Death metal is one genre that takes things to the extreme. From the deep growls, screams, and shrieks. At times sounding like a pig being slaughtered this genre is for a select few. The chosen few will argue with some of these choices. But at the end of the day, it is all a matter of opinion and all listed here are solid as a cement truck.
Branching out to subgenres such as technical and melodic death metal, deathcore and death’ n roll here we only focus on strict death metal. The first three honourable mentions are Aussie, last five are international acts, so pull out a cold one and bang that head of yours till you are in need of a neck brace.
And when they say ’til death do us part’ what they mean is for you to get your fill of Death Metal til the day you die. Even then take it to the grave when the time comes that you are six feet under!
Damaged: Do Not Spit (1993)
Abramelin: Abramelin (1995)
Crypt: El Nino (1998)
Bolt Thrower: War Master (1991)
Immolation: Dawn of Possession (1991)
Bloodbath: Resurrection Through Carnage (2002)
Pestilence: Testimony of the Ancients (1991)
Malevolent Creation: The Ten Commandments (1991)
Top 10 Death Metal Albums
10 . Cryptopsy: None So Vile (1996)
Crazy Canadians Cryptopsy, slay on this beast of a record, None So Vile. This second offering to the death metal community stands the test of times as one the greats. The stellar line-up of Lord Worm providing guttural vocals, accompanied by the bone crushing riffs of Jon Levasseur and Eric Langlois on guitar and bass respectively. The blast-beats of one Flo Mounier are a standout on the record. Use of piano adds a dark atmosphere to the death on display. Lord Worm wouldn’t return until the fifth release, Once Was Not (2005) and it was also the debut of bassist Langlois.
Standout Tracks: Phobophile, Benedictine Convulsions
9. Six Feet Under: Maximum Violence (1999)
After Chris Barnes left Cannibal Corpse he formed Six Feet Under. What started as a side project became a real thing after Allen West left to rejoin Obituary. West was replaced by Steve Swanson who remains guitarist since joining in 1998. Swanson joined bassist, Terry Bulter, who he had played with before in Massacre between 1991 and 2007. Barnes returned to his death roots with violent themes more familiar to his Cannibal Corpse days. An unlikely cover of War Machine by Kiss and becoming part of the Vans Warped Tour lineup brought up the whole Graveyard Classics trilogy.
Standout Tracks: Victim of The Paranoid, Bonesaw, Feasting on the Blood of the Insane
8. Deicide: Serpents of the Light (1997)
The fourth album from American heavy hitters, Deicide; Serpents of the Light saw the classic lineup, which featured the guitar duo of the Hoffman brothers, Brian and Eric, and Steve Asheim on drums. Lead by crazed frontman/bassist Glen Benton, giving his best vocal performance on this record. A strong Anti-Christian theme is present with tracks such as Bastards of Christ, Blame it on God and Believe the Lie. The pope definitely won’t be cranking this one anytime soon.
Standout tracks: Serpents of the Light, Blame it on God.
7. Gorguts: Considered Dead (1991)
The debut for Canadian death metal band Gorguts, saw a number of guests including guest vocals from Chris Barnes (Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under) on Rottenatomy, Bodily Corrupted, Hematological Allergy; and a guitar solo by James Murphy (Death, Obituary, Testament) on final track Inoculated Life. The lineup consisted of Luc Lemay on vocals/acoustic guitar, Sylvain Marcoux on lead guitar, Eric Giguere on bass and Stephane Provencher on drums. Always putting on one hell of a live show, Lemay is the only original member today.
Standout tracks: Stiff and Cold, Inoculated Life, Waste of Mortality, Drifting Remains.
6. Suffocation: Pierced from Within (1995)
The third album from New York natives, Suffocation saw the lineup of vocalist Frank Mullen, guitarists Terrence Hobbs, Doug Cerrito, bassist Chris Richards and Doug Bohn who replaced Mike Smith on drums. Mullen and Hobbs are the only remaining members of this lineup. The album had better production than the previous releases thanks to Scott Burns. Both Synthetically Revived and Breeding the Spawn were rerecorded taken off The Human Waste and Breeding the Spawn EP’s respectively. This is a death metal classic one must have in their collection.
Standout tracks: Thrones of Blood, Depths of Depravity, Brood of Hatred.
5. Morbid Angel: Altars of Madness (1989)
Florida-based death metallers, Morbid Angel have released a number of brilliant releases however their debut, Altars of Madness really hits the nail on the head with the influence it has had on many bands of the genre. The distinct vocals of bassist David Vincent, guitar duo Trey Azagthoth, Richard Brunelle and drummer Pete Sandoval set the bar for what is to be a definite classic. The album is referred to as the greatest death metal record of all time by Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), taking the song title off one of the tracks, naming Opeth‘s Damnation (2003) after it.
Standout tracks: Immortal Rites, Damnation, Suffocation.
4. Carcass: Necroticism- Descanting the Insalubrious (1991)
Extreme metal from the UK cannot be done by anyone better than Carcass. Jeffrey Walker sings mainly about economical ways to dispose of dead bodies on their third release. When it comes to brutal lyrics along with Barnes and Corpsegrinder, Walker is your man. The album featured the legendary lineup of guitar duo, Bill Steer, Michael Amott (Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars) and drummer Ken Owen.
Standout tracks: Corporal Jigsore Quandary, Symposium of Sickness, Pedigree Butchery, Incarnated Solvent Abuse
3. Cannibal Corpse: The Bleeding (1994)
The Bleeding was the final album to feature Chris Barnes on vocals and is the bestselling Cannibal Corpse record to date. Being their fourth release, it was also the first to feature guitarist Rob Barrett. Jack Owen accompanied Barrett on guitar, with bassist, Alex Webster, and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, leading the groove. The music video for Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead was also featured in Beavis and Butthead, which is a greater achievement than winning a grammy. Barnes was replaced by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, having recorded nine albums since Vile (1996), most recently with A Skeletal Domain(2014). Barnes continues as vocalist for Six Feet Under.
Standout tracks: Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead, Fucked with a Knife, Stripped, Raped and Strangled
2. Obituary: Slowly We Rot (1989)
The debut for Florida-based Death metal veterans, Obituary who still kick-ass to this day, is an instant classic. The band’s heaviest release was also the only record with all guitars in standard E tuning. No down tuning was needed for this beast of a record and it stands the test of time as one of the greats. The distinct vocal delivery of John Tardy is unlike any of his peers. Brother Donald Tardy has his own precise style of drumming which is a standout. This is the only album to feature Daniel Tucker on bass and the last for guitarist Allen West, who would make his return on The End Complete (1992).
Standout tracks: Internal Bleeding, Til Death, Slowly We Rot, Bloodsoaked
1. Death: The Sound of Perseverance (1998)
Sadly this would be the final album released by Death. It is near impossible to categorize Death albums as they are all classics in their own right. Their seventh release featured the most technical guitar playing by the late Chuck Schuldiner. With so many standout tracks on the album, it made it easier to choose the ultimate Death record. Over the years lineup changes have been a constant with the likes of drum extraordinaire Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Testament) and veteran bassist Terry Butler (Obituary, Massacre, Six Feet Under)., among others. The final lineup included Shannon Hamm who accompanied Schuldiner on guitar, bassist Scott Clendenin and drummer Richard Christy.The significance of this lineup was that they all joined Schuldiner in progressive metal work in the form of the short-lived Control Denied, releasing The Fragile Art of Existence (1999). The Judas Priest cover even saw guitar solos rewritten by Schuldiner. In this writer’s humble opinion, although the greatest Death album will always cause great debate, nobody could argue that Schuldiner was the best at his game and nobody will ever come close. Chuck is greatly missed by the metal community, friends, family, and fans worldwide, leaving a legacy behind… \m/
Standout tracks: Scavenger of Human Sorrow, Bite the Pain, Spirit Crusher, Flesh and the Power It Holds, Painkiller