The classics are all well and good but there’s a shit ton of obscure DEATH METAL out there that demands to be heard! To that end, we’ve selected 10 obscure old-school death metal albums you NEED to hear.
This is Part 3…..there’s plenty more to come!
D.V.C – Descendant Upheaval [USA] (1989)
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.
Taking its cues from early Bolt Thrower (circa In Battle There Is No Law), these Floridian upstarts hit hard with an onslaught of cavernously catchy riffs and throaty howls.
While D.V.C‘s relatively simple bludgeoning may sound antiquated to modern ears, Descendant Upheaval was actually at the forefront of death metal in the late 80’s; playing a vital role in enabling the genre to finally shake off the shackles of thrash once and for all.
Descendant Upheaval is a death metal debut that’s as underrated as all hell!
Hellwitch – Syzgial Miscreancy [USA] (1990)
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.
Blaspherion – Rest In Peace [Belgium] (1991)
Blaspherion‘s brand of atmospheric death metal may not have extended its reach far beyond its European neighbours, and had these Belgians not split up a mere 2 years after Rest In Peace‘s release, there was enough talent on display here to warrant attention further afield!
With a dark, oppressive and slightly muffled sound (certainly in the vocals department), Blaspherion‘s eerie and unnerving take on early 90s death metal appeared to draw inspiration from Morbid Angel‘s off-kilter clatter and Autopsy‘s love for a lumbering death / doom riff.
To be fair, we couldn’t label Blaspherion‘s Rest In Peace as ‘essential’…. but as far as old-school death metal obscurities are concerned, this is well worth an hour of your time!
Broken Hope – Swamped In Gore [USA] (1991)
As early examples of brutal death metal go, you’d be hard pressed to find a more convincing album than Broken Hope‘s malformed debut, Swamped In Gore!
These pioneers of putridity out-growled, out-blasted and out-grooved the majority of their peers and with any essence of thrash all but jettisoned entirely, it was left to Joe Ptacek’s ultra-low vomitous gutturals and Broken Hope‘s focus on crushing breakdowns and gore-obsessed grooves to herald a new dawn in death metal extremity.
A superb companion piece to Suffocation‘s Effigy Of The Forgotten (released a month after Swamped In Gore!), Broken Hope‘s contribution to death metal should not be underestimated….just give the title track a spin and revel in its chugging brutality and often mid-paced morbidity.
Morpheus Descends – Ritual Of Infinity [USA] (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.