10 Best Death Metal Bands

Heavy metal is constantly becoming more extreme; the 10 best death metal bands moved beyond the high speed attack of thrash to create something so blistering that mainstream success could never be achieved. That's not the point, though; the 10 best death metal bands transcend because the music is so tough to listen to, separating the true fans from the poseurs. Here are the best ear-bleeding, teeth-grinding death metal bands of all time.

  1. Death – Death's debut, "Scream Bloody Gore," put death metal on the map. The genre is named for them; they top the list of best death metal bands of all time.
  2. At the Gates – Sweden's At the Gates pioneered the melodic death metal sound emerging from the country at the time, and from the 90s on have been one of the most influential of the best death metal bands. Their classic album "Slaughter of the Soul" is a melodeath masterpiece.
  3. Morbid Angel – Morbid Angel's guitarist Trey Azagthoth made this Tampa band a seminal death metal crew. Some might even argue they should top the list of the best death metal bands because of his defining style, best illustrated on 1993's "Covenant."
  4. Deicide – The most notoriously Satanic of the death metal bands. Frontman Glen Benton is in it for life; an inverted crucifix is burned into his forehead. Their best musical effort, "Once Upon the Cross," matched Benton's attitude with guitar pyrotechnics rarely seen in death metal circles.
  5. Carcass – A British outfit with some of the most disgusting song and album titles of all time (beginning with their debut, "Reek of Putrefaction"), Carcass were heavily influential as well. They brought a DIY, anarchist punk spirit to metal in Britain, and are definitely one of the best death metal bands of all time.
  6. Cannibal Corpse – Brutality in music is embodied by Cannibal Corpse's anthem "Hammer Smashed Face." Few would argue with them taking a place on the list of best death metal bands of all time. 
  7. Napalm Death – The British fathers of grindcore also helped birth death metal, especially outside of the United States. As the political band has aged, they have come into more of a death metal sound, making them pioneers in multiple metal subgenres. Their debut, "Scum," is an extreme music must-have.
  8. Brujeria – Performing under pseudonyms portraying Latin drug lords, Brujeria made some of the most violent death metal ever. The band was actually a side project for Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, another band important to the metal scene at the time. Their conceptual masterpiece was their debut full-length, "Matando Gueros."
  9. Bolt Thrower – This British outfit were pioneers of the blend of hardcore punk and death metal. Their unique crossover style, demonstrated on the seminal "Warmaster" album from 1991, earns them the ninth spot on the list of the best death metal bands of all time.
  10. Dying Fetus – Pioneers of a death metal offshoot called slam, political band Dying Fetus are incredibly influential upon the metal scene of the 2000s due to their turn of the millennium epic "Destroy the Opposition." They close out the list of the best death metal bands of all time.
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