Listen to any of Horrendous‘ fine death metal offerings and it’s likely that somewhere between debut The Chills and their fantastic new album Idol, vocalist/guitarist Damian Herring has infused elements of or, at the very least, the spirits from one of (or all) the five albums listed below. While Herring hates “doing lists,” Decibel cornered the jovial frontman long enough — and with the appropriate amount of spontaneity — for him to spit out his Top 5 Obscure Death Metal Albums (of the ’90s) without skipping a beat.
Bring on the old-school vibes as Herring and Decibel venture through the cobwebs of death metal’s history — OK, there are more obscure releases out there — to list out five albums that may’ve gone under the radar. In fact, we know a few, such as Dark Millennium and Gorement, were so obscure that interest in the Germans and the Swedes didn’t really pick up until after they had disbanded without so much as a mention in margins of Geschichte des Death Metal (a fictitious book in German, obviously).
With a laugh, a nod to the past and a Garden of Shadows namedrop, here’s Herring’s Top 5 Obscure Death Metal Albums!
5. Garden of Shadows – Oracle Moon (2000, Wicked World)
Not many people know or remember Garden of Shadows from Maryland. When I first discovered them, I remember being surprised how good they were especially considering they were not only from the US, but that they were semi-local to me haha. One of the main people in the band—Brian Rabinowitz—came to one of our shows in DC and introduced himself. That was pretty wild for me since I had been a fan since before Horrendous even formed. All of a sudden this guy shows up at our show at a bar in a basement in DC. That was a fun experience. I love how melodic and epic-sounding this album is, and the use of synths is excellent. It’s a definite gem, I think, and relatively unknown.
4. Gorement – The Ending Quest (1994, Crypta)
This is a more doomy pick, but I love the combination of doom and death, and Gorement were really good at it. The somber leads are really something that stick out on this album and create a gloomy atmosphere. Gorement were pretty unique in the Swedish scene and I think it’s cool that the Internet helped this album “blow up” 10 years after it was released. [Laughs] If the compilation/reissue hadn’t come out on Necroharmonic (or Century Media way later), we’d all be paying a fortune on discogs to get a hold of this classic. [Laughs] [The reissue is available HERE]
3. Unanimated – Ancient God of Evil (1995, No Fashion)
I love how a lot of the early Swedish bands like Unanimated had melodic black metal elements in their death metal. Dissection is probably the most well-known in that style, but for some reason, I got into Unanimated way more than I ever got into Dissection. I wonder if I wasn’t 7 years old when this came out and I had been paying attention back then, that might not be the case. Regardless, I feel like this band and album are under-appreciated. I love the melodic riffs and melancholic vibe, and on the instrumental “Mireille” in particular.
2. Dark Millennium – Ashore the Celestial Burden (1992, Massacre)
I remember the first time I heard this album I was blown away by how unconventional and progressive it was. It’s a very weird album with a strange (but awesome) atmosphere. There are a lot of off-kilter transitions and the vocals are interesting, too. They’re not particularly death metal in the guttural sense, but I was always struck by how expressive and emotive they were. He’s just going wild with passion and ferociousness. I love the experimental, dynamic, and epic vibe of this album. I know Dark Millennium is making new music now, but I have yet to check it out. [The reissue is available HERE]
1. Eucharist – Mirrorworlds (1997, War Music)
This is an album that I keep coming back to over and over again. I feel like it’s pretty underrated mostly because it’s really melodic and Gothenburg-style, and melodeath often gets a bad rap, but this album is just amazing. It has so many memorable, catchy riffs and it also has some crazy experimental elements. That oboe/clean guitar instrumental isn’t what you’d expect from a death metal band. A lot of the melodic death metal stuff I’ve revisited over the years doesn’t really age well, but Mirrorworlds has.
** Horrendous’ new album, Idol, is out now on Season of Mist. Order it on CD, LP, and in t-shirt combos, by clicking HERE.