2019 truly was a fantastic year for death metal in all its guises.
So, what else could we do but throw together a list of those death metal albums that most rocked our proverbial boat.
There’s an honourable mentions at the end but feel free to add your personal favourites in the comments section below.
10. Musmahhu – Reign Of The Odious
Musmahhu is the Swedish death metal side project of Swartadauþuz, the brainchild behind black metal entities Bekëth Nexëhmü, Azelisassath, Urkaos, Trolldom, Mystik and many more.
Reign Of The Odius was released on January 11th, 2019 via Iron Bonehead Productions.
This cavernous beast was the sound of old-school death metal reanimated and regurgitated in the form of the most blackened and charred noise imaginable. A swirling, billowing, churning onslaught of ancient manifestations, Reign Of The Odious was unabating and unmerciful.
One of the finest full length debuts of the year!
9. The Drowning – The Radiant Dark
Welsh death/doom metallers The Drowning have been making waves since their debut emerged back in 2006 but The Radiant Dark is undoubtedly their high-water mark to date.
Released on November 8th, 2019 via Transcending Obscurity Records.
Atmospheric, often melancholy, and bolstered by exquisite songwriting throughout, few could have predicted The Drowning delivering such a masterclass in death /doom….but deliver it they most certainly did!
When not honouring their heroes in Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride with the epic likes of “In Cold Earth” and “The Triumph Of The Wolf In Death”, The Drowning were upping the pace with the death/thrash heavy “Prometheus Blinded”. The result was a layered, varied mix of death/doom built on a solid foundation of quality songwriting and great performances. Which is all you need!
Eloquent, emotional and seemingly effortless, The Radiant Dark was the finest death/doom album of 2019.
8. Devourment – Obscene Majesty
Texan brutal slam kings Devourment returned with their first album in over 6 years…..and it was well worth the wait!
Released on August 16th, 2019 via Relapse Records.
This is the filthiest, most diabolically evil, most downright violent album of 2019.
It’s pure brutal, slammin’ depravity in aural form.
It’s a muddy, l0-fi, mess of eviscerated innards .
It’s akin to skinning yourself alive using a blunt fruit knife while rolling around in a bathtub full of freshly squeezed lemon juice!
Recommendation enough for ya?!
7. Ossuarium – Living Tomb
Ossuarium have seeped out of the very bowels of Portland, Oregon’s underground in order to express their mutual interest in late ’80s and early ’90s American death metal……and we’re very glad they did!
Released on February 1st, 2019 via 20 Buck Spin (these guys are unearthing fantastic death metal bands at a frightening rate).
This old school excursion into classic death metal (with more than just a smattering of doom) was an instant win for those of us enamoured with the legends of the late 80’s and early 90’s scene.
Muddy and wallowing in putrid muck, the production on this dank, septic whore of an album matches the intentions of the band. The perfect album from which to wallow in the grim recesses’ of a decomposing world.
An outstanding debut!
6. Possessed – Revelations Of Oblivion
This wasn’t just the return of a cult band, this was the return of a band who invented an entire genre while still in their teens, a band who influenced those themselves considered pioneers, a band who had been M.I.A. for three decades …..and their name, of course, is Possessed.
Released on May 10th, 2019 via Nuclear Blast.
We waited an excruciatingly long 33 years for Possessed to return with a full length album and it did feel like the day would never come. But there we were, with Revelations Of Oblivion in hand and, unsurprisingly, it was glorious!
While hardly a ‘revelation’, the joy in Possessed’s long-awaited third album came from Possessed playing the kind of blistering death/thrash which made them so important in the 80’s.
A glorious combination of Seven Churches’ ferocity and Beyond The Gates’ more layered approach, Revelations was a skin-flaying ode to the genre Possessed birthed. While it may not invoke the feelings of pure nihilistic annihilation their ground-breaking 80’s albums conjured – primarily due to familiarity – this was still an album that delivered on every level.
5. Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged And Unbound
UK death metal extremists Unfathomable Ruination released their third full-length album, the aptly titled Enraged and Unbound, and it was a fuckin’ colossus of an album!
Released on November 22nd, 2019 via Willowtip Records.
Brutal death metal for fans of tech-savvy acts such as Cryptopsy and Origin, Enraged And Unbound was easily good enough to propel Unfathomable Ruination to the very top of the genre pile.
Containing enough face-melting, neck-snapping, sack-slapping riffs to fill any ‘normal’ death metal bands entire back catalogue, Unfathomable Ruination ploughed a deep furrowed path of inventive riffs, wrapped around a formative structure of groove, technicality and a seemingly endless stream of creativity and dark imagination.
In other words, this is shit hot.
4. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance
Canadian death metal quartet Tomb Mold were reaching for the stars with third album Planetary Clairvoyance, their most expansive and consistently impressive album to date.
Released on July 19th, 2019 via 20 Buck Spin (yep, them again!)
Precious few bands are harnessing the molecular ingredients of old school death metal and manipulating them into new, thrilling patterns of depravity as convincingly as Tomb Mold.
Hardly a genre renowned for originality, it’s Tomb Mold’s canny knack for a shit-kicking riff and their rigid backbone of quality songwriting that makes them a truly impressive proposition in an over-crowded scene.
3. Venom Prison – Samsara
Rising stars of the U.K. death metal / extreme metal scene, Venom Prison were blatantly onto something special with their 2016 debut Animus, but it’s follow-up, Samsara, was on another level entirely!
Released on March 15th, 2019 via Prosthetic Records.
Far more than just brutality for brutality’s sake, Venom Prison are a socially aware slap-in-the-face to conformity – death metal or otherwise – and Samsara is a tumultuous, churning, raging tide of an album; one that attacks with such a righteous force that to ignore it would be to forever turn your back on your own nagging conscience.
This cavalcade of unpredictable grinding, slamming noise was one of the most ‘beautiful’ expressions of unencumbered artistic creativity we heard all damn year and should cement Venom Prison’s status as death metal (and perhaps humanity’s) very own saviours.
2. VLTIMAS – Something Wicked Marches In
Former Mayhem man Blasphemer, Cryptopsy’s Flo Mounier and ex-Morbid Angel legend David Vincent joined forces in VLTIMAS and delivered an album of supreme heaviness in the process.
Released on March 29th, 2019 via Season Of Mist.
Something Wicked Marches In is undoubtedly the album that should have followed Morbid Angel’s Domination and is so authentically, overwhelmingly, satisfyingly perfect in every way that you can’t help but doff your cap to David Vincent for righting the wrongs of Illud Divinum Insanus and for making Morbid Angel’s Kingdoms Disdained sound like a complete waste of everyone’s time.
With Something Wicked Marches In, VLTIMAS collectively delivered a textbook exercise in death metal by doing more than simply marching back into the fray. Instead, they cheekily kicked death metal’s fuckin’ doors in at the first time of asking and virtually swanned off with its entire trophy cabinet!
1. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Otherworldly death metallers Blood Incantation had already turned heads with 2016’s practically perfect Starspawn but with Hidden History Of The Human Race they’ve now elevated themselves to elite status.
Released on November 22nd, 2019 via Dark Descent Records.
Death metal has new progressive death metal leaders…..and Blood Incantation is their name.
No fear of a sophomore slump here as these Colorado death-dealers looked ever further to the stars and allowed Hidden History of the Human Race to take us mere mortals on a transgressive journey to the very edge of the cosmos.
Formed of 4 elaborate sojourns into prog/tech death metal majesty, Blood Incantation perfectly encapsulated the still thrilling potential of death metal when delivered by the finest technicians of their craft. Featuring a perfectly balanced blend of old-school brutality, progressive nuance, fiendish melody and neck-snapping groove, this outstanding album managed to surprise at every turn as these epic songs contorted themselves into ever more otherworldly shapes.
Believe the hype, Blood Incantation are currently the most exciting death metal band on the planet.
Also recommended: Cerebral Rot – Swamped In Festering Excrementia / Creeping Death – Wretched Illusions / Fetid – Steeping Corporeal Mess / Gatecreeper – Deserted / Hath – Of Rot And Ruin / Memoriam – Requiem For Mankind / Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites / Nocturnus AD – Paradox / Oblivion – Oblivion / Vitriol – To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice