Ah, 1992. The year I graduated from Alma College, left my home state of Michigan and my college sweetheart, who had another year to go, and jumped into the hustle and bustle of Chicago life. The economy wasn't great back then (either), and I felt very lucky to have scored a job at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in their DCS/Logistics product division. I was going to get to write COBOL! W00t! I think I had about 3 weeks between graduation and my first day, and I mostly spent them looking for a place to live (I chose northern Schaumburg, for no rational reason that I can see now). The rest of the year was spent riding the Metra back and forth, working as many hours as I could trying to make ends meet in an apartment I could barely afford, wearing a suit and tie every day so that I could sit in front of a computer for 10, 12, 14 hours straight. There was no time for metal, but I aim to change that now, only 20 years later.
Black Sabbath: Dehumanizer - Dio's back! He's still my favorite Sabbath lead singer, and he does his customary great job on this one. As usual, Black Sabbath is defined by its lead singer. Comparing this album to TYR (1990) is sort of like comparing Iron Maiden and Motorhead - completely different sounds.
Iron Maiden: Fear of the Dark - I always enjoy a new Iron Maiden album. This one came with a bonus disc, apparently with B sides and live versions. There's a crazy song called Roll Over Vic Vella done to the tune of Roll Over Beethoven, very un-Maiden-like, and an extended 7-minute rant in heavy British style with an acoustic blues guitar riff in the background. The main disc, though, is standard Iron Maiden fare: foot-tapping metal about personal foibles and other random stuff.
Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power - This is Pantera at its best. The brown rhythm guitars, the power-filled cadence, the furious lyrics, it's all here. Pantera took the formula they developed in Cowboys From Hell (1990) and refined it, turning them into the heavy metal band an entire generation of disaffected teenage boys identified with in their darkest, angriest moments. To say this album rocks would be doing it a disservice. It destroys.
Megadeth: Countdown to Extinction - The first Megadeth album I ever bought was Youthanasia (1994), and I was looking to branch out from Metallica so I would have more variety. I was somewhat disappointed by what I felt was an arrangement that was too melodic and lyrics that were too political. This album feels like a turning point between the early enraged Killing Is My Business that rocks, and the watered down Youthanasia that seems to be simultaneously catering to a wider audience and getting some kind of message (I don't know what) across. The next album to appear on this list will be Cryptic Writings (1997). I hope someone pissed off Dave Mustaine in those intervening years and he went back to his earlier style. We'll see.
Danzig: How the Gods Kill - Danzig continues his trend of sounding like Jim Morrison, if the Doors were a lot heavier and started playing about 30 years later than they did. The song I most clearly recognized on this album, of course, was Dirty Black Summer. But they're all cut from the same cloth. Danzig is generally a little too quiet and muddy for my taste, but it was a nice change from Megadeth and Pantera above.
Motorhead: March or Die - Another Motorhead album that sounds remarkably like all the others. This one is notable for having the iconic Hellraiser and a cover of Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever that sounds better than the original, in my humble opinion.