By Simon Briand, France
Death Metal is a heavy metal subgenre. It is supposed to be more brutal and violent than any other kind of Metal subgenre and any other kind of music. Most of the time, Death Metal is labeled as brutal music without any means or purpose, listened to by beer-drinker dolts or violent brainless yobs. Nevertheless, in spite of the violence of the genre, this music is quite complex and the brutality is used to emphasize some themes that are very important to the bands. Furthermore, the listeners aren’t as dumb as some people may think. In concert, Death Metal fans just like to enjoy the flow of the music with some Heavy Metal rifs, such as the circle pit, the mosh pit or the Wall of Death… Today, I’m going to share with you some of my favourite titles from the best Death Metal bands to introduce you to this unfairly misunderstood genre . So be prepared for a good dose of heavy and loud music!
Death (Florida 1983-2001)
“Death,” with their first album “Scream Bloody Gore” released in 1987, created Death Metal (even though there is a debate where some people argue that the first true Death Metal album is “Seven Churches” (1985) by “Possessed,” However, I don’t consider this band as the creators of the genre.) Death was led by the talented guitarist-singer Chuck Schuldiner, who brought more and more virtue to the genre throughout every album. He is a legend to guitar players and people who want to emulate him. None of these albums are bad. They’re all unique and will uplift you. My personal favourite is their first album, but if you’re not really into sheer violence, you can begin your path with “Human,” released in 1991. If you like this album, you should listen to all of them. This song below is the one that introduced me to “Death”:
Cannibal Corpse (New York/ Florida 1988)
This band is one of the most well-known bands when you begin to get into Heavy Metal. Cannibal Corpse is also known for being a Brutal Death Metal band and for their graphic album covers drawn by Vince Locke. In fact, their lyrics are quiet graphic as well, telling us some gory and chilling stories, surrounded by the violence of the music to emphasize the violence of the stories (“Inhumane Harvest,” for instance, talks about kidnapping people for their organs as if they were cattle. If you’re sensible, do not watch the video clip), sung with a deep growly voice. I know for sure that it doesn’t fit everybody, however, I’ll make you discover the track “Scourge of Iron” from the 2012 album “Torture,” a heavy, but very technical track.
Obituary (Florida 1984)
Another band from Florida. In fact, most of the first Death metal bands come from the city of Tampa in Florida, and Obituary is one of the founding fathers of the genre. The band is different from the other ones because of the atypic growl of the singer John Tardy. With their album “Wolrd Demise” released in 1994, Obituary talks about the pollution problem that were occuring back in the 90’s (which had worsen more and more up to our days). This band is also special to me, because it’s one of the band that helped me to get into Heavy Metal, thanks to their cartoonish video clip “Violence”, a good title to describe the track and the band.
Cattle Decapitation (San Diego 1996)
Finally, a Death metal band from the West-cost. This band is labeled as Brutal Death Metal, and for sure, the music is as brutal as the lyrics are. Indeed, this band is mostly writing about the negative effects of human beings on our planet, we can say that they’re kind of misanthropic. Cattle Decapitation portrays throughout their album some distopian worlds where either animals are taking the control over humans or where Earth is giving back to humans everything they’ve done towards the Earth. The better example -and the best album in my opinion- would be “Death Atlas”, such a technical, beautiful and bitter album wich manages to spread the feelings of the band about this theme. In this album from 2019, it seems that they’ve predicted the current COVID event with “Bring Back The Plague”. However, I want to make you discover my favourite track “The Genocide”.
Sepultura(Belo Horizonte 1984)
We will now leave the United States for Brazil! Sepultura is the first band that my father showed me, back when I was still a child and a novice. This band is the biggest Metal band in South America. Always reinventing themselves, they were adding some tribal rime into their music as they were progressing throught time. Being born in Bazil, the membres are pollitically involved because of the corrupsion, propaganda and dictatorship’s issues. They’re lyrics often talk about repression, dictature, but also the Brazilian/ tribal pride.Nevertheless, a lot of the first hours fans do not continue to listen to Sepultura nowadays, because their first frontman, the great Max Cavalera, left the band in 1996, because of some issues with the band (after that, he began different project, whom “Soulfly”, “Cavalera Consperacy” with his brother, former drummer of Sepultura, who left some years after his brother, and “Killer be killed” for my favourites). He was replaced by Derrick Green (who is a great singer as well). The last album with Max Cavalera was “Roots” in 1996, the albums that would follow are considered less good, however, in my opinion, the best album of this era is their last, “Quadra”, released in 2020. However, I’m gonna to share with you the track “Territory” from Chaos A.D. (1993).
We end up this retrospective with a French band, and one of the most well-known Death Metal band in the world, having, for instance, opened for Metallica. Such as Cattle Decapitation, this band cares a lot about the Earth and the marine’s life, showed with tracks like “Flying Whales” or “Toxic Garbage Island”. They’re playing a Progressive Death Metal, a screaming voice rather than growling one, even though it’s quite complicated to find the limit between both of them, and some new guitare sounds that you won’t here anywhere else. They’re really close to natural theme and tribal rime, listening a Gojira’s album is a trully transcendantal experience, they manage to fill you up with a lot of emotions and the result is breathtking. The best exemple is their 2012 album “L’enfant Sauvage” (French Words which mean “The wild child”). This album is one of my favourite and it’s the one that I recommand you if you want to listen to Gojira, with the mezmerizing track “The Gift of Guilt”, a song so powerful that it could make you cry and relax you by the same time.
With this little selection, I hope you will be interessed by this new genre of music that is not the most listened nowadays. I wanted to share with you my passion and introduce you this genre which can deal with a lot of very deep subjects. If Death Metal interessed you, just search some more band who could fit more with what you research in music, I’ve just shared you some of my favourite band, there is some more that you can search if you want to discover more, it’s a very wide world:
Rotting Christ (Greece), Dying Fetus(Maryland), Bolt Thrower(England), Entombed (Stockholm), Massacre(Florida (Tampa once again)), Bloodbath(Stockholm), Disma(New Jersey)…