were a few
exceptions to this rule though and these 4 albums are what most bands
were hoping to emulate but few ever came close to.
A weekend cycling trip to the not so friendly bootlegger sometime in
1994 resulted in me being the proud owner of “Pure”, “Pleasures of the
flesh” and “Nothing to gain”. The thrash was familiar but “Pure” was a
completely different beast. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I knew I
was listening to something totally new. The music was pounding and
repetitive and it made me uncomfortable and left me with an uneasy
feeling in my stomach. Early Godflesh was usually described as a “bad
trip” and “Pure” was the worst (best). It doesn’t have the same impact
anymore but it’s still a great album.
Stand out track: Pure
Ministry: Psalm 69
“N.W.O.”, “Jesus built my hotrod”, “Just one fix”. Is that enough? Sure,
elitists might say the 2 albums before this were better but “Psalm 69”
is just ridiculously catchy, has tremendous replay value and is to this
day being ripped off by bands. I’ve spent too many nights driving around
the city with this blasting through the speakers to ignore “Psalm 69”.
Ministry were never before or again, this awesome.
Stand out track: Just One Fix
White Zombie: La Sexorcisto – Devil Music Vol.1
White Zombie fucking ruled. This was maybe not as industrial as they
would become on the next album but La Sexorcisto brought together Rob
Zombie’s love for B movies, J Yuenger’s badass riffing and Sean Yseult’s
punkish bass lines and turned it into something completely new. Almost
like a Misfits for the 90s. It helped that they wrote great songs too.
Stand out track: Black sunshine
Front Line Assembly: Tactical neural implant
Yes fine, this isn’t metal, it’s just industrial but “Tactical neural
implant” has had an unbelievable influence on metal right through the
years. From the whole trend of metal bands incorporating industrial/
electronic sounds in the 90s to this day when this album is still being
ripped off by brand new bands with supposed electronic influences. FLA
themselves would bite the bullet and include metal guitars and have
Devin Townsend guest on the next album “Millennium” but there’s
something timeless about the sounds on “Tactical neural implant”.
Stand out track: Mindphaser
Odds and Ends
1992 had some albums that were simply the start of something new. I
wish I was around and had access to that first review of Neurosis’s
“Souls at zero” or Integrity’s “Those who fear tomorrow” or even
Eyehategod’s “In the name of suffering”. What were they described as,
what references did those journalists have for music like that? These
are a few albums that are hugely influential but didn’t really fit into
any existing sub-genre of metal at that time.
Alice in Chains: Dirt
Growing up in the 90s, grunge and alternative rock was the great enemy.
Nirvana and Pearl Jam were to be scoffed at and their fans were the
object of derision and even outright hate. Not Alice in Chains though.
“Sounds like doom metal” and “Sounds like Sabbath” were phrases often
used to justify our embracing this band. Right from the opening notes of
the title song, you knew you were in for something special and it
delivered. This album has had a wide influence on various genres of
heavy music and is a classic not just from 1992 but from that entire
Standout track: Dirt
Rage Against The Machine: RATM
I remember the first time I saw the video for “Freedom” on MTV.
It was noisy as fuck, the vocalist was going crazy and it was about
some Native American who was wrongly imprisoned. That video made quite
an impression on me and that first album is still some of the angriest,
most confrontational popular music to come out of the 90s. “Evil empire”
may have been the more polished album but there’s something about the
visceral intensity of “Freedom” and “Killing in the name of…” that makes
this debut stand out.
Standout track: Freedom
Integrity: Those who fear tomorrow
My first brush with Integrity happened courtesy of a faded, photo copied
and passed around issue of Terrorizer magazine sometime in the late 90s
which reviewed “Seasons in the size of days”. Main man Dwid Hellion
seemed like a madman and it really was enough for me to start hunting
for that album. I only heard “Those who fear tomorrow” in 2007 when the
15th anniversary edition came out and damn, this was a monster. Mixing
hardcore, punk and metal into one incredibly heavy and confrontational
sound, Integrity destroyed everything on their debut. I think metalcore
started here and then just kept getting diluted over the years. “Those
who fear tomorrow” is an ugly, hate filled album that can wear you down
with its uncompromising attitude and it is an absolute classic.
Stand out track: March of the damned
Neurosis: Souls at zero
The first Neurosis album I heard was “The Word as Law”. It was billed as
thrash, turned out to be some sort of hardcore and I hated it. Then,
quite a few years later, reading about all the praise showered on
“Through silver in blood” I figured I’d give this band another shot and
I’m really glad I did. Neurosis is one of my all time favourite bands
and the love started here. This was unlike any music I’d heard at that
point in my life and I simply had no point of reference to describe it.
“Souls at zero” was heavy, strangely psychedelic music with a bloody
flute and saxophone in the mix. Mind had been blown and mind continues
to be blown every time I put this on. The band’s first great album and
an all round classic.
Stand out track: Sterile vision
Eyehategod: In the name of suffering
Take hardcore and slow those riffs down. Sure, Melvins were doing the
whole sludge thing already but Eyehategod just seemed so much more
deranged. The band would go on to release better albums but there’s
something about “In the name of suffering” with all its dark, twisted
riffs and drugged out, downer atmosphere that gets to me every time.
While America was spawning a whole host of bands that would go on to
define the “sludge” scene, Eyehategod was first out of the blocks with a
full length and this album is still just as dark and fucked up as when I
first heard it.
Stand out track: Man is too ignorant to exist
And there you have it. 1992 was a terrific year for music with some
genuine classics, loads of high quality releases from bands old and new
and some that just grabbed me by the scruff of the neck. The advent of
grunge and the changing face of heavy rock really had no impact at all
on the genre except that you maybe had to dig a little deeper to find
new music. Agree, disagree, come on to the boards and tell me all about