Contrary to popular belief, Death Metal is not just a bunch of smashing, growling, and banging on things like Paleolithic attempts at music. Sometimes Death Metal is even said to use ‘Cookie Monster’ vocals, for obvious reasons. The growling, “death grunts” are one of the key elements of Death Metal, however, vocals are not limited to this one particular style. Also, the music is not simply a thrown-together mess, as many believe. In actuality, Death Metal drumwork and guitar is exceedingly complex, and some of the identifying factors of Death Metal are fast, distorted, downtuned guitars, as well as techniques such as tremolo picking and palm muting. By frequently adding heavy drumwork, blast beats, and double bass, Death Metal artists and bands throw more of an earshock to their fans, therefore putting more rage into their genre.
As far as lyrical content, most opinions are fairly correct; Death Metal is a celebration of the inner vulgarity of the soul of man. Severe brutalization, gore, torture, murder, rape; these are all popular themes of Death Metal, however, the genre is not limited to just those themes. Death Metal also incorporates social commentary, occult, Satanism, necrophilia, and other violent or extremely taboo influences in the lyrics. And naturally, this has lit a fire under the media’s ass, when it comes to blaming the entertainment industries for the occasional suicide, or school shooting. Different media sources have made indirect claims the glamorisation of violence as found in Death Metal, and other extreme forms of music are the influence behind adolescent violence.
The origin of Death Metal has been disputed by many; some say it originated in Florida, after the heavy metal band Death decided to bring their own version of metal to the scene, according to a Florida journalist’s claims. Others insist that Death Metal was created by Thomas Fischer and Martin Ain, members of the band Hellhammer, which later became Celtic Frost. The reasoning behind this was because the band released a compilation of violent, extreme heavy metal, called Death Metal. However, the term may even have come from elsewhere; popular thrash metal band Possessed released a demo in 1984 called Death Metal, and later, a song with the same name appeared on their album Seven Churches, while the demo released by Death, in the same year, was called Death by Metal. –Ironic that the demo wasn’t called Metal by Death, isn’t it?
In 1983, more bands, such as Possessed, from California, Death, from Florida, and Master from Chicago, began to perform more actively. Death Metal is still considered a subgenre of thrash metal, but don’t ever say that at a Death Metal concert, or they’ll cut you. In 1983, as the early Death Metal bands came out of the woodwork and began to perform, more groups emerged, producing “early forms of death metal” such as songs by both Slaughter, and Messiah. Before too long, Scandinavia also began producing Death Metal, especially in Sweden, where it was called “Gothenburg Metal”, with bands like Grotesque, Tiamat, Grave, Nihilist, Carnage; however, several of these were disbanded, and later, formed new groups.
Death Metal grew in popularity in throughout the 80’s and finally reached it’s peak around 1992-93. Record labels formed in the mid to late 80’s, such as Nuclear Blast, Century Media Records, and Peaceville, produced music well into the 90’s as well. New record labels have spawned from the old, and continue spreading their anti-love throughout the world today. After the early 90’s, interest in Death Metal did not exactly die out, but instead, it split up into several different subgenres, that still incorporated the same traditional styles of Death Metal into their music, however, also combined it with the styles of music from other genres, like traditional folk, classical, jazz, electronica, and more.
Of the subgenres and spinoffs of Death Metal, are Melodic Death Metal, which was focused mainly on the Gothenburg sound produced in Sweden, and the Scandinavian region, Technical Death Metal, known for its extreme musical complexity. Also in the subgenres created by Death Metal is Progressive Death Metal, known for incorporating jazz influences into their music, as well as traditional death metal styles, occasionally acoustic; an example would be the album Obscura, by Gorguts. Brutal Death Metal, combines Grindcore, or Goregrind with Death Metal, however, it is not, nor ever will be, Deathgrind, which is actually a form of hardcore punk. Bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Deeds of Flesh, Disavowed, Krisiun, Nile, Immolation, and Suffocation are often confused with Technical Death Metal for their complicated styles of frequently changing music. Other subgenres are Slam Death Metal, Blackened Death Metal, and Death/Doom. Several other mini-subgenres exist, and constantly continue to be created, as more fusions are created through mixing Thrash Metal, Death Metal styles and sounds, with the different styles of music found throughout the world.