Top 30 Death Metal Favorites | ca. 2013

ARCHIVES This post is an archived curated list from another website where I spent about seven years documenting my listening habits. After a break from the site in 2018 and a total exodus in 2019 these lists were collected, saved, and are now presented largely untouched. Please note that these thoughts, opinions, and general comments were not only written (up to ten) years ago but largely for a small audience of friends and fellow record collectors. They are not complete, not retrospective, and not intended to be professional in voice. The re-posting of these lists are by the request of a small circle of online friends and should not be taken seriously as criticism.

This list was written in 2013, the original intent of this list was to shore up my favorites released between 1986-1996. It was updated with releases from 1998 and 2005 (circa 2017) alongside a few death/thrash and deathgrind records but these updates have been excised, they belong on a different list. Otherwise the order and text of the original 2013 list is intact with a few typos corrected. Don’t message me arguing for certain exclusions/inclusions, this is an archive and not an open debate with the past.

A definitive list of my favorite death metal albums. The releases are in order of my preference. I won’t be repeating artists, so there might be other albums by the artists that I like more than other things. But I think it is boring to see a band’s whole discography repeated on a list. Other relevant releases by any artists are mentioned in the descriptions. Things are more or less in order, but the Top 10 picks and their order are subject to shifting. Some days I like Morgue or Immolation more than Gorement, etc. It is hard to keep track of the thousands of death metal albums I’ve heard over the years and I’m likely to forget about obscurities that are/were very important to me.


TITLE:Choir of Horrors
LABEL(S):Noise Records

Messiah were early adopters of an extreme ‘evil’ style of thrash metal in the early 80’s, their first two albums being finest examples of violent riffing that set itself apart from the heavier side of German thrash metal which most would reference by comparison. As the band’s lineup changed and they signed to larger German label Noise Records they solidified a more serious death metal oriented death/thrash sound. The combination of the Psychomorphia EP and Choir of Horrors is easily a top favorite hour of death metal ever recorded but does it count as death metal? I didn’t boost this one up to #10 as intended since the debates on it not being pure death metal are warranted, alongside Obliveon I guess. Nonetheless, this is a favorite album. When I want death/thrash this is typically the first album I think of for the incredible guitar tone and excellent pacing on the full listen. Messiah‘s follow up was somewhat similar leaning into death metal and various other influences but Choir of Horrors has just been an obsession for so much longer on my part.”

TITLE:Demon Tales
LABEL(S):Huasipungo Records

“Though I did not discover this band until finding Decomposed by Possession (2000) in Deathgasm‘s webshop, Mortem have consistently been one of my favorite bands since. I think the strongest example of what makes this band something special comes from the album The Devil Speaks in Tongues but when I go back to revisit this band I tend to go straight for their debut Demon Tales because it serves as a very energetic ‘old school’ shot in the arm. This particular album uses Possessed, Pentagram (Chile) and maybe a hint of Nocturnus as a primary reference. I’ve often compared this band to Sadism‘s first album Tribulated Bells which is perhaps less methodical and more bludgeoning… but no less thrash influenced.”

TITLE:The Ultimate Incantation
LABEL(S):Earache Records

“I first heard about Vader in 1996, at a time when I read metal magazines/fanzines religiously. They were hailed as the second coming of Slayer and the band to replace Morbid Angel as the next big thing. Appropriately hyped, I did my best to get my hands on the Sothis EP but without the internet I wasn’t able to find a copy of their music until the release of Litany in 2000 and Revelation a few years later. So by then their sound had changed quite a bit and I’d found they didn’t meet my criteria for “the second coming” of anything, but I did eventually get there once able to I get my hands on The Ultimate Incantation and De Profundis. This is yet another band where I can’t exactly choose between their first two records… De Profundis is the secured identity of and essential sound of Vader and really shows the band at their best. On the other hand The Ultimate Incantation is a death metal classic which shows the band building on the legacy of their demo material and refining it, keeping the late 80’s thrash metal song structures largely in place.”

LABEL(S):Necropolis Records,
Pavement Music

“I thought it might be funny to link a video of a nerd burping the ABC’s instead of the full album here, but it wasn’t. Nespithe is about as avant-garde as death metal ever got without becoming insipid or frustratingly melodramatic within the chamber of whispering eyes. Nespithe isn’t particularly heavy, just downright intricate and interestingly composed wherein the somewhat technical riffing and grinding, spiraling riffs recall when the sun drank the weight of water. The sixteenth six-toothed son of fourteen four-regional dimensions, which are still unnamed, himself couldn’t find any really great reason to deny the echo(es) of appreciation for the celebrated twisted nature of Demilich‘s rhythmically fanciful style. Sorry, I’ll stop. This album isn’t all that weird outside of the odd choice of vocals and the meter of the guitar work, it is just the kind of special thing no one could ever hope to emulate with any integrity.”

[Note: For a while my schtick online was to incorporate long, elaborate references to Carcass and Demilich lyrics and/or song titles. Apologies to all but the three people who who loved it at the time.]

TITLE:Longing For Death
LABEL(S):Roadrunner Records

“Also known as Todessehnsucht in Europe. This was a really difficult decision to make because while Atrocity were undoubtedly going to be on this list, I cannot easily choose between the first and second albums from the band. Hallucinations is a brilliant mind fuck of a record that is relentless and technical while Longing for Death is all of those things but also manages to be successfully melodic at times. A similar comparison might be the jump in style from Loudblast‘s Disincarnate to Sublime Dementia, more-or-less. Everyone should own both albums, there are not many records that pull this kind of death metal off in such a professional fashion. Some of these riffs are arguably lifted from the death metal they were listening to at the time, but I’ve never seen this record as plagiaristic as some do when it comes to riffs. The second half of the album as well as the Death demo song cover are what elevates this above your average death metal record, don’t skip out on the second act. Also, listen to the Hallucinations album first.”


“For years I avoided Nemesis because I didn’t want to really approach the band outside of the first album From This Day Forward which is easily one of my favorite extreme metal records of all time. When I previewed this album I thought it was groove metal in style because the later albums when in fact Nemesis is essentially a semi-technical death/thrash record in the vein of Disciples of Power or the first Atheist album. There is an underlying effortless technicality in the guitar riffing that is both thoughtful and forceful at the same time. As it turns out a lean into death metal perfectly compliments a slight return to the style from their first album. Obliveon had a real feel for the flow of a running order and the progression of the album really hits a fresh high for me with “Frosted Avowals” and it’s odd use of synth, and “Factory of Delusions” with it’s fantastic guitar solo. One of those early “prog-death” albums that I can leave on repeat for hours and never grow tired of it.”

LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast

“In 1994 I purchased a magazine (I think it was called hUH) through mail-order that included a free VHS tape what featured music videos of bands in the general genre of your choosing. I checked the box for “Metal/Hard Rock” of course and continued to receive these tapes once every 3-6 months for a year and a half. The second video tape I received had all kinds of terrible bands like Dog Eat Dog, post-‘Beyond Sanctorum’ Therion, and “Bad Horsie”-era Steve Vai… but it also had Broken Hope, Benediction and Gorefest. Gorefest‘s video is taken from The Eindhoven Insanity, a live album with their performance of “Confessions of a Serial Killer”. I was impressed enough to get my hands on False and Erase at that point but only to be disappointed that the song I wanted was actually on their first album, Mindloss, which was harder to find a copy of. I naturally gravitated towards the aggression of False and have enjoyed it as a favorite since. Mindloss is either as good or better, and the demo material is likewise worthwhile. A very overlooked Dutch band, and probably because their death n’ roll phase wasn’t anything special.”

TITLE:Diabolical Summoning
LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast

“The first three Sinister albums are all pretty much equally good. I tend to prefer the superior cover art of Diabolical Summoning as well as the more subdued volume of the vocals, stronger drum production and near constant brutality. In fact, this band was almost too intense for their own good and might not’ve been much of a standout in the Dutch death metal scene if they hadn’t been so consistent brutal early on. Those familiar with Colin Richardson‘s production style might find this record an interesting study as he gave a similar treatment to albums like Napalm Death‘s Utopia Banished, Canker Physical, Gorguts Erosion of Sanity and several other favorites of mine. Sinister isn’t really all that exciting after Hate, though they have been solid and consistent since Afterburner..”

TITLE:Descend Into the Absurd
LABEL(S):Black Mark Production

Fleshcrawl are a real oddity in that they came out with a somewhat original and realized musical personality early on, then tossed it all aside in favor of sounding like a brutal version of Dismember starting around ~1994. such distinct old school death metal from Germany is somewhat rare compared to many other European countries, often the most interesting works from the country are progressive in nature. Descend Into the Absurd actually sounds like Finnish death metal on paper thanks to an atmospherically dense sound that crawls along at a menacing doom/death pace when it counts. Few records capture this sort of mood while continually throwing in different ideas to keep each song distinct from the next. The follow up to this album Impurity should not be discounted even though it does change their sound towards the Swedish school of death metal, nonetheless it does not touch the magic of Descend Into the Absurd.”

TITLE:Shadows of the Past
LABEL(S):Thrash Records

“For a band of roughly high school aged kids Sentenced were already showing themselves as ambitious and talented on their first demo and especially this first full-length. Originally printed in, for its time, limited quantities this debut is still largely left in the shadow of their 1993 breakthrough North From Here and breach of commercial/critical success with Amok. There is a nice balance of rawness and refinement that gave Sentenced an edge on this first album and its contributions to the rhythms of Finnish death metal should not be understated, it simply isn’t just another album like so many insist. The big, huge draw of this album is the distinct and memorable style of riffing that is both heavy and carries a melody that distinguishes each song with a certain mood. This takes hints of what Paradise Lost, Autopsy, and Carcass were doing around this time and filters it into something unique but squarely in the death metal genre. I find it hard to choose between North From Here and this album because I was reading metal magazines in 1993 and remember waiting months to finally hear their second album. You can find that album one another list, anyhow.”

TITLE:Blod Draum
LABEL(S):Effigy Records

“Norway is a bleak, desolate wasteland in terms of death metal going fully out of fashion around 1992. For whatever reason a lot of very misguided teenagers who’d produced solid death metal demos (and a few albums) decided to make black metal around that time. It worked out well for ’em but a few solid death metal records still remain undescended testicles of potential. Molested was the original death metal band from Borknagar‘s main songwriter and one could easily see a bit of chaos to be found in the atmosphere of everything he has done. Chaos is a good place to start when talking about Blod-draum, not only is it unmercifully brutal and fast but it is also satisfyingly complex. I find a lot of the nuance in the blur of blasts to be one of the reasons this album endures so much in my mind. Some Netherlands death metal in the mid-to-late 90’s had a similar way of hammering away at riffs and hyper kinetic drumming, but few release ever managed the unhinged and primal intensity of Molested. The only thing that really keeps this from being higher on my list is that it simply isn’t as memorable musically as it is experientially.”

TITLE:Promises Impure
LABEL(S):Pavement Music

“The first and only album from this virtually unknown death metal band from Chicago is a great example of how my exploration of death metal could occasionally reveal a really special gem. My love of bands like Malevolent Creation, Sinister and certain Loudblast records primed me to enjoy Demented Ted‘s conglomerate style that fuses the melodic and the brutal in an interesting way. Though the drum production is a bit noisy, it hardly detracts from the riffing and fairly straightforward vocal style. Like many other forgotten-but-totally-ruled death metal bands from the Midwest states they don’t have a recognizable scene specific sound but rather their influences are more vague due to tasteful choices in sound and riff-writing. Whenever I harp on a modern death metal band for bland riffing, lack of ideas, it is probably because I spent so much time listening to albums like this.”

TITLE:Transcendence Into the Peripheral
LABEL(S):Earache Records

“Ancient Egyptian coffin texts describe a version of the afterlife known as Duat, ruled over by Osiris, the god of the dead and includes a map depicting the journey one must take through Duat. The book describes a landscape similar to Earth, but also containing mystical elements like a lake of fire and great iron walls. When approaching this netherworld souls had to pass through gates guarded by half-animal, half-human creatures with evocative names like “Blood-Drinker Who Comes From The Slaughterhouse” or “One Who Eats The Excrement Of His Hindquarters.” After passing through the gates, the deceased person’s heart was weighed against a feather. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it would be eaten by the demon Ammut. The souls of the wicked were then condemned to face justice in Duat. Many were forced to walk upside down or receive punishments from serpents and devouring demons. Disembowelment was atmospheric nuclear funeral death/grind from Duat.”

TITLE:Invincible Enemy

Disciples of Power were one of Canada’s finest underground thrash metal bands early on, with each album they incorporated more technical and death metal elements into their sound. Their technical style is entirely unique and is beyond comparison with most death metal of their time beyond maybe Symbolic-era Death. The third album Invincible Enemy expands upon the loud/quiet moments and twisted riffing found on Ominous Prophecy. I couldn’t begin to really choose between those two albums for my favorite but this one is more distinctly death metal rather than death/thrash. Disciples of Power is a rare example of a band that instantly appealed to me, and continue to interest me several years later. There is next to nothing of value that sounds anything like this band and each of their first four albums are favorites of mine.”

TITLE:Severed Survival
LABEL(S):Peaceville Records

“Historically speaking, this was the first flawless and pure death metal album ever recorded. Atheist‘s debut precedes it, but leans into technical thrash territory. Early albums from Death had some major flaws, be it the drum machine use or the poor choice of tracklist for Scream Bloody Gore (what, no “Archangel”?). Consuming Impulse comes close, though. Autopsy are perhaps the most important band for underground death metal’s legacy as a non-commercial sport. Their influence on Swedish death metal’s early scene (Nihilist, Carnage, etc.) was huge, not to mention the Midwest/Florida scenes in the states. Severed Survival is a dirty, raw feeling album that is unsettling in such a way that the band could never intended to revisit as they explored doom and grindcore inspired extremes. The music itself is simple yet effective and relies on frenzied performances, they rely on songwriting and standout guitar riffs to hold my attention. I tend to put this album on about twice as often as Mental Funeral but I think both albums are essential listening for all death metal fans.”

[Note: The bass guitar performances from DiGiorgio here just aren’t appreciated enough.]

TITLE:Breeding the Spawn
LABEL(S):Roadrunner Records

Suffocation were poised to take over the death metal world with their second album, a more technical, brutal, melodic and ambitious record than they’d ever pull off again. Unfortunately the recording process was famously a horror story and the final mix was blurred and mediocre. That blows, but only in terms of public reception influencing the long-standing history of the release since I think this was and continues to be their best material. Pierced From Within has the advantage of sounding a hell of a lot better two years later, but just as Here in After was Immolation‘s statement of identity so was this was the definitive Suffocation statement. So, the easiest solution to any issue you have with the production on this album is: Turn up the volume. Once you’ve done that, the brilliance of the record shines through the heavily obscured sound, the headache is part of the experience.”

[Note: The main point was intended to say that I genuinely like this one best and not despite the production values, strange sound design was one of the things that made death metal interesting to start! Fuck remasters.]

TITLE:When the Sky Turns Black
LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast

Brutality is probably one of the best but least appreciated bands to come from the seminal Floridian death metal scene. Wailing guitar solos, riffs, and a genuine sense of vocal cadence all contribute to atheir classic death metal sound. Choosing which of the first two albums would be on my favorites list was difficult as they are different but equally valuable. Screams of Anguish is menacing, more wild, and features some excellent lead guitars… while When the Sky Turns Black is heavier, sludgier and uses more restraint with the lead guitars. Overall this album is what I’ve returned to most often over time, but their debut belongs right beside it. This album also features the only successful cover of a Black Sabbath song by death metal band and even still it is a bad idea. Brutality and 90’s Monstrosity are by far some of the most overlooked, influential death metal bands that receive rare mention today.”

LABEL(S):Repulse Records

“Originally marketed as “featuring an ex-member of Demigod” and with album artwork very similar to Nespithe one couldn’t possibly have happened upon Adramelech‘s first album without some preconceived idea of what they should sound like. I know most people don’t agree, but I like this album a bit more than Slumber of Sullen Eyes simply because that album is about 2-3 songs too long and just drags at times. When hunting down prime examples of Finnish death metal there might be several better known and more “important” examples (Amorphis, Sentenced, Demilich, Demigod, etc.) but Psychostasia deserves to be right there with those releases, or at least considered an elevation in most respects. Comparisons aside, I think this was one of the more interesting oddities I discovered when seeking post-1995 death metal. The star of the show is the production that emphasizes the signature Finnish death metal guitar style and I couldn’t think of a better candidate for the Finndeath “Hey, I know you like ____ but have you heard this…” recommendation. Unfortunately they wouldn’t top the songwriting of this album, though the rest of their discography is absolute thunder.”

TITLE:Fornever Laid to Rest
LABEL(S):Black Mark Productions

“Sounds a bit obvious when stated outright but death metal from Sweden didn’t always sound so… Swedish. Seance‘s first record was the singular masterpiece of Patrik Jensen who is best known for being the guitarist and songwriter for popular bands Witchery and The Haunted. Fornever Laid to Rest is perhaps one of the best examples of how much more effective Swedish death metal was when directly influenced by groups like Deicide and Slayer. The 30 minute playtime has long given me license to call this the “Swedish version of Legion”. I suppose calling a death metal album “intense” is a bit tired at this point but Fornever… truly is an assertive and brutal metal album. It also features one of my favorite Dan Seagrave paintings.”

LABEL(S):Semetery Records

“My introduction to Loudblast was through their split CD with Agressor Licensed to Thrash and after being particularly impressed with each French Slayer-influenced death metal bands I picked up Sensorial Treatment and later the rest of their discography. Each album was an interesting progression in style, I could see it was the same band but they’d become either more extreme or melodic with each successive recording. Two albums particularly struck a chord with me, first the subtle melodic death metal genius of Sublime Dementia (and the Cross the Threshold EP is included in those sessions) and the even more subtle Morrisound recorded death metal album Disincarnate. Despite the no frills approach to the production, which really didn’t need remastering, the mid-to-fast paced melodic style of this record has stuck with me longer than many similar albums. If I want early 90’s death metal with a voice of its own, this is one of my most frequent go-to records and it still holds up as an absolute standard bearer.”

TITLE:Piece of Time
LABEL(S):Active Records,
Death Records

Atheist were either ahead of their time, or just purposefully out of step with what everyone else was doing back in the day. Piece of Time has all the fury of early Sadus (or the Cynic demos), the heady intensity of Morbid Angel or Death, and virtuosic performances largely unheard of in death metal up to that point (it was more conceivable in the thrash metal world: Watchtower, though). The frantic energy of this album is what sells it over the more accomplished pacing and arrangement of Unquestionable Presence, though I more or less enjoy either album just as much. The real thrash-based heaviness of the R.A.V.A.G.E. demos was captured here best. When first getting into extreme metal the “1989 Five” (Beneath the Remains, World Downfall, Severed Survival, “Altars of Madness”, and “Piece of Time”) are still the best place to start… or they were for me, at least.”

TITLE:The Erosion of Sanity
LABEL(S):Roadrunner Records

“A lot of the albums on this list haven’t aged particularly well, though they capture their time and that moment in death metal well. Gorguts‘ second album has a style and production sound that manages to sound somewhat timeless twenty years after it’s initial release. The presence of the bass playing is enormous and adds dimension to the often technical riffing. I’ve always felt like The Erosion of Sanity is what Suffocation might sound like if they slowed things down and focused more on atmosphere and technicality or, perhaps it was the logical predecessor to something like Monstrosity‘s Millennium. This is a ballsy, intricate death metal record that reveals itself more with each listen and it is also the one release from the band that has always stuck with me throughout the years as I’ve waffled on ‘Obscura’ quite a bit. Why would I bother with a new Gorguts album in 2013? Because of this album, primarily. Considered Dead is a solid album and is far too overlooked but I strongly prefer this record as -the- important release from this band.”

TITLE:Abject Offerings
LABEL(S):Restless Records

“France had a whole host of impressive death metal bands to choose from: Massacra, Loudblast, Agressor, No Return, Crusher, and perhaps my favorite of the lot Mercyless. By some accounts these guys were almost certainly a scene band that essentially fit in with their peers, but I was always impressed with how quickly they met the industry standard after a few barely there demo tapes. Their music had certain personality all their own by the time they recorded their first two albums. With a vocalist who could easily fill in for Martin Van Drunen and a riff style that made up middle ground between Sentenced, Sinister and Bolt Thrower this has been one of my favorite death metal albums since the moment I first heard it. It is unfortunate that basically every French death metal band went groove metal (or Fear Factory type stuff, even) around 1995 and Mercyless were no different. As dull as their later material is, Abject Offerings remains one of the best French death metal records ever recorded. The second album Coloured Funeral is even heavier and arguably better in some respects. Buy both.”

[Note: At this point Mercyless‘ “later material” consisted of ‘C.O.L.D.’ (1996) and ‘Sure to Be Pure’ (2000), this was written before ‘Unholy Black Splendor’ released.]

TITLE:The Nocturnal Silence
LABEL(S):Black Mark Productions

“While most associate Necrophobic with death metal that straddles the same line of melodic black metal that Dissection are (most often) credited with pioneering, their first album is a brutal and impressive monument of Swedish death metal. Their combination of Hell Awaits-era Slayer, Morbid Angel, and their own brand of oft-melodic death metal on The Nocturnal Silence is transcendent of all things sentient and absolutely perfect. The band themselves could never really recreate the style and substance of this album and would go on to make melodic black/death that’d less often push at the boundaries of evil heavy metal. This is perhaps one of the best metal albums to ever come out of Sweden for my own taste. The use of melody on tracks like “Before the Dawn” are a revelation in what death metal could be, and the powerful production sound really emphasizes the strong composition and performance on the album.”

LABEL(S):Combat Records

“The second Death album was my first “Whoa!” moment when getting into what was once considered obscure death metal. Death isn’t technically “obscure” today but in pressing beyond the bestseller/mainstream names (Deicide, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Entombed etc.) at the time. The real star of the show here is Chuck finally realizing a lot of the ideas that weren’t possible before, writing the album with Bill Andrews (who sounds like a bad drum machine) and performed the bass as well as all of the guitars. The sound and performances here aren’t as good as Human but these are my favorite tracks from any incarnation of Death. ‘Leprosy’ captures the intensity of their best demo tracks, and avoids a lot of the bad decisions made on Scream Bloody Gore and the afterthought of Massacre‘s material. I’d like to think my enjoyment of Leprosy comes from nostalgia but I have to admit very few death metal albums exemplify pure death metal in such a recognizable and succinct manner. Chuck‘s sense of simple ‘catchy’ moments was really in a class of his own and something lost to death metal during its most commercial phase to come.”

[Note: All remasters of this album are garbage, fuck all of them.]

TITLE:The Karelian Isthmus
LABEL(S):Relapse Records

“Discovering the first Amorphis album and the Privilege of Evil EP was immensely important in the formation of my taste in death metal. Their use of uniquely Finnish melody as the basis of their death metal style still stands out, and the production and guitar tone are untouchable despite some questionable remastering in the early 2000’s. The Karelian Isthmus was one of the first albums to convince me there was (or could be) something legitimately musical about death metal and it wasn’t just about what band played the fastest or most brutal songs. There is an ambitious maturity to this record that shows young talent already trying to find a path out of the stock standard death metal sub-genre, and the band would eventually make jumps towards progressive metal and rock soon after. I suppose that is the most telling thing about Amorphis, even when they did step away from death metal sounds they became a prog metal band… -not- a nu-metal band, -not- a groove metal band, and -not- an alterna-goth rock band like so many of their peers. I’ve yet to find an album that emulates the magic of this release successfully… Deathevokation and Gorement come close at times, I suppose.”

TITLE:Here in After
LABEL(S):Metal Blade Records

“In the five years between the monumental Dawn of Possession and their defining moment Here in After Immolation took the time to forge an entirely unique and original phrasal identity via atmospherically charged guitar work and intense grooves unlike anything else. They’ve stuck steadfast to this identity with such discipline since that it is easy to take that early work for granted after so many albums over the years. I have no way to really choose between the myriad of quality Immolation releases, more than half of which are flawless and majestic death metal beyond belief. Unholy Cult is fantastically twisted and arranged to be some sort of wild, progressive vortex of brutality. Failures for Gods and Close to a World Below are a refinement of Immolation‘s deeper exploration of vocal patternation, a period where they wrote their most ‘catchy’ material that begs for repeated listening. I think the most important, and my personal favorite Immolation release is yet the template for things to come in Here in After. The album is technically sound, still holds up, and has an anxious unpredictable air that the initiated death metal fan will recognize. It doesn’t get better than Immolation for this style of death metal, because no one else can do what they do.”

TITLE:Soulside Journey
LABEL(S):Peaceville Records

Darkthrone are, if nothing else, huge fans of all things heavy metal. At this earliest point in their career they were ambitiously pursuing death metal, as their interests were almost competitively focused on technical death metal and thrash. It is easy to overlook the impressive amount of talent showcased here simply because this is the band that never seemed to really take anything they did too seriously beyond this point. The songwriting here takes the basic sound of albums like Severed Survival, Lost Paradise and Dark Recollections then incorporates their own idiosyncratic melodic ideas and manages some surprisingly adept drumming. So many early death metal albums seemed focused on anxiously bludgeoning the listener at the time, but Darkthrone had a real talent for taking their songs on surprising twists and turns without seeming too eager or obvious with their structure. The pace is largely slow-to-mid and this really benefits the heavier atmospheric sections juxtaposed with the parts that are more technical. Every copy of this album I’ve bought, between 4-5 various issues/formats, sounds great.”

TITLE:Eroded Thoughts
LABEL(S):Grind Core International

“This is a perfect death metal album, for me. Everything that needs to be there is and every twist and turn entertains beyond the norm then and now. It manages to have the heavy pronounced riffing of early Unleashed, the filthy vigor of Severed Survival and a certain dynamic songwriting talent that is entirely their own. The variation found from song to song is structured as meticulously pieced together as albums like Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious but comparatively more fluid. The unpredictable but structured guitar riffing and rock influenced guitar solos also draw a loose Carcass/Finnish death influence… but could also be attributable to doom and/or thrash influences as well. Half of the album features a drummer better known from Cianide and in some ways this album has a pedigree in that sort of doom/death style but without entirely resting upon Celtic Frost riffing you’ll find in groups like Winter. Perhaps my favorite death metal album of all time as a whole but it is a hard distinction to make, a true “Top 10″ should be amorphous for anyone unless you’re really committed to a certain album for personal reasons.”

TITLE:The Ending Quest
LABEL(S):Crypta Records

“I think earlier I wrote that Necrophobic‘s first album is the best album to ever come out of Sweden and that is perhaps I forget to include album because it sounds rather Finnish in the grand scheme of things. But no, really The Ending Quest is the actual best death metal album to ever come out of Sweden, and perhaps my personal favorite of all time. Amorphis‘ first album was such an important imprint upon me early on and when I discovered Gorement it was as if everything that band had been doing was amplified and then filtered through a different, even more extreme lens. The real genius here lies in the both inventive songwriting and the masterful guitar tone/production. Songs here shift effortlessly between fast paced horrifying death and twisted atmospheric death/doom moments. The barrel chested vocals and down-tuned guitars recall the finer moments of Ceremonium to some degree, but the melody and watery lead guitars evoke the soul of better known Finnish bands. This one is really a perfect storm record for me, where everything is exactly right and the experience is flawless, infinitely enjoyable.”

[Note: Seek out the original mix/master, the remastered version erases the character and texture from the album for the sake of more bass in the mix.]

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