2021 found DEATH METAL at the top of its game, with old bands and new unleashing a torrent of high-quality albums for us hardened lovers of all things death metal to feast upon.
Here’s our pick of the 20 Greatest DEATH METAL Albums of 2021….
Note: Technical death metal, death/thrash and death/doom have already been taken care of in separate lists!
Frozen Soul – Crypt Of Ice [USA]
Released: January 8th 2021 via Century Media Records
The sound of old-school death metal needn’t be fucked with and Texas’ Frozen Soul were evidently not interested in messing with a winning formula on their outstanding debut full length album, Crypt of Ice.
Embracing the overall barbaric simplicity, groove and power of prime early 90’s death metal, Crypt of Ice was purpose built to appeal to fans of Obituary, Grave and Bolt Thrower
So, throw on something warm and dive in…..the water’s icy!
Malignant Altar – Realms Of Exquisite Morbidity [USA]
Released: December 10th, 2021 via Dark Descent Records
A rather late entry but no less deserving because of it, Malignant Altar‘s debut full length album took the slimiest, best bits of Morbid Angel‘s Domination and Gateways To Annihilation and coated it in even more shit, filth and decay.
Sound tasty? It wasn’t. It was disgusting. Brilliantly, beautifully disgusting and ripe with the most feculent of grinding Trey Azagthoth-esque riffs, ably backed by Wilson Prevette’s gurgling, gargling vocals.
Replicant – Malignant Reality [USA]
Released: September 10th, 2021 via Transcending Obscurity Records
A howling monster of an album, Replicant‘s Malignant Reality was a modern death metal tour de force of challenging material featuring off-kilter rhythms, all manner of dissonant surprises and unpredictable excursions into almost ambient interludes (mid-fucking song)!
This trio know how to fuck with your expectations, positively revelling in their avant-garde approach to brutality and groove and having a blast ripping the whole thing apart for their own amusement – and hopefully ours.
It’s not often an album comes along that satisfies all of death metal cravings – dissonance, slam, old-school – but Malignant Reality really did cover all bases.
Helslave – From The Sulphur Depths [Italy]
Italy’s Entombed/Dismember/Grave obsessed HELSLAVE clearly had buzz-sawing mayhem on their mind and the resulting album, From the Sulphur Depths, was as faithful as they come, with the band leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to emulate their heroes.
Thankfully, such slavish worship resulted in an album which took the punky, thrashy, groovy core of early 90’s Swedish death metal and breathed new life into an arguably tired format. This was achieved not by doing anything different (woe betide!) but by sticking to a tried and tested template and basically sitting down and composing a great set of songs.
Which is all us death metal fans really want, right?
Pestilence – Exitivm [Netherlands]
Released: June 25th, 2021 via Agonia Records
Despite wholesale changes to their line-up, not much had really changed in the world of Pestilence, with Patrick Mameli and his hired hands sounding as alien as ever. Discordant and disruptive, Exitivm was a resolutely modern death metal record but one with just enough nods to the past to keep OSDM fans enraptured throughout.
Happily, the forward-thinking, sci-fi feel of Pestilence‘s classic albums remained intact and it was this balance of nostalgia with a modern sheen that made Exitivm so damn appealing. The additional use of orchestration and symphonic elements added layers to Pestilence‘s already crowded – yet clearly defined – sound; providing a haunting backdrop to the razor-sharp, discordant riffs that Pestilence have become renowned for.
Exitivm was primarily for fans of Pestilence‘s more abstract moments and if you adored Spheres and worshipped Testimony Of The Ancients (who doesn’t?) then Exitivm came highly recommended.