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SPECIAL ARTICLE – German Death Metal Highlights

In an effort to highlight the death metal scene in Germany, we’ve put together a list of some known and some not-so-known bands for you to check out. Some of them are very underrated like Anasarca for instance, and hope you like our honest descriptions of their music. We’ve deliberately avoided the bands from the ’90s as this is to showcase bands that are active and have only recently released albums. We may have missed some but nonetheless the staff has put up a formidable list.

Necros Christos – Nine Graves (Sepulchral Voice, 2014)

Necros Christos are ubiquitous in the dark death metal space since the last decade or so. Grim, epic and flavourful, their albums have been an absolute treat for the dwellers of the dark side of death metal. Their flirtation with the Eastern influences have been a point of contention but at least it separates the band from the rest of the pack and they also may have escaped the inevitable comparison with Incantation on a bit of a technicality. Even their last 2014 EP, which is over 40 minutes long, serves as a valiant reminder of the band’s brooding prowess and force in a style that they clearly still dominate. – Kunal Choksi

Defeated Sanity – Disposal of the Dead // Dharmata (Willowtip Records, 2016)

Having been around scaring the bejesus out of herds of Lederhosen for 23 years now Defeated Sanity are no new comers in the Germanic scene. Their latest release ‘Disposal Of The Dead/Dharmata’ released via Willowtip Records last year is the perfect introduction. For the unknowing it’s a very clever idea indeed – they have done a split album with, well, themselves!

Side A “Disposal Of The Dead” for want of a better description is pure brutal tech death metal with very minimal production values and a snare drum that just wants to snap you in the face, which it does very effectively, so much so that getting the sound of it out of your cranium may take a day or three. Brilliance. Gutter deep vocals, riffs to make your dear belated granny roll over in her grave and a bass line heavier than that kid at school that you used to think was rather large.

Side B “Dharmata” is a different kettle of fish, not hard to adjust to, as the band have simply decided to change pace and style a little, also recruiting ex-Cynic vocalist Max Phelps to give the effect they were after. It’s more along the lines of where Chuck Schuldiner was going with latter day Death in my mind. Technically proficient, this is just kick arse stuff.

Side A and B don’t really exist in this age, it simply made more sense to explain it so, but this album effectively made me feel like I had two choices. A Pork Knuckle by itself is a damn good feed, add some Sauerkraut and it’s simply divine. Indulge people. – Andrew Cook


Profanity – The Art of Sickness (Apostasy Records, 2017)

I’ve always been a fan of this band and their chunky, semi-brutal style of death metal. It’s rooted in old school death metal but their heaviness resembles what has become a new sub-genre in death metal, aka brutal death metal. Either way, you’d be forgiven because they take the best of both styles – the compositional strength of 90s death metal coupled with the forceful delivery and aggression of brutal death metal. Imagine a cross between Sinister and Suffocation and you’d get a very good idea. Moreover, their music has unpredictable twists and turns which keep things interesting and fresh. After releasing a solid EP in ‘Hatred Hell Within’, they’ve taken things to a different level with their latest full length. It’s as solid as it can get and is a rare example of a band constantly innovating while staying true to its original sound. Fantastic stuff. – Kunal Choksi

Revel In Flesh – Emissary Of All Plagues (Cyclone Empire Records, 2016)

Leading the charge for fresh meat of the old-school death metal scene is the Entombed worshipping Revel In Flesh. Hailing from the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, the quintet have unleashed four albums of pure, Scandinavian-influenced aural devastation since their formation in 2011, along with a collection of split releases in true underground, old-school fashion. Taking their name from the third track of Entombed‘s genre-defining debut, Left Hand Path, it should come as no surprise that Revel In Flesh are heavily inspired from the Swedish death metal scene.

Although there is little variation or innovation in Revel In Flesh‘s brand of old-school worship, the German five-piece are a must for any fan of old-school death metal in need of a new obsession. Released in 2012, their debut album ‘Deathevokation’ celebrates it’s fifth birthday this year – and it is an album worth celebrating. One of the finest death metal albums to be released in 2012, ‘Deathevokation’ is a grinding, though melodic, blast of pure old-school death metal. However, Revel In Flesh have gone from strength to strength with each subsequent release – 2013’s ‘Manifested Darkness’, 2014’s exceptional ‘Death Kult Legions’ and one of my favourite albums of 2016, the seminal ‘Emissary of All Plagues’. Their most recent offering is by far their most superior, taking their chainsaw sound and mixing it with more melody than ever, while still maintaining a truly sinister atmosphere. With a motivated, DIY attitude, an abundance of talent, and their unrivaled ability to bring old-school death metal into the modern era, Revel In Flesh are cult legends in the making. But don’t just take my word for it – extreme metal legend Mark Riddick is a staunch supporter of Revel In Flesh, and his opinion is one that should absolutely be listened to. – Fraser Wilson

Anasarca – Survival Mode (Sevared Records, 2017)

Anasarca were one of the most underrated German bands back in the day despite being around since the 90s. Their sound kept evolving and from a shaky but interesting debut in ‘Godmachine’, they kept refining their sound to what I remember describing as a raging locomotive unstoppable in its path. With their last full length coming out in 2004, it came as a surprise when the band decided to put out a new album this year after a gap of 13 years. ‘Survival Mode’ retains the characteristics of its predecessors but showcases a more mature and tempered songwriting. Instead of raging on, they take very well timed pauses and throw in hooks reminiscent of Deranged. For pure death metal fans, this comes as a treat. – Kunal Choksi

Ingurgitating Oblivion – Vision Wallows In Symphonies of Light (Willowtip Records, 2017)

Ingurgitating Oblivion have come a long way since their first album when they were leaning towards the brutal death metal sound. Since then, they’ve gone astral, technical, mind-boggling and it’s all for the better as it has given them a distinct identity more than anything. Reminiscent of mid-period Cephalic Carnage, late Morbid Angel and even Mithras, they’re meticulously churning out their own vision of bold and atonal death metal that’s both challenging and refreshing. In a time when there are too many mediocre and scenester death metal bands around lacking any identity of their own, Ingurgitation Oblivion do the job competently. – Kunal Choksi


Nyktophobia – Fallen Empire (Delicious Bowels Agency, 2017)

Staying in Saxony, the next band on our list of death worshipping Germans is Nyktophobia – which happens to be the side project of Dawn of Disease‘s frontman Tomasz Wisniewski. Nyktophobia are one of the newest bands to be featured on this list, having only released their debut album in January this year. But ‘Fallen Empire’, Nyktophobia‘s debut, carries a sense of cohesion and maturity that would leave you forgiven for thinking it was a band’s fourth or fifth album, rather than a debut.

Nyktophobia have the same flare of ultra-melodic tendencies that Dawn of Disease have, but with two thirds of Nyktophobia‘s line-up having been in Dawn of Disease a sense of similarity is to be expected. As a whole, however, ‘Fallen Empire’ is far more gritty, and old-school sounding than anything Dawn of Disease has released. The grinding, buzz-saw riffs and sinister melodies make it apparent that Dismember, Bloodbath and Grave well all in heavy rotation during the album’s writing sessions. With a debut of this caliber, however, what Nyktophobia do next is surely something to get excited about. – Fraser Wilson


 Infecting the Swarm – Abyss (Lacerated Enemy Records, 2016)

Fancy some one-man death metal that’s utterly brutal and completely lethal? Well, Lacerated Enemy have you covered with the second album from Infecting the Swarm. This is precise, surgical death metal that wouldn’t know how to show mercy if its life depended on it. Which, thankfully, it doesn’t, so ‘Abyss’ is free to be as unrelentingly savage as it likes. Fuelled by blast beats and uncompromising aggression, this is a relentless assault on the senses that you’ll want to weather again and again because you’re masochistic like that aren’t you? ‘Abyss’ is here to mangle, maim, destroy, and devastate. – Nigel Holloway


Into Darkness – Sinister Demise (Rising Nemesis Records, 2015)

The origin of Into Darkness as a band goes back to the 1995. Having been a part of the era where death metal exploded into public consciousness (as far as metalheads go anyways), the band released the ‘Misfortunal Odes in D Minor’ tape in 1997. Today unfortunately, this release has been lost to time, with only one track available on the band’s YouTube page. This does give a glimpse at the band’s old school roots which was peppered throughout with lead guitar melodies that reference the Swedish sound a bit.

It would take Into Darkness about 25 years and quite a lot of lineup changes before the release of their second full length ‘Dysphoria’ in 2012. The sound here is more refined compared to the debut and stylistically, one can still make out the old school roots. The guitar work is a bit more fleshed out and the melodies take on a more prominent role. This is a direction the band continues walking in, on their third release ‘Sinister Demise’ (2014). Sebastian Langerer’s guitar work steals the spotlight with hook after melodic hook, all the while punishing the listener with merciless riffs. The old school sound is replaced by influences from slam, groove and melodic death metal styles, to create a record that spans the whole death metal spectrum. Into Darkness are back and they are here to stay! – Shrivatsan Ragavan


Keitzer – Ascension (FDA Records, 2016)

Though not a traditional death metal band, Keitzer, from various parts of the country and even Portugal, use death metal as the core of their grinding viciousness. Formed in 1999, and continually active since then, the quintet remain a force to be reckoned with for nearly two decades. Three core members have been around since the beginning. Starting with ‘…To Destroy Planet Earth’ in 2001, Keitzer have released a total of six full length albums, as well as splits with Dead Cells and dasKrill, a steady if not overwhelming output. There are comparisons to be made here to the more direct and vicious work of both Cattle Decapitation and Napalm Death. Riffs are perhaps more driven and less angular. A variety of vocal approaches are employed, all of which seem uncomfortably in-your-face. A number of labels have handled the band’s work, but the most recent three releases have all been released by F.D.A. Records, a German label which focuses on death metal, grindcore, punk, and hardcore.

‘Ascension’, their most recent release, was my entry point to the band. With twelve songs, mostly around the four minute mark, the band is certainly leaning towards their death metal foundation. A brief clip will allow you to hear the grind influence though. This is a death metal skeleton with dark, vicious, and obliterating grind hanging as the flesh on the bones. Malevolently brought to life by five maniacs, Keitzer will come for you. – Rick Jackson


Dawn of Disease – Ascension Gate (Napalm Records, 2017)

Sounding like the love-child of Morbid Angel and Amon Amarth, the super-heavy yet super-melodic Saxony quintet Dawn of Disease are one of the most underrated melodic death metal bands on the European shores. Forming in 2003, the band released only one EP before disbanding in 2007. The death of Dawn of Disease was short-lived, however, with the group rising from the grave in 2009 and finally releasing their debut full-length, Legends of Brutality, in 2010.

Following the release of their second album, ‘Crypts of the Unrotten’, in 2012, the band once again took a hiatus with their next release not being unleashed upon the world until 2016. However, Dawn of Disease appear to making up for lost time, with the group having three releases under their belt in the space of 14 months. ‘Worship the Grave’ was their long-awaited and worthwhile third offering, and Napalm Records debut, that dropped in June 2016 – 2016 also saw the release of the ‘Legends of the Unrotten’ compilation: a double album, containing the out-of-print debut and sophomore releases. And continuing the trend of excellence Dawn of Disease have crafted for themselves, the five-piece are set to release their fourth record, ‘Ascension Gate’, through Napalm Records in August this year.

Dawn of Disease‘s brand of super-melodic brutality makes them a sure-fire favourite of most melodeath fans, and those who enjoy classic death metal with a melodic flare. Though they will no doubt have a tough job following Worship the Grave, if the first single from ‘Ascension Gate’, Perimortal, is anything to go by, it could be one of 2017’s best releases and Dawn of Disease‘s best album yet. – Fraser Wilson


Maat – Monuments Will Enslave (Aural Attack Productions, 2017)

It’s a little too easy to compare Berlin’s Maat to Nile – other than the lyrical content, occasional Eastern atmospherics and a few flashes of brutal technicality, there isn’t a whole lot that’s similar in a more specific way than “They both play death metal and like Ancient Egypt.” Maat have far more in common with the old-school stylings of Death and Morbid Angel than Nile or Suffocation. They have a much thrashier, groovier, more grinding, buzzsaw approach to death metal than the ultra-brutal aforementioned – this, mixed with the atmospheric flares that pop up now and again leave a really interesting sound.

Following their inception in 2009 and the independent release of their decent debut EP – ‘Born in Sand’ – the following year, Maat have gone on to release two full length albums, both through German label Aural Attack Productions. Their 2014 debut, As We Create the Hope From Above felt a lot more certain of it’s identity than their EP, but it is their newest offering, ‘Monuments Will Enslave’ – released in March this year – that really shows Maat hitting their stride. For anyone who has followed the band since the Born in Sand EP, ‘Monuments Will Enslave’ still sounds like Maat, it’s delightfully old-school, with Eastern atmospherics when appropriate, going at thrash speeds and with that classic Tampa, FL, brutality that old-school death metal is known and loved for. Maat are certainly ones to watch in Germany’s death metal revival! – Fraser Wilson

Deny The Urge – As Darkness Falls (G.U.C., 2017)

Deny The Urge are once again a stunning but overlooked death metal band from Germany. They’ve released a couple of fine albums in the last decade but disappeared only to come out with a new album this year, after a gap of nearly a decade. Excellent songwriting remains the case even here, but they seem to have eschewed the flamboyance in favour of more conventional and I daresay old school structuring to a rather great effect. It’s apparent in their aesthetics as well, having opted for the services of the legendary artist Dan Seagrave. Interestingly, they even have the current Vader drummer playing on this album. With such high credentials and exemplary musicianship, they definitely deserve better acclaim. Fans of semi-technical, brisk and indulgent death metal will be all over this gem. – Kunal Choksi

Fragments of Unbecoming – The Art of Coming Apart (Cyclone Empire, 2017)

Hailing from West Germany-via-Gothenburg, Fragments of Unbecoming are possibly German metal’s best kept secret. Playing a brand of melodic death metal more closely associated with Sweden, with signature Teutonic aggression, there is a lot in their sound for a metal head with modern tastes to dig into. the obscure nature of Fragments of Unbecoming is a puzzling one – both the songwriting and the musical execution of the music are fantastic, and there is nothing in their music to suggest a reason for a lack of appeal – in fact, the band were signed to the legendary label Metal Blade for three albums in the 2000s. Following their stunning 2012 release ‘The Art of Coming Apart – Chapter Five’, Fragments of Unbecoming have been in a relative period of inactivity. However, according to updates on their Facebook page, we can expect Chapter Six in Fragments of Unbecoming’s discography in the near future. – Fraser Wilson


Soul Demise – Thin Red Line (Apostasy Records, 2017)

Throughout their 19-year history, Soul Demise has never shied away from their At the Gates hero worship. And although this influence feels more apparent than ever throughout the entirety of ‘Thin Red Line’, there’s so much they’re getting right that I can find no fault. Blistering backbeats, earworm melodic hooks, and Gothenburg barks abound, with an aggressive sense for song dynamics that build in familiar yet effective ways — Soul Demise shows us why they don’t deserve to be written off. A few pleasant surprises await (the breakdown in Frustration alone is worth a hundred listens or more), but who better to give us everything we want from the genre than those who want it the most? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Soul Demise is more than suited to carry this torch. – Eric Seal


Encrypted – The Purge (Star Spawn Society, 2017)


Although this is Encrypted‘s first non-demo release, it’s a much more mature effort than you might expect, as the band have been around for a few years at this point. The band’s death metal style features aggressive speed, rolling groove, slow and crushing doom parts, grim atmospheres, and the occasional streak of melodic colour. With a balanced production that takes the best bits of modern power and crusty grime, the songs on this underground release shine with a bleak, dark lustre all of their own. As a starting point for demonstrating what they’re capable of, ‘The Purge’ is extremely enjoyable. This is a band that shows great promise for the future, and I hope we hear more of them soon. Check this out. – Nigel Holloway


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