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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

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

MAYAN Antagonise Album Cover Antagonise
4.84 | 9 ratings
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DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
4.43 | 170 ratings
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CATTLE DECAPITATION Monolith Of Inhumanity Album Cover Monolith Of Inhumanity
4.68 | 11 ratings
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DEATH The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
4.42 | 130 ratings
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EDGE OF SANITY Crimson Album Cover Crimson
4.41 | 114 ratings
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ESOCTRILIHUM Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas To Awaken The Blind Sovereigns Of Nothingness) Album Cover Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas To Awaken The Blind Sovereigns Of Nothingness)
4.66 | 10 ratings
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DARK TRANQUILLITY The Gallery Album Cover The Gallery
4.44 | 34 ratings
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CARCASS Heartwork Album Cover Heartwork
4.39 | 76 ratings
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GORGUTS Colored Sands Album Cover Colored Sands
4.45 | 27 ratings
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POSSESSED Revelations of Oblivion Album Cover Revelations of Oblivion
4.61 | 9 ratings
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CARCASS Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious Album Cover Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious
4.35 | 61 ratings
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MORBID ANGEL Altars of Madness Album Cover Altars of Madness
4.35 | 55 ratings
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death metal Music Reviews

AENIGMATUM Deconsecrate

Album · 2021 · Death Metal
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Released in the summer of 2021 by 20 Buck Spin, “Deconsecrate” is the sophomore full length release from Oregon based blackened death metal band Aenigmatum. It boasts a complex sound, rooted in modern death metal with a slight glazing of black metal atmosphere coming mainly from the raw and organic production. As chaotic as the guitar riffs initially sound, they are also dripping with a healthy dose of melody and groove which becomes more apparent and rewarding with further listens. Amidst the bleak atmosphere and frenetic dissonance, there are pockets of fantastic melodic lead guitar which at points show influence from the twin guitar leads of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden and allow the listener to let off some steam from the surrounding brutality.

The musicianship is superb across the board with the two guitarists complementing each other delightfully, switching sharply between riffing in unison/twin lead, tremolo picking and monstrously crushing riffs. The jazz influenced basslines are interestingly structured, providing additional layers of melody and a mix of crazy breakneck and slower groovy rhythms further assisted by a truly bombastic performance from the drummer. In terms of songwriting, “Deconsecrate” exhibits a great level of maturity with unconventional song structures throughout and plenty unexpected twists which keeps things consistently fresh and interesting for the full duration.

The only factor which ever so slightly drags this album down for me is that the vocals are so low in the mix that you almost forget they are there at times, but this may be due to them being enveloped in a full set of staggering performances from all musicians.

To summarise, this album is a 45-minute blackened death roller-coaster played with great conviction and a high degree of technical skill which should please most fans of modern death metal - in particular, fans of the twisted death metal of Diskord. Despite there being a lot of stiff competition in 2021, the intense musical performances and intriguing song structures of “Deconsecrate” have engaged with me on such a level that I am compelled to name it my album of the year and I can’t wait to hear what they have to offer next.

SOILWORK Natural Born Chaos

Album · 2002 · Melodic Death Metal
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"Natural Born Chaos" is the 4th full-length studio album by Swedish melodic death metal act Soilwork. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in March 2002. It´s the successor to "A Predator's Portrait" from 2001. There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as keyboard player Carlos Del Olmo Holmberg has left and has been replaced by Sven Karlsson. "Natural Born Chaos" was successful upon release, and Soilwork toured both Europe and the United States (their first US tour) in support of the album.

Stylistically the material on the album continue the melodic death metal style from "A Predator's Portrait (2001)", but in a more polished version and featuring some alternative metal nods. Soilwork have brought in Devin Townsend as producer and Fredrik Nordström as co-producer, and Townsend´s touch is unmistakable, as the keyboards have found a more prominent place in the mix, and the soundscape is often multi-layered, featuring Townsend´s trademark massive production approach. The tracks are a bit formulaic vers/chorus structured, and just a couple of structural surprises during the album´s playing time would have been nice, but it´s not a major issue, and the tracks are of course more easily accessible this way. Accessibility/catchiness are obviously features that Soilwork have opted to focus on, and one of the places where that is most audible is the increase in use of clean vocals and less extreme raw vocals.

"Natural Born Chaos" is not a "soft" heavy metal album by any means, but in the context of death metal, it´s certainly in the more melodic, accessible, and polished end of the spectrum. The tracks typically feature raw vocals in the verses and clean vocals in the choruses (often layered with harmonies and choirs), the guitar style is predominantly heavy start/stop type riffing and faster-paced death/thrash riffing, and the drums play heavy and occasionally faster-paced beats. And then there´s the omnipresent keyboards. The music is literally drenced in keyboards. If anyone felt that "A Predator's Portrait (2001)" was a bit too keyboard heavy, it´s nothing compared to how the keyboards are used on "Natural Born Chaos".

The musicianship is strong on all posts, and we´re treated to skillful rhythmic playing, blistering melodic guitar leads, and Björn "Speed" Strid strong voice and vocal delivery. His clean vocal style was introduced on "A Predator's Portrait (2001)", but the clean vocals weren´t present on all tracks, and Strid was still a bit restrained in his use of that vocal style, but on "Natural Born Chaos" he is all in on the use of clean vocals (in addition to his raw vocals) and his performance here is varied and intriguing.

Upon conclusion "Natural Born Chaos" is a strong release by Soilwork and it feels like a natural progression from "A Predator's Portrait (2001)". Personally I miss the more savage approach of the early releases and sometimes it all feels a bit too polished and keyboard heavy, but that´s purely a subjective opinion, and viewing the album a bit more objectively this is a high quality release and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

PAKENI Celestial Mechanics

Album · 1999 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Celestial Mechanics" is the debut full-length studio album by Finnish goregrind/death´n´roll act Pakeni. The album was released through Napalm Records America in 1999. It´s the successor to the 1996 "Detergent Bubble Bath" EP. Unfortunately "Celestial Mechanics" would be the band´s sole full-length album in their original run. Pakeni formed in 1992 and released two demos, an EP, and this album before disbanding.

Stylistically the material on "Celestial Mechanics" is a dark and energetic death´n´roll style. Pakeni included Carcass influenced goregrind elements on their early releases, but those influences are more or less gone on "Celestial Mechanics" and only the band´s death´n´roll influences remain. Pakeni are an incredibly well playing, tight, organic, and groove oriented band, and they deliver their death´n´roll with a great charm and gleam in the eye, but personally I miss the unique combination of Carcass influenced goregrind and stoner metal/death´n´roll, which was featured on the two preceding releases. That combination and the odd sonic experiments that the band also incorporated on those releases, are what made Pakeni unique, and it´s hard not to feel that "Celestial Mechanics" in comparison is a slightly more generic release (sounding a little like a more adventurous Furbowl).

"Celestial Mechanics" is well produced feauturing a warm, heavy, and organic sounding production, which suits the organic nature of the material well. Upon conclusion "Celestial Mechanics" is a good quality death´n´roll album by Pakeni, but it´s not at all what I had hoped for coming to the album after listening to "Virgin's Delirium" (1993) and "Detergent Bubble Bath" (1996), which are both very unique and unusual releases. Still a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

PAKENI Detergent Bubble Bath

EP · 1996 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Detergent Bubble Bath" is an EP release by Finnish goregrind/death´n´roll act Pakeni. The EP was released through Morbid Records in 1996. It´s the follow-up release to the band´s two 1993 demos "The Silent Majority" and "Virgin's Delirium".

Stylistically the material on "Detergent Bubble Bath" continue the odd and unique combination of Carcass influenced goregrind and stoner metal/death´n´roll, but this time around with even more experiments that go beyond those music styles (female backing vocals and saxophone parts occur). Pakeni are definitely one of the more unusual acts out there, but despite combining elements which really shouldn´t work together, that´s exactly what Pakeni make them do. Heavy stoner metal/death´n´roll riffs, heavy grooves (and the occasional blast beat), the occasional use of organ/piano, and goregrind/death metal vocals performed by an energetic and well playing band. That´s the unique sound of Pakeni. The only other band from those days I can come up with at the top of my head, which was as crazy and unconventional as Pakeni is Disharmonic Orchestra.

"Detergent Bubble Bath" features a well sounding production job, which provides the perfect platform for the material to shine. Upon conclusion "Detergent Bubble Bath" is a great first label release by Pakeni and great follow-up to the promising "Virgin's Delirium (1993)" demo. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

PAKENI Virgin's Delirium

Demo · 1993 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Virgin's Delirium" is the 2nd demo by Finnish goregrind/death´n´roll act Pakeni. The demo was independently released in 1993. It´s the successor to "The Silent Majority" demo released earlier the same year. Pakeni formed in 1992 and released two demos, an EP, and an album before disbanding.

Stylistically this is one of the more unusual extreme metal demos I´ve come across, as Pakeni combine Carcass goregrind influences with stoner metal/death´n´roll elements (strongly influenced by their fellow countrymen in Xysma), and as if it´s a perfectly natural thing to do, they also on occasion add melodic and epic keyboard sections. I don´t think I´ve ever heard anything quite like this before. Needless to say this is a pretty unique sounding recording, and featuring a well sounding and detailed demo quality sound production, you get to hear all the details of this bizarre glory of a demo.

What this demo does so well, is that it not only combines musical elements which shouldn´t go well together and make them gel, but also manages to disply the strong musical performances as a result of the well sounding production job. The deep growling vocals has the right morbid and juicy tone to them, the drumming is busy and groovy, and the many heavy and groove laden stoner metal riffs combined with the goregrind lyrics and fast-paced death metal/grindcore parts, create an odd overall sound, but it works. A high quality release this one fully deserving a 3.5 star (70%) rating.

death metal movie reviews

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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