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5 Old-School Death Metal Albums it’s Impossible to Live Without (Part 4)

We. Can. Not. Live. Without. These. Albums!

These 5 releases are absolute death metal perfection and albums we simply can’t live without. 

And remember, this is Part 4…. there’s still more in this series to come! 

Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any sort of ranking….

Demigod – Slumber Of Sullen Eyes (1992) [Finland]

Slumber of Sullen Eyes | DEMIGOD | Xtreem Music

Released: November 1992 via Drwoned Productions

In 1992, Finnish death metallers Demigod may have released their debut album, Slumber Of Sullen Eyes, to little fanfare but this album’s reputation has grown substantially over the years, and is now revered as one of the most chillingly atmospheric, morbidly dark and fiendishly melodic death metal albums of the early 90’s!

Demigod didn’t adhere to the crushing, buzzsaw brutality of their Nordic cousins and, instead, they adopted a more nuanced style informed by diversity, doom-influences and a characteristically Finnish low-end which rumbles so effectively as to induce involuntary bowel movements.

Each track on this beast is decidedly distinct and delivers the kind of depth not usually associated with death metal. While heavy as all hell, it’s the sombre melodies and intricate interplay – which incorporates everything from tremolo riffing to Bolt Thrower-esque groove – which marks out Slumber Of Sullen Eyes as both a cult item and an all-time death metal classic.

Disincarnate – Dreams Of The Carrion Kind (1993) [USA]

DISINCARNATE - Dreams of the Carrion Kind - Amazon.com Music

Released: March 23rd 1993 via Roadrunner Records

After honing his considerable chops with the cream of death and thrash metal, Disincarnateand Dreams Of The Carrion Kind was James Murphy’s chance to prove his status as a death metal guitarist capable of steering his own ship, instead of setting sail with whoever would offer him safe passage.

As it turned out, he was more than ready.

From the exquisite death-doom of “In Sufferance” and the Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) guesting “Monarch Of The Sleeping Marches”, to the pummelling workout’s of “Deadspawn” and “Stench Of Paradise Burning”, the sheer audacity and technical verve on display remains revelatory….but never at the expense of an ingenious hook to keep the neck muscles – as well as the brain – fully engaged.

Immolation – Dawn Of Possession (1991) [USA]

Released: July 16th 1991 via R/C Records

The word ‘classic’ gets bandied around with alarming regularity (and we’re as guilty as the next blog) but there’s no other way to describe a moment in extreme metal history that continues to surpass 99.9% of all death metal out there. 

We refer, of course, to Immolation’s awe-inspiring debut album, Dawn Of Possession. Released today this would still blow minds but as it stands, Dawn Of Possession is a time-capsule that perfectly encapsulates the experimental inventiveness of early 90’s death metal….a time when anything seemed possible and the idea of ‘heavy’ was being routinely challenged.

These New York natives were darkness incarnate and blessed (or should that be possessed) with some of the most sinister and hauntingly disharmonic riffs in the then fledgling genre. They were beyond heavy, they were the sound of demonic armageddon and their ever-threatening grooves and chromatic displays of precision riffing were the next logical step in death metal’s evolution.

Incantation – Onward To Golgotha (1992) [USA]

Incantation – Onward To Golgotha (1992, CD) - Discogs

Released: May 5th 1992 via Relapse Records

Dark, evil and deliciously demonic, Incantation’s debut was the sound of descending into the wretched bowels of hell made flesh; unrelenting, extreme and as disturbing as a pit full of contorted, flesh-stripped bodies.

Revelling in sludgy, misanthropic malice, Onward To Golgotha is a masterpiece of doomy, dirge-ridden disease and should go down in history as one of the dirtiest sounding death metal records ever to released. 

If Incantation’s modus operandi was to disturb and disgust then they should consider themselves 100%  effective. In the annals of death metal few can live up to this sick blast of grandiose extremity and in a genre where it can be notoriously difficult to stand out from the pack, Incantation’s diabolical debut elevated them to the upper echelons of the scene.

Nile – Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998) [USA]

Released: April 28th 1998 via Release Records

We’re pushing it with the ‘old-school’ tag here, but fuck it, we’re sticking to our decision….

Death metal was drowning in shit creek when Nile released their astonishing debut in 1998, and a struggling scene instantly found itself revitalised and reinvigorated. Here was a band that took the core of death metal, the blast-beats, the growls, the requisite speed and ferocity and not only reproduced it better than everyone else but also introduced influences rarely heard in the genre .

With short, carefully structured songs incorporating all manner of Egyptian themes and instruments, Nile instantly had a sound of their own. Deftly balancing guttural growls with flutes, percussion, effective chanting and an epic atmosphere that bordered on the biblical, the blasting and the Egyptian symbolism were juxtaposed perfectly.

While Nile would arguably go on to record better albums, Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka remains a pivotal release and one that further widened death metal’s often self-imposed confines.

Also in this series: 

5 Old-School Death Metal Albums it’s Impossible to Live Without (Part 1)

5 Old-School Death Metal Albums It’s Impossible to Live Without (Part 2)

5 Old-School Death Metal Albums it’s Impossible to Live Without (Part 3)

About Chris Jennings (1985 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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