1993 was one of the greatest years in music ever — a fact we celebrated in our recently published list of 50 Great Albums Turning 25 in 2018. But the impossible question remains: What is the single best album released that year? Because we know that you are capable of the impossible, we asked our fans and followers to vote on social media using the hashtag #TellRevolver for the record that they think is the cream of the '93 crop; below are the ranked results.
It's a well-known fact that Kurt Cobain was a mega-fan of the Melvins, having spent some time as their roadie and reconfigured their sound through the lens of his own dark lyricism for Nirvana. Houdini was his way of giving back, and give back he did — by producing one of the best LPs in their catalog.
Let's face facts: Twenty-five years into your rock career is when you should be shopping for gigs at the state fair and local amusement parks, not when you are generally writing some of your most compelling material. But then again, most bands aren't Rush and most albums aren't the incredibly executed late-career smash Counterparts.
Losing an iconic member is usually the kiss of death for any band. Van Halen survived it once (but not twice!), AC/DC suffered a similar fate (Axl, really?) and Anthrax overcame the odds with The Sound of White Noise. The thrash pioneers used the sea change of a new frontman — Armored Saint's John Bush — as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, thereby creating one of the most interesting LPs of their career.
On their fifth album, Florida progressive-death masters took full command of the new highly technical direction that they established on 1991's Human: Frontman Chuck Schuldiner and Andy LaRocque (the latter of King Diamond fame) elevated their tandem guitar harmonies and devastating riffs to new levels of jazz-metal complexity (with help from bassist Steve DiGiorgio and new drummer Gene Hoglan's expert time-keeping), while still managing to create accessible-yet-totally-out-there, Headbangers Ball-worthy crushers like "The Philosopher."
When Primus was high off of Frizzle Fry and Seas of Cheese, it would have been easy to write them off as a gimmick band — a freak show of incredible talent, but a freak show nonetheless. Pork Soda was, and is, Primus's middle finger to the world — the album where the band broke through with oddball yet catchy songwriting and compelling instrumental acrobatics, cementing their place as the likable weirdo in the world of heavy music.
Gnarly, raw and heavy as shit, Nirvana's official follow-up to major-label chart-topper Nevermind was a reclamation of the band's punk-rock roots and a near-excruciating personal exorcism on the part of Kurt Cobain. "Teenage angst has paid off well," he sneered, sounding older and more scarred than ever.
In 1993, U.K. extremists Carcass took a serious left turn, dropping the gore obsession for more existential and sociopolitical themes, and finely focused their music to create one of the earliest examples of both melodic death metal and death 'n' roll. And Heartwork has aged well: Twenty-five years later, there's no love lost.
From the pulsing heartbeat and Afro-Brazilian tribal drumming to the mid-tempo groove riff that kick off album opener "Refuse/Resist," it was clear in 1993 that Sepultura were intent on breaking new ground with Album No. 5. And they did just that, crafting an experimental masterpiece full of industrial-strength metal, but also Jello Biafra-penned hardcore ("Biotech Is Godzilla") and environmentally-minded acoustic jams ("Kaiowas").
Brooklyn's Peter Steele made great music before Bloody Kisses (with his Neanderthal-thrash band Carnivore and with a still-incipient Type O Negative), but this was his earthquaking breakthrough, both creatively and commercially. Epic and dark, romantic and roguish, sweeping and crushing, it had — and continues to have — metalheads swooning and goths headbanging.
For many Tool fans, it's the album that the band will never top, the crystaline moment when all the stars aligned to make something truly timeless and unshakably haunting. Undertow is a thing of beautiful nightmares, from songs like "Prison Sex" and "Sober" (as well as their fever-dream animated videos) to the unnerving images of its liner notes (a cow licking its genitals, a starkly naked obese woman, the band members with pins in the sides of their heads). With Undertow, Tool elevated us and brought us down.