Worship Metal casts its critical eye over 10 under-appreciated classics of early 90’s AMERICAN DEATH METAL and you can forget the big guns of the genre, as we’re focusing on those albums that tend to slip under the radar!
Enough has been said about these classic acts already.
Instead, this feature is here to highlight just some of those early 90’s American death metal classics which deserve far more love and attention.
Morpheus Descends – Ritual Of Infinity (1992)
New York death metal par excellence, Morpheus Descends may not be as well known outside of niche death metal circles as Immolation but in 1992, these guys were the superior act, with Ritual Of Infinity proving to be a proto-tech death album of unrivalled complexity and shattering talent!
Dank, dark and decidedly devilish, Morpheus Descends were capable of nerve-severing ferocity while still maintaining a level of ‘catchiness’ which would appeal as much to the neck-muscles as those over-stimulated cerebral’s. With one foot in the old-school and one in the still-opening door of technical death metal’s future, Morpheus Descends certainly paved the way for those bands who morphed traditional death metal into ever-changing sounds as the decade drew on.
Morpheus Descends were there at the beginning though, and Ritual Of Infinity – their only full length album – remains a milestone of relentless, jaw-dropping intensity.
Paralysis – Patrons Of The Dark (1992)
The howling winds of unholy death metal greet those who venture into the abstract darkness of Paralysis‘ one and only album.
Lurching into death/doom territory, Patrons Of The Dark (and weren’t they just!) also added a grind element to deliver a sound that was fundamentally abhorrent, while maintaining sledgehammer grooves accompanied by the lower than low vocals of one Ben Falgoust (Soilent Green / Goatwhore).
Home to a cavalcade of horrifyingly catchy rhythms, this work of primeval filth appears to be shrouded in some Lovecraftian hell-mist, ready to unleash its ‘monsters’ on an unsuspecting world at any given moment.
Brutal, guttural, sinister: Patrons Of The Dark was the work of some seriously deranged human beings and remains as caustic as ever!
Deteriorate – Rotting In Hell (1993)
The apocalyptic soundtrack to every human atrocity, Deteriorate‘s Rotting in Hell is a full blown excursion into pure evil from a band who simply wanted to ‘out-heavy’ their peers at every step!
Pure intensity carries this oft-ignored album along at breakneck speed as this pummeling death machine rose to the challenge and eviscerated its peers. Appropriately sloppy, the raw and organic nature of Rotting in Hell disregarded death metal’s mid-90’s penchant for experimentation (think Cynic, Death, Atheist etc) and went straight for the throat; gnashing and clawing its way to the grisly viscera that lurks beneath the skin.
No tears please, it’s a waste of good suffering!
Infester – To The Depths, In Degradation (1993)
If degradation and wallowing in the unfathomable depths of human existence floats your death metal boat then the deliciously sick, maniacally twisted, utterly perverted and deeply, deeply disturbing To The Depths, In Degradation is the album for you!
Infester‘s one and only full length album, To The Depths, In Degradation can quite rightly be regarded as one of the most truly evil sounding albums in death metal history. Astonishingly barbaric and completely lacking in formulaic structure, the essence of pure bestial vengeance seeps forth from every track, as each ‘song’ suffocates the listener with endless shape-shifting patterns of ambient, hellish noise, punishing doom metal slogs, shuffling grooves, ear-piercing tremolos, clattering percussive blasts and a technical nerve that belies the primitive nature presented throughout much of the album.
Only the likes of Incantation, Immolation and Morpheus Descends (we’ll pick up on these guys in a future article) can rival the dark despair of To The Depths, In Degradation and that should be enough of a recommendation to check this album out….if you haven’t already!
Martyrdoom Productions reissued To the Depths, In Degradation on CD (in January 2017) & LP (in April 2017)….go get a copy!
Killing Addiction – Omega Factor (1993)
Hailing from Florida – always a good sign when talking death metal – Killing Addiction sprang to life way back in 1988 and their debut full length album, Omega Factor, was a lethal killing machine which combined grind, thrash and death metal to thrilling effect.
With the kind of death/thrash riffs that Malevolent Creation used to (and still do) excel at – alongside the kind of intricate solo’s Uncle Chuck introduced into Death’s repertoire circa Spiritual Healing onwards – there was always an enjoyably clean and crisp sound to Killing Addiction’s brand of death metal.
And, while the brutality was clear to hear, so was that all important groove; relentless savagery laced with an old-school energy and catchiness that demanded neck-snapping head movements of the most furious kind!
***Killing Addiction’s new album, Mind of a New God, will be released on CD, 12″LP, Cassette and Digital on April 6th 2021 via Xtreem Music***
Morgue – Eroded Thoughts (1993)
Morgue‘s only full-length album sure ain’t the perfect old school death metal album – with originality not exactly its strongpoint – but Eroded Thoughts still retains its power to pummel you into submission with it’s Autopsy-esque excursions into crushing death metal supremacy!
The slowest, heaviest grooves informed much of Eroded Thoughts 7 tracks; with an Asphyx meets the aforementioned Autopy approach adopted for the majority of the album. However, the 90’s burgeoning obsession with technicality soon reared its head on the ferocious likes of “Plagued Birth”, as Morgue proved that they could deliver speed, precision and contorted riffs to rival the work of Pestilence and early Gorguts.
A melting-pot of influences, Eroded Thoughts may lack clarity in its compositions but its disparate charm still lies in its ability to deliver high-density riffs with a schizophrenic sense of dynamics!
Rottrevore – Iniquitous (1993)
Raw, rancid and utterly reprehensible, Rottrevore‘s debut full length was an ultra-guttural dose of diseased death metal and one which deserved far more acknowledgement on initial release!
Taking their cues from Finnish masters Demilich and Purtenance, the ‘Scandinavian’ aspects of Rottrevore’s sound were stapled to the diabolically dark nature of Incantation, resulting in one of the grimiest death metal albums around.
Fuelled by politics and slathered in hate, Iniquitous should be considered the equal of anything served up by the likes of Incantation, Immolation and Autopsy and remains a highpoint – if under appreciated – example of early 90’s brutal death metal.
Rotten to the core!
Cianide – A Descent Into Hell (1994)
Cianide released a death/doom colossus in the lumpen, malformed shape of A Descent Into Hell, an album which deliberately deconstructed the technical sounds of mid 90’s death metal and slowly retreated back into the bowels of hell.
Here lies the most neanderthal, bare-boned death/doom riffs imaginable, plodding through endless eviscerated carcasses strewn across the Netherworld as Satan laughing, spreads his death/doom lovin’ wings!
A Descent Into Hell sure ain’t fun to ‘listen’ to but this suffocatingly dank and depressing act of primal catharsis still has the power to render you speechless…..with bursts of fleeting speed offering precious little respite from the ultra-heavy dirge which surrounds it.
Gutted – Bleed For Us To Live (1994)
Gutted excelled at their relatively unique blend of classic death metal with thrash and death/doom elements and with Bleed For Us To Live they delivered a true underground classic – one which provided just as many neck-wrecking grooves as their Swedish contemporaries Entombed, Grave etc.
The vocals are a revelation and some of the best in business, with range and clarity adding layers to what is a forceful showing of guttural power. Fortunately, the music matches this quality and intensity and remains both brutal yet ridiculously catchy.
The epitome of the sheer strength and breadth of 90’s American death metal, Bleed For Us To Live remains an absolute classic from an era that seemed to vomit forth albums of this calibre on a weekly basis!
Oppressor – Solstice Of Oppression (1994)
Perfectly balancing brutality with technical audacity and pioneering verve, Oppressor‘s Solstice Of Oppression remains a mid-90’s milestone of technical death metal without quite receiving the accolades afforded to Death’s Human, Pestilence’s Spheres, Cynic’s Focus and Atheist’s Unquestionable Presence etc.
An accomplishment equal to all the classic albums listed above, Solstice of Oppression carved its own particular niche with ultra low gutturals, unyielding brutality and the melodic, experimental, progressive and jazzy influences expected of a 90’s progressive/technical death metal album.
Once you get over the fact that this band eventually became nu-metal chart-botherers Soil (with Oppressor’s Tim King, Tom Schofield and Adam Zadel recruiting Broken Hope’s Shaun Glass in the late 90’s), you’ll be confronted by an album which defines the very nature of 90’s death metal – a shining example of metal evolving at an alarming rate without forsaking its core principles.