Written by Kyle Messick
Here’s what I’ve been jamming over the last week, much love to Memento Mori for the first several of these!
Inanna – Void of Unending Depths (2022). Every album from Chile’s Inanna is an ambitious, forward-thinking album that hints at the possibilities of death metal’s future evolution. Their third full length incorporates more dissonance and atmosphere, feeling somewhere in-between Immolation, The Chasm, and StarGazer, while maintaining a sound completely their own. It’s an album that will reward repeated listens because there’s clearly more here than what’s at the surface. This is an album that will very likely be listed on many aoty lists, because for those it clicks with, it will be a genuinely powerful listening experience.
Acid Birth – Pleasures of Flesh / The Divine Grotesque (2022). This great compilation includes both EPs from newer New Orleans death metal titans Acid Birth. This is dark sounding death metal that will appeal to fans of bands like Cruciamentum, Dead Congregation, Krypts, and Mitochondrion. There’s a little bit of doom, a little bit of black and some great basswork throughout, but the end product is brooding, nightmarish death.
Intolerance – Dark Paths of Humanity (2022). The debut by this Spanish death metal band has a lot of Bolt Thrower influence in their riffing approach, but the more lofi production adds a darker, more dismal atmosphere. That darker sound is further embraced through the use of some occasional doomier riffs.
Ectoplasma – Inferna Kabbalah (2022). When Ectoplasma from Greece first starting put out material, I was greatly enjoyed their groovy, old school death with plenty of variety, breathability, and strong songwriting. I became a little disenchanted with them from 2016-2018, just because they were putting out three releases a year for a while there, and I had trouble keeping up. I’m glad I started paying attention again, because this newest full length is their most accomplished work yet. They’ve really perfected writing some great songs, and the great use of rhythm and lead guitarwork really adds a lot to their OSDM sound.
Psychic Pawn – Eulogy: The Complete Anthology (1991-1994). Psychic Pawn were a great old school death metal act that were active from 1989 until 1994 or so. This discography anthology includes their only full length, 1994’s Decadent Delirium, as well as their 1991 and 1992 demos. Other than some beautiful interludes, most of the music here is heavier death metal with a shouted guttural. Their full length is a real gem other than the thin bass drum sound.
Corrupt Soul – Ancient Psychophony (1992-1993). Corrupt Soul were a Spanish death metal band that released two demos spanning 1992 and 1993. It’s groovy, lofi death metal that is marvelously composed. The focus here is on a riff after riff barrage, with plenty of tempo changes and great transitions. If you’re as much of a sucker as I am for 90s death metal, then definitely check out this great demo compilation. I’d say the Psychophony demo has the edge of the less ambitious 1992 demo, but they’re both worth a jam.
Epitaph – Echoes Entombed: The Demo Anthology (1991-1992). There have been a ton of bands named Epitaph, but this particular one is a Florida death metal band that was active from 1990 through 1992, and then reformed in 2012. This compilation includes the two demos that span that timeframe. You can expect vocals that sound Schuldiner-inspired over some unsurprisingly classic sounding death metal from musicians that also played in Resurrection and Cynic. The bass in particular on this material is way better than it has any business being.
Agony – Apocalyptic Dawning (1995). This album quickly comes to mind following the release of Blood Incantation’s Hidden History of the Human Race, since both albums used parts of the same cover art (however Blood Incantation licensed it, whereas Agony stole it), but now that I’ve acknowledged that, let’s talk about the music. As with many 90s Canadian death metal albums, this album brilliantly combines technicality with death metal. The mix on this is pretty much perfect, the drum performance is superb (RIP), the bass playing is beautiful, and the lead guitar work is phenomenal throughout. I wish more technical death metal sounded like this – heavy and old school, instead of wanky and sterile. It’s an incredible album that deserves more listeners.
Meathook – Manipulating the Human Form (2022). Meathook are from Phoenix, Arizona, and they play ugly, raw brutal death metal. There isn’t a bunch of nonsense gravity blasting and slams here, it’s just in-your-face, brutal death. This hasn’t been polished to perfection. No one will celebrate this release as revolutionary. It won’t convert anybody to BDM. It’s just ugly, angry, and rabid.
Luzifer – Iron Shackles (2022). Heavy metal as a genre isn’t one of my favorites. It gets overly formulaic with verse-chorus structures and doesn’t hold the intensity of extreme genres that I connect more easily with, but sometimes there’s a heavy metal release that really connects with me. The debut by the three members of Vulture that make up this German band sounds like an album that could have been released in the 80s. It has incredible leads, Maiden gallops, great bass playing, memorable drumming, a classic rock snare tone, and a genuine feeling of nostalgia that sells it all. It’s an amazingly catchy album that transcends my death metal fascination to really deliver a fantastic metal album that should appeal to just about any metal fan.
Overlord – Overland …is Everywhere (1994-1994). This compilation spans the first two demos by the Polish death metal band Overlord. The music spans everything from aggressive thrash to groovy death metal that often feels epic and majestic due to the use of acoustics and guitar harmonies in different sections. All of it is well written stuff, but the recording quality is definitely all over the place depending on the demo.
Phantasmagory – Odd Sounds (1990). The debut by this band out of Ukraine goes all in on their progressive death metal approach, since they have wild layered keyboards all over the place on top of some great, somewhat melodic guitar leads with lots of jazz influence. The jazzy drumming on here is fantastic too, so shoutout to the beast of a drummer that Valeriy Vorobyov was. He sadly passed last year from COVID-19 (RIP). There’s a lot going on here, but it still manages to sound coherent, like a cross between Nocturnus and Atheist. Really interesting stuff!
Undergang – Indhentet af døden (2010). Most of you are likely aware of Undergang, who are one of Denmark’s most celebrated and consistent death metal bands. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live and have a number of their releases, but I’ve been particularly fixed on this album this last week. It might be their best release, just because it’s so catchy and has so many memorable grooves. It’s intense, full of tempo changes, and as raw as a demo.
Immersed in Pain – Perforated Sanctuary (2021). This is the debut full length from a new band out of Washington, D.C. It’s no-nonsense, old style death metal with some big grooves and a particularly nasty guttural. They ride riffs for a little long at times, but it becomes endearing after a while, once you accept it and just go along for the ride.
Necrophiliac – Maze of Forking Paths (1988-1992). This compilation spans the material of Spain’s Necrophiliac from their 1988 demo through their 1992 full length. They have since reunited and released new material, but this is certainly a great starting point for new listeners. It has a 90s death metal sound with a blackened edge. The recording quality is all over the place depending on the release, but there’s plenty of solid mid-paced death on this thing.