Leave your Deicide, Suffocation, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse albums at the door. These 6 death metal obscurities demand to be heard!
Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any sort of ranking….
Amboss – Those Who Have Lost The Right to Exist [Germany] (1993)
Another progressively-minded cult masterpiece lost to the annals of time, Amboss’ Those Who Have Lost The Right to Exist positively overflowed with ideas – with relatively straight-forward death metal aggression jostling impressively with Amboss‘ off-kilter sensibility.
Elements of this bewildering beast recalled the avant-garde nature of Celtic Frost’s Into the Pandemonium and with siren-like female backing vocals working their way into the mix – alongside levels of ambience, acoustic intros and a tenacity for turning the tables on expectation – Those Who Have Lost The Right to Exist was certainly good enough to make waves in the scene.
Fans of obscure cult oddities, which reveal a myriad of unexpected surprises, should relish this release for the ahead-of-the-curve curio hindsight has revealed it to be!
Dark Heresy – Abstract Principles Taken to Their Logical Extremes (1995) [UK]
Like the death metal version of fellow countrymen Sabbat, these anti-Christian pagans from the UK were a complete anomaly in their respective genre but, sadly, Dark Heresy’s lasting legacy boils down to just this one album.
But, what an album it is!
With concepts as complex as their compositions, these avant-garde, progressive death metallers seemed to throw every single idea into the mix, culminating in a bewildering experience that managed to be both beautiful and brutal in the same breath.
Basically, Dark Heresy sounded like an unholy union between Carcass and Testimony Of The Ancients-era Pestilence (by way of 70’s jazz-fusion perfectionists The Mahavishnu Orchestra!), with their approach to songwriting proving difficult to pin down while ensuring that Abstract Principles Taken To Their Logical Extremes remains an utterly unique experience!
Lemming Project – Hate and Despise [Germany] (1992)
Infused with a multitude of tempo changes and a schizophrenic demeanour, Germany’s Lemming Project lived up to their oddball name on their second album, Hate and Despise.
It’s fair to say that Lemming Project’s obscurity can be attributed to their being ‘ahead of their time’. Of course, Hate and Despise was recognisably death metal (with an abundance of chugging riffs)) but it was certainly not in the same cauterized vein as Swedish trend-setters Entombed, Dismember etc. Nor was it as shockingly heavy as Obituary, Deicide or Cannibal Corpse. Instead, these eccentric pioneers were determinedly unconventional; perpetually hovering on the periphery of being a full-blown technical death metal outfit without fully committing to the cause.
By 1992, death metal had taken hold and the sub-genres own limited trappings were already beginning to reveal themselves…..a fact that makes Hate and Despise all the more surprising considering Lemming Project were already toying with death metal’s foundations and building their own paean to extremity and experimentalism.
Necrosanct – Incarnate [UK] (1992)
Proof that the UK did have bands that could deliver the filthiest sound of purist evil imaginable, Necrosanct’s Incarnate still sounds shockingly abrasive today.
Veering dangerously close to total pandemonium, Necrosanct fashioned a death metal album that made up in violence what it lacked in finesse. Brutal, in the strongest sense of the word, and designed for those who feasted on the sounds of hell made flesh, Incarnate is possibly the most timeless album on this list, as ferocious and unpredictable now as it was in 1992.
There’s something so utterly unhinged about the Martin Van Dunen (Pestilence / Asphyx) meets John Tardy (Obituary) vocals that sends Incarnate rushing headlong into the realms of madness. Somehow, frontman Ant Ryan managed to take the tonality of Van Drunen and the unintelligible nature of Tardy’s animalistic gurgles and vomit up something even more disturbing. The result, when layered over Necrosanct’s blurred riffing, was nothing less than hell incarnate!
Oppressor – Solstice Of Oppression [USA] (1994)
Perfectly balancing brutality with technical audacity and pioneering verve, Oppressor‘s Solstice Of Oppression remains an early to mid 90’s milestone of technical death metal without ever receiving the accolades afforded to Death’s Human, Cynic’s Focus and Atheist’s Unquestionable Presence etc.
An accomplishment easily equal to all the classic albums listed above, Solstice of Oppressioncarved its own particular niche with ultra low gutturals, unyielding brutality and the melodic, experimental, progressive and jazzy influences expected of a 90’s progressive / technical death metal album.
Once you get over the fact that this band eventually became nu-metal chart-botherers Soil(with Oppressor’s Tim King, Tom Schofield and Adam Zadel recruiting Broken Hope’s Shaun Glass in the late 90’s), you’ll be confronted by an album which defines the very nature of 90’s tech death – a shining example of metal evolving at an alarming rate without forsaking its core principles!
Polluted Inheritance – Ecocide [Netherlands] (1992)
Largely forgotten and sorely underrated, Dutch death metal masters Polluted Inheritance arrived fully formed in 1992 with a debut album that could stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Death’s Human!
That’s quite the statement but then Ecocide is quite the album.
With comprehensible growls (although, admittedly, not always great lyrics) backed up by sterling musicians navigating their way through complex, yet catchy, structures, this album is easily the equal of any album presenting itself as technical death metal in the early 90’s.
A blisteringly fast lesson in aggression, speed, progression, dynamics and fantastically crafted death metal, Ecocide demands to be heard!