Death metal is such a vague term, even though it is in itself a sub genre of the greater umbrella of heavy metal music. But, when it comes to extreme metal, a death metal band can writing good songs is important. But more impressive is if a band can write a collection of good songs, thrown together cohesively in the form of an album. We now present our list of the10 Death Metal Albums to Listen to Before You Die.
See also: Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die
10. At the Gates-Slaughter of the Soul (1995)
One of the best melodic death metal records was released by Sweden’s At the Gates. The album immediately pulls you into something morbid, yet beautifully arranged, musically. Anguished in terms of vocal delivery, by singer Tomas Lindberg, the music is aggressive, yet haunting. Dark and uber fast, the songs are heavy, with drumming and riffs based on a strong foundation of thrash, and the traditional Gothenburg stripped down melodic death metal sound, which At the Gates helped usher in. On this album, the band’s fourth release, and debut on Earache records, Lindberg’s misanthropic vocals pair with melodic, eerie guitars on songs such as the opening classic track, “Blinded By Fear,” as well as “Cold,” “Under a Serpent Sun,” and the title track, “Slaughter of the Soul.”
9. Nile-Annihilation of the Wicked (2005)
These South Carolina death metal Egyptologists have carved out a niche for themselves in the international underground extreme metal scene. With insane, machine gun blast beats, and guitar riffs sped up to match the intensity, Nile’s album Annihilation of the Wicked brings in a secret weapon: drummer George Kollias, a monster behind the drum kit, who has been with the band ever since the album’s release back in 2005. The extra precision Kollias brings only amplifies the sheer power and fury of Nile’s founder guitarist Karl Sanders.
This album’s opening track “Dusk Falls Upon the Temple of the Serpent on the Mount of Sunrise,” takes listeners on a auditory trip to ancient Egypt with its classical music meets Middle Eastern music vibe, but after 50 seconds, listeners are thrown face first into a brutally fast, majestic death metal style only few can achieve. Definitely a heavy album based on the spirit of Egyptian mythology, war and spirituality, this is a head banging, mosh pit inducing death metal offering to the gods. Be sure to check out the last two tracks, the title track, “Annihilation of the Wicked,” as well as the epic closing song, “Von Unaussprechichen Kulten,” which translates from German to “From Unspeakable Cults.”
8. Cryptopsy- None So Vile (1996)
This is the French-Canadian extreme metal band’s second album, still featuring original vocalist Lord Worm and extraordinary fast, and unfortunately underrated drummer Flo Mournier. None So Vile is psychotic and brutal, while retaining so much technical integrity it is considered by many to be a landmark among technical death metal for its over the top musical wizardry, intensity and speed. The vocals are tortured, guttural, and indecipherable, matching the brutality of the musicianship. Although this record is not for the faint of heart, the songs are memorable, and dark, but still catchy because of an subconscious hidden groove among the blasts of fury that keep certain melodies, harmonies and riffs in the minds of listeners, even after the songs are over.
7.Obituary-Slowly We Rot (1989)
On this debut album by the Florida-based death metal band, the world of extreme metal was introduced to a sound that was not just about break neck speed. Instead, their songs incorporated an erratic switching of tempos, and a slower, doomy, sludgy, sometimes even punk sound. The distinct vocal styles of high pitches and monstrous growls provided by singer John Tardy, whose brother Donald Tardy plays drums, makes the album stand out among others. Easily,one of the heaviest and grooviest death metal albums ever released, Slowly We Rot has influenced tons of bands, from Slipknot to Dying Fetus, and Devildriver.
Heartwork is one of the albums that changed the direction of death metal, and made Carcass not only pioneers of grindcore, but also of melodic death metal. The record is laced with dual guitar textures, and guitar solos that are influenced by both classical music and traditional death metal. The drums are still rapid in sync with the riffs to create a unity of sound like no other. Guitarist Michael Amott left the band just after this album was released and played in Spiritual Beggars and Arch Enemy. To many, Heartwork is considered to be a defining album, for both Carcass as a band, and for the melodic death metal genre. Many consider it to be the band’s best work.
5.Suffocation-Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)
From the first millisecond of Effigy of the Forgotten, listeners are socked in the face and ears, with some of the loudest slabs of brutality you will ever get. The songs are violent and dark enough to make you want to punch through a brick wall or bang your head through Plexiglas. The blast beats could double as the sounds of an Uzi and the ultra low beast like vocal growls of Frank Mullen can only be described as inhuman. Everything about the record is fast. The guitar riffs and bass lines play so fast you can hardly make them out, until mid song the tempos switch up to a slow chugging sound; a primitive, more evil version of a breakdown, that accents the gnarly guitar solos.
See also: The 10 Best Stoner Metal Bands
4.Deicide-Once Upon The Cross (1995)
Undoubtedly, this is a very evil sounding record that begins with a blast of Hellish anger and venomous fury against God. From the onset, listeners hear and feel the torment, rage and hatred in vocalist/lyricist Glenn Benton’s sinister sounding, anti-Christian metal diatribes. This album contained the guitar work of brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman, and is as technical as it is brutal and fast.
3.DEATH-Individual Thought Patterns (1993)
Death began its early career in the mid ’80s out of Orlando, Florida with the late, prolific guitarist Chuck Schuldiner, who founded Death in 1983. Many, refer to the band’s 1987 album, Scream Bloody Gore as the first official ‘death metal’ release, with its focus on gore, death and a heavier, darker thrash metal musical approach. But, as Death evolved, the band relied less on gore and a simple formula for death metal. 1993’s Individual Thought Patterns is arguably Death’s most well known and progressive album, but don’t let that fool you. The band takes on a darker, faster, twisted perspective on human psychology and social commentary with songs such as “The Philosopher,” “Jealousy,” and “Mentally Blind.” This album featured famed metal drummer Gene Hoglan, along with King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque and well-known metal bass player Steve DiGiorgio. Although progressive compared to traditional death metal, (a sound the band helped to create) Individual Thought Patterns is a masterpiece among technical, melodic and extreme death metal music.
See also: The 10 Best Grindcore Bands
2.Morbid Angel-Covenant (1993)
This was one of the first albums to bring Morbid Angel and death metal into the mainstream, as its video for “God of Emptiness” made an appearance on Beavis and Butthead and MTV’s original version of Headbanger’s Ball. Considered by many to be the band’s most overtly satanic album, this is also one of the world’s best selling death metal albums, selling more than 100,000 copies. Blending mysticism, witchcraft, sadomasochism, and the occult musically, the album is ferociously fast, then instantly switches to detuned, slower parts from the work of guitarist Trey Azagthoth, and the flawless light speed of former drummer Pete Sandoval. Bassist and vocalist David Vincent’s sinister singing style brings the darker nature of the album to light, on skull crushing, devil worshiping tracks like “Rapture,” “Pain Divine,” and “Sworn to Black.” The band is currently performing a special live set, celebrating the 20th anniversary (last year) of Covenant, by performing the album in its entirety.
1.Cannibal Corpse-The Bleeding (1994)
Cannibal Corpse is at the top of the game when it comes to death metal. The band has toured the world multiple times, caused international controversy, and sold over a million records, with a stable of classic, blood soaked tunes that spans the last two decades. But the best album is the band’s fourth release, with original singer Chris Barnes (NO disrespect intended for current vocalist George’Corpsegrinder’Fisher). The Bleeding is quite possibly one of the sickest death metal records ever made.
The band splatters its way through songs like “Stripped Raped and Strangled,” “Pulverized,” and “Fucked With a Knife,” with utter precision. The perfect amount of groove is added to the well-oiled machine of musicians in the band, including guitarists Jack Owen, and Rob Barrett, bassist Alex Webster, and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz. Barnes delivers a very deep, low solid death metal growl throughout the album, which is very dark, eerie, but has lasting effects on listeners, with catchy riffs and songs with parts that are easy to get stuck in your head. To this day, several of the songs remain a part of the band’s live set. This is an album that is groovy and head bangable, yet technical and full of brutality.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2014