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Death Metal

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Secondary Stylistic Influences:
"Death Metal was never meant to be pretty, baby!"
Michael Amott In the liner notes of the 2000 reissue of "Dark Recollections" by Carnage

Death metal, also known as "that genre concerned parents hate", is a particularly notable subgenre of metal that is typically abrasive and usually characterised by growled, roared, or shrieked vocals, heavily downtuned guitars, and generally quite proficient musicianship utilising a variety of unusual techniques and instrumentation such as tremolo picking, palm muting, double kick blast beats, and complex, evolving song structures with frequently morphing time signatures played at quite tremendous speeds. Lyrics usually (though not always) focus on anger, hate, gore, and death, and some pretty gory album covers are not at all uncommon. It is The New Rock & Roll; easily one of the most misunderstood musical genres since its own inception, its critics almost always characterise it as an unlistenable noise attack, ignorant of the genuine, if not universally endearing, musicianship involved. Special hate is often reserved for the distinct and distinctively named vocal style, commonly characterised as ugly, unmusical, or mere screaming, with an equal degree of ignorance as to the immense skill and physical fitness required to sing death vocals well (without quickly ruining one's voice), and the appropriateness of the vocal style when considering the type of instrumentation and lyrics involved. Oh, and hippies can't stand it.

The style evolved from Thrash Metal in the eighties, with some bands influential on the genre (thrash or otherwise) including Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost and Kreator. The first band to get acknowledged for playing death metal was the thrash band Possessed, with their landmark album Seven Churches. While Possessed may have been the Trope Namer (they even had a song named "Death Metal"), the Trope Makers, and according to some sources the Ur Examples, were Death, who released their first album, Scream Bloody Gore, in 1987. They replaced the overt thrash influences of Possessed with an at-the-time unparalleled fusion of brutality and technicality, solidifying the genre.

Initially just an underground niche for the most extreme of metalheads, death metal only managed to gain recognition outside the underground thanks to some of the more popular and controversial bands, such as Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, who in the early 1990s were suddenly being noticed by livid moral guardians the world over. There was the brutality of the music itself, featuring extensive use of dissonance, atonality, syncopation, deep forays into the deranged realms of frequently shifting Uncommon Time, and the general tendency to angrily take a hatchet to most of the other things that make pop music accessible and catchy (like simple melodies and rhythms); this, combined readily with the decidedly offensive (some might say antisocially so) thematics of the genre helped culture warriors and moral crusaders to froth up an image of terrible music that promoted violence, sex, sexual violence, Satan, and probably somehow drugs as well. This culminated in Cannibal Corpse being banned from performance in several countries.

Since then, the genre has mostly remained underground, with a devoted but relatively modest following, stellar critical acclaim and a thoroughly international scene (for example, did you know Botswana has a thriving death metal scene?); however a few bands have had a large amount of recognition, as have a couple of subgenres. The genre's influence has also been felt in many other genres, including Gothic Metal, Groove Metal, Nu Metal, Djent and Metalcore. These, and several other forms of more traditional or popular metal have developed a harder, more abrasive sound, with harsher vocals and heavier distortion in response to the pioneering sounds of Death Metal, while retaining more accessible or conventional song structures and motifs.

For the hip hop equivalent, see Horrorcore.

For the Marvel UK comic book character named after the subgenre, see Death Metal (Marvel Comics).

Death metal scenes:

Multiple scenes with specific sounds have popped up over the years; for those wondering, the main ones are:

  • Florida: Thrashy, riff-oriented material, frequently with a pronounced technical edge and virtuosic playing. Easily the most successful scene to the point where bands with that sound were relocating there back in the day (Cannibal Corpse, Angelcorpse, Malevolent Creation); notable native bands include Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Deicide, Atheist, Monstrosity, Massacre, Hate Eternal, Six Feet Under, Brutality, and Nocturnus.
  • New York: A mix between aggressive, grind and hardcore-influenced material that laid the template for brutal death, deathcore and doomy, dirgelike acts. Also includes bands from surrounding states, primarily NJ and PA, and has historically had some overlap with the New England scene due to geographical proximity (particularly the Upstate acts); notable bands include Suffocation, Immolation, Incantation, Skinless, Malignancy, Morpheus Descends, Dehumanized, Pyrexia, Internal Bleeding, Mortician, Waking the Cadaver, Artificial Brain, Cognitive, Funebrarum, Baphomet, Torturous Inception, Undeath, and Mortal Decay.
  • California: A mixture of brutal, riff-oriented material that eschews leads in favor of a massive sea of winding, interconnected riffs building off one another, and melodic proggy tech that carries heavy late-era Death influences, with many of the former bands gradually turning into the latter. Notable bands include Cattle Decapitation, Autopsy, Deeds of Flesh, Disgorge, Decrepit Birth, Exhumed, The Faceless, Arkaik, Severed Savior, Condemned, The Kennedy Veil, Alterbeast, Fallujah, The Zenith Passage, and Odious Mortem.
  • Texas: Raw and dirty brutal death metal with a distinctively fuzzy guitar tone (often aided by extended-range guitars) that frequently overlaps with slam (and most likely codified it) and tends to feature extremely fast blasting portions with a trebly snare tone (the "slam snare" sound). The Houston area also has a noticeable blackened death scene heavily influenced by both death/doom and bestial black metal, while various newer acts from the DFW area are heavily rooted in old-school death metal and hardcore and helped codify the "caveman" sound of the late 2010s. Notable bands include Devourment, Necrovore, Viral Load (and Shawn Whitaker's projects in general), Creeping Death, Frozen Soul, Desecrate the Faith, Devour the Unborn, Imprecation, Blaspherian, Morbosidad, Texas Murder Crew, Sarcolytic, Stabbing, and Dobber Beverly's various projects, most notably Infernal Dominion and Malignant Altar.
  • Midwest: Similar to Texas, though less slammy and more blasty, with a similarly raw, ugly, and dirty aesthetic and comparable production values. Noteworthy acts include The Black Dahlia Murder, Origin, Broken Hope, Jungle Rot, Unmerciful, Gorgasm, Putrid Pile, Embalmer, Nunslaughter, Brodequin, Gutrot (and Brian Forgue's projects in general), Sanguisugabogg, 200 Stab Wounds, and Incinerate.
  • New England: Grindy, heavily hardcore-influenced brutal death metal, which oftentimes blurs the lines between death metal and deathcore (and may have been one of the birthplaces of the latter) and usually has a more casual and "urban" feel. More polished and technical acts are typically associated with Berklee, as many students find themselves playing in local acts. There is also some scene overlap with Quebec and New York (largely due to Despised Icon, Suffocation, Internal Bleeding, and Incantation having historically strong ties to the region), and depending on who you ask, eastern Upstate New York (mostly the Capital District and the southern part of the Adirondacks) may or may not be part of the scene. Notable bands include Revocation, The Red Chord, Vital Remains, Goratory, Abnormality, Dysentery, Sexcrement, Deadwater Drowning, Vomit Forth, and Scattered Remnants.
  • Maryland: Heavily grind and hardcore-influenced material (owing to DC's grindcore scene) that usually focuses on a heavy, often bouncy groove, usually with old-school sensibilities mixed with modern amenities. Notable acts include Dying Fetus, Misery Index, Visceral Disgorge, Full of Hell, Noisem, Genocide Pact, and Wormhole.
  • Sweden: Raw, punkish material with a darkly melodic undertone and frequent doom influences, as well as a trademark "chainsaw" guitar tone. Some acts also helped give birth to death 'n roll by way of infusing their music with hard rock elements. Three certain bands from Gothenburg partly eschewed brutality in favor of melody, thus creating and estabilishing a more melodic approach to death metal. Notable bands include Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Unleashed, Bloodbath, Edge of Sanity, Ćon, Vomitory, Soreption, Entrails, Lik, Necrophobic, Unanimated, God Macabre, and Carnage.
  • Finland: Dark and doomy material with a focus on creepy atmospheric sections and occasional bits of eerie melody. Notable bands include Amorphis (early material), Demilich, Demigod, Convulse, Hooded Menace, Krypts, Solothus, Lantern, Corpsessed, Gorephilia, Sentenced (early material), Torsofuck, Adramelech, and Torture Killer.
  • Poland: Focuses more on the technical, thrashy side or the more atmospheric blackened edge of death metal. Notable bands include Vader, Behemoth (starting with Satanica), Decapitated, Hate, Trauma, Lost Soul, and Yattering.
  • Quebec: Highly technical material with progressive leanings; earlier acts leaned towards a more brutal sound, while later acts moved towards a more melodic, spacy sound that often includes prominent fretless bass. Notable bands include Gorguts, Cryptopsy, Despised Icon, Kataklysm, Beneath the Massacre, Neuraxis, Martyr, Quo Vadis, Augury, First Fragment, Chthe'ilist, and Beyond Creation.
  • Russia: Very big on slow, but rock-bottom heavy slam, though some of them have begun to move in a more technical direction with prominent Dying Fetus influences. Notable bands include Katalepsy, Abominable Putridity, Abnormity, 7 H. Target, and Big End Bolt.
  • East Asia: Rooted in grindcore, noise rock and deathcore, mathcore and slam death. Bands often have a strong affinity for Genre-Busting, some have melodic tendencies, some go further thanks to Harsh Noise influences. Notable bands include Magwi, Fecundation, Holymarsh, Seed, and Oathean from South Korea, Hydrophobia, Vomit Remnants, Dir en grey (from Marrow of a Bone onwards), Imperial Circus Dead Decadence, Kokuyasou, Ritual Carnage, Desecravity, Deviloof and Youthquake from Japan, Bloodshedd and Sin from the Philippines, and China's Lunar Eclipse, The Dark Prison Massacre, Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship, and Cryogenic Defilement.
  • Australasia: Usually dissonant and technical, with lots of black metal and post-metal influence, while more conventionally technical acts tend to have a more jazzy and playful feel. Notable bands include Psycroptic, StarGazer, Ulcerate, Disentomb, Sadistik Exekution, The Amenta, Portal, Departe, Alarum, Convulsing, Organectomy, Mortification, Blood Duster, and Abominator.
  • Germany: Mostly highly intricate tech-death garnered with neoclassical and jazz elements in the vein of Cynic, sometimes crossed over with extremely abrasive brutal/slam death not dissimilar to the Texas and NY styles. Notable bands include Atrocity, Assorted Heap, Morgoth, Defeated Sanity, Necrophagist, Cytotoxin, Disbelief, Fleshcrawl, and Obscura.
  • France: Generally on the more technical side of the spectrum, sometimes with a quirky feel, though blackened elements are also common. Notable bands include Benighted, Gorod, Gojira, Kronos, Loudblast, Svart Crown, Death Decline, Massacra, and Arkhon Infaustus.
  • United Kingdom: Generally a mixture of death metal with black metal, grindcore and/or deathcore, usually with a pronounced "urban" feel. Notable acts include Carcass, Napalm Death (mostly Harmony Corruption, but they have been an extremely major influence as a whole), Bolt Thrower, Cancer, Benediction, Anaal Nathrakh, Ingested, Venom Prison, Unfathomable Ruination, Man Must Die, Dyscarnate, Party Cannon, and Cerebral Bore.
  • Italy: Generally involves extremely fast, blast-heavy brutal death with occasional blackened death, melodic death and/or tech death influences. Notable bands include Hour of Penance, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septycal Gorge, Putridity, Hideous Divinity, Bloodtruth, and Antropofagus.
  • The Netherlands: Being such a small country, The Netherlands boasts one of the biggest scenes out there. There's something for everyone with the emphasis on old school stuff (Asphyx, Sempiternal Deathreign, Pentacle, old Pestilence) and REALLY brutal fare (Brutus, Disavowed, Pyaemia, Korpse). Other internationally known bands include God Dethroned, Hail of Bullets, Houwitser, Severe Torture and Sinister. There is also a good deal of overlap with Belgium (specifically Flanders); notable acts from the latter include Aborted, Serial Butcher, and Emeth.
  • Brazil: Heavily riff-driven and often fairly technical, with a distinctively midpaced and groovy sound that often features stop-start and tribal motifs, as well as chaotic but often extremely flashy leadwork. Lighter acts tend to overlap with death/thrash. Notable acts include Sepultura, Krisiun, Sarcofago, Nervosa, The Ordher, Torture Squad, Crypta, NervoChaos, and Claustrofobia.
  • Colombia: An underground scene with a small, but dedicated community; a blender of technical brutal death metal, grindcore, and slam, Basically being as heavy as possible while using technical musicianship to as a way to improve upon the heaviness rather than melody, Notable bands include Internal Suffering, Carnivore Diprosopus, Amputated Genitals, Mindly Rotten, Ancient Necropsy, and Animals Killing Peoplenote 


There are many different subgenres of death metal. Three of them (Melodic Death Metal, Technical Death Metalnote  and Deathcore) have their own entries. Here's a quick list of bands by basic subgenre:

    open/close all folders 

    Old-School Death Metal 
Pure, classic death metal.

    Death/Thrash Metal 
Death metal with a strong thrash influence. Many early death metal bands were rooted in thrash.

    Melodic Death Metal 
Death Metal with a greater emphasis on melody, along with a dose of Power Metal or traditional Heavy Metal riffage. For more information, go here.

    Brutal Death Metal 
Death metal with more emphasis on brutality and speed, and less on melody. Often incorporates elements from grindcore (in particular, obviously, goregrind).

    Technical Death Metal 
Essentially what happens when a death metal band starts to increase the technical musicianship borrowed from Jazz, Classical Music, and/or Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal. For more information, go here.

    Slam Death Metal 
Seen mainly as a progression of brutal death with subtle but noticeable hip-hop influences and a generally heightened focus on heavily syncopated, mosh-oriented rhythms, slam death metal is characterised by gurgling vocals, extended breakdowns, and grooves. Sometimes considered to be "proto-deathcore"; there is also a certain overlap between slam death metal and deathcore when it comes to the more extreme bands in the latter subgenre, which is why Waking the Cadaver, Disfiguring the Goddess, Vulvodynia, and Ingested are on this list.

    Blackened Death Metal 
Death metal with influences from Black Metal. Sometimes confused for a straight-up fusion of death and black metal. Some later acts also overlap with post-metal; the label "dissonant death metal" has gained traction in the 2010s to describe the latter, which often overlaps with technical death metal and/or technical black metal.

    Death/Doom or Doom/Death 
Death metal fused with Doom Metal. The Gothic Metal genre evolved from this, as did the Doom subgenre "funeral doom". There are two main styles: “melodic death/doom”, which features both clean and harsh vocals, slower paces and focuses on creating a dreary mood by utilizing guitar effects and non-standard instruments, and a riff-focused one, which retains old-school death metal distorted guitar playstyle, double-kick drumming, blast-beats, tempo swings, and growls, and integrates doom metal's hefty, down-tuned sound.

Death Metal + Grindcore. A potentially confusing subgenre, considering how similar the two genres are already to the average person. There is also some overlap with deathcore due to many early acts in the genre being rooted in deathgrind.

Death Metal mixed with Hardcore Punk or Metalcore. Because of its nature, it's the subgenre most prone to Genre-Busting and Genre Mashup with other genres. For more information, go here.

    Death 'n' Roll 
Death Metal mixed with strong elements of Hard Rock and/or Traditional Heavy Metal. Popular in the mid-to-late 1990s, and often overlaps with lighter metal subgenres.
  • Acid Witch
  • Birds Of Prey (also Sludge Metal)
  • Blackshine (along with Thrash Metal; one of Necrophobic singer Anders Strokirk's bands away from the group)
  • Blood Duster (fused with stoner rock)
  • The Cumshots
  • Death Breath
  • Debauchery (started off as straight Death Metal, but began incorporating hard rock elements in their music starting with their fourth album and have since made this their signature style, though they do have the occasional song or two per album that goes back to their roots)
  • Dellamorte (founding Scar Symmetry guitarist Jonas Kjellgren's first band)
  • Doomriders (something of a Genre-Busting example, but this is the label most consistently applied to them)
  • Entombed (Trope Codifier; became this starting with Wolverine Blues before shifting back to straight death metal with Morning Star)
  • Gorefest
  • Hearse (known for being one of ex-Arch-Enemy vocalist Johan Liiva's later projects; though they are not strictly this, sometimes dabbling in straight death metal and melodeath)
  • Mortification (experimented with this from Envision Evangeline through Relentless)
  • Phazm
  • Pungent Stench (occasionally - Club Mondo Bizarre featured prominent elements of it and their final album Smut Kingdom dives headfirst into the genre)
  • Scum (overlaps with Melodic Death Metal and Psychedelic Rock)
  • Sexcrement (later material)
  • Six Feet Under (dabbles in this from time to time, mainly on Warpath)
  • Unmoored (first album only - switched to progressive death metal afterwards)
  • VHS
  • Xysma

    Caveman Death Metal 
An offshoot of modern OSDM that emerged in the mid-2010s, caveman death metal (named for the "caveman riffs only" Memetic Mutation that accompanied many of the earlier acts) is characterized by a "chainsaw" guitar tone, heavy grooves, and extremely prominent hardcore elements (sometimes also nu metal, as exemplified by Sanguisugabogg, Bodybox, and Gates to Hell), and many of the acts are heavily associated with the hardcore scene, if not outright spawned from it. The genre is heavily tied to 20 Buck Spin and Maggot Stomp Records, as well as (to a much lesser degree) A389 Recordings (and, by extent, Relapse Records, who took in the old A389 roster after the label closed) and Holy Mountain Printing, who handles merchandise for many acts in the genre.
  • 200 Stab Wounds
  • Acephalix
  • Bodybox (also beatdown hardcore and brutal death metal)
  • Celestial Sanctuary
  • Cerebral Rot
  • Creeping Death
  • Fetid
  • Frozen Soul
  • Fuming Mouth (also Entombedcore)
  • Gatecreeper (Trope Codifier)
  • Gates to Hell
  • Genocide Pact
  • Graveview (some beatdown hardcore elements)
  • Kruelty (mixed with death-doom)
  • Mammoth Grinder (mid-era material, a potential Ur-Example)
  • Mourned (originally beatdown hardcore)
  • Outer Heaven (Realms of Eternal Decay, they started out as metalcore before briefly becoming death/doom)
  • Phrenelith
  • Sanguisugabogg (not a musical Trope Codifier, but codified the meme culture associated with the genre)
  • Scorched
  • Terminal Nation (also beatdown hardcore)
  • Tombstoner (some beatdown elements)
  • Torn in Half
  • Undergang (Trope Codifier)
  • Vastum (Trope Codifier)
  • Xibalba (Tierra y Libertad onward, also beatdown hardcore; earlier material is beatdown)

The death metal genre provides examples of:

  • Awesome Music: Plenty.
  • Big Fun: Death metal is filled with Gonky or overweight artists for whatever reason, so much that this is the usual physical stereotype people associate with artists in (and sometimes, by extension, fans of) the genre.
  • Careful with That Axe: Occasionally, vocalists will complement their grunts with high-pitched screeches. Chris Barnes and Glen Benton (who popularized this approach) are the most prominent examples.
  • Catharsis Factor: One of death metal's reasons of being, much like with Gangsta Rap and Punk Rock.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: It would be easier to list the death metal bands bands who did not do a song about this trope.
  • Creepy Awesome: Pretty much death metal's bread and butter. While most people would find this genre as Nightmare Fuel in musical form, its fans instead appreciate the musicians' tremendous musical prowess and, in general, the pure adrenaline the music can give.
  • Darker and Edgier: Death metal was possibly intended as the D&E version of thrash metal, which was already the D&E version of traditional/speed metal.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: If a death metal album cover art isn't a contemptible one, it's usually going to be this.
  • Doing It for the Art: Maybe not quite as much as Black Metal, but Death Metal musicians spend hours upon hours learning to play their instruments incredibly proficiently and fast, with very little prospects of commercial success. All the while, they're all but written off by both mainstream and alternative music news sources, and ignored as incomprehensible garbage by the average person, most of which haven't even actually tried the music. The fandom is very loyal though.
  • Epic Riff: Being the most riff-driven style of metal along with Thrash Metal, this is a given.
  • Fandom Rivalry: The death metal fandom is sometimes at odds with the Black Metal fandom.
    • The various subgenres sometimes have this, too. For example, brutal vs. melodic, and all other fandoms vs. slam. Within slam, traditional slam fans versus slam/deathcore fans; while some more traditional slam fans may give Ingested and possibly Vulvodynia a pass, bring up Signs of the Swarm, Within Destruction, Human Error, or anything else that sounds like them and get ready to run.
  • Fan Disservice: Any album cover that features anything sexual is bound to be this.
    • Some bands even added a healthy dose of Hentai while adding sexual themes. H-Death Metal or H-Deathgrind are extremely rare, but they do exist. However, when they do incorporate hentai, it's not at all hot.
  • For the Evulz: Usually the motivation of Gorn-themed lyrics.
  • Gorn: Possibly the most common lyrical theme, although bands that sing about other subjects are pretty easy to find.
  • Harsh Vocals: The main vocal style of the genre.
  • Horrible History Metal: Not always the case, but this can pop up now and then, especially if the band is covering a very nasty period.
  • Humans Are Bastards/Misanthrope Supreme/Straw Nihilist: If the Metal Archives website lists "misanthropy" and/or "nihilism" among a given band's lyrical themes, expect generous doses of these.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Almost a Dead Unicorn Trope in death metal's case considering the large number of vocalists in the genre who attempt to tempter their Harsh Vocals with clear enunciation of the lyrics. Although death metal in general is perhaps unfairly pegged with this trope due to Public Medium Ignorance, in the brutal/slam death metal subgenre it is actually widely the norm, with vocals being present mostly for the purpose of accenting the music with a guttural texture, rather than to convey a coherent lyrical theme. In the case of death metal bands which actually do fall under this trope, vocal performances rendering exceptionally obscene lyrics indecipherable can be beneficial for the purpose of Getting Crap Past the Radar (e.g. Chris Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse, Vehemence's lyrically vile God Was Created).
  • It Makes Sense in Context: The genre's main vocal style. It cops a lot of flack from non-fans of the genre, but if you consider the musical and lyrical context in which it's used, it usually starts to make a bit more sense.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: As with Black Metal (though possibly to a lesser degree), the fandom of death metal sometimes displays this attitude with regards to some bands.
  • Lead Bassist: Type B and C examples are everywhere, and there are also quite a few Type A and Type D examples due to the technical skill that is frequently required to play the genre; of these, Alex Webster, Mike Flores, Jo Bench, Steve DiGiorgio, Erlend Caspersen, and Derek Boyer are particularly famous.
  • Lead Drummer: Also tends to happen quite a lot, due to the technical skill required of death metal drummers. Pete Sandoval, Mike Smith, George Kollias, Flo Mounier, Derek Roddy and John Longstreth are particularly prominent examples.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: It's common for Death Metal singers to be guitarists themselves. As such, they are usually resposnisble for writing many riffs, licks, and guitar solos. Examples include Chuck Schuldiner, Mikael Åkerfeldt and Karl Sanders.
  • Loudness War: Not a problem with older releases in the genre (unless they've been "remastered"), but this plagues modern releases. It's almost impossible to find a modern death metal album that isn't horribly brickwalled, with generous doses of clipping on top. May be a case of Stylistic Suck, and is unfortunately encouraged (indirectly or not) by some fans and critics.note . There are some producers fighting this trend, however, with Colin Marston being the most visible example.
    • This is such a prevalent problem in the genre that one of the redirects for this trope is Deaf Metal.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Many death metal musicians are actually very friendly when not playing. Ask venue employees, and they will always, without fail, tell you that death metal acts and crowds are some of the nicest, most orderly, and most polite musicians and patrons that they regularly encounter. There's also a very good practical reason for being a nice person in death metal; as a niche genre where even the mainstream acts are still very much in touch with the underground, being a jerk won't get you very far. If you're rude to fans, act like an asshole on tour or (if you're a headliner) treat your supports badly, bring drama wherever you go, screw people over, or make poor showings on social media, the word will get out, and if you always walk around with a "what have you done for me lately?" attitude or kiss ass to the important people while being a dick to everyone else, one of those small acts who you blew off will always be friends with a big act and will tell them exactly how you treat your fellow bands who aren't big fish.
  • Metal Scream: Relatively prevalent in the music, and often of the type 2 variety (Brutal and slam death take this to its extremes) , though it's not uncommon for vocals to lean towards type 3.
  • Misogyny Song: A common theme of Brutal and especially Slam Death Metal lyrics. They began to pop up with early Cannibal Corpse and was later popularized by bands such as Devourment, Waking The Cadaver and Waco Jesus, though it's likely that they want to troll the general public than actually promote misogyny. Unsurprisingly, some bands have gained notoriety for this at one point or another.
  • Motor Mouth: It is common for death metal vocalists to speed up their vocal work to catch up to the already fast instrumentation, often coming close to Singing Simlish.
  • Murder Ballad: Too many to count.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: A lot of death metal bands have very intimidating names.
  • Nightmare Fuel/Nausea Fuel: Death metal is a massive sucker for these two tropes, be it the imagery, the sound, or the lyrics. Of course, there are some bands that try to avoid abusing these two tropes, noteworthy examples being Atheist and Gojira. And of course, at times the aesthetic may get to the point that some bands straight-up cross into Narm territory.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: A good number of slam and deathcore bands sport an inner-city fashion sense and aesthetic; while the origin of this isn't precisely known, it seems likely that it came from the more "urban" styles of Internal Bleeding, Dehumanized, and Dying Fetus, all of whom had very prominent NYHC influences. Fans of more conventional death metal aesthetics would often use the epithet "wigger slam" to describe such acts.
  • Protest Song: If it's even remotely politically-tinged, it'll usually be this.
  • Public Medium Ignorance: "Death Metal... Is that like Slipknot or something?"note  This confusion is a bit of a Berserk Button for many.
    • Also common is people thinking death metal is noise. As in, disorganized, non-rhythmic, non-melodic noise with indecipherable screaming. That also exists, but it's nothing like death metal.
    • As stated above, the genre is also widely claimed to be The New Rock & Roll, despite the diabolical themes commonly associated with the genre being far, far more common in another genre of metal.
  • Rated M for Manly: Oh yes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Melodic Death Metal is the Red to Technical Death Metal's blue, but melodeath also happens to be the blue to Brutal/Slam's red.
  • Religion Rant Song: The other most common lyrical theme.
  • Revolving Door Band: If you're wondering why the trope is in bold, it's because this is really common for death metal bands to have more former members than songs...
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: While it is nowhere near as ubiquitous here as in Black Metal, there are still plenty of bands for whom this is a lyrical focus. The most famous may be Incantation and Deicide.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Thanks to its twisted, macabre imagery, death metal falls squarely in the Romantic side of the scale. Prog-death and tech-death, however, skew more towards Enlightenment.
  • Rule of Cool: Along with Rule of Scary, many bands are formed with this in mind.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Generally inverted, many death metal artists showcase an everyday casual look, which comes across as more "normal" (save for the hair and, occasionally, the beards) than the styles worn by non-death metal artists. Many of them also appear approachable, though their music and lyrics indicate otherwise.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Gorn lyrics are so common, it's rarely ever used as criticism against the genre these days.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A lot of death metal lyrics and song titles feature scientific/medical jargon and other gibberish-sounding words, which is no surprise considering the lyrical and aesthetic themes associated with the genre.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Usually very far on the cynical end.
  • Stylistic Suck: Death metal is often stereotyped as representing the pinnacle of pure shock value and impenetrable musicianship in Heavy Metal, with bands one-upping each other on who can make the most brutal songs, the most grisly lyrics, and the most contemptible cover art, but this tends to be zigzagged as death metal also requires its musicians to exhibit a great deal of endurance and proficiency in instrument playing, not to mention the degree of vocal talent required to pull off Harsh Vocals safely and consistently over a career that can span years, if not decades. There do exist bands within death metal that put out deliberately harsh, unrelenting, and offensive music for the sake of it, but they only represent a small portion of what the genre has to offer.
  • Trolling Creator : Many of the artists that write the misogynistic Gorn lyrics are moreso this than not.
  • Trope Makers: Death. It's unclear whether they were the first death metal band (because they were around at roughly the same time as Possessed, Master and Necrophagia), but they are generally agreed to have properly established death metal as a genre with Scream Bloody Gore.
  • Trope Namers: Generally either Possessed (with the song "Death Metal" off Seven Churches) or Death (their style apparently being dubbed "Death's metal" in their early days, before death metal really took off as a genre).
  • Trope Codifier: Cannibal Corpse in the public eye; metalheads are more likely to cite Morbid Angel, Obituary, or Deicide as such. For the genre as a whole:
    • Old School Death Metal: Death, Deicide, and Morbid Angel
    • Brutal Death Metal: Suffocation, Pyrexia, Deeds of Flesh, and Cryptopsy
    • Slam Death Metal: Devourment
    • Death/Doom Metal: Autopsy and Incantation
    • Blackened Death Metal: Necrophobic and Angelcorpse
    • Death 'n' Roll: Entombed, Gorefest, and Pungent Stench
    • Caveman Death Metal: Gatecreeper, Undergang, and Vastum
    • Deathgrind: Terrorizer, Napalm Death, and Brutal Truth
    • Technical Death Metal: Atheist, Nocturnus, Death, and Suffocation
    • Melodic Death Metal: In Flames, At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and Carcass
    • Deathcore: The Red Chord, Despised Icon, and All Shall Perish
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Part of the genre's appeal to metalheads.
  • The Unintelligible: Thanks to the genre's focus on Harsh Vocals, death metal vocalists are embodiments of this trope by default. Some examples are worse thanks to foreign-language or badly-written English lyrics, which may or may not be combined with the liberal use of Motor Mouth as the main vocal delivery.
    • Though, considering the usual lyrical themes, this might be a good thing. YMMV, of course... some folks enjoy the grossness.
    • As a rule, band logos are designed in a particular style of font with overlapping, branch-like letters, which you will have to take long close looks at in order to pick out their shapes until you're a seasoned metalhead.
  • Ur-Example: While there are plenty of contenders for the title of "first proper death metal act", Mantas, Possessed, and Necrophagia are all safe bets, though it's certainly debatable if any of them actually were death metal or just very raw, dirty thrash. Other bands that proved particularly influential with early acts include Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost, Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Dark Angel, Bathory, Sepultura, Sarcofago, Hellhammer, and The Accused, though none of them (aside from Sodom circa Tapping the Veinnote ) have ever been death metal.
  • Voice of the Legion: Many death metal bands use multiple layers of vocals to achieve an even more demonic sound. Deicide, Nile, and Behemoth in particular have elevated this to an art form.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: This is how many bands see themselves.
  • Villain Song: Another common theme in death metal lyrics, and the villains they sing about are usually really awful people.

    Examples of death metal songs (from all subgenres without specific pages)