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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DARK TRANQUILLITY
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death metal Music Reviews

GRAVE Fiendish Regression

Album · 2004 · Death Metal
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UMUR
"Fiendish Regression" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Grave. The album was released through Century Media Records in August 2004. It´s the second album since the band´s long hiatus ended with the release of "Back From the Grave" in 2002. A significant lineup change has taken place since the release of "Back From the Grave (2002)" as drummer and founding member Jensa Paulsson has left and has been replaced by Pelle Ekegren. The remaining part of the lineup who recorded "Back From the Grave (2002)" is intact.

Stylistically the material on "Fiendish Regression" pretty much continue the old school Swedish death metal sound of the predecessor, but the relatively dominant groove element of "Back From the Grave (2002)" is scaled back a bit on "Fiendish Regression", making it a bit more "straight" in terms of old school death metal authenticity. When that is said the contemporary sounding production still reveals that this is not an early 90s death metal release and there are still some groove elements left in the band´s sound. To my ears it´s actually a bit of a shame that they cut down on the use of the brutal grooves, because that was the part of their sound on "Back From the Grave (2002)" that I felt made them stand out a bit. "Fiendish Regression" is a bit more one-dimensional and the tracks seldom stand out (something which isn´t helped out by the one-dimensional growling vocals). The pace is predominantly mid tempo and it´s only very rarely the band play faster parts.

"Fiendish Regression" is overall still a quality death metal release by Grave though. Personally I just find it less appealing than it´s direct predecessor and also less memorable. It features quite a few redeeming qualities in the high level musicianship and in the powerful and detailed sound production, but the songwriting could have prospered from more variation. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ULCERATE Stare into Death and Be Still

Album · 2020 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Having formed as far back as 2002 in the northern New Zealand city of Auckland, the technical metal wizardry of ULCERATE has become an extreme metal lover’s paradise of thick caustic guitar riffing dissonance that dishes out some of the most hellish and demanding tech death meets sludge metal that rode the wave of the surreal tech death craze that included bands like Gorguts, Portal, Mitochondrion and Pyrrhon. Add to that the jangly blood-curdling guitar sweeps found in progressive black metal acts like Deathspell Omega and you could be guaranteed to scratch that tech death morbidity itch with any of ULCERATE’s output which began with 2007’s “Of Fracture And Failure.”

Following the band’s last album “Shrines of Paralysis” which saw the light in 2016 comes the aptly titled (for 2020) album STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL and considering the album was released in April of 2020, it’s unlikely the album prognosticated the tumultuous chain of events haunting this calendar year with the most noticeable headache being the Covid-19 global pandemic. Like many such tech death acts that strive to unleash the most fiery caustic acrobatics of complexity and detachment possible, ULCERATE has found a new lease on life by crafting a less suffocating album that walks a tightrope between the heavy bombastic dissonance and downtuned dread of the previous offerings and adds a bit more atmospheric prowess in the form of melodic counterpoints and production clarity.

STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL in many ways is business as usual with that brutal atmospheric tech death scourge of midtempo sludginess with percussive laziness alternating with mind-numbing drumming wizardry but something seems more focused on this sixth album by ULCERATE, a band that i have never quite wrapped my head around despite owning the majority of their discography and giving proper attention for the clicking process. Something about this band has always turned me off whether it be the cadences of the dirge-like plodding of the martial rhythms, the depressive chunky riffs or the brutal bombast of the metal pummeling the senses with dissonant bleakness after a nuclear bomb drops. STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL is the album for me that final appeals to my tech death sensibilities and it seems the extra attention to the atmospheric counterpoints of the wind-swept guitar sweeps and fine-tuned compositional constructs are just what the doctor ordered. I can relate to this one unlike the ones prior.

One of my major hurdles regarding the appreciation of ULCERATE’s tech death has clearly been the vocal style of Paul Kelland. For no clear reason his growly vocal style has rubbed me the wrong way like an infested sore filled with hatching maggots An irritating and enervating factor which while unexplainable still provided the wrong “frequency” of death metal vocal bliss for my ears to appreciate but that too has changed on this one.. Something shifted on STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL where all the elements of ULCERATE’s prior musical style have aligned like a rare syzygy of astrological bonanzas that offer a bright future as shown in the cards. The clouds have lifted and although a bleak depressive sky still exists beyond the veil, its’ the kind of turbid orotundity that fires on all pistons thus showing how the tiniest of details in a band can be enough to make you a hardcore fan or a diehard deserter. For all my efforts ULCERATE has been the latter until this release reversed that course.

Hovering around the same hour’s playing time as the band’s previous efforts (save the debut), STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL finds the band maturing in a way that allows the sum of the parts to see a much bigger picture and how one musical methodology was tweaked to allow a much clearer synergy of the cast of caustic characters behind the wheel. At long last, despite my best efforts i can now say i’m in the ULCERATE club with this new album that so very much encapsulates the zeitgeist of the contemporary madness the world collectively experiences in this most surreal of calendar years. ULCERATE trods on like a sober observer of death and destruction delivered through the seasoned musical sounds of the guitar, bass and drums. In a world where this style of murky, atonal tech metal seems to be overplayed, somehow ULCERATE has surprised me and crafted an album that takes the band into higher levels of competence. Nice!

EDGE OF SANITY Crimson

Album · 1996 · Melodic Death Metal
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BitterJalapeno
After years of drifting away from the heavier side of music and spending a lot of time wandering around the misty realms psychedelic, I find myself back with a bang and have been revisiting some metal relics from my teenage iPod days. This, coupled with the Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland has sent me on a rampage of metal music discovery with death/prog/sludge/doom being at the very heart of it.

This album was a first for me in 2020 and I have to say that I already love it dearly like an old friend. It has equal elements of death metal and progressive metal but is also surprisingly easy going and very much likable on first listen which is not always the case for some albums spanning the death/prog sub genres. For example, GORGUTS' OBSCURA took me a good 5 focused listens to even begin to comprehend although I did also eventually love it and is also now a firm favourite.

Crimson flows seamlessly through 8 parts of a prog/death metal epic and is full of incredible deep riffs peppered with highly melodic lead guitar parts, some of which are reminiscent of the music of NWOBHM and which also have clearly been an influence on the likes of MASTODON who took sludge metal to new territories in the early 00s. The more melodic side of this album can also be clearly heard in the more accessible bands of the 00s melodic metalcore scene such us KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.

I would recommend this album highly to lovers of all types of metal music, even those that are put off by the death growls as it exhibits a stunning atmospheric and melodic quality which I feel makes it more easily penetrable than the majority of other albums within the genre. Overall, an outstanding adventure through sound. My only disappointment is that I had not heard it prior to 2020.

4.5/5

MACABRE (IL) Dahmer

Album · 2000 · Death Metal
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UMUR
"Dahmer" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, Illinois based death metal/grindcore act Macabre. The album was released through Decomposed Records in October 2000. It´s the band´s first album release since "Sinister Slaughter" from 1993, and although they did release the "Behind the Wall of Sleep" EP in 1994, it´s still been quite a lengthy recording break. They´ve spend the break well though, researching the story of infamous American serial killer Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer and composing the music to go along with the gruesome real-life tale.

Thus "Dahmer" is a concept release featuring 26 tracks, and 52:12 minutes of music telling the story of the life of Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer from his early childhood, building shrines from the bones of roadkill, to his first murder of a Hitchhiker when he was 18, to his short army time in Germany where he ended up being dishonorably discharged as a consequence of his alcohol abuse. The story then goes on to tell how Dahmer is charged with child molestation. He didn´t serve time for the crime (he received a probation sentence) and soon moved in with his grandmother and began taking young gay men home, drugging them and killing them. There´s also a song about the short time he was kicked out of his grandmother´s house and stayed at the Ambassador Hotel where he also killed a man.

Around the middle of the album Dahmer moves into his own apartment and that´s when his killing spree really takes off. Quite a few tracks tell how he drugged his victims, killed them (most were strangled but some died from having hydrochloric acid or boiling water injected directly into holes in their skull that Dahmer had drilled while the men were drugged), dismember them (while taking pictures of the corpses in sexually suggestive positions at various points in the process), have sex with various parts of their dead bodies (including their severed heads and viscera), and eat them. But also details of how he disposed of their remains (some where dissolved in acid and flushed down the toilet). He kept quite a few parts for a skeletal alter he was contemplating building though, and also severed heads and other body parts he would use for masturbation. There´s also a song on this part of the album which tells the story of the poor 14 year old boy who escaped Dahmer´s apartment, but in a bizarre chain of events ended up being escorted back to the apartment by the police and handed over to Dahmer, who was able to convince the police that the drugged boy was his 19 year old lover, whom he had just had a domestic fight with. Nothing but bones were left of the boy, when Dahmer´s activities were finally revealed.

The last part of the album concentrates on how Dahmer was captured (one of his intented victims fled his apartment and contacted the police), the ensuing media circus, the trial, Dahmer becoming a born-again christian in jail, and finally his murder at the hands of another convict...

...and that´s pretty much the story contained in the lyrics save for a few details. Stylistically the music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Macabre. The "core" elements of their sound are drawn from death metal, grindcore, and thrash metal, but the band add many other elements from various musical styles to their music, which ultimately makes the overall style a bit hard to tag. There are for example a great deal of hardcore punk influences on the album (tracks like "Grandmother's House" and "McDahmers" are basically punk songs done the Macabre way), a track like "Jeffrey Dahmer Blues" is as the title suggests a heavy blues track, "Coming To Chicago" is Macabre´s bizarre version of the folk traditional "She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain", "In the Army Now" features parts of the melody from "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (an 19th century American civil war traditional), "Grandmother's House" features parts of the melody from "Over the River and Through the Woods" (another 19th century traditional), and "Jeffrey Dahmer and the Chocolate Factory" is Macabre´s version of the "Oompa Loompa" song from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". It may sound a bit silly to use children´s tunes and folk traditionals on an extreme metal album, but I assure you it has quite an impact when paired with the unpleasant lyrical subject matter.

It´s not all tracks on the album which feature "alien" elements, and there are several pretty extreme and relatively more "straight" death/grindcore tracks on the album too. The whole album is one long highlight with no sub par tracks and an overall great tracklist flow and the quality of the material is high throughout. So it´s a bit unfair to mention some tracks over others, but I still think tracks like "Hitchhiker" (that chorus is damn heavy and infectiously catchy too), "Exposure" (probably the most grindcore oriented track on the album, and it´s delightfully extreme), "Scrub a Dub Dub" (great heavy track with yet another catchy chorus), and "Temple of Bones" (heavy, heavy, and heavy riffs and rhythms) deserve a special mention.

If you´re familiar with the preceding releases by Macabre, it should come as no surprise, that the musicianship is on a high level on all posts. Especially drummer Dennis the Menace (Dennis Ritchie) is an incredibly skilled musician. There´s something very special about his drumming which drives the music forward most effectively. It´s like his drums roll and even the most awkward breaks and changes in pace sound natural when he plays them. His performance on this album cannot be praised enough. The guitar and the bass (which are both placed quite high in the mix) are also well played, but in addition to the great drumming, it´s the vocals on the album which take the prize. That part of the album is varied to say the least. That´s not unusual for Macabre, but it´s like they perfected the vocal part of their sound on "Dahmer". The vocals on the album varies from deep juicy growling, to brutal and aggressive growling, to high pitched screaming, to varies types of clean singing. The different types of vocals are often used to emphasize something in the lyrics, which is a slight stroke of genius to my ears.

So "Dahmer" is in every possible way a high quality release. The songwriting is varied and memorable, and the lyrical concept well chosen and executed, the musicianship are on a high level, and the Neil Kernon production is powerful, detailed, and raw. The perfect sound for Macabre´s music. In terms of musical development since "Sinister Slaughter (1993)", the band have taken giant steps and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

SKELETAL Bitterness And Burning Hatred

Album · 2020 · Death Metal
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Nightfly
Bitterness And Burning Hatred is my first encounter with Finnish death metallers Skeletal. Turns out it’s their second album, the first, Dreadful Life being released back in 2017. I must admit that initially I wasn’t blown away by it, in fact it’s an album I’ve been blowing hot and cold with as subsequent plays had me alternating between average, good and very good. Overall though it seems to have left a favourable impression. After all, I’ve returned to it half a dozen times so there must be something there.

Skeletal’s death metal, whilst not getting into the realms of technical DM is pretty busy at times displaying a thrash edge. It’s aided by a crisp and organic sounding production, much preferable to the clinical and sterile sound that pervades plenty of modern death metal, especially at the tech end. From opener, Lower Than Filth, it’s clear these guys can play. Particularly impressive is the guitar work of Make Tiainen and Samuel Lehikoinen who also double’s up as vocalist, reminding me of Martin Van Drunen of Asphyx and ex-Pestilence. In fact on a musical level parallels can also be drawn with early Pestilence around the time of Consuming Impulse and while they don’t pack the sledgehammer approach of Bolt Thrower some of the guitar work shares a similar melancholic vibe that they often display. I’m not sure why this took so long to click as once the riffs get under your skin a surprising amount of melody cuts through, also present on some well thought out guitar solos all nimbly and fluently played. A couple of tracks I was blowing hot and cold with in particular were Concrete Salvation and Razors Edge. The former eventually won me over, simply requiring a few plays to reveal its complexities over its almost six minute length. Razors Edge, almost equal in length didn’t convert me in the end leaving little in the way of a lasting impression despite containing a fine guitar solo. Pick of the bunch for me is opener Lower Than Filth. After a Pacey start with some strong riffs the tempo drops and eventually locks into an insistent groove that had me wanting to hit repeat. Another strong contender is Apathy, at almost seven minutes the longest track on the album displays some progressive influences revealing another layer.

In the end Bitterness And Burning Hatred has come out on top. Not a classic by any stretch but Skeletal have impressed me more than enough to mark them a down as a band I want to keep an eye on and I would be surprised if we had a masterpiece from them in the future at some point.

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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