Written by Kyle Messick
Here’s what I was jamming last week, descriptions below!
Dissect – Swallow Swouming Mass (1993). The only album from this Netherlands band is an absolute ripper. It has a feral, straight-forward ugliness that reminds me of Rottrevore. This isn’t brutal death, but it’s about as brutal as an OSDM can get without going into BDM territory. The mix on this is pretty much analog perfection. The lineup included members of the Dutch Xenomorph and Eternal Solstice, who also put out some other early 90s bangers.
Demenz – The Search (1996). For me, this album has been a holy grail that I was seeking for a long time. The only release by this German band is hardly essential, but it is a difficult to obtain, solid death metal gem. The riffing here isn’t exceptional, but it gets the job done, and when combined with the great drum performance, it makes for a great release. The vocals here are Chuck Schuldiner-esque guttural howls. The mix jumps around a good bit across the album. None of it sounds bad, but it’s clear that it was an LP that wasn’t recorded all at once.
Malaphar – The Tapes 1991-1996. These demos are the only thing that this death metal band from Germany released, and although the quality of the recording is a little rough around the edges, the music is stellar. Catchy, competent songwriting, neoclassical solos, massive grooves, and plenty of riffs in each song are just some of the reasons why this is a great example of old school death. The gutturals and their vocal patterns on this rule too.
Desecration – Reincarnation of Eternal Suffering (1991-1996). This was a great German death metal band that put out four demos spanning 1991-1996. It’s great, raw and heavy old school death with some some diverse scales being used that are especially apparent in the solos. There’s some big thrash vibes in some of the material and some fantastic solos and basswork.
Magwi (마귀)- The Bud of Original Sin Schemed by God (2002). This is old school brutal death out of South Korea. It doesn’t have anything that you haven’t heard before, but it’s pretty cool as a relic that shows brutal death was taking hold in South Korea too. There’s plenty of catchy riffs, and some intense moments due to some great drumming and application of palm muting. There’s also nods to plenty of earlier bands, including through dual vocals that are guttural and include highs that are layered to great effect, and also a good mix of straight-forward brutality and more technical sections that remind of early Suffocation. There are better BDM albums out there, but it’s cool for what it is.
Threnody – Rid of Flesh (2022). Threnody formed in 1988, put one demo out in 1990, and then disappeared until 2020. They just put out their first full length ever, and it’s packed with gems from their 1990 demo and plenty of new tracks. The benefit of putting out new death metal that was written in the late 80s is that it still has that old school feel, despite the slightly greater level of polish that comes with recordings from this century. The vocals are Akerfeldt-esque, the riffs are crushing, old school death, and the grooves are intended to crush anyone that puts the record on. This album connects the listener to a timeframe decades earlier, and I’m all for it.
Rhadamantys – Labyrinth of Thoughts (1995). This was the only full length from this experimental death metal band out of the Netherlands. This is a diverse album, that sounds atmospheric in doomy in parts, like a death metal Metallica in others, and like a band going straight into Pan.thy.monium death fusion territory in others. It’s weird and all over the place musically, but that’s often more of a strength than a weakness to my ears.
Anubis – A halál oldalán (1992). This especially raw rehearsal demo out of Hungary is the only thing that this band released. It feels somewhere in-between black, death, and thrash, with a lot of riffs feeling straight out of Euronymous’ playbook, but in this context, it’s a lot more aggressive, making it feel a lot thrashier and the vocals are more guttural. The recording quality isn’t great, but listening to it does make me feel like I’m in a small club watching the band live, and that’s always awesome if you can get past the recording quality. I love the bass on this too.
Tormentor – Ultimate Horrid Torment (1989-1990). Before Shub Niggurath became one of the most influential powerhouse death metal bands from Mexico, they were first known as Tormentor. These are a couple of live performances in their early days that are pretty solid, albeit lofi, but they provide some sinister sounding death-thrash.
Charnel Altar – Abatement of the Sun (2021). The debut by this Australian band is a great mix of dark and dissonant crushing black, death, and doom. The atmosphere of this album is dense, uncomfortable, and suffocating. The brilliantly composed drums make every moment impactful, which helps this album really leave an impression. It’s a phenomenal debut and I look forward to hearing more from this band.
Pre Mortem – False Gleam (1998). This was the only album by technical death metal band Pre Mortem. The jazz influences on this album rule, and I especially love the prominent bass playing throughout. Fans of bands like Quo Vadis, Cynic, and Vuvr should check this out. This is a bit more avant-garde in its genre mixing, and has vocals that vary from gutturals to screams to clean singing. It still sounds very different from most tech death due to its emphasis on melody, atmosphere, and genre experimentation. It’ll hit you with a heavy breakdown and immediately jump into an acoustic jazzy section and back again. This is an album that would get a lot more love if more people had heard it.
Intense Agonizing – Beginning of the End (1994), The only full-length album from this Hungarian deathgrind band is a real gem. It starts out with some atonal caveman riffs, but once you fully get into the album, it’s some seriously killer, groovy deathgrind. It also has one of the weirdest album covers I’ve ever seen. This is the reissue cover, not the original that was only on the tape pressing. I like the original tape cover a lot more, but the recreated cover mostly captures the same feel.
Agressor – The merciless Onslaught 1986-1989. This is a great compilation of demos from French death-thrash masters Agressor. There are wet, early Morbid Angel-esque vocals but also occasional falsetto screams, so the thrash influence is definitely there too. I love the combination of these two styles over the rapid-succession thrash riffs. The band also doesn’t get enough love for being one of the first bands to really start embracing a more death metal sound.
Inner Thought – Worldly Separation (1993). Inner Thought were a great death metal band out of Canada that combined hard rock elements and industrial influences into their death metal formula. This is their debut, which is largely a solo project by member Bobby Sadzak of Slaughter and Strappado. The programmed drums here work especially work, making for some big grooves that feel slightly industrial with the occasional synthesizers added in. Don’t let that description fool you though, this is still an album that has a death metal skeleton, it just has influences that aren’t just other death metal bands. A lot of the riffs and scales feel more like they’re inspired by 80s rock more than other death metal bands. The album is also heavy in its content matter, with the cover reflecting the Turkish genocide of Armenian people in 1915, and the album itself being dedicated to the victims of war.
Decubitus – Codex Sinaiticus (1997). This is the only full-length that this German band released, which really focuses on bringing groove into death metal. Their focus is on mid-paced riffs and they really hit hard, especially with the great drumming underneath that throws in double-bass selectively to make the riffs hit harder. This is a band that I feel like was intended to be seen live because of how massive all the grooves are. It might not have the best gutturals I’ve ever heard, but it’s hard not to tap along when the band really hits their stride.