The 12 Old-School UK Death Metal Albums You Have To Hear!
UK death metal at its finest!
Necrosanct – Incarnate (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) 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!
Impaler – Charnel Deity (1992)
Another band with just the one full-length album to their name, Impaler’s primitive blast of down-tuned riffing was ‘just’ another album in a sea of quality death metal releases in 1992; making the fact it sunk virtually without trace not particularly surprising.
That aside, Charnel Deity had much to offer including a deathly thrash attack that was second to none, oodles of shred, demonic vokills and a penchant for short sharp songs that were over and done with way before they outstayed their welcome. Not groundbreaking but efficient, effective and ebullient nonetheless!
Also, if the idea of hearing the main riff from Exodus’ “Impaler” ‘deathed’ up fills you with joy then wrap your lugholes around “Total Carnage”. No one say plagiarism, right!
Charnel Deity was simply old-school brutal UK death metal done right and belongs in the collection of anyone who digs the early albums of Death, Pestilence & Possessed.
Decomposed – Hope Finally Died (1993)
Admittedly, we’re in death/doom territory here but Decomposed‘s Hope Finally Died is the most absurdly overlooked album in death/doom history, and UK metal in general, and deserves to be highlighted at every given opportunity!
Deceptively simple, the beauty of this staggering release lay not in its musicality, nor its vocal prowess or even its songwriting nous. At face value, all these facets seemed relatively generic but the true reason this savagely under-appreciated cornerstone of death/doom deserved higher praise, is down to the almost unparalleled way in which Decomposed blended the mournful melancholy of doom with the caustic and cathartic blur of death metal aggression; each song unearthing a new spin on an already standard formula and expertly fusing sorrowful soliloquay’s with neck-breaking riffs.
Whether primitive old-school death metal savagery or shuffling excursions into doom metal’s swampy territory peels your onions, Decomposed’s one and only full length should be mandatory listening. Unearth its treasures and discover why Hope Finally Died… is not only a hidden gem but also a defining moment in UK death/doom metal history!
Monolith – Tales Of The Macabre (1993)
Obscure as fuck, Monolith recorded just the one full length album. But, when that one album is the almighty death/thrash opus Tales Of The Macabre, you’d better take heed!
A bit of history: Monolith began life in 1990 but under the guise of Catalepsy. After a swift name change in ’91, the band released their Sleep With the Dead EP before, supposedly, vanishing without a trace. However, Monolith actually recorded a full length album – titled Tales Of The Macabre – which was never released to the public, forever plunging it into obscurity!
Featuring extreme metal legend Nick Barker on drums (you know the chap, he of every important extreme metal band in existence!), you’d be forgiven for thinking this beast should be more well known.
And so it bloody well should be!
In 1993, Tales Of The Macabre was relatively brutal stuff – a little on the simple side perhaps – but still satisfyingly heavy and dripping with malevolence. Taking their cues from the eerie, otherworldly work of early Entombed and fellow countrymen Benediction, Monolith also embraced a death/doom approach, resulting in an album that offers variety and no end of bludgeoning power.
Why Tales Of The Macabre failed to secure a proper release is a mystery.
This shit slays!
Dark Heresy – Abstract Principles Taken to Their Logical Extremes (1995)
Like the death metal version of UK thrashers Sabbat, these anti-Christian pagans 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 The Mahavishnu Orchestra!), their approach to songwriting proving difficult to pin down but proving utterly unique nonetheless.
Warlord (UK) – Maximim Carnage (1996)
We’re pushing the old-school criteria here but 1996’s Maximum Carnage, the debut album from Warlord (UK), just about squeezes in and should have seen the band heralded as pillars of the UK death metal scene alongside the mighty Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Cancer.
Unfortunately, despite their obvious talents, Warlord (UK) arrived a little too late to the party to make a lasting impact. If released 4 years prior, an album that would have sent DM fans into a frenzy fell sadly by the wayside which is a considerable injustice.
A death/thrash behemoth that achieves more in 8 brutally succinct tracks than many death metal acts manage in their entire careers, this seriously ruthless shit came rammed with larynx-lacerating growls and more thrashy old school death metal riffs than you can fathom.
Building an insane amount of momentum, Maximum Carnage just gets better and better as the album progresses, culminating in the savagely sublime “Theatre Of Destruction” and “Race War”.
UK death metal then….pretty damn good after all!
If we’ve forgotten your favourite old-school UK death metal album we apologise profusely. Why not pop it in the comments section and we’ll have a right royal chinwag about it!
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