Forgotten Gems of Old School Death Metal


Written by: Alex F
Published: 06.12.2014


The '90s were a decade of refinement and perfection in the world of metal. While the '80s take claim to spawning some of the most popular styles of metal, including death, thrash, and black metal, the following years witnessed musicians take the tools laid out before them and create masterpieces within each respective genre. So why are some of the best albums overlooked? In this article, we will explore some of the most Earth shattering and groundbreaking pieces of music to have graced the world of death metal that seem to have been forgotten in time. Incorporating orchestral elements as well as taking influence from doom, thrash, and black metal, these artists each created music well ahead of their time, and prove their genius with the following works.

Aeternus - Beyond The Wandering Moon

Taking cues from both black metal and melodic death metal, Aeternus create a rabid yet hauntingly melodic death metal masterpiece with their debut. Each song ebbs in and out of full on assault and melodic serenade so seamlessly it entrances and captures the mind of the listener. Each riff represents a different turn on this walk through the woods. The vocalist's performance is of notable quality, utilizing primarily a deeper guttural than many black influenced death metal artists. This impressive work, coupled with a clear yet adequately layered production, creates an album that is at times majestic and often bludgeoning, but never uninteresting. It is truly an album unjustly treated by time, and is deserving of your attention.

Antropomorphia - Necromantic Lovesongs

Antropomorphia's 1992 EP is among the most technically impressive I have heard. The bass seems to take the lead in the recording, often prefacing songs with the melody as the rest of the band joins in. The impressive qualities of the instrumentation are only further embellished upon with some of the most varied songwriting present in an early '90s death metal album. Utilizing melodies that often befit a Dark Tranquility record, Antropomorphia develop an atmosphere that is very inviting but does not sacrifice brutality nor the raw production that makes much of early death metal unique.

Carbonized - Disharmonization

To piggy-back off of the very last word in the Antropomorphia description, unique is the most appropriate way to describe Carbonized. Decades ahead of their time, they play a quizzical form of avantgarde death metal which relies on subtle melody, occasional dissonance, and simply unheard-of song structures. Clean vocals make appearances on most songs, and strengthen the very puzzling atmosphere Carbonized seem to aim for. They never linger on a riff for very long, and prefer to jump in and out of bouncy bass-lines, densely layered verses, and monumentally crushing barrages of blast-beat lead assault.

Decomposed - Hope Finally Diedů

One of the oldest death-doom albums I love is Hope Finally Died. The use of slowly building minimalist riffing with melodic leads on top manifests a dense fog that you cannot help but want to explore. As the intensity builds the fog slowly fades, leaving you in a bleak and desolate landscape; and just like that, the speed picks up and Decomposed release an onslaught of tremolo-picked riffage and blast-beats. As the darkness intensifies Decomposed play the soundtrack to your inevitable end, slowing down to a quasi-groove, but not enough to lose the momentum built.

Forgotten Silence - Thots

Utilizing what appears to be an organ and complex song structures, Forgotten Silence present themselves as talented musicians with an obvious understanding of what death metal should sound like. The band will flow through intense riffing and vocals, creating a dense wall of sound, only to finally land on gently-sung female vocals and more intricate melodies. Accompanied by relentless drumming which never allows the album to lose its pace, Thots hurdles along a scenic highway, taking short rest stops to take in the magnificent landscapes, only to jump back in the car and race down the road to its inevitable end.

Gladiator - Designation

Probably the most "fun" album on this list, Gladiator lay out in Designation a ripping style of thrash-influenced death metal that seems to have vanished in terms of quality from the modern world. Their style of riffing is very disjunct at times, rapidly switching in and out of time signatures at points, creating an almost mechanical feeling throughout the album. The vocalist's harsh and raspy voice suits this style very well, and what he lacks in range he makes up for in intensity. Solos line each song and nearly always speed up the tempo as each song closes in what seems like a barrage of instrumentation.

Gorement - The Ending Quest

Downtuned, dark, and completely devoid of joy; The Ending Quest will suck the life out of you and pummel you to a pulp, leaving you broken and hollow. Guitars lay out the foundation for your demise, singing a mournful tune of clear melodies. Each song seeps into your ear canal with these haunting melodies, giving a false sense of security. Once inside, Gorement unleash hell, and with raw terror, unchain the beast they have been hiding. Deep, brooding growls grab you by the neck and the pummeling rhythm section lets loose, giving you the beating you knew was coming, but couldn't resist.

Mangled Torsos - Drawings Of The Dead

Mangled Torsos are much more upfront about their violent tendencies. Drawings Of The Dead is a vile creation in the underground death metal scene. Intense and varied drumming styles beat you senseless as the vocalist laughs maniacally with his completely deranged gutturals. The guitars are, as is with most death metal, the shining point on this album. These instruments play such pain-filled melodies, it is a surprise when they have the strength to completely "turn the volume to 11" and desecrate your now lifeless corpse. It's bleak, it's miserable, and it's frighteningly disregarded.

Pan.thy.monium - Dawn Of Dreams

Pan.thy.monium are one of the most puzzling bands to understand. Dawn Of Dreams runs for about 45 minutes, 22 of which are taken up by the first song. Regardless, it becomes instantly obvious after hitting play that this band is not to be underestimated. A floating-feeling synth lifts the guitars through the clouds and drenches the album in sunlight. In contrast with every other album on this list, Dawn Of Dreams feels hopeful. This does not, however, detract from the intensity of the instrumentation, but rather serves to separate the band from the average 90s death metal to which we've all become accustomed.

Phlebotomized - Immense, Intense, Suspense

Immense, Intense, Suspense is one of the most unique albums ever to grace my ears. Using heavy orchestration to play a somber melody over rawly-produced riffs and savage drumming, Phlebotomized weave for us an intricate web of death metal mastery. Masters of songwriting, each track strays from standard song structures in favor of a more organic progression of their sound to appropriately utilize the range they clearly possess. Switching between mournful cleans and vicious mid-range growls, as well as slow, more melodic sections and upbeat headbanging portions, Phlebotomized cover all grounds with this album. Immense, Intense, Suspense is the most obvious example of the fact that digging for lesser-known music is worth the effort.




 


Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments

Comments: 22   Visited by: 96 users
06.12.2014 - 18:34
Lokaeda
Account deleted
+1 for Aeternus, their first EP + 2 first albums are immense.
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06.12.2014 - 21:34
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Pan.Thy.Monium is old school already? I am getting old =p
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2016

2017
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06.12.2014 - 22:09
Mr. Doctor
Skandino
Fantastic collection of hidden gems, dude. There are quite a few that I haven't heard a single note from and you made me check a few songs and it's obvious I've been missing out on some fantastic music. I remember I wasn't too hot on Aeternus for a couple of years but I re-checked the first couple of songs from that album and found myself enjoying it.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I will definitely keep this article in mind as soon as I get internet so I can start downloading and/or hunting for the physical copies.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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06.12.2014 - 22:33
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by Karlabos on 06.12.2014 at 21:34

Pan.Thy.Monium is old school already? I am getting old =p

Haha, well I'm 17 so they're certainly old school for me, as that album came out in '92 (before I was even born!).
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07.12.2014 - 13:48
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Karlabos on 06.12.2014 at 21:34

Pan.Thy.Monium is old school already? I am getting old =p



How is that album not old school? It is 22 years old (only two years younger tyhan Entombed's Left Hand Path which is also considered old school) whihc is two tyars older than Phlebotomized's album.
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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08.12.2014 - 20:51
BitterCOld
Gringo
Forgotten or overlooked... don't recall any of the above,except pan.

but i was limited by what i read about in Metal Maniacs, the Earache stuff AFES carried, or Relapse at more expensive local stores.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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09.12.2014 - 02:14
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
This list is more one about overlooked e.p.'s and LP's/cd's than forgottenones, to be honest. Even PanThyMonium wasn't kknown at the time. So overlooked it should read I think.
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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13.12.2014 - 18:09
Bad English
Masterchief
I like most Aeternus - Beyond The Wandering Moon, - since we can see BM elements there as well and I like artwork, similar like old school Norge BM,
I like Decomposed - Hope Finally Diedů because its death/doom and damn old school one
Pan.thy.monium - Dawn Of Dreams - because Dan Swanö

rest is just ordinary to me, even old school and underground but still I wont die if I wont hear those
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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15.12.2014 - 06:03
Lit.
Account deleted
...And So The Night Became > Beyond The Wandering Moon
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15.12.2014 - 22:08
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by Guest on 15.12.2014 at 06:03

...And So The Night Became > Beyond The Wandering Moon

I actually agree with you on that. AStNB is much more visceral than their debut, and feels more refined in general.
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17.01.2015 - 21:15
Uldreth
I should check out that Aeternus album, seems like a decent thing...
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17.01.2015 - 21:36
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by Uldreth on 17.01.2015 at 21:15

I should check out that Aeternus album, seems like a decent thing...

Their first two albums are pure brilliance, and the rest of their discography may have something to offer you as well (though nothing comes close to the debut and sophomore releases)
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06.02.2015 - 12:27
ylside
Nice article, one is tempted to list more bands, but the list will never end...
Maybe Carbonized's "For The Security" instead of Disharmonisation would have been more fitting for this list ?
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08.02.2015 - 17:46
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by ylside on 06.02.2015 at 12:27

Nice article, one is tempted to list more bands, but the list will never end...
Maybe Carbonized's "For The Security" instead of Disharmonisation would have been more fitting for this list ?

It potentially would have been more fitting, however I love Disharmonisation way too much to pick FTS. Thanks for the compliments!
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09.02.2015 - 01:29
ylside
Written by Alex F on 08.02.2015 at 17:46

Written by ylside on 06.02.2015 at 12:27

Nice article, one is tempted to list more bands, but the list will never end...
Maybe Carbonized's "For The Security" instead of Disharmonisation would have been more fitting for this list ?

It potentially would have been more fitting, however I love Disharmonisation way too much to pick FTS. Thanks for the compliments!

Mine too, it's the most accomplished sound of Carbonized.
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09.02.2015 - 16:53
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
Great article and I am pathetic. I was quite the DM listener back in the day - more "popular" and "mainstream" DM I guess : Death, Entombed, Obituary, Pestilence, Suffocation. Those off the top of my head. I do not recognize any of the albums you mentioned. Talk about "the underground"...
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rekt
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27.09.2015 - 00:23
ylside
For what it's worth, Alex Fenger, you might enjoy this : Dark Millennium - Medina's Spell
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27.09.2015 - 01:19
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by ylside on 27.09.2015 at 00:23

For what it's worth, Alex Fenger, you might enjoy this : Dark Millennium - Medina's Spell

I'm quite familiar with their two full lengths but I had never listened to their demo material. Thanks for the rec! This sounds quite excellent
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27.09.2015 - 13:01
Warman
Erotic Stains
Haven't heard a single one...
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27.09.2015 - 22:36
ylside
Written by Alex F on 27.09.2015 at 01:19

Written by ylside on 27.09.2015 at 00:23

For what it's worth, Alex Fenger, you might enjoy this : Dark Millennium - Medina's Spell

I'm quite familiar with their two full lengths but I had never listened to their demo material. Thanks for the rec! This sounds quite excellent

The demo is their "real" sound if you like - I won't hide to you that this is among my favourite death metal songs of ALL TIME

Although I've said "real" - I enjoy both their albums, Diana Read Peace is a great doomish album. But that demo is a pure bulldozer
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29.08.2016 - 03:59
Maco
Handbanana
Listen to Miasma.
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I'm derp.
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01.09.2016 - 17:44
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by Maco on 29.08.2016 at 03:59

Listen to Miasma.

I had never heard of them, but Changes sounds quite good. Thanks for the recommendation!
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