Written by Kyle Messick

Here’s what I’ve been jamming this week, descriptions below!

Crematory – Transmigration (1993) / …Just Dreaming (1994) / Illusions (1995). This is a symphonic death metal band out of Germany that formed in 1991. They’re still around today, but nowadays they play gothic/industrial stuff, whereas their early stuff, including these first three albums, were death metal. Even then they had unorthodox flourishes, as keyboards were prominently featured on these releases as a lead instrument. Their debut sounds the most oldschool, but by Illusions they started to sound happier and more epic, so mileage will vary with these. I’d say most death metal bands would stop at the second album, but if you’re up for trying something different a bit prettier and more orchestral, then you could give the third a try too. After that, they really began to change away from death metal influences.

Alchemist – Jar of Kingdom (1993) / Embryonics 90-98. I listed Alchemist at some point in a video highlighting great Australian death metal bands. Alchemist are among the weirdest death metal bands ever, with their debut album, Jar of Kingdom, being a spectacular example of how far the boundaries of death metal can be pushed. The vocals here are of the Entombed Wolverine Blues variety, but musically this has everything from opera to bluegrass to Jimi-Hendrix style licks. It’s an absolutely wild album by musicians that clearly didn’t care what other bands were doing in the 90s. It isn’t for everyone of course, but if you want to try something very different, then give Jar of Kingdom a try. This was way ahead of it’s time, and there still isn’t anything else like it.

Bludgeoned – Summary Execution (2021). This is the debut EP by Washington upstarts Bludgeoned. It’s some killer brutal death metal with some nasty slams. If you dig Abhorrent Deformity, I’d definitely recommend checking out this EP. The tempo changes and varied vocal approach keep it fresh throughout, and the nasty build-ups and transitions make it a fun album to bang your head along to. There’s a couple of Defeated Sanity-esque parts in here too, and I dig that they went with a punchy instead of clicky bass drum (more old school, less new school ftw).

Old Funeral – Our Condolences (1988-1992). Old Funeral were a Norwegian metal band active from 1988 to 1992, and this great compilation spans their discography. The bassist/vocalist for part of their discography is the almighty Abbath. This band also had members from the pre-Immortal death metal band Amputation, other members of Immortal including Demonaz, and even the infamous Varg had a brief stint in the band. Musically the band started as a black metal band but became increasingly death metal with each release. Both short eras of the band are great and well worth checking out.Human Remains – Using Sickness as a Hero (1996). This is one of my favorite EPs ever, and one of few releases that I own on both CD and vinyl. The vocals remind of Chuck Schuldiner. The blasting fury of drummer Dave Witte is a lot more Discordance Axis and a farcry from his current work in Municipal Waste. Musically, the mixture of death metal and grindcore is so extraordinary because of how experimental it is. It never lets up in intensity, but the album uses all kinds of different guitar effects to really make a unique listening experience that still sounds just as novel today as when it was first release. In my opinion, it’s a masterpiece.

Twilight Glimmer – Paradox (2002). This is the debut album by this Colombian band, but you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re looking for any regional influences. The sound of this death metal band is rooted clearly and deeply in Sweden’s Gothenburg sound. It is quality melodeath worship with digestible song structures and some solid riffs and vocals throughout. If you dig that stuff, give this a spin.

Sacramentum – Finis Malorum (1994). Prior to releasing their masterful debut, Sweden’s melodic black metal titans released this EP. I love the raw, lofi recording which drenches the album in atmosphere. This reissue has some great deep cut covers and their first demo on it too. Black metal doesn’t get much better than this due largely to the spectacular guitar playing throughout.

Mortification – Break the Curse (1990-2010). Mortification from Australia are surely the most well-known Christian death metal band, but beyond their lyrical content, they’ve also put out a number of solid albums, including their 1991 self-titled debut. A year prior to that, they recorded this great demo. The bass is prominent on it, it has emotive solos, and the raw sound works really well for them. It’s a bit thrashier than their later stuff, but that death-thrash combo is superb here. This is among the best stuff the band ever recorded.

Cephalotripsy – Demo 2006. California’s Cephalotripsy are now one of the most celebrated slam bands, but all of that started with this debut demo. It’s raw, ridiculously heavy, and has plenty of toilet noises for vocals. Slam is always best when it’s in such a raw form, and if you’re just looking for some big, ugly grooves, then this should tickle your fancy. Although if you dig slam, you’ve probably already heard this anyway.

Cephalic Impurity – Perverted Surgical Concept (2008) / Unique Brute Revival (2010) / Eulogium for Incessancy (2014). I’ve been jamming a lot of Cephalic Impurity lately. They’re some great modern brutal death metal out of Russia and have released these three full length albums. If you dig brutal stuff with plenty of tempo changes, some technical flourishes, and crushing groovy parts, then this is a band well worth your time.