Ripping Corpse – Dreaming With The Dead [USA]
Featuring the considerable talents of Erik Rutan (later of death metal legends Morbid Angel and founder of the mighty Hate Eternal), Dreaming With The Dead remains the one and only full length album from the underrated Ripping Corpse.
Fearlessly fusing elements of groove, doom and thrash with a progressive flair for schizophrenic time signatures and razor-sharp technique, Dreaming With the Dead is quite the anomaly, standing proud on its own as an album of considerable skill and identity.
Ultra thrashy and brutal as fuck, Ripping Corpse may have failed to officially follow up this colossal release (their ‘lost album’ remains unreleased and unmastered) but they made an indelible mark on the American death metal scene with Dreaming With The Dead!
Sorcery – Bloodchilling Tales [Sweden]
Heavy on atmosphere, the chilling (some might say ‘bloodchiling’) sounds found on Sorcery‘s debut album should have pegged them as serious contenders. Instead, they fell sadly by the wayside but that’s no reason for dismissing them now!
There was nothing generic or ‘formula’ about Sorcery’s distinct death metal, with the band conjuring magic from their classic horror influenced samples and interludes, ultimately creating a ghoulish blast of Hammer Horror death metal in the process.
That’s not to say that the fundamentals weren’t in place – Bloodchiling Tales was produced by the legendary Tomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studios and that “buzzsaw” guitar tone is obviously ever present – but Sorcery were doing something different, challenging the status quo with rhythmic gutturals that grooved with the riffs, subtly using keyboards to create a heckle-raising atmosphere and delivering variances in tempo which occasionally bordered on death/doom.
Revenant – Prophecies Of A Dying World [USA]
These New Jersey boys were a class act and they somehow managed to conjure an album that perfectly encapsulated the forward-thinking nature of early-90’s metal, while – at this stage – also giving Chuck Schuldiner a run for his money in the ‘progressive’ stakes.
Revenant would stop and start on a dime, toying with pace and tempo at will and embracing crushing doom passages when they weren’t slashing and thrashing their way through hyper-speed death metal.
Precious few bands could match such a dark, multi-layered, multi-faceted work of ever-changing tempo and arrangement, making Prophecies Of A Dying World an absolute masterwork.
Protector – A Shedding Of Skin (1991)
Protector’s 3rd album, A Shedding Of Skin, experimented wildly with daringly diversified dynamics and pacing while still remaining resolutely committed to stripping skin from bone! Comprised of 13 snarling, slashing tracks originally produced by master Producer Harris Johns (famed for producing classic albums by Kreator, Voivod, Sodom amongst many others), A Shedding Of Skin may sound slightly antiquated over thirty years later but, in 1991, Protector had harnessed the perfect blend of thrash heaviness and death metal intensity…..resulting in an album of considerable force.
If Testament’s dalliances with death metal on the underrated Demonic caused you to suffer from involuntary liquid explosions then A Shedding Of Skin will require you to be hospitalised with dehydration. Barring a few moments of slower-paced bruising on tracks such as “Death Comes Soon” and “Thy Will Be Done” this blasts harder than ten-tonnes of dynamite down a mine-shaft and should be revered as a death/thrash masterclass from one of the most consistently reliable bands in German metal history.
With very little variety or subtlety on display, A Shedding Of Skin simply skinned you alive.
Jumpin’ Jesus – The Art Of Crucifying [Germany]
Despite saddling themselves with a god-awful band name, Jumpin’ Jesus played some seriously skilled and brutally complex death metal. With a sound that wasn’t too far removed from that coming out of Florida’s Morrisound Studios there was enough (typically German) eccentricity to stand Jumpin’ Jesus out from the pack.
Unafraid to throw some curveballs into the mix and simply be plain fuckin’ weird at times, it’s the freakish time signatures and odd noises that made The Art Of Crucifying so intriguing. Highly technical and with a distinct dual guitar attack, Mike Gage and Oliver Ulrich were a seriously unhinged pairing who unleashed a torrent of incredibly wild riffs and solos on this, Jumpin’ Jesus’ only album.
Cohesive structure be damned, this shit was intense, it was untamed and it was (sadly) one of a kind.
Honourable mentions: (all of which are good enough to have been included in the main article!) : Baphomet – Inheritors of the Dead / Blaspherion – Rest In Peace / Death Strike – Fuckin’ Death / Deceased – Luck Of The Corpse / Desecrator – Subconscious Release [UK] / Edge of Sanity – Nothing But Death Remains / Gorguts – Considered Dead / Hexx – Morbid Reality / Loudblast – Disincarnate / Masacre – Reqviem / Morgoth – Cursed / Pungent Stench – Been Caught Buttering / Sentenced – Shadows Of The Past / Skeletal Earth – Eulogy For A Dying Fetus / Sororicide – The Entity / Tiamat – The Astral Sleep / The Dead Youth – Intense Brutality / Therion – Of Darkness…
Look out for a follow-up feature that highlights the often forgotten death metal albums of 1991!