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

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death metal Music Reviews

PARADISE LOST Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos

Boxset / Compilation · 2009 · Death Metal
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UMUR
"Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos" is a compilation album by UK doom/death metal act Paradise Lost. The compilation was released through Century Media Records in May 2009. Tracks 1-3 are taken from the 1988 "Paradise Lost" demo, tracks 4-6 originally appeared on the 1989 "Frozen Illusion" demo, and the remaining tracks are culled from a live bootleg demo from 1989 titled "Plains of Desolation". There exists en even earlier 1988 one-track demo titled "Morbid Existence", but it featured an early rehearsal version of the track, which was only distributed to friends and to some underground magazines. The "Morbid Existence" track also appeared on the "Paradise Lost (1988)" demo and therefore also on "Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos".

So the material on "Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos" are half studio demo tracks and half live bootleg tracks. It´s almost needless to say, but death metal demo tapes from 1988 and 1989 usually feature a pretty lo-fi sound quality, and the same can be said for the sound quality on "Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos". At least for the material from the 1988 "Paradise Lost" demo, which sound like it´s a 4-track recording done in the band´s rehearsal place. The material from the 1989 "Frozen Illusion" demo features a more clear sound, and the live tracks actually feature a pretty decent sound quality too. None are professional recordings though, so it´s with those expectations you need to meet this compilation.

Considering that these are recordings from the late 80s, it´s quite amazing how developed Paradise Lost sound was at this point. Nick Holmes has a commanding brutal growling delivery, the downtuned riffs are crushingly heavy, and the atmosphere is thick with morbid darkness. It´s not often you´ll find death metal recordings from those days, which feature almost no thrash metal elements and actually sounds 100% like death metal. Paradise Lost definitely were pioneers of the death metal genre in it´s purest form.

The premise of releasing a demo compilation is almost always that it´s a hardcore fan item. And "Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos" is of course not a release for the casual listener either (they should pick up the debut album instead). But that´s not to say it couldn´t be of interest to those who want to learn about the early beginnings of death metal, and especially the early beginnings of the doom/death direction of the genre. Upon conclusion there is both enough quality and history here to warrant a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating.

UNLEASHED Hell's Unleashed

Album · 2002 · Death Metal
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"Hell's Unleashed" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Unleashed. The album was released through Century Media Records in April 2002. It´s the successor to "Warrior" from 1997. After touring in support of "Warrior (1997)", the band felt a need for a break and went on a hiatus which ended up lasting 5 years, where they concentrated on other projects. They made a comeback in 2002 with reissues of their early albums and with "Hell's Unleashed".

Stylistically the material on "Hell's Unleashed" is a bit of a melting pot of all the elements from their previous releases. There are both old school death metal elements and viking mythology here, but also more contemporary lyrical subjects and groove metal and death´n´roll elements. Not completely unlike the musical style on the last couple of albums by the band. Thankfully "Hell's Unleashed" features a stronger and more powerful sounding production job than the last couple of albums, and that helps the material shine a bit more.

The 14 tracks on the 43:45 minutes long album are predominantly simple vers/chorus structured songs which are between 2-4 minutes long, so compositionally there are very few surprises, although the band do try a few new compositional ideas. "Hell's Unleashed" is both well performed and as mentioned above well produced, so upon conclusion it´s a good quality release by Unleashed. It´s not their best, nor is it a perfect release (some of the lyrics are for example badly written and honestly a bit cringe worthy), but it´s a solid release and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

TEMPLESTOWE Cimmerian

Album · 2009 · Melodic Death Metal
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"Cimmerian" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian death metal act Templestowe. The album was independently released in October 2009. Templestowe were formed in 2007 and disbanded again in 2010, so they were a relatively short lived act, and "Cimmerian" was their only album release.

Stylistically Templestowe play a very melodic type of death metal influenced by artists like In Flames, At The Gates, Dark Tranquility, and when they are most fast-paced and energetic The Black Dahlia Murder. The latter influence is only heard very seldom though. So the material on the 10 track, 48:17 minutes long album may not be the most unique sounding on the scene (although the band occasionally venture into semi-progressive territories), but Templestowe fully make up for the lack of originality with a convincing and passionate performance. These guys are very well playing/singing and the listener is treated to one powerful riff after another, soaring lead melodies/harmonies, powerful rhythmic playing, and a commanding snarling/growling lead vocalist. Everything just works here and the tracks are also well written and memorable.

"Cimmerian" features a powerful and detailed sound production, so it´s also a high quality release in that department. Considering the high quality of all features on the album, it´s a real shame "Cimmerian" ended up being Templestowe´s sole studio album, because there are clear signs here that something great was in the making. A slightly more unique sound and "Cimmerian" would have reached a highher level of excellence, but as it is "Cimmerian" is still a really strong release and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is fully deserved (and maybe even a bit too low).

BLOODBATH The Fathomless Mastery

Album · 2008 · Death Metal
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"The Fathomless Mastery" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Bloodbath. The album was released through Peaceville Records in October 2008. There have been two lineup changes since the release of "Nightmares Made Flesh (2004)" as lead vocalist Peter Tägtgren has been replaced by a returning Mikael Åkerfeldt, and guitarist/bassist Dan Swanö has been replaced by Per 'Sodomizer' Eriksson. The remaining members of the lineup are Anders Nystrom (guitars), Jonas Renkse (bass), and Martin Axenrot (drums). All prolific names who are associated with acts like Opeth, Katatonia, and Witchery. This lineup was however already in place for the recording of the "Unblessing the Purity" EP from March 2008.

Stylistically the material on the 11 track, 41:38 minutes long album continue the old school death metal style of its predecessors, but with the same slightly more brutal twist that the band had also applied to the "Unblessing the Purity (2008)" EP. I´m not sure if it´s a production trick, but Bloodbath just sound a lot more brutal on both the EP and on "The Fathomless Mastery", than they do on the preceding releases. As always the listner is treated to high level musicianship, which isn´t surprising considering the musicians involved. Tägtgren did a great job on "Nightmares Made Flesh (2004)", but the return of Åkerfeldt is also welcome. He delivers a strong and commanding growling vocal performance throughout the album.

Although the brutality factor is turned up a notch, "The Fathomless Mastery" is otherwise not an album featuring many surprises. Bloodbath were never about surprises though and what you get here is the epitome of high quality old school death metal, played by seasoned veterans of the genre...and don´t mistake that as meaning dinosaurs, because these guys deliver their music with a youthful passion and a burning conviction. This album reeks high class in all departments from musicianship, to songwriting, to the powerful, detailed, and brutal sound production.

One of the strenghts of Bloodbath is that they are equally interesting when they play heavy parts as when they play fast and they seamlessly combine tempos and various riff styles on their songs. A brutal fast-paced track like "Slaughtering the Will to Live" is for example followed by the heavy "Mock the Cross", but you are never in doubt that it´s the same band playing. Not all tracks stand out equally much, but all tracks are consistent in quality and style, so there is not much difference between the best tracks on the album and the least remarkable ones. Upon conclusion "The Fathomless Mastery" is yet another high quality death metal release by Bloodbath and a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

POLARS COLLIDE Grotesque

Album · 2021 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Grotesque" is the debut full-length studio album by Danish, Aarhus based metal act Polars Collide. The album was independently released in July 2021. Polars Collide formed in 2017 and released the "One to Rise" EP later that same year. Leading up to the release of "Grotesque", the band released a couple of digital singles featuring tracks from the album.

Stylistically the material on "Grotesque" is groove oriented death/thrash featuring chugging angular riffs and heavy beats. Sometimes the music touches death metal territory with blast beats, tremolo riffs, and growling vocals, but if I have to mention a reference it would be a more simple and less chaotic Meshuggah (and maybe even a little Lamb of God). Polars Collide are not Meshuggah clones though, and they bring a lot of other things to the table in addition to that influence. The heavy groovy riffs and rhythms are central to the band´s sound, as well as the well performed aggressive and raw semi-growling vocals by lead vocalist Martin Borre. The lead guitar work is quite intricate and the atmospheric clean guitar sections provide the music with variation and a dark alien atmosphere.

The tracks are generally pretty long and the song structures are unconventional and at times even progressive. The two closing tracks which are the title track and "Cancer" are both over 10 minutes long and features quite a few different sections and songwriting ideas (the opening minutes of "Cancer" reminds me a lot of the most mellow Opeth songs from around the turn of the millenium). So describing the music above as simple is only in reference to the technical frenzy of Meshuggah. This is not simple music and it´s quite technical in its own right. Polars Collide successfully combine their technical playing with catchiness and memorability though, and that´s one of the greatest strengths of "Grotesque". It´s equal parts technical and accessible. Not the easiest balance to strike and master.

"Grotesque" features a powerful, raw, and well sounding production job, which suits the material perfectly, and it´s great to hear an independently released album featuring a sound production of this quality. There are a few moments here and there which are a bit rough around the edges, but overall this still is a quality sound production.

Upon conclusion "Grotesque" is a strong debut album by Polars Collide and it features lots of promise for future releases too. They should maybe think about not wearing their influences too much on their sleeves like they sometimes do, and I´d recommend writing slightly more conscise material and leave out some of the more progressive ideas for greater immediate impact, because they really have a lot of great things to offer, but they need that last push in the right direction to shine even more. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved, and I´m probably even being a bit cheap here.

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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