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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:
  • Melodic death metal See:
  • 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:
  • 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:

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.


Written by Time Signature.

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

death metal top albums

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DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
4.39 | 153 ratings
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DEATH The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
4.39 | 112 ratings
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DARK TRANQUILLITY The Gallery Album Cover The Gallery
4.46 | 27 ratings
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EDGE OF SANITY Crimson Album Cover Crimson
4.37 | 104 ratings
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GORGUTS Colored Sands Album Cover Colored Sands
4.42 | 23 ratings
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CARCASS Heartwork Album Cover Heartwork
4.33 | 63 ratings
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MORBID ANGEL Altars of Madness Album Cover Altars of Madness
4.34 | 45 ratings
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POSSESSED Revelations of Oblivion Album Cover Revelations of Oblivion
4.68 | 6 ratings
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BEYOND CREATION The Aura Album Cover The Aura
4.43 | 15 ratings
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DEATH Individual Thought Patterns Album Cover Individual Thought Patterns
4.29 | 102 ratings
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CARCASS Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious Album Cover Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious
4.31 | 47 ratings
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MORBID ANGEL Domination Album Cover Domination
4.34 | 32 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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death metal Music Reviews

NILE Vile Nilotic Rites

Album · 2019 · Technical Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
In the years between the release of 2015’s ‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ and 2019’s ‘Vile Nilotic Rites’ there has been some changes in the Nile camp, with the departure of Dallas Toler-Wade after some 20 years of being in the band. The band are again back as a quartet, with Sanders and Kollias being joined by Brad Parris (bass, vocals) and Brian Kingsland (guitars, vocals), but most importantly is what has happened to the music. Nile have looked back towards their roots in many ways, yet are also pushing forward with an album which is many ways is one of the most varied they have ever released. There is a brightness within it, a light which is shining, which allows them to move away from the lower register without ever losing any of the heaviness.

There are times when both guitars and bass are tracking note for note at incredible speed, with the bass being played so high up on the neck that it sounds almost like another guitar which allows space to be filled by the drumming of Kollias who has apparently got a second wind as this release probably contains his best performance yet. Apparently the band changed the way they undertook pre-production this time so when George was tracking his drums he had a much better idea of the finished sound. We even have orchestral passages which allow the band to have improved contrast so they can really come back firing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Nile album I haven’t really enjoyed, but this is taking things to a whole new level. The use of brass during “Seven Horns of War” is simply inspired, yet when the band really kick in the song becomes something down, dirty, disgusting and most definitely Nile.

It is still technical death metal, but in many ways they are pushing the boundaries and taking the genre into new directions. Lyrically Sanders is still pushing the boat with references to Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Levantine history, and who else would have a song about zombie ants? Sanders and Kollias are firmly at the helm, and with the new guys firmly on board and bedded in on the live circuit, they have created what may just be the best album of their career. It is certainly their most diverse, without losing any of the power and brutality for which they are renowned. Simply essential.

NILE What Should Not be Unearthed

Album · 2015 · Technical Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
This 2015 album was the fourth in eight years with the same line-up of Karl Sanders (guitars, bass, vocals) , Dallas Toler-Wade (guitars, bass, v) and George Kollias (drums). Unlike many metal bands, drummer Kollias is a key songwriter, contributing the music to most of the tracks on the album. At this point it was 20 years since their debut EP, and although only Sanders was still there from those early days, the band had really matured and were (and are) at the pinnacle of technical death metal. Is there another band within the genre who are so instantly recognisable and who consistently deliver albums of such high calibre?

Some people try to make the argument that if you’ve got a Nile album in your collection then you really don’t need any more, but could you just have one album by Sabbath, or just one by Mk II Deep Purple? In each case they have a style they have made very much their own, yet each album is very different in its own right yet conforming to a certain style. I have always loved the technical virtuosity combined with brutal heaviness which is typical of Nile, combined with vocals which sound as if they are being dragged out from a demonic plane. 20 years in the game and the band are only getting heavier and more powerful with age – this is not a sign of a band going gently into the good night, but is going to be kicking and screaming and devil take the hindmost. Brutal and fast with incredible note density combined with dynamics and different shades of dark to provide contrast, this is yet another incredibly strong example of the very best in the genre.


Album · 2019 · Technical Death Metal
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Once upon a time there was Nocturnus, who put out a couple of really solid technical death metal albums in the form of The Key and Thresholds before original founder Mike Browning and the rest of the group. Then there was After Death, Mike's next group, which took its name from a song from The Key and allowed Mike to keep his hand in the game.

Now there's Nocturnus AD, After Death having evolved into the full-fledged Nocturnus successor group they'd always had the potential to be. With Nocturnus themselves having been broken up for over a decade, it seems reasonable enough to assume that if Browning's former comrades there had intended to do anything with the name, they'd have done it by now. As it is, the field is clear for Browning to reconfigure After Death to deliver his own vision for where Nocturnus might have gone under his own direction.

If the band name weren't enough of the clue, the cover art should give away what the angle is here: yes, this might not be called "The Key Part 2: Death Metal Boogaloo", but thematically and stylistically speaking it's pretty much following on the footsteps of the Nocturnus debut album. (Yes, the time-travelling killer robot is back, and this time it's hanging out with Cthulhu.)

It's another technical death metal tour de force from Browning, who once again acts as both drummer and lead vocalist. If his drumming is a little prominent in the mix, that's all to the good, because his drums sound absolutely superb without taking anything away from the rest of the band. Despite having added blast beats to his bag of tricks, he's largely working in a style close to that of The Key, and if you really enjoyed that album and want more of the same I'd say that this hits that mark closer than any of the subsequent Nocturnus or After Death releases ever did.


Album · 2015 · Death Metal
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"Hyaena" is the 7th full-length studio album by Italian progressive death metal act Sadist. The album was released through Scarlet Records in October 2015. It´s the successor to "Season in Silence" from 2010. Sadist was one of the more prolific technical/progressive death metal acts out of Italy in the early- to mid 90s, but after releasing the NU-metal oriented "Lego (2000)" their star faded and they disbanded. The band reunited in 2005 and released an eponymously titled comeback album in 2007. "Hyaena" is the third album released after Sadist opted to reunite.

Stylistically the music on "Hyaena" is technical/progressive death metal with jazz/fusion influenced sections and a touch a of world music too. Artists like Cynic, Atheist, and Pestilence ("Spheres (1993)") are obvious influences but Sadist aren´t clones by any means. The omnipresence of keyboards for example make them a bit different.

The vocals are snarling and aggressive, which suits the music well and the instrumental part of the music is very well performed too. Sadist are obviously very skilled musicians who know how to handle their instruments. Fusion influenced drumming and bass playing, death/thrashy guitar riffs and jazz/fusion influenced guitar solos, and atmosphere enhancing keyboards. It all works very well (and also better than on "Season in Silence (2010)"), but upon conclusion it´s not many tracks which stand out (I´d mention "Gadawan Kura" as a standout track), but it´s a highly enjoyable release while it plays. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ENTOMBED A.D. Bowels Of Earth

Album · 2019 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Bowels Of Earth" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Entombed A.D.. The album was released through Century Media Records in August 2019. It´s the successor to "Dead Dawn" from 2016 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as second guitarist Guilherme Miranda has been added to the lineup, making Entombed A.D. a five-piece on "Bowels Of Earth".

Stylistically the material on "Bowels Of Earth" is a continuation of the old school Swedish death metal style of the two predecessors. It´s slightly darker and features less death´n´roll elements (although they are still there. An example is the guitar solo section on "Elimination"), but it´s nuances and ultimately "Bowels Of Earth" sounds unmistakably like Entombed A.D.. The regular version of the album features 9 originals and a cover of "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" by country musician Hank Williams, while the limited edition of the album features an additional cover track in "Back at the Funny Farm" by Motörhead.

The musicianship is strong and lead vocalist L-G Petrov still delivers a distinct sounding growling attack, although his vocal style has changed a bit over the years. He is slightly more monotone these days, but his vocals are still decent. The material on the album are generally well written and mostly fairly memorable, but some tracks a bit unremarkable. Highlights to my ears are the album opener "Torment Remains", the title track, "Fit for a King", and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive". The latter is actually the most standout track on the album, and that´s of course a bit worrying, when a cover track is the most interesting song on an album, but the other tracks are of a good quality too.

"Bowels Of Earth" features a raw and powerful sound production, so it´s a quality release on most parameters. The songwriting could have been a little more memorable and there are some moments on the album which are maybe a bit dull or at least sounds much like something we´ve heard before (and better) from the band. Mostly though "Bowels Of Earth" is another good quality death metal release by Entombed A.D. and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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NAPALM DEATH Punishment in Capitals

Movie · 2003 · Death Metal
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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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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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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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