By 1989, the face of heavy metal was virtually unrecognizable from its origins in the previous decade. From the framework provided by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest came gradual mutations of the genre as the next wave of headbangers sought to raise the stakes across all areas, be it speed, technicality or extremity both sonically and lyrically.

At the time, hair metal was the standard perception of heavy metal by outsiders as power ballads dominated the airwaves and animal print Spandex maintained its iron grip over MTV viewers. Those who dismissed glam as music for posers reaped the rich rewards of metal's expansion into grindcore, death metal, power metal, goregrind and industrial while traditional metal and thrash continued its upward trajectory.

Closing out this glorious decade for heavy music was one of metal's most varied and strongest years. Just take a look through the list of the 15 Best Metal Albums of 1989 below for evidence.

15 Best Metal Albums of 1989

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