Technical Death Metal

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Technical/progressive (or tech/prog) death metal is considered a legitimate genre by some (or even two legitimate genres), while others argue that it is a pseudo-genre. Bands included in this genre take emphasize technicality in their music, in the form of complex riffs and/or complex song structures, while others apply the ethos of progressive music more broadly without straying from their basic death metal sound. Death, Cynic and Atheist are considered central bands in the establishment of tech/prog death metal. Some bands, like Necrophagist, Obscura, and Braindrill, emphasize technique in their style and are considered technical death metal acts, while others, such as Opeth, Neuraxis, Sectu, and Nocturnus are considered primarily progressive death metal. Sometimes, jazz death metal is listed as a separate subgenre and comprises artists who incorporate elements from fusion jazz into their death metal style, such as Atheist, Cynic and Pestilence on “Spheres”. Given that brutal death metal bands tend to emphasize technique and compositional complexity, many brutal death metal bands, such as Suffocation and Hate Eternal, are also categorized as technical death metal bands. Some tech/prog death metal bands are so progressive on some releases that these are considered progressive metal rather than death metal, as is the case of some Atheist, Opeth and Cynic releases, that they are filed under progressive metal in the MMA rather than under death metal.

technical death metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
DEATH
4.45 | 140 ratings
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NILE What Should Not be Unearthed Album Cover What Should Not be Unearthed
NILE
4.64 | 11 ratings
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NILE Annihilation of the Wicked Album Cover Annihilation of the Wicked
NILE
4.37 | 38 ratings
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DEATH The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
DEATH
4.30 | 103 ratings
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DEATH Individual Thought Patterns Album Cover Individual Thought Patterns
DEATH
4.27 | 94 ratings
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ATHEIST Unquestionable Presence Album Cover Unquestionable Presence
ATHEIST
4.26 | 56 ratings
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AUGURY Fragmentary Evidence Album Cover Fragmentary Evidence
AUGURY
4.42 | 14 ratings
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GORGUTS Colored Sands Album Cover Colored Sands
GORGUTS
4.32 | 23 ratings
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DEATH Human Album Cover Human
DEATH
4.22 | 94 ratings
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NOCTURNUS Thresholds Album Cover Thresholds
NOCTURNUS
4.48 | 9 ratings
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NILE In Their Darkened Shrines Album Cover In Their Darkened Shrines
NILE
4.24 | 26 ratings
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NOCTURNUS The Key Album Cover The Key
NOCTURNUS
4.31 | 16 ratings
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technical death metal Music Reviews

GIGAN The Order of the False Eye

Album · 2008 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After emerging from the chaotic primeval lava pools that spawned other surreal metal mayhem in the form of pioneer bands like Gorguts, Mithras, Portal and Deathspell Omega, the power trio who adopted the name GIGAN, the prime nemesis that made Godzilla have very, very bad days, released their debut EP “Footsteps Of Gigan” but quickly followed up the following year with their first full length album “THE ORDER OF THE FALSE EYE” on Napalm Records. This band is a power trio from Tampa, FL who can deliver a massive inundation of chaotic sound that gets lumped into the world of technical death metal mostly due to the usual death metal techniques such as insane growling vocals accompanied by heavy distortion all gussied up with palm muting, tremolo picking and the ubiquitous blast beat percussive drives however GIGAN have found a way to merge these aggressive extreme metal attributes into the surreal world of psychedelia with traces of electronica and drone noises to paint a surreal sonicscape upon which to display their extreme metal creations.

The trio consists of the seasoned veterans left-handed guitarist / bassist and founder Eric Hersemann (Diabolic, Hate Eternal), Randy Piro (vocals, guitars, theremin) and Danny Ryan (drums and percussion.) The music heard on “THE ORDER OF THE FALSE EYE” is the type of surreal metal madness that could drive the uninitiated utterly mad as the unrelenting noisefest is the name of the game only to be broken by periods of oscillating electronic pulses that seem to be the driving underpinning of the intergalactic journey and lyrical fascinations that GIGAN takes us on not dissimilar to the 21st century thrash metal kings Vektor. The opener “Undead Auditory Emanations” displays GIGAN’s full metal regalia displayed in relentless pummeling riffs and blast beats trading off with technical jazz drumming wizardry in strange new ways that keep the pace fast and driving with snarling angry vocals and Hersemann’s unique spastic guitar slides and technical bass workouts.

“THE ORDER OF THE FALSE EYE” is one of those albums that didn’t win me over upon a listen or two. No way. This one required a multitude of listens to allow its abrasive nature to percolate under my skin and only after nailing my attention span to the wall did it at last penetrate into my consciousness. This is not an album of catchy riffs or predictable song structures in any way, shape or form. This cacophony is almost formless in nature with only a solid rhythmic pulsation driving the music from beginning to end which finds itself most noticeable with the non-metal segments utilizing electronica and theremin sounds to create an ambient and oscillations of noise. Likewise the aggressive nature of the extreme metal simply flows over these underlying elements and creates a very bizarre stream of consciousness to say the least. Call it no wave metal if you will.

Upon first listen it does come off that the tracks don’t have enough variation to them but dig beneath the surface and it’s quite the opposite. While tracks do sound quite similar in the dynamics and tempos on display, the compositions actually have quite the variation of mangled and jarring progressively laced death metal riffs that have a blackened veneer with a psychedelic frosting which occasionally emerges from the din to send the listener into a pacified trance before the pummelation of the extreme metal once again arises from the abyss. This album consists of eight vocal tracks that are indeed quite similar in stylistic appearances but offer different glimpses into their psychedelic take on extreme metal and consist of 2/3 of the album. The final ninth untitled track is a 21 minute plus sprawling surreal metal fantasy instrumental which focuses on the pulsating electronics and abrasive guitar weirdness with lots of sliding and alienating licks while the drums exhibit periods of techy jazz outbursts and many moments of simple rhythm maintenance. This album was a hard one to win me over but it finally has and remains one of the absolute strangest of the strange in the extremities of surreal technical metal. Highly recommended for adventurous listeners who love to hear things that they had never even considered possible.

ENIGMA Stars Misaligned

EP · 2016 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Stars Misaligned" is an EP release by US, San Jose, California based death metal act Enigma. Enigma was formed in 2014 and "Stars Misaligned" is the band´s first release. The EP was released independently in July 2016. Enigma is a five-piece on this EP consisting of Dan Saltzman (Bass), Harley Blandford (Drums), Ryan McNatt, (Guitars), Byron Leon (Guitars), Petr Oplatka (Vocals).

Stylistically the material on "Stars Misaligned" is technical/progressive death metal with both deep intelligible growling and high pitched screaming. More than once during the playing time I´m reminded of a more progressive oriented and technical The Black Dahlia Murder. The EP features 5 tracks and a full playing time of 28:31, which is a good length in terms of getting to know Enigma´s sound.

"Stars Misaligned" is generally quite an adventurous release and the tracks on the EP feature interesting structures and lots of progressive ideas. The adventurous nature of the material doesn´t have effect on the power nor on the impact of the music, so while you can certainly immerse yourself in the technical playing and the progressive details, the music doesn´t feel calculated and the band skillfully manage to deliver a brutal assault on the ears to make your head bang.

"Stars Misaligned" also features a powerful, detailed, and professional sounding production, so upon conclusion the EP features many high quality elements. For all the adventurous ideas and jaw-dropping technical performances featured on the release, Enigma still lack a more personal and distinct sound though. It´s not a huge issue considering the high quality of the rest of the elements on the EP, but it would be the icing on the cake if Enigma worked on that. As it is a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved, and that rating may even be a bit low.

SUNLESS Urraca

Album · 2017 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Emerging from the frostbitten metropolis of Minneapolis, MN comes the doom and dread dissonance drenched tech death metal band SUNLESS who finally release their debut album URRACA in 2017 after a promising demo the previous year. SUNLESS is a part of a new breed of techies who have been inspired by the progressive infusion of complex death and black metal laid out by other pioneers such as Gorguts, Deathspell Omega and Portal. Only a mere power trio it’s amazing how many jangle chords and drum rolls are present along with a subordinate bass line in the background that stabilizes the full-on doom and dread chaotic effect. SUNLESS have absolutely mastered the chaotic swirling rhythmic effect of Luc Lemay and company with their dazzling time signature run amok tidal wave of riffs gone wild and are relentless in their sonic attack. The band is also quite adept at allowing each instrument to play its part and covering the most sonic ground without stepping on each other’s toes.

While the growly vocals are a clear sign of Gorguts worship which is augmented by the technical wizardry of their compositions that remind the listener instantly of Lemay’s 2013 masterpiece “Color Sands,” SUNLESS also add a healthy dose of those evil blackened jangle chords that are so prevalent with Deathspell Omega as well as dishing out the psychedelic and otherworldly tendencies of other dimensional strangeness as heard on Portal albums. While the album whizzes by at a frenetic pace for the most part, there are times of mere contemplation of the hellish world in which the listener has emerged with brutal ambient noise contrasts presumably carried out by way of only the guitar, bass and drums with cymbal action being highly represented on the entire album.

SUNLESS is one of those bands that is a mixed bag right from the beginning. One cannot help but be amazed by the technical prowess delivered by the forceful and majestic soundscapes emerging from this power trio but that bedazzlement is quickly usurped by dismay as the band comes across as a bona fide Gorguts clone band who tucked in a few extra inspirational sources in their sleeves. Overall the band seems to still exist in a nascent tech metal dream world where the ingredients have been thrown into the boiling broth in the cauldron but haven’t quite simmered down into a clearcut smorgasbord of metal cuisine that offers a new unheard flavor in the metal universe, however despite the hero worship taking the stage, URRACA is a highly technical yet brilliant balancing act of the elements bestowed upon the listener and will truly knock the socks off any tech metalhead who can’t get enough of jittery rhythmic sonic assaults seasoned in oceans of dissonance and Intronaut type sludgery hammering on the eardrums like an eternal jackhammer from hell. Not bad just not quite totally original yet either.

HANNES GROSSMANN The Crypts Of Sleep

Album · 2016 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"The Crypts Of Sleep" is the 2nd full-length studio album by German death metal artist Hannes Grossmann. The album was independently released in September 2016. Hannes Grossmann is quite a prolific name in metal circles having contributed his drumming to recordings by acts like Blotted Science, Necrophagist and Obscura. On this album he handles the drums and rhythm guitars, while a host of guests contribute lead guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals. Among others Linus Klausenitzer and Christian Münzner (two of his former bandmates from the Obscura days), but also other prolific names like Danny Tunker (Prostitute Disfigurement, Aborted) and Erik Rutan (Ripping Corpse, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal).

Stylistically the material on "The Crypts Of Sleep" pretty much continues the technical/progressive death metal style of "The Radial Covenant (2014)". The musicianship is top notch and everything is delivered with militant precision and great skill. It´s artists like Beyound Creation, Vale of Pnath, Obscura, and Augury, who come to mind, and it´s probably fans of that type of "polished" technnical/progressive death metal, who are the target group. Fast precision drumming, edgy death/thrashy riffs, intricate guitar themes and solos, and a snarling aggressive growling vocalist in front. Some tracks feature clean vocals too, and it works pretty well and adds some variation to the soundscape.

"The Crypts Of Sleep" features a professional, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits the material well. Personally I could have wished for a more raw and less clinical sounding production (especially the drums feature an artificial sound, which could have prospered from a more organic tone), but fans of the genre won´t be dissapointed and upon conclusion "The Crypts Of Sleep" is a high quality release by Hannes Grossmann. a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

NILE Annihilation of the Wicked

Album · 2005 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Annihilation of the Wicked" is the 4th full-length studio album by US death metal act Nile. The album was released through Relapse Records in May 2005. It´s the successor to "In Their Darkened Shrines" from 2002 and features two lineup changes since the predecessor as drummer Tony Laureano has left the fold to be replaced by Greek drummer George Kollias. Kollias are known for his work with artists like Sickening Horror, Nightfall and Cerebrum among others. Jon Vesano who did some session vocals on "In Their Darkened Shrines (2002)" has become a permanent member, and in addition to performing vocals, he also plays the bass on "Annihilation of the Wicked".

The music on "Annihilation of the Wicked" is unmistakably the sound of Nile. Varied, brutal, and technically well played death metal featuring lyrics primarely revolving around ancient Egypt (there are other lyrical subjects on the album too like H.P. Lovecraft). There are some ethnic middle eastern musical themes/notes popping up from time to time in the music, but the predominant musical style is brutal technical death metal. Nile are quite a bit more sophisticated than your average brutal technical death metal act though and the song structures are rather complex and the band successfully incorporate epic atmospheres to their music too without sacrificing brutality in the process, and that´s no easy feat. Nile are not the type of act who take prisoners, so expect relentless brutality but just delivered in a clever and adventurous fashion.

The vocals vary between deep unintelligible growling and Dallas Toler-Wade´s more aggressive and intelligible brutal growls. The lyrics about ancient Egypt are of course a trademark of the band´s sound, and on this album lyricist Karl Sanders writes explanations to each song in the booklet, which at times feels like being at a history lesson again, but with a really great and inspiring history teacher, who knows how to tell some interesting historical details.

"Annihilation of the Wicked" is a relatively varied release for the genre in the respect that all tracks are memorable and recognisable after some spins. Not necessarily upon initial listens though, because this is not easily accessible music by any means, but given a bit of time and effort, it´s an album which will open up to the patient listener and reveal its many adventurous ideas and brilliant compositional details. You´ll get relentless and fierce blasting tracks like "The Burning Pits of the Duat" and "Cast Down the Heretic", but also more epic tracks like the title track, "User-Maat-Re", and of course the closing and almost 10 minutes long "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten". I´ll give a special mention to "Lashed to the Slave Stick" too. It´s such a catchy and brutal death metal track. It´s one of those rare death metal tracks which sucks you in, chews you, and spit you out with a feeling of revelation.

The sound production which is handled by Neil Kernon is brutal and thankfully not too clean. The drums are triggered but not too much, which means that you´re still able to hear that it´s a human being playing and not a programmed computer drummer. Personally I could have wished for the vocals to be placed slightly higher in the mix and for the guitar tone to be slightly cleaner, but that´s minor details and an aquired taste, and overall the sound production suits the music perfectly.

The musicianship on the album is on a high level on all posts. New drummer George Kollias is positively on fire. His foot work is astonishing to say the least. He has got to be one of the fastest and most precise drummers out there yet he has the right organic touch to keep his playing from sounding too sterile. The musicianship is overall excellent on the album and in addition to the ultra fast and precise drumming you´re treated to fast and adventurous guitar riffs, and the above mentioned vocals, which provide the music with the right occult atmosphere.

Upon conclusion "Annihilation of the Wicked" definitely isn´t an easy listening experience and for most listeners it´s bound to take several spins before opening up to them. The fierce intensity of the music, the density and rawness of the sound production, and the unconventional song structures will probably keep most listeners on their feet and generally pose quite the challenge. When that is said the inaccessibility of the music is also its strength, because this is an album you never really get tired of listening to, because there are always new details to discover. At the same time it never becomes to academic and there are tons of old school death metal authenticity featured on the album, so it´s overall a good combination of elements. Nile are widely considered one of the leaders on the death metal scene and they certainly deserve the praise they get just on the grounds of the high quality of this album. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

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