On paper, death metal seems like a hard thing to sustain for almost four decades. It’s a genre reliant on all-out extremity, from blast beats to throat-shredding snarls and knucklehead riffing – how much room for variety is there in that?!
However, there are still inventive new bands emerging, taking the formula perfected by Death, Obituary and Entombed in the late ’80s down unexplored avenues. For proof, here are 10 up-and-coming death metal acts with fresh ideas that demand to be heard.
You can tell Orbit Culture are the real deal just from the bands they’ve toured with: Trivium, In Flames and Meshuggah, among others. And their music justifies the hype. The Swedes’ new album, Descent, fuses the fancy guitar stylings of melodeath to nu metal’s immediate, forceful stomp.
When you’re in a new death metal band, having Trey Azagthoth personally ask you to support Morbid Angel on tour is the ultimate seal of approval. Crypta’s blackened and sometimes thrashy take on their genre has made them Brazil’s mightiest export since the members’ former band, Nervosa, and they’ve been playing across the States relentlessly since they formed.
By mixing primal death metal with some woozy psychedelic sounds, Tomb Mold have become one of the US’s most treasured underground bands in barely half a decade. New album The Enduring Spirit is both brutal and intellectual, pushing into tech-death intricacy and the songwriting scope of prog. Pure evil genius in musical form.
Frozen Soul make death metal all about the cold, and they live the gimmick with their frosty cover art and the dry ice they bring to live shows. The Americans’ debut album, Crypt Of Ice, went down so well that Trivium frontman Matt Heafy produced its 2023 followup, Glacial Domination.
Burner are the best new death metal band that the UK has to offer. Their 2023 debut, It All Returns To Nothing, was an innovative, rampant fusion of death metal riffing with the scrapping pace of hardcore masters like Converge. We cannot wait to see how they’ll follow up on it.
Blindfolded And Led To The Woods
After forming as a literal joke of a deathcore band, Blindfolded… drastically broadened their canon. Thank God they did, because their Nightmare Withdrawals and Rejecting Obliteration albums are ferocious masterpieces, consolidating the nastiest aspects of death metal, sludge and metalcore. When it comes to Kiwi metal, they’re in the top tier.
Self-described as “Cincinnati death metal bog-dwellers”, Scab Hag are introducing the murky, suffocating atmosphere of Ohio’s swampland to extreme metal. Their claustrophobic sludge/death metal has already earned the attention of the US metal press, and you can expect that popularity to fester when debut album Wading Through Mephitic Filth drops on October 31.
If you’ve been to a London death metal gig since the pandemic ended, you’ve probably seen these Brits and their skull-walloping riffs opening. Celestial Sanctuary seem to be inescapable in the underground, but they deserve the attention: their songs put hulking heaviness at the forefront and don’t waste any time.
There’s a death metal revolution going on in Glasgow, and Coffin Mulch are at the epicentre of it. Their 2023 debut album, Spectral Intercession, is pure groove, endowed with the filthy chainsaw guitar tone of the early ’90s Stockholm scene. You’d be hard-pressed to find any filthier death metal this year.
Flesher are revisiting the very roots of death metal. Their old-school bruisers eschew blast beats and tremolo picking, instead favouring snare smacks as loud as shotguns and sluggish, barbaric riffing. The power trio’s new debut, Tales Of Grotesque Demise, is a must-hear for fans of classic Death and Bolt Thrower.