Adversary – We Must Be in Hell (Cursed Productions, 1999)

The mid-to-late 1990s wasn’t a particularly interesting period in US death metal history. Old bands were busy coping with their past triumphs and the newer arrivals on the scene did what they could to recapture the magic of preceding classics, but by doing so stalled the potentials of exploration presented to them. However, there did exist a few notable exceptions, many of whom chose to peek at their European counterparts for galvanization. Among them were the Indiana-based Adversary – a much overlooked act then and now who came up with distinctive and unique approach to death metal.

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Hazael – Thor (Loud Out, 1994)

Despite hosting a substantial early-1990s underground scene, Polish death metal never managed to break through on a wider scale. Beyond high-profile acts like Vader, Behemoth and Decapitated, most Polish acts continue to dwell in obscurity. However, the renewed interest in old school death metal have caused record labels to probe back catalogues in search of potential lost gems, or at least releases that can be marketed as such. One example of recent years is Thor, the 1994 debut full-length album by Polish death metal band Hazael.

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Brief Analysis: Possessed – “The Exorcist”

The opening song of Seven Churches starts off with The Exorcist theme taken from Tubular Bells but performed by producer Randy Burns. This emblematic introduction played on a cheap organ synth with its muddy timbre is the perfect introduction for this innovative band that managed to reconcile underground metal with the blossoming Speed metal movement into a vicious piece that carries on towards a much darker path.

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Carcass – “Reek of Putrefaction” Introduction Analysis

On Symphonies of Sickness Carcass integrated a stronger Death metal influence into their music in regards to structure as the unorganized noise was given a clear vision and the short blasts of vitriol now communicate sickening short tales that have a greater sense of dynamism and progression. With these added tools, Carcass now had the ability to make the greatest gore related of all time. Though many band would use all the elements present here with varying levels of success as the style fell into the joke genres of Porno and Goregrind. Carcass remain the masters of this through meticulous arrangements as seen in one of the greatest introductions in metal.

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Trench Warfare – Hatred Prayer

Trench Warfare finally grace the world with their first full length. Building from the potential of their demo and split, the band finally manage to fuse their War metal with elements of Black and Death metal into creating a highly enjoyable listen that carries a few more subtleties than its aesthetic quality would allow one to assume.

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Mefitis – Emberdawn (2019)

DMU song contest #3 winners Mefitis return with their glorious debut album Emberdawn. “Kolossos Pt II” which was featured in the song contest gave us a glimpse into some of the incredible ideas that this band has shown. Mefitis has existed for over twelve years and had been plagued by various problems before being put on hiatus for a few years until remaining members Vatha and Pendath who had always been the core duo behind the band managed to reform and eventually release the excellent Widdrim Hymn. A powerful bond marked by shared philosophy has allowed this duo to craft what can easily be referred to as this decade’s greatest metal album. Combining the twin guitar approach of early At the Gates with the melodic sense of Demigod and then layered in the Norwegian Black metal style. Where these approaches have produced a dead end and hordes of imitators, for Mefitis they have opened up new methods for their brand of Dark metal.

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Polemicist – Zarathustrian Impressions (Fólkvangr, 2019)

In the past, metal journalism used to function mainly as a filtering device; weeding out the bad so that the good stuff would rise to the top. Nowadays, it’s more likely the other way around. We’re now searching for potential in a seemingly endless flow of “interesting” or pleasant-sounding junk. This task often requires time and patience, because those rare and far between releases will often sound similar to their lesser peers on a surface level. One illuminating example would be the Pennsylvanian epic death/black metal act Polemicist and their debut album Zarathustrian Impressions. Their music may not appear spectacular on casual listen, but repeated and concentrated exposure reveal unexpected qualities.

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Sammath – Across the Rhine is only death (2019)

Sammath returns to the days of its second and third album with a shredding assault that emphasizes tight, technical riffing that keeps to a simple theme and develops it with precision strumming integrated with exacting percussion. This takes the war metal idea into the technical death metal realm while preserving the black metal sense of melody and epic architectures to unite these alienated and reductive riffs.

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