19.12.17

Metalenema's Greatest Hits - The Master List


The Undertaker and DJ Slitzkrieg were invited by ViaOmega Magazine to catalog show favorites from the very beginning to present day. For those of you who want to read what is, in effect, a transcript of our live commentary, here it is in all its glory. Look for the text in bold if you want to know which bands we chose but skip the chatter.

Please support ViaOmega Magazine, as it is a very ambitious and well-appointed print publication, and it deserves your attention!

Abigor – Verwustung: Invoke the Dark Age

The Undertaker: Abigor has been played on Metalenema since the very beginning, which was 1995.

Slitzkrieg: I was 4 when you started playing that on the show.

The Undertaker: Back then, we were playing $25 a piece for import CDs. Albums like this one made you happy to have them at any price.

Slitzkrieg: The album in particular is the first thing I ever heard from Abigor. It has a majesty about it that's unmatched by a lot of their contemporaries.

The Undertaker: I agree. They really had a freeness about them that was uncommon, even in that relatively unfettered scene. I am a big fan of most of Abigor's discography, but this is still probably my overall favorite. We effectively debuted them in Central Texas, and of course the consequence was that people who didn't deserve to know about it got in on it. That's the double-edged sword of FM radio.

Slitzkrieg: It has aged fantastically, the fine wine of black metal!

The Undertaker: I was going to call them the Rolls Royce of black metal – audacious, exclusive, timeless, and fucking expensive!

Absu – The Third Storm of Cythraul

The Undertaker: So what was your first Absu album?

Slitzkrieg: Actually it wasn't an album, it was the “In the Eyes of Ioldanach” EP. I found out about them from the “Mannanan” video.

The Undertaker: Wow, the video? The system works!

Slitzkrieg: Third Storm... coincidentally was the third album I heard of theirs.

The Undertaker: Admittedly, Third Storm... was the album that actually broke it open for me. I liked Barathrum..., but then at the time, I wasn't as receptive to The Sun of Tiphareth even though I desperately wanted to like it. They were a Texas band after all. Then I heard "Swords and Leather" for the first time and it all came into focus. Most people of Slitkrieg's era cite Tara, and not without good reason.

Slitzkrieg: In a lot of ways Tara ended up being a Magnum Opus of sorts, but getting to that point really started with The Third Storm of Cythraul.

The Undertaker: Definitely. And at the time, Absu was the only Texas black metal band making waves, so putting them on the air and knowing they were in our own back yard was exciting. They will always be a regular feature.

Angelcorpse – Exterminate

Slitzkrieg: Ah yes, Altars of Madness on meth

The Undertaker: This was really a big deal when it came out

Slitzkrieg : Exterminate took the ideas of Morbid Angel and put the BPM under martial law.

The Undertaker: They were also terrifying live. It seemed like they were poised to take Morbid Angel's place until they dissolved in 2000. You're so fucking lucky you've gotten to see them live.

Slitzkrieg: Three times no less!
The Undertaker: Yeah, I only got to see them three times when they toured back then!

Slitzkrieg: Yet you got to see them at their strongest as a 4 piece live

The Undertaker: True! With Bill Taylor and John Longstreth!

Slitzkrieg: Nothing beats the unholy union that recorded this album!

Bestial Warlust – Vengeance War Til' Death
The Undertaker : When this came out, it was like something that crawled out of Chernobyl. "War Metal" was not a sub-genre back then; there was Blasphemy, and... well, Blasphemy.

Slitzkrieg: As our friend Ryan Neil put it "it is the closest musical representation of the Road Warrior"

The Undertaker: Totally! The album cover was as out of control as the music, too. Also, if you actually had a BW shirt, you were Joe Cool at shows. Those longsleeve designs were over the top.

Slitzkrieg: Yeah that's what really makes an album stand the test of time. An iconic cover art coupled with one hell of a release

The Undertaker: We dont play a lot of late-model war metal on the show, but we're always happy to play this monster.

Slitzkrieg: Because in a lot of ways, this really isn't war metal. Just really aggressive black metal.

The Undertaker: Everything was all in one big, scary cauldron.

Blood – Impulse to Destroy

Slitzkrieg: This has the best sword design of any album cover.

The Undertaker: And it has the song "Jesus Never Lived"! Actually, it's not so much this album as Blood in general.
They were always a ghost in our machine. A ridiculously heavy band with lots of solid output.

Slitzkrieg: They've had a pretty impressive career for a band whose songs average at about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Yet none of them seem recycled!

The Undertaker: It's the German engineering

Slitzkrieg: Das ist gut.

Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion
The Undertaker: This is one of the few albums that went over the air originally via LP. I love that gatefold!

Slitzkrieg Not much else comes close to the opening riff of “The Usurper”.

The Undertaker: Hell no, and "Innocence and Wrath" is still one of the most massive intros ever!

Slitzkrieg: A band seriously ahead of its time.

The Undertaker: I don't know how any metal show could exist without playing Celtic Frost, but then I'm reminded that XM Radio exists.

Slitzkrieg: Light metals, the aluminums.

The Undertaker: Metalenema is thallium-based, in that case.

Coroner – Punishment for Decadence

Slitzkrieg: Coroner is a band that just makes me want to stop playing guitar. Such talented musicians!

The Undertaker: Their riffs are more complex than most band's solos.

Slitzkrieg: Absolutely. And so damn fast!

The Undertaker: Technical, yet totally listenable.

Slitzkrieg: Technically listenable!

The Undertaker: They're probably one of our other constants from start to now. Interesting that many of the bands on this list are on Noise Records

Slitzkrieg: Noise really did have an ear for killer stuff. I've heard rumors that they're reissuing a lot of their catalog from this time period which will be awesome if true.

The Undertaker: I'll rebuy all of it!

Deicide - Deicide
Slitzkrieg: Now we move on to the MG34 and MG42 of death metal! High caliber weapons of mass destruction! None more Evil!

The Undertaker: Both Deicide and Legion are Metalenema institutions. In fact, when Once Upon the Cross came out, we used it as an excuse to play a set of songs we called "Tri-fix" - one track from each! Maybe we should bring that back.

Slitzkrieg: We still do that!

The Undertaker: Oh that's right, let's keep doing it then! Too bad you only got to see them after Glen acquired the presence of a beat-up old couch.

Slitzkrieg: Yep. Faint glimmers of the magick that once had them as the most evil band on the face of the Earth. If Glen had actually killed himself at 33, they would be absolutely untouchable.

The Undertaker: Yeah, it's very unusual for a fan base to wish the singer actually died!

Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes

Slitzkrieg: A band we never thought we'd get to see live, and one who blew most bands who are half the age completely out of the water.

The Undertaker: I know, and we saw them three times. Hey, just like Angelcorpse!
Slitzkrieg: You saw them three times, I only saw them twice.

The Undertaker: Oh right, Take that! And bands of yore, take heed - when you reform, just play the album everyone wants to hear, and you'll have a perfect set. Slumber of Sullen Eyes is a perfect specimen of Finnish Death Metal.

Slitzkrieg: Agreed. For Finnish Death Metal, Demigod stands out as the tip of the spear.

Dominus – A View to the Dim

The Undertaker: Holy shit, I love this album.

Slitzkrieg: How in the fuck did this become Volbeat? Anyway, this is the best Bolt Thrower album, hands down.

The Undertaker: Ha! Yes, but even heavier. Better vocals, too! “Tears in Black” is a Metalenema favorite.

Slitzkrieg: It just goes to show that one great album is far more essential than 3 or 4 decent ones.

The Undertaker: I wonder what would happen if I went to a Volbeat show and threw copies of View to the Dim at them?

Slitzkrieg: The joke would be on you, those are rare.

Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse

The Undertaker: This is another flagship album for the show. It was distrubuted in the States by Century Media, so we actually got a promo copy in the mail from the label. That was surreal.

Slitzkrieg: Back when Century Media wasn't complete shit, haha
The Undertaker: Just mostly - they released Stuck Mojo right around this time. Here's a great story - I actually got a phone interview with Ihsahn in 1997 because of Century Media - this was for Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (which we also played a lot). And talk about embarrassing, I didn't realize Ihsahn was the primary guitarist!
Slitzkrieg: You done goofed that one.

The Undertaker: I had never seen any photos of them performing, Youtube didn't exist yet, and I simply had no idea. Everyone was always talking about Samoth because he went to jail for church arson.
Then the promo video came out and of course there was Ihsahn playing guitar.
So in the interview I asked him, "So Samoth is back in the fold, but did you start playing to fill the gap in the meantime?"
He had no idea what I meant, and I realized my mistake and changed the direction of the question. Needless to say, we didn't air that part.
Slitzkrieg: Ah, editing.

The Undertaker:At the time, I had to do it with a minidisc 4-track machine. You don't know how easy you have it !Jesus, I'm starting to talk like I survived the Holocaust or something.

Slitzkrieg: “Back in my day, we had to walk 15 miles to buy or records!”
The Undertaker: No, we just drove 500 miles round trip to do it. You would have driven to the moon and back about 5 times to acquire all the CDs you've ordered online if it was 1996!

Slitzkrieg: But it shows the dedication of the underground throughout the 80s and 90s.

The Undertaker: Yes, it was fun and I miss it a lot.

Excel – Split Image

Slitzkrieg: Our travel anthem is on this!

The Undertaker: For those of you who don't know (and those who do and think were morons) we usually sing the beginning of "Your life, My life" incessantly when flying somewhere together.

Slitzkrieg: And the main riff to it as well.

The Undertaker: We're obnoxious.

Slitzkrieg: We can be.

The Undertaker: This album is so fantastically teenaged and '80s, it's just amazing!

Slitzkrieg: And it's all kinds of catchy!

The Undertaker: This is an album I will always recommend. You just have to get past the airbrushed aesthetic that makes it resemble an ICP album in retrospect. I can't wear their shirts for the same reason!

Slitzkrieg: We actually got to see Excel a couple years ago out in Ventura, California. When they played there was a huge pit. t one point a fight broke out and the bouncers started to pull a few people out which ended up becoming this flurry of people moving towards the doors. At this point, some guy decided to up the ante by jumping off a railing into the middle of this mass of bouncers trying to keep order. And to top it all off, this kid started running up to everyone who was getting hauled out and handing them “Bernie Sanders 2016” flyers. You can't make this shit up.

The Undertaker: It would have been hilarious if Sanders had won, then that kid would have felt very validated in his efforts.

Slitzkrieg: “HERE'S HOW BERNIE CAN STILL WIN!”


Gehenna – Malice

Slitzkrieg: Heading back to Norway now for a band that's surprisingly not as known.

The Undertaker: Which is a shame. They weren't on a great label then, but amazingly we got a promo of this one as well.

Slitzkrieg: It shows how important a good label was back then.

The Undertaker: We were really surprised at just how good it was. Great performances, great arrangements, great production. This and Emperor are the two keyboard-driven albums that I still enjoy without exception. So much of that stuff has aged terribly.

Slitzkrieg: It goes to show that when tastefully done, anything can stand the test of time.

The Undertaker: I speculate that if it hadn't been for the rise of Dimmu Borgir, the Gehenna approach would have prevailed.

Slitzkrieg: Now it's just bad video game music. For shame!


Goreaphobia – Omen of Masochism

The Undertaker: Here's another really good but underrated release.

Slitzkrieg: Some of the darker US death metal that paved the way for a lot of others.

The Undertaker: It's like if Morbid Angel never moved past Abominations of Desolation. They had leather pants, pointy guitars, and everything. Did you get to see Goreaphobia?

Slitzkrieg: Nope. They broke up before I had a chance.

The Undertaker: Finally! A band you missed out on!

Slitzkrieg: There are plenty of bands on this list that I haven't seen!

The Undertaker: Well I haven't seen half of them either! Ain't no Dominus concerts in the US!

Slitzkrieg: Nor Abigor!

The Undertaker: Or anywhere else, ever!



Immolation – Dawn of Possession

Slitzkrieg: Now on to one of the unbeatable heavyweights.

The Undertaker: Immolation is a top-tier band, and one of the cornerstones of Metalenema. We were basically a two-man Immolation PR shop leading up to Here in After. We even did a live episode in '96 where Ross called in and co-hosted the show over the phone.

Slitzkrieg: All before my time, yet again!

The Undertaker: Then when he sent us the demo tracks for what became "Here In After", we were totally blown away. It says a lot about them that we still playing them all the time, and that they just released a new album that is really generating excitement.

Slitzkrieg: But Dawn of Possession is, was, and will always be quintessential.

The Undertaker: I think I'll throw it on right now!


Immortal – Pure Holocaust

Slitzkrieg: Oh man, this album is so amazing.
The Undertaker: It really is.

Slitzkrieg: It always amazes me that's Abbath doing the drums for it.

The Undertaker: We played the shit out of Immortal's first three, they were one of those bands we introduced to the regional scene
Too bad these days it's just "Durr Holocaust".

Slitzkrieg: This album is so evil they had to sneak in a tribute to the Star Wars “Imperial March” theme in the title track!

The Undertaker: Yeah, and nobody complained. Audacity usually wins the day.



Incantation - Onward to Golgotha

The Undertaker: People forget this came out a solid year after Dawn of Possession I love this album, but back then many of us regarded it as a companion piece to Dawn. That is not a criticism in the least, though.

Slitzkrieg: Wasn't this album a joint effort by many people in the the northeastern scene?

The Undertaker: Oh yeah, a lot of people were involved. Will from Mortician sang on the 7 inches, and Paul Ledney of Profanatica was a founding member. Ross and Bob of Immolation were even supposed to be involved. Up until a month ago I had no idea the very first official Incantation rehearsal was John on guitar, Bob on guitar, Ross on bass and vocals, and Ledney on drums!

Slitzkrieg: Oh wow! A death metal supergroups!

The Undertaker: Yeah, everyone who mattered touched Onward in some way or other. That's part of its magic. Can you imagine how nuts people would get over that lineup today?

Slitzkrieg: Nobody ever did a better version of the cavernous sound, and so many bands have cloned it now.

The Undertaker: Yeah, it's unfortunate. And boring. Onward to Golgotha will always be the first and best.


Kreator – Extreme Aggression

Slitzkrieg: Now to Germany for one of the most violent Teutonic thrashers.

The Undertaker: Yeah, but not the album that everyone would expect. And yes, yes, I like Pleasure to Kill plenty.

Slitzkrieg: Why Extreme Aggression specifically?

The Undertaker: It just has a very actualized quality, and it feels timeless. It's definitely a product of late '80s thrash, but it's damn well played and excellent production. The songs are catchy as hell, but not obvious or contrived (like all their current output). "Betrayer" alone is the case for it!

Slitzkrieg: Too bad that song accurately describes them now.

The Undertaker: Ow! There's a burn unit in Essen that will be receiving a new patient shortly!

Slitzkrieg: All while Mille laughs his way to the bank.

The Undertaker: He probably whines and grumbles instead, that's what he's best at now. But no matter what, Kreator's early works stand the test of time.

Macabre - Gloom

The Undertaker: This album is such a riot.

Slitzkrieg: And one that people either love or hate.

The Undertaker: We love it, for the record.

Slitzkrieg: Very unconventional and so fast!

The Undertaker: Funny, sick, and over the top, too.

Slitzkrieg: Plus it's perfect for our show because we can always sneak a track in. They're all super-short.

The Undertaker: Like most bands of the era, they kind of lost what made them so charming over time.

Slitzkrieg: It gets swept away with youth sometimes.

The Undertaker: God, that's depressing. Let's talk about another album.


Molested - Blod-draum

The Undertaker: Officially the common favorite of Slitzkrieg and myself.

Slitzkrieg: We could take up an entire magazine talking about this one. I may be one of the biggest fans out there.

The Undertaker: This made it onto our show upon release. We actually got their follow-up EP as a promo first, and found the full-length later. We had no idea what it was, but it blew our heads off with insane death metal that really forged its own path. I wish they had done just one more LP!

Slitzkrieg: That's some of the magic of this band, they had such a short career and yet the two things they put out are really different from everything else. It's like Deicide's Legion that way.

The Undertaker: I feel like we have publicly championed this band more than anyone in the underground.

Slitzkrieg: Yeah, and I have the band tattoo to prove it!



Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness

Slitzkrieg: This is THE death metal album.

The Undertaker: Even now, after all the horrible things they've done, it still can't be ruined! Altars is such an amazing display of refined talent, and a truly quintessential intersection of death and black metal

Slitzkrieg: First and best, it even showed up before Deicide.

The Undertaker: In 1989, most bands were still trying to clone Darkness Descends! And no matter what revisionists say (they're usually wrong anyway), this is the best Morbid Angel album!

Slitzkrieg: Yeah, and don't try to act like you heard "Abominations" first. Unless you're Wes Weaver, you probably didn't!


Nastrond – Toteslaut

The Undertaker: This is a truly weird entry, which is why I like it and always go back to it.

Slitzkrieg: Yeah, Kali Yuga fascists.

The Undertaker: When I saw that promo photo of Draugr holding a sword while covered in blood, I knew that band was for me.

Slitzkrieg: Definitely the spirit of black metal. They don't make it like that anymore.

The Undertaker: Seriously, they don't.

Necromantia – Scarlet Evil Witching Black

The Undertaker: This is easily the best all-bass metal album in history.

Slitzkrieg: It's that unique Greek sound black metal sound, but really epic.

The Undertaker: Yes, very anthemic. This is much better than Across the Fiery Path. I simply don't get that one at all. Scarlet Evil... is one of the Greek Gods. I reach for it again and again.

Slitzkrieg: Up until a couple years ago you could only get the reissue of it with a different artwork that had a very busty woman on the cover. I called it Scarlet Evil Bitchin' Rack. Luckily Osmose properly reissued it a couple years ago with the original artwork.

The Undertaker: The wacko original cover art was part of its greatness. Now all they need is a shirt of it! Anyway, alongside the classics from Rotting Christ and Varathron, this album stands out as one of the best of that scene.


Necrovore – Divus De Mortuus

Slitzkrieg: A serious Texas classic.

The Undertaker: In the FM days, Jon Deplachette (the band's founder) actually got my phone number and called me when he moved back to Texas. He was reforming the band (this was 1996) and wanted us to spread the word. Naturally, I was fucking freaked out to hear from him out of nowhere.

Slitzkrieg: I'm sure that was a heart attack and a half.

The Undertaker: Yeah, I only knew him by reputation. I grew up in San Antonio, and Necrovore was god-tier there. We actually met in person at an Immolation show in Austin a few months later in early '97. During the set, the show's original co-host and I were up at the front going crazy for Immolation, we felt someone leaning into us really hard. When we looked back, it was Jon! He was facing away from the stage and he had his head thrown back between our shoulders and was screaming, "AUUUUUUUGHHHH!" in the Necrovore voice. It was insane!

Slitzkrieg: I was 6 when this was happening. That's really one of those magic metal moments. Where do you go from there?

The Undertaker: You don't. Let's talk about something else instead!

Nuclear Assault – Survive

Slitzkrieg: This is the best Nuclear Assault album.

The Undertaker: I totally agree! Get over it everybody! I've always loved this album. I was so scared I would never see them live, and it took me until 2016 to do it!

Slitzkrieg: And we saw them twice, once on each coast!

The Undertaker: Yeah, go fucking figure you saw them the same two times I did! Pretty much Nuclear Assault is a big part of the thrash in our "Death Black Thrash" tag line.

Slitzkrieg: And Razor.

The Undertaker: Violent thrash!

Slitzkrieg: The only kind that matters!


Pestilence – Consuming Impulse

The Undertaker: Regular people talk about remembering what they were doing on 9/11, but I remember the first time I heard this album.

Slitzkrieg: I was sitting in my dorm in San Antonio realizing there was a whole new world of death metal I'd never known about. And it's your fault!

The Undertaker: I'll gladly take the blame. The funny thing is that I was also in San Antonio when I heard it upon release. I actually heard this before Deicide or Morbid Angel.

Slitzkrieg: Oh wow. So it was a gateway drug of sorts!

The Undertaker: It''s really amazing, start to finish.

Slitzkrieg: Just agonizingly killer death metal with no bland songs whatsoever.

The Undertaker: No way. Consuming... is one of an elite group of albums that demonstrates why riffcraft is everything.

Slitzkrieg: Which is part of why we aren't fans of “cavern-core” death metal.

The Undertaker: Miasmal death metal is total boredom. Stop making it, all of you! Listen to Consuming Impulse and get truly inspired!


Protector – A Shedding of Skin

The Undertaker: Talk about heavy death metal

Slitzkrieg: This band has a healthy reputation, but they should have been bigger, especially with this album!
The Undertaker: Yeah, it's ungodly heavy, and so perfectly performed. There's that German engineering at work!

Slitzkrieg: They're also bad to listen to in a sports car while you're stuck in California traffic.

The Undertaker: Oh right, I almost forgot about that drive. Why didn't we jam Protector on the way back, too?

Slitzkrieg: I've no idea. We'll fix that the next time we go back!


Rotting Christ – Non Serviam

Slitzkrieg: The album that started everything for them, along with Thy Mighty Contract.

The Undertaker: The one they signed with Century Media?

Slitzkrieg: That, along with the album. This was the first thing I heard of Rotting Christ because my friend used to play it incessantly back when we were in college.

The Undertaker: Back when this came out, I bought it in Houston for the low, low price of $25. Re-editions have been another magic carpets for you ungrateful brats! "Oh, I wish I could have seen them live! Hey, they reformed and now I did! Oh, their best albums cost $100 on eBay! Hey, some label just re-released it for $10!"

Slitzkrieg: Hey, at least we're still buying physical copies!

The Undertaker: That's true, you should be acknowledged for that. Anyway, this album and Necromantia's Scarlet Evil... are total gems of Greek black metal.

Slayer – South of Heaven

Slitzkrieg: Nope, not Reign in Blood.

The Undertaker: Even though we play that one plenty as well. South of Heaven has such a weird magic to it. It's violent, but also creepy.

Slitzkrieg: It's definitely their darkest album. The ending to “Mandatory Suicide” legitimately scared the hell out of the me the first time I heard it.

The Undertaker: I daresay this is the best artistic statement Slayer ever made - less revolutionary, but more compelling.

SOD – Speak English or Die

The Undertaker: Has any other band in this style ever topped SOD?

Slitzkrieg: Nope, never equaled either.

The Undertaker: Classic crossover, bar none. And that guitar tone! There's nothing like it anywhere. And it's 32 years old!

Slitzkrieg: Damn, this album is old enough to have kids and a mortgage!


Voivod – Killing Technology

The Undertaker: Best Voivod.

Slitzkrieg: Most of Voivod's output is good in one regard or other.

The Undertaker: But Killing... is the best intersection of all their good ideas.

Slitzkrieg: This is definitely the pinnacle of the classic sound.

The Undertaker: Yes, still fast but also weird, avant garde and really different.

Slitzkrieg: Truly one of a kind.

The Undertaker: I don't think you truly understand metal if you can't get into this album, or Voivod in general for that matter.

Slitzkrieg: I'm sure some dissenter out there is thinking, "I don't need that album, its not good" and to them we say, "WE DON'T NEED YOU!”

The Undertaker: Good night, everybody!



Metalenema Episode 12-18-17


We had some time to kill, so we did a show in the car. You're welcome!

[DOWNLOAD IT HERE]


11.12.17

Metalenema's Best Metal Albums of 2017

Metalenema's album of the year!
Your list sucks, our list rules. Sorry, pussies. It was another huge year for death metal, with some sprinklings of  black metal and thrash here and there. The best thing about 2017 was that creating this list was the easiest it has been in a while. There was a lot to like, as you'll hear!
[DOWNLOAD IT HERE]

Top Ten:

Album of the year: 
Ritualization, Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss  - This absolute monster of a record is quite possibly the best album out of France that isn't by Antaeus. The drums blaze, the guitars shred, the vocal roar, and the razor-sharp production slices your eardrums. Fast as fuck, yet expertly executed and memorable, Ritualization offers a diabolical thrill-ride that you'll want to take again and again.

The rest of the best (in no particular order):

2) White Death , White Death - This Finnish upstart came out of nowhere with some scathing, screechy black metal that recalls the darker days of the Norwegian greats. Finland often misses the mark in this arena, but White Death hits the bullseye with caustic production, icy riffs, goblin screams, and some surprisingly anthemic twists.

3) Unassprechlichen Kulten, Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) - Discordant and dark death metal from the bowels of Chile (Chile bowels, get it?), this long-running unit returns with a deadly chokehold on the sound that is at times confounding and unapproachable while being frighteningly effective throughout.

4) Phrenelith, Desolate Endscape -  This Danish outfit is the most notable name from their neck of the woods in quite a while, and they don't squander this distinction by overthinking things. Get in, be heavy, crush skulls, get out - the way death metal was intended.

5) Ascended Dead, Abhorrent Manifestation - Blistering death metal madness from one of America's most promising acts.Ascended Dead performs with the frantic speed of a war metal while creating riffs befitting of a Floridian classic.

6) Condor, Unstoppable Power - Norway continues its proud tradition of evil thrash with this band's breakout full-length. While worshiping at the well-established altar of Aura Noir, Condor pins the pedal straight to the floor and succeeds in setting themselves apart through sheer aggression.

7) Immolation, Atonement - The New York death metal titans return with a fresh take on their current model, and it works beautifully. Atonement broods and seethes with strong riffs and even stronger performances that will please the faithful, while winning over lapsed fans and newcomers alike.

8) Blood, Inferno - The gold-standard for Satanic death grind, Blood returns with another album that extols death and destruction instead of whining about what people eat for dinner. Rock-steady as ever, Inferno blasts with confidence and delivers a relentless beating.

9) Crurifragium, Beasts of the Temple of Satan - This debut full-length from the new underground vanguard of the Pacific Northwest offers a blast furnace of black/death fury that recalls Fallen Angel of Doom in the best way possible. But don't dismiss them as another war metal band, because Crurifagium has hooks to spare, ones that promise to drag you into the darkness.

10) Degial, Predator Reign - Just under the wire for 2017, Degial bursts into the party with a new lease on life. Predator Reign is confident, vicious, and it kicks the new Morbid Angel album right in the balls.

The master list: