Death 'n' Roll

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Death ‘n’ roll bands incorporates groovy riffs and beats as well as other elements from more traditional metal and hardrock, such as more rock-oriented guitar solos and simpler riffage, into their style, and often make use of midtempo paces. This style arose in the 1990s in the wake of the popularity of Pantera’s groove-oriented heavy metal, which revolutionized thrash metal and influenced other types of metal, too. Entombed and Gorefest were among the creators of death ‘n’ roll, and other examples of death ‘n’ roll artists are Six Feet Under, Debauchery, We Are the Damned, and Malignant Tumour.

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ENTOMBED Morning Star Album Cover Morning Star
ENTOMBED
4.34 | 20 ratings
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ENTOMBED Wolverine Blues Album Cover Wolverine Blues
ENTOMBED
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ENTOMBED Uprising Album Cover Uprising
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ENTOMBED Inferno Album Cover Inferno
ENTOMBED
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GOREFEST Soul Survivor Album Cover Soul Survivor
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CARCASS Swansong Album Cover Swansong
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GOREFEST Erase Album Cover Erase
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ENTOMBED DCLXVI - To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth Album Cover DCLXVI - To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth
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death 'n' roll Music Reviews

SCHEITAN Nemesis

Album · 1999 · Death 'n' Roll
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lukretion
Released in 1999 via Century Media, Nemesis is the third and final full-length album of Swedish black/goth metallers Scheitan. The band started as a black metal outfit revolving around Oskar Karlsson (guitars/drums) and Pierre Törnkvist (guitars/vocals), and then slowly evolved towards a more accessible form of Death'n Roll / Gothic metal that on Nemesis reaches perhaps its most forthright and direct expression.

The album is comprised of nine tracks for an overall duration of a mere 33 minutes. The songs are short, simple and straightforward, striking a balance between boisterous death metal assault and melodic gothic metal accessibility. A fitting description of the album’s sound would be a cross between Rotting Christ (circa A Dead Poem) and Children of Bodom, minus the technical shredding. There is a touch of punkish urgency and rawness in some of the songs (“Psyched”, “Ways”) that stands in direct contrast with the more melodic gothic influences surfacing on songs like “Fury Flow” and “Black Rain”. However, the formula quickly grows stale, also because the melodic ideas, song pace, structure, and instrumental solutions the band plays with are always the same from one song to another.

There are two tracks, however, that stand out as completely different from the other seven: “A Silent Hum” and “My Isle”. These two songs feature a female vocalist, Lotta Högberg, who had also appeared on Scheitan’s previous albums. On these tracks, Scheitan abandon the boisterous Death'n Roll of the other songs and veers instead more decidedly towards goth/doom territories, reminding me of bands like Flowing Tears and The Gathering, albeit with a more primitive and rougher streak. The tempos are slower, the atmospheres become more dilated and lysergic and Lotta’s low-register vocals are dark and morose. The strong melodies of the choruses make an immediate impression on the listener and stand as an open invitation to spin these two songs again and again so as to uncover all their hidden secrets. Truth be told, these songs are two minor gothic masterpieces and the only reason I actually own this album.

However, the inclusion of these two tracks on the album is fairly incongruous, as they have almost nothing in common with the other compositions. Equally incongruous is the inclusion of the vaguely electronic album closer “Emergency”. This track is a (poor) cover version of a minor hit by 1980s Swedish pop group Trance Dance, bringing the album’s sound in yet another direction.

Overall, Nemesis comes across as a hotchpotch of disparate musical ideas that Scheitan somehow decided to assemble together in the same album. Most tracks are really derivative and forgettable, but the record does contain two killer pieces, “A Silent Hum” and “My Isle”, that elevate it just above the ordinary. It’s worth a spin or two, but approach with caution.

SIX FEET UNDER (FL) Graveyard Classics

Album · 2000 · Death 'n' Roll
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UMUR
"Graveyard Classics" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Six Feet Under. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in October 2000. It´s the successor to "Maximum Violence" from 1999. "Graveyard Classics" is not a "regular" studio album with original material, but as the title may suggest it´s a cover album featuring Six Feet Under´s take on classic heavy metal and hard rock tracks by artists like AC/DC, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Dead Kennedys, and Venom.

While the instrumental parts of the tracks are kept fairly true to the originals (although the album of course features a heavy death metal production), the vocals are brutal growling courtesy of Chris Barnes. Not all tracks work equally well and not surprisingly it´s the tracks, which were the most hard edged in their original form, which transform best to Six Feet Under´s sound. Tracks like "Piranha" by Exodus and "In League with Satan" by Venom (the Savatage cover "Holocaust" also holds up surprisingly well). Tracks like "Smoke on the Water" and "Purple Haze" function less great.

"Graveyard Classics" is both well produced and well played, but upon conclusion it is one of those albums where the novelty wears off around the middle of the album. Playing death metal covers of tracks which normally feature vocal lines which are sung and generally highly memorable melodies, just becomes a bit monotonous, and while Chris Barnes vocal performance is actually pretty strong on this album it just isn´t enough to save the day. "Graveyard Classics" is still a relatively good quality release though and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

ENTOMBED Morning Star

Album · 2001 · Death 'n' Roll
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Tupan
Riffs, riffs everywhere!

One of the creators of the death'n'roll subgenre (the kind of music I need to listen more), Entombed shows in this Morning Star why they were the masters of their game. In this album one can listen an almost perfect blend of death, thrash and stoner/doom metal, with exciting riffs, great production and the awesome vocals of the late Lars Göran Petrov. I just can imagine now how these songs would sound alive - and I am not talking about seeing mere live videos!

I don't know what the long term fans thinks about Morning Star, but for me it's a class A album with no fillers. It helps the facts it's short, the listener will always return to this release wanting more. I can't recommend enough!

CONVULSE Reflections

Album · 1994 · Death 'n' Roll
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UMUR
"Reflections" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Finnish death metal act Convulse. The album was released through Relapse Records in June 1994, almost 3 years after the release of the band´s debut full-length studio album "World Without God (1991)". "Reflections" was already recorded at Sunlight Studios in late 1992/early 1993, but a number of lineup changes took place between the two albums and also a label change, which probably resulted in the long time between the debut album and the sophomore release (in those days 3 years between albums, were a pretty long time). Guitarist Jani Kuhanen died in 1992 and was replaced by Toni Honkala, drummer Janne Miikkulainen has been replaced by Juppo Paavola, and Aki Yli-Salomäki has been added to the lineup as lead vocalist. So guitarist/vocalist Rami Jämsä and bassist Juha Telenius are the only remaining members of the lineup who recorded "World Without God (1991)".

Maybe it was the change in personel or maybe it was just the musical current at the time, which caused a drastic stylistic change, but the sound on "Reflections" is vastly different from the old school death metal sound of "World Without God (1991)". The listener is treated to a death´n´roll sound which isn´t far removed from what contemporary artists like Entombed, Gorefest, and Furbowl, were releasing at the time (just even less death metal oriented). I´m sure the stylistic development must have come as quite a shock to the fans, because there is very little here which reveal that it´s the same artist who released both "World Without God (1991)" and "Reflections". Other than the brutal growling vocals (which is occasionally complimented by a raw heavy metal oriented vocal style) there is nothing on "Reflections" which is death metal oriented. This is purely hard rock influenced heavy metal.

The playing is organic and the same can be said about the sound production. It´s not the most well sounding production, and unfortunately the songwriting is also a bit one-dimensional and the tracks are generally hard to tell apart. Considering that most hard rock/heavy metal artists aim and succeed at creating catchy and anthemic material, Convulse seem to have forgotten that part of composing less extreme material. Most listeners can accept that extreme metal albums can be a bit one-dimensional in style and that tracks aren´t always easy to tell apart, but when you release something like this, the listener expects a certain degree of cathiness to the material. It´s not that the band aren´t able to make the music swing with an organic playing style, but the material simply isn´t catchy enough. Add to that a sound production which isn´t that well sounding, and "Reflections" overall comes off a bit mediocre. Especially compared to other contemporary releases in a similar style. A 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

CARCASS Swansong

Album · 1996 · Death 'n' Roll
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UMUR
"Swansong" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK death metal/heavy metal act Carcass. The album was released through Earache Records in June 1996. "Heartwork (1993)" proved to be a huge success for Carcass, who attracted the attention of major label Columbia Records. The label payed the band a recording advance of no less than $200,000, which the band used to enter the studio with producer Colin Richardson in early 1995. Carcass and Columbia Records had several clashes during the recording sessions over the direction of the material, and the label was not satisfied with the 17 tracks the band had written. Therefore the release of the album was postposed from late 1995 to June 1996 during which time Carcass were dropped by Columbia Records and subsequently returned to Earache Records. Before the release of the album, the band had split-up though, which of course makes "Swansong" a perfectly fitting title.

There has been one lineup change since the release of "Heartwork (1993)", as Swedish guitarist Michael Amott has been replaced by Carlo Regadas. Amott actually left shortly after recording his parts for "Heartwork (1993)" and was initially replaced by Mike Hickey, who himself was then replaced by Regadas. Amott soon after formed Spiritual Beggars and then Arch Enemy.

Stylistically there have been quite a few changes since "Heartwork (1993)", which should actually come as no surprise, as none of the previous Carcass albums have sounded the same either, although there has never been any doubt, that it it a Carcass release you´re listening to. "Heartwork (1993)" added a lot of melody and heavy metal elements to the band´s death metal sound, and on "Swansong" they take that approach even further. Jeff Walker´s raw snarling vocals are the most extreme feature of the music, and although the instrumental part of the music still features the occasional nod towards death metal, it´s actually best described as a hard edged heavy metal style. The tracks are generally "straight" vers/chorus structured, they feature hard rock/heavy metal rhythms and pretty basic heavy metal riffing, and loads melodic guitar solos and harmony guitar themes. The latter part of the sound is obviously influenced a great deal by artists like Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash.

The material on the 12 track, 50:05 minutes long album are generally well written and relatively catchy. It´s a bit one-dimensional in nature though, and a bit more variation between tracks would have been nice. Carcass have always had an understated humourous approach (even on their goregrind releases), and that approach is a bit more obvious on "Swansong" in song titles like "Keep on Rotting in the Free World" and "R**k the Vote". It never becomes silly though, so they generally tread that fine line with grace. "Swansong" features a powerful, organic, and detailed sound production, so upon conclusion it´s another quality release by Carcass. It is a step down from the preceeding two albums though, but given the extremely influential nature and great success of both of those releases, it´s not unexpected Carcass couldn´t keep up the incredible heights of their past output. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still well deserved though.

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