1993 was another relatively bad year for hard rock and metal for me. The Thrash and Death sub genres were the flavor of the day, and for me that makes for a bad crop of metal albums. However, I did find about 20 decent albums that came out in 1993, but the operative word here is decent. In general it was a better year than 1992 (except for the brilliant Images and Words by Dream Theater) but really not one of these albums would be considered a must have classic.
10. Rage - The Missing Link
Rage was churning out albums in the 1990's like no one else, and to make that even more impressive, the albums were pretty good. As far as Germanic Speed Metal, these guys are good (I prefer Running Wild, but Rage is still a good band). This is perhaps a slightly better effort than 1992's Trapped!, and Rage continues to make competent metal to this day.
9. Pearl Jam - Vs.
Pearl Jam's sophomore effort was a bit of a let down, failing to capture the energy of their first album. I think they tried to evolve, but most of it ends up flat, a couple of really good songs (i.e. Rearviewmirror, Rats, Dissident, etc.) save this record from the really bad songs (WMA, Blood, etc.).
8. Death - Individual Though Patterns
As I stated above, Death Metal is not one of my favorite sub-genres, but these guys did it so well, that one had to appreciate it. Musically, it reminded me more of technical progressive metal (think Watchtower) in some parts. Kind Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque adds to the mix to make this one of Death's best albums.
7. Conception - Parallel Minds
Conception always had the right mix of Prog and Power, though the epic track Soliloquy is all prog for sure. Khan and Ostby's second album is certainly an improvement from their debut (1991's The Last Sunset) as it is more focused and concise. Still finding their way, Parallel Minds is merely a stand out album in a weak field. Better things were in the future for Khan and Ostby.
6. Skyclad - Jonah's Ark
Kind of folksy, Skyclad is an interesting band. The use of violin is very different (especially for 1993) and it really works here. I guess this is where the band turned the corner and let more of the folk influences creep into their sound. Guitarist Steve Ramsey and bassist Graeme English were both in the NWOBHM group Satan (one of my personal favorites from that movement) and the influences of that band can certainly be heard here.
5. Mercyful Fate - In the Shadows
The big reunion album from Mercyful Fate, and it did not fail to impress. Essentially the follow up to Don't Break the Oath, this record really picks up where Fate left off when they originally disbanded in the 80's. No new ground is broken here, but it is a return to form for both King and the band, and a good release.
4. Savatage - Edge of Thorns
Finally we have an album that features the playing of Criss Oliva without the crappy vocals of his hack brother. Zak Stevens is the singer here, and he is miles ahead of Jon Oliva. The music here is great, Criss Oliva is less flashy that normal, but the riffs, hooks and melodies are great. It is unfortunate that this is the only album to feature the playing of Criss Oliva without a horrendous singer.
3. Gamma Ray - Insanity and Genius
Scheepers is the insanity and Hansen is the genius. Actually I like Ralf Scheepers' voice, but always felt Gamma Ray was better without him. This is no exception, but in a year where no album really stands out, this Gamma Ray release is very impressive indeed.
2. Rush - Counterparts
The irony of this album is, I don't think it would make a Rush top ten, yet here it is, second best album of 1993. Relatively keyboardless, this album kind of follows the stripped down trend in music of the early nineties. It is a good album, but after many listens, tracks like Alien Shore and Double Agent become obscure and are very "filler"-ish.
1. Motörhead - Bastards
A big big improvement from March or Die. Lemmy steered the ship in the right direction with this record. There are a lot of different sounds on this record, and MOST of them work great. Gone are the Ted Nugent covers and Ozzy Osbourne influences, and all that is left is Lemmy et al rocking out like they are supposed to. This is clearly not the greatest Motörhead album ever, but for 1993, it is the best.