When looking back at my old school death metal list I felt dissatisfied with it. I included way too many releases and hardly any details regarding them, making it overwhelming to anybody unfamiliar with the genre. I wouldn't be surprised if many people didn't know where to start when looking at it. I didn't want to redo the death metal list, so I decided I had to come up with something new. I figured that there might be some people looking to get into the underground and cult bands, so I got to work. After compiling a number of bands I picked out forty based on how much I enjoyed their material and what I felt people would enjoy. Needless to say there are plenty of bands that didn't make the cut and I actually ended up omitting a few of my favorite albums to favor some lesser known ones that deserve attention. I tried to give a brief overview of each release so you don't have to blindly check out bands like in my last thread. I also want to make it clear that this list is meant to guide you, not tell you what bands I think are the best.
So, here you go, forty extreme metal releases that are worth checking out. If any of the links are broken please let me know and I will fix them!
Abhorrence – Abhorrence
It was not until about ’89 that death metal had really begun to catch on in Northern Europe. Among the early bands that had taken shape in Sweden and Finland was Abhorrence. Although the band was only active for about a year they had become incredibly popular in the local scene by only releasing one demo and a self-titled EP. Relapse Records wanted to sign the band, but unfortunately they had already called it quits by the time they received the news. Despite the short life of the band, Abhorrence remains popular today with underground death metal enthusiasts around the world. This gritty EP with its crunchy guitar tone and guttural vocals was a defining moment for the Finnish death metal scene and helped set the foundation for future bands in the surrounding areas.
“Holy Laws of Pain” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40JLM0VVNWI
Archgoat – Angelcunt (Tales of Desecration)
Genre: Black / Death
While the black metal movement was in full swing in Norway, Archgoat was busy in Finland pouring out some of the most sadistic releases of their time. The band played a mixture of death and black metal, making them a bit more unique than their Norwegian counterparts. The vocals are prominent in the mix, sounding overwhelmingly demonic and completely incomprehensible. They utilize a guitar tone more closely resembling that of death metal bands, making their sound a little heavier than other bands that would attempt this style. It was not long after the release of this EP that the band broke up, not reforming until a little over a decade later.
“Rise of the Black Moon” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNHtq_Fw0IU
Aura Noir – Black Thrash Attack
Genre: Black / Thrash
Although Aura Noir has released four stellar albums throughout their career they remain a lesser known black metal band. Black Thrash Attack
was their debut and as the title suggests, it is indeed a heavily thrash influenced black metal album. Out of the better known bands in Norway, Aura Noir was the only one to take this approach. The vocals are in the typical black metal style, however, the guitars focus almost entirely on catchy thrash riffs. Alongside the killer riffs, the drumming is another integral part of the album. Blast beats are mixed in with interesting patterns and fills that you might expect to hear on a thrash album. A rather interesting fact about this album is that the members take on multiple roles, with Apollyon and Aggressor alternating between instruments and vocal duties. They do this so well that you likely wouldn’t notice unless you were listening closely for differences. Aura Noir does a perfect job of combining thrash influences with their black metal roots, making a stellar final product.
“The Pest” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULA8lQ3jwes
Beastcraft – Into the Burning Pit of Hell
The “third wave” of black metal is a very loosely defined term, usually regarding the bands that formed after the turn of the century. It seems that this term includes both modern bands as well as those focusing on the sound of the genre’s prime era. By the time Norwegian scene had died down, many bands began to change direction or become modernized. In this time period Beastcraft was formed and they have brought back that raw ‘90s sound. If you hadn’t looked at the release date, you would surely mistake this for a second wave album. The lo-fi production and demonic aura are present, as well as the hypnotic song structures with dissonant guitars and blasting drums. All the pieces are in place for a classic black metal album and Beastcraft delivered just that.
“Energumen” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpOr2_H34mk
Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon
Genre: Black / Death
In the same year that Archgoat released their first EP another Finnish band, Beherit, released their debut album. They play a style similar to Archgoat, utilizing a good mixture of death and black metal, however, their song structure is much more repetitive. The album showcases the genre in its most stripped down and primitive form, focusing on recurrent riffs and droning growls. There are also some chilling whispering vocals scattered throughout the album, which put emphasis on the cold, desolate atmosphere they have created. The songs are generally set at a plodding mid-pace, but there are a couple of slow doom influenced songs thrown into the mix. There is no doubt that this album is an acquired taste, but it is a masterpiece of its kind.
“Nocturnal Evil” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8O7oR1KVM4
Bestial Mockery – Christcrushing Hammerchainsaw
Genre: Black / Thrash
Despite releasing their first demo in 1996, Bestial Mockery did not have the opportunity to release a full length until 2002. This debut infuses an abundance of thrash riffs and spontaneous solos with a classic black metal sound, making it more refreshing than the usual black metal that had been well played out by this time. That being said, it does utilize the typical guitar tone and vocals popularized by the Norwegian scene. Although the album only lasts for twenty five minutes, it will grip your throat and batter you until you are lifeless. It’s an unrelenting assault on the senses. Bestial Mockery would go on to release three more remarkable full lengths, surely leaving their mark in the scene before they broke up in 2009.
“Suicide Blasphemy” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVnwii2NbAA
Black Witchery – Upheaval of Satanic Might
After a demonic intro, this album starts an endlessly hellish storm of pure black metal. Although it was released in 2005, the production sounds more like the ‘90s, perfecting the atmosphere. The songs on this album are generally short, with most of them around two and a half minutes, which works well considering how relentlessly fast they are. There is an ample amount of well crafted riffs throughout the album, so each song retains its own identity instead of the whole album flowing together as one piece. With speed that will make your head spin and bone crushing guitars, this album will satisfy any black metal fan, old or new.
“Scorned and Crucified” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyLOQg6F9So
Blasphemophagher – Nuclear Empire of Apocalypse
Genre: Black / Death
Blasphemophagher is another newer addition to the infernal underground scene, having formed not long after the turn of the century. Like Black Witchery, they have done nothing but prove themselves over the years. Their debut album arrived to the world in 2008 and it is a slab of malicious black death to stay the least. The album is quite varied for its style, with blazing fast sections that will rip your limbs apart and then slower sections with riffs that will have you reminiscing Slayer’s early work. The blasting insanity melds together well with the thrashing outbreaks and makes this release much more unique than others in the genre.
“Devastating Radioactive Torments” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id8hYcQ1tY4
Blasphemy – Fallen Angel of Doom
Genre: Black / Death
Blasphemy is Canada’s finest when it comes to black metal. They have been the founders of a small group of bands that call their music war metal; the focus is a combination of black and death metal with lyrics revolving around war related topics. Being the fathers of this movement, Blasphemy has showcased the style in its purest form. With bestial vocals, blasting drums, and mindless riffing, this album will drag you to the gates of Hell and impale you on the stakes. The music is a whirlwind of fire, pulling you closer toward it, and it will leave your body smoldering on ground, left for scavengers to pick apart. There is no mercy here. The entire album is relentless and there is no stopping this unholy force. Not many albums can compare to this utterly vile sound. If you want to feel the presence of Satan and visualize his wrath upon the helpless souls of our mortal world, this is what you need.
“Weltering in Blood” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-jiIumIQls
Bloodstone – Hour of the Gate
Genre: Death / Black
By the mid ‘90s Sweden’s death metal scene had largely ran dry, with most of the bands either breaking up or changing their style substantially. However, a few bands remained, one of them being Bloodstone. They had previously released two demos, in 1994 and 1995 respectively, which were later compiled into this full length. The musicianship on this album is astounding, especially when you consider that these songs were only demo material. There is a never ending plethora of remarkable riffs and excellent drumming. They are accompanied by high pitched growls, which are more closely related to black metal screams than the contemporary death metal style. This is arguably the most unique death metal album to come out of the country and it’s unfortunate that so much potential was lost when the band broke up in the same year of its release.
“Angel of Fornication” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Eo8M_XBbxM