THE BEST OF OLD SCHOOL SWEDISH DEATH METAL PLAYED BY NEWER BANDS: THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Earlier this week I reviewed a great new album by Blood Mortized that’s in the vein of old school Swedish death metal, which happens to be one of my favorite metal sub-genres. One of our frequent commenters suggested that I consider compiling a list of my favorite “regurgitated” Swedish death metal albums since 2000 — and by “regurgitated” I took him to mean albums released by bands who weren’t actually in existence back when that old school was being constructed by the likes of Carnage, Nihilist, Dismember, Entombed, Unleashed, and Grave (to name only some of the ground-breakers).
I’m not very good at making lists. I have a hard time ranking bands and albums and I’m always afraid I’m going to forget something. Also, trying to make a list of albums that have come out over the last 13 years seemed like an especially daunting task for my feeble mind. But I did decide to create the list you’re about to see. Though it’s quite long, I’m still afraid I’ve forgotten something, or simply never heard an album that deserves to be mentioned. So I’m encouraging readers to add their own favorites in the Comments if I left any of them out. But first, I want to be clear about the criteria I used — and I want to provide some caveats, too.
1. I limited the list to albums that were released from 2008-2013 (the last 5 years). Apart from the fact that this was easier, I think it’s also the period when we’ve seen the biggest resurgence in this style of metal among newly released albums and EPs.
2. I excluded bands who existed back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when this style of music was being born, even if they’re still around (e.g., Grave) and even if they broke up and then later re-formed (e.g., Evocation, Interment). On the other hand, I didn’t exclude newer bands just because their line-ups might include people who were involved in other bands during that era.
3. I tried to limit the list to bands whose sound is significantly influenced by that old school SWEDISH style, as exemplified by the bands mentioned above (though the listed bands are from all over the world).
And now for the caveats:
1. Despite the fact that this post is labeled “The Best Of”, I really didn’t try to compile a list of the best albums I heard. Instead, I’ve just listed albums (and EPs) that I’ve really enjoyed. If I had tried to shrink this list down to the Top 10 or even Top 20, I’m afraid I never would have finished it. So it would have been better to call the list “favorites” or maybe “recommended” albums. But that’s not as catchy as “Best Of”. So sue me for false advertising.
2. Also, as should be obvious, this list is just based on what I have personally heard. Some other releases undoubtedly belong on this list, but if I didn’t hear it, then it ain’t here.
3. I tended to focus on albums and EPs that have come out since we started this blog in late 2009, because I’ve paid closer attention since then, and I’ve actually written about most of what’s on here. But you’ll see that the list is also heavily weighted toward releases from just the last 2 or 3 years — and that’s because those were easier for me to remember (I don’t have some master list that I’ve been keeping over the last 5 years).
4. I limited myself to one release per band on the list, and I didn’t necessarily pick the best one from each band since 2008. I picked the ones that came to mind first.
5. I may have bent the rules a bit in making some of these picks. For example, although bands such as Acephalix, Bone Sickness, and Morbus Chron (for example) are clearly influenced by old school Swedish death metal, their music incorporates other influences as well. But by including bands such as those, you could argue that I should have included a lot of others (for example, I considered Bloodbath’s The Fathomless Mastery and Necrovation’s self-titled, but they’re not here because I didn’t think the Swedeath influence was sufficiently dominant). All I can say is that drawing lines is difficult around the edges, and if you think I’ve been inconsistent, you’re probably right.
Okay, enough with the preamble. Here’s my list, in alphabetical order, along with sample songs. Again, please use the Comments to argue with my picks or to add picks of your own.
Acephalix – Deathless Master (2012)
Bastard Priest – Ghouls of the Endless Night (2011)
Blood Mortized – The Demon, The Angel, The Disease (2013)
Bodyfarm – The Coming Scourge (2013)
Bombs of Hades – The Serpents Redemption (2012)
Bone Sickness – Alone in the Grave (2013)
Crypticus – Insieme Verso Terrore (2012)
Demonical – Death Infernal (2011)
Disinterred – Demo MMXIII (2013)
Entrails – The Tomb Awaits
Entrapment – The Obscurity Within… (2012)
Funebrarum – The Sleep of Morbid Dreams (2009)
Graveyard – The Altar of Sculpted Skulls (2011)
Humanity Delete – Never Ending Nightmares (2012)
Invidious – In Death (2011)
Just Before Dawn – Precis Innan Gryningen (2013)
Krypts – Unending Degradation (2013)
Maim – From the Womb To the Tomb (2009)
Malfeitor – Dum Morior Orior (2012)
Massive Assault – Slayer (2011)
Miasmal – Miasmal (2011)
Morbus Chron – Sleepers In the Rift (2011)
Mordbrand – Kolumbarium (2012)
Necrowretch – Putrid Death Sorcery (2013)
Paganizer – “World Lobotomy”
Puteraeon – The Esoteric Order (2011)
Putrevore – Macabre Kingdom (2012)
Revel In Flesh – Manifested Darkness (2013)
Skeletal Spectre – Voodoo Dawn (2013)
Stench of Decay – Visions Beyond Death (2011)
Tormented – Death Awaits (2013)
Torture Division – The Army of Three (2013)
Tribulation – The Formulas of Death (2013)
Undead Creep – The Ever-Burning Torch (2011)
Under the Church – Demo 2013 (2013)
Zombiefication – At the Caves of Eternal (2013)
Hail of Bullets! Especially the new album “III – The Rommel Chronicles”. Although there is a huge link with old Pestilence, Asphyx and Bolt Thrower due to Martin’s vocals, Hail of Bullets have a much stronger oldschool Swedish death influence to my ears.
I wrestled with this one, just as I did with Bloodbath. I’m a big HoB fan, and the latest album is really good. I just felt that the Swedeath influence wasn’t quite dominant enough in the sound to think of them as an old school Swedish death band. But like I said in the caveats, the lines get blurry around the edges. I’ll be curious to see if other people also think they belong on this list.
True that the new HOB has a production more akin to the Swedish sound, but I still don’t placve them anywhere in the Swedish death vein.
Bloodbath was initially pure Swedish death, then kinda morphed into some American influences along the way.
Not anywhere near? Ah c’mon, Warby even plays d-beats on the new album! 🙂
Kevin, you should ask Ed whether he thinks HoB belongs on this list. 🙂
Im one of the biggest MVD fans out there, Asphyx and HoB being two of my favorite bands of all time.
As I said about GSBC below, you can find the influences, thats going to happen in the scene when the countries are relatively close together, but I think it really comes down to….If you played HoB/GSBC/Asphyx next to Entombed or Dismember do they really sound that similar musically…For me, thats a flat “No”
Great bands Islander!!!! How about Grand Supreme Blood Court????
Yes, I think that works. The return of Eric Daniels, and a way to get Martin van Drunen on the list. The guitar tone/distortion on that album is just disgusting.
Have to disagree here..Asphyx, HoB, and GSBC are all cut from the same mold. While MVD and the rest cant help but be influenced by whats going on in Sweden, theyve always done their own thing.
Beyond the guitar tone, I dont hear a lot that makes me think Swedish death….musically, thats still the same mid-paced death/doom they play as Asphyx
This is a pretty great list, and I agree with just about everything….I will say the addition of Funebrarum kind of sticks out to me though. I mean theres definitely some Swedish death in there, but for the most part, at least to me, their sound is completely dominated by the Finnish/USDM sound
As for bands..Id add
Morbider (CZ)…great band, thats generally overlooked
Obscure Infinity (Ger)
Funebrarum was one I went back and forth on. I could be convinced it doesn’t belong, but I just like it so much. 🙂 And of course, once again, you’ve given me a bunch of new names to check out. I’m pretty sure I’m unfamiliar with all the bands on your list except Horrendous, which I just flat overlooked.
It really is a great album isnt it 🙂
Hah…I had to dig back a bit for those. You’d already listed all the bands that popped immediately into my head. Definitely check out the last couple, Degial is especially impressive
Degial are immense, so creepy and cavernous!!!
Id like to add…
Kaamos (completely overlooked and forgotten..this band was ahead of the curve in the OSDM revival)
..and Vanhelgd…especially Vanhelgd, this band slays
I was thinking you might have Cleric on here but they may not be Swedish sounding enough for this list. Good one tho!
Big fan of Cleric and “Gratum Inferno”. I didn’t think of them when making this, but I do think they’re a close call for this list. They’ve got a pretty big chainsaw tone to their riffs and do make use of d-beats. Big doom/death sound.
Amazing Islander!! Flattered you did this!! Good idea to narrow the inclusion criteria otherwise this would never end. One band I would add is Karnarium, they are probably a bit looser than most of these bands but a worthy addition. Again, truly brilliant!!!
Well, thank YOU for suggesting this idea. I had a lot of fun putting it together and going back to the music of these bands, many of whom I hadn’t listened to in months or years. I’ll check out Karnarium (haven’t heard of them before).
Fantastic list, and i also discovered that i need some Skeletal Spectre in my life!
“Voodoo Dawn” rules, and so does “Occult Spawned Premonitions”. Vanessa Nocera is the band’s vocalist, and although they’ve been somewhat secretive about the identities of the other two members, Rogga Johansson is the bassist/guitarist. I still don’t know who the drummer is.
I still cant figure out if the drummer is even a “He”…that one band picture looks totally ambiguous
Yes Voodoo Dawn is the shit.
Chapel of Disease
Great list..theres a bunch of forehead smacking “doh” moments on there for sure, especially Brutally Deceased…
I smacked my head over Brutally Deceased too, along with Skinfather, Profanal, Disgraved, and Necrocurse — since I’ve written about all of those!
Horrendous is sorely missed by this list – otherwise, it’s fantastic.
I’m also with your thoughts on HoB – their roots are clearly in early British death metal, a la Bolt Thrower and Benediction.
this is an awesome post!! i’m going to spend the whole afternoon here in my recliner with a cup of coffee, sifting through this excellent list and all the other suggestions! thanks!
Thanks, but be careful — listening to all of this straight through in one sitting could turn your brain to porridge.
with all the great stuff i found here, today, i’m never going to be able to decide what to listen to at work on Monday 🙂
Great choices all the above, I would also mention Necrovation (more on the Repugnant – Karnarium style),
Nominon is also a great example of Swedish Death (more on the Dismember style),
Feral ( Entombed & Death Breath Styled) – “Dragged to the altar” is a great CD,
Stench – “In putrescence” (so close to Repugnant & Grave)
& Crucifyre (another great black Death Band reminiscent of Entombed – “clandestine” in the evil Harmonies!
Awesome! Listening to the songs while reading A Feast for Crows!
Epic music for an epic book. 🙂
Thanks so much for including our work. To be listed among so many band that I love is an honour.
Thank you for this comment Patrick. Crypticus kills!
wow! thanks for including us ,quite impressive company to be in on that list to say the least.
Dude..you guys have completely earned your way on there..Nirvana 2002 was great and the new stuff with Under the Church is absolutely killer
^^ Agree! I’ll have a few more words to say about Under the Church tomorrow. 🙂
You are being way too modest. Rabid Armageddon has been playing in my house, car and at work (much to the annoyance of my co-workers) for weeks now. Everything just clicks so perfectly and I find myself punching my steering wheel happily while listening. Please, keep it up.
MORBIDER, NOMINON, STENCH, VERMINOUS, and DEGIAL (although this band does take a lot of influence from american bands like Possessed and Morbid Angel) should be on this list.
i know you said you don’t include bands that were around during the early 90s, but if you chose Under the Church and Entrails you might as well put SORCERY on here. anyways pretty good list, has stuff I’ve never heard of before and will check out !
Check this link also.
This Ep is released at 2013