Death is one of the bands that some consider the forefathers of death metal, along with Possessed. The band's sound would evolve from a classic, thrash version of death metal on their debut album, to the technical and progressive elements of the band's final album. Led by front man and guitarist Chuck Schuldiner, the band would release six albums over the band's twelve year career. The band would officially break up after the tragic death of Schuldiner in 2001 due to brain cancer. He was 34 years old.

The band would leave an impact in extreme metal. From death metal acts like Obituary, Exhumed and Opeth to metalcore and mathcore acts like Suicide Silence and The Dillinger Escape Plan citing the band as an influence in their music. Schuldiner's vocals inspired people to become vocalists. George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of Cannibal Corpse has said in interviews that Schuldiner inspired him to become a death metal singer, along with Corey Taylor of Slipknot saying the band was an important influence.

So, in honor of this influential and innovative death metal band, I wanted to rank their discography. Seeing the evolution of the genre with each of their releases and seeing how impactful their albums were at the time of the release. Along with the influence it would have on the future generations of bands that would spawn after their breakup. This will also be one of the hardest rankings I've had to do for this site. Death has been claimed by many fans and critics in metal of having "the perfect discography" with no bad albums, eras, or songs. I would agree with that statement myself. With each album being a little different and some albums being more impactful to some, it is definitely going to be an interesting list to do and rank. So let's see which album, in my opinion, is the best Death album.


Control Denied "The Frail Art of Existence"

This was Schuldiner's side project that he was working on after the release of the band's final album The Sound of Perseverance. The band is more leaning into the progressive and power metal genre with their sole release. Schuldiner did not perform vocals on the album, so he would focus more on lead and rhythm guitar. Tim Aymar was the band's vocalist, with Shannon Hamm on guitar, Steve DiGiorgio on bass and Richard Christy on drums. It would also be Schuldiner's final studio album before his death.

7) Spiritual Healing (1990)

The band's third album and first to feature new guitarist James Murphy, bassist Terry Butler, and last with drummer Bill Andrews. This would be a turning point in the band's sound. Death would begin to start showing elements of technical death metal and elements of progressive metal with this release, along with Schuldiner moving away from the genre cliché of horror and gore lyrical themes. Focusing more on real-life topics like serial killers, drug addiction and faith healers that were on the rise at the time. Songs have a more midtempo feel, almost slower pace in certain moments compared to the more faster paced energy of their first two albums. Not a full transition from their old sound to their more well-known progressive technical death metal sound, but you can hear the direction the band was going and would build excitement for the follow up to see the band's full evolution into this new sound.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Living Monstrosity", "Altering The Future", "Within My Mind"

6) Scream Bloody Gore (1987)

The debut record from this legendary band. With the opening "DIE" screams by Schuldiner, the album is intense in its speed, heaviness and overall punishing feel. With the album mainly performed by Schuldiner and drummer Chris Reifert, the album expands on the speed and ferocity of thrash metal, but going even faster than that. Adding intricate and fast-paced technical guitar solos in the vein of the burgeoning thrash scene, along with high shrieking and gutturals vocals of Schuldiner. Many of the lyrical themes based around horror movies like Evil Dead, Zombie, and Re-Animator. An album that was groundbreaking in it's performance and unmatched speed and anger. With Possessed's Seven Churches, Scream Bloody Gore would be an influential record and would lay the groundwork for what death metal would develop into the popular Florida sound in the 90's and up to today's current scene.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Infernal Death", "Denial of Life", "Baptized in Blood"

5) Human (1991)

Following the experimentation of Spiritual Healing, Human was the album that showed the band was fully embracing and aiming for a more technical and progressive metal sound going forward. Introspective lyrics became more prominent and less social commentary like the previous album. Cynic guitarist Paul Masvidal plays guitar on the record, before leaving the band and forming Cynic. Critics praised the band's new direction and the fans loved the new direction, being a huge step up from the previous record and would inspire many bands to follow in the footsteps of this album's wake.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Lack of Comprehension", "Flattening of Emotions", "Together as One"

4) Symbolic (1995)

Symbolic was an album that showed Death start to incorporate more melodic death metal and less focused on the blasting aggression from earlier releases. With new members Bobby Koelble and bassist Kelly Conton, the band took this direction even further during the recording process. With Schuldiner's snarly, gravely like vocals on point, over the sweeping perplexity of the music, Symbolic was a unique experiment in the band's already legendary sound. Showing that the band could do no wrong with their music, no matter what elements they add into their sound, Death will knock it out of the park with every release.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Zero Tolerance", "Empty Words", "Crystal Mountain"

3) Leprosy (1988)

With new members Rick Rozz on guitar, Bill Andrews on drums and bassist Terry Butler (who would join the band, but not appear on the album), Death hit the studio to work on the follow up to Scream Bloody Gore. With a different tone on the album, which some would credit Death and Morrisound Recording Studio for creating the Florida death metal sound with this release. The album is less thrash and more of the trademark death metal sound you would hear today or associate with the old school death metal sound of acts today. Bass hits strong and loud in the production, especially in the break on "Born Dead". Drums have so much punch in the mix, and the solos are more intricate and entrancing than on Scream Bloody Gore. Another impressive and strong follow up to an amazing debut.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Born Dead", "Forgotten Past", "Pull The Plug"

2) The Sound of Perseverance (1998)

The band's final album, before Schuldiner would pass away in 2001. Featuring the band's final lineup of guitarist Shannon Hamm, drummer Richard Christy and bassist Scott Clendenin. The band's final form of technical and progressive metal is prominent on this release. Featuring a strong opening track and a classic cover of Judas Priest's "Painkiller", Death went out with a classic album that was a fitting swansong for this legendary band and the musical complexity of Schuldiner & company. With many fans citing this as one of the band's best albums and a true classic death metal album.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Painkiller", "Bite The Pain"  

1) Individual Thought Patterns (1993)

This would be the band's first official full transition into the complex and technical death metal sound we know of the band. With one of the best lineups in the band's history. Featuring Andy LaRocque of King Diamond fame, drummer juggernaut Gene Hoglan and Steve DiGiorgio on bass, the band was a powerhouse of talented musicians. The impressive performance from every member of the band is awe-inspiring. From Schuldiner's guttural cries to the intricate and complex drumming from Hoglan and the soloing of LaRocque, the album is a pinnacle of technical death metal proficiency and a record that still stands the test of time in the genre itself.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Overactive Imagination", "The Philosopher", "Trapped in A Corner"

Do you agree with my ranking? What albums should move up/move down? Let us know on the comments of our social media and list what your order would be. You can even suggest what band's discography we should rank.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to This Day In Metal.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.