Superfast drumming, complex riffs, and mind-bending solos –the genre of technical death metal has got it all, but also places due importance on redefining compositional style and trying new things. Inspired by the legendary Death, Atheist, and a slew of other progressive/technical metal bands and non-metal acts, the artists on this list have certainly made their name in tech death history as people who are constantly pushing not only the musical boundaries of music but the physical aspect as well. The albums that made this list are post-2000, and ranked according to how much I liked them, while taking into consideration the impact they made on the scene.
10. Archspire – ‘The Lucid Collective’
Archspire shot to popularity with their 2014 release, an album that introduced the band’s extreme technical death metal sound to the metal scene. They released ‘All Shall Align’ before this, but ‘The Lucid Collective’ brought them to the forefront and got them noticed. “Lucid Collective Somnambulation” being the pick of the songs, the band continued to make their presence felt live and online, supporting their album. With drummer Spencer Prewett pushing the limits of extreme drumming, Archspire scored a direct hit with the album.
9. Psycroptic – ‘The Inherited Repression’
Australian tech death outfit Psycroptic put out their fifth studio album ‘The Inherited Repression’ in 2012, and from the intro of the first track “Carriers of the Plague” and all the way to the end, there is no lack of pristine, complex death metal. Dave Haley’s incredibly-tasty drumming and Joe Haley’s killer riffs made for an album that received largely positive reviews. For many, it was an entry point into the world of tech death, owing to its sludgier vibes which the sharp riffs seemed to cut through.
8. Allegaeon – ‘Elements of the Infinite’
US-based technical melodic death metal band Allegaeon turned things around from their more brutal ‘Formshifter’ album and moved to a relatively-simpler, more melodic sound on this album. With the introduction of the masterful shredder Michael Stancel, ‘Elements of the Infinite’ rounded off Allegaeon’s sound and brought them mainstream fame in the metal community. Tracks like “Threshold of Perception”, which got a hilarious music video, “Dyson Sphere”, and the pseudo-instrumental “Through Ages of Ice –Otzi’s Curse” are some of the more memorable ones off the album.
7. Inferi – ‘The Path of Apotheosis’
From the moment the first note hits, and all the way through stellar tracks like “Destroyer” and “The Ancients of Shattered Thrones”, Inferi does not relent. A heavy dose of sharp, double-time technical death metal, with immaculate production, puts Inferi on 7th place on the list. Catchy riffs, layered vocals, and lightspeed drumming –all the standard tropes of tech death are present but each element seems to come out splendidly in the mix. Give this one a listen!
6. Necrophagist – ‘Epitaph’
Muhammed Suicmez and Co. made waves across the metal community with the seminal ‘Epitaph’, influencing the whole tech death genre in the years to come. The band had their differences, but on the record, they sound like a cohesive unit, with the pre-written drums played by Hannes Grossmann (Alkaloid, ex-Necrophagist, ex-Obscura, Blotted Science) and daring leads by Christian Muenzner (Alkaloid, Eternity’s End, ex-Necrophagist, ex-Obscura) taking the limelight. However, it was Suicmez’s impressive composing skills that were responsible for this famous album. With a gnarly vocal delivery and several commendable guitar riffs, Suicmez made the album a grand success, although he has currently fallen off the tech death radar.
5. Beyond Creation – ‘The Aura’
The album that brought Canadian group Beyond Creation to fame, ‘The Aura’ is a tech death masterpiece, with six-string fretless bass wizard Dominic Lapointe the hero of the band’s sound. Heavily-textured seven-string and eight-string guitar play with each other, while the bass pops up with a unique voice of its own. Tasty drumming, overflowing with variation and creativity, is another plus point. The popular “Omnipresent Perception” and the title track “The Aura” are every tech death fan’s bread and butter now.
4. Spawn of Possession – ‘Incurso’
With a Lovecraftian album cover, difficult guitar riffs, and odd-times on ‘Incurso’, Swedish tech death masters Spawn of Possession redefined tech death. The record featured Christian Muenzner on lead guitars, who plays some jaw-dropping solos. The songs “The Evangelist”, “Bodiless Sleeper” and the horror-piano extravaganza “The Apparition” make this album a go-to stop for those newly introduced to tech death, and it steals the number 4 spot on this list simply because it cannot stop producing ‘WTF’ moments.
2. Obscura – ‘Cosmogenesis’
Hannes Grossmann and Christian Muenzner returned to the tech death scene with German band Obscura with ‘Cosmogenesis’. It’s no secret that almost anything these guys play on turns to gold, evidenced by their names showing up in not only this list but in several other ‘best tech death’ lists around the world. Arguably the most spontaneous-sounding album in tech death history, ‘Cosmogenesis’ brought Obscura into the limelight for their Death-inspired progressive metal sound. Jeroen Paul Thesseling’s fretless bass antics are another highlight of the record, and not to mention drummer Hannes Grossmann whose playing feels more natural than any other drummer on this list. “The Anticosmic Overload” is the more popular track from the album, but make sure to listen to “Incarnated”, “Universe Momentum” and “Choir of Spirits” for a masterclass in technical metal.
2. The Faceless – ‘Planetary Duality’
Perhaps the most well-known album on this list, ‘Planetary Duality’ is nothing short of a musical masterpiece, let alone one of the best tech death albums of all time. It ties with Obscura’s ‘Cosmogenesis’ for second spot; you really can’t pick between the two! There is something different about guitarist/composer/backing vocalist Michael Keene that makes The Faceless’ sound extra special. His creative riffs, backed by ex-drummer Lyle Cooper, who is a legend in his own right, immortalised the songs “The Ancient Covenant”, “Xenochrist” and “Legions of the Serpent” in the genre. The grooves on this album are often unreal and things are flying everywhere, yet the band sound controlled and focused.
1.Obscura – ‘Omnivium‘
The only band that can top ‘Cosmogenesis’ is Obscura themselves! Taking the Best Technical Death Metal Album title is ‘Omnivium’, Obscura’s 2011 studio effort. Blending organic-sounding drums, crisp guitar riffs, and an extreme space-like feel to the whole thing, it’s no surprise that ‘Omnivium’ comes away with top honours. Lyrically-based on a book about nature’s connection to the spirit world, the German outfit, which drummer Hannes Grossmann and guitarist Christian Muenzner left later on, is one of the most prominent tech death bands of all time. A lot of this fame is due to this album alone, building on the rawer foundation that ‘Cosmogenesis’ had laid for them. The album opener, “Septuagint”, with its classical guitar intro, sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Vortex Omnivium”, “Celestial Spheres” and “Prismal Dawn” are memorable tracks from the album, cementing Obscura’s place in metal history. Check out the full album stream below!