To most outward appearances, the 1990s killed heavy metal, effectively wiping popular music’s slate clean of late ‘80s hair bands when it ushered in the grunge era.

And yet, Metallica, Pantera and other heavy hitters kept right on topping the charts throughout the decade, while metal’s underground scenes around the globe had never been healthier or more diverse!

What’s more, come the decade’s second half, even America was churning out new styles and contenders in the nu-metal and metalcore arenas while more bands were dabbling in traditionally Euro-centric strengths ranging from the progressive to the black to the death metal realms.

But, best of all, heavy metal’s trying 1990s were finally over – good riddance – and the following 15 albums helped put the genre’s best foot forward on the cusp of the new millennium.

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