The 1990s grunge boom didn’t quash everything else in the rock sphere, especially not metal. Though Nirvana and others pushed the ’90s buzz for Seattle-derived alt-rock to ubiquity, many a metal band formed the decade prior was just getting started.
And grunge didn’t stop them.
The oft-repeated narrative is that Nirvana’s breakthrough single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and its parent album, Nevermind — they emerged successively in September 1991 — signaled the death knell for metal, especially the hair metal that spent the ’80s burning up Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.
There’s truth to that tale, but the view is really more from a music industry perspective than a listener’s.
Record execs were chasing the latest trend, which by 1992 was all grunge, and signing Nirvana soundalikes to try and capitalize. Perhaps listeners who only toed the company line were finished with metal, but it’s not like it suddenly stopped being popular.
The success of Metallica’s “The Black Album,” released a month before Nevermind, should be enough to dispel any notion that metal went quiet. But hey, we’re here all day. Other bands who started in the ’80s but made their biggest splash in the ’90s include artists in death metal (Cannibal Corpse) and thrash (Slayer), alt-metal (Deftones) and groove (Sepultura).
So what do you think? Did grunge end metal’s dominance in the ’90s? Or was it all just marketing hype? Can you think of any metal bands from the ’80s that flourished in the ’90s? See 10 examples below.
10 Metal Bands Formed in the ’80s That Thrived in the ’90s
Grunge didn’t kill off everything. Scroll down to see some metal bands from the 1980s that soared in the ’90s despite the rise of grunge and alternative rock.
17 Non-Singer Lineup Changes That Impacted Rock + Metal
Switching singers is one thing, but what about the rock and metal lineup changes that didn’t involve a lead vocalist? Here are 17 specifically non-singer lineup changes that still reverberate today.