10 Best Death-Metal Bands: Yatra's Picks | Revolver

10 Best Death-Metal Bands: Yatra's Picks

Guitarist Dana Helmuth hails the bands he came up on in the '90s — from Death to Dismember
Yatra 2022 press photo 1600x900, Shane Gardner
photograph by Shane Gardner

Until now, Yatra weren't a band that got namedropped in a discussion about death metal. The Maryland trio were sludgy doom purveyors on their first several albums, specializing in songs that lurched and churned with a plodding patience. That's no longer the case. Yatra's upcoming Prosthetic Records debut, Born Into Chaos (out Friday June 10th), is a triumphant metamorphosis into beastly death metal. 

Crucially, it doesn't sound like three newbies tip-toeing their way through the genre's most base level conventions. Between the savory riffs, haggard vocals and limb-crushing dynamics on this record, Yatra demonstrate a fluent understanding of old-school death metal while also adding their own modern flavor. 

To show just how knowledgeable these doom demons-turned-death metal deviants are of the genre they've now adopted, guitarist-vocalist Dana Helmuth tapped into his lifelong love of OSDM and picked his 10 favorite bands in the entire canon. Beyond just naming some of the greats ranging from Death to Dismember, he offered up personal anecdotes about seeing these iconic bands back in the '90s, and how their legacies have been shaped over time.

"I could have listed 50 bands easily, old and new," Helmuth says, "but I feel like this list is a good core group and the roots of many other bands that followed."

See all of his picks below and pre-order Yatra's Born Into Chaos here.

Bolt Thrower

An incredible and very important band that has influenced many newer bands, including us. Their style is very easily recognized in a shuffle mix, which goes for their entire discography. They definitely make you feel like you're marching off to battle on the front line to fearlessly fight enemy tanks with assault rifles! 

Cannibal Corpse

I think they probably define what an outsider thinks of as death metal. From the sound to the artwork, to the sick live show through their entire career and through all the members. Arguably the most important death metal band as far as carrying the torch through the years when death metal shows would have only like 20 people at them, and promoters weren't really pushing the shows. I've seen them with Barnes many times, and also with Corpsegrinder. Always sick!


There are so many elements to Death, and so much sonic diversity throughout the history of the band. Many bands tend to sound the same from one album to another, but that's definitely not the case with Death. Even their first album, Scream Bloody Gore, in my opinion hasn't really been touched in terms of its energy as a death metal record. The same could also be said for its thrash and punk elements as well. I was fortunate to see Death a few times at a young age and can still remember Chuck's stage presence and intensity. 


I remember being at a party in the early '90s and hearing about someone in a Florida band burning a cross on their forehead, and I immediately had to hear that guy's band. I think my friend Tim Brodowski had a cassette of Deicide and I remember when I finally heard it, and I thought it was as good as I hoped it would be. Very identifiable vocal sound.


One of my favorite bands from Sweden. "Override of the Overture," for example, is just an iconic song with a killer melody hook. If you've never seen the Dismember movie you have to check it out, it's hilarious! They always seem to be having fun and just crushing it. Incredible band.


Even the early Nihilist pre-Entombed stuff blows away most of the stuff coming out these days, and then it just got better. Left Hand Path is such an important record and could be used to exemplify the HM2 sound and Swedish death metal in general, which is a huge influence on a lot of guitar tones throughout death metal.


Into The Grave and You'll Never See are two of my favorite albums and are very influential to me in songwriting and style. I think maybe Grave is my favorite Swedish band, and I like their darker feel. Seeing them live in '91 was a big influence for me and I think maybe the first death metal band I saw that wasn't from the U.S. I had moved from a small Maryland beach town to Baltimore city in 1989 to go to art school and my roommate happened to also be a guitar player from Sweden. It was amazing to share our metal stuff and he turned me on to what was going on in Sweden and other parts of Europe, which was awesome.


Incredible guitar riffs! To me they're a perfect blend of nasty riffs and sick beats, with technical stuff that's not forced on you or meant to show off, it's just because they're all so fucking good at what they do. The Millennium album is just a start to finish masterpiece. George's vocals on the first two albums are almost perfect.

Morbid Angel

One of the first death metal bands I saw live, I think '90 or '91. They blew me away and still have such an iconic and untouchable guitar sound. They're a very important band, and one that made death metal continue on through points in the 90s and 2000s when death metal was not very hip or popular.


Another very important band, and one that kind of laid down a big part of the foundation of the image of death metal. Their sound is easily identifiable from album to album. Very meat and potatoes, not a lot of fancy, unnecessary, frills and stuff — just sick riffs and cool grooves with a very identifiable and iconic vocal style. I have seen them countless times and they are always great.