Writen by Kyle Messick
New week, more death metal (and a little thrash too). Descriptions below!
Cadaver – Hallucinating Anxiety / Carnage – Dark Recollections (1990). In 1990, one of the best death metal splits ever was released by Necrosis Records. On one side was Carnage’s Swedish death metal masterpiece Dark Recollections, which featured musicians that would go on to play in Dismember, Carcass, Entombed, Therion, and Carbonized. It’s easily one of the best Swedish death metal albums ever released. The other side is the debut release by Norwegian death metallers Cadaver, and although I don’t think it matches the more technical and adventurous approach of their sophomore album, it’s still a pretty decent jam. Hallucinating Anxiety is a lot more raw and lofi, and is a lot more straight-forward in its approach. This was Cadaver at their most aggressive, but I lean towards their sophomore as being my favorite by the band.
Defleshed – Ma Bella Scalpelle (1994). Before Defleshed became the thrashy, blast-beat obsessed band that would put out ferocious albums like 1999’s Fast Forward that featured former Dark Funeral drummer Matte Modin, they were first rooted more firmly in death metal and had Oskar Karlsson of Gates of Ishtar and Sarcasm behind the kit. Vocals, bass, and lyrics on this come from Gustaf Jorde, who also plays bass in Evocation. The wildest part about this is that it sounds nothing like later Defleshed. Everything here sounds like 90s New York brutal death metal and it rules. RIP Oskar.
Miasma – Changes (1992) / Love Songs (1993). Miasma are one of the best death metal bands to emerge from Austria. Changes is an essential death metal album. It has other-worldly guttural vocals, black metal howls, massive tempo changes that make the slow parts hit as hard as any slams you’ve ever heard, and an energy that makes the album sound chaotic and fresh, even thirty years later. The mixed bag of an EP that followed it isn’t nearly as noteworthy, but it still doesn’t do anything to tarnish the masterpiece that Changes is.
Sacrilege – Lost in the Beauty You Slay (1996) / The Fifth Season (1997). I’m mostly not too big on melodic death metal or high-pitched vocals, so these couple of LPs out of Gothenburg aren’t representative of the death metal I go hardest for, but they are fantastic albums despite those obstacles. Sacrilege formed in 1993 and disbanded in 1998 because Daniel Svensson, the vocalist and drummer of Sacrilege, dissolved the band to join In Flames as their drummer. The guitar playing on these albums is superb, as it taps into the great potential of melodic guitar playing in that it sounds majestic, beautiful, and timeless.
Monoliyth – Imminent Demise (2007). This was a cool Australian brutal death metal band that released an EP in 1998 and then this LP in 2007 before disbanding and then reforming in 2016. It’s competent brutal death with plenty of solid riffs and a vocal performance that feels inspired by Chris Barnes’ early work in Cannibal Corpse. If there’s any downside to this album, it’s that it plays it a little too safe. A couple members of this lineup also had a brief stint in Hobbs Angel of Death, one of Australia’s most celebrated thrash metal acts.
Caducity – Whirler of Fate (1997). This is another epic album by Belgium death metallers Caducity. Like their debut, it’s an ambitious and experimental album that continues their departure from death metal lyrical norms by embracing storytelling. For me, this is a more consistent and focused album compared to their debut. If you’d like to hear some old school death that actually tries to do something different and meaningful with the lyrics, then check this out.
Sadus – D.T.P. Demo 1986 (1986-1987). The Sadus demos include a number of songs that would appear on their 1988 debut, and as one might expect, the demo versions are fierce and more lofi than the LP versions. The high-pitched screams on this sound a lot more frantic compared to the LP. I could draw parallels to how Lord Worm sounded on Ungentle Exhumation versus Blasphemy Made Flesh. The screams are just more vicious here and cut deeper. These demos are a great way to listen to a lot of those classic early Sadus tracks.
Gehenna – The Horror Begins… At the Valley of Gore (1991-1992). These next several are gems from Awakening Records. Gehenna was an American death metal band that put out two demos in the early 90s. Despite being demos, the sound on here is pretty good. This is great old school death with deep vocals and some great solo and lead guitar work. There’s some great songwriting throughout, and these demos definitely show that Gehenna could have been some heavy hitters in the death metal scene, that is, if their members hadn’t left to go join Incantation, Morpheus Descends, Mausoleum, and Mythic. With a lineup like that, it’s no surprise that these demos are as good as they are.
Sarkasm – Inner Flame (1992) / Incubated Mind (1991). Sarkasm are a great death metal band that formed under an earlier moniker in 1990 and recently reformed. They put out several sick demos in the 90s, the two most prominent of which are included on this compilation. It’s death metal that has some thrash influence in the riffs and vocals. The guitar tone is filthy on this, and when combined with a great drum performance, it makes for a release well worth adding to your death metal playlist.
Amorbital – Invidia (1998) / Crystal Rhapsody (1996). Now this is a death metal band with a more melodic sound that I can easily get into. Amorbital are Slovakian band that sound plenty old school in their approach, with guttural vocals (not including the occasional higher and pitch-shifted vocal), varied tempos and riffs, and great drumming, but they also happen to have riffs that explore beyond the lowest strings and they include plenty of neoclassical leads/solos. It’s death metal epic in scope, but that never feels like something that isn’t death metal.
Ossuary – Addicted to Human Flesh (2021). This is a new band out of Colombia that plays death metal that mixes riffs that sound inspired by the 90s with some absolutely massive, crushing grooves. This band is a great example of why having a live drummer in a death metal band is so important: they really make those grooves so much more impactful. If you need some filthy death metal that you can really nod along to, then Ossuary have you covered.
Hatemonger – The Vile Maxim (2021). Hatemonger are a band out of Chicago that goes hard for Swedish HM-2 death metal. They really nail that buzzsaw guitar tone. There are some solid solos on here, and some might recognize drummer Garry Naples, who has been behind the kit on the last few Novembers Doom albums. This is a newer band that shows a lot of potential on this debut EP, but I hope that in moving forward they find a way to distinguish themselves from all the other Swedeath clones out there.
Oxygen Destroyer – Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence & Death (2018) / Sinister Monstrosities Spawned by the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind (2021). Seattle’s Oxygen Destroyer play kaiju-themed grindy death metal. What’s not to like? The vocals here are more of a high-pitched, thrashy black-metal howl rather than a traditional guttural, but beyond that you can expect an onslaught of old school death metal riffing with a phenomenal drum performance.
Sulphur Aeon – Swallowed by The Ocean’s Tide (2013). Sulphur Aeon from Germany are incredible at creating blackened melodic death metal. With later releases, they went heavier on the atmosphere, but what is heard on this debut might be something even more special. It reminds me of a more blackened and aggressive version of the early Kalmah albums, or a more complex, engaging, and sinister version of Hypocrisy. The Lovecraftian theme is always intuitive in metal, but it feels especially fitting here. It’s an epic and beautiful album, and one that shows how great melodic black metal playing can be in a death metal context.