Emergence and origins

Jeff Becerra of the group Possessed, who credited the term  “death metal”  in 1983, on their homonymous demo in 1984 16 .

The British band Venom, from Newcastle, crystallizes the musical elements of what will eventually become the thrash metal, death metal and black metal, with their album released in 1981 titled  Welcome to Hell 17 . Their dark sound, blistering, their dark voice and proudly Satanic imagery and macabre prove to be a great inspiration for other groups focusing extreme metal 18 . Another very influential band, Slayer, was formed in 1981. Although primarily focused on thrash metal, Slayer’s music was more violent than that of their colleagues Metallica, Megadeth and Exodus 19. Their speed and instrumental prowess mixed with words whose themes are based on death, violence, war and Satanism allows them to quickly gain notoriety 20 . According to AllMusic, the third album of Slayer  Reign in Blood , has  “inspired the sort death metal in its entirety 21 . “  It had a profound impact in the masters of the genre including Death, Obituary and Morbid Angel 19 .

Possessed, a band formed in San Francisco in 1983, is, according to Allmusic, the group  “set point”  between thrash metal and death metal with their first album released in 1985,  Seven Churches 22 . Influenced by Slayer 23 , the current and former members of the group cite that they were mainly influenced by Venom, Motörhead, and the beginnings of Exodus 24 25 . Although the band only released two studio albums and an EP in their early days, they have been described as “monumental” figures   in the development of death metal, or as the first group of its kind.

At the same time, a second group of influential metal was formed in Florida: Death. Death, originally called Mantas, was formed in 1983 with Chuck Schuldiner, Kam Lee, and Rick Rozz. In 1984, they released their first demo called  Death by Metal . With Schuldiner at the microphone, the band quickly gains a place of first choice on stage 27 . Schuldiner is recognized by Eduardo Rivadavia, editor at Allmusic, as  “the founding father of death metal 28 . “ Death’s debut album,  Scream Bloody Gore , was described by About.com as  ” the evolution of thrash metal at death metal 29  “  and as “The first real death metal album”  by the  San Francisco Chronicle 30 .

Except Possessed and Death, other American death metal pioneers may include Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Deicide, and Post Mortem.


In 1989, some groups managed to sign in labels to popularize the genre, such as Obituary, Morbid Angel and Deicide 33 . These groups of death metal originating in Florida are often credited under the term  “Florida death metal” . Death metal also stretched in Sweden in the late 1980s with groups, now pioneers such as Carnage,  God Macabre , Entombed, Dismember and Unleashed. As an innovation of death metal, new musical sub-genres began to emerge in the 1990s. British band Napalm Death quickly became associated with death metal, in particular, with their album  Harmony Corruption .

Earache Records, Relativity Records and Roadrunner Records became the biggest labels of the genre 34  ; Earache publishes the albums of Carcass, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, and Entombed, and Roadrunner those of Obituary, and Pestilence. In September 1990 Death manager Eric Greif organized one of the first death metal festivals,  Day of Death , in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with 26 bands including Autopsy, Broken Hope  (in) , Hellwitch , Obliveon, Revenant, Viogression, Immolation, Atheist, and Cynic.