Written by Kyle Messick
Traveler – Traveler (2019) / Terminal Shock (2020). Although my obsession is death metal, I do enjoy the occasional heavy metal band. The two albums by Canada’s Traveler are quality examples of traditional heavy metal, with catchy NWOBHM-style riffs, twin guitar harmonies/solos, galloping drums, solid clean vocals, and traditional song structures. It’s a great palette cleanser in-between death metal binges.
Altar of Gore – Infinite Visions of Violence (2022). Following a great and filthy full-length album a few years ago, Altar of Gore from New Jersey have dropped a new demo through Nameless Grave Records. It’s similarly lofi and filthy. I feel like ‘cavernous death metal’ has become somewhat of a naughty word now, but these guys do it right. It’s thick with heavy riffs and topped with an appropriate Hellhammer cover as a closer.
Illdisposed – Four Depressive Seasons (1993). The debut by this death metal band out of Denmark is some solid 90s sounding death. It has a real live sound to the recording, with the drums having a stadium-like echo and guitars that threaten to overwhelm the speakers as each note rings on. A great drum performance from Michael Enevoldsen of Panzerchrist fame makes each groovy riff especially impactful.
Tiburón – Join Us (1996). If you hadn’t guessed by the neat logo, the word “tiburón” means “shark” in Spanish. Despite the goofiness of that, the band is a great death metal band out of Switzerland that’s been around since 1992. This was their debut album, which is heavy death metal that has an almost industrial quality because of the programmed drums. I’d probably prefer organic drums here, but it does give it a neat, different feel to have the more industrial sounding kit. The riffs on this are great; it’s solid old school death other than those drums.
Blackthorn – The Rotten Ways of Human Misery (1992). Blackthorn released this, their only LP before breaking up a couple of years later, but they’ve since reunited. It’s lofi death thrash out of Mexico. It’s high energy stuff with some wild, frantic divebomb solos throughout.
Besieged – Violence Beyond All Reason (2022). I loved Besieged’s 2010 debut, which I often cite as an example of how great and energetic death thrash can be. The long-awaited sophomore from this Canadian band is similarly stellar, and although I don’t like the cleaner production as much, it’s still an incredible album played at fast tempos that never lets up. Speed might not be as novel nowadays, but there’s unquestionably an intensity in the onslaught here that very, very few modern releases are able to tap into. This and Suppression are out now through Unspeakable Axe!
Suppression – The Sorrow of Soul through Flesh (2022). The 2019 debut by Suppression from Chile was likely my favorite release of that year, so I’ve been clamoring for their full length to be released ever since. I’m stoked to say that it’s absolutely as good as I had hoped. This is fun, thrashy old school death metal with van Drunen-styled howls and some of the best bass playing you’ll hear from a death metal band. It’s a real aoty contender for me. The drumming is phenomenal on this too. Shout-out to Paolo Girardi for another sick cover painting!
Ebolie – Elevation into Disintegration (2004). This is the only LP from Australia’s Ebolie, which is death metal mixed with a little bit of fun, punky crossover grindcore and a good amount of experimentation. It has some great bottom end, but it’s an album that polarizes many listeners due to its occasional treading into hip hop, funk, and other territories. I think it’s a fun deathgrind album that does something different and has a great sense of humor.
Nocturnal Devotion – Virus… (2004). This was the only album from Slovakia’s Nocturnal Devotion. It’s pretty groovy death metal with gutturals that sound a good bit like Glen Benton. There’s a good amount of melodeath influence here too, but not enough for the music to be strictly of that subgenre.
天行健 = Norcelement – 在黑暗中创造光明 = Flame In Darkness (2009). This death metal band from China originally formed in 1998 under a different moniker, but it wasn’t until 2009 that they finally dropped this debut. The vocals are mostly mid-range gutturals, but there’s occasional other styles, such as higher gutturals and rare squeals. The music walks the line between old school death and brutal death, with a few other influences thrown in, including cool acoustic sections that utilize more regional scales and occasional melodies that wouldn’t sound out of place on a NWOBHM ballad. It’s more cohesive than my description makes it sound.
Nunslaughter / Blood split (2022). Combine one of the oldest and most consistent American death metal bands with one of the oldest and most consistent German deathgrind bands and you know that it’s going to make for a solid split. The Nunslaughter songs are groovy and catchy, even if I find their anti-Christian shtick to be a bit stale. Blood are a band I’ve increasingly become a fan of ever since I was blown away by their set at Netherlands Deathfest several years back. Their first song is a slow and heavy plodding track, but the rest of their side jumps into the faster, groovy deathgrind that they’re known for.
Nuctemeron – Posers Mutilation 1989-1991. Not to be confused with the great American 90s death metal band of the same name, the Brazilian band of the same name predates that, having formed in 1989, and they mixed grindcore, death metal, and black metal. This compilation spans demos, rehearsals, and live tracks, all of which are pretty lofi, but if you can get past the poor quality of the records, there’s some high energy, noisy deathgrind to enjoy.
Macabre End – Consumed by Darkness (1990). Many death metal fans are familiar with the classic 1993 Swedish death metal album The Winterlong by God Macabre. Prior to that album, they were known as Macabre End and they released a demo under that moniker. It’s three quality mid-paced death metal songs. The first is more atmospheric with keyboards and tolling bells, but after that it gets more primitive. There are some solid leads and some doomier parts. It’s a great little demo, albeit short.
Desecration & Possessed / Section Eight / Social Disease- Dead… Yet, Not Forgotten (1985-1992). This compilation spans the many works and bands of Bob Yost, former vocalist of Desecration and former vocalist/bassist of Possessed, who passed in 2010. The quality of these recordings varies tremendously, but there’s some great stuff in here if you’re into early death thrash / proto-death. The 1991 Possessed demo is a highlight, for example. The Desecration stuff is cool too, but they’re all really lofi recordings and I’m not too big on the shouted thrash vocal.