In 1989, death metal may have been finding its feet but a few, groundbreaking, releases established the sub-genre as a considerable force to be reckoned with.
These are those albums. The 5 greatest death metal albums of 1989…..
5. Obituary – Slowly We Rot [USA]
An album that shit directly in the gawping face of thrash, Obituary‘s shocking and seminal debut was the sound of death metal fully realising its unlimited capabilities.
Led by John Tardy’s iconic growls, howls and innumerable gargled noises, Slowly We Rot simply took the noise made by the likes of Possessed, Death and Necrophagia and wrung ten gallons of filth out of it; creating one of the most disgusting debut albums in extreme metal history in the process.
Unrelenting and as ugly as sin, this was the sound of a band determined to take extremity to another level and to say this debut was shocking would be to do it a considerable disservice.
Death metal’s blueprint in hideously disfigured form, Slowly We Rot is quite rightly revered as an all time 80s death metal classic and is, arguably, the finest album of Obituary’s illustrious career.
4. Autopsy – Severed Survival [USA]
The thickest, most putrid sound of death imaginable was at the very core of Autopsy’s debut masterpiece, the incomprehensibly evil sounding Severed Survival.
Wallowing in the kind of muddy riffs that submerge the senses, Severed Survival bucked the prevailing death metal trends of playing faster and playing harder and instead upped the brutality by slowing….things….right….down.
In turn, Autopsy did hit harder, announcing themselves as the go-to death metal band for those who sought variation to go along with their gore. There was still speed when speed was required of course,but the impact was greater due to the lumbering riffs that often preceded furious bursts of noise.
When death metal was at it’s freshest and during it’s most enticing and exciting period, Autopsy dragged the genre back down in the gutter, to writhe in the decaying mass of human existence. Which is exactly where it belonged!
3. Bolt Thrower – Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness [UK]
The UK may have been relatively slow on the death metal uptake, (we were concentrating on establishing grindcore though, so don’t hold it against us, eh!), but Bolt Thrower were the one anomaly and they would turn out to be one of the most vital bands in death metal history.
While debut In Battle There Is No Law! was more crusty grind than death metal, 1989’s Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness was the real deathly deal! Sure, elements of grindcore remained but this monster of an album was built on the heaviest grooves heard at the time and the unholy roar of Karl Willets; a combination that takes some beating to this very day!
Self determination, defiance, bloody-knuckled hard-work and a DIY aesthetic summed up the UK’s finest ever proponents of death metal and that was none more apparent than on this classic release.
2. Pestilence – Consuming Impulse [Netherlands]
Pestilence‘s debut was a thrash album in essence but their sophomore album, Consuming Impulse, was a death metal album through and through….and proved to be a key moment in death metal’s rampaging evolution.
Raw, honest, powerful and confident, Pestilence fashioned a collection of exemplary death metal songs built on a solid foundation of inventive riffs, atonal solos and Martin van Drunen’s recognisably unhinged howls.
Songs such as “Dehydrated”, “Suspended Animation” and “Out of the Body” have become part of the death metal lexicon and while Pestilence were already exhibiting much of the technicality that would go on to inform their later efforts, Consuming Impulse was still very much focused on delivering the heaviest, most brutal death metal around.
Consuming Impulse was simply Pestilence at their most ferocious and has gone down in history as a classic of the genre.
1. Morbid Angel – Altars Of Madness [USA]
Altars Of Madness is arguably the pinnacle of death metal and one of the finest extreme albums ever conceived.
Chuck and Death may have popularised the genre but Morbid Angel chrystalised it, gave it a complete and recognisable identity and produced one of the greatest albums in metal history in the process; how songs with this much groove could be performed in such a non-standard manner still blows minds!
Here were unconventional musicians, unafraid, challenging preconceptions and embracing the extreme and yet somehow composing music that invites rather than repels; each track lingers long in the mind and although “Immortal Rites”, “Visions From The Dark Side” and “Evil Spells” are highlights, the entire album is utterly indispensable.
Altars of Madness captured the souls of millions of newly-converted death metal fanatics and the flood gates were well and truly open; death metal had arrived!
Check out The Worship Metal Podcast‘s Death Metal discussion….