I was not terribly thrilled with the outcome of 1988's review. I felt it was a little too mainstream. Therefore, this time out, I have five examples of extreme metal albums from 1989. Not that the quality is diminished, these are five excellent albums, but they are not appearing on Rolling Stone's top albums list anytime soon.
ATHEIST: PIECE OF TIME
Atheist is an excellent band that never quite got the recognition that they deserved in their first go-around. The band has since reformed and is releasing a new album soon. This is death metal with some thrash moments, but more interestingly a lot of jazz and fusion influences as well. Atheist was at the forefront of the groups that were taking death/thrash metal and combining it with outside influences to result in an extremely interesting overall sound. It's thinking man's metal. This is the band's amazing debut album.
AUTOPSY: SEVERED SURVIVAL
One of the first real death metal bands, Sein Reinert started this band after leaving Death, and the sound is similar, but heavier and murkier. Autopsy experimented with some doom metal influences, but for the most part this is pure death. The vocals are more extreme than Death's vocals as well. Autopsy utilized a lot of gore and horror lyrics which were extremely influential on the future releases by such acts as Cannibal Corpse.
BOLT THROWER: REALM OF CHAOS
Bolt Thrower has long been one of the most consistent acts in death metal. However, they had a bit of a different sound for the first couple of albums. Bolt Thrower was more of grindcore band on their earliest recordings. This album represents a bit of a crossroads between the old grindcore sound and the newer death metal sound and is my favorite album by the band. "World Eater" is one of the heaviest songs with one of the heaviest riffs ever.
MORBID ANGEL: ALTARS OF MADNESS
Morbid Angel finally released their debut album in 1989 after a series of demos. The album finds the band playing the style of death metal they would popularize and that would be endlessly imitated. This is true occult death metal with some fantastic riffs and blazing guitar solos, David Vincent's trademark extreme vocal style, and some of the best songs ever in death metal. This is a true landmark album for the death metal genre and ranks as quite possibly my favorite death metal album.
SODOM: AGENT ORANGE
From death metal to thrash metal. This is one of my favorite German thrash metal albums. Everything about this is perfect. It's fast, with great riffs, and Angelripper's trademarked raspy, almost black metal vocals. This was the first album by Sodom to go completely in the thrash metal direction. All of the songs are great, including the crossover-sounding "Ausgebombt" and the cover of the Tank classic "Don't Walk Away". The thrash break at the end of "Tired and Red" is the greatest breakdown ever.
Honorable Mentions: Annihilator: Alice in Hell, Blind Guardian: Follow the Blind, Carcass: Symphonies of Sickness, Dark Angel: Leave Scars, Faith No More: The Real Thing, Kreator: Extreme Aggression, Obituary: Slowly We Rot, Overkill: The Years of Decay, Sabbat: Dreamweaver-Reflections of Our Yesterdays, Sepultura: Beneath the Remains, Testament: Practice What You Preach, Voivod: Nothingface, Watchtower: Control and Resistance.
Bands that formed in 1989: Bal-Sagoth, Beherit, Benediction, Cathedral, Dark Tranquillity, Dissection, Edge of Sanity, Gorguts, Immortal, Incantation, Novembers Doom, Pitchshifter, Sentenced, Sigh, Unleashed, Vital Remains, Vomitory.