Death ‘n’ Roll – the ugly as sin, bastardised son of death metal and 70’s hard rock – is a term that the originators of the sound rarely acknowledge without scepticism but sums up the grit, groove and barely restrained gore of a sound that can only be described as….Death ‘N’ Mutherf*ckin’ Roll!
A sub-genre that has unearthed a multitude of classic albums over the last two decades, Worship Metal has shortlisted 20 of the finest slabs of groove-laden death ’n’ roll ever created…..so bang that head like it’s 1975 and shred those vocal chords like it’s 1990; death ‘n’ roll is gonna rock your bleedin’ socks off!
The Crown – “Dead Man’s Song”
Taken from the album: The Deathrace King (2000)
Dead Man’s Song is a half death/thrash, half death ‘n’ roll rumble from an all time classic album.
Channeling the melodic might of Maiden, the rabid thrash of late 80’s Kreator and Sodom and the all conquering death metal their fellow countrymen pioneered, Sweden’s The Crown were at their peak on 2000’s The Deathrace King.
Despite theses myriad of influences, at it’s core “Dead Man’s Song” is a reworking of rock’s glory years fed through a death/thrash mindset. The rhythms may be sped up but the melody remains, buried beneath coarse vocals but realised through contemptuously executed – yet still classic sounding – face melting solo’s; the face of rock ‘n’ roll acceptability distorted by death metal’s leering gaze.
Dominus – “Confront The 9”
Taken from the album: The First 9 (1996)
A rock-hard death ‘n’ roller from Dominus – the band Volbeat’s Michael Poulson first made his name with – “Confront The 9” ups the vocal aggression but retains a sense of the rolling riff momentum and fiery solo’s of the classic 70’s rock bands.
Inventive and as liberal with elephantine grooves as it is with death metal blasting, Dominus may have repeatedly changed their style with each album but “Confront The 9”, from 1996’s The First 9, is ample proof that death ‘n’ roll was their forte!
Vigorous and uncontrollable head-banging is mandatory.
Convulse – “The Green Is Grey”
Taken from the album: Reflections (1994)
“The Green Is Grey” is a true death ‘n’ roll masterclass infused with stonking riffs that would arguably have benefitted from not including those gargled vocals!
Nevertheless, Finland’s Convulse were/are an experimental death metal band at heart and their off-beat rhythms (could this be considered jazz ‘n’ death ‘n’ roll?) produced a twisted take on the upbeat rhythms of good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll and added layers of death metal menace.
Batshit crazy, utterly unique and completely brilliant!
Horrific – “Metal Cemetery”
Taken from the album: Your Worst Nightmare (2009)
Knowingly sending up the comedic lunkhead mentality of much of death ‘n’ roll’s output, “Metal Cemetery“, by the solo death metal project Horrified, is short, sharp, unsullied, joyous, family-friendly (perhaps not) head-banging entertainment!
Featuring a damn fine clean guitar intro, ironic backing vocals that growl “METAL” at every given opportunity, rockin’ solo’s and oodles of groove; it’s all here and it all hits with zero subtlety, a complete understanding of it’s own absurdity and a knowing wink to both the cliche’s of death metal and 70’s rock.
Six Feet Under – “Victim Of The Paranoid”
Taken from the album: Maximum Violence (1999)
Dirty, dank and deliciously diabolical, Six Feet Under may be the working man’s go to band for death ‘n’ roll thrills but the sublimely primitive savagery of “Victim Of The Paranoid” (taken from the album Maximum Violence, arguably SFU’s finest moment if you discount their recent forays into technical death metal) has a staying power many bands of their ilk fail to maintain.
The sloppy grooves, low-end rumble and Chris Barnes basic – yet berserkly effective – barking has a strangely mesmerising effect, neither accomplished nor particularly well executed but captivating nonetheless.
If grunting, wooly mammoth shagging, cavemen formed a death ‘n’ roll band….they’d sound like Six Feet Under!
Phazm – “Decay”
Taken from the album: Antebellum Death ‘N Roll (2006)
The clue’s in the album title. These French death ‘n’ rollers know their way around a warped fiendish groove and “Decay” reverberates with a catchy mid-tempo hammering that the band refuse to deviate from for the duration of the track.
The kind of single-minded bludgeoning that creeps under your skin, the simplicity of “Decay’s” main riff feels like doom ‘n’ death ‘n’ roll (yes, another variant!) and these dirty French rednecks certainly took a multifaceted approach to the sub-genre.
With a knowing wink to the sub-genre’s shortcomings, this curio retains its mesmerising appeal.
Korpse – “Pull The Flood”
Taken from the album: Pull The Flood (1994)
Korpse, Scotland’s perennially overlooked death metal dealers, were a class act and the title track from 1994’s Pull The Flood is death ‘n’ roll par excellence; hell, it’s just plain excellent!
Containing everything from old-school death to grinding groove,”Pull The Flood‘s” tribal drumming, distortion-drenched riffing, ounces of bounce and 70’s psychedelic soloing results in a schizophrenic death ‘n’ roll experience that deserves to be revered as an undisputed highlight of the sub-genre.
Birds Of Prey – “To Kill A Co-Worker (You Ain’t My Fucking Boss, Man)”
Taken from the album: Weight Of The Wound (2006)
Featuring members of Alabama Thunderpussy, Human Remains, Baroness and Municipal Waste, Birds Of Prey’s “To Kill A Co-Worker” may begin like a blackened cajun(!) deathly thrashing with no hint of ‘roll’ but it soon settles into a dirty ass groove-fest that throws everything from sludge and crust punk into its fetid stew.
Like Entombed trawling knee deep through swampy terrain, Birds Of Prey beat the living shit out of you for the majority of the song, before riding one nasty ol’ boss hog solo home to the finishing line; a fitting end to a compositional clusterfuck!
The Cumshots – “Go Forth And Fuck”
Taken from the album: Norwegian Jesus (2003)
“Go Forth And Fuck“, renowned for its infamous FuckforForest live ‘adult’ performance, is a riotous, shouty, alcohol-fueled bounce through the most filthily violent blasphemous death ‘n’ roll imaginable.
Hardly renowned for their adherence to common decency and subtlety, “Go Forth And Fuck” may be the most obvious Cumshots song choice but it’s the only choice when it comes to their uniquely disturbing contribution to death n’ roll.
Strap it on!
Helltrain – “The Helltrain Coven”
Taken from the album: Route 666 (2004)
All aboard the hell-train! It’s a one way trip to the devil’s disco on the diabolically delicious death ‘n’ roll delight that is “The Helltrain Coven“.
Revelling in death ‘n’ roll for the masses, the pure heavy metal attitude that steam-rolls down the track mixes Motörhead, In Flames & Entombed to create the most contagious and accessible death ‘n roll imaginable!
Erratic head-banging and foolish (not forgetting potentially dangerous) dance-moves are entirely forgivable.
Pungent Stench – “Klyster Boogie”
Taken from the album: Club Mondo Bizarre: For Members Only (1994)
Primal boogie. Death metal boogie. “Klyster Boogie“!
For many fans, Pungent Stench’s chunky riffs and neanderthal beats hit an all time low on 1994’s oddly alluring yet opinion-splitting Club Mondo Bizarre: For Members Only. Regardless, one song scaled the peaks of death ‘n’ roll and that song was the gonzo crunch of “Klyster Boogie”.
The most base grooves imaginable thump and stomp their way around the garbled growl of Don Cochino and in one fell (foul) swoop Pungent Stench contributed one of the sloppiest, stenchiest (unsurprisingly) and sickest songs to grace the sub-genre!
Konkhra – “Misery”
Taken from the album: Weed Out The Weak (1997)
An American/Danish combo who, at the time of Weed Out The Weak, could boast of having Chris Kontos (Machine Head) on drums and the inimitable James Murphy (he of every half decent death/thrash band in existence) on guitar, Konkhra were going places in ’97 and “Misery” perfectly encapsulates why they were so revered.
Even if it does ironically sound like the death ‘n’ roll version of Machine Head’s “Davidian” (seriously, check out the intro up to 45 secs and tell us that’s not the main riff from the MH classic!), the pure power contained on “Misery” remains palpable and stands as testament to this death ‘n’ roll supergroup’s supreme talents!
Blackstar – “Game Over”
Taken from the album: Barbed Wire Soul (1997)
Carcass members Ken Owen and Jeff Walker took the logical next step after Carcass’ then literal Swansong and formed Blackstar (aka Blackstar Rising to our American chums) with pure mid-tempo rock ‘n’ roll and (refined) death metal growls, kick-ass solo’s and an unmistakable ear for melody ruling the roost once again.
In fact, “Game Over” is so indebted to the crystal clear sounds of classic heavy metal that it’d be fair to say this only just qualifies as death ‘n’ roll….but qualify it does!
With enough bounce, bawdy energy and a knowing nod in the lyrics to how challenging Carcass fans found their new direction, time has proven that Blackstar were on to something special and they weren’t going quietly!
Entombed – “To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth”
Taken from the album: DCLXVI: To Ride Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth (1997)
You may have expected us to to plump for something from Entombed’s death ’n’ roll benchmark Wolverine Blues (and perhaps we should have done!) but it’s the opening track from their fourth album that provides the heftiest dose of death ’n’ roll medication in Entombed’s entire back catalogue.
Simply put, “To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth“, is a monster; it’s elephantine, it’s mammoth, it’s a steamroller slowly crushing your innards, it’s a Walrus using your nuts as a step-stool, it’s a….you get the picture.
Death ‘n’ roll incarnate.
Carcass – “Tomorrow Belongs To Nobody”
Taken from the album: Swansong (1996)
The much maligned Swansong may be Carcass’ weakest album – which doesn’t really mean much when preceded by such pioneering genius – but it is home to “Tomorrow Belongs To Nobody“, a high-speed romp through everything that Carcass had been working towards; supremely heavy yet still accessible metal played to perfection!
Huge crunchy riffs, Jeff Walker’s amusing, intricate and expertly delivered wordplay and a chorus that gnaws its way into your cerebral areas far too easily, “Tomorrow Belongs To Nobody” is actually prime Carcass at their commercial peak.
Ignore the naysayers, this shit rocks!
Death Breath – “Death Breath”
Taken from the album: Stinking Up The Night (2006)
Entombed worship is no bad thing and if you’re going to worship one of the greatest proponents of death metal it may as well be the clever-clogs that created Left Hand Path….and “Death Breath” could sit proudly on that monumental album.
Like being disturbingly privy to a George A. Romero and Entombed love-tryst, the stinking zombified offal puked up by these death ‘n’ roll dealing deviants is a putrid pleasure to say the least.
Take a sniff, that’s Death Breath filling your lungs….choke on ’em!
Black Breath – “Home Of The Grave”
Taken from the album: Sentenced To Life (2012)
From Death Breath to Black Breath….
“Home Of The Grave” is yet more of the same chainsaw-tone riffing and simplified, yet still bludgeoning, song structure delivered with 100% conviction by a band indebted to the pioneers of the sub-genre.
While taking Entombed and Dismember’s fuzzy guitar tones and re-vamping them for a modern audience sure ain’t anything new – death ’n’ roll is hardly a new notion after all – it’s the intensity on “Home Of The Grave” that appeals the most.
Death ‘n’ roll will live on with bands like Black Breath flying the flag for HM-2 guitar worship!
Dismember – “Casket Garden”
Taken from the album: Massive Killing Capacity (1995)
That classic death ‘n’ roll guitar tone fashioned into a deathly sing-along anthem for the ages, Dismember’s dalliance with the groovier side of death metal truly took flight on “Casket Garden“.
Dropping brutality in favour of melody, Dismember arguably hit their stride here – if keeping up with Entombed’s Wolverine Blues was their foremost priority of course – and while some may bemoan the cleanliness of this chugging epic, Dismember were arguably proving that they too could conquer this death ‘n’ roll lark with relative ease.
A groove machine with, ironically, massive killing capacity. This shit still slays!
Gorefest – “Soul Survivor”
Taken from the album: Soul Survivor (1996)
Thankfully, the frankly ludicrous gargling of vocalist Jan-Chris de Koeijer doesn’t really detract from the faithful 70’s riffing found on the title track from 1996’s unabashed Soul Survivor.
Revelling in its ridiculous amalgamation of the purest hard rock chug-chug riffing, strident solo’s and death metal’s love ’em or hate ’em vocals, the joy in hearing Gorefest throw caution to the wind on a song that shouldn’t work – hey, it practically doesn’t work – is truly something to behold.
Precious few death ‘n’ roll bands went full-on 70’s like Gorefest and it paid off….”Soul Survivor” (and the album that takes it’s name) is a unique moment that retains it’s oddly appealing power 20 years later!
Xysma – “Above The Horizon”
Taken from the album: Yeah (1990)
Undisputed pioneers of death ’n’ roll, Finland’s Xysma arrived on the scene in 1990 with a fully formed fusion of 70’s heavy metal – particularly the doomier moments of Sabbath – combined with death metal’s aggression and growled vocals and voila! Death ‘n’ roll was born!
Take your pick from any of the sublime moments found on full length debut Yeah but “Above The Horizon” is our stand out track. Mid-tempo groove, classic song structure, vocals that recall Demilich’s Antti Boman (lower than low gargles in other words) and a morbid sense of fun – Xysma certainly knew how to milk every last drop out of a grin-inducing fuzzy as fuck riff – results in an often neglected track that is practically the pinnacle of death ‘n’ roll.
Have we forgotten your favourite death ‘n’ roll classic? Pop ’em in the comments below….