The Origins Of Death Metal
While the origin of the term Death Metal is often argued, whether it was from the band name of Death, The fanzine called Death Metal started by Hellhammer (and later Celtic Frost) members, or the demo released by Possessed called Death Metal, There is always one underlying factor that cannot be argued, The pioneers themselves. Bands like Death, Morbid Angel, Venom, Possessed, and even Slayer can most be accredited with laying the foundation of what would come. Although some bands like Slayer, associated with Thrash, and Venom, associated with black metal, are not thought of as Death Metal acts, their aggressive music style, dark imagery and heavy riffs paved the way for more "Extreme Metal". Using distorted and detuned guitars, they broke away from the norm with faster tempo's, abstract song structures not common in most music, Low growls and high screams, and often times gore based lyrics.
The Early Years
Death Metal came to its underground prominence in the mid-80's. With its violent imagery and heavy and fast guitar, bass, and drum work coupled with the new vocal style known as "Growls" it gained a cult following very quickly. The mid to late 80s saw the release of several essential albums that set this genre on its course.
1984 saw the release of Possessed's Demo, "Death Metal". Which is one of the earliest Death Metal releases. 1986 saw the release of Slayer's third album, "Reign In Blood", which influenced many musicians that would later release the Death Metal albums of later years. 1987 would see Necrophagia release "Seasons Of The Dead", along with Death's landmark album "Scream Bloody Gore". Record labels like Earache records and Roadrunner records began signing acts like Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Deicide. Ironically, all these bands hail from Florida, earning them the term "Florida Death Metal". Death also hailed from Florida as well, the bands close location seems to suggest a good reason for their similar approaches in music.
Other bands across the world however, had a similar idea in mind, Sweden saw the rise of several bands such as Nihilist, which broke up and formed into Entombed, Grotesque, which disbanded and formed At The Gates, Dismember, Tiamat and Grave. New York has such legendary acts as Cannibal Corpse, and Suffocation. Britain saw the birth of the legendary Carcass, which contained Michael Amott on lead guitars, who formerly worked with Carnage, which formed into Dismember, and he would later go on to form the band that leads the Melodic Death metal scene today, Arch Enemy. The world would see a sudden rise in in this genre, not long after its birth, it began to diversify itself into subgenres.
Death metal has many subgenres, from Melodic Death Metal, or 'Melodeath', Technical Death Metal, Blackened Death (Death Metal with Black Metal elements) to Progressive Death Metal, The genre once viewed as "Primitive" would spawn into and endless line of diverse genres. Here is a brief look at some of those.
Melodic Death Metal In 1993 Carcass released what can be considered the first Melodic Death Metal album, Heartwork. But Swedish bands like Dark Tranquility, Arch Enemy, In Flames, and At The Gates are most often seen as the pioneers of the genre. Melodic Death Metal is based around and emphasizes more use of melodies and more melodic playing. Using Iron Maiden like harmonies, but with the detuned guitars, and the aggressiveness and low growls associated with Death Metal, They formed a genre which would spawn many bands from across the world, Such as Amon Amarth, Kalmah. Mors Principum Est, Wintersun, The Black Dahlia Murder, Nightrage, and many more.
Technical Death Metal As the name implies, Technical Death Metal, or "Tech Death", employs the use of more complex songs and faster tempos with more intricate arrangements. The earliest bands attributed with this approach to music are bands such as Cynic, Atheist, Cryptopsy, Edge Of Sanity, Pestilence, and the Egyptian Pharaohs themselves, Nile. Although somewhat limited in bands that are classified in this genre, As of late there have been more bands such as Necrophagist and Job For A Cowboy, Which are using the same mindset as this genre to express there musical vision.
Progressive Death Metal Sharing often times alot in common with Technical Death Metal, Progressive Death metal relies on similar musical approaches such as complex arrangements, Layered riffs in separate time signatures, and the use of growls to add intensity to their music. While easily not as "Technical" as Technical Death Metal though, Progressive Death Metal defines itself even further bringing in elements from other music such as Jazz, Blues, and Progressive Rock from the 70's, and even the use of multiple style of vocals, adding clean male and female vocals to their songs. The most notable band of the genre is the legendary Opeth, while also hailing from Sweden, they escaped the "Sweden" sound, Instead creating perhaps the best example of Progressive Death Metal.
Top Death Metal Bands
At The Gates
Top Death Metal Albums
Entombed - Clandestine
Morbid Angel - Covenant
Carcass - Heartwork
Death - Human
At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul
Massacre - From Beyond
Obituary - The End Complete
Cannibal Corpse - Butchered At Birth
Malevolent Creation - Eternal
Top Death Metal Songs
At The Gates - Blinded By Fear
Death - Lack Of Comprehension
Pestilence - Twisted Truth
Cannibal Corpse - Hammer Smashed Face
Obituary - The End Complete
Entombed - Hollowman
Morbid Angel - God Of Emptiness
Malevolent Creation - Eve Of The Apocalypse