Choosing Death Fest goes down this SATURDAY in Philly at Union Transfer. To celebrate, we're asking many of the artists performing to list some very specific "death metal top 5s." We asked Horrendous for something weird, so drummer Jamie Knox beamed in his top 5 other-worldly death metal albums.
While I love plenty of balls to the wall death metal, I have a soft spot for bands that expand the genre's musical themes into strange new territories and worlds. As such, here's my list of top 5 other-worldly death metal albums:
1) Death - Human
Throughout their career, Death pioneered trends and constantly turned the death metal genre on it's head. I was pretty young when Human was released (too young to grasp the concept of "heavy metal" even), but when I look back at their catalog, it seems like this is the album where the well-established band really made a jump into the musical unknown. I can't imagine hearing these songs for the first time in 1991 within the context of that musical landscape - it must have been utterly sickening.
2) Cynic - Focus
Cynic was such a damn good band. And yes, even their later less-metal, more prog-rock stuff kicks ass. This album retains their death metal side while showcasing their insane songwriting abilities and numerous influences such as jazz fusion. It is a must-have for any metalhead looking to melt his or her frontal cortex. So bummed they called it quits recently.
3) Eucharist - Mirrorworlds
Mirrorworlds is not as technically complex as the other members of this list, but it is full of great riffs and the atmosphere and tone of this album are killer. Each listen certainly transports me to another world, and it is one of my favorite melodic death metal records. And that sax interlude? Wow...
4) Atheist - Unquestionable Presence
Here is yet another album that perplexes me - I can't imagine their writing process. It is bursting at the seams with bizarre, incredible riffs carefully weaved into progressive song structures. This album's riffs are probably the most thrashy on this list, so beware that listening will induce headbanging at unpredictable moments.
5) Morbus Chron - Sweven
Sweven seemed to come out of nowhere. "Sweven" refers to a dream or vision, and a listen to this album certainly feels like you are in the midst of one. It is easy to get lost in these songs, and I often find my mind wandering to strange places when this album is spinning. This is probably my favorite contemporary death metal album, and I was crushed to hear that the band decided to break up. Who knows what worlds they would have taken us to next.
Catch Horrendous' other-worldly death metal, alongside Dying Fetus, Nails, Misery Index, Deceased, Noisem, Derkéta and Taphos Nomos, in the live on April 16th as part of Choosing Death Fest. Tickets are $22 and available here.