written by Kyle Messick
Another week of sickness! Descriptions below!
Necrolatry – Dead and Buried (1993). Necrolatry were a great death metal band out of Michigan that only released this demo before disbanding. This is a really underrated gem of a demo. The tempos are fast, the guttural vocals are dry and would work well on a BDM release, the leadwork/solos are great, and the songs are challenging and dynamic. There are grooves on here that would easily fit in on Gutted’s Bleed for Us to Live (which was released one year after this). It feels like a lot of classic early 90s BDM, except this one really ratchets up the speed beyond a lot of those releases. It’s a release that rules and deserves a lot more love.
The Chasm – From the Lost Years… (1996). I love The Chasm. They’re easily one of the best death metal bands to come out of Mexico, and their early weeks are especially avant garde. The Chasm was only a three-piece act at this point, with most of the bass, guitars, vocals, and keyboards being handled by Daniel Corchado from Cenotaph and Incantation. This one is complex in its lead, rhythm, and bass work. It reminds me a bit of Stargazer’s recent sound. The vocals are a haunting guttural but with room to experiment with pitch, going everywhere from Autopsy-esque howls to thrashy King Diamond-esque falsettos. The atmosphere is thick, and the songs have many movements that can wander into jazzy, acoustic territory and across many other musical palettes. It’s a phenomenal album.
Morpheus Descends – Chronicles of the Shadowed Ones (1994). Most of the love that New York’s Morpheus Descends receives is directed as their only full length, 1992’s Ritual of Infinity, but not jamming the rest of their discography is a mistake. Their first EP following their debut is one that is devastatingly crushing. Chronicles of the Shadowed Ones is packed with breakdowns played at doom metal speeds, which make them hit with all the force of a collapsing mountain. If there’s any downside to this release, it’s that Morpheus Descends are a band intended to be seen live. By this, I mean they are a band that are incredible live, and that energy and ferocity can never be replicated on album. Hearing these songs live was one of the heaviest experiences I’ve ever had, and so this album just doesn’t quite emulate that. They were so heavy that it was clearly a universal experience, as other attendees shared the same facial expression that I had, which could be read as saying “this is absolutely ridiculous.” I can only hope that Morpheus Descends continues to be active and will someday treat us to some new material in a similar vein.
Maleficarum – Unblessed Volumes 1 & 2 (1993-2002). These two compilations span both demos and both full length albums from Italy’s Maleficarum. Their debut, Across the Heavens, is a bludgeoning death metal album with plenty of tempo changes that are consistent with other albums from the 90s. On their 2002 sophomore album, they incorporated more melody and tremolo picking, where they came out sounding a little bit more like a blackened death metal act. Both demos are solid too. The mix never quite reaches its full potential, even on the full lengths (especially the drum mix) but there are still some solid jams throughout. Their 1997 demo might be the best, most organic sounding and dynamic release on here, but it’s all worth a jam.
Gloom – Mater Tenebrarum (2009). This was the debut LP by Gloom from Spain, who played a style of death metal that was catchy, filled with great tremolo riffing, and really utilized a dual guitar approach well. The memorable drum performance holds it all together here. They also throw in some great little touches, like the bass leads and runs towards the end of “Evil Fuels…” It’s dark, sinister sounding death metal with plenty of memorable riffs and transitions.
Sparagmos – Invitation from Host of Wrath (1992) / Mortal Organic Remains (1990). Sparagmos was a Polish death metal band that featured vocalist and guitarist Łukasz Myszkowski that would later become the vocalist for Antigama. This is their 1992 debut, which is one of three albums they released before breaking up in 2002. The mix here is lofi and mostly organic, although the balance feels off for each speaker. The mix, some of the thrashier riffs, and solos remind me a bit of Altars of Madness.
Neglected Fields – Synthinity (1998). This is the debut album by Neglected Fields out of Latvia. They’re a progressive and technical death metal band that should appeal to fans of Cynic, Atheist, and Vuvr. The guitar and bass playing on this is insane. It’s a little mathy, and has plenty of avant garde experimentation, as illustrated by occasional clean vocals by keyboard Sandra. Most of the vocals are a wet, raspy high-pitched guttural. This is a great album to put on to remind you of how much you suck at your instrument.
Avulsion – Dimensions of Darkness (1996). Dimensions of Darkness was the debut full-length from the death metal band Avulsion out of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s solid, lofi mid-paced death metal that really lets the almighty riff be the star of the show. This is a heavy, straight-forward death metal effort, with dry guttural vocals that complete the package. It isn’t novel, but if you can’t get enough chuggy, meat-and-potatoes death metal, this is a great one to add to your playlist.
Harassed – Blessed by Suffering (1991-1994). Harassed were a Swedish death metal band active from the late 80s into the early 90s that reformed a decade ago. I absolutely love the Blessed by Suffering demo. Imagine a mid-paced 90s-style death metal band that will stop on a dime and hit you with some of those slow, world-ending grooves from Obliteration’s Nekropsalms. That’s basically what this sounds like, but well before Obliteration even existed. Check out the track “Hatred” to know what I mean. It’s riff after sick riff, with some great bass (runs, etc.) that accents it all. This might be my favorite jam from this week’s batch.
Penny Coffin – Σκελετικο σκοταδι (2022). These next three are from our friends at Brutal Cave Productions. Penny Coffin are a new band out of Scotland that will tickle the fancy of fans like Cruciamentum, Dead Congregation, and Mitochondrion. It’s raw, scary sounding death metal that is dense with atmosphere and has some haunting leads throughout. If this EP is any indication, Penny Coffin are well on their way to putting out an incredible debut in the near future.
Profane Ruination – Profane Ruination (2022). This demo is the first output from Tennessee upstarts Profane Ruination. It’s another dark death metal release that is dense with atmosphere, is great at diversifying tempos and drum patterns, and has low, completely indecipherable vocals. It’s another album that feels right out of someone’s foulest nightmares.
Body Asphyxiation Science – Space Adaptation Syndrome (2021). These three tracks are our first taste of the United Kingdom’s scientist fictionobsessed Body Asphyxiation Science. The death metal on display here is well-written, technical without being showy, and manages to bridge the gap between atonal Demilich flourishes and classic, 90s death metal riffing. This is another band to keep your eye on.
Harmony – Summoning the Past (1994-1995). Harmony were a Swedish death metal band that put out some great demos in the early 90s before later changing their name to Maze of Torment. The vocals here are a howled guttural, reminding of Benediction and Bolt Thrower. The riffs feel like they nod to the Gothenburg scene with the melodies and leads, but they’re still plenty heavy and the fast tempos keep it all feeling thrashy. The production is pretty lofi but it works great with all the big grooves.
冥界 = Hades* – 冥界 = Hades (1993-1998). This is a compilation from the Chinese death metal band Hades that formed in 1992 and is still active today. This release encompasses some of their 90s material. It’s mostly raw, lofi death metal. The first couple of tracks are pretty old school and mid-paced, but then there’s weird tracks like Celestial Burial that almost feel like a death metal ballad.