Death metal may have conquered the world in the 1990’s but it was spawned in the 1980’s and it shook the metal world with its uncompromising stance on how ‘heavy’ metal could really be.
We’re sticking with ALBUMS that were officially released in the 1980’s in this feature. So, no demos, no EP’s and no albums that were recorded in the 80’s but remained unreleased until the 90’s…..just in case you wanted to bemoan the lack of Terminal Death’s Faces Of Death demo, for example!
Here’s Worship Metal’s pick of the 10 greatest death metal albums of the 1980’s; albums that shook the metal world to its very core…..
D.V.C – Descendent Upheaval (1989) [USA]
a.k.a. Darth Vader’s Church, D.V.C’s debut, Descendant Upheaval, may be somewhat of an obscurity but its merits are writ large over 44 minutes of unrelenting savagery.
Thrashy as fuck and taking their cues from early Bolt Thrower (circa In Battle There Is No Law), this onslaught of catchy riffs and throaty howls has plenty of 80’s thrash in its system but is defiantly death metal through and through.
As underrated as all hell!
Necrophagia – Season Of The Dead (1987) [USA]
A truly overlooked classic and a monumental moment in death metal’s infancy, Season Of The Dead is a pioneering record that took a proto-death approach to extreme music; one masterminded by scene legend and vocalist Killjoy.
With an emphasis on atmosphere over speed and technical prowess, Season Of The Dead is a Slasher film set to music, relentlessly evil and thrillingly effective. Surprisingly, melody – not a generic term used to describe death metal – plays an integral part with the riffs often adopting a mid-paced chug as opposed to all-out attack. That’s not to say that Necrophagia didn’t know how to quicken the pace – moments on “Mental Decay” combined the two styles perfectly – while “Abomination” remains a thrashy slice of morbid malevolence.
Season Of The Dead was a unique, splatter-saturated ode to horror and stands bloodied and proud as a defining moment in the evolution of death metal.
Death – Scream Bloody Gore (1987) [USA]
An album of incomparable influence, Death‘s defining debut has been dissected and discussed over and over again, and we’d be surprised if we could come up with anything original to say about an album that is almost unanimously considered the first true death metal album.
Here was the moment when extreme metal took a sharp turn into all-out savagery and tracks such as “Infernal Death”, “Zombie Ritual” and “Regurgitated Guts” have gone down in death metal folklore as classics of the genre….even if Death would go on to deliver more accomplished and more succinct blows as their career developed.
With Scream Bloody Gore, Chuck Schuldiner was carving his own path and, as originators go, there remains no one more important in extreme metal history than this maverick of mutilation.