sablespecter's Album of the Year for 1996 (RDF: 73.3%)
You'll see what I mean about the final four years of the 1990s being generally weak. Not too many on the list at all! Just a Top 5 and three more honorable mentions (but not the lowest count)! Just five altogether at the time, taking those marked with the "Ø" off the list. And for the second year in a row, a decidedly non-heavy band, neither metal nor hard-rock!
Don't get me wrong: I don't feel too badly about giving Journey an AotY Award. They're my favorite non-metal/non-hard rock band, are second only to Rush in terms of longevity in my collection, and their best albums didn't have a chance against metal in the incredibly strong years of 1981 and 1983, Escape and Frontiers scoring just honorable mentions against that competition. They did manage to finish in the Top 5 with Infinity in 1978, and also scored honorable mentions with the jazz fusion of their first two albums in 1975 and 1976.