The ’90s were one of the most fascinating decades in rock and metal, widening the gap between the two genres and putting fans on opposing sides, either clinging to their denim patch vests or trading them in for flannel shirts. Grunge signaled the death of metal supremacy that put a stranglehold on heavy music in the prior decade, but the underground kept the metal going strong while rock acts were assuming their role on the world’s biggest stages.
Kurt Cobain became the voice of a generation in Nirvana, while Dave Grohl steamrolled the success into the Foo Fighters following Cobain’s tragic death. Meanwhile, Texas groovehounds Pantera were flying the banner for heavy metal, keeping the genre in the mainstream. In the meantime, a new genre called nu-metal was emerging, taking the rhythmic approach of metal even further and fusing it with rap influences. Below the surface, extreme genres like black and death metal were thriving, scaring parents, exciting kids and netting headlines rife with controversy.
We started with a list of nearly 300 albums to contend with and narrowed it down to the 90 Best Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1990s. Take a trip down this diametric decade of music and see which album is No. 1 in the gallery below!