4 Essential Death Metal Albums (Plus Phil Collins)

Death metal is great, right? I mean just. Simply. The. Best. All the songs about, you know, those topics that those bands regularly tend to cover. Ah, bliss. I love me some of that.


Well, okay I know it’s not for everyone. I think I’m confident enough in my own tastes to recognise that the musical stylings of Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse are of an acquired fix. When people tell me that they don’t like metal – particularly the extreme stuff I listen to – I often hear the same reasoning behind it: “It sounds just like a bunch of noise and screaming.”


And you know what, I get it. I get that, to people who haven’t been exposed to it, it’s not going to be palatable right away. I know because I felt the exact same way, even when I was getting into alternative music. And sure, the subject matter can be a bit hard to swallow and headbanging hurts your neck after a while. I understand people’s reservations when it comes to joy of death metal.


But I’m not here to put you off. I’m here to ultimately sing its praises because, outside of musical forums and websites, I don’t think it’s a genre that gets represented a lot on the internet. So here are four death metal albums that I think are essential to anyone who is curious about it.


Also Phil Collins because Phil Collins is the man.


Cannibal Corpse – Eaten Back To Life [1990]


In their 25-year history, Cannibal Corpse have cemented their position in musical history as one of the most explicit and gory bands of all time. Is Eaten Back To Life the best album they’ve ever released? It’s debatable as the Corpse (as I like to call them when I’m being a tool) have always remained consistent in their ability to piss off a lot of prudes.


So I’m choosing the first album because although the Cannibal (as I don’t call them as often) changed their style slightly over the years, this album marks the beginning of a controversial career that has kept the band strong despite being banned in several countries.


Also, zombies on the cover, yo.


Carcass – Surgical Steel [2013]


Fans of Carcass may already be decrying my choice here. Why am I choosing the band’s latest album rather than their previous work which helped influence the death metal scene? Sure, the first two albums helped kick-start the genre (along with Napalm death’s Scum album), and Necrotism introduced an important fourth member to the band who helped steer their sound into what would become the genre-defining Heartwork. So why Surgical Steel?


Because it reminded us that not only is death metal alive and well in the music scene, but that Carcass have never lost their touch despite a 15-year hiatus. You could play this album to someone who was kind of familiar with Carcass and they’d have no problem believing that it was recorded immediately after their previous one. It’s a return to form that’s seamless; evidence that once you go death metal, there’s no going back (is that the phrase?)


Decapitated – Winds Of Creation [2000]


Another first album from a band that has been going strong ever since (though their latest work is not on par with this masterpiece). Winds of Creation is not only a fantastic album written and recorded by a band that, at the time, had an average age of 16.5 (the youngest member was 15), it also showed what could be done in terms of tech death.


What is tech death? I’m glad you asked. It’s a style of death metal that incorporates more technical prowess. This includes more complex guitar parts, much more extreme drumming and song structures that don’t often follow the standard. At an age where most of us are discovering the joys of naked, protruding body parts, Decapitated were picking up their instruments and recording their first album in an almost “fuck you” to mediocrity.


Cryptopsy – None So Vile [1996]


Similar to Decapitated, Cryptopsy are masters of the tech death genre, particularly when it comes to their second album None So Vile. I was first introduced to this band by a friend of mine who forwarded me a link to the song Phobophile, which appears on this album. Between the haunting piano introduction and the moment the song explodes into action, I was in love. Like, massively in love with this one and only song I’d heard so far. Seriously, shit was going down in my trouser area.


The whole album is just as brutal; no holds barred. You will never hear such insane drumming prowess as you will on this album. It has the perfect blend of lightning fast riffs, gutteral vocals and a pretty morbid album cover that seals the deal. Plus how awesome would it be to play Slit Your Guts at a wedding or something?


Phil Collins -…But Seriously [1989]


Ah Phil. How you remind me a much more innocent youth before blood-encrusted songs and long hair found its way into my life. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I don’t think I could ever get bored of this album. With the blues styling of Eric Clapton, the pop love tracks and the jazz instrumental piece all added to the mix…But Seriously had it all.


It might not have the tempo and guitar skills of extreme metal, but it will always have one thing: a bald guy with a set of instruments and a point to prove (that he can survive without Genesis).


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