20. Death: Symbolic
It goes without saying that Chuck Shuldiner remains one of the most
important figures in extreme metal, therefore justifying the 3 positions
that Death holds on our list. “Symbolic” would prove to be an
interesting progression for Chuck & co., especially considering that
Death always pushed the boundaries of death metal ever since the
release of the seminal “Human” in ’91. I was lucky enough to witness
their stunning performance over 10 years ago for the “Symbolic” tour
back in 95, along with Deicide, Gorguts and some insignificant opening
act entitled Homicide or something. Without sacrificing one ounce of
brutality for originality, Death simultaneously managed to release an
elaborate collection of innovative songs while proving to the metal
community just why they always were (and will always be) one of the most
important extreme metal bands to ever exist.
There’s an interesting clip on YouTube that shows Chuck answering
interview questions back in the early 90s with an awkward lisp and a
shirt with cute little kittens on it. I find it fascinating that such a
gentle and kind person could have recorded such ferocious music. While I
truly admire the anti-mainstream stance of extreme metal, it’s a shame
that it couldn’t be a tad more commercially viable at times. After
complications from a recurring brain tumor and a significant lack of
funds stalling immediate surgery, Chuck eventually passed on December
13th 2001. But let’s not dwell on that. Let’s just acknowledge that
“Symbolic” will always be remembered as an exceptional album recorded by
one of the most important bands in metal history.
19. Entombed: Left hand path
Instead of running my mouth for aeon’s like most of my staff here,
I’ll continue to keep this short and to the point. While I consider
second album “Clandestine” (if I was the one who put this shit together,
said album would have been ranked higher than “LHP”)
unquestionably superior in Entombed’s catalogue, there’s no denying how
groundbreaking “Left hand penis” was at the time of its release.
Entombed launched a massive death metal assault upon mankind and were
copied by literally millions of bands who never managed to come close to
The Tomb themselves. In the end it shows that not even Entombed could
live up to the material of their first 4 records. If there’s a classic
death metal riff to mention, it’s the one that at the beginning of
“Drowned”. Fucken classic indeed.
18. Emperor: In the Nightside Eclipse
“I Am the Black Wizards” indeed. Emperor set the template for
symphonic black metal that would later be exploited and abused. One of
the most adventurous black metal discs of all-time, “…Eclipse” sets
itself apart from the other genre masterpieces released in 1994. Those
who complained about Ihsahn’s sodomized bobcat vocals and the heavy
presence of synths really missed out on something special. While their
next musical venture would be the album that people remember them for,
this disc is no less essential.
Oh, and this has best black metal intro I’ve ever heard. No stupid violins or narrations, just creepy “Metroidian” synth magic!
17. Deicide: Legion
Deicide in their prime. “Legion” reeks of evil, Satan, dildos and
Glenda Benton’s awesome vocals. They had a lot to live up to after their
enormous debut and fulfilled all the expectations one could have with
this piece. “Legion” shows some insanely full-on groove mixed with
supreme brutality. One of the finest moments from Florida and
Morrisound. This is Deicide’s “Reign in blood”. Then they went to
complete shit more or less, but that’s another story.
16. Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse
This was my personal pick to sit at the number 1 spot on this list.
This is quite simply the most agonizingly beautiful album to come out of
the 90’s. Hands down. I shouldn’t say too much about it because once I
start, I can’t stop, and I do believe I’ve already gone over the top on
this site about this very album. So, I’ll try to keep the verbal
diarrhea to a minimum.
It’s heavy, it’s soul-achingly pretty, and doesn’t offer the typical
death metal fare. It’s very much a sonic voyage, and one best taken
alone. I can’t imagine putting this on at a gathering of friends
drinking beer and talking while it’s playing. It’s an album you put on,
shut your eyes and really listen to, and let it take you into its
world, destroying your innards as the time counter moves. It’s highly
emotional, with intricate, stunningly beautiful guitar work and vocals
that will simply make you wet your panties and make your eyes water.
Which isn’t that attractive to your friends, trust me. The built-in
cyclic mechanism only aids in making this concept album a work of sheer
brilliance, and lyrically, it’s quite different from anything that came
before it. “My Arms, Your Hearse” is definitely a highly superior,
intelligent, poignant, intense and exquisite album, the beauty of which
takes absolutely nothing away from its heaviness.
15. Mr. Bungle: Mr. Bungle
Metal through insanity, that is the best way to describe this album
to a metalhead ‘purist’ who is too busy counting his faded black tour
shirts to care about awesome music. What made this album so awesome is
that Mr. Bungle were able to capture the fucked-up artistic perfection
they carried within themselves when they formed this band as teenagers
and translate it into an album at a later time in their lives when they
had each reached at least a modicum of success. Mike Patton was right
in the height of Faith No More’s success and… well I guess that’s it as
far as band members being successful.
Regardless, this album is a tribute to all eternal 14 year olds who still remember that ONE
album that made them go: “Is that even fucking possible? Is that even
right? I feel dirty I think…” Purely magical fucked up carnival metal
14. Napalm Death: Harmony Corruption
When Napalm Death decided to ride the Morrisound trend they finally
became a good band after years and years of sucking horsecock. Entering
said studio and approaching a more death metallish style was exactly
what was needed for me to start taking interest in them. This is the
only Napalm album I truly care about and no matter what the band says
about it, it’s the best piece of music they ever recorded.
13. Athiest: Unquestionable Presence
There should be a warning that comes with this album. Do not listen to while inhaling paint fumes. It will fuck you up.
Which is exactly what I was doing when I heard this album for the first
time. Needless to say, it made quite an impression, as evidenced on my
bedroom walls. Although not their first album, it was the first I’d
ever heard from the band, and it was the very first time I’d heard death
jazz. An album heavily laced with complex arrangements,
“Unquestionable Presence” is remarkably heady, not to mention busy.
Probably the most haunting thing about this album is that it was
almost never recorded, as the bassist, Roger Patterson, died in vocalist
Kelly Shaefer’s arms after their van crashed on a Louisiana highway
while on their way back from touring with Candlemass. The band almost
never went on, but decided to make Patterson’s last project come to
fruition and enlisted Cynic’s bassist, Tony Choy, for this album. And
what a fucking album it turned out to be. Beautifully odd time
signatures, virtuoso bass lines, and intricately fused death metal and
jazz make this album innovative even by today’s standards, and no top
100 list can be taken seriously without the inclusion of thereof.
12. Grave: Soulless
On “Soulless”, Grave composed a death metal molotov cocktail that
just reeks of groove, brutality and some of the catchiest death metal
tunes you are bound to hear. From the crushing opening riff of “Turning
black” to the ending of “Scars”, there’s not one weak passage on this
whole album. “Soulless” is the crown jewel of Grave and they never
managed to fully get back on track after Jörgen left the band. One of
the finest albums in Swedish death metal history with a well-deserved
spot in the “Death Metal Hall of Fame”. But Seance’s “Saltrubbed eyes”
is better. Actually, it’s not only better… “Saltrubbed eyes” is number
one. Is that fucken clear now?
11. Carcass: Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious
Carcass is the only band on our list to (almost) have two
albums in the top ten of our list, and for good reasons. This time
around, they drop their grind and go straight for the death metal sound.
“Corporal Jigsore Quandary” is worth the admission alone. Carcass will
always remain the kings of goregrind in many fans’ eyes, including mine.
(Note from Stephen: Okay folks, here’s the deal. This album was
originally scheduled to just squeak it’s way into the Top 10. After
getting drunk and fondling each other one night, we decided that it
really belonged a few spots lower. It’s not that we don’t love Carcass,
we do, and a few of us fought valiantly to keep it in the Top 10. The
whiners won out in the end though, so it was moved a few places back.
Why is all this important? Well, Eric had written his
matter-of-fact comment long before we decided to move it and we didn’t
think it was fair to make him rewrite it at the last second. Regardless
of the BS, “Necrotism” is the death/grind album to own, featuring
countless kick-ass riffs, rhythms and solos. If you don’t own and
appreciate this album, you suck.)