Year in review: 1994

Year in review: 1994

07/09/12  ||  BamaHammer

Year in review

It was the best of times. I turned 13 that summer.
Like any 13-year old kid, I was as impressionable as wet Play-Doh then.
Decidedly nerdy and uninterested in making friends or playing sports
seriously or whatever else American teenagers did, I simply allowed
myself to become completely absorbed in things that I liked, namely
comic books, video games, movies, and of course, music. This was the
year that metal got a hold on me and decided it was never letting go.


This was the year, man. Look…

Billy C Forrest Gump. NAFTA. Mortal Kombat II and pixelated blood. Kurt Cobain and real blood. Friends. Final Fantasy III. The train wreck of Spider Man’s clone. Dumb & Dumber. ER. The “murder” of Professor X. Paula Jones. Serbia vs. Bosnia. The explosion of Magic: the Gathering. No World Series. Donkey Kong Country. Rwanda. OJ. The PlayStation. Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Brazil and the World Cup. Haiti. Speed. The New York Rangers. Pulp Fiction. Wrestlemania X. Bill Clinton. The Internet.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It goes on and on and on.
There was no better time in history to be a metal kid. Especially in
America, things were as good as they’ve ever been, and everything
‘Merican pop culture was excreting at the time reflected that feeling of
invincibility. While popular music was firmly clutched in the throes of
grunge and thrash was grasping at straws, bands like Pantera were still
finding ways to give everyone a swift kick in the pants.

In Europe, black metal had been stealing headlines and scaring the
bejeezus out of everyone for a few years with the lifestyle, and by ’94,
the music was beginning to round finely into form. Even the sound of
metal was changing, particularly guitar amplifiers. The Marshall JCM 800’s were being cannibalized by newer models like the vastly underrated JCM 900 Mark III
and the absolutely dreadful Marshall 4100, and even the high-gain Mesa
models were becoming legitimately commonplace in the scene by way of
Metallica. It was a very exciting time when the entire industry was
rapidly evolving from top to bottom.

This is essentially my take on the greatest year in history from my perspective back then.
Before you get your panties in a wad, just understand that this was
well before the advent of Internet music sharing, and bands like Emperor
and Grave were sadly unknown to me for several years after 1994. So, as
you hop into this time machine, just know that I’ll be giving you the
rundown of the albums that shaped the soundscape of 1994 according to an
annoying, teenage me from almost 20 years ago. Yikes. If I was making
the list with all the knowledge that I have now, you can bet your
favorite pair of Reebok Pumps that it would look a lot different.

So turn in your key at the front desk of the Black Hand Inn, call
shotgun in that white Ford Bronco with some good friends and a bottle of
pills, and be a part of of the soulless limo wreck that was 1994, a
train of consequences during a time when life was like a box of
chocolates and there was serenity in murder. You’ll find out just how
low you can go on this downward spiral towards the twilight. For if the
light takes us into the infinity of thoughts or to the promised land,
there will be no quarter at that last exit of the fourth dimension. Get
nostalgic and enjoy this trip back in time to the greatest year in human
history before it’s buried by time and dust. So get busy living, or get
busy dying. Definitely. Maybe. If you can’t handle it, then bitches – leave.

Soundgarden: Superunknown Soundgarden: Superunknown

I still say that there are two kinds of people in the world: people
who love “Superunknown” and people with absolutely no musical taste
whatsoever. This remains one of the best albums ever written and
recorded, regardless of style or genre, and it still holds up well after
all these years. Soundgarden managed to make oddities like 5/4 or or
7/4 time signatures seem as natural as a simple, groovy dance beat.
“Superunknown” is a whopping fifteen classic tracks that defined the
absolute best of heavy, sludgy grunge, and this album served as one of
the most memorable gateway drugs to darker and heavier albums that were
out there at the time. Without it, I have no idea exactly what I’d be
listening to now.

Slayer: Divine Intervention Slayer: Divine Intervention

Here’s how stupid I was at 13: I thought Metallica was better than
Slayer. The first time I saw the cover of “Divine intervention”, I had
to have it. I’ve always been attracted to evil-looking monochrome album
covers, and this one was amazing at the time. When I finally did
scrounge up enough cash to buy this one (and I remember it was a huge
hassle because of the PMRC), I remember being blown away and a little intimidated by the speed and aggression. I had always heard of Slayer, but I had never actually heard
Slayer as a kid. Obviously, now I understand that they had much better
albums out there even then, but this one just goes to show you what a
good album cover could do for you as far as selling your record. I
listened to this album constantly, and I still give it spins here and
there. I even had to purchase it again a few years ago because I had
simply worn it out. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the impact this
album had on me, I don’t know what does.

Obituary: World Demise Obituary: World Demise

I honestly can’t remember any exposure to death metal before getting
a copy of “World Demise” one night at the mall in 1994. I vividly
remember staring at that classic logo on the cover as it sat there on
the rack in the Sound Shop and deciding then and there that I had to
have it. Then John Tardy scared the poo right out of me the first time I
heard him through my headphones, and I absolutely loved it. Songs like
“Don’t care” and “Final thoughts” constantly rolled through my mind at
school, and I would (try to) draw that Obituary logo on everything. The
guitar tone was unlike anything I had ever heard before as well, and it
even inspired me to emulate it on my own crappy guitar rig (a cheap
Squier strat, a slightly less cheap solid state Marshall combo, and a
truly crappy DOD distortion pedal) in my bedroom. Good times.

Cannibal Corpse: The bleeding Cannibal Corpse: The bleeding

Around Christmas that year and pretty soon after the discovery of
death metal through Obituary, I began to crave other albums from that
genre, mainly due to the amazingly high-gain guitar tones and general
obnoxiousness of the music overall. Needless to say, I found the fix of
obnoxiousness that I needed in the mighty Cannibal Corpse. However, at
13, an album with song titles like “Fucked with a knife” and “Stripped,
raped, and strangled” was definitely one that needed to be hidden from
parents and probably kept a secret from most friends. Nonetheless, I
loved it and I still do. To me, this is the best album Cannibal ever

Pantera: Far beyond driven Pantera: Far beyond driven

I remember having a t-shirt with the “Far beyond driven” cover on
the front of it. I wore it all the time. Yeah. I was that kid. I had
actually heard Pantera at a friend’s house a little before 1994, but FBD
was the first album of theirs that I actually acquired myself. Like
everyone else, I enjoyed Dimebag’s leads and overall skill, and while
not as catchy as CFH or VDOP, this album does have a certain charm about it that keeps me coming back to it even today.

Testament: Low Testament: Low

There were ads for this album all over the pages of Metal Maniacs
and even Hit Parader for an entire year in 1994. And for those of you
who are too young to know, Metal Maniacs and Hit Parader were magazines
(bound paper, almost like a book, kids!) that were in print back in the
day, and before the rise of the Internet, we had to read those mags
every month just to find out what was even out there. Writers said good
things about Testament, so I took it upon myself to give “Low” a listen.
While it’s far from my favorite Testament record today, “Low” was and
still is very good. It also may have been a little ahead of its time
with the downtuned influences and numerous death metal-inspired low
growls of Chuck Billy.

Mayhem: De mysteriis dom sathanas Mayhem: De mysteriis dom sathanas

Things from Europe were still weird and mysterious at this point,
but this album has to be included just because of the notoriety that
Mayhem acquired through their charming brand of heathenry. “De
mysteriis…” is a fantastic album for sure, but the band itself really
transcended black metal, and they became living (and dead) legends.
While this album wasn’t as cold and ugly and offensive as many other
black metal releases of the era (1994’s Darkthrone, anyone?), there’s no
denying that Mayhem were the true kings of the genre, at least for a
little while, following this legendary album. I’ll also never forget
where I was when I first read about the Varg/Euronymous/Dead saga in a
random issue of Guitar World for the first time.

Megadeth: Youthanasia Megadeth: Youthanasia

Before the Internet blows up because this is on the list, just know
that I understand that this one’s not great. It’s a C+ at best. However,
I had to include it just because I listened to it so much in ’94. Like
I’ve said, we didn’t have the luxury of music sharing, so albums like
this seemed like a good idea. Marty Friedman still impresses me on this
album with his precision more than anything, and there are some pretty
tasty hits like “Reckoning day” and “Train of consequences” on here. I
also remember asking my mom if she would buy it for me one night, and
when she looked at the cover, she was horrified because babies were
hanging from a clothesline. She caved and reluctantly bought it for me,
and I went straight home and made sure “The bleeding” was in a good
hiding place.

Hopefully this nostalgic memoir hasn’t been too much of a silly,
awkward narrative of my life. But then again, that’s what any 13-year
old kid is. Silly and awkward. Personally, I’m happy to have lived 1994
when I did. I wouldn’t be the metalhead I am today without it.

And just for gits and shiggles (and to prove to you that this was
the best year in metal and music history), here is the full list of
albums from 1994 that includes the albums that I discovered years later
to be pretty decent:

2Pac: Thug life, vol. 1

Alice in Chains: Jar of flies (EP)

Altar: Youth against Christ

Amorphis: Tales from the thousand lakes

Ancient: Svartalvheim

At the Gates: Terminal spirit disease

Beastie Boys: Ill Communication

Beck: Mellow gold

Bolt Thrower: …For victory

Bruce Dickinson: Balls to Picasso

Brutal Truth: Need to control

Cannibal Corpse: The bleeding

Cryptopsy: Blasphemy made flesh

Coolio: It takes a thief

Corrosion of Conformity: Deliverance

Danzig: 4p

Darkthrone: Transylvanian Hunger

Dave Matthews Band: Under the table and dreaming

Dinosaur Jr.: Without a sound

Dream Theater: Awake

Edge of Sanity: Purgatory afterglow

Emperor: In the nightside eclipse

Enslaved: Frost, Vikingligr Veldi

Gorgoroth: Pentagram

Grave: Soulless

Green Day: Dookie

Gwar: This toilet Earth

Helmet: Betty

Hypocrisy: The fourth dimension

In Flames: Lunar strain

Insane Clown Posse: Ringmaster

Korn: Korn

Kyuss: Welcome to Sky Valley

Leukemia: Grey-flannel souled

Luciferion: Demonication (The manifest)

Machine Head: Burn my eyes

Marduk: Opus Nocturne

Mayhem: De mysteriis dom sathanas

Megadeth: Youthanasia

Mercyful Fate: Time

Mötley Crüe: Mötley Crüe

Napalm Death: Fear, emptiness, despair

Nine Inch Nails: The downward spiral

Nirvana: Unplugged, live in New York

Oasis: Definitely maybe

Obituary: World demise

Pavement: Crooked rain, crooked rain

Pearl Jam: Vitalogy

Pink Floyd: The division bell

Prong: The cleansing

Public Enemy: Muse-sick-n-hour-mess-age

Queensrÿche: Promised land

R.E.M.: Monster

Rollins Band: Weight

Rotting Christ: Non serviam

Running Wild: Black Hand Inn

Satyricon: Dark medieval times

Satyricon: The shadowthrone

Slayer: Divine intervention

Smashing Pumpkins: Pisces iscariot

Sodom: Get what you deserve

Soundgarden: Superunknown

Stone Temple Pilots: Purple

Stratovarius: Dreamspace

Tankard: Two-faced

Tesla: Bust a nut

The Offspring: Smash

Warren G: Regulate… G funk era

Wolfsbane: Wolfsbane

Yanni: Live at the Acropolis

ZZ Top: Antenna

I could listen to only the music from 1994 for the rest of eternity and be fine with that.


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This entry was posted on June 14, 2014 by in Best of, Year in Review.
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