Death Metal

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Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It typically employs heavily distorted guitars, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes.

Building from the musical structure of thrash metal, death metal emerged during the mid 1980s. It was mainly inspired by thrash metal acts like Slayer, Kreator and Celtic Frost. Along with the band Death and its frontman Chuck Schuldiner (who is often referred to as "the father of death metal"), bands like Possessed and Morbid Angel are often considered pioneers of the genre. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, death metal gained more media attention as popular record labels like Earache and Roadrunner began to sign death metal bands at a rapid rate. Since then, death metal has diversified, spawning a rich variety of subgenres.

Inclusive death metal music subgenres:

  • Brutal death metal See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/brutal-death-metal
  • Melodic death metal See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/melodic-death-metal
  • Swedish death metal, also referred to as Scandinavian death metal, should not be confused with melodeath. This genre is characterized by its focus on raw energy and aggression. The guitars are typically extremely distorted and downtuned, and, in addition to traditional death metal elements, artists within this subgenre also draw on hardcore punk and early thrash metal. While not restricted to Sweden, the genre is called death metal because it was largely popularized by death metal artists from Sweden, such as Carnage, Nihilist, early Entombed, Dismember, Grave, and Unleashed. Seeing that many of the prominent artists within this genre were located in around Stockholm, it is sometimes referred to as the Stockholm sound in contrast with the Gothenburg sound. While big in the 1990s, the popularity of this genre waned in the 2000s, as melodeath became more popular, but recently a number of bands based in Eastern Europe, such as Brutally Deceased and Morbider, have taken up the Stockholm sound and are bringing it back onto the scene.
  • Death-grind combines elements from death metal with element of grindcore. From grindcore, the genre inherits song brevity (with the average length being 2:30), emphasis on fast picking and blastbeating as well as the lyrical content (which means that a lot of death-grind deals with gore, pornography or socio-politics). From death metal, it inherits song complexity and focus on performance and technique, although guitar solos are not as common as in other styles of death metal. When Napalm Death started to gravitate towards death metal from pure grindcore, they developed a death-grind sound, and they are probably the most influential band in the death-grind genre. Other death-grind acts are Lock Up, Terrorizer, and Pig Destroyer. On MMA, those death-grind artists and releases that lean more towards grindcore are included under grindcore, while those that lean more towards death metal are included under death metal.
  • Technical/progressive (or tech/prog) death metal See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/technical-death-metal
  • Blackened death metal combines death metal and black metal, of lyrically the focus is typically on Satanism, occultism and anti-religion. Behemoth is considered one of the most influential blackened death metal bands.
  • Death ‘n’ roll See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/death-n-roll


The following subgenres are NOT listed under death metal in the MMA:

  • Grindcore: has its own sugbenre section.
  • Death-thrash: included under thrash metal.
  • Deathcore: included under metalcore.
  • Doom-death: included under doom metal.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_metal

Written by Time Signature.

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Nightfly (leader)
  • Vim Fuego
  • TheHeavyMetalCat

death metal top albums

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death metal Music Reviews

CARCASS Torn Arteries

Album · 2021 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Torn Arteries" is the 7th full-length studio album by UK death metal act Carcass. The album was released through Nuclear Blast in September 2021, almost to the day 8 years after the release of the preceding album "Surgical Steel" from September 2013. Carcass have been quite busy in the intermediate years though, touring the world and trying to profit as much as possible on their long awaited comeback. In addition to touring, the band have also released the "Surgical Remission / Surplus Steel" EP in 2014 and the "Despicable" EP in 2020, so there have been some new material for the fans between the two album releases. "Despicable" (2020) ended up being released as a gap release because Carcass didn´t want to release "Torn Arteries" during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally planned for a summer 2020 release, and the band had already released the teaser single track "Under the Scalpel Blade" in December 2019 to promote the release of the album, but as things turned out, they opted to push the album release little over a year.

"Under the Scalpel Blade" is included on the tracklist of "Torn Arteries", but other than that track, which was both released as an individual single and as part of "Despicable" (2020) (and is an absolutely brilliant track), all other tracks are new original compositions. Stylistically the material are unmistakably the sound of Carcass and you´ll hear elements on the album which will remind you of "Surgical Steel" (2013), but also elements from the three albums released from 1991-1996 ("Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991)", "Heartwork (1993)", and "Swansong (1996)"). Sharp, aggressive, and melodic death metal with both thrash metal and tradtional heavy metal leanings. The lead vocals are predominantly handled by vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker (in his usual raw and aggressive snarling vocal style), which has been the case since the early 90s, but guitarist Bill Steer actually contributes a few of his low growling vocals too a few times during the playing time, and it´s a treat to fans of the early albums.

"Torn Arteries" is probably the most varied Carcass album yet, and stylistically it´s arguably a little inconsistent. When you opt to put a death´n´roll influenced track like "Dance of IXTAB (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No.1 in B)" on the same album as a death metal/goregrind track like "Under the Scalpel Blade" (the 9:42 minutes long "Flesh Ripping Torment Limited" also stands out as a unique song on the album), some listeners are bound to find either the former or the latter most interesting and hoping to hear more of the same, but if we´ve learned anything from Carcass over the years, it´s that they write and release exactly what they feel like witing and releasing. They are not an act who you can count on releasing formulaic albums. So "Torn Arteries" is not necessarily an album which will hook you on first listen. It takes time and an effort to listen to the album and hear all the details and let the different stylistic features sink in. Overall all tracks of course still sound unmistakably like Carcass. The vocals are described above, and the same with the death/thrashy riffs, but the many well played guitar leads and harmonies also deserve a special mention. Steer has again produced many memorable and powerful lead guitar moments.

The album features a darker and more organic sounding production that the more clinical, sharp, and sterile sound production on "Surgical Steel" (2013), and that production choice suits the material on "Torn Arteries" well. Upon conclusion it was worth the wait as "Torn Arteries" is a high quality Carcass album. It´s familiar enough to please the fans, but still features enough development and small experiments with sound and form to keep Carcass relevant. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

BARREN EARTH Our Twilight

EP · 2009 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Our Twilight" is an EP release by Finnish doom/death metal act Barren Earth. The EP was released through Peaceville Records in November 2009. Barren Earth was formed in 2007 by bassist by Olli-Pekka Laine (Amorphis). He had composed material which didn´t fit any of the other projects he was involved in and decided to form a band to record his material. Having been a member of Amorphis from 1990-2000, Laine had been an integral part of the Finnish metal scene and had many contacts within the scene, which made it possible for him to recruit seasoned musicians like guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö (Waltari, Kreator), lead vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun), guitarist Janne Perttilä (Põhjast, Rytmihäiriö, Moonsorrow), drummer Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow, October Falls), and keyboard player Kasper Mårtenson (Amorphis) for the project.

The EP features 4 tracks and a total playing time of 22:26 minutes. Stylistically this sounds very much like mid-90s Amorphis, which of course makes sense, since two of the members of that band from that time are part of the lineup on "Our Twilight". This is doom/death metal with 70s progressive rock leanings and strong, epic, and melancholic melodies. There is a touch of Scandinavian folk too, and again it´s hard not to think of mid-90s Amorphis. The vocals are predominantly death metal growls, but there are also several clean sung parts on the EP. Barren Earth are obviously both seasoned and skilled musicians, and "Our Twilight" reeks professionalism that you won´t find on many debut releases. Although the band don´t often stray from their musical path, the addition of Yli-Sirniö to the lineup, does result in a couple of more unconventional musical ideas (it would be strange if a member of Waltari didn´t act out just a little bit), but they are incorporated successfully into the main musical style of the album.

"Our Twilight" is a heavy and atmospheric release, and that´s one of the greatest strengths of the EP. Barren Earth balance brutal heavy doom/death metal parts with their 70s progressive rock influences very well and creates a big epic soundscape in the process. All tracks are enjoyable and memorable compositions, but I have to mention EP closer "Floodred" for it´s death metal brutality and epic clean sung parts, and "Jewel" for it´s progressive middle section. The sound production is massive, layered, and ensures the right environment for the material to shine, and upon conclusion "Our Twilight" is a quality first release by Barren Earth. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

GORGUTS Obscura

Album · 1998 · Technical Death Metal
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Necrotica
Was anybody actually ready for an album like Obscura back in 1998? Watch any early live performance of these songs on Youtube, and what you’ll see is a crowd that’s practically motionless. They’re not moshing, instead just stunned and transfixed at the bizarre dissonance and calculated chaos playing out before them. In the same year that other tech-death landmarks such as The Sound of Perseverance were being released, Gorguts had already left the archetypal trappings and conventions of the genre far behind with an avant-garde metal masterwork that stood - and still stands today - as a monument to mental anguish and turmoil.

I get the sense that much of the confusion and surprise surrounding Obscura stemmed from the sheer leap forward from its predecessor. The Erosion of Sanity is more sophisticated than Considered Dead, sure, but it’s still a relatively straightforward death metal album. No one could have predicted something like Obscura; imagine if Death released Individual Thought Patterns immediately after Scream Bloody Gore. So what happened? Well… Steeve Hurdle happened. Luc Lemay might be the co-founder and bandleader of Gorguts, but he’s never going to find a better wingman than Hurdle. The duo’s combined artistic vision led to a level of experimentation and twisted chemistry that can’t be matched anywhere else in the group’s catalog; if you have any doubts of Hurdle’s involvement in this partnership, the liner notes credit both him and Lemay with the “artistic direction” of Obscura.

And what an artistic direction this is. All of death metal’s stereotypical traits and tropes have been thrown out the window in favor of abstract lyrics, strange chord structures, and ever-changing time signatures. Instead of being technical for technicality’s sake, however, Gorguts use their musical toolkit as a means of communicating intense feelings of dread, despair, and viscera. While the songwriting is impressive, the way these emotions and thoughts are conveyed through the songwriting is what makes it so effective. It’s as if every weird bout of dissonance and every alien guitar squeal is another layer of sanity being ripped away from the listener. Of course, the vocals are also a massive contributor to this. If Lemay sounds demented and savage - which he does - Hurdle acts as his tortured and agonized counterpart. Every time Hurdle lets out a lyric, even if it’s not particularly disturbing, he transforms it into a twisted and ugly affair with his horrible retching and heaving. And what’s so wild about all of this is that the record makes more and more sense with repeated listens; what seems like chaos starts falling into place once you let the deliberate nature of the songwriting and execution sink in.

Of course, I don’t want to leave bassist Steve Cloutier or drummer Patrick Robert out of the picture either; the fact that they can make sense of the musical madness on Obscura and play these crazy riffs so impeccably is a feat unto itself. Their precision and technical acumen is a perfect foil for Lemay and Hurdle’s insane ideas, leading to a lot of chemistry between all members. Everyone is locked in with each other, which is absolutely necessary for an album that could go flying off the rails at any given time. Obscura reminds me a lot of Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan in that regard; both records have a habit of letting chaos and control coexist in strange and creative ways. Sometimes the two mingle, and sometimes they clash with each other. Still, one thing is for certain: the members of Gorguts are ridiculously talented. As for the lyrics, they’re a substantial step up from the band’s previous output; the gore and social commentary of yesteryear were now replaced with writings on existentialism, spiritualism, and - you guessed it - despair. In any case, they prove to be just as abstract and peculiar as the music they’re accompanying, which seems appropriate.

But to answer my original question: no, people were not ready for Obscura back in 1998. There’s a reason Gorguts are commonly cited as pioneers of avant-garde metal; nothing sounded like this back then, in the technical death metal genre or otherwise. If the album had proven anything, it was that many of their contemporaries were already being left in the dust artistically. Because of Obscura, extreme metal would simply never be the same again.

SPASME Deep Inside

Album · 2000 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Deep Inside" is the debut full-length studio album by Canadian death metal act Spasme. The album was released through Neoblast Records in 2000. Spasme formed in 1994 and released the 1995 "Traumatisme" demo (and an almost identical demo in 1999 titled "Deep Inside"). Only guitarist Mathieu Marcotte remains from the lineup who recorded the 1995 demo. The most notable addition to the ranks is lead vocalist Martin Lacroix, who would subsequently join Cryptopsy in 2001, touring with them and recording the 2003 "None So Live" live album before being asked to leave again in 2003.

While "Traumatisme" (1995) showed that Spasme had more up the sleeve than your average technical death metal act, "Deep Inside" takes that approach much further. It´s a dynamic, creative, and relatively varied technical death metal release. It´s brutal alright and new vocalist Lacroix has a deep but intelligible aggressive growling vocal style, which is brilliant, but the music is also loaded with breaks, tempo changes, atmospheric parts (the subtle use of keyboards is effectul and create atmosphere), and adventurous songwriting ideas. It´s no surprise that a technical death metal act is well playing and the skills are through the roof, but it still deserves a mention how well playing Spasme are and how many unconventional ideas they incorporate in their songs while still maintaining an element of catchiness.

I´m afraid the sound production leaves just a little to be desired and while it´s not a major issue, the album does sound a little thin, and could have prospered from a more meaty and brutal sound. The thin sound gives the album a demo recording quality aura, and while that´s maybe a bit too harsh when evaluating the sound production, I have to mention it.

Don´t be put off by my description of the sound production though, because "Deep Inside" is a technical death metal release which deserves a lot more attention and while it doesn´t quite possess what it takes to be a classic in the genre, it´s still a great album. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.

SPASME Traumatisme

Demo · 1995 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Traumatisme" is the first demo release by Canadian death metal act Spasme. The demo was independently released on cassette tape in 1995. Spasme formed in 1994 and released this demo (and an almost identical demo in 1999 titled "Deep Inside"), and their debut full-length studio album "Deep Inside" in 2000 before disbanding in 2002.

The material on the 6 track, 20:43 minutes long demo is technical and relatively brutal death metal. The growling vocals are expressive and aggressive but also intelligible, and generally a great asset to the band´s sound. Spasme are a technically very well playing band, and especially the drumming by Jocelyn Beaupre is quite impressive. The material is relatively catchy for music this brutal, and although this isn´t the most unique sounding release in the genre, Spasme have something a little different to them, which makes this a promising first release. Breaks, tempo changes, and brutal riffs and vocals (and an audible and quite busy bass), but also short atmospheric parts which work as breathers. There´s even the use of keyboards at the end of "Secte" and "Sickly Deranged", which are only used for a few seconds, but still to great effect.

"Traumatisme" features what I´d characterize as a good demo quality sound production. It´s clear enough to hear all details, but still sounds a little like it´s recorded in the room next door. Upon conclusion it´s a pretty impressive demo release, and if the sound production had been just slightly better sounding, my rating would probably have been a little higher, as the music is very interesting and effectful. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

death metal movie reviews

NAPALM DEATH Punishment in Capitals

Movie · 2003 · Death Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Punishment In Capitals is a 2002 live DVD (also available on CD) by British extreme metal icons Napalm Death, released after their triumphant Enemy Of The Music Business album won back the praise of fans and critics after their experimental string of records in the nineties.

The band play a mixture of every era in their career up to that point, the catchy nineties singles ‘Breed To Breathe,’ and ‘Greed Killing,’ sit side by side with mid era death inspired fare such as ‘Suffer The Children,’ and ‘World Keeps Turning,’ which blends against the band’s early grindcore material era like ‘Scum,’ ‘Lucid Fairy Tale,’ and the famous ‘You Suffer,’ in a set list which also leans heavily on the band’s then newest, and still arguably best album Enemy Of The Music Business.

Standout tracks include an energetic version of ‘Hung,’ as well as ‘Can’t Play Won’t Play,’ and ‘Narcoleptic,’ which was as yet unreleased at the time of recording. With a set-list of this caliber, Punishment In Capitals should be a rewarding viewing experience for most Napalm Death fans and would serve well as an introduction to the band for potential fans as well.

Interestingly, the DVD recording retains all the dead air, waiting out-of-breathe and other non-musical moments in between tracks, presenting you the gig as it actually happened and not inter-cutting the show with outside material to create some false sense of professionalism or excitement. This is a double edged sword as it is commendable but may still irritate viewers raised on slicker, fast paced major label DVD releases.

The production is fairly good in terms of audio recording quality and mix, with simple camera work and editing covering the visual side of things. Although not the most impressive looking DVD ever released, it serves well for Napalm Death to deliver an energetic a sweaty performance. My only major gripe is that for the first half of the show shots of drummer Danny Herrera are very few and far between, but this is remedied later on.

There are a fair amount of extras too, including two bootleg quality recordings in Tokyo from 1996, a six track selection from a Chilean gig in 1997 as well as a hidden Easter Egg (a live-in-a-TV-studio version of ‘If The Truth Be Known,’ accessible by making the image’s eyes glow red my navigating the menu.) In addition to the musical extras there is also a documentary, which while not masterfully crafted is worth at least one watch, covering topics such as Barney’s haircut, the effect of foreign food on the bowels and the charity for which this gig was in aide of.

Overall, Punishment In Capitals is a worthwhile DVD purchase that will give you a good selection of Napalm Death material, both in the concert itself and with a nice selection of extras. Definitely recommended viewing for fans of the band.

ZYKLON Storm Detonation Live

Movie · 2006 · Death Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
This DVD captures Norwegian death metal band Zyklon on their 'Aeon,' era tour Live; the tracklisting on the wonderful but slightly short DVD is made up of tracks from the bands excellent first two albums.

The band are on top form and deliver the material fantastically live, They never miss a step, and are ruthlessly professional.

Song's from the band's debut album are much better here with new singer Tony 'SecthDamon,' Ingebrigtsen. Who has a better voice to match the material than Daemon did.

Furthermore the audio and visual quality is great, and apart from a little intro interrupting the first 20 seconds of fan favorite 'Core Solution,' there's very little to complain about whatsoever.

Indeed, with such a brilliant performance, a good production and an excellent track listing, this DVD is a real must-have for any Zyklon fan.

AMON AMARTH Wrath of the Norsemen

Movie · 2006 · Melodic Death Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Talk about value for money, from a band like Amon Amarth you wouldn’t expect them to be able to afford such a crazily generous and in depth DVD package when some of the bigger bands can’t afford anything even half this good.

The Set comes in a glorious 3 DVD digipak with detailed artwork, a full booklet and an awesome little viking crown that keeps it closed. Then you get Five full concerts (with 22, 16,13, 11 and 9 tracks respectively) and a documentary.

The main feature; a 22 track concert from Cologne in 2005 is an incredible affair with crystal clear sound, Huge guitar tones, amazingly heavy drums and nice clunky bass. The camera work is of a higher quality than even some of the biggest metal bands’ DVDs and again the sound is immense.

Then theres the performance, the band are absolutely electric delivering furious renditions of material from all eras a their career from the massive ‘Amon Amarth,’ and ‘Fate of Norns,’ to catchy closer ‘Death In Fire,’ and the crowd just lap it up.

Vocalist Johan Hegg absolutely commands the stage, engaging the crowd at every opportunity and singing his heart out while the band hammer through their classics like ‘heavy,’ is going out of style.

On top of all that you have a great light show, huge Amon Amath banners, more pyro than a kiss concert and an interlude with about thirty Viking reenactors sword fighting on stage! That feature is worth the money alone, the show is probably one of the best metal concerts on the market and I can’t stress how good the sound and picture are; then on top of all that you get the rest of the set, featuring virtually ever Amon Amarth song ever written, and performances from ‘Waken Open Air festival,’ ‘Summer Breeze Festival,’ and two more indoor concerts in Europe.

If you like Amon Amarth Buy this right now. If you don’t, you will within thirty seconds of watching this.

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