Carnage – Dark Recollections
Before Michael Amott had founded Arch Enemy or joined Carcass, he formed a death metal band in his home country, Sweden. Alongside Entombed, Carnage was one of the pioneers of the classic Swedish sound, which originated from Sunlight Studios. There are plenty of sludge covered riffs, and a few with an eerie melodic tinge, exemplifying the sound the Swedish scene would become known for. In the short time the band was active they had a number of lineup changes, with Michael being the only consistent member. It is noteworthy that three of the bandmates that recorded the debut were from Dismember, who was broken up at the time. Consequently four of the songs on the album are actually songs from the early Dismember demos. After the release of the album Carnage disbanded, but it was not a total loss, as Dismember then reformed and Michael would go on to join Carcass in the UK.
“Torn Apart” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBH3Rlk8m50
Crematory – The Exordium
In the oversaturated Swedish death metal scene many bands would struggle to become a prominent figure amongst their peers. Crematory only released a handful of demos and an EP before splitting up, but they were clearly a top tier band. This demo is one of the most evil sounding Swedish releases out there, and it is by far my favorite from the scene. The production is perfect and the music could not be any more incredible. The haunting riffs and deep growls make such an eerie, mysterious atmosphere. This demo is uncompromising in every sense imaginable and there is not a moment of it that I would want different. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, sometimes more abruptly than others. Crematory broke up after releasing their EP, Denial. All of their work is fantastic, but the aura surrounding this demo is something that could not be replicated. This small piece of history has impressed me beyond belief and it’s a shame that this band’s career ended so early.
“The Exordium” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V5Ab893ILQ
Damnation – Destructo Evangelia
takes us back to a time before black metal had a cemented foundation and specific sound. Although it was released in 2004, it is much like the recordings of the late ‘80s black metal scene, specifically being reminiscent of the early Bathory releases. The highlight of the album is the riffs, which are crafted remarkably well. They utilize a mixture of the second wave style of tremolo picking and some thrashing rhythms, reminiscent of the early scene. There are also some eerie melodic overtones and slow, plodding sections that trudge onward into darkness. The piercing vocals overlay the instruments nicely, giving it an ominous feel. This is a must have album for fans of Bathory’s black metal era, as it is a phenomenal tribute to Quorthon’s legacy.
“When Creation Dies” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8irxD89Y6zs
Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes
Demigod’s debut album is a pinnacle of Finnish death metal, presenting some of the region’s most powerful material. Although it may be a lesser known release in comparison to the early works of neighboring legends Entombed and Dismember, it is certainly equal in quality. Demigod works at a typical mid-paced rhythm, but they are masters of song structure, making every moment compelling and unique. Each of the remarkable riffs leads into the next one smoothly, bridging the gaps flawlessly and keeping the songs gliding onward. Some riffs are uncompromisingly heavy, backed by thunderous double bass, while others have an eerie melodic edge, as in “Tears of God”. The solos aren’t overly complex and are only added where suitable, fitting into the songs exceptionally well. Slumber of Sullen Eyes
is an excellent representation of talent and restraint working in harmony, and it has now become an immensely sought after release for fans.
“The Forlorn” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVG6_TkpnJ4
Depravity – Silence of Centuries
Depravity was another Finnish death metal band that released some stellar material, although they never made a full length. This was their second EP and last release before breaking up. Depravity played a much more doom oriented style of death metal, focusing on slower songs, unlike the other bands from their country. The solos are phenomenal and placed perfectly while not overstaying their welcome. It’s also important to note that there is not much emphasis on heavy riffs, but instead more atmospheric ones that build upon an extremely haunting feel. Although these riffs often reoccur in the songs, they remain endlessly compelling. These simplistic songs produce an overwhelmingly uncanny aura, much different from any other European death metal release. This brief yet engaging EP will get your senses on edge yearning for more.
“Sleepy Ocean” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NkrYkrpr20
Desaster – Tyrants of the Netherworld
Genre: Black / Thrash
While Germany produced a legacy of thrash metal, Desaster set out to integrate some of the genre’s elements into their own music. In fact, the name Desaster may sound familiar, as it was taken from Destruction’s song “Total Desaster”. Their style combines the ferocity of Norwegian black metal with the cutting riffs of German thrash, creating a highly unique and vicious sound, unmatched by any other band. The vocals even bear resemblance to Schmier of Destruction, imitating his delivery and trademark shrieks. It should be said that the riffs on this record are extraordinary, delivering momentous rhythms and powerful melodies. Each song is distinctive and relentless, ensuring you will never find a dull moment. With this album Desaster has forged a slab of pure teutonic steel, drawing aspects from two different styles of metal and combining them with ease.
“Profanation” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CPjiY-PsSY
Fimbulwinter – Servants of Sorcery
Before the existence of Dimmu Borgir, Shagrath played guitar and drums in Fimbulwinter, a second wave black metal band that would release one album before breaking up. With that being said, I assure you that Fimbulwinter is nothing like Dimmu Borgir; there are no symphonic elements to be found here, only the cold, demonic sounds the second wave was notorious for. The production is rough and uncompromising, with the screeching vocals and mesmerizing guitars being at the forefront of the mix. In essence, this is what we’ve come to know as “true Norwegian black metal”. The tortured screams and dissonant guitars echo in the misty fjords, piercing the frosty air and taking the listener on a journey through the unforgiving Norwegian countryside.
“Servants of Sorcery” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUnS6kI8o98
Goatlord – Reflections of the Solstice
Genre: Black / Death
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anybody who played a style quite like Goatlord. With doomy death metal riffs in the vein of Autopsy accompanied by classic black metal vocals, there’s no one else quite like them. The songs do pick up speed from time to time, but typically meander through eerie and heavy riffs that progress as the song continues. The songs tend to be on the longer side, fittingly so, as they need room to fully develop. There are also some interesting solos thrown in when necessary, which are a nice touch. The drums have an ominous sound to them and they may be a bit off-putting to some, however, the rest of the material makes up for this. If you crave something wicked and heavy, this will satisfied your needs.
“Underground Church” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJmNdKhwaFY
God Macabre – The Winterlong
Pulverizing, foul death metal is what God Macabre made themselves known for in the ‘90s. This is album is meant to crush the souls of all living beings, leaving only splattered remains. Retaining a mid-paced tempo throughout, there are more than enough moments of sledgehammer riffs and pounding double bass. The crunchy guitar tone and thick production only add to the heaviness. There is also a tinge of melody throughout the album, typically during the solos, which are incredible. Unfortunately, as with many other bands in the Swedish scene during this time period, God Macabre was fairly short lived, but they will not be forgotten in the minds of underground death metal fans.
“Spawn of Flesh” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STw37Yzk_N0
Gorement – The Ending Quest
Gorement was founded in 1989 and released a handful of demos and one full length, The Ending Quest
. While their demos are incredible pieces of work, the album has a slight edge over them. The demos concentrate on pure, rotten death metal, while The Ending Quest
takes that groundwork and builds upon it with some melodic leads and more focused songwriting. Memorable riffs saturate each song, topped off with guttural vocals and some genuinely haunting moments. Instruments aside, a key component to this album is the production, which brings out the heaviness in the riffs. The songs would not sound nearly as powerful if they had the stereotypical buzzsaw guitar tone, which many bands in their scene chose to use.
“My Ending Quest” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id7BMU4Nb2w