Written by Kyle Messick

I’ll be doing these recs a little less frequently to focus on some other things, but I do have 15 fresh new recs for you this week!

Mi’Gauss – Open Season (2003). This is an awesome and unique death metal largely because the lyrics focus on Native American traditions and storytelling. The vocals are clear and well enunciated too, which helps get more out of this novel album. The music here is mostly groovy, mid-tempo death with lots of great melodies. It doesn’t get too much better than this when playing more melodic death metal without falling into the trappings of the Gothenburg scene.

Disillusion – Back to the Times of Splendor (2004). The debut by Germany’s Disillusion is a masterpiece that bridges the gap between Nevermore, Orphaned Land, and progressive death metal. Don’t be mistaken, this is an album with tons of clean vocals and sparser gutturals, so this isn’t necessarily going to win over someone looking for straight death metal. However, if you dig epic progressive death metal and also dig late-era Nevermore, you should find much to enjoy in this album.

Analepsy – Quiescence (2022). This is easily one of the most anticipated slam release releases of the year following their incredible debut and a solid split with Kraanium. Thankfully they manage to show that their debut wasn’t a fluke. This is inspired, fun brutal death metal with plenty of heavy breakdowns. I’m not sure if it tops their debut, but it’s certainly of a similar quality. Btw, if anyone has an extra copy of Atrocities from Beyond, please let me know! Despite it being one of my most listened to albums of the last few years, I still don’t own it and it’s difficult to obtain now.

Obsidian Hooves – Morbidity (2021). Obsidian Hooves is a two-person blackened death metal project out of the US. Morbidity is their debut, which is brooding with raw, dark atmosphere, cryptic doom passages, and blasting black metal aggression. The vocals sound especially angry, which alternate between a shouted guttural and a more black metal roar. The sound is rich and dense, and the dismal, dark mood is palpable. Morbidity really taps into a dark place that many albums reach for, but few achieve.

Desecation – Psychopathic Impalement (2022). This is a ridiculously brutal new band out of California. The slams on this thing are ridiculous, largely due to how perfect the production is for this stuff. They ride riffs a little too long at times, which causes the riffs to be less impactful, but the moment-by-moment experience is always good. If you want the heaviness in your death metal cranked up to 11, then check out this promising EP.

Vulnificus – Invocation (2022). The debut EP by new American brutal death metal project Vulnificus is raw, noisy, and grindy brutal death. I really dig how the bass cuts through on this. It’s an intense and frantic release, but that bouncy, tight bass keeps me hooked. It’s quality, fresh sounding stuff that makes me look forward to what they’ll do next.

Writhing Shadows – Writhing Shadows (2022). Looking at this album cover, you’d probably expect something along the lines of early Bolt Thrower, when they still had a lot of punk influence in their Warhammer-inspired sound. There is a little bit of that, but I don’t think this newer band out of Alabama sound like a Bolt Thrower clone. It’s raw, punky old school death with some big grooves, but they don’t sound like plagiarized Bolt Thrower riffs. This is a band with their own sound, and it’s raw, filthy, and makes for a great debut album.

Cohort – Drawn and Quartered (1996) / Near Death Experience (1994). Cohort were an earlier Australian death metal band that formed in 1990. This is a wild and fast album with some weird playing, fantastic bass, and great songs. It’s unquestionably death metal but still sounds fresh due to it not attempting to emulate other albums of the time. It’s also super catchy.

Astaroth – The Demos (1993-1998). Astaroth were a Floridian death metal band that released a couple of demos in the early 90s. Some of the guitars on this were from Demian Heftel, who later played in Brutality and Nocturnus AD. Drummer Tomas Viator also played on Disincarnate’s Dreams of the Carrion Kind and contributed keyboards to Acid Bath. And if that wasn’t enough, drums on another demo included here were by Tony Laureano of Nile, Angelcorpse, etc. Musically, this is some heavy old school death.

Incest – Moriar (1992) / Release Spell (1995). These are two thrashy death metal demos out of Poland in the vein of early Deicide, complete with dual guttural and screamed vocals. They’ve got plenty of groovy tremolo-picked riffs and some solid drumming. Release Spell guitarist Szymon Czech later went on to play in Antigama and Niya before passing in 2012 from cancer. Rest in peace.

Miracle – The Fall of Existence (1992) / The Remnants of Humanity (1993). These are two great death metal demos out of Poland. There are some great leads throughout, plenty of solid riffs, and everything else you’d expect from some solid 90s death metal. The tempos jump around a bit, allowing for some slower, epic passages that feel especially introspective. The Fall of Existence is a little thrashier, but they’re both great releases, with Remnants being my favorite of the two.

Danger Drive – Darkness Comes… (1992) / Mother of Hate (1990). Danger Drive might have had a goofy NWOBHM sounding name, but they were a heavy hitting death metal band out of Poland. These releases are packed with memorable riffs, great leads, and nuanced touches like occasional keyboards that make each moment more impactful. It always sounds sinister, sometimes progressive, and it also manages to have moments that feel like they were intended for massive, stadium audiences. All these components add up to a couple of releases that rip.

Suffocate Bastard – Acts of Contemporary Violence (2007). The only album by German brutal death metallers Suffocate Bastard is a great mix of BDM and technicality. It often reminds me of Gorgasm with the occasional Cryptopsy riff thrown in for good measure. It’s a masterful, crushing album that has really held up. Fun fact: the bassist in this band also played on Eternal Dirge’s Morbus Ascendit.

Primordial Rites Demo (2022). Cheers to Ivan Velázquez (formerly of Under Moonlight Sadness) for hooking me up with the Primordial Rites demo at Maryland Deathfest. It’s the new band he fronts, and these two tracks are a sick indication of what’s to come. It’s a great, raw and loose couple of dark death metal tracks with some melancholic leads and great vocals. I look forward to their upcoming EP!