Flashback to the 90's A while ago, I wrote a review that completely rode Pantera's dick, kissing Vulgar Display of Power's ass. Now, I like Pantera and all, but as I've grown to be a bit more mature in terms of music taste, I have come to realize something; Pantera really isn't that good compared to a lot of other bands that have put stuff out in the 90's. Pantera really didn't “save metal in the 1990's”. So, I have gone through my own personal music collection and found albums that were released between 1990 and 1999, and compiled a list of album that are so much better than A Vulgar Display of Power, and anything else that Pantera put out in the 90's. A lot of people will look at the albums on this list and say that I'm comparing apples to oranges in terms of genres. Well, maybe I am. But the biggest similarity that these albums have with A Vulgar Display of Power is that they all came out in the 90's. A lot of them are very overlooked, especially compared to Pantera. By no means am I attempting to shit on Pantera, but I am just trying to show that there is so much more in terms of musicianship and quality. So, let's get started shall we? In no particular order, here is the top twelve albums that came out in the 1990's that are so much better than Vulgar Display of Power. Note: Not every album will say why it's better than Pantera, they will just have a lot of praise from me 12-Revenant; Prophecies of a Dying World (1991) Coming fresh out of 1991, Prophecies of a Dying World is Revenant's first attempt at a full length album and they completely nailed it on the head. While Pantera focused on a lot of issues with life and anger and violence and had just an over-all tough guy attitude that added fuel to their lyrics, Revenant wrote about Lovecraftian themes (which is relative in the track The Unearthly), and has more of a death/thrash vocal style, as compared to Anselmo's tough guy vocal shouting that he ripped from Kyle Thomas. The riffs don't feel so two dimensional, and can range in speed throughout each track, adding a bit of a progressive feeling to it while still sticking to death/thrash. 11-Abramelin; Abramelin (1995) A little further down the 1990 time line to the year 1995, Abramelin releases their first full-length album after shitting out gold with their Transgression from Acheron demo. Now, the sound quality might not be that thick wall of sound that Vulgar Display of Power has, but for any flat out death metal fan, Abramelin has the sound that you want. For a fan of death metal, Abramelin has the chaotic sound that helps you get past the $5 recording quality. Abramelin is worth getting a re-issue for. I'd say it's on the same level as Death and Razor, in the sense that if they were to announce re-issues, I would make that re-issue one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Do you love riffs and cookie monster vocals? Then check out Grave Ideals, the second track off of Abramelin. You will not be disappointed. 10-Shcismatic; Circle of Evolution (1993) Wow, what's up with me picking nothing but first attempts at a full-length? After they released their demo entitled “promo '92”, Schismatic, the death metal powerhouses from Poland, dropped their album Circle of Evolution. I can feel a rather strong Bolt Thrower influence here, in the sense that there isn't too much tremolo picking, and the songs aren't always fast as hell, as seen in a lot of death metal albums such as Altars of Madness. There are spoken sections, and deep vocals that can beat out a lot of the death metal vocalists nowadays in 2016. Plus, that solo in Spiritual Epilepsy is unforgettable, and kicks Dimebag Darrel right in the nuts, completely ignoring his ass and proving that it's out for blood. But remember, this isn't a contest to see who is better. At least, it wasn't when Circle of Evolution came out a year after Vulgar Display. By now, it really is a contest for purposes of my writing. 9-Massacre; From Beyond (1991) What does From Beyond and Prophecies of a Dying World have in common? They were both released in 1991, they were both attempts at full lengths, they both have a $5 recording budget, and they both have Lovecraftian themes. Like Circle of Evolution, From Beyond doesn't rely on breakneck speed for their tracks. The focus is on ancient, brooding evil, and a lot of the riffs sound, well, evil and brooding. The vocals are pretty consistent with being low and evil, but like one of my favourite modern bands, Man Must Die, they use highs every now and again. These riffs can go from slow and evil, to VIO-LENCE Robb Flynn fast. Kam Lee is easily one of my favourite vocalists that was around in the 1990s, though he was around before that. 8-Demilich; Nespithe (1993) Hey, what's that logo say? That's right, I'm talking about Demilich. Spitting out four demos before they made this genius techincal death metal masterpiece, Nespithe is, once again, another first time attempt at a full-length. I don't mean to keep talking about riffs, but any guitarist that plays techincal death metal is just about better than Dimebag Darrell in my biased eyes. Antti Boman and Aki Hytönen shit out gold throughout this album. I've talked about guitar and vocals quite a bit, now let's talk about drumming. Vinnie Paul has absolutely nothing on Mikko Vernes. Mainly because Vinnie Paul plays those generic drum tracks, while Vernes really goes crazy on the drums, especially the double kick, which I personally love. One thing I like about this album is that it's crisp, and doesn't require a remaster because I would say that this is one of the best sounds in terms of quality you can find for a 90's album. 7-Shub-Niggurath; Evilness and Darkness Prevails (1994) Let's talk about an EP for a second, please. For once, I'm not talking about first attempt after a string of demos and extended plays. Yet again, however, I am discussing a Lovecraftian themed band. The name, Shub-Niggurath is taken from Cthulhu mythos created by HP Lovecraft. Enough of the name, let's talk about the EP. Being as this is the band's earlier years, they were still focused around a death metal sound. Like the rest of the albums on this list, they feature insane vocals that are strongly fitting for the death metal genre. This has a dark and sinister tone, while Dimebag had a really annoying tone, that really set the songs up for disaster. It's really hard for me to look past Pantera's guitar tone, due to the fact that they don't have much going for them in the first place. By the way, the solo in Nightmares From Beyond kicks the solo from..well, anything Dimebag has ever wrote right in the ass. 6-Suffocation; Effigy of the Forgotten (1991) Back to first attempts again, Suffocation, in my eyes, has a flawless discography, but everyone seems to love their work from the 90's. I have two words: Frank, Mullen. That's literally all I really need to say about this album. I think that his vocals shine in this, proving that he is a solid and consistent death metal vocalist. He might not have the biggest vocal range, but he really has what it takes to be a brutal death metal vocalist. Phil Anselmo paved the way for groove vocalists to come, but Frank Mullen took the low, cookie monster vocals and completely made them his own. Both vocals follow the traditional formula for their respective genres, but Frank Mullen does it so much better on Effigy of the Forgotten. 5-Incantation; Onward to the Golgotha (1992) $5 quality first attempts! Get your $5 quality first attempts here! Taking John McEntee and Paul Ledney from Revenant and letting them form a band is one of the best ideas you can do, because they will pump out gold like Onward to the Golgotha, mainly McEntee. Because he was the only one out of the two who was on the 1992 first attempt. This album is chaotic, it doesn't need solid riffs because it has chaos that not too many of the albums on this list managed to capture. Incantation is heavy. Incantation is fast. Incantation is everything you could ask for from a death metal record. The power here doesn't come from riffs or drum beats, but it comes from the utter chaos and changing speeds that comes with the territory of death metal. They take the satanic themes of Deicide, and inject it with crack/cocaine and let it run around without its head. That is Incantation in a nutshell. 4-Master; On the Seventh Day God Created...Master (1991) Here, we have a second full length. The second death/thrash band on this list, it is probably one of my favourites from the 90's because it had a bit more of a $10 recording value to it. Influenced by Slayer, Motörhead and Venom but never really breaking off into the mainstream, Master has the instrumentals of the first wave of thrash, and combines it with a sort of less deepPiotr Paweł Wiwczarek. I don't know what I can say about this album. The riffs are what win this album over for me, as a huge venom fan, these guys have a bit of a Venom feel, and I highly dig that. Plus, the vocals just ring as they are delivered. A master delivery, so to speak. 3-Demigod; Slumber of Sullen Eyes (1992) Slumber of Sullen Eyes has, with a doubt, one of the best opening for a death metal record from the 90's. It's eerie, and just creepy. Demigod mixes alternate picking and slow and somber riffs that make a child worthy of being in this list. The vocal delivery is nothing special, but they are consistent to lows. They aren't Frank Mullen lows, but they aren't Phil Anselmo tough dude attitude shouts. Demigod is less annoying in the vocal department, and deliver an in-your-face, heavy death metal record that plants itself as one of my most memorable albums from the 1990s. 2-Razor; Shotgun Justice (1990) Once you get past the artwork that looks like it was done by a beginner artist from the street, Shotgun Justice is an overlooked star from the decade. Razor might have a cult following, but they very much deserve more recognition in the thrash and speed genre. That opening bass riff from American Luck, which is basically the Canadian anthem for thrash metal, grips your attention and really reflects the quality of the album. Sure, the recording quality isn't the best (but there is a re-issue for a reason), and the video for American Luck is packed with some bad acting and 90s cheese, but Bob Reid is a great fit for \razor, and easily one of the best thrash vocalists I've heard to date. I highly suggest listening to Miami, though. My favourite track off of the album. 1-Winter; Into Darkness (1990) I first listened to this album a LONG time ago, and it has really stuck with me as one of my favourite doom albums. It you haven't checked this album out, DO IT. It has been re-issued as a digipack with the Eternal Frost EP. It's a very good album, and captures what doom really is. The vocals fit, the guitars are pretty great (better than Dimebag) and the drums nail the feeling of doom. This portion of the list might feel a bit rushed, but hey, at least I finally managed to crank something out after so long. Into Darkness was an album I listened to when I first started writing for The Metal Pit, and I'm pretty sure I wrote a review for it, i can't exactly remember. But if I did then that's all you need to read about this. So, I might not be the oldest, and only saw a few years from the 90's, but it is easily one of the best decades for death metal. I've really looked into it on my music listening escapades. I really hope that this list can act as an eye opener, and helps a lot of people find music that they could deem better than Pantera. That's all for me. Until next time.