On we now march to 1992 and while the calibre of albums doesn’t quite match those released in 1991, there was still an abundance of quality emerging from around the world.
5. Morpheus Descends – Ritual Of Infinity [USA]
New York death metal par excellence, Morpheus Descends may not be as well known outside of niche death metal circles as Immolation but in 1992, these guys were the superior act, with Ritual Of Infinity proving to be a proto-tech death album of unrivalled complexity and shattering talent!
Dank, dark and decidedly devilish, Morpheus Descends were capable of nerve-severing ferocity while still maintaining a level of ‘catchiness’ which would appeal as much to the neck-muscles as those over-stimulated cerebral’s. With one foot in the old-school and one in the still-opening door of technical death metal’s future, Morpheus Descends certainly paved the way for those bands who morphed traditional death metal into ever-changing sounds as the decade drew on.
Morpheus Descends were there at the beginning though, and Ritual Of Infinity – their only full length album – remains a milestone of jaw-dropping intensity.
4. Pan.Thy.Monium – Dawn Of Dreams [Sweden]
This one could be divisive!
As progressive a death metal band as they come, Pan.Thy.Monium‘s debut was the polar opposite of the output from Entombed, Dismember, Grave etc. That being said, Dawn Of Dreams was still resolutely Swedish death metal in spirt but you wouldn’t have found L.G. Petrov and co. throwing free jazz saxophone into the mix!
Opening with a 21+ minute track was also against the norm and “Untitled” (all 7 tracks on Dawn Of Dreams are titled “Untitled” incidentally) was otherworldly – alien even – and took death metal into realms hitherto unexplored. The remainder of the album was slightly more accessible, unfolding in a series of six shorter vignettes which were just as progressive but blessed with a stronger sense of groove and old-school death metal / death-doom mentality.
Dawn Of Dreams retains the power to leave you speechless….even 30 years after the fact!
3. Cannibal Corpse – Tomb Of The Mutilated [USA]
With their 3rd album, Tomb of the Mutilated, Cannibal Corpse perfectly encapsulated the grim and grisly aesthetic they’d been aiming for with, what can only be described as, the perfect semblance of over-the-top aggression (comically so) and censorship baiting artwork – unsurprisingly, they succeeded!
A balls-to-the-wall gore metal triumph, this album can only be described as a musical milestone in death metal (and metal in general) with the boundaries of obscenity and decency pushed as far as they could feasibly go. This was a band who knew exactly what they wanted to achieve and by wallowing in the eviscerated innards of unimaginable horror – while also polishing their overall sound – they achieved infamy and became the biggest death metal band on the planet.
Opener “Hammer Smashed Face” may have been the cataclysmic door-opener that enabled Cannibal Corpse to leap into the big leagues, but the likes of “I Cum Blood” and “Entrails Ripped From A Virgin’s Cunt” were just as brutal and equally as incendiary.
2. Incantation – Onward to Golgotha [USA]
Dark, evil and deliciously demonic, Incantation’s debut was the sound of descending into the wretched bowels of hell made flesh; unrelenting, extreme and as disturbing as a pit full of contorted, flesh-stripped bodies.
Just a cursory glance at the song titles unveils the bands intentions: “Blasphemous Cremation”, “Rotting Spiritual Embodiment,” “Christening the Afterbirth”. Revelling in sludgy, misanthropic malice, Onward To Golgotha is a masterpiece of doomy, dirge-ridden disease and should go down in history as one of the dirtiest sounding death metal records to be released.
If Incantation’s modus operandi was to disturb and disgust then they should consider themselves 100% effective. In the annals of death metal few can live up to this sick blast of grandiose extremity and in a genre where it can be notoriously difficult to stand out from the pack, Incantation’s diabolical debut elevated them to the upper echelons of the scene.
1. Demigod – Slumber Of Sullen Eyes [Finland]
The best death metal album of 1992? You’d better believe it!
In 1992, Finnish death metallers Demigod may have released their debut album, Slumber Of Sullen Eyes, to little fanfare but this album’s reputation has grown substantially over the years, and is now revered as one of the most chillingly atmospheric, morbidly dark and fiendishly melodic death metal albums of the early 90’s!
Demigod didn’t adhere to the crushing, buzzsaw brutality of their Nordic cousins and, instead, they adopted a more nuanced style informed by diversity, doom-influences and a characteristically Finnish low-end which rumbles so effectively as to induce involuntary bowel movements.
Each track on this beast is decidedly distinct and delivers the kind of depth not usually associated with death metal. While heavy as all hell, it’s the sombre melodies and intricate interplay – which incorporates everything from tremolo riffing to Bolt Thrower-esque groove – which marks out Slumber Of Sullen Eyes as a cult item and an all-time death metal classic.
Honourable mentions (there’s a lot!): Atrocity – Todessehnsucht / Bolt Thrower – The IVth Crusade / Deicide – Legion / Fleshcrawl – Descend Into The Absurd / Gorefest – False / Grave – You’ll Never See… / Malevolent Creation – Retribution / Massacra – Signs Of The Decline / Monstrosity – Imperial Doom / Napalm Death – Utopia Banished / Nocturnus – Thresholds / Obituary – The End Complete / Pan.Thy.Monium – Dawn Of Dreams / Sinister – Cross The Styx / Therion – Beyond Sanctorum / Unleashed – Shadows In The Deep / Vader – The Ultimate Incantation / Vital Remains – Let Us Pray….the list goes on!
Check out The Worship Metal Podcast‘s demonically delicious death metal discussion….