Technical death metal; the pinnacle of death metal dexterity attempted by bands obsessed with constantly challenging themselves, demanding ever more from their own skill-set and embracing complex songwriting like no genre had before. The results were extraordinary and here’s Worship Metal’s pick of 5 obscure early 90’s technical death metal albums you need to hear!
We’re talking the early 90’s here people, so nothing past 1993!
Hellwitch –Syzygial Miscreancy (1990) [USA]
Is Hellwitch’s Syzygial Miscreancy technical thrash or technical death metal? We’re leaning towards technical death metal in this instance and given that in 1990 the boundaries between the two subgenres were being ceremoniously broken on a regular basis, we feel warranted in doing so!
Easily one of the most technically audacious, forward-thinking, brain-frazzling albums of the era, Syzygial Miscreancy must have sounded like it was from another planet back in 1990; such was its ability to shock with extreme blasts of speed, tempo-changes and schizoid vocals.
Sounding like a certifiably insane version of Sadus (which speaks volumes for how gonzo this album is), this short, sharp and savage assault on the senses somehow remained cohesive amidst a blitzkrieg of sounds. Syzygial Miscreancy remains a cult curio well worth the underground devotion it so fervently inspires.
Afflicted – Prodigal Sun (1992) [Sweden]
Swedish technical death metal by way of the Middle East anyone?
For reasons beknown only to them, Sweden’s Afflicted took Entombed’s blueprint and flayed it over a subtle Egyptian concept which snaked its way through Prodigal Sun‘s 47 minutes of unpredictable mayhem.
Fortunately, the results were absurdly addictive and while Afflicted remained identifiably part of the early 1990s Swedish death metal scene – the Sunlight Studio production being an immediate giveaway – their fearless attitude and technical skill clearly separated them from Entombed, Dismember, Grave etc.
So much potential, sadly unfulfilled.
Polluted Inheritance – Ecocide (1992) [Netherlands]
Largely forgotten and sorely underrated, Dutch death metal masters Polluted Inheritance arrived fully formed in 1992 with a debut album that could stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Death’s Human!
That’s quite the statement but Ecocide is quite the album. With comprehensible growls (although, admittedly, not always great lyrics) backed up by sterling musicians navigating their way through complex, yet catchy, structures, this album is easily the equal of any album presenting itself as technical death metal in the early 90’s.
A blisteringly fast lesson in aggression, speed, progression, dynamics and fantastically crafted death metal, Ecocide demands to be heard!
Chemical Breath – Fatal Exposure (1992) [Belgium]
Precious few bands can match the intensity and skill of these awe-inspiring Belgians and anyone with a penchant for labyrinthine song structures, baffling tempo shifts and the pioneering spirit of early 90’s death/thrash will fall in love with Fatal Exposure, Chemical Breath’s exquisite debut.
Admittedly, Fatal Exposure does have more than a little thrash coursing through its veins – and squeezing it on to this list may prove to be divisive – but any opportunity to wax lyrical about this astonishing piece of work should be grasped with both hands. After hearing it, you’ll thank us for it!
Chemical Breath were incredible and you’d also do well to check out 1994’s follow up, Values.
Violent Dirge – Elapse (1993) [Poland]
These Polish deviants were as technically audacious and brutally aggressive as they come and their debut album, Elapse, remains uniformly impressive and informed by raw technical death metal riffing, erratic solos, jazzy bass-lines and dirty vocals.
With songs that resisted the urge to out-widdle their peers and instead concentrated on displaying their prowess via a terrifying jolt of good old fashioned death metal, Elapse remains a masterclass in balancing audacity and aggression and, it should be said, the bass playing on this beast truly has to be heard to be believed!
A forgotten masterpiece from a truly talented band.