SOME OLD BANDS U MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT
When I am not trolling simple-minded, entry-level elitists, I enjoy the soothing, dulcet tones of some classic thrash or death metal. I am definitely not any kind of metal encyclopedia or authority on the subject, but I have realized that (sadly) I’m old enough to have heard a few bands that many younger metal fans have not, just because I have been exposed to a lot of bands over the years — sort of like an ancient desert tortoise who is not a historian, but has seen history unfold before his eyes simply because he is old as fuck. Because I enjoy giving back to my community, I will share some of my favorite older bands in case any of you might like them. If you want to hate on me, that’s OK, too, so feel free to tell me I’m a poser, that everybody already knows about these bands, that I got some trivial detail wrong, or whatever else you think makes you “sound like u rly know what ur talking about.”
I first checked out this band because the guys in Suffocation wore their shirts a lot back in the day, and I was not disappointed. Like many of the early NYDM bands, they combined the riffing and precision of thrash/death metal with slight touches of hardcore in the vocals, groove, and overall pissed off vibe. They have three albums on Hawthorne, California’s CENTURY MEDIA, all of which are good, but 1992’s Epidemic Of Violence is IMO the best example of the classic Demolition Hammer sound.
Trivia: Drummer Vinny Daze died in 1996, supposedly of fugu poisoning!
You may remember Florida death metal legend James Murphy from his work as a guitarist with bands like Cancer and Obituary, but I think that he didn’t really shine until he put together this band. While they were never anywhere near as popular as many other Florida bands, their 1993 album was without a doubt one of the finest albums of its time, especially considering what a huge glut of generic death metal the scene was experiencing at the time. I really love Murphy’s unmistakable phrasing — so smooth and fluid — and the riff at the beginning of this song is one of the best. Fans of progressive-yet-brutal classic death metal should definitely check this record out, you will dig it.
This band is, in my opinion, the ultimate example of early 90s Florida death metal — kind of like if Cynic and Atheist stuck with the style of their demos instead of going all prog. They released two albums, both of which are awesome, although I like this one just a little bit better. Of note is that they actually played blast beats from time to time, which a lot of their peers did not. Also, it has a Ed Repka cover, so you know it’s good!
A commenter on the video above called Morbid Saint “The American Kreator,” which is pretty accurate if you ask me. This Wisconsin band was pretty unknown when they were around, but for some reason became a bit of a cult band a few years back — maybe someone reissued their (impossible to find) album? I don’t know, but whatever the case, this is some seriously ass-ripping thrash/death metal that definitely deserves the nerd love it gets.
I have sung the praises of this band many, many times on the internets, but I will do so until they get the props they deserve. They were my favorite local band as a kid, and to this day “As Above So Below” remains on my playlist, as it should for any fan of technical, progressive thrash. Brad Hull was one of the best, most innovative guitarists in the genre, but I think this band was a few years ahead of their time — a little too weird and intricate for 1991 (consider that Anthrax had just released Persistence of Time to see how incredibly advanced Forced Entry was).
Trivia: I was at the filming of the video for “Macrocosm Microcosm” and may be in one of the crowd shots, it’s hard to tell. I would have been eleven or twelve years old.
Speaking of intricate, progressive-yet-brutal death metal (can you sense a theme here?), Chicago’s Oppressor toiled away in the 90s without ever really breaking out of the underground, but released several sick albums. My favorite is 1996’s Agony, which sort of sounds like a death metal version of Forced Entry in that it has a lot of weird, angular riffs that come out of left field, yet are somehow still catchy as fuck. If you ask me, this is how to do tech-death properly: it’s still super progressive and interesting, but never loses sight of the emphasis on excellent songwriting.
Trivia: The guys in this band evidently got tired of playing sick death metal and making no money, so they broke up and two of them started the moderately-shitty nu-metal/hard rock band SOiL, who I guess were fairly popular for a while in the 00s?
Like Morbid Saint, this Scandinavian band flew under the radar while they were around, but garnered some cult acclaim when their albums were re-discovered on the internets a few years back. I don’t have anything especially interesting to say about this band, but this record is a great fusion of thrash, death metal, and hardcore, with one of the best guitar sounds I’ve ever heard. Definitely worth a listen if you are fiending for something along those lines.
While I mock neo-thrash bands at every opportunity, I have a serious soft spot for authentic late 80s crossover thrash, especially the Southern California variety that has a solid dose of punk injected into it. Their 1989 LP Annihilation of Civilization is pretty much the epitome of the genre, and it is nothing but pure adrenalin, yet still finely crafted — imagine if DRI circa Thrash Zone actually knew how to play their instruments and write songs.
Trivia: I just realized that the drummer for this band was also in Despise You! I would have jocked DY even harder had I known that!
Running neck-in-neck with Evildead for kings of LA crossover thrash, we have the legendary Wasted Youth. While they began their career as a Circle Jerks-style hardcore band, they definitely ended up metal as fuck, as you can tell from this video (which is a totally awesome document of the 80s West Coast crossover scene), and their 1989 LP Black Daze still sounds great.
Trivia: The bassist went on to be in a bunch of shitty bands, most notably Velvet Revolver and Vanilla Ice’s backing band. The drummer is Joey Castillo of Danzig and Queens of the Stone Age, although Wasted Youth is a million times cooler than either of those awful, boring rock bands.
There are legends, and then there are LEGENDS — and Possessed are most definitely the latter. As far as I know, they coined the term “death metal” in this song off their classic debut album Seven Churches, which still blows me away. I’m pretty lukewarm on a lot of so-called classics from this period, because most of them just sound sloppy, weak and boring compared to newer bands, but this record gets better every time I listen to it — so, so much more brutal and relentless than Hell Awaits, Darkness Descends, or whatever bullshit Megadeth and Metallica were doing. While Possessed are hardly unknown, it seems to me that younger metal fans don’t really know them as much as they do many other, shittier bands, and that is a real shame — this whole album SHREDS from beginning to end, and should be mandatory listening.
Trivia: Guitarist Larry Lalonde is/was in Primus, of all bands. This completely blew my mind went I found out.
This band is very well-known among brutal death metal fans, and for good reason: they are sick as fuck. That said, I think their first album is by far their best, despite being their least popular release. This song in particular is a masterpiece of guttural death in that it is srsly slamming pitt riffment, yet still a catchy song — you can even hear the bassist!!
Throughout the 90s, Malevolent Creation’s second LP The Ten Commandments was the butt of countless jokes, often held up as the ultimate example of generic Florida death metal. The jokes were entirely justified, because that album was incredibly boring, pedestrian, and dull, in addition to having one of the stupidest song titles of all time (“Thou Shalt Kill”). The rest of their catalog is equally forgettable, and as the folks here on MetalSucks have documented extensively, the guys in the band are complete dipshits and douchelords. So why I am mentioning them??? One reason: their 1995 album Eternal is pretty damn good! It is the one and only thing this otherwise completely shitty band did that isn’t generic, laughable garbage.
Trivia: I’m not sure how many people these days remember it, but it was fairly controversial that this album includes the song “They Breed” in which lyrical genius Phil Fasciana had the great idea to drop the N-bomb (it’s not on the lyric sheet, but listen to the very last line of the song, it’s clear as day). Bill Zeebub, who is also an idiot and a douchelord, explored the subject quite a bit in this, uh, “interesting” interview.
I will conclude with one of the funniest videos of all time, from doom metal pioneers Candlemass. In an era in which everybody was trying to play faster and more technical than the next guy, Candlemass turned heads by playing slow, melodic songs that owed more to Black Sabbath than Slayer. They weren’t the first to play doom (I guess Saint Vitus or whomever beat them to the punch), but they were certainly among the best, with much better songwriting and technical ability than the rest of the pack.
Trivia: This video features an appearance by black metal legend Dead (at 4:45 or so I think; someone will correct me if I’m wrong about that), as well as a dance sequence that puts “Thriller “to shame (at 5:50).
How many of these bands has Alex Marquez played in?? How many of them have used Ed Repka or Dan Seagrave for their cover art?? Does Evildead make you want to mosh around your room????