Slayer Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Slayer were a prolific thrash metal band from LA County, California. The original lineup consisted of guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (RIP 2013) vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo. Paul Bostaph would later replace Lombardo for duties behind the kit, Exodus’ Gary Holt would carry the legacy of Hanneman after his death.

Covering almost four full decades across eleven studio albums, it’s impossible not to mention important heavy metal music without Slayer’s name passing your lips, with no need for any further introduction, let’s take a closer look at the band’s extensive history, ranked!

#11 – Repentless (2015)

Slayer’s final album as a band and one that gets a lot of negative attention for reasons both deserved and not. Repentless was an album written lyrically by Kerry King, one of the only times that he had sole songwriting credit on a record, as primarily it would be the double act of King and Hanneman, and it’s safe to say that the writing here is the weakest in their history.

Musically Repentless plays it very safe but there are some highlights that elevate the material higher than you would expect from the stigma stuck to the album. The title track and Pride and Prejudice are great examples of aggression and that classic ruthless nature of the band’s earlier spirit. However, there are a lot of filler tracks and songs in the list that do absolutely nothing but diminish the legacy violently, to just being plain boring and passe. See: Implode, Take Control or Piano Wire for instance.

Does that make Repentless lazy or by the numbers? Maybe.
Arguably this is a record that Slayer shouldn’t have even made according to many fans, It’s clear that listening to it that the omission of Hanneman’s input is sorely missed, may he rest in peace.

#10 – World Painted Blood (2009)

No sanctuary. World Painted Blood is a completely fine album with no real high points or obvious lows. The title track itself is a great time, but it’s a struggle to commit much more to memory from this 2009 effort. The musicianship is completely fine, vocals are good. It is business as usual, almost like the band are on autopilot, and that’s the reason this album ranks so low compared to some of their riskier efforts that we will get to later down the list.

#9 – Diabolus In Musica (1998)

Slayer go nu-metal and it was something that probably should never have happened but this record yielded some surprising diamonds amongst a lot of rough. For the most part, it doesn’t work. Though, Diabolus In Musica’s strong suit came in its oppressive atmosphere and the grinding and fierce nature of tracks such as Stain of Mind and In The Name of God.

The latter song especially has such a slick and sublime opening with a rioting, thick chugging guitar pulsating into a vile eruption of powerful snarls from frontman Tom Araya over that stunning infectious main riff. These kind of moments are peppered all throughout Diabolus In Musica, that seductive groove just rocks so fucking hard that it’s impossible to resist, hence why I can’t rank the record any lower.

#8 – Divine Intervention (1994)

What more can really be said about Divine Intervention apart from the fact that it’s Slayer’s sixth album? That may sound reductionist but hear me out. How the fuck do you follow up genre masterpieces from the late 80s such as: Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood and South of Heaven? It seems the answer with this record was simple, replace Lombardo behind the kit and try and speed up a little following Seasons In The Abyss infatuation with everything slow and heavy.

By no means a bad record, Divine Intervention just seems a little underwhelming when compared to the wealth of records that came before it and had large boots to fill. There is a lot to love here: The Killing Fields, 213 and Fictional Reality are incredible songs in and of themselves, but do they really match the heights of their predecessors alone? Not really. This album just didn’t do enough different to stand out in a positive or risky way.

#7 – God Hates Us All (2001)

Here’s where things get fucking controversial. Before I’m dragged out into the streets by raving fans and hogtied to the railway tracks, let me try to justify this entry for you. There’s a reason why songs like Payback and Disciple remained live staples for the band even when this record seemed to underperform critically and commercially, because they are powerful, aggressive and catchy as all hell tracks.

From the chanting chorus on the latter, to the formidable way that War Zone seems to entrance you into fighting an entire army bare handed (especially that opening riff) God Hates Us All remains to be Slayer’s most underrated album that they have ever produced. There is so much that is stellar about this one, it sounds grandiose and overpoweringly omnipresent with a modern touch that differentiates itself from Slayer’s early work.

#6 – Christ Illusion (2006)

With their tenth album, Slayer somehow managed to channel their unholy powers into creating a record that touched on elements of not only Seasons In The Abyss but the groovier parts of God Hates Us All too, whilst still harkening back to their roots all at once.

Jihad is a phenomenal that fits the description above in every respect. The slow acoustic intro leading into that thundering rhythm guitar main riff and mesmerising guitar solo. It sounds completely and utterly massive. Look no further than Skeleton Christ if you’re in any doubt that Slayer can’t make you fucking move on this record, it may sound simple musically, but it’s heavy as all sin and it is one of my personal go-tos when the band’s name is mentioned in conversation. Goes without saying that Araya shouting ‘Hail Satan’ is an absolute win too.

#5 – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)

Slayer started the new decade revitalized with this masterclass in pacing, progression and power oozing from every pore of this disgusting beast. As mentioned above, this was the album that the boys took a different approach on compared to their 80s efforts, slowing down and being more atmospheric and sinister in a way that paid off greatly.

Seasons In The Abyss is now thirty years old but stands the test of time beautifully for its simply flawless lineup of incredible songs. Choose literally anything featured on this record and you’re in for a winner. There are no low points, I have virtually nothing bad to say about Seasons and that’s because with outstanding tracks like: Dead Skin Mask, War Ensemble, Expendable Youth, Hallowed Point and Born of Fire, how could I?

That’s simply the caliber of the material that we’re dealing with here from this point on. Really, consider everything onwards as effectively completely interchangeable with one another. This is the Grade A stuff.

#4 – Reign In Blood (1986)

Widely considered by many to Slayer’s most brutal album, if not the most savage record ever at the time, what can I really add to the conservation about Reign In Blood that hasn’t already been said? It’s been dissected to death over the last three decades and for good reason, it’s one of if not the great thrash metal albums ever forged.

From the chilling album art to songs about Joseph Mengele (Angel of Death) and that unstoppable all-time classic Raining Blood, there’s frankly nothing new I can say, so what’s the point in trying? It’s Reign In Blood and it’s amazing, but you already knew that.

#3 – South of Heaven (1988)

South of Heaven was the fourth record that the band put out following a two year absence from Reign In Blood, and that time was used to strip back and refine their core sound into something darkly magical.

It might not be as immediately overt as the likes of what came before but the more primal yet controlled rage from Tom Araya and the steady, trance-like drumming from Lombardo are arguably a career best to this day. This record contains some of the most well written songs in the band’s history, included but not limited to: Behind The Crooked Cross, Ghosts of War and Cleanse The Soul.

Heaven feels like the culmination of their classic sound. It is not as violent as later entries, and it shares more in common with speed/heavy metal than the gut wrenching thrash it would later inspire, as it stands though with an album as well made as this, I can’t help but love every single second.

#2 – Show No Mercy (1983)

A bonafide classic for the ages to be sure. The original and many would say the best. A rare case where the origins of how this album came to be is nearly as interesting as the end result itself. Show No Mercy is an institution and it changed the face of not only thrash metal but shook the landscapes of the music world and pop culture for decades, even to this very moment in time.

Containing the almighty Die By The Sword, the spellbinding Black Magic and the insidious Evil Has No Boundaries, among others. I find myself often unabashedly praising this release almost every time the topic of metal music is brought up in any regard. Here was a record that single-handedly birthed so many genres and inspired so many generations of musicians across the world, it’s unbeatable.

#1 – Hell Awaits (1985)

Take everything that I’ve just said about Show No Mercy and amplify it by a million. Whilst Slayer’s debut is a landmark victory in music to be sure, their true prowess was unleashed masterfully in their sophomore record Hell Awaits.

Cast your mind back to the year 1985 and what were the hottest heavy metal records releasing at the time? Sure, there were strong efforts by the likes of Saxon, Exodus, Celtic Frost and Possessed, but there was nothing that matched the face melting speed or scorching brutality of Hell Awaits.

This was the album where Slayer shed their NWOBHM skin and struck out on their own with something incontestable, in every sense of the word an unadulterated monolith of sound that would not be caged or rivalled by mortal man. On a less hyperbolic note however, the track list is simply marvellous and nails everything you could ever possibly want in a heavy metal/thrash record from the surreptitious villainy of Necrophiliac, to the incinerating guitar solo of At Dawn They Sleep and beyond.

Slayer were and always will be an incredible band and a shining example of music as art. Sure, they had their missteps over the decades, but I would be remiss to deny them their rights as an irresistible force of nature. They will be missed, but they left one hell of a legacy!

Dark Tranquillity Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Dark Tranquillity are a melodic death metal band founded in 1991 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Along with bands such as In Flames and At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity pioneered the genre, cultivating what we now know the Gothenburg sound.

With the upcoming release of the band’s twelve studio album, Moment, set to unleash in November 2020, the time has never been better to take a careful but critical look back at one of Sweden’s finest metal band’s discography.

#12 – Haven (2000)

As with every ranking list, sometimes hard decisions have to be made and occasionally that means throwing a great album to the bottom of the pile. Truth is, Haven is a fantastic alternative metal album. The caveat? Haven follows very much in the footsteps of 1999’s Projector and leans more on crafting rich atmospheric and moody synth and piano landscapes rather than the chaotic riffage and aggression of prior records.

Standout tracks include: Haven, Not Built To Last and Indifferent Suns.

Personally I love these two albums, but I can also strongly say that I like a little more bite when I switch on a Dark Tranquillity record. By no means bad, just a little different, and that’s why Haven is where it is.

#11 – Character (2005)

This record is just as strong as any that come after it on this ranking list, but what lets Character down from achieving any higher here is how most of the songs tend to blend together. Coming hot off the trail of their previous album (2002’s Damage Done) Character laid the blueprint for what would essentially become the Dark Tranquillity sound going forward, that every album would continue to borrow from even to this day.

Not to say that Character is lacking for riffs, it certainly isn’t, and razor sharp songwriting in tracks such as Lost to Apathy and Am I 1? are staples in the band’s live catalogue for a good reason.

Why so low then? Well, with an album like this surely the only way to go is up. Simply put, Dark Tranquillity evolved and refined the formula found here so many times and so masterfully that time has almost made this record a lesser one in hindsight.

#10 – Moment (2020)

I would be lying if I said that I have spent a huge amount of time with this one, but here we are all the same. I’ve span the record a few times, and it’s a very bright and upbeat sounding album, something I wasn’t expecting, but a welcome surprise regardless. There’s something about this new release that I can’t quite quantify as to why it feels a little less special than the likes of We Are The Void, Atoma or Construct. What we have here is a great metal album, but a truly fantastic Dark Tranquillity record? I am not sure. My mind is really in two places with this one. It’s not a bad release whatsoever. I enjoy every song on here for different reasons, and the production is top drawer as expected, everything falls into place well.

I am just unsure as to why I am not more excited about the first DT record in nearly half a decade dropping. I think that summarises my feelings more than anything. It’s been four long years since Atoma, a record that was one of the band’s best, and same time, Moment doesn’t do too much to innovate on those principles. It’s unfair, as Moment is a few days old at time of writing, but right away, it wasn’t as impactful as that record, or some others on this list. In hindsight, maybe this will change. Keep an eye out for the end of the year list to see where Moment slots in, if it all. I may be singing a different tune. Key tracks: Phantom Days, Identical to None, Eyes of the World.

#9 – Construct (2013)

Accused by one detractors as an ‘album on auto-pilot’ but a record that I think is much better than a concerning amount of listeners give it credit for, Construct largely plays it safe and carries the general themes from prior musical outings that we will get to later, (Fiction, We Are The Void Etc.) this release has its shining standout moments in the form of songs such as Endtime Hearts, Uniformity and What Only You Know.

Really, it’s almost unfair to compare Construct to We Are The Void as that album, and precursor Fiction, contain songs that blew up for the band in a way that singles here failed to resonate with, for whatever reason.

#8 – Damage Done (2002)

Dark Tranquillity took the elements that worked on Projector and Haven and injected a little more bite of their prior sound into this record which shares its dna with the earliest of the band’s output whilst also benefiting from their more experimental ventures.

Monochromatic Stains instantly springs to mind whenever this album is brought up in conversation and The Treason Wall is always an easy crowd pleaser for brightening up an evening with some modern melodeath. It’s easy to see why Damage Done may have been overlooked by many fans, existing in a void between two very distinctive eras of an ever changing band and never really settling for either, but carving out its own identity between the cracks.

#7 – We Are The Void (2010)

In brief, a genre defining album from a band very set in their ways. It’s clear by this point that Dark Tranquillity’s blend of electronics, synths and pianos emulsified with fierce razor guitars and Mikeael Stanne’s fierce metal rasp is here to stay, as stated before, they could only go up from here.

We Are The Void features the incredible singles; Iridium, Her Silent Language and The Fatalist. These three songs in particular are so great that they easy push this record over the edge with what would otherwise be considered a safe and no thrills modern melodeath experience.

#6 – Projector (1999)

Without a doubt this is Dark Tranquillity’s most experimental and strangest album to date and for that reason I can’t help but love almost everything about it. What may have come as initially quite jarring from a band as rash and relentless as this to feature slow ballads, heavy use of clean vocals as well as lengthy piano passages, Projector proved that sometimes slowing down a little can pay off immensely.

Turn your attention a song such as Day To End for example, here’s a track with a Depeche Mode-style 1980s 808/synth beat as Mikeael’s low baritone cleans elevates the material beautifully. Auctioned is very much of the same vein, as you’ll also come to see on Dobermann too.

Not to say that the band have gone soft here. Bulldozers like Undo Control and The Sun Fired Blanks are more than sufficient efforts to the contrary and On Your Time is no slouch in that department either. Even if that’s only half the story.

#5 – Atoma (2016)

This is an album that would otherwise be held in the shadows of what came before, if it wasn’t for the simple fact that Atoma features one of the strongest sets of songs ever put together by the band, as well as some truly incredible singles and one absolutely flooring closing song.

Clearing Skies is my personal highlight on Atoma. Swelling atmospheric acoustic guitars violently cascade into some stunning lead guitar progressions and dreamlike underlyings of synth and piano that give way to Stanne’s most passionate vocal performance in a decade. Really though, many of the tracks on offer here largely follow suit. It’s catchy, with amazing atmospheres and gorgeous progressions from beginning to end, it would be criminal to give this a miss.

#4 – Skydancer (1993)

This album is essential listening for anyone even vaguely interested in Sweden melodeath or death metal in general. The only reason it doesn’t take top billing is because Skydancer is very much a primordial offering of a band that had yet to even really be called a band.

At the time, the Gothenburg scene as we know it wasn’t really anything more than a few young dudes in a quant Swedish town who lived near one another and enjoyed metal music. Vocals on this record were performed by the almighty Anders Friden of In Flames, just as current vocalist Mikeal Stanne was the driving force behind Lunar Strain that same year.

Everyone knows by now just how memorable and riff heavy this incredible album is from Nightfall To The Shore of Time all the way to Alone. It is an album that really deserves no further explanation, listen to it and love it, simple.

#3 – Fiction (2007)

Putting a modern melodeath album above a classic?! Am I crazy? Well, before you burn my house down in righteous anger, let me explain. Fiction was my introduction to Dark Tranquillity as they are now, of course I had heard all the classic albums, from Skydancer to The Mind’s I, but after that grace period, my knowledge of the band’s later output was conservative to say the least.

Then along comes Fiction and single handedly redefines exactly what melodic death metal could be post-2000 in a way that other Swedish bands never quite managed.

It’s difficult to even know where to start with my thoughts on this monumental achievement of an album, it really is that good. Do I begin discussing the lush soundscapes and pounding anthemic choruses of tracks like The Mundane and The Magic or Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive) or should I stop wasting time and divulge the divine greatness of Misery’s Crown?

If I don’t stop gushing now then just frankly we’ll be here all night, so I’ll leave it here. Listen to Fiction. If you like amazing metal then listen to Fiction, hell, if you enjoy music with a message and emotion of any kind, then you have no excuse to not spin this record immediately.

#2 – The Mind’s I (1997)

Take all the praise that I heaped onto Skydancer and amplify it by a million. The Mind’s I is the culmination of a band creating and then perfecting the perfect old-school Swedish melodeath sound.

The Mind’s I is Dark Tranquillity’s heaviest album and features a generous helping of infectious and tasty guitar riffs on top of more breathtaking guitar melodies that intertwine in an almost orgasmic fashion.

Irrevocably, this release is a complete and total triumph from start to finish and an album that I return to more than I care to admit. Three albums in and this era of the band were simply titans on top of the world, and give it a few minutes of your time and you will see why as well.

#1 – The Gallery (1995)

Is The Gallery the greatest Dark Tranquillity album ever released? Yes.

Is it the greatest melodic death metal metal record ever put to tape? It can certainly be argued. I am almost at a loss for words for describing exactly what makes this release flow so effortlessly, but in a way, isn’t that the kind of intrinsic, ethereal beauty that we listen to metal for?

One listen to Punish My Heaven or Lethe and I dare say that you may become addicted. I know after my first time that I wasn’t the same person I was beforehand. Stronger than any drug, a higher percentage than any bourbon on planet Earth, the sheer irresistible and immovable force that is, The Gallery! Words really don’t do this one justice, if you only listen to one album after reading this feature article, then do yourself a favour and make sure it’s this one.

Alestorm Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Alestorm are a pirate themed comedic metal band from Perth, Scotland formed in 2007 by, the only remaining founding member, Christopher Bowes of Splen and Gloryhammer fame.

With the release of their new album, Curse of the Crystal Coconut, the time has never been better to take a look at the band’s archive. With no further delay, here’s what we found to be the best and worst of Alestorm, ranked!

#6 – Black Sails At Midnight (2009)

Alestorm’s sophomore release had the unwieldy duty of trying to top their debut and, whilst there are certainly some great songs on offer here, their second album never quite goes the same distance as Captain Morgan’s Revenge.

Tracks such as Leviathan and the crowd-pleasing live anthem Keelhauled are reason enough to spin this record start to finish. It is occasionally very exciting and ends strongly with closer Wolves of the Sea being a particular highlight and one of the band’s best songs to end on of any album released so far.

#5 – No Grave But The Sea (2017)

Embracing the humour and cult meme status that made them a festival force to be reckoned with, No Grave But The Sea features some of the band’s most catchy material that all but entirely refuses to take itself seriously.

It’s hard not to smirk when listening to songs like Fucked With An Anchor and you will be humming the chiptune intro of Mexico for months to come after your first listen.

This record has no weak moments and the more comedic tone ensures a light and fun listening experience that’s great to party to. The only real draw of the record is that there’s less of a focus on guitar work and more on writing pop style hooks, but with an album this funny, it works regardless. It’s a great time.

#4 – Curse of the Crystal Coconut (2020)

Alestorm’s newest album to date is plain and simply fucking brilliant. The only thing that keeps at halfway in this ranking is because of the high barrier set by what came before, but know that from this point on all entries at this point are frankly interchangeable.

Curse of the Crystal Coconut feels like a return to form for a band that manages to interject a steady stream of folk elements that made their prior records so stylistically distinct in metal. The strongest moments on this album have to be the stellar epic known as Call of the Waves that has just about everything you could want from the band: awesome guitar solo, great main guitar riffs, catchy choruses and those aforementioned folk instrumentals, it’s a strong contender for my new favourite Alestorm song.

Not to say the rest of the record is a slouch in any regard. Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening) is far more grandiose and spanning than, in theory, it had any right to be. A sequel to a great song from Sunset on the Golden Age, and in many ways a far greater song, Wooden Leg Part 2 not only features a choir singing the chorus from the first song but also a healthy and unexpected Japanese section that fits great too.

I could honestly go on about just how much I enjoy this album but if I did that then I fear we would be here all night. A great throwback to their past with that loveable roguish energy and humour to boot.

#3 – Back Through Time (2011)

The band’s third album confidently learns from whatever missteps Black Sails At Midnight made and came storming out of the gate without missing a beat.

What gives Back Through Time an edge over everything mentioned so far is the depth and variety in the songwriting on display here, paired with what I think could easily be their most tonally and musically consistent ride through to date.

This album is a riot from start to finish, it begins strongly and refuses to let up from the opening seconds of the title track to the final chord strum of the mighty masterpiece closer, Death Throes of the Terrorsquid, a song that even dabbles in a little black metal.

It’s hard to just listen to one song here and be done with it, chances are if you listen to The Sunk’n Norwegian or the stellar Shipwrecked, then Back Through Time’s morish quality will likely drag you under until you’ve heard it all through again.

#2 – Sunset on the Golden Age (2014)

Where to start with this one? Sunset on the Golden Age came out at a perfect time for me. This album was my introduction to the band and it was after their hit single Drink that I went from a casual observer to a hardcore fan.

For weeks I had this record in constant rotation throughout my playthrough of the outstanding pirate action/adventure title Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and I’ll tell you right now, there’s no better pairing, it was the perfect soundtrack to that game.

Without a doubt, Sunset is my go-to Alestorm album when I find myself in the mood for their music or when I’m out drinking and partying, as the band intended. To this day, six years later, I still find myself coming back to songs like: Quest For Ships, Mead From Hell, Magnetic North and 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena).

Alestorm managed to find that perfect balance between the humourous (see Mead From Hell or the aforementioned Wooden Leg) and the heavy (title track and Magnetic North) that makes for the ideal listening experience.

It would be a crime to not also mention the brilliant acoustic versions of classic Alestorm songs that bookend the record, highlights include versions of: Nancy The Tavern Wench, The Sunk’n Norwegian and Keelhauled.

#1 – Captain Morgan’s Revenge (2008)

The album that started it all and still what I believe to be their best effort yet. Without question Alestorm’s heaviest and more focused album, Captain Morgan’s Revenge is a thrill ride cover to cover and blasts you away with a sixteen pounder fun effortlessly with juggernaut standouts such as: Over The Seas, Nancy The Tavern Wench and Terror on the High Seas.

The record may have lacked the meme humour of their later efforts but the debut is not devoid of comedy, it’s just buried in more subtle ways, which to be honest, I think I prefer.

Captain Morgan’s Revenge started so much, not only for Alestorm, but also the countless pirate themed metal bands that clearly took inspiration that are also well worth your time.

It’s heavy, it’s catchy and it’s a great fucking time. People may write off Alestorm as a dumb comedy band but I believe that there’s a lot more under the surface, some truly fantastic songs lay beneath the waves and they deserve your time and attention. With Curse of the Crystal Coconut being so great, and seemingly very well received, the future is bright for the band, and I cannot wait to see just where the pirates go next.

Cannibal Corpse Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Cannibal Corpse are an American death metal band formed in Buffalo, New York all the way back in 1988. For over three decades, and several lineup changes, they have been the fearsome gold standard in mainstream death metal music. With no more delay, here’s our definitive ranking list of all fourteen Cannibal Corpse albums, ranked from worst to best.

#14 – Bloodthirst (1999)

The difficult thing about ranking this list for me is that Cannibal Corpse are an incredibly steady and consistent band which makes their mid era particularly challenging to rank above or below any others from the early 2000s.

Bloodthirst is a good death metal album and features a few great songs amongst a pile of listenable ones. Condemned to Agony and Pounded Into Dust remain favourites in my rotation to this day, even if listening through the whole thing start to finish can be exhausting.

#13 – Kill (2006)

Kill marked Rob Barrett’s return to the band after his departure following the release of The Bleeding in 1996. His presence was strongly felt on an album that otherwise would have been nothing special in the field of death metal.

That said, Kill featured the standout single Death Walking Terror with a guitar tuning all the way to G# for the first time in a way that really benefitted their brutal sound.

Like a lot of Cannibal Corpse’s post-Barnes era, Kill is another solid effort into the band’s fierce discography.

#12 – Torture (2012)

Torture posed a challenge for the band having to follow up their smash hit record Evisceration Plague, and despite all odds, Torture was a fantastic death metal album with some real highlights on display.

This album features my personal favourite Cannibal Corpse song of all time, Encased In Concrete as well as the earth shattering powerhouse Scourge of Iron. For those reasons alone, Torture ranks higher on this list than some others. It may not be as good as what came before or after, but it’s certainly not a record to overlook if you’re a fan of the genre.

#11 – The Wretched Spawn (2004)

Unlike an album like Bloodthirst or others on the list so far, The Wretched Spawn is where I can confidently say that I can spin the album start to finish and have a consistently great experience without the need to skip through and play favourites.

With production that’s razor blade sharp and a groovy flow that never lets go, this album is pulverising throughout. Highlights include; They Deserve To Die, Frantic Disembowelment and Nothing Left To Mutilate.

#10 – Gallery of Suicide (1998)

The second album featuring Corpsegrinder on vocals and one of his stronger efforts in his career with the band. It’s an album that starts incredibly powerfully with the polemic opener I Will Kill You.

Gallery of Suicide marks a turning point where the records rose above the controversy, as a band they had effectively shaken off the stigma that had stuck to them with the messy departure of Chris Barnes and demonstrated that they could make punishing death metal without their founding father guiding the ship. It may not be their most exciting but it’s a fun bloody ride.

#9 – Gore Obsessed (2002)

This is where I feel the divisive nature of my choices are going to come to a head. Many would say that albums like Gore Obsessed or Gallery of Suicide have no business being ranked above Bloodthirst and to those people, I give you my answer.

When Death Replaces Life is one of the grooviest songs I have ever heard. Opening slow with a pulsing and haunting dissonance before raging into a pounding and relentless rhythm with chugging guitar and machine gun drums as George delivers his most devastating growls to date.

There are songs of a similar vein on Gore Obsessed that have that groovy death and roll feel that embody the likes of Carcass for a unique grinding experience.

#8 – Red Before Black (2017)

Cannibal Corpse’s most recent release to date and a powerful example of exactly why they’re one of if not the most well known and revered names in death metal.

Red Before Black has some outstanding moments that’s bolstered up by the band being at the top of their game thirty years down the line. Scavengers Consuming Death, Firestorm Vengeance, Code of the Slashers and Heads Shovelled Off are just a few reasons as to why this record has been spun so actively in my library over the last few years.

#7 – Vile (1996)

Somewhat of an outlier of an album as it being Rob Barrett’s last guitar effort with the band until Kill and simultaneously Corpsegrinder’s first on vocals. On paper, it shouldn’t have worked but the execution was unexpectedly flawless.

Vile was also the last time the band worked with Scott Burns producing, marking an end to a six year streak that began with their 1990 debut album that we will talk about later on this list.

All that aside, the record is crushing and unapologetically savage. George Fisher’s powerful mid-growl permeates some of the band’s most interesting and out there guitar riffs that tried to differentiate vividly from all what came before with Barnes. In terms of where to start with Vile, you really can’t go wrong with Devoured by Vermin and Absolute Hatred, two tracks that still slay when performed live to this day.

#6 – A Skeletal Domain (2014)

Following up on Evisceration Plague and building on the groundwork laid by Kill and Torture, A Skeletal Domain is a monumental landmark in American death metal that introduces a slight lean towards more a mainstream and catchy sound without shying away from the band’s more gruesome elements.

It is a difficult challenge to pick a favourite from this extremely strong lineup of fresh and fierce songs; High Velocity Impact Splatter, Kill or Become, Icepick Lobotomy, Sadistic Embodiment. There’s definitely a case here for one of Cannibal Corpse’s most sturdy sets.

#5 – Eaten Back To Life (1990)

In many ways Cannibal Corpse’s debut is a pioneering achievement in not only thrash/death metal but music overall. Clearly taking cues from the likes of Possessed’s 1985 debut Seven Churches and perhaps more prominently taking elements from Death’s 1987 record Scream Bloody Gore, the boys from Buffalo dialled everything up to 11 and shook the landscape of extreme music forever.

Chris Barnes’ disgusting growl was something deeper than what had been heard in the late 80s and the way the band played in E Flat on guitar, refusing to compromise, made Eaten Back To Life something leaner and meaner than its contemporaries. One of their best in their discography for sure.

#4 – Evisceration Plague (2009)

This album has a special place in my heart for being my introduction to the band alongside the live album Global Evisceration that dropped afterwards in 2011. As a result, there may be a degree of bias in my decision to rank this one so highly but I cannot deny the sheer power and brutality that pours out of every second of this modern death metal masterpiece.

This album is without question the one from Cannibal Corpse’s back catalogue that I have listened to the most over the years and the one that I have a great amount of respect for. Not only did Evisceration Plague wet my appetite for extreme metal in general but it also was what made me want to pick up a guitar endulge in some bloodshed of my own.

Hyperbole aside, the band’s 2009 album is incredible cover to cover and never lets up across its forty minute runtime. This is the album I introduce people to death metal to for a reason, one of the latest and greatest.

#3 – Butchered At Birth (1991)

Now this is what I call classic fucking death metal! Dirty and deranged right through the core, nothing to lose but everything to prove with a stellar follow up to their debut only one year later.

The band’s sophomore release is every bit more evil and refined then what came before on Eaten Back To Life. It was less thrash metal orientated and was more comfortable laying it’s own foundation than building on the blueprint of what came in the late 1980s.

When people think of death metal, chances are some of the first images that come into their minds are that of the album cover here alongside visualising images found in the lyrics for iconic tracks like; Meat Hook Sodomy, Vomit The Soul and Under The Rotted Flesh.

Butchered At Birth is a triumph in extreme music and has stood the test of time now for almost thirty years for a reason. It’s near impossible to beat it, as far as old school American death metal is concerned.

#2 – The Bleeding (1994)

Without a doubt, The Bleeding is one of the most vulgar and filthy records in old school death metal that is expertly complemented by technical buzzsaw guitars and Chris Barnes’ most revolting vocal delivery of his career thus far.

As Chris Barnes’ swansong and as this era and four year reign came to a close, it is astounding to see the culmination of so many creative and innovative ideas here that refused to play it safe.

Just one listen to the mammoth that is Staring Through The Eyes of the Dead or Fucked With a Knife will get you addicted in a way that you never felt could be possible with death metal of this calibre. It’s a tough call at the top of this list but there’s no debate that The Bleeding deserves its celebration and acclaim.

#1 – Tomb of the Mutilated (1992)

It’s always hard playing favourites but for me, there is simply nothing better done by the band than their 1992 Opus entitled Tomb of the Mutilated.

If Evisceration Plague was where I discovered the band and my developed my love and interest in death metal then Tomb was the moment that the genre became not only an obsession, but in many ways, a way of life.

How do you possibly top records like Eaten Back To Life and Butchered At Birth? Well for Cannibal Corpse, that answer seemed to be staring them in the face, you make an effort to make everything darker and dirtier than ever.

Tomb provided the band to this very day with a long list of their most well known songs for a reason, and that reason is the majority of what you will find on this album is the monolith of the death metal, an unequivocal gold standard that has yet to be beaten by the band.

I Cum Blood, Addicted To Vaginal Skin, Beyond the Cemetery and Hammer Smashed Face are only a few songs on this record that have shaken the world on its axis. I know it may be a generic choice, and perhaps a little cliché, but there is no denying the impact and the influence that Tomb of the Mutilated had and continues to have on not only death metal but on pop culture and music itself. Tomb is responsible for so much and without it, it’s very likely that very few of us would be where we are today.

Insomnium Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Insomnium are a melodic death metal band from Finland formed in 1997. In their over twenty year career, they have made a name for themselves carving out their own identity in the genre by blending rich atmospheres, melodies and folk influence in a way that makes them stand out amongst their peers.

The three founding members are: bassist and vocalist Niilo Sevänen, drummer Markus Hirvonen and guitarist Ville Friman. The lineup has expanded since 2011 when the band recruited Markus Vanhala (Omnium Gatherum) and most recently, Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering) for guitar duties in 2019.

With Insomnium’s world tour about to commence following the release and success of their newest album, Heart Like a Grave late last year, the time has never been better to take a look back at the band’s extensive back catalogue as tonight we rank all of Insomnium’s core releases.

Insom ATD

#8 – Across The Dark (2009)

I need to preface this entire article by saying that I genuinely do love every Insomnium record and that the ranking order really is down to a few small preferences and nothing outlying. Across The Dark is a fantastic album that features some of the bands best songs including: Weighed Down with Sorrow and Down With The Sun. However, this album came out a time where Insomnium had a very well established sound. It did not break as much new ground as what came before it, nor did it innovate in the ways of the latter records that would succeed this one.

In the halls

#7 – In The Halls of Awaiting (2002)

I know it may be seen as sacrilege to place a band’s debut so far down the list, especially when they are as revolutionary as this, but if anything I believe that it just establishes just how high the bar was set and then surpassed by in future. In The Halls of Awaiting is one of the strongest first records in metal music history and perfectly conveys the poetic melancholy in the songwriting, combined with a strong use of acoustic/folk guitar and darkly beautiful medleys throughout.

It is no more evident than in songs such as The Elder and Deeper Shades of Green that this was a band doing something completely unheard of at the time. In The Halls of Awaiting truly does have this timeless quality that transcends orthodox trends and trappings that other bands in the genre would have fallen into. Despite being released in the early 2000s, this record could have came out in the early 1990s or the late 2010s and still retain its own prevalence in a league of its own. There is no conforming to trends, there is no overblown production or heavy use of electronic elements. It is a straightforward folk-inspired melodic death album through and through that cemented the band as something truly special.

one for sorrow

#6 – One For Sorrow (2011)

Always one for sorrow, never one for love. One For Sorrow serves as perhaps their first major exposure to the mainstream market, as well as acting as a swansong for longtime guitarist and songwriter Ville Vänni, who left the band after the release of the record for personal reasons pertaining to his career as a general surgeon and family matters.

This is where ranking their records starts to become an incredibly difficult task and there really is nothing in it as to why one album is any higher or lower than another. One For Sorrow is a masterclass in powerful and emotionally charged melodic death metal that has an excellent sense of pace and flow for the entirety of the runtime. Every track here feels deliberately placed and not a second is wasted from beginning to end. Standout tracks from the album are: Unsung, Regain The Fire and Lay The Ghost to Rest.

shadows of

#5 – Shadows of the Dying Sun (2014)

This record was my first exposure to the band and I am certain many others as songs such as the now iconic While We Sleep and Ephemeral dominated playlists and fronted many press websites back in 2014. This album is a little more accessible than some of the others on this list and was the first time that the band had utilised ballads and clean vocals more heavily as a tool in their songwriting arsenal, mostly found on slower tracks such as: The Promethean Song and The River.

The album still retained the aggression and bite of prior records with tracks like Black Heart Rebellion and The Primeval Dark, but the lighter elements mixed in made it stand out amongst the rest of their discography. It may be softer in places but it is no less emotionally resonant.

Shadows of the Dying Sun is not only one of my favourite albums ever released but has also gotten me through a lot of dark times with its morose yet inspiring and uplifting lyrics. It was also around this time that I saw Insomnium for the first time, with a setlist that made up large in part with killer tracks executed beautifully from this release.


#4 – Heart Like a Grave (2019)

To some this album seemed like a grand return to form for a band that had become very comfortable in releasing consistent but safe albums. To the less cynical (myself included), Heart Like a Grave is a prodigious demonstration that shows exactly why the band have such the stellar reputation that they do.

With that said, Heart Like a Grave does innovate in a number of crucial ways that sets the record apart. The most noteworthy addition to the core lineup, newcomer Jani Liimatainen, injected new vibrance and brightness to the songwriting resulting in tracks like Valediction that borrowed in small part from Cain’s Offering with the focus on euro metal clean singing throughout most of the song from himself and Ville Friman. It is a really cool touch that adds a little colour to a very dark record.

Pale Mourning Star was a gorgeous callback to the band’s In Halls of Awaiting sound, with its extended runtime, heavy use of acoustic guitars and swelling piano accompaniment paired with perhaps Niilo’s greatest vocal delivery on the album, and even a little black metal flare too.

This album does not reinvent the wheel but it has enough new ideas and benefits from some new blood to do something different enough to make those who may have lost interest in the band’s last few albums, to pay strict attention once more.

Winters gate

#3 – Winter’s Gate (2016)

What does a band do when faced with the idea that they may be getting too comfortable in their own sound? Well, in this case they release one long fourty-minute epic of a song. Winter’s Gate is a transcendental journey of epic proportions that takes the listener through a myriad of rich frozen landscapes and refuses to ever lessen its grip.

This entry into the band’s discography also demonstrated their first foray into implementing black metal staples into their core sound and it made for an unexpected but sharply effective addition that moulds Winter’s Gate into something that blends the barriers between genres in the best way possible. Thick tremolo riffs and backing choir vocals permeate this album and accent the quitier portions along with the always stunning guitar lead that screams at just the right times.

Winter’s Gate may have been a risk but it was an incredibly bold move on the band’s part and smashed any doubt to pieces that this was a band that could never stagger or slow down.

weeping world

#2 – Above The Weeping World (2006)

Without question this is an album that is utterly flawless in almost every single respect. It is perhaps too the band’s heaviest record yet with Niilo’s growl a little deeper and the dual guitar riffing leaning a little harder into that death metal grove just enough to not betray their folk melodic influence.

It is difficult to talk about the sum of its parts when you have an album that is so consistently strong and carries itself so effectively and effortlessly as this one does. One listen of Drawn To Black, The Killjoy or Change of Heart is all you need for this record to infect your ear and stay with you for potentially the rest of your life. It really is that quintessential.

Day it all

#1 – Since The Day It All Came Down (2004)

This album is immaculate. Insomnium’s sophomore record took all of their unique and interesting concepts and dialled them up to 11 with steadfast conviction. Take one listen to any of the exceptional tracks and it is easy to see exactly why this, out of them all, tops my list as the greatest Insomnium album yet.

Be it the wistful and winding Daughter of the Moon, the immense crushing power of Death Walked The Earth or the sheer striking sadness of Closing Words, Since The Day It All Came Down is one of the finest metal records ever put to tape. Try as I might I feel that I lack the words to do this record justice, the album truly does speak for itself as a high point of exactly why we love this genre of music in the first place.

Ultimately you could listen to any of these albums and rank them completely differently and it would be entirely valid, they are all special and mean different things to different people. It was incredibly close to call but we made it. I look forward to many more years of their reign as the undisputed kings of melodic death metal.