The 10 best death metal albums of 2023

Death metal albums
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Between deathcore, melodic death metal and the dozens of other subgenres you might care to name heading right back to the source, death metal has seldom been healthier than it has over the past few years. 

Whether it's old school heroes Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Obituary releasing fantastic new records, bands like In Flames re-discovering their melodeath roots or the new school of death metal bands clawing their way to prominence with Crypta, Tomb Mold, Frozen Soul and so many more, 2023 has been a great year to be a fan of all things extreme. 

That in mind, we've assembled ten records that represent the best that death metal had to offer in 2023, trying to cast the net as wide as possible to include as many individual schools as we could. Can't see your favourite? Check out the Metal Hammer reader's poll for the 50 best metal albums of 2023. 

Metal Hammer line break

Burner – It All Returns To Nothing

On their debut album, Burner instantly announced themselves as rising stars in the stacked UK metal scene. It All Returns To Nothing routinely crashed the muscular riffs of death metal into hardcore’s scurrying drums and seismic breaks, but it’s the songs that barged even further that felt truly special. When Burner also integrated black metal, post-metal and powerviolence into their unyielding onslaught, they became one of the nastiest bands on the entire planet. MATT MILLS

Cannibal Corpse – Chaos Horrific

Another year, another brilliantly brutal Cannibal Corpse album. Sixteen albums in and the magic still hasn't faded on Chaos Horrific, it's insistent viciousness setting the nerves on edge and making you want to gnash your way through your own cheeks. Like the old saying goes - if it ain't broke... RICH HOBSON

Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite

With each new release Cattle Decapitation have found new ways to stun and disorient with vicious barrages of extremity. At the same time, the band's message - often tied to environmental and animal rights concerns - becomes all the more important, making Terrasite the perfect showcase for just how vital Cattle Decap are in 2023, preaching a very real vision of man-made disaster amidst some of their most impressively inventive songs to date. RICH HOBSON

Crypta – Shades Of Sorrow

Crypta have been personally endorsed by Morbid Angel’s Trey Azagthoth, so you know they’re fucking good without even hearing a note. This year’s Shades Of Sorrow only reaffirmed that the Brazilians deserve such support, slamming old-school death metal into black metal, thrash and melodeath without ever hitting the brakes. With the likes of Stronghold and The Other Side Of Anger being slyly catchy as well as ferocious, Crypta’s rise will only accelerate. MATT MILLS

Frozen Soul – Glacial Domination

With their 2021 debut, Frozen Soul set out a stall of classic 90s death metal in the vein of Obituary and Morbid Angel with a frost fixation. Glacial Domination takes that same blueprint and finds ways to make it fresher and more exciting than ever, refining their songwriting to produce some genuine growl-along anthems in the likes of Morbid Effigy, Abominable and Assimilator. RICH HOBSON

In Flames – Foregone

In Flames might have helped popularise Gothenburg's melodeath scene in the early 2000s, but for the past decade the band had moved decidedly away from their roots. Foregone is an enormous return to form for the band, taking their experience and knowledge from playing massive venues and applying it to the explosive, dramatic riffing that made them so vital at the turn of the millennium. RICH HOBSON

Obituary – Dying Of Everything

Obituary continued to be Obituary on their 11th album. However, they’re the only band truly capable of pulling that off, so it was more than fine. In fact – with standouts like War and The Wrong Time being unified by their disdain for humanity’s recent, bloodthirsty ways – the Florida titans sounded more purposeful than they’ve been in ages. Such vigour makes it astonishing that 2024 will mark their 40th year as a band. MATT MILLS

Orbit Culture – Descent

Now a decade into their career, Orbit Culture are truly hitting their stride. Their brand of melodeath has always embraced the genre's maximalist tendencies with an ear for the kind of choruses that deserve to be belted out in an arena setting.  Descent delivers them by the boatload, striking the balance between seething intensity and breakout, triumphant moments that feel like they could have come from trad metal's glory years. RICH HOBSON

Plaguemace – Reptilian Warlords

Channelling the buzzsaw riffs of Entombed via the medium of gleeful caveman brutality, Danish newcomers Plaguemace embody the no-frills bludgeoning of classic death metal. But beneath their brutish growls and stomps lies a concept about, well, Reptilian Overlords, the band making no secret of how much fun they're having making utterly brutal music. Set to tour in early 2024 with Crypta and Nakkeknaekker - another incredible DM newcomer band - these are well worth keeping an eye on. RICH HOBSON

Tomb Mold – The Enduring Spirit

On their fourth album, Canadian innovators Tomb Mold fully settled into their distinct soundscape, delivering blunt-force death metal with technical precision and slurries of psychedelia. The Perfect Memory (Phantasm Of Aura) and 11-minute behemoth The Enduring Spirit Of Calamity struck with some of the most lethal riffs of the year, toeing the line between melody and aggression so perfectly that you barely notice… because you’re too busy moshing like a wild thing. MATT MILLS

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token. 

With contributions from