Carcass is revered for being a pioneer in the grindcore genre. However, in their later years the band put out one of the all-time great death metal albums, Necroticism-Descanting the Insalubrious. Still later though, Carcass had a major hand in the formation of melodeath with this amazing album. Featuring cover art from H.R. Giger and some absolutely sick riffs and melodies, this is a great album without which we would not have had melodeath. At least the good stuff anyway.
Along with Atheist, Cynic is responsible for bringing jazz and fusion influences into death metal. Sounds like something doomed to failure, but it surprisingly works quite well. The songs often run the gamut between death metal and more ethereal, serene soundscapes. The vocoder vocals can be a little irritating at times, but it's nothing to stop listening for. Cynic did not release much after this, going on hiatus until just recently releasing their second full-length album.
IMMORTAL: PURE HOLOCAUST
One of the more well-known bands in the Norwegian black metal scene, Immortal is also probably my favorite of the groups. Immortal knows their sound and largely sticks to it, and their sound is chaotic and unholy thrash riffs played with ungodly speed and shrieking vocals. Immortal has created their own world on this album. They may be a little cheesy-looking in pictures and videos, but there is nothing cheesy about this music. Excellent black metal.
MORBID ANGEL: COVENANT
The first time I have ever heard of Morbid Angel was when the video for "God of Emptiness" was on Beavis and Butthead. I thought to myself that I had to get that album. The music was so evil and unlike anything I had ever heard to that point. Well, I was not able to find the album until I really started looking within the last few years. Now, this is one of my favorite death metal albums ever. Terrific death metal that other bands have been trying to copy for years.
PARADISE LOST: ICON
You won't see a lot of gothic metal in these lists, but there will be some. Paradise Lost is probably my favorite such group next to Type O Negative. The English band helped usher in the death/doom genre with Cathedral, My Dying Bride, and Anathema, but they became more of a gothic metal band over time. This album represents the crossroads between the two sounds and the doom elements and gothic elements blend perfectly into a beautiful, but still aggressive album.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Anthrax: Sound of White Noise, Atheist: Elements, Crowbar: Crowbar, Darkthrone: Under a Funeral Moon, Death: Individual Thought Patterns, Entombed: Wolverine Blues, Fight: War of Words, My Dying Bride: Turn Loose the Swans, Overkill: I Hear Black, Satyricon: Dark Medieval Times, Sepultura: Chaos A.D., Type O Negative: Bloody Kisses.
BANDS THAT FORMED IN 1993: Children of Bodom, Dark Funeral, Diabolical Masquerade, Dimmu Borgir, Electric Wizard, Hammerfall, Melechesh, Nile, Symphony X.