As any fool who follows the metal scene can tell you, there’s one hell of a lot of albums out there to listen to. New bands are emerging at an unprecedented rate, the old guard you thought long-dead are reforming quicker than you can say “Greatest Hits Tour” and bands that really should just lay down and die are instead locked into a seemingly never-ending cycle of record/tour/record, regardless of whether their fans have had enough. Grave Digger, Illdisposed and Paganizer have released forty albums between them. Does anyone own any of them? Thought not…
So, what about the bands who released just one full-length before disappearing into obscurity? What impact have these single-figured artists had on our beloved scene? The answer is quite a bit. More than quite a bit, in fact… With that in mind Ghost Cult is proud to present the fifteen essential albums by bands that only gave us one opportunity to hear their wares.
Read on and see if you agree.
Repulsion – Horrified (Necrosis, 1989)
Once regarded as the fastest band in the world, along with being one of the innovators of grindcore along with Napalm Death and Terrorizer, Flint, Michigan trio Repulsion released Horrified in 1989 to a largely unsuspecting public. Its light-speed, hideously ugly legacy has endured to this day, with the band still headlining festival stages on the strength of this one 29-minute recording. Featuring some of the most frantic, caustic riffage ever captured, along with suitably sickening lyrics and of course, that iconic goofy zombie on the front cover, Horrified is an extreme metal classic that you will never get tired of spinning. If you don’t lose your shit when the riff to ‘Black Breath’ begins you probably aren’t human.
Carnage – Dark Recollections (Necrosis, 1990)
When you think of Swedish Death Metal the obvious names that spring to mind are Entombed, At the Gates and Dismember, but there is one often overlooked act whose contribution to the genre is utterly essential. They were Carnage, five spotty oiks from Stockholm whose sole release Dark Recollections was perhaps the purest embodiment of the Sunlight sound that all bands of the genre strived for; buzzsaw guitars, twisted melodies and indecipherable barked lyrics concerning violence and death. Given the whiff of grindcore that imbued the recording it was unsurprising that guitarist Mike Amott soon jumped ship to join Carcass while the rest of the band merged with the remnants of Dismember. However, the spirit of Dark Recollections was absorbed into that band, a more than fitting legacy for an album of such macabre excellence.
Winter – Into Darkness (Future Shock, 1990)
Picture if you will, planet Earth devastated by a nuclear holocaust; a grey, rotting visage of sunless skies, obliterated cityscapes and blasted landscapes. Now imagine that some malign sorcery has resurrected the corpses of Celtic Frost to be this ruined world’s own house band, playing endlessly on only for the benefit of the endless piles of corpses that stretch to the blackened horizon. This is what Into Darkness by New York trio Winter sounds like. Arguably one of the most miserable, lifeless recordings of all time, this is a tortuous forty-six minute crawl through wretchedness via the medium of lethargic doom riffs, clattering percussion and gruff, indifferent vocals. You’re not meant to enjoy it and it’s no surprise Winter only managed one EP after committing this monstrosity to tape.
God Macabre – The Winterlong (M.B.R., 1993)
Another Swedish death metal act that lasted all too briefly, that isn’t to say that Vålberg’s God Macabre didn’t have the talent, as anyone who has spent time with the short but sick The Winterlong will enthusiastically tell you. Far more morose and bitter sounding than most death metal albums that were being released at that time, their sole release may have only lasted twenty-seven minutes but the songs on offer had ‘timeless’ stamped all over them, blending catchy yet savage riffs with mournful melodies and an innate disgust and horror at life. Recently re-issued with the band reforming last year, now is the time for those unacquainted with this forgotten classic to recognise one of the most important bands in death metal, in Sweden or anywhere.
Disincarnate – Dreams of the Carrion Kind (Roadrunner, 1993)
With death metal already beginning to show signs of creative stagnation in 1993, it took the twisted vision of one of the genre’s most talented and well-travelled soldiers to show that all was not lost and that where there was death there was life. Enter James Murphy, who after stints in Death and Obituary decided to take the lead, which he did with the utterly brilliant Dreams of the Carrion Kind under the Disincarnate name. If you thought Death had started to sacrifice songwriting in favour of technicality, found Obituary a tad dull and Suffocation a bit too over the top then your prayers were answered, for Murphy somehow managed to filter all the plus points and none of the weaknesses from those aforementioned bands into one of the darkest, endlessly fascinating and still inherently listenable Death Metal albums of all time. Their split was a tragedy that often comes with an excess of talent but news that the band has reformed is a hopeful sign that more people will soon become aware of Dreams of the Carrion Kind and the brilliance of James Murphy.