There's no denying it: Death-metal's having a bit of a moment right now. The extreme-metal subgenre has never died or truly faded since its inception in the late Eighties, but there've definitely been points throughout its history where the landscape has felt a bit stagnant.
If you thought the mid-2010s was one of those down periods, then that time has long passed. So far, the 2020s have seen a huge influx of exciting up-and-comers like Frozen Soul, Sanguisugabogg and 200 Stab Wounds who are making music that's true to death metal's nasty, gory, riff-centric roots, but also styled in a way that feels in-touch with today's young headbangers.
With so much great energy coming out of the scene right now — from new and old bands alike — we asked our readers to pick the single best death-metal band of the moment. Amazingly, the vote tallies were closer and more wide-ranging than we even expected, so we bumped our usual top five up to a top six for this particular poll.
After all, a genre packed with beastly devil-worshippers requires a proper sextet. See the top vote-getters ranked accordingly below.
Yes, they sound as intimidating as their name is to pronounce. Hailing from Ohio, Sanguisugabogg are a bunch of acid-munching Adult Swim nerds who got the actual Sgt. Kabukiman in a music video, and write delightfully gory death-metal dispatches with titles like "Face Ripped Off" and "Dead As Shit." They're not afraid to own their goofy, low-brow sense of humor, injecting a youthful vitality into the self-serious death-metal scene that feels genuinely refreshing. Plus, they're heavy as fuck.
There's a lot of great death-metal coming out of Texas right now — Creeping Death, Tribal Gaze, I Am, to name a few — but it's hard to deny that Frozen Soul are the current leaders of the Lone Star pack. Their frigidly heavy new album, Glacial Domination, was produced by Trivium's Matt Heafy, and features a wicked guest spot from Dying Fetus' John Gallagher. The Bolt Thrower vibes are strong with Frozen Soul, but their riffs are imbued with an unmistakable Texas swagger. Icepicks up!
Everyone loves 200 Stab Wounds. Death-metal purists, hardcore kids and even Metallica(!), who tapped them for the support package of their upcoming Texas shows. The Ohio bloodbathers released their monstrous debut, Slave to the Scalpel, in 2021, but it's the pair of singles they've released since — last year's "Masters of Morbidity" and this year's "Fatal Reality" — that solidified the immense promise of their trajectory. This band is only getting better, and they're only getting started.
In many ways, Gatecreeper were the godfathers of this new wave of American death metal that's exploding among younger fans of the genre (the aforementioned bands are all a part of it). The Arizona wrecking crew have been delivering supreme death-metal missives since 2016's Sonoran Depravation, their most recent being the 2021 grindcore pivot, An Unexpected Reality. Their sound is built upon huge, sturdy grooves and battle-axe-throwing riffage that owns in the live environment. Clearly, our readers agree.
Cattle Decapitation have been going strong for over two decades, but it seems like the violent vegans are more popular than ever. Our readers just ranked them among the most brutal bands of all time, and now they earned the similarly coveted No. 2 spot in this poll — and for good reason. Since their early 2000s classics like To Serve Man and Humanure, the group have only gotten more extreme and unique doling out late-career highlights like 2012's Monolith of Inhumanity and this year's Terrasite. Congrats, boys.
Cannibal Corpse's run of early Nineties albums make up a crucial chunk of death metal's history, but what's arguably more impressive is how relevant they still are today. Despite going through the kind of seismic frontman swap that would've killed an inferior act's momentum, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher has continually proven himself to be one of the genre's best and most charismatic bellowers.
Their release schedule is machine-like (they're about to drop album No. 16, Chaos Horrific), they've never released a bad one and they tour like maniacs. They're one of the hardest working bands in the game, their sound has never gotten a drop less brutal, and their coolness factor has never waned.
Over 30 years after they formed, Cannibal Corpse aren't just running on fumes — our readers think they're the best death-metal band still going. It's hard to disagree.