Monday, November 2, 2009

Late 90s Death Metal You May Have Slept On

Remember when the internets existed, but it was hard to find anything about metal? It's hard to believe that there was in fact a time when metal nerds didn't have places like this one to argue about whether Danzig II or II is the better album, if Brutal Truth's first album is grindcore or death metal, and call Dave Mustaine an asshole.

We had to make due with, and that's a pretty poor substitute for, well, anything. As a result, a lot of good records slipped through the cracks a bit: not big enough to get much print coverage (other than Pit magazine, which fucking ruled), and without Youtube, MySpace and blogs they had few other options. I would like to do what little I can to fix this sorry state of affairs: here are some records from the late 90s that may have eluded you, but are worth checking out. For all you a-holes that think I'm a poser and I don't actually like metal, put this in your fucking beardo pipes and smoke it.

As I always mention, this isn't an MP3 blog and we like being friends with labels, so I (usually) won't include download links. That said, Google blog search is helpful if you are looking for them.



Cinerary "Rituals of Desecration"
Let's begin with a band I've been hyping for about 7 or 8 years: the mighty CINERARY. This criminally-underrated band featured Matti Way and the drummer from Disgorge with two guys who I think were in Gorgasm and/or Cumchrist (also worth checking out). Back in 2001, guttural slam didn't exist, but this record laid the foundation for it and I am honestly surprised it doesn't get hyped more nowdays. The vocals are just completely fucking disgusting (rivaled only by Devourment, Big Chocolate, and Cephalotripsy), the drummer blasts his balls off, and the guitar sound is one of the thickest I've ever heard, making the proto-slamz especially sick pitt riffment. I have no idea what happened to this band or why they didn't blow the fuck up because this record is SICK but long out of print- grab it off Rapidshit here.



Embalmer "There Was Blood Everywhere" 7"
Cleveland is a miserable fucking shithole, which helps explain why there were so many rad death metal bands coming out of that dump in the 90s. I lived there for a few soul-crushing years, and it made me a bitter, angry person who wants nothing more than to choke the life out of everybody on the planet. But on the bright side, I lived a block from the Phantasy and was spoiled with an abundance of metal. Usually "local band" is synonymous with "shit," but in those days a "local metal show" might include Hemdale, Odious Sanction, Apartment 213, Regurgitation, Nunslaughter, Dislimb, Integrity, and of course Embalmer.

Embalmer played a particularly downtuned, sick, yet darkly melodic brand of death metal that still sounds pretty fresh to my tired old ears (when I'm not jamming Metro Station, of course). The drummer played blast beats that were VERY, VERY fast for the time, and although they had chops the band never got into riff salad territory. New bands could learn a thing or two from the 90s Clevo bands: it's not about trying to outplay the next Guitar Center dork, it's about writing good songs that "make ppl want 2 mosh."

BTW, I don't think of this as an obscure 7" by any means, but I am also fucking old and forget that not everybody read The Wild Rag cover to cover obsessively like I did and therefore it might be new to some readers.



Decrepit "The Wake" 7"
Skullkrusher and Andrew from Aversionline tell me that this band sucks and is even worse than Gammacide, but I think they're crazy because this 7" is sick. Like Embalmer, they had a knack for writing simple, catchy, yet very polished death metal songs that didn't feel like old school throwbacks but also weren't trying to break the conventions of the genre. In other words, they just played really fucking good, straightforward death metal. The drummer, Chris Dora, also played in Integrity for a quite a while beginning with "Humanity Is The Devil" and going up until long after I stopped paying attention to hardcore.

Peep this song and tell me you don't seriously think Gammacide is better than this band! The part at :45 has one of the longest blast beats I've ever heard, it's pretty sweet. I think they're still active, although they started playing black metal a while ago.

Decrepit on MySpace



Deeds of Flesh "Trading Pieces" & "Gradually Melted"
In 1997 I ran into the drummer for Odious Sanction at a Hemdale show. After offering me weed (very gracious, although I was nailed to the X at the time so I passed) he gave me a dubbed cassette labeled "DEEDS" and told me it was the hot new shit. He was right, these records are masterpieces of technical, brutal death metal with some of the best drum sounds I've ever heard. Along with Internal Bleeding "Voracious Contempt," this record basically made me stop listening to hardcore for about 10 years and just sit in my room playing my Jackson Dinky Reverse trying to write sick riffs that could be in Deeds songs. Their later records are amazingly dull riff salad, but these two are classics that still hold up in the 2k9.75 for sure.



Nunslaughter/Bloodsick split 7"
Chris Pellow is a mellow fellow who doesn't get the credit he deserves for his many musical accomplishments. He is probably best known for being the original bassist in Ringworm and Apartment 213, but has been in far too many other hardcore and metal bands for me to remember and is a really really nice dude as well. In 1997 he played in the legendary Nunslaughter and a cool band called Bloodsick, who teamed up on this obscure split. The 7" is impossible to find and has been out of print for over a decade, so cop that shit on Mediafire.



Oppressor "Agony"
I got into this band through the drummer and bassist for Abnegation, oddly enough. They basically sound like the death metal version of Forced Entry: weird, angular riffs that are more more twisted than they sound at first blush coupled with poppy arrangements that make it very accessible for brutal death metal. Like many of the other bands in this post, I really don't understand why this album doesn't get hyped more often these days. I guess it's just a case of wrong place, wrong time?? Your lose, dickfaces, because this record is a classic and your life is incomplete unless you own it! (And yes, I do own the actual CD :P )



Broken Hope "Loathing" & "Grotesque Blessings"
There's no doubt about it: Broken Hope's early albums fucking suck. However, they are one of the rare bands who actually got better with age- way, way better (which isn't hard considering how fucking awful "Swamped In Gore" was). I had pretty much written them off as complete crap until my friend Lee, who is a very legit shredder and death metal fan, told me that "Wolf Among Sheep" had one of the sickest riffs of all time in it. I didn't believe him, of course, because I knew them for their abyssmal earlier releases, but it turns out he was right as fuck! I wouldn't say the entire album is great, but just like Disincarnate, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. If you're into technical shit that's not totally gay, give this a shot.



Disgorge "Cranial Impalement"
I bought this for $.10 at Record Exchange with Mike Joachum, who has played guitar for many of the later Integrity lineups along with his little brother Nate. Please don't bother shit talking new Integrity because those dudes fucking rule it. Anyway, Mike was like "Dude look at this cover, it's hilarious!" I agreed, noticed it was 10 cents, and picked it up. We brought it home and he was super bummed he didn't buy it because the first song is one of the finest pieces of guttural death metal I've ever heard to this day: the vocals are sick as fuck, very catchy but complex and brutal riffing, and extremely tasty drumming (check out the accents on the bell of his ride). Their later albums are ok, but much closer to riff salad than this one. So if you wrote them off based on newer output, do yourself a favor and cop "Cranial Impalement"!

What did I miss? What late 90s death metal did you jam before MySpace existed? Do you know Mike and Nate from Integs?


  1. I like this post. These are are exactly the kind of bands that got me interested in death metal.

    You're right about Deeds, I saw them open for cannibal corpse and they pretty much blew them off the stage. they were a ridiculously tight 3-piece band, while CC had seen better days (i think it was right before jack owen quit). So I ended up buying all their CDs and found that they pretty much went downhill after Trading Pieces. In fact, most of the bands on Deeds' record label started to suck in in the same way after signing, I don't know what it is. But what a classic. Probably the best death metal band i've ever seen live.

    I wondered why Embalmer's full length album on Relapse never happened, till they made one 10 years later. It really sucked. They could never top that song "Rotten Body Fluids".

    Regurgitation's album was great too, tragically overlooked. The followup band "necrotic disgorgement" is pretty lame in comparison, but they're still around.

    You might also like Gutted, that's one of the catchier 90s death metal bands from Ohio that showed potential and went nowhere. Really listenable death metal without being polished and weak.

    I have that nunslaughter 7", but I hated it. I think maybe I didn't like that they were trying to have more 7"s than agathocles.

  2. was there are the beginning and it'll be there at the end, when all of you hipster retards go back to pop music. This blog is terrible.

  3. ^ lol

    Seargeant D, usaully your posts sicken me, but this was excellent. Carry on sir.

  4. Regarding Broken Hope, I think they peaked with "Repulsive conception" and went downhill from there. More great albums from that era: first Akercocke album, Groinchurn "Sixtimesnine", Koreisch "This decaying schizophrenic..." and - even though it's not underground or rare at all - The Ravenous "Assembled in Blasphemy"... it cannot get better than that one.

  5. As someone who lived near Cleveland his whole life, I always thought the metal scene sucked. To me, it was all boring and watered-down brutal death shit like Dislimb and Regurgitation. I blame this entirely on the Lorain Death Fest, where Brian Baxter (I think it was him; he had that death metal store, too) consistently booked lame brutal death metal bands, which probably influenced our tendency to gravitate towards half-assed, proto-slam. Anyway, our scene was completely blown away by the metal coming out of Wisconsin in the late 80's and early 90's, although Destructor's "Decibel Causalities" was awesome and Hemdale had some quality songs.

    The worst band from Cleveland is hand's down From the Depths. You will not find a more boring album than "Bereavement". I dare you.

    I always thought Decrepit was just another below average death metal band, and then I heard their 1997 album, "Acrimonium" (or whatever). That album was fucking terrible black metal. Still, that transformation doesn't hold a candle to the one Deteriorate undertook, where they went from a kick-ass death metal band to a god-awful norse-core, aural shit-storm.

    The drummer from Odious Sanction is Steve Shalaty, who plays in Immolation and once played in Deeds of Flesh. Outside of LeBron James, he's probably the best thing to come out of Cleveland.

    Duane Morris' mission in life had been to play in every band in the Cleveland area and he achieved it.

    The funniest thing I ever heard was a black metal band from Elyria. How the hell can you be grim and frostbitten from fucking Elyria, Ohio? Maybe he was so butt-hurt when Dillard's closed that he had to scorn humanity through pathetic, third rate Darkthrone imitation?

    Clevelanders are inconceivably defensive, so I expect a fatwa declared on me soon.

  6. How the hell can you be grim and frostbitten from fucking Elyria, Ohio

    LOLOLOLOL I saw Zao and Brother's Keeper at Chenga World in Elyria. Not brutal!

  7. I read the article and I was all indignant, thinking "all this and no mention of GUTTED???"

    And then, first comment! Awesome!

    Dudes, Gutted's "Bleed for Us to Live" is fucking awesome. Look into it.

  8. check out Wicked Innocence, wiered, twisted death metal. Cephalic Carnage and Dripping totally stole their thang

  9. I have always had a weird obsession with Clevo hardcore bands. I wish I could go to the 9-shocks reunion, but I cant make it.

    When I booked the Integ show in 1990 in IL, those dudes stayed with me and Mean Steve had his cassette tape case with him. All it had in it was, Cannibal, Bolt thrower, Carcass, etc...

    Why am I telling you this? Well...does anyone remember his band BOWEL? Incredible. Let me recite some Bowel lyrics for "Tool Shed Decapitation And Mutilation":

    "Ordinary tools, now instruments of killing. You must make the choice, Murder or building".

  10. victims of internal decay.
    accidental suicide.
    sickening gore.
    demented ted.
    morpheus descends.
    killing addiction.
    divine eve.
    crimson relic.
    vicious circle.
    pan thy monium
    horror of horrors.
    in quest.
    doom snake cult.
    excruciating pain.
    scattered remnants.
    morta skuld.

    this fucking list could go on forever. i remember when stores could not give this shit away. and now it all costs 50 fucking bucks on e-gay. dammit. i passed over amazing stuff due to what i used to think was lame cover art. now i love all that cheese. nocturnels full length cover comes to mind. dudes hanging on chains and a lot of purple in the background. its a masterpiece compared to the goddamn photo hack jobs and hipster fart now marring so many "metal" albums.

  11. just cant get into that deeds of flesh and dying fetus type of death metal

    sounds like a dog barking next to a typewriter

  12. Thanks for mentioning Gutted! Bleed For Us to Live rules.

    From the Depths first 4 song ep actually is pretty good. I agree the two full lengths that followed sucked though.

    Something from around that same time that's black metal is Niden Div 187. They put out some of my favorite stuff and you rarely here the name.

  13. two words: Crimson Relic

    also is the gheyest piece of shit pretentious failgarbage on the interwebs. every sane person agrees.

  14. The fact that Chenga World was next to some magician shop called "Magic Barrel" really destroys any street-cred Zao ever had, if any.

    Sarge, do you remember Blood Coven? These guys have been around for 16 years and not once has anyone ever given a shit about them. That's dedication, my friend!

    Skullkrusher and Andrew, if you think Decrepit sucks, then seriously listen to From the Depth's "Bereavement". It's basically the same band as Decrepit, but somehow, they manage to be incomprehensibly worse. I have no idea how that's even possible, but it is. Also, I shouldn't be the only one subjected to such torture. It needs to be heard.

    Demogorgo, I owe you a beer for recommending Gutted. I've never heard those guys before. Kudos to you, my friend.

    Anonymous, Morgue from Chicago and Accidental Suicide from Milwaukee were fucking awesome, too.

  15. Sarge, do you remember Blood Coven? These guys have been around for 16 years and not once has anyone ever given a shit about them. That's dedication, my friend!

    Ha, I totally do remember them but had forgotten because, like you said, nobody gives a fuck. I think Jim Konya played with them for a bit?? Odds are he did, anyway. They suck(ed) but he is the best.

  16. Crimson Relic was sweet, lo-fi death metal.

    Does anyone remember Dusk from Green Bay, Wisconsin? They were a criminally underrated doom/death metal band. How those guys flew under the radar is beyond me. Sure, doom/death wasn't anything new in 1993, but they added fucking slams to atmospheric doom/death on 1995's "Majestic Thou in Ruin". I shit you not.

    I'm hoping someone like Misfits can back me up on my claim on how awesome Dusk were.

  17. Yes! Niden div. 187!!! Their "Impergium"-album is fucking wicked and seems to be - by judging of it's exposure on the internet - sadly overlooked. They featured a bunch of members from Dawn if I remember correctly. Also cool to see Accidental Suicide mentioned above, although they released their (only?) album back in... 1990? Anyone who likes Autopsy should check that one out! I think someone's put them onto Youtube btw.

  18. i hate the phantasy, but i'll be going there in a couple weeks to see nunslaughter and speed wolf. clevo 4 life!!

  19. I hate Cleveland but I may make an appearance at the Phantasy for an upcoming autotune emo show...

  20. when we were young and we had no internet we found this band called Afterlife in a local music shop. The album was called Surreality and the price was greatly discounted.
    Did I mention we were checking the CDs in those kinda trash bins with all sorts of genres for a price like $1.0?
    Anyways we all(me and my metal buddies) fell in love with that album and were constantly listening it thru all these years. Even nowadays we still consider it one of the best DM albums.

    Of course when internet brought chat rooms and msg boards I mentioned a few times this album and most of the times noone knew about the band. But when somebody was aware of the band I learnt that the band is second rate, shitty etc.

    So it probably must be also that the CD sounded so great to our ears due to those magical times we were living in and it still sounds to me due to nostalgia? I don't know... I really dig that album still.
    Must have also something to do with the fact that i'm not from the USA but a shithole called Slovenia (that's in Europe).


  21. Gammacide smoked all of the bands mentioned,their live shows were violent as fuck,no posers allowed.They were done with it by 1990 before any of these bands ever picked up a guitar.

  22. Mike, would you like to lead us in a chant of "I ONLY LIKE THE DEMO!!"?

  23. Krabathor was always good for some Obies-style simplistic death metal.

    Defleshed was ripping it up like a death metal Pleasure to Kill through the late 90s too. That has to be one of the most underrated dm bands that ever existed.

    As was The Crown, another criminally underrated band from that same era.

  24. "People Who Know Tony Erba"


    I haven't been to the Phantasy in years. I just found out that they had a fire over the summer. The pirate ship wasn't damaged, was it?

  25. haha! i saw bowel at the madison wisconsin sxe fest with integrity strife (pre victory) and numerous shitty (but popular) bands. chorus never showed so obviously it sucked. anyways i can't remember what was better - me catching dwid having a smoke x'd up behind the venue with his long blue hair. or one of the gorillas from bowel flicking a lit smoke into a pack of sxe kids as they backed away to make room for the local skinheads to hammer the shit out of them. hahah good times! i still think about that weekend 15 years later! amazing!

  26. God, how many times did I have to sit through Runt at those shows? 5 times? 6?

    The Clevo Music Scene (1999-2002): "Well, I don't really have anything else to do tonight...I guess I'll go to the Phantasy to watch one of Jason Popson's 10 bands and not talk to anyone."

  27. This is just sad. Heavy Metal is such a majestic style of music and way of life,laid down by great bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest- and this is what it has come to? A bunch of talentless clowns bashing on their instruments and growling like a cookie monster? How does that in any way compare to knowing how to create music with melody and grandeur,music that moves and inspires you?

    It doesnt. This pathetic "Death Slam Metal" is just noisy garbage. How is going "chun chun chun cha chun" on the low strings requiring of any talent? They ALL do the same palm muted,down tuned riff- why bother re-writing it by just using a different note in the one you play? It requires no talent of appreciation of real Heavy Metal power and precision.

    And the people who play this style call it "technical"? As if this requires any technique.

    How embarassing.

  28. In this sea of unmemorable covers, the zombie heart stands out. I've never listened to the broken hope record, but at least I can remember seeing this in some specific recommendation lists. Don't bother memorizing the band's name, just make sure that you won't get the wrong zombie heart:

  29. Vulgaris: ...and it's a fact, at least for those of us who grew up in a shithole, that before the Internet actually getting your hands on a metal album at all was reason enough to totally indulge in it. I spent hours trying to lika bands like Mercyless (with an "Y"), Krabathor & Darkwoods my bethrothed, even though those bands suck from an objective point of view. The metalscene is so saturated these days that you can easily find at least ten bands that fully represents everything that you might like bout DM...
    My guess is that this is the reason for all the retro bands coming through these days. There is simply no point in trying to do something new.

    To prove that there is something to be gained by listening to heaps of god-awful bands, try listening to "the conspiracy of the pagan cult" by Darkwoods my bethrothed - AMAZING SONG! One of my favourite BM-tracks of all time. Now there's a post for ya - great songs by bands that suck.

  30. Anon: It goes both ways. Some people (such as me) don't understand how you can be into limp, boring dinosaur metal like Iron Maiden. The difference is that (unlike you) I respect your preferences and don't get stangry and butthurt about it.

  31. Wow, Sergeant D. I gotta tell you that I was quite impressed with your picks here. I still rock the Cinerary (saw them at the Lorain "Ohio Death Fest" in 2001 or 02), and especially Embalmer. The Embalmer disc was still receiving heavy spins within my death metal brotherhood until I left it. That first Disgorge disc is also a near masterpiece. I love how on the Embalmer disc, it's so thickly mastered (at least the newer tracks)--making it ridiculously over bassy without sounding like anything urban.

  32. This blog takes me WAY back. I remember going to one of the Lorian, Ohio the Flying Machine, actually. I think it was in 2002. It was a pretty good time, really...especially watching a crippled guy on crutches get crowdsurfed during Skinless' set and discovering many Japanese metalheads high on a nitrous tank I guess Brian Baxter or someone had stashed in the back.

    I actually liked Regurgitation, Nunslaughter, Hemdale, Blood Coven, etc. That was a fun time for metal in general since bands weren't recording in full digital yet, and places such as Baxter's store "Extreme Musick" were still around. As much as I enjoy the whole "point-click-download" thing, I do miss being able to learn about bands by chatrooms, forums, and going to the record shop.

    The Phantasy pretty much eats ass. I went back to Ohio in 2006(?) when they decided to bring back the Ohio Deathfest with another promoter, which was an epic disaster. 2 Days of 100+ degree weather, more bands and merch sellers than fans, and the fest actually got shut down after Circle of Dead Children played because either the promoter didn't have the cash to rent the venue, or because the Phantasy simply hates booking metal bands that much. I dunno which is true to this day.

    Thankfully since I live in Northern Virginia, the Maryland Deathfest is a mere 1 hour away, and honestly blows ODF away.

  33. In late 90s I felt like a sponge place for any new music, especially extreme music, and too much crap released in mid-90s by bands I once appreciated.
    Anyway, I'll manage to check Broken Hope latest releases out!

  34. Oppressor was some badass shit. I think they and a guy from Broken Hope ditched the death metal to form some nu-metal band, that was pretty funny. That early Deeds Of Flesh was great stuff too.

    Like Tim said, The Crown were awesome late '90's stuff. A bit different vein from what's here but Deathrace King is probably the best album to come from Gothenburg. If more of these metalcore kids had listened to it then today's music might have a bit more balls to it.

  35. @Russ,
    I was also at that Madison "hardcore" fest and saw Bowel and Integrity. For the most part that fest totally sucked though.

  36. Basically all of Oppressor and the bassist from Broken Hope went on to form the shittastic nu-metal band Soil.

  37. Sarge, are you aware that Disgorge and Cinerary had some of the same band members? According to they do...

    BTW, I hope you understand that metal is a chain... no Maiden, no Embalmer, knowhutimean?

  38. "Heavy Metal is such a majestic style of music and way of life,laid down by great bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest"

    Statements like this are part of what makes metal such a fun and amusing genre. It's totally hilarious that someone actually believes this. 1986 was a long time ago. It's OK to occasionally sample something new (even if you define "new" as old death metal bands from the 90's who broke up years ago).

    What way of life do Priest & Maiden represent? Being a short homosexual British man with millions of dollars and your own jet? Yeah, that's something we can all relate to I'm sure.

  39. I often think about how metal evolved in the that decade we had NWOBHM, then THRASH and early DEATH METAL amd DOOM, then GRINDCORE. When death metal had its commercial peak around 1988/92, it took elements from both thrash and doom and early death metal (Celtic Frost, etc) and even grindcore.
    That leads to my answer to the question "Brutal Truth's first album is grindcore or death metal".
    That's death/grind, indeed.

  40. @Anon 6:55 PM

    Tom Araya is a Christian and Vikernes does not hate anymore. Now what do we do? Stop listening to their music? Follow their new way of life? Pleez...

    The guy up there (probably not a wise person) is talking about their lyrics, not their sex orientation. Most of the time these people are jokes, they cannot even practice what they preach, but as someone else once put it, I'm glad some people somewhere are thinking like this. The some way that I'm glad that some people today can speak and read Latin.

    So give some space to these true metal warriors, I don't want to read about pornogrind the whole fucking time.

  41. Good stuff Sgt. I remember seeing Broken Hope on the Loathing tour. My friend was a big fan, even of Bowels of Repugnance era BH.

    One time a friend loaned me an Oppressor CD and he mistakenly had Biohazard in the Jewel case. This is the same guy that loaned me a best of Bauhaus and gave me a mix tape with Deicide's Once Upon the Cross and ICP's Great Malenko. Not kidding in the slightest.

    Oh, also some of that stuff is really "sick" as you say and new to me. Thanks.

  42. Thank Booze, glad you liked it!

    Also, I always LOVED this line:
    "Ordinary tools, now instruments of killing. You must make the choice, Murder or building".

  43. Hey now, I didn't say Decrepit sucks. I have that 7". I just said that Gammacide is way better than Decrepit. And I do stand by that statement, ha, ha!

  44. DUSK rocked!!!!! Best ever and now they are Profane and they suck and spit on you at their shows.

  45. this post brought me back. but how could you have left out Eternal Suffering???!?! That record they put out on extremities was/is so fucking sick. Heavy fucking knarly breakdowns. I think their drummer was sxe at the time and he went on to play in the hardcore band back a da neck.

  46. These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post

  47. lol @ getting into Oppressor from Dave Steele and Chris Leonard

  48. Great thanks for this post . I applaud your post .

  49. Konya was never in Blood Coven lol. I was in Somnus from Cleveland I knew all those cats in the 90s scene in Ohio.