Here is my personal list of the Top Ten Death Metal Albums of All Time. I repeat: "personal list". I did not even try to be "objective". Thus many of you may disagree. Also, I'm restricting myself to one album per band, so that my list doesn't just consist of Morbid Angel's entire discography (jk).
10. Heartwork - Carcass
The album in which Carcass, formerly a premiere grindcore band, shifted gears into melodic death metal. This may have pissed of grind fans, but it doesn't bother me, since this album kicks the shit out of most of the cheesy Gothenburg stuff. Unbelievably fast and yet strangely catchy guitar riffs hold the album together, most noticably on the title track and the fantastic "This Mortal Coil".
9. Dechristianize - Vital Remains
Mr. David Suzuki, the one-man full-band war-machine, recruited the legendary Glen Benton to sing on this epic slab of Christ-crushing DM. The resulting carnage is quite impressive. Vital Remains shift gears between straight-up brutal death metal and melodeath and don't shy away from really, really long songs, something that makes this a unique DM release. The title track is probably one of the best DM songs ever and "Devoured Elysium" is another personal fave of mine.
8. The Bleeding - Cannibal Corpse
People like to joke about how all Cannibal Corpse albums sound alike, but this is because they're stupid bastards. Actually, there are, in fact, very, very subtle differences between them. The most obvious is the difference between the Chris Barnes era and the George Fisher era. But I digress. This was the last Chris Barnes album and it's probably the best, thanks to slightly better production and more melodic and diversified songwriting. Listen to "Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead", the classic "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled", and concert fave "Fucked With a Knife" (heehee) to see what I mean. Unless of course you think it'll sound exactly the same as every other CC album.
7. Cause of Death - Obituary
Obituary has a special place in my heart because, let's say there was no such music genre as "death metal", and someone came up to me and said, "We want you to create a new type of music called 'death metal'", the band I came up with would probably sound a lot like Obituary: Slow, heavy, ugly, gruesome. On this great little album they come up with some classics within the confines of their unique sound, "Body Bag", "Chopped in Half", the title track, and a cool cover of Celtic Frost's "Circle of the Tyrants". On a final note, even though some people fucking hate him, I think John Tardy is one of the best - and certainly the most original - of all DM vocalists.
6. Zos Kia Cultus: Here and Beyond - Behemoth
Behemoth are one of the greatest bands ever IMO since they have dominated the scene as both a black metal and a death metal band. ZKC is probably their best, most aggressive, and most interesting DM release. Nergal has a penchant for churning out riffs and growling out lyrics in an unbelievably pissed-off fashion, which combined with some interesting samples and Inferno's insane drumming equals a modern classic. Standout tracks: "Modern Iconoclasts", "Blackest ov the Black", "No Sympathy for Fools", and "Heru Ra Ha: Let There Be Might".
5. Leprosy - Death
Ah, Death, the founders of death metal (though Possessed and Slayer deserves some credit also). I haven't heard Scream Bloody Gore, but Leprosy is certainly good enough to be here. It has a very strong thrash influence but is definitely early death metal, as Chuck Schuldiner's pukey vocals were among the most extreme ever recorded at that time. The title track, "Born Dead", "Choke On It", and the all-time classic "Pull The Plug" are mandatory.
4. Pierced From Within - Suffocation
Suffocation are the masters of technical death metal in which there seem to be 18 hidden melodies lurking in every song. Add to that talent the fact that this album contains actual emotion, something that is usually scarce or nonexistant in DM. The title track, "Depths of Depravity", "Torn Into Enthrallment", and "Breeding the Spawn" are standouts.
3. None So Vile - Cryptopsy
Probably the most "fun" of all DM discs. This is due to the incredible energy and enthusiasm the band exudes in every song, not to mention creative songwriting. Lord Worm switches voices, cool riffs are inserted every few seconds, and the drumming is great. Somehow, this album manages not to bore me at all during its entire playtime. And let's hear it for those cool bass solos! Cryptopsy effectively beat Cannibal Corpse at their own game with this release.
2. Deicide - Deicide
Classic, classic album. This is probably the most evil album ever released by a band who was neither black metal nor Slayer. The guitars sound like they're being played underwater, which is a compliment for death metal. And Glen Benton delivers one of the most awe-inspiring vocal performances ever (even though it's partially thanks to the help of some studio effects). Listen to "Sacrificial Suicide", "Dead by Dawn", "Carnage in the Temple of the Damned", and "Mephistopheles" for a healthy injection of pure SATAN.
1. Domination - Morbid Angel
Well, it's my favorite Morbid Angel album, and it fucking destroys. This has gotten the #1 slot on the grounds that any album that includes "Dominate", "Where the Slime Live", "Eyes to See, Ears to Hear", "Dawn of the Angry", and "Caesar's Palace" cannot help but be #1. David Vincent, Trey Azagthoth, Pete Sandoval, and Erik Rutan are all in top form. God, the riffs, the riffs! Respect!
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Every other Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Cannibal Corpse album; The End Complete by Obituary; Satanica and Thelema.6 by Behemoth; Effigy of the Forgotten by Suffocation; Chaosphere by Meshuggah; anything by Krisiun; In Their Darkened Shrines by Nile, and probably a few other things that escape me at the moment.
I'm delaying my upcoming Top Ten Black Metal Albums list because I've got a couple of BM cd's coming in the mail yet, and I want to give them a fair shot to get in on the fun.