Everyone loves lists right? Especially metal heads, so hopefully as part of a continued series of blogs here at teethofthedivine, is the first in what I have called ‘Desert Island Discs’. Growing up back in the UK, every Sunday morning I listened to a radio show called ‘Desert Islands Discs’, where various celebrities from the […]

by Erik T

Everyone loves lists right? Especially metal heads, so hopefully as part of a continued series of blogs here at teethofthedivine, is the first in what I have called ‘Desert Island Discs’.

Growing up back in the UK, every Sunday morning I listened to a radio show called ‘Desert Islands Discs’, where various celebrities from the sports, entertainment and music world, would tell a DJ what 10 albums they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. The lists were never meant to be a ‘be all’ list of albums , but more a list of albums that were personal to that individual and of course I never questioned how the albums would be played without electricity, or how 10 albums were a priority over food and water, but I digress.

So I’ve taken that basic concept and tailored it to more specific metal genres. The first of which is what 10 death metal albums would I absolutely need to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island? This isn’t meant to be a list of the greatest death metal albums of all time, but a list of death metal albums that, for me, I could not live without. It’s a personal, opinionated list that should fuel some debate discussion and dissection and hopefully be followed by other such lists from other teethofthedivine staff.

Also, I should clarify, with so many sub genres in metal, and in death metal I’ve tried to limit my list to death metal in the classic, traditional sense. No disrespect to the likes of Opeth, At The Gates and In Flames and such, but I imagine those guys will appear on their own lists at some point in the future as melodic death metal, progressive metal, deathcore and such get their own list.

Anyway-here goes. Here are the 10 death metal albums, in no order that I could not go without should I be stranded on a desert island….

EntombedLeft Hand Path. Earache Records, 1990. It’s hard to believe this album is almost 20 years old. No death metal list, no matter in what context is ever without this album. Everything about it is iconic, from the Dan Seagrave artwork, the Tomas Skogsberg Sunlight Studio production, the riffs, heck even the photo on the back of the album! While Americans, and particularly Floridians, had been churning about now classic albums for a couple of years now, Left Hand Path truly changed the game on what death metal could sound like. Taking punky Discharge styled power chords, Autopsy’s sludgy tones and their own lo-fi, no money production, Left Hand Path ended up with a sound that was the virtual opposite of their American counterparts. The mid section of the title track alone literally moves me to tears. The throw in legendary riffs like the romping “Revel In Flesh” and “Bitter Loss” as well as that wicked laugh during “Morbid Devourment” and the result is simply, in my opinion, the best death metal album ever recorded. Some argue that the follow up, Clandestine is the better album, but personally, Left Hand Path is simply far superior due to its seminal influence and status.

DismemberLike An Ever Flowing Stream. Nuclear Blast Records, 1991. If Left Hand Path is 1A, LAEFS is 1B. Right from that unmistakable opening of “Override of the Overture” the album took Entombed’s gnarly tones and Sunlight production, cleaned it up a bit, added some nastiness and Matti Karki’s distinctive bark, and voila-yet another seminal Stockholm death metal album that simply stands the test of time and is, 17 years later one of the very epochs of death metal. “Bleed For Me” is still one of the few death metal tracks that puts me into a frenzy at aged 35.

GorefestFalse. Nuclear Blast Records, 1992. Here’s the first album that might raise a few eyebrows. I first heard the track, “The Glorious Dead” on a Nuclear Blast compilation CD, and I was hooked, immediately searching out the album (which in 1992 in Mid West America was quite a task), not knowing it was actually the band’s second offering. Other than the stunning “The Glorious Dead”  and its simply briliant mid song romp, each of the songs on False simply has its own character and mood. From the rangy “Reality-When You Die” to the raucous “Second Face”, False is an album I could and still can recite and recall note for note. Throw in Jan C’s unique growl, politically charged lyrics and a pristine Colin Richardson production and you get in my opinion a very underrated but classic death metal album in the very truest sense of the word.

HypocrisyOsculum Obscenum. Nuclear Blast Records, 1993. Were Nuclear Blast great in the early 90s or what? Again, like Gorefest I was exposed to this band for their second and arguably best album. What truly got to me about this record were the absolutely demonic vocals of Masse Bromberg, and while the follow up album, The 4th Dimension is a classic also, the loss of Bromberg to Dark Funeral lessened Hypocrisy’s palpable sense of menace that lessened with each album. The growl that started “Pleasure of Molestation” gave my family nightmares. The title track, “Attachment to the Ancestor”, “Altothas” and even the cover of Venom’s “Black Metal” (whom I was not aware of at the time) were just pure musical malevolence with a beefy, evil guitar tone that resulted in soundtrack to occult rites and profane rituals.

BenedictionThe Grand Leveller. Nuclear Blast Records, 1991. More Nuclear Blast greatness and an album that might get a few of you in a tizzy. While 1991 saw me pretty much listen to Dismember’s Like An Ever Flowing Stream and Suffocation’s Effigy of The Forgotten nonstop, (on cassette I might add), this second more polished effort from the formerly Barney Greenway fronted Birmingham act really impacted me (especially during a notably long road trip to Colorado). I pretty sure it will never rank as an all time classic or a truly ‘legendary’ death metal album, much like Benediction themselves, but the fact is I loved, and still love this album. Tracks like “Jumping At Shadows”, galloping “Opulence of the Absolute” and the Jack the Ripper anthem, “Born in a Fever” were just perfectly executed, catchy, gravelly and somehow….British, and at a time when I had just moved to America, it was just what I needed to remind me of home.

SuffocationEffigy of the Forgotten. Roadrunner Records, 1991. Ahhh-Roadrunner Records. Whatever happened? After the Human Waste EP started Relapse Records, Suffocation unleashed one of the most important death metal records of the era. While certainly Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and Deicide had already defined brutality and technicality, along comes this New York act and literally blew away what was conceived as heavy in the early 90s and in my opinion is still the benchmark for what became NYDM or East Coast styled death metal. Tracks like “Infecting the Crypts”, “Mass Obliteration” and “Jesus Wept” with their sick grooves and Frank Mullen taking death metal vocals to hideous new depths, Effigy literally set the standard which few bands have managed to reach.

ConvulseReflections. Relapse Records 1994. While many point to Entombed’s Wolverine Blues as the origin of Death N Roll, in my opinion, Convulse’s second album is the far superior effort and truly captured the essence of death metal given a bouncy, groovy and truly catchy gloss. Two tracks in particular defined this gem of an album, which got somewhat overlooked as it came out as death metal was just starting to saturate as bands tried to out ‘brootal’ each other or flat out copy each other; “Crying Back Yesterday” and “Memories” were tracks done in a style that simply had not been done yet. I defy you not to simply get caught up in the sheer catchiness of either and the album also along with the next album on the list, put Finland on the metal map.

AmorphisTales From the 1000 Lakes. Relapse Records, 1994. Arguably the definitive Finnish death metal album, and though some will argue that the debut, The Karelian Isthmus is the better album, I would argue that 1000 Lakes is the more groundbreaking and more influential. At a time when bands were simply copying Entombed (even Amorphis in their early stages), Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation, along come these Fins. They come along and base the album on an ancient Finnish book, added happy, bouncy Moog and synths and make the music not about death and destruction. What were they thinking? Led by the Seminal “Black Winter Day”, tracks like “Drowned Maid” and “To Fathers Cabin” simply sounded like nothing being plied at the time and introduced Finland as a full on metal force to be reckoned with.

NileAmongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka. Relapse Records, 1998. Is this album really 10 years old already? This is the album that brought me back to death metal, and showed that it could be done with savagery, technicality and a new fresh theme. While some feel the Egyptian theme was a gimmick, the truth is in 1998, it was pretty fucking unique. Add the sheer ferocity and almost renewed sense of brutality that Nile brought to the genre and you have an album that truly belongs with the classics. I still get goose bumps when I heard Sanders and Co’s take on Holst’s “Mars, Bringer of War” and to this day “Stones of Sorrow” absolutely crushes me every time I hear it.

VehemenceGod Was Created. Metal Blade Records, 2002. This one is sure to raise a ruckus. Not only is it only album I’d take with me that wasn’t released in the 1990’s, God Was Created was a true love it or hate it album when it was released. I happened to love it and still love it. Despite a uneven production and mix, and awful cover art, the album absolutely floored me and showed a group of kids could in fact revitalize real death metal by mixing melody, brutality, superb vocals and a non traditional lyrical concept to death metal. It’s still is one of the rare ‘new’ death albums released post 2000 (not released by a ‘classic’ band) that I hold in as high regard as some of the truly classic albums. If I were to write death metal songs they would sound like “She Never Noticed Me”, “Christ, I Fucking Hate You” and “God Was Created”.

Well, there you go. My apologies to Pestilence (Consuming Impulse), Carcass (Necrotism), Obituary (Cause of Death), Atheist, (Unquestionable Presence), Bolt Thrower (For Victory), Grave (Into The Grave), Deicide (Legion), Autopsy (Severed Survival), Morbid Angel (Blessed are the Sick), and Death (Spiritual Healing) all albums in the running, but ultimately these 10 records define who I am as a death metal fan and to me, define what death metal was and is. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore….



  1. Commented by: gordeth

    Nice list but I certainly do not consider Convulse and Amorphis “death metal in the classic, traditional sense.”

  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    It was more to try and avoid too much cross over into melodeath, prog death, tech death and the many other styles of death metal

  3. Commented by: Matt

    I have to dig that Vehemence record out… one of my favs.

  4. Commented by: gordeth

    For some reason I never paid attention to Vehemence but your description made me look up those songs and now I’m kicking myself for missing out on that one. I’ll remedy that soon.

  5. Commented by: Kyle

    God Was Created is one of the most criminally underrated albums ever, though it doesn’t make my list.

    Mine would probably be,
    Carcass – Necroticism
    Entombed – Clandestine
    Dismember – Like an Everflowing Stream
    Atrocity – Hallucinations
    Atheist – Unquestionable Presence
    Hate Plow – The Only Law is Survival
    Napalm Death – Harmony Corruption, (this ain’t grind here)
    Macabre – Sinister Slaughter
    Monstrosity – In Dark Purity
    Sepultura – Chaos AD

  6. Commented by: Stacy Buchanan

    Great list!!!

    Here’s my top ten (there is a little crossover between our lists, so kudos to you :) haha)!

    Amorphis – Tales…
    Carcass – Heartwork…
    Nile – Amongst…
    Cryptopsy – Whisper Supremacy…
    Entombed – Left Hand Path
    Morbid Angel – Covenant
    Sepultura – Arise
    At The Gates – Slaughter (I allowed it into my list)
    Napalm Death – Fear, Emptiness…
    In Flames – Jester Race (maybe not strictly “death metal” per se, but I’m not concerned with scene points)

  7. Commented by: Dan

    Great to see the blog back in action and generating some enthusiastic responses!

    My Top 10 (in alphabetical order):
    Amon Amarth- Versus the World
    – Noticeably slower and more restrained than prior efforts, this album more than compensated with thunderous melodic depth and maturity.

    Arsis- A Celebration of Guilt
    – No, I do not beleive this was the savior of death metal, but it hit me at a time when I was really into cookie-cutter Gothenburg bands and really opened my mind up to somewhat more…atonal, genres.

    Bloodbath- Resurrection Through Carnage
    – Yeah I know it’s not “legitimate” vintage death metal, but fucking hell its good. A bunch of dudes from different genres pay tribute to sounds of old with updated production (the guitar tone alone is worth a listen) and memorable songwriting.

    The Chasm- The Spell of Retribution
    – Victims of their own cerebral songwriting, these boys continue to go unnoticed. ‘Retribution’ takes some time to get into (It took me about a year, really) but I never gave up and when it clicked, I was in death metal bliss.

    The Crown- Crowned in Terror
    – This was one of the first truly extreme metal albums I owned, but unlike most “stepping stone” records, this one continues to pummel my ears to this day. The ultimate combination of melody and merciless speed, its a tragedy that The Crown were unable to keep it up for another album.

  8. Commented by: Dan


    Cryptopsy- None So Vile
    – Another kick in the pants from my Gothencore days, Cryptopsy really beat the shit out of me on this one with a level of technicality and creativity previously unknown to these ears.

    Dark Tranquillity- Damage Done
    – Although I think DT has been on cruise control for the last two albums, with diminishing returns, Damage Done remains a staple of my rotation. Brutal, it is not. Instead, taste, is the deadliest weapon in this albums arsenal. The level of songwriting and emotion here is at least on par with their early milestones, and easily superior to anything they have produced since then.

    Dismember- Death Metal
    Here’s one I expect to catch some flak for (cuz everyone’s gonna read this. duh). While most fans like to hate on Dismember’s more melodic, Maiden-inspired side, I’ve always found it much more to my liking. Death Metal stands as a sweet blend of accessible harmony and Sunlight Studios grit.

    Gorod- Leading Vision
    – It’s a fucking travesty that this little gem got lost in the shuffle of tech-death releases in 2006. I picked it up on a whim soon after it came out and I’ve been hopelessly addicted to their jazzy, slithering and addictive song craft. Extra points for a drummer who knows how to lay off the blast beats and lay down some of the catchiest patterns this side of the Mississippi.

    Nightrage- Sweet Vengeance
    – Another gem lost in the bottomless melodeath bargain bin that was the early part of the decade. Though Nightrage has never been able to achieve the same level of energy and brilliance (maybe due in part to the loss of 4/5 of its all star line-up over the years), I still turn to this album when I need some melodic death metal with balls and bite.

  9. Commented by: Grimulfr

    good list. six of the ten I picked up when they came out and two of them I actually still listen to.

  10. Commented by: Adam Childress

    These lists make me realize that I need to get into better heavier stuff….or just diversify my tastes.

    Great job with these lists, seriously.

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