Deadliest Cuts: The Top Five Death Songs

The latest remastering of Death’s back catalog, 1993’s Individual Thought Patterns, comes out today. In celebration, here are the top five songs by the legendary death metallers, according to our technology editor and the managing editor of our sister publication Guitar World, Jeff Kitts.

“Zombie Ritual”
Album: Scream Bloody Gore
An early demo track given new life on the band’s groundbreaking debut album.
Sample lyric: “Vomit for a mind, maggots for a cock/With his ax the corpse will chop.”

“Torn to Pieces”
Album: Scream Bloody Gore
Tracks like this hinted at Chuck Schuldiner’s penchant for melodic brutality.
Sample lyric: “Pray if you want/Pathetic rancid cunt/Face reality/Death your final plea.”

“Pull the Plug”
Album: Leprosy
The group’s defining moment in the days before it morphed into a prog/death-metal terror.
Sample lyric: “End it now, it is the only way/Too cruel, that is what they say.”

“Spiritual Healing”
Album: Spiritual Healing
A sprawling thrashterpiece buried beneath a mudslide of bad production.
Sample lyric: “Blinded by the twisted ways you live/Kill for religion, will the Lord forgive?”

“The Philosopher”
Album: Individual Thought Patterns
Precision riffing and jazzy bass work—uncommon elements in the death metal of its day.
Sample lyric: “Where is the invisible line that we must draw to create individual thought patterns?”


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  • Metalxythe

    whoa.. wheres Perennial Quest ?
    infact .. there are no songs from Symbolic and The sound of perseverance ! How come ?

  • Eville_dead

    my favorite is    beyond the unholy grave

  • devin townsend’s lost skullet

    no Suicide Machine, Crystal Mountain, Spirit Crusher, Perennial Quest, Misanthrope? o_O

  • Asd

    erm…. no.

  • Danny Canlas

    Altering The Future……..

  • Gutteral

    Chuck,like Dimebag( in there respected genre’s) are sorely missed.

    • Metal Dawg

      Have tribute tattoos to both of them

  • Dustin Dc Cowles

    were is trapped in a corner 

    • Philcore

      I agree, best song from individual and an amazing lead guitar solo.

  • Tappleton23

    Spirit Crusher is not here?

  • Poster Toaster

    Crystal Mountain?

  • jackthestripper

    Suicide Machine

  • Pszczolek

    This list definitely lacks some song from Human (Suicide Machine or Lack of Comprehension).

  • Metal Dawg

    In no particular order: Living Monstrosity/Zombie Ritual/Voice Of The Soul/Crystal Mountain/Spirit Crusher

  • Kathi Murray

    My favorite Death song is “Lack of Comprehension”!

  • Chris Sanders

    I actually totally agree with the magazine’s picks… Baptized In Blood deserves an honorable mention

    People wondering where the prog Death songs are on this list… well I guess if that’s how you were introduced to Death that’s fine, but musically superior is second to the impact that SBG and Leprosy songs had, IMO. The overall sound is astonishingly brutal and has very few equals in terms of bone-chilling, even today. I think its great that Chuck went off on a technical/compositional tangent with metal, but to me it just doesn’t have the same quality of doom that the early songs did.

  • Hecatombmi

    In Human Form, Flattening of Emotions, 1,000 Eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old stuff too, but Chuck really stepped up his game with Human, and never looked back after that.

  • Jon

    No human songs? That is the masterwork in my little bit of the Death universe. As posted below, don’t get me wrong, these songs are also defining moments… But human stepped it up a gear.

  • Eric Greif, Esq.

    “…beneath a mudslide of bad production”?  I hope that was referring to the live sound production from the gig clip you’ve used and not the album itself. Jeff!  😉 ERIC GREIF (lawyer for Chuck’s Estate & former manager of DEATH)

    • Christopher ScorpioMaster LeCa

      i agree with Eric.i followed Death from the first album,and when Spiritual Healing came out,i thought it was their best production to date.its the main one im waiting for Eric, to get the full remastered treatment that you are doing now.cant wait for a 3cd version of that cd.

    • Unvanquishablefalcon

      Jason, I’m curious what you find muddy about _Spiritual Healing_? I found it to be a refreshingly crystal clear recording when it was released in ’90, and I still think it holds up remarkably well. All the instruments are superbly separated. Scott Burns really raised the bar for tidy and concise recordings on the uber heavy side of the metal spectrum with that record. -Perry Grayson (former _Metal Maniacs_ staff writer & guitarist of Destiny’s End, Artisan, Isen Torr and Falcon)

  • G-man

    Shoot… Living Monstrosity, Lack Of Comprehension, Symbolic…etc

  • Thenelo

    Morons posted the lyrics from a totally different song for The Philosopher… And there are wayyyy better Death songs.

  • Rob

    seen evil chuck in 1990 at a club in brooklyn called la,mours spiritual healing tour obituary opened for them what a killer show

  • Eatmyass

    So why isn’t spirit Crusher number 1?

  • Dawid Sipowicz

    Leprosy, Crystal Mountain, Empty Words, Pull the Plug, The Philosopher

  • Saeid Ghadiany


  • Jackreily1

    better one: Morte et Dabo by Asking Alexandria
    sample lyric: Bitch, i’ll fucking find you, tear your eyes out of your self-richous face… Lord, i’ll fucking find you, rip your tounge out of your putrid fucking mouth” *Demonic screaming played backwards*