Turn the clock three decades back, and you have landed in a great and miserable time for rock and metal. In particular, many of the most well-known black metal albums were released around this period, though posers had just begun to infiltrate the genre. Meanwhile, it could be said that grunge ruined much within the music world. But then again, a lot of bands that have been labeled as such have rejected the term and/or didn’t actually fit within its limiting confines. Mark Lanegan’s work, for example, was often placed in that category, which he rightly despised. Lanegan happened to unleash the highly recommended Whiskey for the Holy Ghost — a genre-defying rock, blues, folk effort — at the beginning of 1994. Other artists that unveiled albums that year include Emperor, KoRn, Megadeth, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, Nine Inch Nails, Amorphis, etc.

Today, we will be sharing 10 important albums that are celebrating 30th anniversaries this year. Please note that the numbers appear in no specific order, given that a few of these picks stand beyond judgement and compare.

01) Seigmen, Total

Seigmen’s Total is the best damned rock album that you will ever hear. This masterpiece owes to the merits of Alex Møklebust on lead vocals; Kim Ljung on additional vocals and bass; Sverre Økshoff on guitars; Marius Roth on guitars, acoustic guitars, and vocals; and finally Noralf Ronthi on drums, percussion, and vocals. Ljung serves as the band’s primary songwriter and lyricist. Total is Seigmen’s third full-length offering and a wonderful introduction for newcomers into their wonderful universe. Total boasts the greatest production that one could hope to experience, courtesy of Sylvia Massy, who did an equally amazing job with Seigmen’s next record, Metropolis (1995), which won a Spellemann / “Norwegian Grammy.” Sweden’s Shining has brilliantly covered Total’s second track, “Ohm.”

02) Enslaved, Vikingligr Veldi

With lyrics mostly in Icelandic, Vikingligr Veldi represents the debut album by the Norwegian extreme metal stalwarts Enslaved. The group have reprised Vikingligr Veldi, like the next classic on our list, at the famed Bergen-based festival Beyond the Gates. Enslaved beautifully honor their Nordic heritage through their music. Although Enslaved are Viking metal pioneers, they obviously stand in stark contrast to the bands that make a mockery, whether they intend to or not, of Nordic themes. Enslaved themselves have pointed out that they have ironically inspired a movement containing a lot of acts that are clearly ridiculous. That said, Enslaved remain as relevant as ever, and they have received more Spellemann Awards than any other artist.

03) Enslaved, Frost

Yes, in 1994, Enslaved stunned audiences with not only one but two insanely influential albums. Like the pick above, Frost was produced and mixed by the legendary Pytten, who appears on fretless bass on “Yggdrasil.” Verily, Pytten has done more miraculous work on classics within and relating to black metal than anyone, though his accomplishments span a range of genres. Enslaved, by the way, should not be considered a black metal band, despite their huge impact on the movement and the fact that the biggest inspiration for Ivar Bjørnson’s guitars remains the late Euronymous of Mayhem.  

04) Alice in Chains, Jar of Flies (EP)

With a brilliant cover by Rocky Schneck, Jar of Flies, the follow-up to the immortal Dirt (1992), is a true masterpiece. It may only be an EP, but the amount of genius packed into its slightly over 30 minutes is truly miraculous. We honor the late Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell, Mike Inez, and Sean Kinney for their contributions to Jar of Flies. Hails to the now deceased Mike Starr, AiC’s original bassist, who was fired before Jar of Flies but who helped make AiC what they were and now are. Darker music than AiC’s body of work has probably never existed.

05) Darkthrone, Transilvanian Hunger

The influence of Darkthrone’s raw and minimalistic Transilvanian Hunger cannot be overstated. It was the first Darkthrone album featuring only Fenriz and Nocturno Culto, though it was not originally Fenriz’s intention to exclude Zephyrous, who was still technically a member of the band. Rather, Fenriz was compelled to record all instruments himself on his 4-track after receiving a sudden burst of inspiration while at work. From then on, Darkthrone have remained a duo.