Welcome to Secret Steel, the new project of The Metal Observer — Chapter II: “Death Metal 1: At Death’s Door”
After the tremendous success of our first edition “Power Metal 1: Genesis”, we have returned to the underground and dug for the best bands in the valleys of death and have returned with a haul of 12 of the best unsigned bands in all of death metal!
Have fun discovering these awesome bands, for more information please look below!
Founded all the way back in 2003, Germany’s Act of Worship are only the fifth oldest band on “Secret Steel – Death Metal 1: At Death’s Door!” Taking a strong death metal foundation and spicing it up with black metal influences and a dense atmosphere, this quartet manages to draw from a completely different skill set to create their brutal aura. Instead of relying on high tempos and blasting rhythms, their base is more brooding, with this underlying feeling of a malevolent entity lurking just beneath the surface. They readily embrace influences from bordering (sub) genres and forge them into monolithic slabs of melodic yet ultimately heavy death metal. “The Destruction of Ur” is a fittingly titled cue from their 2015 album Dominate Eradicate and will grind everything in its way to dust…
The South African metal scene in general has not seen copious amounts of bands gain notoriety abroad and things look even more dire when it comes to death metal. Monolith hail from the Eastern South African city of Port Elizabeth and have chosen old school death metal with some melodic infusions as their weapon trying to change that. Not a band to try anything flashy or outrageous, this quartet is part of death metal’s bedrock and “Relic”, off their debut EP Memory Palace is testament to their no-frills approach.
Hailing from the Canadian metal hotbed of Montreal, Decadawn have managed to carve their own niche within the melodic death metal community through a relentless live presence. This also helped them develop a very sharp and tight approach to the genre, which is greatly aided by the sheer energy and also vocal prowess of mastermind Louis-Charles Tardy, who delivers a gruff snarl as well as outstanding clear vocals. After putting out a demo the same year they were formed (2001), it took them 13 more years until their debut, Solitary Confinement, saw the light of day. It takes the traditional Gothenburg sound and gives it a more modern spin, transporting it into the here and now. “Everblack” is a blazing romp through Decadawn’s territory with sharp guitars and the dual vocal attack that elevates them from the melodic death metal average with ease.
Led by jack of all trades Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija, Demonic Resurrection have worked very hard to get to their spot as one of India’s premier metal acts. With three albums under their belt, they just released their latest effort, Dashavatar, and it is a tour de force through the symphonic jungles between death and black metal. It takes on the ten different earthly incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu, giving the perfect setting for the band’s explosive mix! Fusing together Behemoth like death metal fortresses with excursions into the symphonic edges of black metal and adding influences from thrash, power and other metals as the song requires, their dense concoction of metal has been turning heads for years. Having been able to play the Wacken and Bloodstock festivals in the past, this Mumbai-based band have everything it takes to take the world by storm and “Narasimha – The Man-Lion” is a furious example for the band’s symphonic sound!
Like Cynic and Atheist before them, Canada’s Riftwalker do away with the need for extremity and sheer brutality. Instead, they rely on subtle compositional techniques and interesting song structures to hold the listener’s intrigue. The drums hardly ever settle into basic grooves, instead becoming integral to the rhythm of the melodies. Similarly, the bass is never content with holding down the root note, but takes on a life of its own and is often far more interesting than the guitars. Factor in that this act is only a trio, and it all seems mightily impressive. If their debut full-length album Green & Black is anything to go by, Riftwalker will soon be counting themselves up with the Gojiras and Opeths of today.
Hollow World have been rattling around the Melbourne underground in one form or another for some time now, but the last year or so has really seen the band taking the local scene by storm—becoming one of the most reliable and impressive live acts on the Australian circuit. Their sound draws unashamedly from The Black Dahlia Murder as its primary influence, with occasional symphonic and progressive elements as well as the rabid delivery of vocalist Ben Roberts (ex-Untruth) helping the band stand out from the crowd. “Wildfire” is the lead single from their ambitious debut record, Exanimate which goes to show that these young up-and-comers are more than ready to take on the big leagues.
Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Siegelord have quickly developed a very commanding presence. Founded by three former Winterhymn members, their powerful and heavy take on melodic death metal transcends what the sub-genre usually has to offer. They refuse to abide by the genre paradigm and expand their sound with elements from bordering regions. This creates an intense and atmospheric mix with the potential to appeal to a fairly wide range of fans without openly trying to chum up with either camp. “Siegelord” is the band hymn and their debut album’s title track and shows the Americans in all of their epic glory.
Hailing from Portugal, Karnak Seti play a brand of melodic death/thrash that is simultaneously brutal and infectious. The twin guitar attack of Antonio Jesus and Renato Ramos produces uniquely heavy and melodic riffs that form the core of Karnak Seti’s sound. Backing the killer riffs is awesome varied drumming from Luis Freitas, who really brings in the fast and furious sensibilities of thrash. He can slow it down when necessary but he really propels Karnak Seti’s faster sections along at a very good clip. Rounded out by badass harsh vocals, “The Bliss of Living” is a stellar combination of brutal riffing and an infectious driving back beat with just enough variety to keep the listener engaged and banging their head.
Something about the culture of war-torn countries often breeds fantastic extreme metal bands. Poland has become known more for black metal in recent years but once upon a time, they had brilliant death metal too with the likes of Vader and Decapitated. Although the latter has tapered off since Vitek’s death, Vader have stayed true to themselves, carrying the torch for Polish death metal… until now! Enter Uerberos, who with one tremendous album have swiftly and firmly answered the bell to carry on the tradition of rifftastic and bombastic death metal. These guys show some serious speed and ridiculously good riffs, resulting in an album that is essentially a relentless stream of gut punchers and face melters. Yet like their compatriots, Uerberos have an amazing sense of lyrical intelligibility while maintaining the sheer brutality that makes them great in the first place. Uerberos does not try to be brutal. They simply are and that is their greatest strength. If this band does not get a record deal within a year or two, it will be a crime against metal. The album’s title track, “Tormented by Faith,” is a fantastic example of the speedy brutality that makes this band great. It kicks you in the pants and only lets up to bring in heavier riffs and a groovy backbeat.
One of Orange County’s finest bands, Voices of Ruin have been a big part of its underground metal scene for years. Led by brothers Dave and Tom Barrett, Voices of Ruin’s brand of fast and furious, thrash-influenced melodic death metal will melt your face off and pummel you into oblivion. Their true strength, however, lies in their ability to combine pure speed with fantastic riffs and the incredible sense of melody they possess. Nowhere is this more evident than on “The Awakening,” which pummels you with riffs and Gene Hoglan levels of relentless drumming while also soothing the metal soul with tremendous melodies. These dudes are also the very definition of “metal as fuck” and frontman Dave Barrett’s Dissection tattoo is proof.
Old school death metal is not a genre one would expect to hail from the wilds of Scotland. However, Aberdeen’s Lord Rot are here to bring us the second coming of Scream Bloody Gore!. Their three-track EP of raw cacophony is all the evidence we need for TMO to give them our full support. A cavernous production ensures that trebly guitars wail in the distance, up-tempo drum-beats clamour inside your brain, and vicious layered growls bounce off the walls. Lord Rot could easily pass as a demo-era Death tribute act, but with more structural awareness and better production values. Accompanied by some damn fine artwork and a penchant for the gory, The Realm Of Decay is the release you need to hear to remind you that old school death metal is far from being in an open casket.
Acrania are a true ‘crossover’ band. The seamless fusing of two opposing styles is not an easy thing to accomplish, but these mental Mexicans effortless combine the brutality of death metal and the quirk of latin music to splendid effect. They’ve earned the label ‘experimental death metal’, but in reality, they transcend basic categorization. Latin percussion is integral to their sound, and even forms part of the compositional structure of each track. Add this to Luis Oropeza’s ferocious vocal delivery, and you have a bizarre concoction that you won’t forget in a hurry. It’s worth mentioning that the brass and woodwind parts are all expertly performed live, so there’s no studio trickery – this is real and explorative music that celebrates life. Their latest effort, 2015’s “Fearless”, is their most expansive work and is sure to leave you banging your head, whilst simultaneously shaking it.
We also just have to give credit where credit is due: Our awesome logo has been created by ModBlackmoon, all hand-drawn awesomeness and for great prices as well! And the amazing cover artwork has been donated by none other but (former) TMO Brother of the first hour, Manu Inhester!
And we had asked you to stay with us until the end, right? Click on the cover below to get to our first edition “Power Metal 1: Genesis”, where you can check out ten of the most awesome bands in power metal today!
If you have any comments, questions or recommendations for bands to feature here, you can send us an email at secretsteel [at] metal-observer [dot] com (sorry for the code, but spambots are everywhere!