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)
  • Time Signature
  • Dobbie03
  • Vim Fuego
  • Necrotica
  • The T 666
  • TheHeavyMetalCat

death metal top albums

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DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
DEATH
4.46 | 144 ratings
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NILE What Should Not be Unearthed Album Cover What Should Not be Unearthed
NILE
4.62 | 11 ratings
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VADER De Profundis Album Cover De Profundis
VADER
4.57 | 12 ratings
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NILE Annihilation of the Wicked Album Cover Annihilation of the Wicked
NILE
4.41 | 38 ratings
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ATHEIST Unquestionable Presence Album Cover Unquestionable Presence
ATHEIST
4.37 | 58 ratings
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CARCASS Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious Album Cover Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious
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4.35 | 47 ratings
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MORBID ANGEL Altars of Madness Album Cover Altars of Madness
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4.36 | 37 ratings
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ENTOMBED Clandestine Album Cover Clandestine
ENTOMBED
4.38 | 26 ratings
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DEATH The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
DEATH
4.31 | 105 ratings
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BOLT THROWER ...For Victory Album Cover ...For Victory
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death metal Music Reviews

DEATH Leprosy

Album · 1988 · Death Metal
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Vim Fuego
It must be a teen angst thing, to claim a song or musician “speaks” to you. It was common in the gunge… er, grunge era, where spotty anaemic teens thought Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder were channelling their personal feelings or thoughts, and were communicating straight to them. It’s not a new phenomenon. Similar claims have been made of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Bono, and just about any trendy fuckwit who has ever written a vague sounding song which can be reinterpreted or misinterpreted, and appeals to safe middle class, suburban youth.

Fuck. Off.

All it means is you’ve never experienced anything challenging or real in your life, and you’re trying to be more world wise and weary than you really are. That sort of music, and it’s fans, are deeply superficial. There is nothing truly thought provoking in it, because there is nothing real in it.

For outsiders, people attracted to harder, heavier music, it is either a reflection of the harshness of life, or a complete escape into fantastical escapism. On the reality side, you have genres like grindcore and crust punk, with their social conscience and political colours emblazoned for all to see. Other genres, like brutal death metal or power metal take refuge in slasher movie gore, or Dungeons and Dragons made flesh. A few bands though, managed to combine the two extremes, creating something which was both thought provoking, and an escape. Death’s “Leprosy” is such a creation.

Death’s legacy is legendary in metal circles. The band’s first album “Scream Bloody Gore” is a seminal death metal milestone, creating the bloodstained blueprint for the genre. However, by the time Chuck Schuldiner got to making “Leprosy”, he had been playing this style of music for half a decade, and the plain old guts and gore thing had become a bit passé. So Schuldiner changed tack. Instead of musical horror movies, as later perfected by the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Autopsy, he turned to true life horror.

Take title track “Leprosy” for example. It’s a biblical illness, right? People don’t get leprosy any more, do they? Well, when this song was written, more than 5,000,000 people worldwide had the disease. Although now curable, it is still present in the developing world. There’s a horrifically detailed (and even more horrifically predominantly shocking pink!) Ed Repka depiction of the disease on the album cover. A descriptive song, it describes the ravages of leprosy on a human. It doesn’t just describe the physical effects, but also the social stigma, and the psychological torment of someone disfigured and dying. How would you feel?

Musically, “Leprosy” was also a change of tack. It’s fast and heavy, but also sharp and clear. And ya know, it’s a pretty fucking impressive backing band here. Although things went all to shit later on, and the rest of the band copped a lot of criticism from Schuldiner, all three have been incredibly influential in the way death metal sounds today. The non-Chuck ¾ of the band went on to reform Massacre with former Death alumni Kam Lee. Bassist Terry Butler didn’t actually play on this album, but he has had a full career since, also playing in Six Feet Under and Obituary. Rick Rozz co-wrote much of the music on this album. His playing style was criticised at the time for his blatant Kerry King worship, but in the years since, his style has been adopted by many death metal lead guitarists, because it suits death metal so fucking well.

The rest of the thought provoking songs followed on in a similar vein from “Leprosy”. “Born Dead” took a closer look at third world famine and disease than any pop star collaboration trying to feed the world. “Forgotten Past” is a story of horrifying dreams, or are they a revealed memory?

The incredible “Left To Die” is a war song, told from the point of view of a seemingly unimportant victim dying on a battlefield. It could be the final moments of many millions of soldiers since the invention of gunpowder, but is that life still unimportant if it is yours?

“Pull The Plug” is a powerful first person point of view of a helpless victim in a vegetative state, sensing all, but able to do nothing. It’s like Metallica’s “One” without the anti-war message, and poetic license. “Open Casket” is a jab at the insensitive and cringe-worthy practice of open casket funerals. What good comes from seeing someone’s body in death?

“Primitive Ways” is probably the only song which would have fit well onto “Scream Bloody Gore”. It’s a description of cannibalistic rituals. A bit less intelligent than the rest of the album, this is still plenty gory for the guts fetishists.

And final track “Choke On It”. It’s not a perverse song about brutal sex, as the title may suggest. Instead, the song makes the listener consider: “How would I cope if subjected to torture?”

So, feelings? Yes, there’s plenty, if you count all the varieties of physical and mental pain, and societal rejection. Thoughts? Plenty are provoked, often of the “I’ve never thought of it that way before” and “thank fuck that’s not happening to me” variety. And does it speak to anyone? Well, yes it does. This album spoke to death metal fans and bands the world over. The message was it was OK to explore themes outside murder and gore, it was possible to make clear sounding music without losing the death metal essence, and intelligence and death metal were not mutually exclusive.

OBITUARY Obituary

Album · 2017 · Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
Truly one of the originals of the death metal scene, Obituary's 'Slowly We Rot' from nearly thirty years is still highlighted by many as a classic, and it is incredible to see that three of the guys in that line-up are still here on the tenth studio album. When I heard that this album had been released I was incredibly excited, as I have always thought of Obituary as a band that will always deliver the goods, time after time. But, even though the band is tight, John's vocals are as raw as they have ever been, and they smash through one song after another there was just something missing for me, a spark, that magical item that lifted them out of the ordinary.

To be honest, I soon discovered that I was bored, which is never a good thing in any form of music, but with death metal? Really? When I started looking ahead to see how many songs there were still to play on the album I knew that something wasn't right. It's not that I have lost my love of the genre, in fact I listen to far more of it these days than I did ten or twenty years ago. A quick check of my collection made me realise something that surprised me, namely that although I do have four other albums by Obituary, the most recent is from twenty years ago. So possibly I have never been as much of a fan as I thought I was, and this album is unlikely to do anything to make me change that opinion. Thy will always be a favourite on the festival circuit, and I am sure that they are great in concert, but is this an album to rush out and buy? It's not bad, but it certainly isn't brilliant either.

THE FACELESS Akeldama

Album · 2006 · Technical Death Metal
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Sea Whisperer
THE FACELESS is a Technical Death metal band from Encino, California, founded by guitarist Michael Keene and bassist Brandon Giffin in 2004. Their debut album “Akeldama” (“Field of blood” in Aramaic), released in 2006, turned out to be very mature and well-written work, showing immense potential of the collective.

To say that music on “Akeldama” is diverse is to make an understatement. This album can serve as an encyclopedia of technical extreme metal, incorporating almost any trick from its arsenal you can think of. Differently sounding parts replace each other in quick succession. At one moment we hear NILE-like tremolo riffs with recognizable oriental mood, at next – a NECROPHAGIST-styled part and then – Deathcore breakdowns. To keep all these different fragments consistent and prevent songs from falling apart is a difficult task by itself, but most of the time the band is capable to do just that, thanks to Michael Keene’s songwriting talents (and small length of the songs, I guess). Despite of being influenced by some colleagues from tech-death scene, on this album THE FACELESS already developed their own style – cascades of intricate riffs, rapid changes in rhythm and tempo, sudden stops, intense, aggressive drumming, very neat use of keyboards, providing additional coloration and depth of the music, and using both clean and harsh vocals.

Production of the album is amazing: guitar tone is thick and edgy, bass is audible, drums are clear and loud. Musicianship is impressive – from guest drummers’ great performance to spectacular guitar work by Michael Keene, who delivers tons of technically challenging riffs and several tasteful solos, without slipping to mindless shredding. Derek Rydquist’s vocals, both screaming and growling, fit music perfectly.

My personal favourites from this album are “Horizons of Chaos I: Oracle of the Onslaught”, starting and ending with a very memorable “flowing” riff, “Leica”, containing some cool harmonized solos (if Halloween played Technical Death metal, they would probably sound something like that), and a title track, a brilliant Fusion Metal instrumental (reminding of some songs by Counter-World Experience), featuring great solo parts by all players (especially Keene and the drummer) and dreamy atmosphere.

Summary: a very solid debut, complex and diverse, marking the beginning of the way of one of the most interesting Technical Death metal bands nowadays.

PORTAL Ion

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The stygian band PORTAL has emerged from its secret Australian outpost after a five year gap following their previous release “Vexovoid” (which ironically has already spawned a new band with that name). Following in the footsteps of their extreme surreality that some call avant-garde blackened death metal comes the followup ION which continues the brash brutality fix that they have been known for since the beginning. While their influences may have emerged from Morbid Angel, Beherit and Immolation, PORTAL have long since found their own comfort zone of death metal reality to call their own by becoming one with a parallel musical reality that sounds as if they are somehow trapped between a hyperdrive dimensional shift and in the process something went really, really wrong. Drowned in darkness and delivered in dense undulating waves of sonic fury, ION finds PORTAL churning out their most frenetic and brutal release to date.

As the intro track “Nth” slinks into existence as if a subtle hazy brume has wafted into your room, the ghostly fortifications of muffled tortured screams emulate with backmasked effects creating a dark ambient horrorshow soundtrack and thus insinuating a return to the impenetrable layers of atmospheric darkness that had created their wickedly new realm for extreme tech death metal. However, as the first blistering notes of “ESP ION AGE” rage into the scene, we are confronted with a new interdimensional rage and fury usually reserved for only the most brutal of death metal beasts more often heard in bands like Suffocation, however the angular nature and complete detachment from traditional old school standards allows a sepulchral wall of sound that allows each wailing formless riff to pierce the soul like a dagger flaying a adrenaline fueled beating heart. Add the pummeling relentless percussive overdrive with groaning guttural growls and the divinity of chaos has been reached.

The name ION is a fitting title if you know chemistry. An ION is an atom or a molecule with a non-zero net electrical charge, meaning it is either positive or negative and very susceptible to energy changes thus creating a potential for massive instability. As such PORTAL have constructed the perfect soundtrack for a state of energy easily activated by entropic changes and thus erratic and unpredictable shifts in magnetic fields. The noises emerging from the freneticism of the guitar, bass and drums are tantamount to the ionizing effect of a built up electrical charge bolting down from the thundering skies above with pulverizing consequences for any hapless atoms in the line of fire. PORTAL simulates the same sort of lightning bolt reality with jagged undulating waves of sound that capture brutal metal instrumentation in flux with atmospheric dungeony bleakness.

PORTAL remains an enigmatic and mysterious beast. Graced with faced masks and alter egos (such as The Curator on vocals and Horror Illogium on lead guitar), the band more than lives up to this alienating image with the brutal angularity and interdimensional avant-garde compositional constructs of ION. Once the dark ambient intro cedes into the frenetic chaotic metal meltdown the album remains relentless in its caustic between-realities surrealism that culminates in the harsh noise sonic terrorism of the instrumental “Spores” and then after one more shovel in the face with “Phathom” ends the album with the psychically damaging metaphysical dark ambient horror theme outro of “Old Guarde.”

While many tech death bands try to deliver the goods by creating sonic impressions of otherworldly atmospheres and moods, nobody does it quite like PORTAL. Perhaps the strange landscapes of their land down under have given them an alternative view on reality where their angular riffs shape shift like restless sands in the great deserts that cover most of their homeland. Whatever the case, PORTAL have perfected their sonic surrealistic terrorism with nine undulating tracks that despite sounding like no other band, remain utterly distinct from each other as one seemingly formless riff frenzy somehow ekes out a series of recognizable patterns that barely allow it to be classified as music as if the band are in the process of creating a whole new grammatical paradigm for death metal. One that the listener learn this new diabolical language and lexicon before being admitted to the club. Yes, this is an acquired taste reserved for only the seekers of the most technical sort of earache music possible, but if that’s what you crave, PORTAL delivers like a charm.

ENTOMBED Left Hand Path

Album · 1990 · Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Emerging from the festering swamps somewhere around present day Stockholm, the band that began under the name Nihillist which had pumped out a few demos switched gears after a couple years in the late 80s and redesigned themselves as ENTOMBED. As one of the pioneers of early Swedish death metal, ENTOMBED was riding the old school first wave along with contemporaries Dismember, Grave and Unleashed, thus making them one of the “big four” of that particular scene. While developing a unique style that has been retrospectively designated “death’n’roll,” ENTOMBED began very much a fully fueled death metal band as heard on their debut release LEFT HAND PATH which found the band creating a unique sound that has been very influential. What ENTOMBED did was fairly revolutionary for the day. They in effect took the punk infused grindcore energy and distortion overload and married it with the more thoughtful heavy constructs of bands like Death, Obituary and Morbid Angel which immediately changed the course of the entire death metal scene which from this moment would raise the bar.

The title comes from a term in Anton LaVey’s “The Satanic Bible” and lyrically the band engaged in some of the earliest forms of shock and awe with words drenched in dark misanthropy and baleful anti-religious disdain. ENTOMBED were also famous for ushering in some of the earliest buzzsaw guitar sounds which ironically along with the Satanic influences from early Celtic Frost and Slayer would find their home in the second wave of black metal and quickly disappear from the death metal scene from whence they spawned. Even ENTOMBED themselves quickly changed gears after LEFT HAND PATH and deemphasized the Satanic aspects of their music and began shifting to the new style of death’n’roll which they would also have a hand in raising the bar. While moving on quickly from their debut, LEFT HAND PATH became the blueprint for the multitude of old school death metal bands to build upon whether it be the Floridian branch of the scene or the Gothenburg melodic enterprise.

LEFT HAND PATH is a journey into distortion hell where the heavy detuned guitar chords pummel the senses with feedback and fuzz on steroids that were the result of Peavey amp abuse and customized guitar string torture. While not the first purveyor of heavy death themed thrash metal turned bad, ENTOMBED were one of the innovative few from Sweden who steered the genre in a new direction with a different style of composition that retained some of the features of old school rock’n’roll and 80s heavy metal while bands like Morbid Angel were becoming detached from those styles and veering into more surreal territories. ENTOMBED was in effect fundamentally responsible for putting Sweden on the map in the upcoming burgeoning death metal scene. Graced with eerie atmospheres and the tortured possessed vocal style of Lars-Göran Petrov, LEFT HAND PATH not only sounds like a depraved psychopath’s holiday but has moments of melodic beauty with graceful solos wisping away amongst the cacophonous din as if a dove had flown into a dark cave full of rabid bats.

Stylistically LEFT HAND PATH is a fairly monotonous listen which is the reason it took me so long to warm up to it. I have always been more partial to the albums that follow such as “Clandestine” and “Wolverine Blues,” but persistence has paid off and the secrets that are locked up behind the wall of sound have finally unleashed their presence upon me. While similar in style, structure and tone, ENTOMBED employed a rather unique method of song construct that allowed an interesting free form songwriting process. Try to predict where any of these tracks will lead and you will only go astray. The ten tracks on LEFT HAND PATH may sound similar upon first listen but careful listening will reveal how different they are when it comes to the different segments that are stitched together to create them. This is early death metal for sure. There are yet no blastbeat drum outbursts and the guitar squeals don’t rival contemporaries like Morbid Angel. Instead ENTOMBED unleashed a frightening murky mix of sonic assault with a few atmospheric keyboard embellishments to create a morbid mood setting rather than technical prowess. While it has taken me a while to fully appreciate the innovation that LEFT HAND PATH unleashed unto the world, i have to admit that once it sunk in, it has comfortable dug itself deep into me in ways unexpected.

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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