Death metal bands specialize in fast, aggressive music that often contains lyrics about murder, rape and decapitation; something which distinguishes it from other genres of rock music.
Chuck Schuldiner was known for creating songs with deep themes that combined aggression with melody – making Death stand out among their contemporaries.
1. Brutal music
Death metal music can be intense and unnerve some people, creating an uncomfortable listening experience – some may even fear listening to it! However, this decision ultimately lies within each individual. As you progress from rock music to heavy metal and death metal genres, the heavier genres will gradually become easier for you to appreciate over time. Just listen more frequently until your appreciation levels increase! Brutal music stands out with its distinct style, featuring fast guitars that are typically heavily distorted and low tuned, played using techniques such as palm mutes and tremolo picking, as well as hyper-fast double bass blast beats. Music of this genre can be very complex in terms of structure and composition; often using complex time signatures and very loud. Furthermore, its lyrics often address horror themes like death, murder, anatomy, Satanism and antireligion.
Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura and Napalm Death are some of the most notorious brutal metal bands and have been around for decades – masters of brutality that are known for their relentless and abrasive sound.
Other brutal metal bands to check out include Australian death metal acts like Sewercide, Dismember and Neurotic Messiah. All three bands specialize in brutal death metal; their style differs drastically from European bands that typically lean more toward melodic death metal. Sewercide’s 2016 album Immortalized In Suffering serves as an excellent representation of their musical style – featuring powerful clunky riffs and intense drumming that is both intense and deadly!
Death, Atheist, and Cynic were pioneers of technical death metal with jazz influences to create more modern styles of death metal music. While not as violent or intense as Cannibal Corpse or Meshuggah, Death Atheist Cynic still bring intense experiences into their performances.
Screaming vocals are an integral component of metal music, as they convey intensity and power while also conveying emotions like anger and sorrow. Screaming requires practice to master; many fans appreciate its effort as an indication of authenticity and talent – although other fans may prefer clean singing or other styles of vocals instead.
Numerous elements can influence the quality of metal screaming, including voice tone and breath control. While some artists find lower notes easier than higher ones to produce, others struggle with controlling their breath. Therefore it is vital that practice be conducted using various techniques and listening to songs with an array of vocal sounds in order to expand vocal range and style for greater versatility in metal singing.
Screaming styles used in metal can vary significantly, depending on each band’s musical direction and sound. Early death metal bands primarily screamed their lyrics while more recent bands have used multiple variations of screaming and growling to produce an intense sound – the vocalists of Carnifex use growls, high-pitched shrieks, and tunnel throat screams to produce this striking sound.
Some death metal bands employ unconventional singing styles to distinguish their music from that of others. Horrendous of Philadelphia is one such band, using both screamo and progressive death metal influences to craft an eclectic genre of their own music; their 2018 album Idol features dreamy interludes but heavy riffs that fans of death metal appreciate. Pyrrhon also utilize unconventional vocal techniques in their music – their frenetic yet brutal music has long been supported by death metal fans worldwide.
Metal music may feature fast, growling instruments, but what really sets these songs apart are their lyrics. Metal can feature very dark, violent, and anarchistic lyrics that may be offensive to some listeners; ultimately it’s up to each individual listener whether or not they choose this style of music as their preference.
Death metal rock lyrics tend to be written first before being put to music, although other bands might start by creating the music and then writing their lyrics around that style of music. No matter the method chosen, it is essential that lyrics don’t stray too far from what was originally written down.
Metal songs cover an expansive spectrum of topics in their lyrics, from spirituality to gore. Many metal bands express an anti-establishment sentiment through their music; others use lyrics as a platform to criticize church and religion more generally – Megadeth’s “God Is a Lie” is one such track which could prove uncomfortable listening for those not used to hearing metal’s distinctive lyrical style.
Other bands tend to explore the mythology and folklore of their homelands with lyrics written either directly in their native languages or archaic ones like Old Norse. Some bands like black metal group Mayhem even take an anthropological approach, exploring dark aspects of human history through their lyrics.
Death metal guitars can be used in numerous ways, from heavy distortion to palm muting and tremolo picking techniques for rhythm guitars; bass guitar, and drum kit typically comprise the typical setup. Rhythm guitarists employ palm muting and tremolo picking techniques while lead guitarists may use whammy bar effects and dive bombs for added drama in their playing; music may feature any number of time signature changes and chord progressions to complete its soundscape.
A high-quality death metal guitar will have a deep and dark tone that complements the heavy sounds of its genre. Additionally, these instruments should be capable of handling both clean and heavily distorted tones; plus be able to sustain for extended periods. Guitars with neck through bodies tend to have longer sustain than bolt-on neck models while using different tonewoods can produce different tones altogether.
Example: A basswood body paired with a mahogany neck will produce more of a natural sound than one made of maple. Furthermore, neck through guitars tend to be more durable than their bolt-on counterparts.
The ideal guitars for death metal will be capable of withstanding brutal riffing, fast picking and low shrieks without becoming worn down by playing them for extended periods. Their distinctive look will let listeners know what kind of music is being produced – for instance a Fender Telecaster shape will have more traditional sound compared to one with a Strat shape; furthermore its smaller body makes playing easier for shorter players and accommodates lower notes than would otherwise be achievable on six string instruments. Other options for guitars may include seven string models which enable players to reach notes not possible on six string instruments – providing for higher notes than would otherwise be reached through conventional six string instruments alone.
Bass guitar is an integral component of all forms of metal music, yet death metal requires it to provide its distinctive high-pitched, distorted and low-tuned sounds. As well as having a deep sound that stands out from guitar solos in the mix, the bass should also easily distinguishable from guitar chords while adding percussive elements and rhythmic support that helps anchor songs with strong senses of rhythm and timing.
A bass is usually played using an amplifier with a high-output distortion pedal that boosts signal strength and adds some additional saturation to its tone. This creates the distinctive chugging sound so beloved by metal fans; additionally, having good attack and being able to articulate legato lines accurately are also keys for successful playing of bass guitar music. A thicker pick may help achieve these objectives as thinner ones may lack sufficient power in faster passages of music.
Early death metal bands such as Britain’s Venom and America’s Slayer established the core principles of this subgenre, which features fast and heavy music with violent themes and imagery. Band members typically include two guitarists, a vocalist, and a drum kit equipped with double bass drums.
Music with complex harmonic progressions or song structures that go beyond the standard verse-chorus format may require fast changes in tempo, key signature and time signature for audiences to keep up with. These variations in tempi can make listening challenging!
Newcomers to the scene can be just as effective at producing crushing and brutal sounds than veterans, such as Portland’s Coffin Rot. Combining elements of gore metal, thrash and black metal to craft their unique brand of death metal that’s both aggressive and melodic is an example. Zealot Cult from Ireland combine early death metal sounds with Morbid Angel-like intensity on their 2019 album Enraged and Unbound and create a relentless fury that cannot be denied.