This was by far the most difficult list to do. That's because all top releases are so good that any could be number one. 1996 probably best metal year ever imo.
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Cradle Of Filth - Dusk... And Her Embrace|
Theatre Of Tragedy - Velvet Darkness They Fear|
Moonspell - Irreligious|
Samael - Passage|
Cradle Of Filth - V Empire|