Heavy Metal: A Year in Brief – 1990

There are many big and important years in the history of heavy metal and 1990 was no exception. Whether positive news like the formation of a band or an album release or less happy news like break up of a band or even the sad loss of band members, it is the events of these defining years that pave the way for the albums and bands we listen to and love today.

1990 was a particularly big year in terms of band formation with some absolute modern day icons of metal starting their careers. I won’t list them all but just some of the bands that officially formed in 1990 are At the Gates, Tool, Type O Negative, Burn the Priest (who not long after changed their name to Lamb of God), and Fear Factory.

1990 also saw the formation of Dark Tranquillity although they were then known as Septic Broiler, Kyuss, In Flames, Opeth and Satyricon so was definitely a year that helped to define the music I, and many others, would be listening to for the next few decades.
Unfortunately, the same year also saw the end of Atrophy’s short career. Originally named Heresy, they managed two albums on Roadrunner Records before disbanding in 1990.
More positively, there were a huge amount of excellent album releases in 1990. Alice in Chains released Facelift, Anthrax released Persistence in Time and an Ozzy less Black Sabbath released the very un-Black Sabbath Tyr. Blind Guardian released Tales from the Twilight World and Dio released Lock up the Wolves.
Dio - Lock Up The Wolves - Front
Deicide released their debut album and caused outrage with their satanic lyrical theme and Iron Maiden released No Prayer for the Dying. We were also eager recipients of Testament’s Souls of the Black, Slayers, Seasons in the Abyss and Saxon’s Solid Ball of Rock.
If that doesn’t already make it a special year, 1990 is also the year that Judas Priest’s Painkiller, Megadeth’s Rust in Peace and Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell were released.

cowboys from hell

In terms of tracks from these albums, it was the year everyone got to hear Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell and Cemetery Gates, the first year anyone got to hear Megadeth’s Holy Wars….The Punishment Due and Hangar 18 and even the first time anyone got to hear Iron Maiden’s Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter. What a strong year for metal that was!

Outside of album releases, Metallica one the first ever Grammy Award for a heavy metal band for the iconic track, One and Marty Friedman joined Megadeth.

Judas Priest was involved in a multimillion dollar lawsuit involving two Nevada teenager suicides allegedly caused by the song “Better by you better than me”. Thankfully the band won the case although it wouldn’t be the last time we would hear of heavy metal being to blame for violence, suicide and unsociable behavior.

Janick Gers also joined Iron Maiden and Faith No More cracked the Billboard Top Ten with their album The Real Thing, thanks largely to the popularity of the track Epic.


The title of that track, Epic, very much defines the year as a whole. 1990 was a great year for metal but, with the new arrival of bands such as Fear Factory and At the Gates, there was much, much more to come.





  • Brendan Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Heavy Metal and reading, two things I have always loved so they are the two areas you will find most of my reviews. Post apocalyptic is my jam and I always have a book on the go and have for decades now. From a metal perspective, age has softened my inadequacies and I now operate with an open mind, loving many bands from many sub genres but having a particular admiration for the UK underground scene. In my other time, when not focused on Dad duties and work, I try to support the craft beer movement by drinking as much of it as I can and you will also find me out on the streets, walking. I love walking, I love exploring new places and snapping nature photos as I go.

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