Coroner’s Report – 30 Under-Enjoyed Death Metal Gems | ca. 2011

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 2011, the original intent of this list was to shore up rare death metal releases that were deserving of reissues or more recognition in general. Some of my favorite albums included on my “Top 30 Favorite Death Metal” list are also included here, this list predates that one by two years. Do not write to me and suggest “this has already been reissued/remastered“, this is not an evolving document. The value I see in this list today is perhaps some indication that documentation of rare releases was not as common ten years ago, and even less common in the 2000’s. Today nostalgia is arguably equally important to the “new what’s next” but it really was not such a crucial part of death metal’s history until the last twenty years when certain upstart labels began to regenerate underground death metal culture through ‘old school’ death metal appreciation. To think that albums like ‘Music of Melkor‘ are readily available today when they were rare as shit for 20+ years before should blow your mind if you’re into this stuff.

Sparkly, rare, shiny and old… haggard, wasted… rotten, decaying. Pay tribute to the ancient ones, check out some shit you might not know about. I’m not going to sort these but they are here because they are underrated & good. How good something is trumps how underrated it is, how underrated it is cannot be quantified.


ARTIST:DECREPIT
TITLE:Acrimonium
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Dismal Records, 1997

“Had to kick things off with an incredible album cover. This one has a classic United States specific death metal sound that resembles Incantation (around this time period) to a certain degree but functions as a black metal band nonetheless, often hitting upon some of the melodic ideas that Abominant did around this same time (1997-2002). If you crack open the booklet it is full of corpse-painted fellowes so, I don’t know if they considered themselves black metal at that point. Dunno the full history of the band but this record is ridiculously underrated. See also: Lethal Prayer.”


ARTIST:CADUCITY
TITLE:The Weiliaon Wielder Quest
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Shiver Records, 1995

“The first of several Shiver Records releases that’ve long been unattended, this debut from Belgium-based death metal band Caducity is a full concept album with a unique fantasy narrative and progressive metal inspired arrangements. Among the least known and most original death metal groups of the late 90’s, most people might tangentially recognize their lauded Whirler of Fate album from 1996 but this debut is often regarded (or ignored) as its weirder little brother. The album cover looks like an illustration of a cell from an early 90’s microbiology text and the concept of the album is hard to figure through to start but this is an album that has stood the test of time for its unique approach. If you are a fan of surrealistic obscure death metal a la Wicked Innocence, Timeghoul, etc. definitely check these guys out too. Not sure? Listen to the entirety of “The Whimsical Crafts of Enchantment” and get back to me.”

[Note: The band have since made their discography available via Bandcamp but no official reissues of this first album.]


ARTIST:INFERNAL
TITLE:Drowning in the Chalice of Sin
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):R.S.L. Records, 1993

Infernal‘s first album is arguably obscure and forgotten for decent enough reasons; The production is thin, drum sound is flat, and by the time their follow-up released most people interested in Brazilian death metal wanted something more Krisiun-esque. This is a shame because their music is well worth looking past some technical issues. Drowning… is a brutal, thrash influenced (the band started in 1986) death metal record that could be likened to Deicide and Morbid Angel in some respects minus the production values, plus a drum machine. Since I can overlook most of these issues of sonic fidelity for bands like Headhunter D.C. then I can happily warm up to Infernal‘s sound here. Surprisingly enough, their newest material has replaced the guitars with an electric, distorted, violin.”

[Note: The band had broken up in 2008, a reissue is not likely. Check out ‘Ritual Humiliation’, 2001 as well.]


ARTIST:RISE
TITLE:Shadow of Ruins
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Nigma Records, 1996

“Another great United States death metal album with a lot of its own style and tons of riffs. These guys are not very typical for 1996, tough they were often lumped in with black/death metal circles despite not featuring any black metal elements. Some of the later albums have keyboards but I dunno if that should count. Instead you get a brutal (but not slamming brutal) inventive death metal album with a dark, sinister sense of purpose. There is no shortage of body-disconnected, altar smashing and sullen death metal riffing on this album.”


ARTIST:PROTECTOR
TITLE:A Shedding of Skin
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Major Records Intl., 1991

“Once this band had finally gone full bore death/thrash they suddenly cranked out one of the best death metal albums to ever come from Germany. While rooted in thrash metal structures to some degree A Shedding of Skin establishes itself well within the death metal sub-genre with riffing that runs the gamut of Messiah-style ripping (“Doomed to Failure”) and Pestilence-like trilling (title track) and ferocity (“Whom Gods Destroy”). It all works really well, so if you’re a death metal fan this is one you should eat up.”

[Note: High Roller Records has really done a great thing with their archives/remasters of Protector’s discography, including this album since ~2016]


ARTIST:MASACRE
TITLE:Sacro
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Self-Released

“You couldn’t necessarily argue that Masacre have gone unnoticed, they are well regarded, but you don’t see a ton of love for their early discography outside of South America and this is a shame. Despite being a long running, active death metal band from a country not known for much old school death metal (Colombia) you’d think this would be just another bestial puncher. It isn’t. Frantic blasts and screeching/roaring vocal timbre provide some energetic malevolence to start but it is the clattering blasts and thrash-rooted riffs that make this a somewhat unique death metal album. I would have picked their first album Requiem but I find it a mostly in the same death/thrash style but less accessible recording quality.”


ARTIST:SHUB NIGGURATH
TITLE:The Kinglike Celebration (Final Aeon on Earth)
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Oz Productions, 1997

“Mexico’s death metal output is pretty well hidden from us uneducated United States idiots due to the language barrier and short runs of records which are owned by large corporate labels but, the bands spawned within tend to be worth remembering. Shub Niggurath are an interesting group in that they’ve been around for quite a while and their sound has long danced between thrash, death metal and some really impressive black metal moments. Their modus can be difficult to grasp at first and I think that I why I’d fixated on their releases right away, the compositions seem to stalk the listeners ear and often the central theme of the song/album is not always what it seems. Emphasis is on black metal influences here keep the fiery death/thrash sound of the previous album alive while expanding their sound.”

[Note: Reissued by End of the Light in 2012 and a few times since.]


ARTIST:CORPUS ROTTUS
TITLE:Rituals of Silence
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Damnation, 1992

“This is what underground United States death metal is all about. A band with some real style and substance that seems entirely unaffected by European trends of the time instead pulling from New York/East coast death metal were coming up with around then. Rituals of Silence is pretty much relentless and that is really its only fault, the effect is sheer brutality and I’m left wanting a break after the first six songs… or at least some guitar solos to break some of the songs up. Still, a fine example of pure death metal of the era.”


ARTIST:NO RETURN
TITLE:Contamination Rises
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Semetery Records, 1991

“After putting out one of the best thrash metal albums of all time (Psychological Torment) this French band came back with this thrashing Napalm Death (think Harmony Corruption, but that might just be the Morrisound production…) inspired death metal album. This is purely old school death metal to my ear and remains an old favorite amongst the bevvy of early 90’s French death metal, energetic and thrash inspired goodness. I don’t think it is underrated but it is definitely no longer in print.”


ARTIST:THE FLESH
TITLE:Storming the Heavens’ Gate
TYPE:EP
LABEL(S):Arctic Serenades, 1996

“Nowadays Norwegian death metal’s history has been plumbed of its goods but that wasn’t the case for a couple of decades, wherein a lot of musicians left their late 80’s/early 90’s death metal demo days in the attic. The Flesh‘s sole EP is definitely an obscure release that few people bother with because it was released in the late 90’s and that isn’t typically the land of riffs and roaring. With long 7+ minutes songs and a “primitive” death metal style, it makes sense why Storming the Heavens Gate would be overlooked upon casual listen. Upon closer listen this doomed-out and brutal punching EP had a lot of bright ideas that were worth expanding upon, such as the outro to “Inadvertent Battery”. The track “Inhuman Misbehavior” is my favorite here as it showcases The Flesh were at their best incorporating death/doom ideas into their sound.”

[Note: Text for this entry was edited/corrected. Reissued/remastered by Endless Desperation Productions in 2015.]


ARTIST:AFTERLIFE
TITLE:Surreality
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Grind Core Intl., 1992

“If you check out a list of the first ten records on Grind Core records you’ll see they were onto something special right off the bat, the the second release in particular was Afterlife‘s Surreality. Though most folks consider this record imbued with the typical Midwest style of death metal at the time I disagree, most bands were a bit closer to Cannibal Corpse or just death/thrash, but Surreality always stood out in mind as a somewhat technical and uniquely voiced death metal band for the time with an ambitious bassist, balancing prog-death skill with brutality. The muffled production is an issue for some but this isn’t such a hindrance when the album is cranked. Virtuosic performances, incredible riffcraft, skilled brutality, etc. everything about this record embodies what I love about death metal circa 1992.”

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=5zC-6ntdDWU&list=OLAK5uy_n3IVkQZlwaMDLLP7-CUzS9tTXG56lPsAo


ARTIST:INVERTED
TITLE:The Shadowlands
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Shiver Records, 1996

“Another release from Belgium-based Shiver Records which has not been well cared for in terms of reissues. Inverted is one of few anomalous 90’s Swedish death metal entities in the sense that they were one of very few bands that didn’t go for pure melodeath or Sunlight Studios HM-2 driven sound. Instead this is a mix of North American and decidedly Finnish riffing with some throat-spewing brutality thrown in for good measure. Like any well rounded death metal riff machine they combine melody, brutality, and fluid ideas to put out a release with personality and heaviness. It isn’t exactly Fornever Laid to Rest nor is it Slumber of Sullen Eyes but it does hold up for similar reasons. Could use a more present mix, but the hollow clangor of the guitars gives the music a certain personality that works well enough and the melodic pieces here should appeal to folks who like that early No Fashion sound as well.”

[Note: This album was remastered by a Brazilian label in 2017 but I am not sure it is official. Their first EP was released on Wild Rags, similar praise for that one as well as their second album from 1997.]


ARTIST:DEATH SQUAD
TITLE:Into the Crypt
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Self-Released, 1994

“This band were primarily DIY types and the only reason I had a copy of this record was because they had it up on a website for free at one point. Death Squad were unknown enough that I had to add a bunch of info and stuff for them. [To a Discogs-style database] and I’d say that is testament enough to how under-appreciated they are. I think if you enjoyed Burial‘s Relinquished Souls this will be similarly up your alley but with a more insane and thrashing feeling. Think along the lines of loud, Christ-raping thrash/death bands like Altar (Netherlands) but still rooted in late 80’s death metal. Into the Crypt admittedly starts off a little choppy, but quickly gets into a commendable groove.”


ARTIST:DISCIPLES OF POWER
TITLE:Ominous Prophecy
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Fringe Product

“I think I called this band the “death/thrash Thin Lizzy” or something to that effect in a different review. Well, I was a little off the mark but it fits to a certain extent on this album. The band was Canadian thus everything about them was unique in the hands of main songwriter/performer Hart Bachmier, landing somewhere between the excellent classic thrash of their debut album and the more intricate death metal of their follow up Invincible Enemy. This was my go-to album on road trips during my first year of college and I can’t help but be taken back in time every time I listen to it but beyond that nostalgia this is the sort of record that only improves over time thanks to its incredible strings of riffs and quick-turning movement.”

[Note: Reissued by Blood Harvest Records/Vic Records in 2018. This is one of my favorite all-time extreme metal records.]


ARTIST:CREMATION
TITLE:Retaliation
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Self-Released, 2002

“Featuring more recent Thanatos guitarist Paul Bayaans, whom I believe is also in Hail of Bullets, this late 90’s demo intensive project featured a great mix of technique, heaviness and even some adventurous melody. Think of this as a mixture of Death Symbolic style guitar play but in a more raw context, something similar to the second album from Atrocity (Germany). This band must have been a side project for quite some time as some of these songs were demoed as early as 1995, the resulting album would have fit into the Dutch death metal scene back in 1992 though.”

[Note: Vic Records reissued this in 2016. Hail to Vic Records and labels like The Crypt for their work. Still one of my favorite albums. I’ve long wanted to do a demo compilation/box set from this band, but most tapes are album length and public interest is probably ultra-limited.]


ARTIST:HEADHUNTER D.C.
TITLE:Punishment at Dawn
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Cogumelo Records, 1993

“Now, this album is not without it’s flaws. Any copy you’re likely to acquire will be a vinyl-to-mp3 conversion that is a bit scratched and less than dynamic sounding. Beneath the layers of surface noise this is one of the better circa 1993 death metal album from Brazil. The sound of the snare leaves a little to be desired at times, but great vocals and thrashing tunnel-brained guitar riffs keep things interesting. Most anything they’ve released is high quality as well but I’ve never liked their 1991 debut all that much. See also: early Immolation, Sadism.”

[Note: Cogumelo Records reissued/remastered this album in 2011 but it hadn’t made its way to the states when this was written.]


ARTIST:MORTAL SLAUGHTER
TITLE:Lepers
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Baron Records

“One of my favorites from the early 90’s Baron Records releases, most of which I would never have known without “zuchu666“. What if you crammed Malevolent Creation Retribution [drumming] , Pestilence Testimony of the Ancients [vocals, guitar] and Death Leprosy [pacing, guitar riffs] into one disc and told them to rip shit up like it is 1989? It would sound something like Mortal Slaughter‘s Lepers. This album is criminally under-appreciated, sure it wasn’t groundbreaking or all that original… but it has an amazing sound and is full of the kind of brutal death/thrash riffs that death metal fans live for. Don’t just grab this one, though, their 1992 demo tape Destiny is an even more overlooked 40 minute album in and of itself.”


ARTIST:GHOST
TITLE:The Lost of Mercy
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Loud Out Records, 1994

“As far as I know Ghost were the first pure death metal band to form in Gdańsk, Poland when they started in 1988, releasing several thrash/grindcore influenced demos before their 1993 ‘Bad Obsession’ demo tape received some local notice. ‘The Lost of Mercy’ manages to be an appropriately full-ranged death metal album for 1994 with plenty of fast-thrashing riffs, slow doomed-out lunges, and plenty of its own intoxicating atmosphere. The whole thing arrives with serious force, a certain brutal-yet-intrepid conviction which I believe gives good reason as to why it has been archived with care more recently.”

[Note: This was originally added to the list without text/description, this text was written in 2021. Bootlegged in 2011, officially reissued in 2017.]


ARTIST:CANKER
TITLE:Physical
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Escila, 1994

“Hmm, early 90’s death metal from Spain? Oh, death/thrash?! Well, I’ve heard a lot of it and it usually sounds like ass. Canker comes from the thrash metal school of the riff, taking more cues from Kreator and Sepultura for their unique sound but still keeping things in the death metal realm 75% of the time. The first three tracks on this album just blow me away even after several years of overplaying the album. Interestingly enough this was recorded in Spain but mastered at Sunlight Studios. The production sounds surprisingly slick and the riffs groove too fuckin’ hard.”

[Note: Most copies these days which you can access online are from a 2014 remaster, I prefer the original CD’s sound and it should not be impossible to find. Reissued many times over the years.]


ARTIST:DEATH OATH
TITLE:Pernicious Conjure
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Hades Records

“A brilliant cassette from a decidedly Islamic city in the center of Turkey. I’d say this band had a unique sound and approach to riffing in the realm of death metal. Rooted in conventions but doing their own sort of ‘evil thrashing’ thing much the same. If you like Slavic death/thrash of the late 80’s and German thrash metal in general there is a lot to like here in terms of riffs. I was in contact with a member of this band for several years but we never managed to get a copy of the tape shipped over to the states at the time, still bummed about that.”

[Note: #1 album among many on this list that I would reissue if I had access.]


ARTIST:LETHAL PRAYER
TITLE:Spiritual Decay
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Decaying Filth, 1996

Spiritual Decay starts off sounding like it’ll be a riff on Onward to Golgotha then takes a turn towards black/death metal a la Acheron, then takes a turn towards Here In After then starts to incorporate thrash metal… all while managing to form melodic and blasphemic pieces. It is an amazing and somewhat rare death metal album that remains one-of-a-kind, probably due to being written between 1992-1995 and stretching between so many interests as a result. Rumor is that Mike Browning played the drums on this album, and I could believe that, but I’ve never confirmed this. One of the darkest, most inspired pieces of music I’ve ever come across.”


ARTIST:MOURNING
TITLE:Greetings From Hell
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Foundation 2000, 1993

“Great death/doom album. Has big yet sparse sound that creates an atmosphere I’m not sure was around much in 1993 so much as it was in the late 80’s. The usual shorthand mention of this band is something along the lines of Cianide a more “death metal” version of early Celtic Frost influenced bands like Winter, or Dream Death. Highly under-listened to.”

[Note: I covered this for a throwback column a while back. Use the search button on the site to find it.]


ARTIST:DEHYDRATED
TITLE:Ideas
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Metal Age Productions, 1997

“Once you hit track number two you’ll know you’ve landed upon something special (obviously the cover art was NOT an indication of quality). Naked woman getting attacked by pterodactyl bugs? Sure. This is a great death metal album from Slovakia, wherein Dehydrated began leaning away from their deathgrind/goregrind beginnings on this ‘brutal death’ metal album. The band had taken about six years to gear up for this intense album, their style evolved from a more brutal grindcore sound to brutal death metal… then for this release they kicked the musicianship up a notch with a better bassist and put out a release that seems influenced by the second Pestilence album to some degree. The bassist’s work on this album is generally fantastic when it crops up. If you like European post-‘Symphonies of Sickness’ deathgrind check out their split demo/album with Bestialit circa 1994.”


ARTIST:CRUSHER
TITLE:Corporal Punishment
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Noise Intl./Semetery, 1992

“French folks put out some really solid death metal at the peak of the 80’s and this one is most often overlooked due to being “less original” than groups like Agressor or No Return. The style here actually resembles some mid-western death metal bands, and a touch of Harmony Corruption and Utopia Banished-era Napalm Death. The riffing is great in that it jumps around with a sort of energetic feel yet avoids any sort of progressive touch, hammering away riffs/grooves throughout. Their follow up Act II: Undermine would show the band making big improvements to their sound, but I prefer the straight-forward brutality of this album.”


ARTIST:SADISM
TITLE:Tribulated Bells
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Toxic Records, 1992

“Once in a while Chile’s old school death metal cache opens and an under-appreciated gem like this is reissued.* Tribulated Bells an absolutely crushing Nocturnus-esque death metal album that should impress if you are familiar with the band Mortem (Peru) although these guys have their own rhythm entirely. This band would go on to release several more albums while taking on a less thrash influenced sound. Songs like “Transcanalized” and “Burning Inside” are still blow me away every time I hear them. It is hard to believe this album doesn’t get more attention from death metal fans. If you’re uppity about the raw sound then try the remasters.”

[Note: Remastered 2004, Reissued 2008, Vinyl edition 2021.]


ARTIST:BURIAL
TITLE:Relinquished Souls
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):West Virginia Records, 1993

Burial‘s little known Relinquished Souls is one of the better death metal albums made in this style, which makes it difficult to discern exactly why it’d gotten lost in the shuffle of Netherlands death metal royalty during such a prime era for this stuff. Perhaps because it is distinctly influenced by Florida’s early crew and that’d become old hat to some degree by then. If you’re not familiar, their sound lands somewhere nearby the first Brutality album and ‘Spiritual Healing’.”

[Note: The text for this entry has been edited for errors. Reissued by Memento Mori circa 2012. It has been re-pressed many times since.]


ARTIST:MORGUE
TITLE:Eroded Thoughts
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Grind Core Intl., 1993

Morgue‘s Eroded Thoughts is probably the number one least appreciated death metal album I’ve come across and likely because it suits my taste rather than the norm’s. All the swagger of a band like Autopsy coupled with the meaty, memorable riffing of Unleashed and toss in a touch of Winter-like doom (sped up a bit, of course) and that is vaguely how I’d describe this band’s sound. Each song is brilliantly composed, each riff has a purpose and a relationship to the other portions of the song.”

[Note: Reissued by Dark Descent Records/The Crypt in 2014]


ARTIST:KRABATHOR
TITLE:Only Our Death Is Welcome…
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Monitor Records, 1992

Krabathor should be quite well known for their notable evolution from mid-80’s thrash metal incarnations through their late 80’s transformation into a death/thrash metal band. This just isn’t the case for whatever reason. Before they went pure death metal with their infamous 1993 sophomore release ‘Cool Mortification’ they put out this debut full-length, a death/thrash metal record that is decidedly mid-paced and heavy on shredding lead guitars. Interested in this sound? I’ll be working on a “behind the Iron Curtain” thrash metal list and will be covering Krabathor‘s early sound there.”

[Note: This was originally added to the list without text/description, this text was written in 2021. Monster Nation reissued the album in 2014 in very limited quantities.]


ARTIST:INFECTED VIRULENCE
TITLE:Music of Melkor
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Self-Released, 1994

“You can scratch ‘Silmarillion-themed German old school death metal’ off of your bucket list if you’re not already familiar with this impressive band’s discography. What to expect from the music? Something similar to Asphyx, early 90’s Bolt Thrower, and even a bit of 80’s Obituary. Limited to 300 copies and self-released, this is just one of many German death metal records which many folks had no access to for ages until the internet began scouring folks collections for rips of rare albums. Check out their 1997 EP wherein they make the full transition to completely terrible shit.”

[Note: This was originally added to the list without text/description, this text was written in 2021. Raw Skulls Recordz reissued the album in 2016.]


ARTIST:MANGLED TORSOS
TITLE:Godless
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Morbid Records, 1995

“The second full-length from this German death metal band was not at all the sequel to ‘Drawings of the Dead’ that people wanted, and to be fair few people gave a damn about that first album until people began to really key into Morbid Records‘ fantastic discography. ‘Godless’ must’ve been progressive metal at the time, perhaps having heard Opeth and Tiamat while also touching upon some of Paradise Lost‘s shift to death metal-attuned heavy rock in the early 90’s. “Keep Me Apart” has this Rollins Band kind of vibe that’ll surely have some leaning hard to slap this shit off, but I like this record. To some it’d long sit as a relic of the push for ex-death metal towards gothic doom phenomenon of the time but this record is far more of a freakout than that’d suggest.”

[Note: This was originally added to the list without text/description, this text was written in 2021.]


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