My top one-hundred picks for death metal. Alphabetically listed. Only death is real.
Engraved In Black
Ever since I first heard this album, I've been hooked. I've rarely seen it championed as much as I feel like it should be. The riffs are catchy, the solos are fire, and Corinne van den Brand's vocals are disgusting. 'Immolation of the Agnostic' is probably my favourite album opener ever, and without a doubt one of the best death metal songs of all time.
There's something magical about this album, and it gives me a rare feeling that few death metal bands give me. They have that very slight psychedelic tinge to their riffs that give them extra life, it takes me to another place. What I love most about death metal is that first feeling I got when I first got into it, that fantasy feeling where the music creates other worlds. The album covers help a lot with that, and the imagery and sound of this album helped define the realm standard that I hold most of my favourite death metal in.
Entering the Woods of Enchantment
Norwegian death/black metal that holds that classic sound that Darkthrone had on Soulside Journey, with the thick bass and punk inspired drumming. This album has a great tinge of psychedelia in the riffs and solos that sets it apart from other death metal albums from 1996. The solos are mainly what I listen to this for, as well as the uncanny resemblance to death metal Darkthrone.
To a Golden Age
You just know from the very first seconds of this album that it's gonna fuckin' rip. 'Crusade of the Berserker' is pummelling and just incredibly heavy opener, with the melodic opening section that builds into a classic death metal riff and savage vocals, the album fails to let up after forty minutes. Truly one of the most overlooked gems in death metal, I find it hard to believe this album doesn't get the recognition it deserves, especially with the eternal globalisation of music that came with the internet.
Last One on Earth
For the longest time, I didn't like Asphyx much. I'd only heard The Rack, which turned me off listening to their other albums. The Rack isn't a bad album overall, but I just found it very boring. Uninteresting doom and death metal elements, with Martin van Drunen's vocal talents being put to waste. But one day I gave in and listened to Last One On Earth, and it blew me away. I can't really tell you what it is about it, but something rubbed me the right way with this one, and I regret not listening to it sooner. Van Drunen's vocals are as sick as ever, the guitars are like chainsaws, the drums hit HARD and the horror-themed album cover ensures you this is going to be a filthy experience.
The defining deathgrind album, which despite its classic status, I still find doesn't really get the attention it's worthy of. Delicious angular and dissonant riffing that makes for an oddball listen, especially in a genre like deathgrind. This one goes by in a blast of sixteen minutes, but every second of it is satisfying.
The Beauty of Reason
You ever wanted to hear an album that takes appropriate influence from Gorguts' Obscura, but doesn't misunderstand it and totally fuck it up? Well, the answer is in this album. Astomatous understands Obscura in the best way possible: you can't do Obscura without looking like a jackass (looking at you, Baring Teeth). This album doesn't try to mask the fact that it'll never be Obscura, instead it takes influence from the intense riffing and crazy harmonies and mixes it into their own unique brand of technical death metal. Never does it sound like it's directly trying to rip off Gorguts, and instead makes the influence their own. It's hard to describe, you kind've just need to listen to it.
I don't even really think it's necessary to justify this with a description for why it's in my top 100. 'In the Grip of Winter' is possibly the best death metal song of all time.
Fallen Angel of Doom
It should be safe to say that most fans of death and black metal are well aware of who Blasphemy are. The biggest pioneer in what became known as "war metal", their bestial style was emulated by many, but it was hard to recapture the magic that Blasphemy created here. Absolutely essential.
Screams of Anguish
There's a greatness in Brutality that few others have. There's a dense structure to their music, there's a grasp of melody the band seems to utilise that no other death metal band has seemed to understand. They take the best qualities of many styles of death metal and make it all their own. They have the wailing Azagthoth solos, the doomy, bone-crushing segments, the foul and full vocals that really give a backbone to the music. It's hard not to fall in love with Brutality if you're a fan of death metal, and Screams of Anguish stands out as an album to revisit countless times.
It's hard to call any metal collection or list complete with a mention of anything related to the Warrior himself. Celtic Frost came hot off the heels of Hellhammer's dissolution, and the "improvement" (I use that word lightly) is massive. I hesitate to use "improvement" because of how defining and essential I consider Hellhammer to be, but the musical improvement with Celtic Frost is undeniable. Gone are the amateurish riffs and sloppy drumming that helped define the magic of black metal, Celtic Frost is matured and evolved in a way nobody could have anticipated so soon after Hellhammer. The mix of black, thrash and death metal here was just another step towards some of the greatest metal of the 80s, and remains as one of the most important achievements in Tom Gabriel's career. Are you morbid?
Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
Daniel Corchado is one of the biggest unsung heroes of death metal, and his history with The Chasm is a testament to that. A band that's incredibly overlooked, I find it incredible that they aren't as widely recognised as they are, with some of the best and most forward-thinking death metal around. Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm is the height of The Chasm's achievement, the ultimate culmination of their work and skill and stands out as a true achievement in death metal, and one of my favourites of all time.
Martin van Drunen makes this list a few times. He's my favourite death metal vocalist of all time for a reason. This album is full to the brim of ass-kicking riffs and classic Drunen vocal hooks that tear the flesh. Perhaps this album would be better without the drum machine, but it's hard to care when the riffs are so good and the drums are mixed in a way where they're not offensive in the slightest.
War Cult Supremacy
One of the most violent bands on the planet, Conqueror were the best war metal band to give Blasphemy a run for their money. Absolutely insane drumming that still gives me chills. Dense walls of guitar riffing that is addictive beyond belief. It's hard to describe Conqueror, because they're such an unusual band. Just listen to 'Kingdom Against Kingdom'.
Progressive death metal with jazzy inclinations that holds up well over time and doesn't get as old or feel as gimmicky as Cynic. Beautiful melodies, gorgeous bass lines, incredible drumming, perfect growls, that Dutch-brand Pestilence-inspired riffing. This band is the height of progressive death metal.
The Luster of Pandemonium
An album that, much like Obscura, takes a while to full understand. After the first few listens, it seems like you've just heard a whole lot of senseless noise, but after a while it starts to come together and make sense. Don't let the Obscura comparison fool you, this is nothing like Gorguts. This album is furiously technical death metal with sporadic and energetic compositions that shift quickly and often. The 11-minute acoustic centrepiece 'The Hyperborean's Epitaph' is the perfect contrast and counter-weight to the massive intensity of these death metal compositions. With a vibe not unlike that of an acoustic Opeth passage, this track truly defines the album.
There's nothing particularly special about this album that would put it here above any other classic in a death metal list, but for me personally, the atmosphere of this album is what keeps me coming back to it. The meaty tone of the guitars, the strength of the drumming, there's something here that captures the magic of death metal that I love so much. Not to mention the beautiful artwork. It's like being thrown into a fantasy.
Engulfed In Desolation
I love this album for the same reason I love Crimson Relic, despite them both being completely different albums. This is just what death metal is about to me. The imagery, the atmosphere.
Ashore the Celestial Burden
The album captures all the best qualities of death metal. The obscure melodies, riffs, monstrous vocals, the right themes, words, imagery. Space, fantasy, obscurity, magic. I might use words like this a lot in the list, but it's truly because I feel like these are all the qualities I love both about death metal, and this is the only genre that truly provides them for me. It's a nostalgia for other worlds, distorted imaginations, ethereality. Wonderful album.
Possibly my favourite death metal album of all time. Darkthrone were one of the few bands to truly understand death metal, and their disdain for the scene is part of what caused them to abandon this album for the allure of black metal, which was still such an obscure and unexplored genre before they opened up the limitless possibilities. Goatlord is relentlessly experimental, technical, and full of music that still hasn't been understood by the vast majority of people. Obliteration seems to be one of the only bands in the genre that understands the importance of Goatlord, and their continuation of this sound is what makes them one of the best death metal bands around today. The only negative thing about this album is how it was never recorded properly: the instrumentals here were all recorded as live rehearsals, which is of course impressive, but because this is technically a rehearsal demo, the quality turns off most listeners.
Death has always been a special band for me, as I am sure they are for many others. They're the biggest pioneers of death metal, and they are usually a gateway band for many hearing the genre. Leprosy is one of the best albums in the genre, and my favourite death album. I've listened to it countless times over the year and it never gets old. Chuck's vocals and guitar work still remain wholly unique, there's nothing quite like his approach to death metal.
Scream Bloody Gore
Though Leprosy might be my favourite, I think that might just be my nostalgia for it. I never listened to Scream Bloody Gore much in the beginning, but I have to say it's the one that's grown most over the years. Some of the most infectious riffs you'll ever hear, and such a fantastic production job here. Really captures the atmosphere of death metal.
Slumber of Sullen Eyes
Every time I listen to this, it feels like it's the first time for me. And maybe some would see that as a detriment; none of this feels familiar, unlike most of my favourites. There's something about this album that makes it an exciting and fresh listen with every new spin. Maybe I've just never listened intently enough, but I've loved it each and every time.
20th Adversary of Emptiness
Unlike Demigod, Demilich is a band that wormed its way into my brain and stuck there since the first listen. The amount of familiarity I felt for these songs after just one listen has never left, and every subsequent listen has only hammered in the importance of this album for me. Sometimes I just find myself playing this album in my head when I'm out. A truly unforgettable album. I would normally just list Nespithe, but the quality of this entire compilation only exceeds that of Nespithe alone.
Silence of the Centuries
To be honest, I've never actually heard the full compilation of this band's material, which I need change immediately. I revisit this EP frequently, and just kind of sink into it. The atmosphere of this EP is incredible, perfectly matching the album's cover. I've never felt the need to hear all the band's demos, since I've always felt like this album is more than enough on its own, but I also feel like I'm doing myself a disservice by not hearing the band's full body of work.
Progressive death metal that fits in perfectly among the best of the early 90s scene, but came out ten years later. More daring and expansive than most in the style, the band's thrash-styled vocals, prominent bass and groovy, angular riffs make for an interesting and rewarding listen. Plus, they have an incredibly fun death metal-styled cover of Flight of the Bumblebee that's worth checking out.
Transcendence into the Peripheral
Transcendental death/doom metal with dark, harrowing production that combines with the guitars to create some of the most vicious riffs you've ever heard, which only accentuate the cleaner, more melodic guitar passages on here. It's a truly beautiful experience, and one of the most engulfing albums I've ever heard. It mildly makes me think of maudlin of the Well, if they went completely death/doom. Such a unique and perfect take on the genre.
Swallow Swouming Mass
Just straight up disgusting death metal with an abundance of killer riffs. I find myself going back to this so much that it was hard to keep it off the list.
|29||Edge of Sanity|
The Spectral Sorrows
Dan Swanö has the perfect death metal growl. He's not my favourite vocalist in the genre, but it's hard to deny how perfectly he captures a death metal growl. The Spectral Sorrows is just a fantastic album from beginning to end, and overall is the most consistent Edge of Sanity album. I love the Manowar cover, even though I'm not particularly fond of Manowar, it's just an hilarious addition to such a solid death metal record. Though 'Twilight' is my favourite track from Edge of Sanity, Purgatory Afterglow as a whole just doesn't stand up to this album.
You just know a band that utilises the words "crawling chaos" is gonna be worth your time. Eternal Dirge (song: 'The Crawling Chaos), Cruciamentum (demo/song: 'Convocation of Crawling Chaos'), Portal (song: 'Omnipotent Crawling Chaos'), Cianide (song: 'Crawling Chaos')--the evidence is there. Crawling Chaos is an indicator of quality. And Eternal Dirge are a mostly unsung death metal band from the golden age of death metal. Their mildly progressive take is catchy and full of headbangin' riffs that never fail to entertain.
Descend Into the Absurd
Even though the majority of this band's work is worthless, they really captured the essence of death metal with this album. With the haunting guitar leads and melodies coupled with aggressive riffs that work magically with the terrific drum performance, this album captures it all perfectly.
The Bizarre Machinery Of Universe
The best overlooked technical death metal album you'll ever hear. This band has a great production job that doesn't sound too shiny or plastic, they have memorable and technical riffs that meld in perfectly with their incredible guitar harmonies. This album is a journey that encapsulate everything great about technical death metal.
|33||Garden of Silence|
Behold The Cross / A Kingdom In Ruins
A band that really defines death/doom metal. They blend the clean vocal melodies and slow definition of doom metal with the distortion and power of death metal. It's a real shame they didn't release more material, because a full album of tracks like these would be undoubtedly classic and essential.
Reflections of the Solstice
The band that inspired the title of Darkthrone's Goatlord album is every bit as essential as Darkthrone's Goatlord album. They blend black, death and doom metal and create one of the filthiest atmospheres in all of those genres. My favourite quote in regards to this band was made by some dude on Last.fm, "The drums sound like someone punching garbage cans". It doesn't get much better than that.
Gorguts created three perfect death metal albums, starting with this one. Considered Dead is their most straight-forward and typical for the style, but it nonetheless perfectly epitomises that style.
The Erosion of Sanity
They got weirder, darker and more intense on this album, and it's one of the breeziest thirty-seven minutes of death metal I've ever listened to. This album flows perfectly and despite its complexities it just goes by in an instant, in the best way possible. I usually end up listening to it twice in a row.
One of my favourite albums of all time, it's hard to put into words my feelings for this album. It's a very personal experience for me, so I can't convey properly what it is about this that I love so much. But I will just say that this album is my inspiration for almost everything.
This album is like a ritual. It's captivating, brilliant, extremely dark and it separates itself from most "cavernous death metal" by being truly focused on its ability to capture the brilliance of ritual ambient music with the levity of death metal. Some might dismiss this album for its lack of riffs or some other shallow reason, but that's far from what this album is about. This album is an experience that's more than just a death metal album.
In the Embrace of Evil
Ugh, it's hard to find a riff on here that doesn't just blow your fucking face off.
Ancestral War Hymns
Black/death metal that mixes true traditional folk music with the music. The melodies are obscure and beautiful and the metal is visceral and unique. It's much better than my generic buzzwords are.
Inheritance of Evilness
The best black/death metal album you've never heard of. Epic tracks that usually span over ten minutes, I highly recommend checking out the version with the two bonus tracks that both go for over ten minutes each. This band is a force to be reckoned with. I always find myself going back to this one.
Fulfill the Curse
Probably my favourite modern death/doom band. I'm finding it hard to be bothered writing out longer descriptions now. Just know that they have great riffs and stuff.
Dawn of Possession
Yeah, it might be the most straight-forward Immolation album that lacked the much more technical approach that all the albums that followed this, but it contains some of their best tracks and riffs to date. Straight up evil.
Close to a World Below
It was hard for me not to include Failures for Gods on this list, but I had to cut it to fit in other albums I consider worthy of the top 100, so just know that I consider this and Failures for Gods equal, this only edging it out on the list because it had a cleaner and more fitting production for the band's fiery riffs that defined their brand of dissonance. The drum performance on this album is out of this world.
Horror Of The Zombies
People say the samples on this album hold it back, but I love all the b-horror samples before every song. They help make the brilliant atmosphere of this record what it is. One of my absolute favourites, Impetigo needs more appreciation here and everywhere.
Ultimo Mondo Cannibale
The vocals on this album are the among the most disgusting I've ever heard. This album is one to play for your parents at Christmas.
Onward to Golgotha
No explanation needed.
Tribute to the Goat
Actually had to add this one to the database. This one's a live studio recording as well as a demo from 1990, I believe. This is the only album in Incantation's discography that I go back to as frequently as Onward to Golgotha. The atmosphere they have on this album is like nothing else I've heard, and it's an essential listen for fans of the band.
To the Depths... In Degradation
Absolutely filthy old school death metal with an amazing drum performance and a vocal performance that I think was described best in rasp's review for the album: "The No Throats".
This is only two songs, but these two songs are some of the best death metal songs I've ever heard. 'The She-Goat Quandary' has one of my favourite riffs of all time on it. I am always coming back to this EP.
Pull The Flood
Psychedelic/progressive death metal that's got lots of great riffs as well as some sick psychedelic moments on it that just set it apart. It's a unique listen, that's for sure.
Tears Of A Leper
Okay, so not an unholy band: this band is Christian, but they put out some killer death metal here with a lot of melodic and acoustic passages, which I tend to be a bit of a sucker for.
Brutal/technical death metal with a progressive edge and some eastern influence. I'm sure most people here already know it.
|54||maudlin of the Well|
Bath/Leaving Your Body Map. The database here doesn't have the album listed with both parts together. Together, both parts of this album form an extremely diverse album, but one full of some of my favourite death metal moments of all time.
Amazing black/speed/death metal from the 80s.
Killer death/thrash that I'm sure most death metal fans know. Blistering riffs.
Year Of The Goat
More 80s black/death/thrash metal! Very much worth everybody's time.
Abominations of Desolation
Sloppy, evil, perfect. Browning's vocals and drumming create an atmosphere that I'll always love, and Azagthoth's insane guitar work is a defining aspect of death metal.
Altars of Madness
They got tighter, and they gained a new magic that's a different beast to that of Abominations, but still just as amazing. They lost Browning, but he went on to make Nocturnus, so everybody's a winner.
Gateways to Annihilation
Sandoval is at the top of his drumming game on this album.
I just really love the atmosphere of this album. Vocals remind me of Chris Reifert. RITUALISTIC FILTH.
All the Witches Dance
One of my favourite black/death metal bands. They released their first album in a decade last year which is incredible, check it and all their others albums out if you haven't.
Season of the Dead
80s death metal.
For some reason Nocturnus gets a bad rep around here, but they're one of my all-time favourites of death metal. Browning is working on a sequel to this with his new band Nocturnus A.D. which I am looking forward to greatly.
Just as good as The Key.
Carrying on the legacy created by Darkthrone's GOATLORD.
Solstice of Oppression
Brutal/tech death that is a lot like early Suffocation.
|68||Order from Chaos|
An Ending In Fire
Probably the most under-appreciated black/death metal band of all time.
|69||Order from Chaos|
Martin van Drunen best voxist ever agreed
Best vocal hooks ever made ever agreed
fuk tha haters, this album rules.
Into the Abyss
so sick of writing these oh my god
|76||Ride for Revenge|
The King of Snakes
I actually want to list 'Wisdom of the Few', but I can't be bothered adding it to the database at this point. Band makes the filthiest shit you've ever heard, coupled with disgusting noise.
Dreaming With the Dead
probably top 5 worthy dm
|78|| ||Sadistic Intent|
Ancient Black Earth
Band riffs harder than anyone
The Laws of Scourge
They stopped making bestial black thrash and started making sick tech death/thrash
The Spooky Gloom
best death/doom from the 80s
Eastern-influenced death metal that sounds like it was fronted by Nergal except better than anything Behemoth has done.
|82||The Slow Death|
Pre-maturely putting this on here, but I believe this is the ultimate incarnation of what this band has done so it makes it to the list instead of their first or second album. Some of the best death/funeral doom you'll ever hear.
Iceland has a lot of good metal
|84||Spawn of Possession|
Listened to this constantly since it was released in 2012 so I think it's one of my favourite albums
|85||Spawn of Possession|
Took me a while to understand this but now I think it's just as good if not better than Incurso
A Great Work of Ages
best prog black/death band you'll hear
The Scream That Tore the Sky
Effigy of the Forgotten
that guitar tone is like playing death metal underwater
Much more "normal" sounding guitar tones than Effigy but the riffs are undeniable
this is blah blah blah DDEATH
RITUALISTIC FILTH 
Realm of Ecstasy
|93||Thou Shalt Suffer|
Into the Woods of Belial
Ihsahn before he became shit
Beyond the Veil
The Formulas of Death
I wasn't so hot on this for a while but now I listen to it on a weekly basis so idk i must love it right? ?
The Destroyers of All
The Destroyer of Everything Is Fire
All Uproarious Darkness
All Swagroarious Swagness
Bleeding The Priest
Bleeding the Swag
Internal Caustic Torments
bathing in wombs