Death, Possessed and Suffocation would undoubtedly top any list of popular death metal bands, being among those known for their brutal style and never going through soft or melodic phases like many other bands have done.
Behemoth are one of the most original death metal bands around, combining black metal intensity with heathenistic themes into one groundbreaking band. Their latest album ‘Violence Unimagined’ is no doubt fantastic.
Cannibal Corpse are one of the premier death metal bands and have made significant waves within mainstream culture with their violent, gory music that centers on themes of murder, torture and cannibalism. Additionally, they’ve added influences from grindcore and thrash metal into their sound over the years; making Cannibal Corpse an excellent listening experience for anyone interested in extreme metal.
The band was first formed in 1988 and released their debut album Eaten Back To Life in 1990. Since then, they have released fifteen studio albums, two box sets, and four video albums; their extensive discography attests to their commitment to musical extremes and innovation. Their unrelentingly brutal approach to metal music earned them a reputation for pushing beyond acceptable genre boundaries, ultimately leading them to be banned in certain countries due to offensive lyrics or imagery in their music.
Over their long careers, the band has undergone many lineup changes; however, some members remain constant: bassist Alex Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz have provided consistency within the group and helped maintain its unique identity through its history.
Although they’ve experimented with various sounds over the years, Butchered At Birth are best known for their early albums; Butcherred At Birth and Tomb of the Mutilated are widely considered their signature releases and set the scene for their relentlessly brutal style of metal music. Although later albums such as Vile or Evisceration Plague don’t match those in terms of intensity, they still leave an impactful mark with barbed hooks and melodic progression.
Deicide has had an enormous influence on other death metal bands and helped create the genre, as well as being notorious for their offensive lyrics that have led them to be banned or sued by religious groups. Their performances combine extreme brutality with fast guitar riffs; making Deicide highly influential worldwide and winning them many fans along the way.
Deicide was founded in 1987 by drummer Steve Asheim and guitarist brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman as Carnage before adding bassist/vocalist Glen Benton and changing to Amon. Their first demo, Feasting the Beast, was released in 1989 on Roadrunner Records before their self-titled full-length debut was released a year later on Roadrunner. Both releases remain essential works within death metal music history containing some of its most powerful tracks ever released by any band.
Deicide has never strayed too far from their trademark harsh and brutal approach to extreme metal, even during brief excursions into more melodic extreme metal styles. After several years on Roadrunner Records, they made the switch to independent Earache Records with 2004’s Scars of the Crucifix; which would mark their final album with Hoffman brothers before their departure to re-form Amon shortly thereafter.
Though some songs on this album might sound repetitive, Deicide still put out an impressive effort with this release. Lunatic of God’s Creation opens the album strong with its cool double bass riff and Glen Benton’s demonic vocals while Compliments of Christ offers more modern death metal with some great riffs from Hoffman brothers. Overall, Deicide’s second effort should not be missed by any death metal fan!
Morbid Angel was among the pioneers who popularized death metal’s unique blend of thrash-based extreme metal. While bands like Death and Possessed had already established this sound, it wasn’t until Morbid Angel released its 1989 debut Altars of Madness that the music world fully realized its destructive power. Altars of Madness features various styles and sounds while standing out due to its extremely complex arrangement and guitarist Trey Azagthoth’s distinct riff writing style that set him apart from similar bands in his genre.
After Altars of Madness, Azagthoth began building their live stage presence. For years afterward, they toured extensively to hone their musical craft and further their sound on tour. When frontman David Vincent left unexpectedly, many fans believed the band may be over; thankfully though, Azagthoth quickly recruited another great replacement and released Formulas Fatal to the Flesh which showcased some darker sounds, yet still exuding Morbid Angel magic.
After the release of their eighth studio album, the band embarked on an extensive tour and made appearances at major metal festivals like Maryland Deathfest. In 2015, they returned with their ninth studio album Kingdoms Disdained which is considered their darkest album to date and includes some of their greatest songs such as “Piles of Little Arms”. An essential listen for any death metal fan!
Chuck Schuldiner and Death were eventually deemed the go-to band of death metal, yet Possessed were its true pioneers. Formed a full year before Mantas, their debut album Seven Churches is widely recognized as having coined the term “death metal”, as its title track featured brutality, speed, and macabre imagery that have since become hallmarks of death metal music.
Seven Churches features music that fuses multiple metal genres – including thrash and punk – together into an aggressive yet violent mix, but its most unique trait lies in how its members integrated dark and Satanic themes into their music, offering an ideal complement to its breakneck pace and relentless intensity.
Seven Churches was distinguished by tremolo picking and dissonant chord progressions on guitar, as well as strong drumming from Mike Browning that featured powerful blast beats that propelled each song forward, plus complex fills that added brutality and tension to its soundscape.
Even though this record is considered one of the first death metal albums ever created, its sound remains fresh and intense even today. Its youthful chaos and forward thinking continue to excite musicians while touching fans worldwide.
Seven Churches is an essential album for fans of extreme metal, particularly death metal. One of its most groundbreaking records to come from this subgenre of music, Seven Churches established the genre as we know it today and stands as a testimony to both extreme music’s potency and its practitioners’ dedication.
Bolt Thrower began as a heavy metal band in Birmingham, England in 1986 and took their name from one of their favorite wargaming characters. Influenced by Hardcore punk bands such as Slayer, Crass, and Discharge immediately following formation, Bolt Thrower recorded their first demo “In Battle There is No Law”. At first only Gavin Ward and Barry Thompson comprised this formation but soon gained drummer Andrew Whale and vocalist Alan West to complete the lineup.
Their next release was the ‘Cenotaph’ EP which represented an important shift in their sound. Gone were the rough edges and sloppy playing that had made their debut so distinct; replaced instead by more tightly wound, steamrolling songs featuring Baz Thomson’s expressive melodic guitar leads that would become signature elements in later work.
After this initial tour, several live shows were played including headlining spots at Grindcrusher tours featuring bands such as Napalm Death, Carcass, and Morbid Angel. Unfortunately this would mark the final time that Whale and Willetts played together; both would leave due to personal reasons later that year; while remaining members continued honing their sound.
“Mercenary”, their second full-length with Earache, was more focused and mature than its predecessor. While still possessing that furious youthful exuberance sought by their contemporaries, Mercenary featured tighter focus and controlled delivery; most importantly however, it highlighted their trademark percussive groove that set them apart from blastbeat hungry competitors; something best represented on songs like the galloping “Lest We Forget”, which boast thunderous, mosh-pit friendly riff-fests from beginning to end.