Written by Kyle Messick
Here’s what I’ve been jamming over the last week, much love to Lifeless Chasm for the first several of these!
Palsied – Distended (2020) / Certain Death Austerities (2021). Palsied from New Jersey play an incredible form of brutal death metal with riffs that are often labyrinthine and here feel like they have only one goal in mind: transporting the listener to musical planes elsewhere not experienced, like if Thantifaxath played death metal. It’s amazing stuff that feels next-level in many regards.
Chloroma – Chloroma (2021). There seems to almost be a new subgenre of brutal death metal forming over the last several years, with bands like Effluence leading the way. Chloroma is another example of this chaotic, weird, and unmusical approach to brutal death. This is the sort of stuff that people will either worship as being genius, or hate and regard it as pure nonsensical noise, either way, it’s something entirely unique.
Webdriver Torso – Data Tribes (2021). This is a heavy mix of grindcore and brutal death metal of Australia that is packed with ridiculous breakdowns, a great snare tone, and great indecipherable vocals. It feels so energetic, which makes it that much more enjoyable to listen to. It’s relentless.
Necrolatry – Within the Shroud of Misery (1993). This was a great demo out of Ohio that features Ash Thomas of Faithxtractor and Shed the Skin handling bass, vocals, and keyboards. It walks the line between 90s-style groovy brutal death and mid-paced death metal with an ultra-guttural vocal over top. The band later changed their named to Estuary and they are still active today under that moniker, albeit with a different lineup and sound.
Slavery – To Kill in Cold Blood (1992). This was the debut album by Slavery from Brazil. It’s some solid death-thrash that is a little rough around the edges, but those imperfections make it sound more energetic and real.
Transgressor – Defiled Crosses Demo(n)s Recollection (1989-1990). Transgressor are one of the most awesome death metal bands to come out of Japan, and although most of the love they receive is for their excellent sole full length, 1992’s Ether for Scapegoat, this compilation of demos is an absolute gem too. There’s a good mix of intense, blasting sections, groovy bits, atmospheric doom sections, and thrash parts with plenty of variation in tempo and some great transitions. Despite being demos, the quality on many of these tracks is excellent, and well worth a spin by anyone into death metal.
Orlac – Ashes to Ashes… (1997). Orlac were a death metal band from Spain active from 1993 through 2004. I recently visited their excellent sophomore album, Forthcoming Death, but this week I’m returning to their debut. It’s plenty capable groovy 90s death metal that sounds like something that might have come out of the Florida death metal scene.
Sabbatic Feast – Scaling the Vortex (1999). I absolutely love this wild sophomore album from Louisiana brutal death metallers Sabbatic Feast. It has some killer bass playing and lots of different musical movements that make it sound unhinged. Some might recognize the vocalist on this, which is Levi Fuselier that was previously the vocalist for Disgorge and Pathology.
Atheretic – Apocalyptic Nature Fury (2006). The second album from Canada’s Atheretic shows off incredible bass prowess in the context of brutal technical death metal. The music is challenging and always engaging, and still stands out as something unique in its balance of virtuosity and aggression. It should be unsurprising that the bass on this is as phenomenal as it is, since Dominic Lapointe of Augury, First Fragment, and Beyond Creation is the one behind the strings. That isn’t the only notable prolific musician on this either, since drummer Jean-Sébastien went on to play in Phobocosm and vocalist Alex LeBlanc is the frontman of Neuraxis.
Graf Spee – Mother Fucker (1992). This is a bizarre EP out of Uruguay, in that it might technically be death thrash, but at times they sound like a grindier Slayer, at others, a crustier Motorhead, and yet others, a doomier Venom. As a result, some songs are stronger than others, but there is certainly some fun to be had here.
Immolation – Stepping on Angels… Before Dawn (1995). This is an interesting compilation from one of death metal’s most celebrated acts. The cover of the compilation was an early rejected draft of the cover for Dawn of Possession, and despite this compilation being hard to obtain now, it’s still the only official CD release of many of their early demos. It includes demos and live tracks that span 1987 (when Immolation were known as Rigor Mortis) through 1990. There are even Autopsy and Sepultura covers on this. Some of the earliest songs on here were before Ross Dolan joined the band, so it’s weird hearing a thrashier band that largely doesn’t sound like Immolation, which would then would lead up to a band that sounded increasingly like the Immolation that are so rightfully celebrated today.
Cangrena – Demoniak Transition (1999). The debut from Costa Rican death grinders Cangrena is an imperfect album, especially with the strange mix, but it’s a great listen to hear a band that was walking the line between a 90s death metal sound and what would become staples of the goregrind genre. The vocals in particular sound like what most goregrind bands use now, but the instruments here are a looser, fast mix of grind and death.
Infected Sphere – Abyss ov Flesh (2018). Abyss ov Flesh is the debut album by Brazilian brutal death metallers Infected Sphere. It’s pretty crushing stuff with a memorable drum performance. Their sound isn’t slamming brutal death or anything like that, it’s more like thrash-influenced death metal, but heavier. It has plenty of grooves, but these are mostly due to the drum patterns, rather than intentional breakdown riffs. It’s pretty solid stuff.
Poem’s Death – Decade of Rebellion (2019). The only full length that Poem’s Death from Brazil have released so far, despite forming in 1998, is a great, old school death metal affair. The album itself sounds like it could have come out of the mid-90s, and as a sucker for that sound, that makes this album a great listen to my ears. Just quality, no-frills death metal.