Well, time for a new series on Merchants Of Air. I call this one "Rerooting" because I'm going to have a look at all those records that developed my insatiable appetite for new music. Over the past four decades or so, I've been digging into the world of music, looking for different things, other angles, unknown sounds. I've devoured countless of genres and I always seem to have a few favorites. Today, my wife asked me to list a few of my all time favorite death metal songs, which immediately made me go to YouTube and provide her with a decent dose of brutality.
Aah, the Swedes, always ready to kick your butt with something you have never heard before. Formed in 1987, Entombed delivered a heap of blasting songs but this one from their 'Wolverine Blues' album is by far my absolute favorite. The whole album is a gem of skull ripping death metal but you should already know that by now.
I was an Anthrax fan and someone gave me a tape from the thrash gods. On side B, he recorded something he thought I'd like. Oh boy, he was wrong. I hated every single second of that harsh, relentless and painful noise...until I accidentally listened a second time. Suddenly, I was a death metal fan and definitely a Sepultura fan. 'Arise' is still my favorite album but as far as youth sentiment is concerned, 'Mass Hypnosis' and the whole 'Beneath The Remains' album is the shit.
Oh man, the nineties must have been the most eardrum tormenting decade my mother has ever been through. I played these things loud and this (ahum) beauty was always a part of the playlist. It was also the age when my neck contained the most well-trained muscles in my body, if you know what I mean...
This particular song might be somewhat of a surprise to Napalm Death lovers but it is my absolute favorite of the grandmasters. I know, 'You Suffer' and many others have been some of the most genre definable songs but 'Evolved As One' opened a whole new world for me. Hell, I didn't know metal was allowed to be slow. Imagine discovering this song as a mentally tormented adolescent. What a fucking masterpiece...
Chuck, this one is for you, a massively talented musician and songwriter who died too soon. This 'Spiritual Healing' album was a mind opener for me. Before I discovered this album, death metal was nothing but speed and brutality but Death added a stunning technical aspect to the whole damn thing. They changed tempo more often than I changed underwear. Yes, I was a disturbed teenager...
Yes, 'We Shall Rise' is a world class death metal song but people seem to forget that there was an Arch Enemy before Angela took over vocal duties. I 'member the old Arch Enemy and their bloody awesome 'Burning Bridges' album, which was a melodic and technical masterpiece. Lately, I somewhat lost track of this band but I do admit that this song helped me in forming one or a few musical identities...
More Swedes please!!! I've always adored the thick, muddy sound of Dismember and when 'Indecent and Obscene' came out, I just had to go buy it. Back home (back in those days we had to leave the house to buy albums) I quickly non-stopped the thing and discovered this mesmerizing closer.
In 1994, death metal took an unexpected turn, at least for me. Suddenly, there was Amorphis with their 'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' album and things would never be the same again. Of course, I knew these Fins already and I enjoyed their 'The Karelian Isthmus' album but 'Tales' is nothing short of a masterpiece, dark, melodic, featuring clean vocals along with some of the best grunts in history...
Just one of the many defining tunes of these American legends, but for me a song that really stands out. In this one, they make technical death metal seem so easy, so effortless and manage to write a bunch of decent songs as well. Hell, I even enjoyed their experimental, techno-inspired work on the loathed 'Illum' album. I mean, still better than 'St Anger', right???
Another bunch of legends and another somewhat slower piece of death metal, maybe I've just always been a doom fan, who knows. Anyway, back in the days, I used to play 'Symphonies of Sickness' really loud every time Jehova's Witnesses were knocking on the door. Yet, somehow, I lost track of Carcass until their magisterial 'Heartwork' album, including this awesome tune.
In my opinion, you cannot be a metal fan without supporting your local scene. I discovered this guys at a gig in a local café and I was immediately sold. Their brutal but melodic death metal was everything I needed at that moment, even more so than bands like At The Gates or Bolt Thrower, which everyone was listening to. Unfortunately, Death's Bride disbanded a few years later, which gave way to the equally awesome Leech 54, also fronted by The Larz Meister!!!
Peter Tägtgren is a genius, coming up with some of the most infectious riffs the world of metal has ever experienced. This song, and the whole 'The Final Chapter' album, have been a constant during my years as an angry adolescent. Sometimes I wonder what is in the water in Sweden, they just keep barking out amazing acts...
At some point in my metal career I was completely hooked on Dutch death metallers Gorefest and their 'Erase' album. Although I wasn't really a fan of the vocal sound, the groovy and in-your-face sound of the album made me play it again and again. Somehow, Gorefest didn't take things to the most extreme levels but focused on creating complex and immersive songs.
This one comes from a compilation I bought ('Death Is Just The Beginning II'). I didn't know Master but this song got me hooked immediately. That flute, the constant pounding tempo. Simply brilliant.
Coming from that same compilation, which obvisouly was a massive blast in its entirity, comes this dark, haunting piece of death metal by Benediction. To me, this was something different from the usual eardrum-drilling provided by most death metal bands. Once again, this nudged towards the doom scene, and that is probably exactly why I loved this song so much.