This will be a section where I'll obviously show my personal preference over different concepts. Of course, it'll be a good indication of what I'm listening to during a certain time frame. As you may see, I've been digging some good old school death metal recently and, thus, I decided to share here some of my weaknesses which I feel don't get the attention they deserve. This won't probably be the last time that a make a list within the realm of death metal, but as a first experience, please enjoy some of my personal unsung death metal classics.
- Luciferion: "Demonication: the Manifest" (1994 Listenable Records)
I came across this album by chance during my formative years around 1995/1996 when I was getting into the black and death metal scenes and has remained a personal favorite ever since. I've seen some critizicing around the album because of the strong resemblance to Deicide and Morbid Angel and, yes, it bears a big similitude with both of them, but they somehow take that approach to a different level introducing melodic arrangements, keyboards and progressive interludes. From a very recognizable base they create something quite personal which really stands the test of time more than 20 years later. Nice, and quite original cover by Kristian "Necrolord" Wåhlin.
- Resurrection: "Embalmed Existence" (1993 Nuclear Blast Records)
This was a certain case of bad timing. By 1993 everything was said and done in the Tampa death metal scene and Resurrection where for sure one of the last few to arrive at the party. All in all, this is a perfect example of pure USDM, technically proficient, wonderfully produced by Scott Burns (I tend to think that this is one of his best works) and beatifully packaged (Dan Seagrave's cover is astonishing). I would like to give a special mention to Alex Marquez's drumming here, although he's not featured on the picture in the back cover. This guy really takes the band one step up with his work here, as he did in Malevolent Creation's "Retribution" or both Solstice albums.
- Desultory: "Bitterness" (1994 Metal Blade Records)
The case of Desultory is fairly typical in Swedish death metal, they release a great debut album and soon feel the urge to evolve and end releasing a third album full of utter crap. However, in this, their sophomore effort, they took a path influenced by doom metal which they would soon abandon in favour of that annoying death 'n' roll pioneered by Entombed that polluted the Swedish scene in the mid 90's. This four swedes mutated the thrashy approach of their debut into some melody infused death metal that became a mixture between old school Swedish death metal and the style of Paradise Lost early albums. Melodic death metal? Definitely yes, but not something to be afraid of. Don't expect the typical Swedish melodeath popularized by In Flames and Dark Tranquillity a couple of years later. Again, Kristian Wåhlin's masterful hand can be seen here.
- Necrophobic: "The Nocturnal Silence" (1993 Black Mark Records)
Ah, the late David Parland! What an incredible musician that threw away an inmense amount of talent releasing just two albums and a handful of EP's during the 90's, to virtually disappear from the scene in the early 2000's. This was, without a doubt, an original offer in the classic Swedish scene. Yes, it was recorded at Sunlight Studios, but Necrophobic's style of death metal, strongly influenced by Bathory and Slayer, was one of a kind. Really evill stuff with lots of dark melodies that definitely helped to shape Swedish blackened death metal together with Dissection. If you like evil death metal with a melodic touch and a straight satanic attitude, don't miss this one!
- Demigod: "Slumber of Sullen Eyes" (1992 Drowned Productions)
Each time I remember that I owned this one during the mid 90's, but I traded it for the digipak copy "Storm of the Light's Bane", I feel the urge to hit the closest wall available. Not to say that I don't like Dissection's magnum opus, it's still one of my fave albums ever but, who the hell would know that people would be paying for this one more than 100€ 20 years later? However, it's great value doesn't only rely on economic facts, it's a damned great example of pure early 90's death metal. Dark as an oceanic trench, I think that I can consider it my fave finnish death metal album together with Amorphis' debut. Don't let the terrible cover (a tradition in Drowned releases) prevent you to check this record. It can surely be a very strong contender for the ugliest cover ever, but it's one of the finest examples of Finnish death metal and a must for every sucker of old school stuff. However, I won't take more time to discuss this matter as it will be subject for a future article.
- Gorement: "The Ending Quest" (1994 Crypta Records)
Although in recent years this album has received some cult following, it must be one of the most obscure worthy albums released in Sweden in the early 90's. Searching for unknown death metal albums some years ago, I found a website where someone recommended this one, and for sure it was a good bet. Musically talking, Gorement played a quite doomy kind of Swedish death metal, with some faster moments (never too much) and deep growled vocals. It may not be dissimilar to what God Macabre where doinga couple of years prior, but with quite a personal touch, probably given by the sound, really different to those recording at Sunlight. It wasn't usual to see a Swedish band recording in Germany, but I found that many releases by the small Crypta Records where recorded at Delta Studios in Germany. This has become a really hard to find collector's item so, if you happend to find one at a reasonable price, don't hesitate to buy it! As a curiosity, I've always found Bloodbath's logo more than similar to Gorement's.
- Morta Skuld: "For all Eternity" (1995 Peaceville Records)
It would be much cooler to name Morta Skuld's debut here, but I have a preference over this album as their more accomplished effort. This Wisconsin band was one of the those that graced my early years listening to Death Metal as I remember that a friend lent me this CD around 95/96. I can recall that I used to listen this album quite a lot and recorded it on tape and drew the band logo on its side as it was my habit back then. However, when those tapes ended in a box in my storage I somehow forgot everything about them, until recently, when I saw someone recommending their aforementioned debut "Dying Remains". "For all Eternity" was an album that, even in those days, received some backlash due to its lack of originality and, to some extent, I may agree with this appreciation, but I really enjoy it as a perfect exercise of pure USDM. If you can imagine something in the middle of Obituary and Morbid Angel, you'd be quite close to guess the sound of this album. You won't find anything groundbreaking here, but years have made this album a very enjoyable experience.
- Brutality: "Screams of Anguish" (1993 Nuclear Blast Records)
I really liked this band since the very first time that I checked "Cryptorium" in "Death... is just the beginning" vol. 2, but it took me some years to aquire a copy of "Screams of Anguish" at a good price (I never bought it back in the day and I really regretted it when these CD's became harder to find). Very similar case to Resurrection... great Florida death metal, quite technical and really well recorded, but arrived at the tail end of the style and never made any sort of splash in the scene. One of the aspects that really drew my attention back then was Scott Reigel's insane vocals, one of the sickest growlers of the scene, no doubt about it!. Any of their 90's albums are very recommendable, but I think this debut is the best among them.
- Centinex: "Subsconcious Lobotomy" (1992 Underground Records)
Well, if Demigod's cover is awful, please have a look at this one! It's way beyond all my comprehension how an ugly drawing ended up gracing an album cover. However, the sentence "don't judge a book by its cover" has never been so suitable. Please, pass the cover by and give an opportunity to one of the great unknown of Old School Swedish Death Metal. Recorded at Sunlight in 1992, great songs, good melodies, dark atmosphere, good inclusion of keys and effects... everything screams early 90's death metal here! So, what went wrong with this album? Obviously the cover (it may sound awkward, but compare this piece of... with the work of Dan Segrave or Kristian Wåhlin for example) and probably the label which released it (surely Underground Records was no Earache, Nuclear Blast or Centurt Media back then). This guys would later change to a more melodic and blackish kind of sound akin to the fashion in the late 90's, but if you like your death metal pure and upright, check this one!
- God Macabre: "The Winterlong" (1993 M.B.R. Records)
Nowadays almost every initiated knows something about God Macabre (Relapse even released "The Winterlong" on vinyl a couple of years ago), but I assure you that, when I first learnt about this album, almost nobody talked about them. These guys where formed as Macabre End, released a great demo (later on vinyl) under that name and, in late 1991, entered Sunlight Studio to record their debut. Everything sounded well for these youngsters but, unfortunately for them, the album got shelved and didn't get a proper release until two years later when the band was already disbanded. Should have been a different story if they managed to get a deal with a bigger label and release it in early 1992? Who knows? Most likely yes, but history is there and no one can change it. What did God Macabre leave us with the Winterlong"? A great slab of pure Old School Swedish Death Metal in the vein of (well, you should know who they are) with slightly doomy touches (some solos kind of remind me old Paradise Lost), great vocals and the typical, but great, Sunlight sound.
Well, that's all by now, but I feel that I'll come back with more sometime in the near future...