All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 9, 2019
30 years ago, in 1989, some of the most iconic metal albums that played an important role shaping the metal scene and how the extreme metal scene was evolving saw the light of day. This dirty bunch included such groundbreaking albums as Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel, Slowly We Rot by Obituary, Consvming Impvlse by Pestilence, Beneath the Remains by Sepultura, Extreme Aggression by Kreator, and many others.
Perhaps 1989 isn't remembered as a year of "cult," "classic" or "trendsetting" metal albums, but damn, it cannot be denied that many great and ass-kicking releases happened during that magical year.
We here at the headquarters of The Metal Crypt wanted to look back in time at what albums were released in 1989. The stifling, dark air of this graveyard is full of a sweet stench, so we know we are in the right place.
A number of notorious gravediggers spoke to The Metal Crypt about the year 1989 and its nostalgic metal treasures, including how and why they felt that particular year was so special.
Thanks to the following individuals for participating in this tribute: Roy Fox (Necroharmoinic Productions), Jukka Kolehmainen (Abhorrence), Phil Fasciana (Malevolent Creation), Chris Reifert (Autopsy), Fredde Kaddeth (Massive Assault), Gus Rios (Gruesome, Create A Kill), Alain Clément (No Return), Markus Makkonen (Sadistik Forest), Michael Dormann (Anasarca), Murillo Leite (Genocidio), Chuck Keller (Ares Kingdom), Rob Lizarraga (Infinitum Obscure) and Castor (Torture Squad)
Luxi: How did you remember 1989 in terms of that year's metal albums? Did you remember 1989 as an exceptionally good year for metal?
Roy Fox (NECROHARMONIC PRODUCTIONS): I am first amazed it is 30 years now. 1989 was a very fresh and exciting time for the now "classic" albums mentioned in your intro. Being still in high school, finding more obscene and profane releases that dealt with subject matter of Necronomicon worship (Morbid Angel), or the dark eerie tones and vocals of Obituary and deathly subject matter was quite a change from the metal we had been listening to (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Ozzy stuff). You felt a kindred spirit with the bands who played these albums compared to the old guard of Iron Maiden who seemed too far away with huge stage shows; massive drum risers and props like burning fire lanterns, prop monsters or something. A Morbid Angel show felt more like a ritual of real evil with people who could be your friends or close metal bangers. The fanzine system seemed to expand as well as the underground networking of letters, club gigs and real 'fandom'. An arena show of Maiden seemed too sanitary.
Jukka Kolehmainen (ABHORRENCE): The late '80s, in general, were great for metal and the last three years of the decade were probably the biggest for me, as far as money spent on metal goes. Looking back, I'd gone on a grind/death metal rampage the year before and started to get back to other types of music as well, widening my interests by few degrees.
At the end of the year, we started Abhorrence, so I can't say my interest in extreme music faded.
Phil Fasciana (MALEVOLENT CREATION): 1989 was probably the best year for death metal and extreme metal in my opinion. When Malevolent Creation moved to Florida in 1987, we were introduced to some amazing bands from Florida that we did not know much about or nothing at all. In 1988, I remember seeing Death, Morbid Angel, Nocturnus, Atheist, Amon (Deicide), Nasty Savage, Hellwitch, Obituary, Brutality, and a few more bands that all blew my mind and we eventually started playing shows with those bands and becoming friends and arranging shows with them in South Florida where we were based because they were all from Central Florida like Tampa and Orlando. Seeing those bands live and meeting them and playing shows with these bands really helped us with getting in touch with Scott Burns and Morrisound Studios and before you knew it we were recording our third demo with Scott Burns and getting a record deal—and immediately recording our first album in 1990. All those bands I mentioned above and a few I forgot, really helped us get into the Florida Metal scene and I am very grateful for that. A lot of great bands were here in Florida and we didn't even know except for Death and Morbid Angel.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I'd say it was a solid year for cool metal releases. I don't know if it was better than the years before or after it, but it was still a good one. Nice way to start the answers as a cynical old fuck, eh? Haha!
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): Yes, you mentioned Sepultura and they caught my attention in the year 1989. The other metal/rock bands that won my interest in that year were Prong— Force Fed, Mötley Crüe— Dr. Feelgood, W.A.S.P. — The Headless Children, Faith No More— The Real Thing, Godflesh— Streetcleaner, D.R.I. — Thrash Zone. In 1989, I bought these albums or put them on tape. I played Godflesh's Streetcleaner on vinyl with 45 rpm. It sounded better that way, hehe!
Gus Rios (GRUESOME, CREATE A KILL): By 1989 I was already 100% into the more extreme metal. With albums like Leprosy and South of Heaven coming out in '88, the gates (of hell) had blown open and that paved the way for albums like Altars of Madness, Slowly We Rot and Consvming Impvlse to make their mark on history! That was such an exciting time in metal because the boundaries were being pushed with every subsequent release! In 1988 Leprosy cemented what was DEATH FUCKING METAL, and 1989 saw the genre really start to come into its own. There were still elements of thrash to be found, but the line in the sand had been drawn... 1989 said, "THIS IS DEATH METAL MOTHERFUCKERS, NOT THRASH!"
Alain Clément (NO RETURN): 1989 was a very important year for me because it was the birth of No Return. Furthermore, some of the best metal albums were released that year, especially Beneath the Remains by Sepultura and Alice in Hell by Annihilator. So I think 1989 was definitely a very good year for metal.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): 1989 was very metal YEAR if anything. There was a lot going on. Bands were very devoted to their underground ethics and did not even dream of getting big, as it must have felt quite a distant thing back then. After all, people of today probably cannot imagine how obscure and unheard of that music was back in the day. Those bands were relentless and most of all, such an extreme listening experience. And still are today. It was almost a kind of an anti-80's year in a sense, as it did not have any of the fancy productions or mainstream stadium rock features of the big hair bands of the 1980s. The decade was almost done with and a new one was dawning. Besides, there were new bands coming out of the woodwork, too. Not just the old veterans like Sabbath and Purple, but a whole new generation. Productions became dry again and that to me always equals metal.
I guess we can say that 1989 was very much an underground metal year. Even when I got into extreme metal a couple of years later, all those albums that had come out in 1989 sounded to me extremely sick, unapologetic and metal through and through. Scary almost. There was a real element of danger in them. Those records had not reached the more sophisticated levels of later Death and Atheist albums for example, or what Cynic and British doom death bands brought to the table. It was just morose, killer metal and noise. Barely listenable... haha!! Shit, I had to listen to the copied tape of Symphonies of Sickness with headphones alone, as my parents would have thought their kid needs mental help or something if they had heard it from the stereos!! It was definitely underground metal 100% and very few things today can be said to have the same effect.
There were a couple of timeless metal records out that year, definitely. Slowly We Rot from Obituary felt to me like a slower and real heavy version of Slayer and tha aforementioned Symphonies of Sickness from Carcass was something of a shock even, when I heard it for the first time. So heavy and dangerous!! Thrash metal had still some bullets left as Annihilator released their first album and Sepultura unleashed their mighty Beneath the Remains. Of the older bands, I'd probably pick up Headless Cross by Black Sabbath, which is one of my all-time favourite albums and Conspiracy from King Diamond. His best work, if you ask me. So yeah... quite a lot of timeless goodies in one year alone as these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): It definitely was a killer year for metal! Just look at the bands that put out quality albums in 1989: Benediction, Cathedral, Dark Tranquillity, Dissection, Edge of Sanity (they were one of our main influences), Fear Factory, Gorefest, Gorguts, Immortal, Incantation, Iniquity, Mortician, Necrophobic, Reverend, Sentenced, Unleashed, Vital Remains and Vomitory.
And I really like the following, which were all released in 1989: Piece of Time (by Atheist), Severed Survival (by Autopsy), Realm of Chaos—Slaves to Darkness (by Bolt Thrower), Symphonies of Sickness (by Carcass), Leave Scars (by Dark Angel), Live Without Sense (by Destruction), Thrash Zone (by D.R.I.), Annihilation of Civilization (by Evildead), Fabulous Disaster (by Exodus), Streetcleaner (by Godflesh), The New Machine of Lichtenstein (by Holy Moses), Extreme Aggression (by Kreator), Gloom (by Macabre), Altars of Madness (by Morbid Angel), Resurrection Absurd EP (by Morgoth), Cruel Tranquility (by Napalm), Handle with Care (by Nuclear Assault), Slowly We Rot (by Obituary), The Years of Decay (by Overkill), Consvming Impvlse (by Pestilence), Horrified (by Repulsion), Reverend EP (by Reverend), Freaks EP (by Rigor Mortis), Alive at the Dynamo EP (by Sacred Reich), Rotting EP (by Sarcófago), Beneath the Remains (by Sepultura), Agent Orange (by Sodom), No Anaesthesia! (by Stone), World Downfall (by Terrorizer), Biermacht (by Wehrmacht), etc.
Some great and leading stuff there, of course—and especially the albums from Morbid Angel, Sepultura, Obituary, and Pestilence in that year I have to mention.
Murillo Leite (GENOCÍDIO): 1989 was a fantastic year for metal! Especially here in Brazil once Sepultura released Beneath the Remains, people around the globe were having an attentive eye on us! Other bands as Viper, Sarcófago, Genocídio, and many others were also releasing remarkable stuff that year.
Chuck Keller (ARES KINGDOM): For me in 1989, thrash metal had already been decaying for a couple of years. Practically all the standard bearers of thrash and death metal had moderated their sound, changed styles, or morphed into a tangle of overwrought technical or impotent chugga-chugga riffs.
When the first wave of Earache releases began appearing in shops here in late summer, the hyper-aggressive sounds of bands like Morbid Angel made it feel like a revolution was underway and that a curtain had finally been drawn on metal's old school. It had been almost 20 years since Black Sabbath had unleashed their genre-defining album, after all...
Now, that's not to say this new wave did all things better than the old school at its peak, no way—not even close! Old school thrash and death metal bands like Venom, Bathory, Voivod, Sodom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Dark Angel, Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, Possessed, Kreator, Necrodeath, Razor, NME, Onslaught, Mercyful Fate, Destruction, Coroner, etc., remained pantheon bands throughout, with some having returned in the nineties and noughties with brilliant albums. And let's not forget the legion of deeper underground bands that have withstood the test of time—some even having found their own renaissance since those days.
For me, the 1989 revolution was a desperately needed reset moment for metaldom. Tragically, it didn't take long for most of the new school standard bearers to devolve into feckless and boring noodlers, but that brief, shining moment in 1989 was the right thing at the right time.
As far as some tours of those days were concerned, I remember the "Clash of the Titans" tour but it happened two years later, in 1990–1991. By that time I was utterly disinterested in all those bands and did not see any shows. I've always despised grunge, so the Alice in Chains inclusion on the US version of the tour was just further evidence that part of metal was utterly dead.
Rob Lizarraga (INFINITUM OBSCURE): 1989 was actually special for me, I was 11 and I was discovering a lot of music during those days. I had begun to attend guitar lessons just a few months earlier, and the reason that I wanted to play guitar was to play death metal. Although at that time I was barely getting into death metal, I was mostly listening to hard rock and classic heavy metal from that era, but those were my formative years as a fan of music and as a musician, so 1989 was definitely important.
Castor (TORTURE SQUAD): That was an incredible year. I was 14-years-old and was getting into thrash and death metal bands. The first death metal album that I bought back then was Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness. That album blew me away!
Luxi: Thrash metal had already started dying at the end of 1989, while death metal, as a new sub-genre of heavy metal, had really started blooming in almost every corner of the world. Did you jump straight from this thrash metal wave to the death metal wave of that time, or was your own transition from this relentless thrash metal maniac to a death metal head more moderate (if it ever even happened to you in the first place at all)?
Roy Fox (NECROHARMONIC PRODUCTIONS): I would say personally the dying breath of Slayer's South of Heaven and Anthrax's Among the Living were really the last good things thrash was producing as a genre. Not only was death metal becoming the dominating genre now, but also grindcore (Napalm Death's albums finally barely touching our country with no USA Earache distribution in 1989) and even hardcore/crossover music of D.R.I., Carnivore, Cro Mags or something—and other metal bands who played unique sounds eclipsed the entire thrash metal scene in some ways for a US fan. Although Kreator made amazing albums like Pleasure to Kill, the demos of Vio-lence, Forbidden still ringing out of our ears, the same bands dropped the ball as time went on. I can 101 percent say I migrated to death metal demos, other 1989 classics like Altars...—and the Autopsy albums. Thrash in 1989 might have meant Sadus or Merciless (Swe), but not Slayer or Megadeth. I am not completely downplaying the thrash band records they did, but who didn't have a heart attack when they waited for the arrival of Cold Lake, only wanting to throw the album into one!
Jukka Kolehmainen (ABHORRENCE): I had already gotten into grind and death metal I think. A group of friends was deep into tape trading, so we plowed through a lot of demos. I'm not certain if this was in '88 or early '89, but I remember listening to dubbed tapes with Nihilist, Autopsy, etc. on them. I never really went all-in to one or the other, to me good music has always been just that, no matter the genre.
Phil Fasciana (MALEVOLENT CREATION): Malevolent Creation was definitely a more extreme thrash band than Slayer, Dark Angel, Kreator, Destruction, etc. But after hearing and seeing a lot of the Florida bands, it definitely made me want to play even more extreme. We never knew there were so many brutal bands in Florida back when we moved to Fort Lauderdale from Buffalo, NY in 1987 and we were just lucky to have made that move to Florida and be part of this amazing explosion of great extreme bands.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I always gravitated towards the heaviest stuff I could find, going back to when I was a kid. As soon as I heard death metal I was instantly intrigued, though I still liked plenty of other stuff consisting of varying degrees of speed and/or heaviness. For me, transitionally speaking, I went from looking for the rocking-est rock to the heaviest metal as time rolled forward. It was an easy leap from KISS, to Iron Maiden, to Venom, to Possessed and onward. None of that matters anymore, though. I like records that I like no matter when they came out.
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): In that particular year I felt more for thrash, heavy metal and crossover metal, but I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the production and tightness of Sepultura's Beneath the Remains.
Gus Rios (GRUESOME, CREATE A KILL): I got Reign in Blood in early 1987 and that album changed my life, period! I then searched for anything that was as extreme as that, bands like Kreator and Dark Angel were pushing the speedometer and killing it! It was those albums that prepared me for when I heard Scream Bloody Gore, which I immediately loved! Then in '88 Leprosy came out and by then I knew that this more extreme version of thrash with the guttural demonic vocals, lower-tuned guitars, more prevalent use of double kick drums, and lyrics about all things death and gore was my SHIT! For me, the transition from thrash to death metal was very seamless and easy. That said, I still loved thrash too! Leave Scars from Dark Angel is STILL one of my all time favorite albums!
Alain Clément (NO RETURN): The second album of No Return sounds more death metal than the first one especially for the vocals. This evolution was done gradually and we wanted to add more aggressiveness while keeping our thrash side.
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): We always listened to the most extreme stuff I suppose. Of course, as there were not so many bands that time, we, of course, were into bands like Destruction, D.R.I., Kreator, Sodom, Tankard, and stuff. But as I listened to Scream Bloody Gore in 1987 for the first time, I was just, you know, blown away!! This kind of riffing was so awesome that I was a Death fan from the first second of spinning the album. That Death hype ended for me with Spiritual Healing, as everything after that Death record was too technical for my ears.
But yes, ever since those old school death metal bands surfaced, I started to adore this kind of more brutal style—all the way up to this very day!
Murillo Leite (GENOCÍDIO): I agree with this transition, it really happened that year. 1989 was very profitable for death metal releases, lots of bands appeared and released impressive albums while thrash metal started to decline from a creativity point of view.
Rob Lizarraga (INFINITUM OBSCURE): As I mentioned earlier, I was mostly into hard rock, classic metal and also the '80s new wave and stuff like that, because that's what my sister used to listen to at home when I was a kiddo. But definitely Altars of Madness was one of the gateway albums, as well as Beneath the Remains and Extreme Aggression for sure, and I would definitely add ...And justice for All, South of Heaven and Release from Agony (although those were from '88 and '87).
Castor (TORTURE SQUAD): Before I got into death metal, I was listening to bands like Slayer, Testament, Kreator, Coroner, Overkill, Exodus, Metallica, Anthrax, Sepultura, etc. For me, when the first death metal bands appeared, it just led a harder side of metal music to another level, more technical and brutal I would say.
Luxi: What was the single, most important metal album for you personally that was released in the year of 1989, and can you also briefly tell us why?
Roy Fox (NECROHARMONIC PRODUCTIONS): Tough one! I strangely want to first say The Grindcrusher compilation was one of the most breakthrough things touching us USA metalheads, and hearing the sounds, not only of Morbid Angel but also hearing Carcass was a huge thing, as well as Napalm Death, Sore Throat, Godflesh, etc. Obituary's album was a very big piece for us moshers back then! In terms of full-length albums, I felt that made a huge impact along with Death's Leprosy still lingering and the mighty Autopsy bleeding from our earholes in a USA band playing on a non-USA label, which wasn't easy to find!
Jukka Kolehmainen (ABHORRENCE): To me, it was Bolt Thrower's Realm of Chaos, hands down. The plodding heaviness, which later paved the way for my doom metal enthusiasm, was the main thing. They made me realize that it's not just about how fast you go, it's how you get there. Bolt Thrower was probably the main culprit for dropping my speed/thrash listening to almost non-existent for several years. It might be THE most influential album of all time for me really. Right behind would be Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness, Obituary's Slowly We Rot, Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness, Funebre's Cranial Torment demo, Xysma's Swarming of the Maggots demo and probably all Nihilist/Entombed stuff I had accumulated by the end of the year.
Phil Fasciana (MALEVOLENT CREATION): There were a few great albums released in 1989 like Sepultura, Obituary, Atheist, Death, etc. but I would have to say Morbid Angel impressed me the most because of how fast and tight they were. Altars of Madness is definitely a Florida classic and to this day still is. Let's not forget Napalm Death's Harmony Corruption because that album was fucking amazing as well. I still love Napalm Death and always buy their albums when a new one is released. Great band and great guys!!
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): For me, it would be Severed Survival, simply because it was the first album I played on where it was a band that I actually had a hand in forming. So that was a huge moment for me and I still remember going to the post office and picking up the box of our personal copies. It was really exciting, ya know?
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): That would be Sepultura's Beneath the Remains, this album has no fillers, all tracks kill!
But I must say Godflesh's Streetcleaner on 45 rpm also did it for me at that time.
Gus Rios (GRUESOME, CREATE A KILL): That's a hard question! I think I have to give it to my brothers in Obituary! Slowly We Rot was 100% reeking swampy Floridian death metal! They took what Chuck started and mashed it up with Celtic Frost and found the formula for the HEAVIEST shit on earth! To this day that band is fucking DEADLY live! Those songs from 1989 are STILL punishing audiences around the world and THAT is the true test of greatness! Honorable mention goes to Dark Angel because of the song "Death of Innocence"; the craziest piece of music recorded that entire year!
Alain Clément (NO RETURN): In my opinion, the most important metal album that was released in 1989 is Alice in Hell by Annihilator. It sounds like a perfect mix of heavy and thrash metal and the songwriting is really awesome.
If I had another album to choose, it would be definitely No More Colour by Coroner because of Tommy Vetterli.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): My favourite album from 1989 is World Downfall by Terrorizer. It is actually my favourite grindcore album of all time. It has such unstoppable energy and intensity that the record has not lost its appeal one bit. That album has been such a massive influence through the years, so you can hear it in the music of Sadistik Forest too—quite easily even—if you know where to look.
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): Hmmm... I have to choose. I already sorted out some masterpieces and the remaining three would be Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness, Obituary's Slowly We Rot and Autopsy's Severed Survival... as well as Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness. Man, this is hard... all of them, especially MA and Obi had a massive impact on my musical taste.
Ok, if I had to pick one, I would say Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness would be it because it was a never heard so much of sickness, speed, and evilness within the songs.
Murillo Leite (GENOCÍDIO): Of course it was Beneath the Remains from Sepultura. Media and fans were gathered by the attention they were catching from people throughout the world. Though the previous album, Schizophrenia, caused a huge impact here, Beneath was released by an international label and all Brazilian bands realized it would be possible to be successful overseas. Musically it was a vanguard album, modern but not trendy, with lots of different influences which changed so many lives. "Inner Self" became an anthem for that generation, everybody was fully proud of the fact a Brazilian band was reaching goals worldwide.
Rob Lizarraga (INFINITUM OBSCURE): Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness. Why? The very dark approach, the songwriting and the guitar playing.
Castor (TORTURE SQUAD): For me, it was Sepultura Beneath the Remains, definitely! This album is so fuckin' important in my life as a musician and as a fan! They showed the whole world that Brazil was not only famous for its samba carnival, soccer, and a great coffee but also for its great metal bands.
Luxi: 1989 was also an active year for many bands for playing live around the world and some noteworthy tours happened that year with big names such as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, etc. going to many places around the world. How did you see the year 1989 for you regarding all those gigs that you attended during that year?
Roy Fox (NECROHARMONIC PRODUCTIONS): We had the "Monsters of Rock" and Metallica playing, which in my opinion (at that time in 1989) I had wondered why the line up wasn't Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax or Megadeth. The first two bands seemed to be the definitive "Titans" of thrash metal for a few years prior. In the U.S.A., even though we got the Metal Forces magazine. They seemed to champion that tour more than a U.S.A. metal fan would really see things (for me at least). I can accept this was a gateway tour for many metalheads in the world, though. Having entrenched me onto the demo trading scene and the small local club scene (and being from NJ/NY) area the hardcore scene, which during that time had a much more powerful feeling than these thrash bands who all were starting to make albums that were duds.
Jukka Kolehmainen (ABHORRENCE): I've no recollection really. We went to almost all metal shows back then, from Iron Maiden to underground events with hardcore, speed metal and everything between, so I couldn't say.
Phil Fasciana (MALEVOLENT CREATION): 1989 was good for thrash metal bands and fans but by that time those bands were playing a lot weaker than their earlier albums and I had lost interest in them by that time. I was obsessed with extreme bands and death metal and speed. Most of those bands had lost their edge by then. I was consumed by death metal at that time.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I didn't go to any of those shows. By that time I didn't like what any of those bands were doing, to be honest. Haha! I came to appreciate Slayer's stuff from that time much later as well as Alice in Chains, but in 1989 that stuff just wasn't heavy or fast enough for me. It's been interesting exploring records that came out decades ago that I thought sucked at the time and realizing that there was indeed plenty of good stuff going on. At the time I was too busy being hellbent on creating the most brutal, crushing stuff I could muster, and that meant forsaking anything that was less than that.
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): At that time I was 14-years-old and I did not go to (metal) concerts in 1989. My parents gave me permission a year later to visit metal concerts. I watched metal concerts at that time on TV with broadcasts from Sky Channel's "Monsters of Rock", Super Channel's (NBC Europe) "Power Hour" and a Dutch music program "Onrust TV". With those broadcasts, I discovered more metal bands.
Gus Rios (GRUESOME, CREATE A KILL): I actually didn't start going to shows until 1990 because I was too young! My first concert ever was Judas Priest, Megadeth and Testament, followed by Slayer and Testament. Thankfully, there's YouTube and I have actually found those shows on there! Life-changing experiences... quite frankly part of the reason I'm even doing THIS interview! Haha!
Alain Clément (NO RETURN): It's true a lot of great gigs happened in 1989. But I mostly remember the "Clash of the Titans" tour, which happened 2 years later, in 1991. It was the first time to witness this kind of packaging, which included four of some of the biggest metal bands at that time.
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): We were living in a very calm area with no bigger cities near us. Those bigger gigs were just too far away for me back then, and it was too expensive as well to travel to see those gigs in bigger cities. I was 17-years-old, so it was not so easy to travel around. We focused on the small clubs over here with local bands or bands not that big as the ones you mentioned.
Murillo Leite (GENOCÍDIO): In Brazil 1989 was the "thrash metal year", even though Kreator was canceled, we were able to see Nuclear Assault, Testament, Destruction, and Metallica finishing their "And Justice..." tour. Bangers have blown up their minds on these concerts and also the local scene used to present a lot of gigs with massive audiences then.
Rob Lizarraga (INFINITUM OBSCURE): I wasn't really going to concerts during 1989, I was 11 years old so I was too young for that yet, instead, I did spend many nights watching Headbanger's Ball on cable TV, haha!!
Castor (TORTURE SQUAD): I only knew the "Clash of the Titans" tour, which happened in 1991, by reviews and posters in some metal magazines here in Brazil. I saw all of those bands—Slayer, Testament, Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies, live here in São Paulo, Brazil, some years later (except Alice Chains). The only concert I attended in 1989 was Sepultura. I couldn't go to many concerts back then because I was only 14 and had no fuckin' money, hahaha!!!
Luxi: What was done better in 1989 (if anything) by metal bands than perhaps in 1985 or 1987 or 1991 or any other year for that matter?
Roy Fox (NECROHARMONIC PRODUCTIONS): The thing that was probably done best was the distribution of those 1989 albums. The artwork and feel of the productions were also increasing in quality past something like (at the time) harder to find Slaughter's Strappado album or something. You really first noticed the impact with the Sepultura's Beneath the Remains at the start of the year, but by the end it being Morbid Angel and Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness coming to light. For a USA fan, the Earache albums were not into a full distribution deal until 1990-1990, but they were still obtained by USA fans and listened to regularly. Obituary or something was more easily obtained. I feel the fanzine scene really stepped up its game in 1989 compared to being stuck with small paragraphs of death metal in RIP magazine or Metal Forces (which just seemed to make Lawnmower Death look like it was something worthy when it wasn't (power of advertisement). The underground fanzines of '89 were really starting to bring forth not only the great 1989 semi-underground thrash albums but also the death metal ones. The demos (for me) being more alluring than the albums (sorry albums!!).
Jukka Kolehmainen (ABHORRENCE): It was a great time because there were no rules set in stone regarding how things were done. Bands did what they could with a limited budget, using a lot of creativity and thus getting unique results. It was also when death metal especially wasn't riddled with technical prowess, to me the pursuit of extreme technical performance is what killed the genre's appeal for me. I liked the punkier in-your-face approach.
The years before, I feel this was already happening with speed metal, so there were super technical bands with hundred riffs per track, played as fast as one could. Guitarists showing off to other guitarists and that sounds like shit to me.
Phil Fasciana (MALEVOLENT CREATION): Speed of the music for me personally. Hearing bands playing fast like we were and hearing great drummers back then was a great time for me. I like slower music as well but the music would have to be really heavy like Obituary, Death, Pestilence, etc. I just love heavy music. But the speed really was a big factor for me.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): It's all just rock 'n' roll at the end of the day. Find the good stuff, ignore the bad stuff and keep the stereo fed!
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): I was not active in '85 with metal but spun some Kiss and The Sweet records from my parents from time to time. My opinion for those times would be: between the '85 and '89 (extreme) metal got more recognition because young people got into tape trading with their own music and bands. So underground (extreme) metal music was growing from '85 to '89.
Gus Rios (GRUESOME, CREATE A KILL): As I mentioned before, I think 1989 was the year that death metal truly became an official genre. I remember buying Consvming Impvlse because the cassette was labeled as "ultra brutal death metal from Holland". It was a clearly defined thing at that point. Like thrash dudes were either on board or NOT. The guys that were more into Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax probably found it to be too much. Death metal (in my opinion) was born with Scream Bloody Gore, but albums like Slowly We Rot, Consvming Impvlse and Altars of Madness truly and forever cemented it as a legitimate subgenre of metal.
Alain Clément (NO RETURN): I don't think there was necessarily anything better done in 1989 than any other year. We may have had a lot more quality albums released in 1989 than some other years perhaps?
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): I suppose 1989 was all about the underground currents of extreme metal. It was a dawn of death metal, without a doubt, and the blueprint for the style was drawn during that year, more or less. The whole first wave of death metal was influenced by experiments the being done in 1989. These bands did not have the budgets of the major acts, so the productions were very back to basics kind of things. That re-energized metal for sure, as some of the thrash bands were already having more sophisticated sound, which erased large parts of their earlier brutality. In 1989 bands also took brave steps towards the unknown with the experimental side of their music. Growled vocals, blast beats and tunings, all of these being remotely new and strange things even still in the 1990s when I was starting out my first bands myself. One can only imagine how groundbreaking stuff it must have been in 1989, when placed side by side the other 1980's stuff, like Europe's "Final Countdown" for example... haha!!
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): Hmm... it wasn't any better than any other years release wise, I would say. It was just different because of those new genres and styles.
For me, the most impressive death metal albums so far were Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy, that came out one and two years earlier. It was definitely a defining year for death metal as bands like Morbid Angel and Carcass progressed death metal into a heavier and more extreme direction.
But I still love and adore the spirit of SBG and Leprosy and its midtempo-riffing.
Murillo Leite (GENOCÍDIO): Maybe it was the last year metal was pure as a music style and at the same time relevant for music at all because after 1990 or 1991 we had the start of the "grunge era" and things have not been the same as before, unfortunately...
Rob Lizarraga (INFINITUM OBSCURE): I think that certain paradigms were being broken at the time, and a "new" approach to writing music was set. Darker music started emerging, although now in hindsight, I guess Mayhem had been around for 5 years already, I wouldn't discover Mayhem until 1991 or so. I do think that two very transcendental albums from 1989 for me were definitely Altars of Madness and Beneath the Remains!
Castor (TORTURE SQUAD): 1989 was the birth of death metal! For me, it was the greatest watershed in metal music since then!
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