Death metal was spawned from the more extreme form of thrash metal in the mid 1980’s. Death and Possessed are often considered the first death metal bands. Swedish death metal exploded in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Dismember, Entombed and Grave being the frontrunners. Many of the swedish old school death metal bands changed their style when melodic death metal became popular in the mid 90’s.

Death metal styles

Death metal exists in many forms; from the earliest 80’s thrash metal-influenced incarnations to technical and brutal death metal, not to mention styles like death/doom metal and melodic death metal.

Recommended death metal bands

There are a lot of good death metal bands out there. It can be hard to sort out the special bands from the average ones. Here is my list of recommended death metal bands:

  • Autopsy (old school death metal, United States)
  • Benighted (brutal death metal, France)
  • Blood Red Throne (Norway)
  • Bloodbath (old school death metal, Sweden)
  • Death (United States)
  • Dismember (old school death metal, Sweden)
  • Entombed (old school death metal, Sweden)
  • Immolation (technical death metal, United States)
  • Infinitum (technical death metal, Australia)
  • Insision (brutal/technical death metal, Sweden)
  • Kaamos (old school death metal, Sweden)
  • Misery Index (brutal death metal, United States)
  • Suffocation (brutal death metal, United States)
  • The Crown (melodic death metal, Sweden)
  • Vader (Poland)

American death metal

American death metal tends to generally be aggressive, straightforward and technically proficient. The early bands like Death and Possessed had a lot in common with thrash metal. Morbid Angel’s 1989 release “Altars of Madness” and Suffocation’s 1991 release “Effigy of the Forgotten” raised the levels of technicality and sheer aesthetic brutality. Immolation is perhaps the best example of american death metal, with their unique apocalyptic sound and a long consistent streak of albums.

Swedish death metal

Many early Swedish bands used the Boss HM-2 pedal to achieve the so called “buzzsaw guitar sound”. Dismember, Entombed, Grave and Unleashed pioneered this type of death metal. In the mid 90’s the swedish style of death metal went on to be based more on groove and melody. The old school style resurfaced and gained popularity in the 2000’s, with swedish bands like Bloodbath, Entrails and Puteraeon as frontrunners. The level of originality can definitely be questioned, as many of the bands fall into a “harmless fun” type of category rather than breaking any new musical ground. For a more detailed guide on Swedish death metal, read my list of the 50 best Swedish death metal bands.

Finnish death metal

Finnish death metal is often dark, gloomy and atmospheric. Some examples of classic finnish bands are Abhorrence, (early) Amorphis, Convulse and Demilich.

Dutch death metal

The Netherlands have a distinct style of death metal. Pestilence is the most famous bands, but there are plenty of other bands worth checking out like Hail of Bullets, Asphyx and Devious. Several of the good bands have legendary singer Martin van Drunen on vocals.

Soliloquium – Swedish doom metal

My band Soliloquium plays a brand of progressive doom metal that’s often fitting for some death metal fans. It’s a mix of Katatonia’s death/doom style and clean vocal material. The song above is called “With or Without”. It’s the single from our 2016 album “An Empty Frame”. Check it out!

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Read more:

50 best Swedish death metal bands ->
10 essential death doom metal albums ->
10 best Dismember songs ->
10 best Entombed songs ->