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10 Obscure Old-School Death Metal Albums You Need To Hear! (Part 1)

Cruciform – Atavism (1993) [Australia]

Cruciform – Atavism / Paradox (2020, Blue, Vinyl) - Discogs

To those in the know, Cruciform were one of the formative Australian death metal bands in the early ’90s and with Atavism they played a major part in ushering in the age of death / doom. This could be a surprising statement to those who believe death / doom’s humble beginnings were as a result of Peaceville giving the world Paradise LostAnathema and My Dying Bride but Cruciform arrived on the scene at almost the same time as the Peaceville three….they just happened to be 9,500 miles away! Regardless of location, it’s a crime that Cruciform failed to capitalise on what should be considered a genre defining recording.

Making a relatively inauspicious start, “Prologue” sets the scene but offers precious little but “Sanctuary”, on the other hand, remains a shockingly abrasive and instantly memorable death/doom classic. Unencumbered by the use of violin, strings, keyboards and other familiar death / doom tropes, the minimalist approach served Cruciform well as they simply went about their business of wringing in misery and woe while constantly hovering perilously over the precipice of all-out death metal – the increased pace of “Reduced To Dust” and “Proboscis” showcasing Cruciform’s A-grade death metal credentials.

Desultory – Into Eternity (1993) [Sweden]

Desultory – Into Eternity (2015, Digipak, CD) - Discogs

Into Eternity was the debut album from the perennially undervalued Desultory and despite its obscure nature, this is an album of considerable importance – and considerable skill – from Sweden’s early 90’s death metal scene!

Sure, Into Eternity essentially repeated the same formula over and over – much like the majority of their compatriots – but when your thrashy, semi-melodic, semi-progressive death metal is as uniformly consistent and consistently impressive as this, variety can fuck off!

At this stage in their career, Desultory were the equals of their more famous peers and with an abundance of soaring, clean leads and expressive bass lines, Into Eternity is an album that should be celebrated for perfectly combining a keen sense of melody with ultimate aggression

Deteriorate – Rotting In Hell (1993) [USA]

Dark Horizon Records

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 CynicDeathAtheist 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!

Gutted – Bleed For Us To Live (1994) [USA]

Bleed For Us To Live | Gutted

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!

Grog – Macabre Requiems (1996) [Portugal]

Originally released in 1996 but out of print for many years, Macabre Requiems was the grand culmination of Grog‘s hard work during the early ’90s. One of the very first extreme metal bands to hail from Portugal, and thereby influencing generations to come, Grog’s brutal death metal meets grindcore sounds erupted like sputum from a freshly diseased zombie’s respiratory tract, gargled forth from 4 minds who revelled in filth and who longed to establish a new national standard in heaviness and speed!

Featuring 43 minutes of ungodly death-grind, Macabre Requiems retains its ability to shock via a succinct set of tracks which run the gamut of extreme metal influences. From the 45 second blast of the self-explanatory “Cannibalistic Devourment” to the lengthier grind of “Dawn Of The Living Dead”, Grog’s ability to conjure abject horror from all manner of grisly, ghastly noises is as effective as ever and just as morbidly seductive.

About Chris Jennings (1978 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

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