|Death Metal of the New Millennium|
Without a doubt, the 80's and 90's were the heydays of death metal with a myriad of regional scenes developing and bands forming and dropping notable material well until the end of the previous century. That's not to say the 2000's didn't spawn its share of new kids on the block, taking cues from the legends before them and molding it into their own vision. This list focuses on death metal bands that dropped their first record in the 2000's which brought them to the attention of the general metal scene. Who are the ones we will still give a shit about 20 years from now? The potential future classics? Who will survive and what will be left of them?
Disciples of Colorado's burgeoning metal scene, Blood Incantation stormed unto the scene with their decidedly complex approach to the death-metal-in-space theme. The extraterrestrial atmosphere isn't created by the use of ridiculous ET sounds, but rather by the way of ever spiraling riffs and leads as well as a slightly grainy production - giving it as much of an occult edge as a sci-fi one. With a debut as masterful as this, one can only look forward to what else they have in store for us.
With what is possibly one of the strongest EP's in metal out there (which is no small feat ), Bölzer made a name for themselves with their atmospheric, outstretched-sounding and strangely pagan influenced brand of death metal. Thunderous riffs and a varied vocal approach where cavernous growls and hoarse screams can turn into wolf-like howls and warlike shouts at any given moment create a tense mood where a potential deadly attack from an unseen presence is always lurking around the corner. Aura proved to be Bölzer's acclaimed underground breakthrough, while their recent full length was met with divisive criticism.
One thing's for certain, obvious talent like this will not go unnoticed anytime soon.
Promulgation of the Fall
Coming from a country with a fairly rich history of - often times blackened - metal, Dead Congregation put their own spin on the by now done-to-death sound of Incantation-like cavernous death metal. These Greeks set themselves apart from their peers in the way they at times infuse almost occultish melodies into their bellowing sound. The band released two downright excellent full lengths and hopefully there's more to come.
Winds of Creation
By now a shell of their former self - due to happenings we by now all know all about - the band of Polish once youngsters delivered an absolute beast of a record at the start of the new millennium. Showing the technical DM - oftentimes accused of being wank for wank's sake - that death metal can be as mathematical and technical as it can be groovy and brutal without sacrificing the genre's inherently infernal vibe. A debut they never surpassed, but one which immediately transported them to legendary status.
Towards the Megalith
Whatever you may think of Pillard, there's no denying he can growl like a motherfucker. That he still has it, was proven on this ridiculously heavy slab of old school death metal. It doesn't really do anything new, but what it does, it does exceptionally well. While Towards the Megalith is not the most novel DM record of the 2000's, it's a serious contender for being the most crushing one. The future of the band is pretty much unclear.
The Sleep of Morbid Dreams
Somewhere between Stockholm Swedeath and Incantation-like murk, New Jersey proved they could hold their own by the means of bone crushing buzzsaw riffs and some of the most inhuman sounding blood gurgling growls your ears will ever meet. While the band drops a little new stuff every now and then, it almost feels as if they realize they probably won't be able to top this one in ferocity and grime.
A one off, but one that became legendary in the metal underground due to the almost mythical reputation of their sole album on the Metal Archives. Alternating between atmospherically exotic passages and ridiculously furious hurricanes of death metal blasting and squeal-growling, this album has a sound never duplicated or imitated. Will there ever be another one? Probably not, but we'll always have this.
On Strange Loops
Inspired by Gateways-era Morbid Angel, the British band took the chugging DM and transported it into space. In the case of Mithras, the "alien" feel is mostly evoked by the use of reverb-laced leads and solos that seem to echo throughout the galaxy. Sadly, they semi-broke up, but at least they left us with a slew of great (and at least two downright excellent) albums.
Starting out as an Autopsy-worship band, the Swedes took a weird turn and out of the blue churned out this little record which creates an aura as if you're listening to a death metal album inside a fever dream. The band made a name for themselves with this distinctly psychedelic and never-done-before sound only to break up immediately after the release of this record. An oddity, but one that will hopefully be remembered for years to come.
Taking the doomy death metal sound of Autopsy, but lacing it with a drug-induced paranoid horror vibe, these Fenriz proteges are rightfully considered to be one of the finest young DM acts out there. They released two superb full lengths already and here's hoping they'll continue down that road.
By now already legends with their unusual swarming style of auditory horror. As interesting as their music, is the Lovecraft-inspired lore the band created. One has to be in the mood for their near-indigestible sound, but when the craving's there, they'll be satisfied in no time.
Eroded Corridors of Unbeing
Almost the same band as Blood Incantation, this project is another showcase of the insane amount of talent these guys possess. Cavernous death metal makes way for Disembowelment/Evoken-like leads while often times fluently descending into ambient-like doom dirges that manage to evoke images of hell and torment. As with Blood Incantation, this won't be the last we heard of them.
Apparently Spain has a sprawling power/prog-power metal scene, but personally I don't care for these bands.
Teitanblood on the other hand...is more to my taste. With their more death metal-oriented take on bestial war metal, the band exists solely to create pure sonic terror and annihilating chaos. Riffs are there mostly to create a roaring background of destruction while growls, screams, shrieks, shouts and yells completely engulf you like a demonic presence. Two excellent full lengths in a row (and counting (?)).
Everything Is Fire
One of modern DM's most beloved bands and New Zealand's metallic pride, Ulcerate inspired themselves on Gorguts' atonality and created their own style with the added influence of apocalyptical post-rock. The band has released 5 full lengths, at least 4 of them being top tier.
Trance of Death
Maybe the youngest band in this list, Venenum turned heads with their dark brand of old school death metal that has a distinctly flavored 70's progressive rock streak running underneath. A masterclass in how to turn something familiar into something unique, this record is a promising start.
The Sum of All Fossils
Sadly enough, another short lived band but one that had their own distinct Godflesh-by-the-way-of-Gorguts vision. Unlike the atmosphere most DM created, Flourishing was very successful at evoking a certain vibe of urban decay - like wandering into a nearly abandoned industrial area or a downtrodden neighborhood in a neglected grey urban area where you could get shanked in the back at any given moment, despite the fact there's not a soul in sight.
|17||Dragged Into Sunlight|
Hatred For Mankind
In 2009 the British as well showed they're still able of having an own wayward voice in death metal. Dragged Into Sunlight's boundary-pushing mixture of Swedeath, blackened sludge and sample-heavy noise was not only an exercise in extremity but also a showcase of compositional masterclass in how borderline inaccessible sonic violence can still keep the head working. The band moved into a more experimental direction on the subsequent record, but it would be great if they returned another time to what they do best: delivering the perfect soundtrack to stab someone in the neck after he repeatedly fails to pay you his drug debt.
(I hope no cops are reading this)
Order and Punishment
As if there was more proof necessary to back up the statement that the Czech Republic is one of those countries that has a thing for breeding the weirdest metal bands, these technical deathgrinders came to light at the beginning of the new millennium. A sadly short-lived career culminated in this 36-minute maelstrom of technical death metal riffs played in mathematical rhythms layered on top with remarkably melodic leads and completely schizoid vocals. It's become an overused statement by now, but these guys were ahead of their time. Such a shame about the financial fuck-over that caused the band to call it a day.
Chapters of Repugnance
Brutal death metal and slam are two terms that would make many turn their heads in a negative manner. Defeated Sanity on the other hand manage to spice things about by molding their brutal death sound in almost labyrinthine song structures while still being as absolutely savage as it can possibly get.
Finding somewhat of its own middle ground between the more technical musings of mid-era Death and Scandinavian melodicism, this Philly band continues expanding their sound with each subsequent release.
While Russia is notorious for producing some of the most heads-on dumb slam, Katalepsy set themselves aside from their colleagues in taking a slightly more "tasteful" but no less energetic approach. Thanks to being chock-full of actually great riffs the music is both interesting enough to sit back and listen to while still providing you with the necessary shot of adrenaline to roundhouse kick and curb stomp the first douche nozzle you cross on a bad day.
|22||Spawn of Possession|
Following the breakthrough of Necrophagist a myriad of bands all over the world came out with their take on modern "wank-tech-death". Spawn of Possession stood out because of their ability in using all of the style's characteristics to create unbridled malevolent chaos. Overly complex while at the same time being adequately demented, SoP peaked and called it a day.
Fulfill the Curse
Drawn-out Sabbathian doom collides with some of the most sickly diseased growling this side of early Grave. Hooded Menace have been covering the niche for horror-laden doom/death since 2008. A band of remarkable consistence, arguably never having released a subpar record. The year 2018 saw the release of what in my opinion may be their best work since the debut featured here, proving that the Finns have much more deliciousness in store for the gore-obsessed and the sick.
The second Spanish band featured on this list, Wormed's wayward take on brutal death metal shows that Spain is a country currently upping the ante for its metal scene. Delivering some of the strangest bolts of brutal death alternated with uneasy showcases of instrumental ambience layered with far-out gurgling vocals all the while sticking to a wriggly extraterrestrial atmosphere, Wormed's signature sound will never be the easiest to grasp. Those who can get over the "vacuum cleaner" vocal work will be able to treat themselves to some of the more rewarding brutal death metal of recent times.
Manor of Infinite Forms
Of all places I can connect to the death metal genre, Toronto isn't one I'd name off the top of my head. Yet here we are. Coming onto the scene in 2016, Tomb Mold established themselves as one of the most promising young death metal acts out there with their 2018 release. Taking cues from both Incantation as well as Finnish death metal, but most importantly proving themselves to be apt at writing more memorable riffs than you can count, these Torontonians are a bunch to look out for in the future.
Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est
Providing one of the most unsettling dissonant death metal experiences ever since Gorguts first made people shit their pants with Obscura, the Italian band left quite the mark already. Creating memorability among the cacophonous chaos set Ad Nauseam aside from the horde of young bands trying to out-dissonant each other to often mediocre results. A promising band with hopefully more tricks up their sleeve.
The Scepter of the Ancients
Even though the band has been going in a slightly different direction for a while now, nobody played technical death metal like Psycroptic played it in the early 2000's and it's doubtful anybody ever will. Their 2003 career highpoint is an ultimate showcase of a rhythm section, guitar work as well as a vocal performance that sounds like nothing else in the business even a quindecennial later.
Monolith of Inhumanity
Starting out as a reasonably mediocre deathgrind band, in 2012 Cattle Decapitation suddenly surprised metal listeners by dropping an album that not only by leaps and bounds improved on their already established sound but one that added a dose of unexpected creativity as well. Throwing technical death metal and grindcore in a smoldering stew together with the various unheard (but apparently 100% vegan) vocal incantations and an adequately gory dose of (human of course) dismembered limbs and eyeballs freshly ripped from the socket, this Monolith of Inhumanity proved itself to be a daunting task to follow up upon.
Reek Of Pubescent Despoilment
A left field choice, but in between all of the brutal death metal clones that create their sound by stringing together the more simplistic parts of Effigy Of The Forgotten, it's actually somehow refreshing to come across a brutal death band that takes its cues equally from old school Cryptopsy as from the more modern post-Disgorge stuff. Always gleefully over the top and always completely disgusting while at the same time belting out memorable riffs as well as absolutely showstopping vocal work by Blue Jensen.
Words That Go Unspoken...
I'm cheating here, because Akercocke released their first album in 1999 already, but fuck it: the 2000's were when they got the spotlight. Fusing brutal death metal with esoteric black metal and atmospheric prog, Akercocke proved to be a rare band that focuses as much on layered songwriting and top tier musicianship as they paid attention to their Victorian satanist aesthetic.
A Sci-Fi themed tech-death band that for once actually sounds alien. Pulling it off is no small feat, but through a multi-layered web of sonic chaos filled with uneasy melodies, weird rhythms and subtle atmospheric details, Artificial Brain were able to set themselves apart from the pack.
In a way, Archspire is the personification of excess: blazingly fast technical guitar work, frantic drumming and a vocalist that (self-admittedly) strives to be the death metal equivalent to Tech N9ne. Despite showboating leaving a sour taste in many a mouth, Archspire strangely enough manages to utilize their songwriting capabilities to the fullest creating memorable and insanely catchy songs in the process. Creating a tasty dish out of ingredients I personally don't enjoy...this band is something special.
Nightmares Made Flesh
With an ever-changing lineup Bloodbath, by now, is more of a collective of various musicians from the (primarily Swedish) metal scene who come together to jam out and create some no-frills old school Stockholm death metal. In no small part thanks to the talent of the individuals involved they just manage to create ripping tunes and records while doing so.
Existing in the same sonic universe of fellow deathgrind stalwarts Aborted and Cephalic Carnage (who were both active a bit earlier nonetheless), these French psychos put their own spin on sonic terror. While Aborted juggles with gore and Cephalic Carnage goes into baked-out spoof territory, Benighted translate schizophrenia into deathgrind where it gets difficult to predict which riff will be thrown at you next, when they will play another surprisingly soulful melody or which insane vocal antic Julian Truchan will pull off.
|35||The Black Dahlia Murder|
Originally claimed as part of the "deathcore movement" The Black Dahlia Murder never played straight-up deathcore, but married ATG-styled melodic death metal with sleazy horror movie themes and one of the best-executed high-pitched-screech-alternating-with-inhumanly-low-guttural vocal attacks in the business. By now the band has transformed itself into a crowd favorite and a guarantee for reasonably consistent quality.
A future fan favorite for British death metal? Possibly.
With their first release Cruciamentum brought an infectious brand of inhumanly dark old school death to the table: rumbling riffs, dynamic song structures, a sparse but effective use of eerily atmospheric synths and vocals that utilize a demonic bark as opposed to the regular grunt...Cruciamentum cooked up a plate for the old school fan to devour.
|37||Full of Hell|
Starting out as a dark metallic power violence band, Full of Hell by now has transformed itself into somewhat of an atmospheric deathgrind outfit. Taking a varied approach to songwriting while incorporating elements from sludge and Japanese noise into their sound as well as featuring an extraordinarily talented vocalist behind the mic, the Maryland outfit is sure to be a cult band for the future.
|38||The Red Chord|
Fed Through the Teeth Machine
Regarded as a deathcore pioneer, The Red Chord always managed to bring a more tasteful vision of the sound to the table than most with a knack for writing killer riffs and striking leads while forsaking neither technical proficiency and bone crushing brutality.
Almost rivaling Portal in pitch black atmospheric chaos, Mitochondrion offers an intriguing, creative and unique sound that lowers you into hell, lifts you back out before throwing you back in again.
This Is Exile
I know, it's a tricky inclusion. Especially seeing Whitechapel has often been accused of spawning "generic deathcore" through their various imitators. Nevertheless, when I have an itch for this specific strain of deathcore to scratch, this is one of my go-tos. Great riff-writing, attention to detail and an absolute beast of a vocalist in Phil Bozeman. Maybe not the most consistent band around, but they've shown a willingness to progress.