5) Morbid Angel - Covenant (1993)
I know a lot of people cite 'Altars of Madness' as the "be all end all" Morbid Angel album, but for me the band truly reached the pinnacle of their abilities with 1993's Covenant. Though the band has always had a firm grasp on creating evil sounds, I felt that they really knocked it out of the park with this album. The sound was a bit more murky and cavernous what with their newfound low end and there was a larger emphasis on slower, gloomier sounding riffs. Make no mistake though, the whirlwind rhythmic onslaught that made them such a force to be reckoned with in the first place was still present in songs such as 'Rapture' and 'Blood on My Hands', yet it was the doomier tracks like 'God of Emptiness' and 'World of Shit' that had me entranced and obsessed.
4) Disciples of Mockery - Prelude to Apocalypse (1999)
Featuring 3/4's of Incantation's 'Onward to Golgotha' line-up, DOM's blasphemous debut features everything from grinding death metal to slow and decrepit doom to even a more "blackened" sounding tremolo assault. The vocals of Craig Pillard are a bit different here than anything he's done with Incantation or Disma, for that matter, yet they sound just as menacing and evil. It's too bad that DOM didn't remain active as they would have easily given Incantation a run for their money as evidenced on 'Prelude to Apocalypse'. Hell, I prefer this album to anything Incantation has released since Craig's departure, so there!
3) Coffin Texts - Gods of Creation, Death & Afterlife (2000)
This album really blew me away upon its release way back in 2000. From the band name to the album cover and song titles, I guess I was expecting some bootleg Nile rip-off. By the time the first song finished I knew that this was going to be one of my all time favorite albums.
Coffin Texts sound like a cross between early Incantation and early Bolt Thrower with a healthy dash of Immolation thrown into the mix. The vocals are a bit "witchier" sounding than the aforementioned bands, which brings to mind the German old guard of bands such as Kreator and Sodom.
2) Incantation - Mortal Throne of Nazarene (1994)
Choosing between 'Onward to Golgotha' and this, is no easy decision to make by any stretch, but ultimately I have to give 'Mortal Throne' the edge as it takes everything from the first album and improves upon it. The band sounds that much more mature and enlightened this time around, yet without sacrificing any of the gloomy aesthetics found on their debut.
1) Immolation - Dawn of Possession (1991)
And here it is...
By far the most haunting and sinister sounding death metal album ever! There is something rhythmically serpentine about this album, from beginning to end. The mastery over feeling and atmosphere is rather uncanny when you consider that this was the band's first "professional" outing as well as the fact that they really haven't sounded this sinister since. Everything about this album is top shelf, from the absolutely brilliant production, courtesy of Harris Johns, to the masterful use of tremolo picking, harmonics, string bends and other assorted spells. This is the pinnacle achievement of the band, and although I wouldn't say that it's been downhill since, they certainly haven't been able to get any higher than this.