In the early to mid 1980s, heavy metal music began to broaden beyond the first era of bands like Maiden, Priest, and Dio. It evolved into darker, faster territories with thrash metal like Slayer, Exodus, Kreator and many others. A somewhat new phenomena began to root itself in an even more extreme sound of the music–today, we call it Death Metal. Music from this subgenre of metal is certain to contain demonic, inhuman growls and shrieks, blast beat drum patterns, heavy bass lines, and speed metal guitar shredding madness. The lyrics and sound are often centered around gore, suffering, Satanism, evil, wars, criminality, philosophy, horror movies, the occult, mythology, and even ancient history.
What makes Death Metal so powerful to many fans is its versatility. It can blend itself well into any other genre of metal seamlessly; it has had a part in the formation and inspiration of many black metal grindcore, doom metal and experimental bands across the globe. We know there's an almost infinite list of bands to chose from, but after hours of head banging, and a pair of blown out eardrums, we decided on the best ten. We now present the 10 Best Death Metal bands.
Formed by three brothers from Brazil in the early '90s, this tightly knit mechanical sounding metal unit and still creates some of the most insanely wicked, loud and Brutal music known among the extreme metal scene. If you love ferocious singing, then vocalist/bassist Alex Camargo's hellish guttural and ultra deep vocals will definitely be your cup of tea. In conjunction with the super crisp very monstrous guitar riffs, and drums that take center of the sound, with the speed of a chainsaw. Krisiun, which also features guitarist Moyses Kolesne, and drummer Max Kolense, unleash an epic, apocalyptic breed of death metal that ravages listeners, leaving them wanting more each time. The band has toured the planet with the best of Death Metal bands, many on this list. With over 10 full length albums, including 2015's Forged in Fury, Krisiun will remain to be a central force among the extreme metal community.
This Polish Death Metal group formed in 1996 when guitarist 'Vogg' and his drummer brother
“Vitek” formed the base of a band as young teens. Over the first years after tons of hard work, the band created the 2000 album, Winds of Creation (Earache Records), when Vogg was only 17 and Vitek only 15. Since then, Decapitated has now become highly respected for their stamina on stage and bringing a brutal technical sound to the table. But In 2007, the band faced a horrific tragedy while on tour near Russia, where drummer Vitek was killed in a van accident. Seemingly devastated, the band was done, but then in 2009, Vogg reformed the band and with a new line up released two albums: Carnival is Forever (2011) and Blood Mantra (2014), which keep the spirit and exceptional talent of drummer Vitek alive with a sound that is out of this world in its technical, and pristine approach to death metal.
See also: The 10 Best Japanese Metal Bands
Hailing from Tampa, Florida, Obituary came up during a time when their local death metal was on new but on fire in 1984. After a brief period known as Executioner, the band's name was changed and Obituary was born out of the darkness. Vocalist John Tardy's unmistakable, throaty growl sounds like an animal being tortured. The heavy bass and a groove also set them apart from other bands. This slowed down style became a part of Obituary's trademark sound. The band's debut album, Slowly We Rot (1989) is a genre classic with a very murky, bass heavy and electrified sound that very few bands can recreate but many try to emulate. Like others who helped forge this genre, Obituary is far from dead, with a solid heavy touring schedule, and its latest release is Inked in Blood (2014).
As one of the first American Death Metal bands, Tampa, Florida based Morbid Angel have been around for more than two and a half decades. Despite some lineup changes it has constantly included guitar wizard, Trey Azagthoth. It did at one time feature drummer Pete Sandoval, but currently the last lineup of the band featured guitarist Destructhor, bassist/vocalist David Vincent and drummer Tim Yeung. Over the years, the band got notoriety for its videos, an appearance on Beavis and Butthead, and tours around the world. Also each album was titled to be alphabetic for , from the classic 1989 debut offering, the band's catalog is as follows: Altars of Madness(1989), Blessed Are the Sick(1991), Covenant(1993), Domination(1995), and four more, including the 2011 release, Illud Divinum Insanus.
See also: The 10 Best Swedish Metal Bands
What does South Carolina have to do with Ancient Egypt? Nothing, until you delve into the majestic, phenomenal and brutal music of Nile, a band that has proven the scariest, fastest sounds of death metal doesn't always have to be about serial killers, corpses, blood and zombies but pharaohs, pyramids, tombs and other ancient relics and mysticism from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Formed by mastermind guitarist Karl Sanders, a fascination with Egyptology gives this band a identity all of its own among its extreme metal peers. Nile's place in Death Metal should not be overlooked, and with millions of fans and albums sold worldwide, the band has held onto a legacy that will like Egypt, be immortal in the pages of history with eight albums, including this year's What Should Not Be Unearthed.
An NYC unit formed in the late '80s that always brings us the kind of heavy music ideal to break someone's nose in the slam pit. The blast beats are perfected on albums like Breeding the Spawn, along with the shriek of inhuman vocalist Frank Mullen whose sputtering hand movements embody the speed of the music.
See also: The 10 Best Mexican Metal Bands
Deicide is a band that has been draped in the darkness of the devil since they started in the mid '80s. The band's name (as you can probably guess) translates into “The Killing of God.” Led by bassist and vocalist Glen Benton, this is music Lucifer would love. Benton's tortured, anguished style of vocals, and lyrics for Deicides's songs has been dedicated towards bashing anything having to do with God. Benton was known early on a crazy motherfucker. Years of rumors about the band included animal sacrifices at shows, Devil worship and self mutilation. Benton does have one real scar to prove he is legit: an inverted cross on his forehead that was branded on years and years ago. Today, Benton is more of a father, and metal businessman, taking Deicide on tour or recording most of the year, while juggling a family and living a semi-normal life. After a dozen studio albums the band is still fast and evil sounding as ever and although Benton might have calmed down, his music with the band is repentless in nature.
3.At the Gates
This is an extreme metal band of Swedish melodic masters, which many consider to be the architects of the classic Gothenburg death metal sound. This fast, beautifully orchestrated sound highlights the beauty of suffering and melody of managing themes like suicide, morbidity, and A clear, sometimes polished sound mixed with the very anguished vocals of Tomas Lindberg. The band was active in the '90s, but broke up in 1996, within a year or so after the release of the band's classic record, Slaughter of the Soul. But, around a decade later, the band reformed due to demand and popularity and with a new album, At War With Reality (2014), and are conquering the touring circuit again to many pleased fans around the globe.
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Known to many as the forefathers, and inventors of death metal, Florida's Death was formed in the early '80s by a young, visionary metal guitarist known as Chuck Schuldinger. Although over the years, into the '90s, the band underwent many lineup changes, Schildkiner remained as the leading force, and drive behind the band's music. Initially, formed as band obsessed with zombies, blood and gore, eventually Death became a more philosophical, psychological themed band, based on human suffering and emotions rather than the undead. The music itself also progressed into a sound that bent the lines between of death metal progressive metal, metal and thrash, and solidified Schildkiner's role as one of the most crucial songwriters, musicians and vocalists of his era. Sadly, in 2001, at the age of 34, Schuldiner died of complications of a brain tumor. But with eight studio albums and many metal musicians who have worked with Schuldinger, in one way or another, the legacy and influence of Death is sure to live on.
These guys are hands down, the undisputed kings of death metal. Featuring vocalist George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher, drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, bassist Alex Webster, and guitarists Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett, the band's blood soaked career spans over a quarter of a century, and 13 studio albums (including the latest release, A Skeletal Domain), making them one of the most successful and best selling extreme metal bands. Cannibal Corpse's music has (both records and live performances) has been banned in several countries. The music, artwork, lyrics and song titles have shocked, sickened and angered many, and instigated many more mosh pits and head banging/neck twirling sessions. Cannibal Corpse has toured the globe, sold well over a million albums, and have even appeared in the hit movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, starring Jim Carrey, who is a huge fan.
Today, the band shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, and is getting faster and more brutal as time goes on. The band's popularity is also on the rise, and especially among younger fans seeking heavier, more extreme music. In terms of the very dark, violent, raging and twisted nature of the music, even the older albums, with the original singer and lyricist Chris Barnes, still scares people with a sound that might be imagined to some as a musical autopsy.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.