100 Greatest Death Metal Bands

Among the many extreme subgenres of heavy metal, one that is hugely popular is death metal. Borrowing heavily from early thrash metal, death metal came into its own in the mid 80s. This space showcases a list of the best death metal bands.

Death metal stemmed from augmented music structures used in thrash metal and early doom metal. Thrash metal bands that emerged in the early 80s had a significant impact on the death metal sound. The death metal genre came into raging prominence in the mid eighties and had a profound effect on extreme metal fans from around the globe. Truly death metal arrived with a bang, and spawned a number of metal subgenres in the late 80s. Celtic Frost, Kreator, Venom and Slayer are considered key in influencing the growth of death metal genre. The band Venom infused element of thrash metal and death metal in the early years and are considered by many as the band that paved the sound for extreme genres.

History and Origin of Death Metal

Some of the pioneering bands that were key influences in spreading the roots of death metal genre include Death, Possessed, Post Mortem and Obituary.

In the late 80s a wave of bands came in with a brutal sound interspersed with melodic riffing. Deicide and Carcass introduced an innovative brutal sound that became hugely popular in the late 80s and early 90s. Bands such as Morbid Angel and Autopsy added new lyrical dimension to death metal. By the late 80s death metal had spread its wings. Although the death metal scene broke into prominence in the United States, with bands from Florida creating an impact, a number of Scandinavian bands took death metal to the next level.

Swedish bands reigned supreme in the extreme metal genre in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. Bands such as God Macabre, Unleashed, Dismember and Entombed pioneered the Scandinavian death metal sound. Towards the end of the 80s and early 90s a number of bands from Sweden crafted what came to be known as melodic death metal. Bands such as Dark Tranquility, Amon Amarth, At the Gates, and In Flames influenced a new wave of melodic death metal bands in the 90. The melodic sound introduced by bands from Sweden was recognized as ‘Gothenburg Metal’. As subgenres of death metal came into being, many bands were categorized in more than one category. Here is a list of death metal subgenres that have become popular over the years.

  • Melodic Death Metal
  • Blackened Death Metal
  • Progressive Death Metal
  • Technical Death Metal
  • Goregrind
  • Deathgrind
  • Deathcore
  • Death-doom
  • Death-n-roll

Vocal style and lyrical themes in Death Metal

The vocal style in death metal varies among bands. However, majority of death metal bands are associated with death growls.  Types of vocal delivery associated with this genre may include harsh vocals, unclear vocals, growls, roars, grunts, death grunts and growled screams, and sometimes may also be called Cookie Monster. Some bands in the death metal genre use high pitched vocals. While lyrical themes in death metal bands vary, a significant number of death metal bands showcase through lyrics various topics such as horror, Satanism, nature, mysticism, occult, religion, and may also express elaborate details on aspects such as torture, rape, cannibalism, mutilation, necrophilia and murder.

Death Metal Record Labels

As death metal grew in popularity globally through the mid 80s and 90s, many extreme genre record labels sprung up and started signing upcoming acts. Earache records, Roadrunner Records, Century Media and Nuclear Blast were responsible for signing a number of extreme genre bands that included a large number of death metal bands.

Aside from death metal this list includes subgenres such as goregrind, melodic death metal, death core, technical death metal, death-doom, progressive death metal, deathgrind, and blackened death metal.

100 Greatest Death Metal Bands

  1. Possessed
  2. Death
  3. Morbid Angel
  4. Entombed
  5. Obituary
  6. Dismember
  7. Carnage
  8. Amon Amarth
  9. Deicide
  10. Post Mortem
  11. Unleashed
  12. Carcass
  13. God Macabre
  14. Bolt Thrower
  15. Autopsy
  16. Suffocation
  17. At The Gates
  18. Vader
  19. Immolation
  20. Malevolent Creation
  21. Atheist
  22. Broken Hope
  23. Dying Fetus
  24. Cannibal Corpse
  25. Exhumed
  26. Spawn of Possession
  27. Nile
  28. Winter
  29. Six Feet Under
  30. My Dying Bride
  31. Asphyx
  32. Cattle Decapitation
  33. Edge of Sanity
  34. Massacre
  35. Necrophagist
  36. Decapitated
  37. Bloodbath
  38. Arch Enemy
  39. Kataklysm
  40. Napalm Death
  41. Therion
  42. Pig Destroyer
  43. Behemoth
  44. Gorefest
  45. Cephalic Carnage
  46. Brujeria
  47. Last Days of Humanity
  48. Suicide Silence
  49. Belphegor
  50. Necrophagia
  51. Carnifex
  52. Salt the Wound
  53. Benediction
  54. Eternal Tears of Sorrow
  55. Akercocke
  56. Darkest Hour
  57. Children of Bodom
  58. Fleshgod Apocalypse
  59. Deuteronomium
  60. Cryptopsy
  61. The Black Dahlia Murder
  62. Crematory
  63. Aeternus
  64. Beheaded
  65. Carcariass
  66. Pungent Stench
  67. Devourment
  68. Marionette
  69. Crimson Thorn
  70. Hate Eternal
  71. Lost Soul
  72. Obscura
  73. Demilich
  74. Origin
  75. Soilwork
  76. Grave
  77. Nocturnus
  78. Incantation
  79. Skinless
  80. Pestilence
  81. Kronos
  82. Mortem
  83. Dark Heresy
  84. Vital Remains
  85. Aborted
  86. Gorguts
  87. Daath
  88. Bestial Warlust
  89. Dispatched
  90. Soils of Fate
  91. Darkest Hour
  92. Abramelin
  93. Fleshcrawl
  94. Cancer
  95. Expulsion
  96. God Dethroned
  97. Agathocles
  98. Sacrificium
  99. Kalmah
  100. Sentenced

If you love death metal, feel free to express self in the comments section.


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