Thursday, March 13, 2008

Retroview: Classic 1990s generic death metal comps

As we have discussed before, it is without a doubt that the 1990s were an incredible time for death metal. Especially if you liked an endless stream of albums full of clicky bass drums and cookie-cutter riffs topped off with Wes Benscoter and Dan Seagrave covers. And that's definitely what you got when you purchased one of the seminal death metal compilations of the 1990s. Finally, it should be noted that we are reviewing the cassette versions of all these compilations, for those of you who are gaywads that pride yourself on pointing out that Dr. And The Crippens weren't on the Japan-only double 10" flexi version of Grindcrusher or whatever. I hope you get hit by a meteor.

Please leave comments on your personal highs, lows, and WTFs for the albums, and remind us of what other generic 90s death metal comps we missed.

At Death's Door: A Collection of Brutal Death Metal
I was going to make fun of this one but after looking at the track listing again, it's actually pretty sweet and generally devoid of crap or novelty bands, especially considering it's from 1990, making it the earliest of all these comps.

Highs: Believer! I love this band so much even though they're Jesus freaks. I'd go so far as to say they might be the best thrash band of all time. Seriously. I love both their albums, especially the one that sounds exactly like Earth Crisis. Also, one of the better Deicide songs.

Lows: Malevolent Creation, yuck! I can't think of anything even slightly notable about that band. Well, except for that one song... you know... that one.

WTF: For a good 2 years or so, I thought Deicide were called "Decide." I am pretty sure I said a few times that Decide were the most brutal band ever.

Death Is Just The Beginning Vol I
The only other person at my high school that listened to death metal was this poser named Cam. He let me borrow this tape in 9th grade. It was my first introduction to Nuclear Blast, and as you might guess, I was not impressed. That shouldn't be a surprise considering this is the same label that thought people would pay money for Gorefest and Kataklysm records. If there's one thing we learned from Nuclear Blast bands, it's that Euros shouldn't be allowed to make music.

Highs: Uh... well, I actually really like one of the Righteous Pigs songs on here, which is funny because I can imagine even Wild Rags turning down their demo.

Lows: Master, Defecation, Atrocity, Disharmonic Orchestra... need I go on? Oof. Oh and don't forget Benediction! If you can make it through both sides of this tape, you're a braver man than I am.

WTF: There is someone out there on this planet who considers this the best album ever made. Think about it. There are 6 billion people on this motherfucker, one of them has to think this album tops them all. He probably also has severe head trauma.

Corporate Death
Relapse these days is a truly awful label. Not as bad as Earache I guess, but who is. They mostly put out beard metal and hardcore with not an Exit-13 record to be found, it's bullshit. But back in the early 90s, they were pretty sweet because they put out lots of awesome American death metal, such as this comp.

Highs: Suffocation "Human Waste." This completely knocked my dick in the dirt when I first heard it and began my decades-long love affair with wigger slam metal. Also, back then Relapse had the balls to put out weird shit like Candiru and Convulse, which I still like a lot. OK, that's not true, but it was still cool.

Lows: Mortician. Ugh. Disrupt, one of the worst bands ever that just wouldn't quit. General Surgery, the epitome of forgettable death metal.

WTF: At the time, I didn't really get that the whole "corporate" theme was a joke. But I knew Relapse was a huge label because they had color sleeves for their 7"s, so I wasn't surprised that they could afford the building on the cover for their headquarters.

In retrospect, most of the albums in the Earache catalog are complete garbage, although at the time they seemed like the best label ever. This is certainly no exception. For the most part this was fourth-string European bands that were deservedly unknown. However, there are a number of seminal tracks that cannot be dismissed.

Highs: Fucking CHAPEL OF GHOULS, one of the top 3 death metal songs ever written (the other 2 are "The End Complete" and "Hammer Smashed Face"). Unseen Terror, the finest Garfield-based grindcore band ever. This was the first time I heard Nocturnus!!

Lows: There are so many. Godflesh, Sore Throat, Mighty Force... but the worst is probably Cadaver. Jesus Christ that band is terrible. Nothing is worse than generic Euro 90s death metal.

WTF: When I was 14, I thought Lawnmower Deth was a really good band.


  1. I thought I was the only person in the world who actually thought Believer crushed. But wow. Glad I didn't get the rest of these.

  2. I'm psyched to see all of this mad Believer support. I thought I was the only person who worshiped "Sanity Obscure." Goddamn it, I love that fucking album!

  3. hey posers, Believer had THREE albums.

    also, I had all of these on cassette except for the corporate death cd. Nuclear Blast sure sucked, eh?

  4. Unseen Terror are you saying they are from Garfield,NJ? They are from the UK and wrote songs about Garfield. I'm really glad to see that others liked Believer too. I too thought me and my bro were the only ones who liked they. I can't believe you didn't mention Dismember as a high on the Death Is Just the Beginning comp.

  5. all these records bring back tons of memories. i bought the grindcrusher comp (tape format, what else) in december of 1991. i bought that tape and sepultura's "morbid visions" at a Coconuts store in Miami. I bought both tapes as christmas presents for my brother. the day of christmas my mom made us go to her friends house for a lame christmas party right after we opened the few gifts we had (our family was broke as a joke). we didn't have time to listen to the tape...but once we got to the party, we sat in my mom's Subaru (which had a busted axle) and listened to it. i remember liking morbid angel and liking the production on the cadaver song. that morbid angel song is so weird, i don't know why its so good. that guitar part that goes "tah tah tah doo doo, tah tah tah dooo doooo" is so good. they were/are dopes, but that song was great. so...i think i thought cadaver sounded raw and cool..but i can't remember for sure, as i have not heard it in ages. i'd like to say that i thought lawnmower deth were joke...but i went on to buy a couple of their albums (by the way, that later pop-punk joint they put out is da bomb son). i didn't like Old lady drivers, and my brain was probably not ready for naked city.i must have also liked entombed at the time, because i bought their tape, and then went to same them months after.

  6. Believer and Exhorder were the highs of that Death Doors tape. Friends and I spent many a drunken night listening to that tape and playing the original NHL hockey on Sega Genesis. Good times.....jesus christ!

    Oh ya...I fucking love pretty much everything Disrupt has done.

  7. From the Death is Just the Beginning... Volume 2, Sinister (Cross the Styx is an inarguable death metal classic), Gorefest, Brutality, Afflicted and Fetish 69 all had pretty good songs, generic for the most part sure, but still good.

    From the Corporate Death CD I always liked the Disembowelment (enough to buy the album), Dead World, Suffocation, and Phobia tracks. I actually like the Disrupt tracks, a little different from most of the cheese-ball wanna-be-scary-and-evil shit on the comp, but definitely worth a spin.

    I like(d?) Godflesh. Streetcleaner is a fucking monster of an album, heavier by tons than anything out there at the time. The title track is still one of the most harrowing most dense most genuinely psychotic metal (or non-metal, Whitehouse can eat shit) songs ever written.

    And can one of you huge Believer fans tell me why my copy of "Sanity Obscure" has no RC/Roadrunner label on it? It says only R.E.X. Records.

  8. Firstly, 'Sanity Obscure' was officially released by R.E.X., and licensed by RC/Roadrunner, which means they got screwed by two labels simultaneously, I suppose. Oh yeah, they rocked the fuck out. Righteous.

    Secondly, I had an Earache 'Grindcrusher'-type tape that was released Dec 89 (or so): it had two or three songs each by Morbid Angel, Godflesh, Entombed, Napalm Death, and Carcass. It may have been radio-only, I don't know. Needless to say, I was scarred for life. Godflesh was so badass they gave me nightmares, but I fell in love with Napalm Death. Still one of my top bands of any kind, ever.

    Lastly, Brutality has never gotten their just reward for being the first melodic death metal band that didn't steal Maiden riffs. Their early material is fanfuckingtastic, and not very generic in my book.

  9. there are THREE believer albums?! i have "sanity obscure" and "dimensions." what's the other one??

  10. "Extraction From Mortality" from 1989. Let me know if you want some yousendit action on that.

  11. Here’s my WTF. I actually bought two copies of that Grindcrusher comp. The second time I thought I was getting volume 2 and I accidentally bought the first one again. I’m not sure what’s worse: that I paid for the same album twice, or that after hearing volume 1 I actually thought the sequel would be worth buying! Sure, the Morbid Angel and Nocturnus tracks were great, but I already had those albums.

  12. I never could find "Extraction From Mortality" on CD for a reasonable price years and years ago, so I stopped looking and then forgot about it. Damn.

    Malevolent Creation's "Retribution" is one of the best death metal albums ever in the history of life. Sorry. And Godflesh rules, too.

    I never really cared about most of these compilations, though, to be honest with you. I just remember one of them, I think "At Death's Door II", had that terrible Kiss cover from Death on it. Fucking awful. Ugh.

  13. dude, everything i was gonna say on my comment, someone already said! BASTARDS!

    i was gonna say i had a few of those on tape, i was gonna list all 3 believer records AND i was gonna tell the story about getting the grindcrusher and morbid visions tapes for xmas in '91.



  14. I have "Extraction from Mortality" on vinyl (one of maybe 3 records I even own - of which Tankard is one of the others, btw), I don't remember where I got it, and I don't have a record player.

    And though I loved the first two albums, I've never even heard "Dimensions." Anyone know where I can get a copy without breaking the bank?

  15. Believer = great, if not simply for the influence of one Jum Winters, a king among men. Any discussion of 90's death comps would be incomplete without mentioning Projections of A Stained Mind from 91 and Pantalgia: An International Death Metal Compilation from 92. I purchased both from Shattered Records in Cleveland during my college years. You needed to be buzzed in by the owner given the surrounding neighborhood. Pantalgia was my first introduciton to God Macabre, who were generically awesome. One of the first appearances on a CD from Rottrevore as well. Totally generic band in retrospect, but plenty dirty. Projections boasts a ludicrous lineup to such an extent that further discussion amongst such an esteemed panel of seems pointless.

  16. *That would be Jim Winters for you Philly diehards.

  17. between the nitro worship and the godflesh dismissal i have officially given up on this site.

  18. i still own grindcrusher on cassette and rock that shit in my car all the time. GHOULS ATTACK THE CHURCH!!

  19. oh, you know what comp is missing here? JL America's Brutal Aggression. it has THE worst cover ever: a skeleton surfing on a wave of skulls. i know that sounds sweet, but it was drawn by a 14 year old girl. it was TERRIBLE. i couldnt find a jpg of it, bu i think i still have the CD, ill scan it and do a post about JL Turbo and JL america. god! what a terrible label... ok, yeah, here's the bands on the brutal aggression comp:
    Beherit, Acheron, Goatlord, Deteriorate, Malicious Onslaught, Nokturnel, Morpheus Descends, Vicious Circle, Excruciating Pain, Mortuary, Mutilation, Doom Snake Cult, Dark Half, Excruciation, & Killing Addiction.

  20. I purchased both from Shattered Records in Cleveland during my college years. You needed to be buzzed in by the owner given the surrounding neighborhood.

    ha! i remember that place. i went there once with Spazz when they were in town and we ended up getting thrown out as max screamed "fuck you you dumb cunt" or something at the owner's wife. also, i paid like $10 for a nuclear death tape there.

    jim winters is a legend!

  21. everytime I see Cadaver mentioned as being ass awful I want to defend them but I just as quickly recall that their first two albums are snoozers and they only ever were worth a shit after taking a long hiatus and coming back as Cadaver Inc.

    The Godflesh song on Grindcrusher rules. I bought that comp for 50 cents at a flea market years back and it was then I realized that Morbid Angel did in fact rule. Previously I never had really heard much from them aside from a song from Dominate here and Formulas there and those albums lulled me right to sleep. What a revelation to hear something from them that completely destroyed!

    Benediction = most boring of all early 90s death metal I feel. AM talk radio gets more of a response from me.

  22. i KNOW this is my 13th comment on this post BUT, i have more shit to say:
    - i like righteous pigs. they have funny lyrics
    - atrocity were fucking horrible
    - exit 13... hahahahaha!
    - i like disrupt
    - i like general surgery
    - nuclear blast put out dismember and they are awesome
    - malevolent creation's multiple stab-wounds is a pretty brutal song
    - hammer smashed face is ok, but it aint no 44 caliber brain surgery. demolition hammer kick ass! wait did i just say that outloud?
    - cadaver is fucking horrendous with a capital SUCK.

  23. Got all those albums when I was young buck. And your comment on Malevolent Creation, could you be referring to the song where they dropped the "N-bomb"? i think corporate death or grindcrusher were my faves, don't remember skipping to many tracks on those CDs.

  24. MASTER rules! SORE THROAT rules! Your mothers are all whores! Sperm for their mouths and butts!

  25. I really like Believer too but I don't know exactly what they have to do with 'generic american death metal' because to my ears they're more of a thrash band, and more specifically techno-thrash as we europeans call this particularly dead subgenre. I guess it's the Flobituary vocals that make these death metal to you? Same can be witnessed on Cynic's Focus, a record that has as much to do with death as new age ambient music aesthetically, but hey, some dude does a Chuck impression over the music!

  26. 1)I own "At Death's door 1", great compilation. As you said, one of the few Malevolent Creation good songs IS on this LP!
    2)"Grindcrusher": I own the part 2, the worst thing is that the LP featured songs from the volume 1!

    I have to defend Euro's death metal: CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, ENTOMBED & BENEDICTION all recorded kick ass albums in their prime!

    Frank (Mortal Fungus)

  27. are you fuckin batty? Convulse?! that shit SUCKS on that Corporate Death comp. those 2 terrible rock n roll wannabe songs with the crappy death metal vocals were stooooooo-piiit!! who the hell told them that shit was good? at least Mighty Force on the Grindcrusher comp didnt sound like some hillbilly elephants trying to "rawk"..

  28. In my mind there's no better comp at that time then "GRINDCRUSHER".That's where I heard all the greatest 90's grind and death metal and actually half of thier albums where consistant.Napalm,Entombed,Carcass(with that wierd intro that I've never heard again),Godflesh,Naked City(Torture Garden is just so great!),even the Heresy song was good.Just a monumentally good time that tape was!Old Lady Drivers,alot of bands on that comp were in thier prime and then later on would take a few nose dives.Nocturnus' vocals sound exactly like Merman on that song!good stuff!

  29. I'm totally with freezebomb on the Grindcrusher. Killer stuff on that one.

  30. Man, hearing you talk about some of these labels is kinda retarded. For one, if it wasn't for Earache you wouldn't have heard of Morbid Angel or any of these other legendary bands. Two, Relapse has a great set of bands. Your just the poser yourself apparently. Maybe you should go listen to In Flames and be a pussy right along with them.

    Peace out

  31. I remember a truly awful comp called "The Heralds Of Oblivion" on Roughage Records, a label that is only notable for later releasing Solient Green's 1st album (although they had changed their name to Dwell Records by that point). It had 5 or 6 shitty bands from the L.A. area. Really awful, awful crap.

  32. I know this is late, but I had most of the above comps.
    Funny thing was that there were usually about 3 or four good bands on each and a bunch that sucked. There was also a lot of the ol' "let's put the 'best' song on the comps" business where you buy a full album based on one song of a comp and find that the rest of the album pretty much blows.
    Occasionally the opposite happens. The worst song is on the comp and the rest of the album smokes, but this is rarer.

    Didn't really like Convulse, never got into Believer.
    But I did get into a lot of different stuff due to the compilations. And even the free ones were good sometimes.

  33. I got most of my compilations for free by mailing in for ads in Metal Maniacs. It looks like I've loaned out and lost most of them but I still have JL America Sampler Volume 1 (cover is some kind of psychadelic skull thing). Side one is the death metal side, side two is more black metal. The low point was Killing Addiction's "Omega Factor"; it's ok if you want to be incoherent, but at least try to make me think your syllablizing. I had just seen Acheron being interviewed on some Christian network so I was excited to see them on the tape. The black side had some soon to be names such as Immortal, Beherit, Samael and Impaled Nazarene, and some crazy Czechs in Master's Hammer.

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  35. "Nothing is worse than generic Euro 90s death metal."

    Wrong. Generic US 90s death metal is.

  36. Vugelnox : "I just as quickly recall that their first two albums are snoozers"

    "In pain" 2nd one is really good, forget the sound, focuse on the songs.

  37. I remember buying the Grindcrusher tape way back when, lol. I think i was like, 14 at the time? it was in '91. Anyway, i was all about buying anything and everything that was the most heavy and extreme, and i remember popping it in to my walkman and being BLOWN AWAY by the whole tape! Of course, i was yeah, of course i would have loved it no matter how much i thin some songs suck now lol. But the Morbid Angel track on that album was my favorite. I also bought the "At Death's Door" tapes and "Grindcore's Death Row" as well as the "Death Is Just The Beginning II" tape (couldn't find the 1st one then), as well as many other Metal Copilations such as:

    Slave to the Metal
    Speed Metal Hell
    5 Years of Nuclear Blast
    Corporate Death
    Masters of Metal comps

    And i also remember a compilation put out by Black Mark Productions (who later changed their name to Century Media Records) featuring Seance, Edge Of Sanity, Rosicrucian, Quarthon, Cemetery, Lake Of Tears and a few other bands. Loved them all, and consider than timeless CD's/Tapes to this day, a part of my Metal History if you will.

    Metal Up!!