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New Old School Death Metal (NOSDM)

Today I learned about a genre of metal called “New Old School Death Metal” or NOSDM. While I think the resurgence of old school style Death Metal is awesome, I’m a little surprised by it. Had it really gone anywhere? I was always of the opinion that since its inception, there have been dudes playing Death Metal the same way. Sure, the bands change and the members of the bands change, but hasn’t there always been a core of old school Death going on somewhere?

Did I miss out on something? Was I too busy listening to Old Old School Death Metal (OOSDM) records to notice?

Did Death Metal change so much that we’re experiencing a revival of the classic form much in the same manner as thrash suddenly became huge again about three years ago? Do we refer to Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust as “New Old School Thrash Metal” or NOSTM? Are all these labels really necessary? If we didn’t call these new DM bands NOSDM, but just plain called them Death Metal, would it be so hard to understand? Would it be wrong?

Let’s posit that Death Metal in its traditional form peaked about 1994, to be superseded by the Swedish style that dominated the later 90s and early 00s. (No, nü-metal doesn’t fucking count.) The earliest known uses of the term “Death Metal” were found somewhere around 1984, giving Death Metal a 10 year run. Now, if a style falls out of favor but does not disappear completely, can we really call its resurgence by a new name? Composers wrote Baroque music for 160 years. It’s not like when Baroque first showed up, went through a wave of initial popularity, decreased slightly in public opinion, and then showed up again they called it New Old School Baroque Music (NOSBM), did they?

The whole thing, and really the extreme fragmentation of metal subgenres in general, seems pretty silly to me.

And, because I am such a caring person, I won’t let you go without some examples.

Let’s do a chronological survey of some of my favorite Death Metal, shall we?

1987’s “Beyond the Unholy Grave” – Death
[audio:|Artists=Death|titles=Beyond The Unholy Grave]

1987’s “Bleed for the Devil” – Morbid Angel
[audio: Bleed For The Devil.mp3|artists=Morbid Angel|titles=Bleed for the Devil]

1989’s “Sacrificial Suicide” – Deicide
[audio:|artists=Deicide|titles=Sacrificial Suicide]

1990’s “Burden of Evil” – Monstrosity
[audio: Of Evil.mp3|artists=Monstrosity|titles=Burden of Evil]

1991’s “Jesus Wept” – Suffocation
[audio: Jesus Wept.mp3|artists=Suffocation|titles=Jesus Wept]

1992’s “Hammer Smashed Face” – Cannibal Corpse
[audio: Smashed Face.mp3|artists=Cannibal Corpse|titles=Hammer Smashed Face]

1993’s “Preacher of Sodomy” – Broken Hope
[audio: of Sodomy.mp3|artists=Broken Hope|titles=Preacher of Sodomy]

1994’s “Born Headless” – Cryptopsy
[audio: Headless.mp3|artists=Cryptopsy|titles=Born Headless]

1995’s “Nothing But Fear” – Morbid Angel
[audio: But Fear.mp3|artists=Morbid Angel|titles=Nothing But Fear]

1996’s “Permanently Disfigured” – Dying Fetus
[audio: Disfigured.mp3|artists=Dying Fetus|titles=Permanently Disfigured]

1997’s “Save To The Cross” – Deicide
[audio: To The Cross.mp3|artists=Deicide|titles=Slave To The Cross]

1998’s “Flame To The Surface” – Cryptopsy
[audio: To The Surface.mp3|artists=Cryptopsy|titles=Flame To The Surface]

1999’s “Blowtorch Slaughter” – Cannibal Corpse
[audio: Slaughter.mp3|artists=Cannibal Corpse|titles=Blowtorch Slaughter]

2000’s “Christians To The Lions” – Behemoth
[audio: To The Lions.mp3|artists=Behemoth|titles=Christians To The Lions]

2001’s “Blind The Vision That Shatters” – Neuraxis
[audio: The Vision That Shatters.mp3|artists=Neuraxis|titles=Blind The Vision That Shatters]

2002’s “Dead Sea Scroll Deception” – Lock Up
[audio: Sea Scroll Deception.mp3|artists=Lock Up|titles=Dead Sea Scroll Deception]

2003’s “History Is Rotten” – Misery Index
[audio: Is Rotten.mp3|artists=Misery Index|titles=History Is Rotten]

2004’s “Sensual Sickness” – Decapitated
[audio: Sickness.mp3|artists=Decapitated|titles=Sensual Sickness]

2005’s “The Victorious Reign” – Hate Eternal
[audio: Victorious Reign.mp3|artists=Hate Eternal|titles=The Victorious Reign]

2006’s “The Crawl Inside Me Uninvited” – Coldworker
[audio: Crawl Inside Me Uninvited.mp3|artists=Coldworker|titles=They Crawl Inside Me Uninvited]

2007’s “Rebirth In Blood” – Blood Red Throne
[audio: In Blood.mp3|artists=Blood Red Throne|titles=Rebirth In Blood]

2008’s “Slaughtering The Will To Live” – Bloodbath
[audio: The Will To Live.mp3|artists=Bloodbath|titles=Slaughtering The Will To Live]

2009’s “Carrion Sculpted Entity” – Cannibal Corpse
[audio: Sculpted Entity.mp3|artists=Cannibal Corpse|titles=Carrion Sculpted Entity]

Sorry, for some reason I don’t have any Death Metal from 1988 on my iPod right now. I’ll fix that oversight when I get home tonight.

Now, listen to the bands on an article by Decibel Magazine about NOSDM. It seems to me that besides some basic evolution in the quality of the productions, that Death Metal has been alive an well since at least 1987. So, do we need this new label at all? Can we not just keep calling it Death Metal? Do we need OOSDM, MEOSDM (Mid-Era Old School Death Metal), and NOSDM? What happens when NOSDM becomes Old New Old School Death Metal (ONOSDM)?

For the initiated and uninitiated out there who take the time to read and listen to this, what do you think? Comment away.


  1. Julian Julian January 20, 2010

    don’t know much about death metal outside of its swedish manifestations (and Morbid Angel of course), but i’ve noticed the terms “throwback black metal” and “old school black metal” thrown around quite a bit these days. i guess those terms are less obnoxious than “trve” or “kvlt” black metal, but ultimately none of them signify anything.

    just because a band does not fuck around with industrial beats or symphony orchestras or clean vocals or acoustic folk arrangements does not make them “old school black metal.”

    why do we need flashy new labels just to describe shit that does not suck?

    • The Wizard The Wizard Post author | January 20, 2010

      I think that is exactly my point. Just because there are still bands playing regular Death Metal that doesn’t have hardcore influences or clean vocals or synthesizers or whiny emo boys or autotune or whatever the fuck else is poisoning metal these days doesn’t mean that we need to classify them with some bullshit new label.

      Black Metal is Black Metal.

      Death Metal is Death Metal.

      Thrash Metal is Thrash Metal.

      Is that so difficult? I really don’t think so. I mean, even the name New Old School Death Metal is asinine.

  2. Azz Azz September 18, 2010

    This is the best piece of writing I have ever read online. Clever to the point and entertaining, with an obvious knowledgeable grasp of your subject.

    As Devy says “things are just things”.

    If it’s heavy and you like it who cares what it is.
    All these categories/sub-genres change over time in the 80’s we called Slayer, and Possessed Death Metal/Thrash/Speed, even Coroner and Celtic Frost were called Death Metal (amongst other things like Avante Garde). I remember when bands where called Techno/ Tech Metal, now they’re called prog.

    Anyway I enjoyed the read!
    Keep it up.

  3. Scner Scner July 7, 2011

    Okay, I see it like this. There is Death Metal, and Technical Death Metal.

    Death Metal: Brutal riffs, mind blowing killer live sets and unreasonably angry people playing damn good Death Metal. (Using “death metal” to describe itself not a strong point.)

    Technical Death Metal: HARD FUCKING WANKING, but with some cool stuff thrown about.

    I primarily agree with The Wizard though.

  4. cadabalma cadabalma July 21, 2011

    Just don’t forget the brutality no matter what kind of metal you play. Back in the day it was about heaviness and how fast they play. Same thing applies today but with a brutal twist. I guess the difference between new school and death metal is that there’s this core metal element that I think a lot of people aren’t really into these days. Some are purist and still others want to see the boundaries stretched and crossed. Just give me good riffs and great live shows and bleed metal and your ok in my book. No matter what the fuck you play. Thanks for letting me have my two cents.(sick of the metal core break downs and lyrics about high school problems)

  5. The Wizard The Wizard Post author | July 21, 2011

    Of course, there is some evolution of death metal as a genre. There’s no question to even the most lay listener that death metal from 1987 sounds different from death metal from 2011. Production is better, over all the performances are better, and it’s backed by 25 years of history.

    But, my point was that the genre itself hasn’t changed so much to warrant slapping a new label on it, nor has it disappeared from the face of the scene to be later resurrected with a new appellation.

    And I absolutely agree with you: give me sick riffs, punishing beats, and brutal as fuck execution and I’ll take it with joy.

  6. Nietzsche Tzu Nietzsche Tzu December 14, 2011

    You don’t know shit about anything you dumb fuck. We need a “label” to seperate bands like Cruciamentum, Corpsessed, Disma, Vasaeleth, miasmal, Funebrarum, Cemetery Urn, & Crytpborn from the never ending stream of polished up nu-commercial garbage, and morrisound shit called “death metal” these days. Fuck you… if you ain’t got the mentality DON’T ENTRY. The scene doesn’t need “metalhead” dorks like you. Stick to suffocation, hate eternal, and dying fetus. We don’t need to be saturated with metal hobbyists who will never understand.

    • Joe The Wizard Joe The Wizard December 14, 2011

      This comment is deserving of its own post. Thanks for reading!

      • Nietzsche Tzu Nietzsche Tzu December 14, 2011

        This wasn’t a reply to you, you fucking dumb fuck! It’s a reply to the article

      • Joe The Wizard Joe The Wizard December 14, 2011

        Well, I assume you’re talking about this article since the link to Decibel results in a 404. Sorry about that. The link is old. And, since you’re talking about this article–which I wrote, by the way–I thereby assume you are talking to me. That’s a pretty nice example of the transitive property, don’t you think?

        I actually checked out those bands you listed too. It’s been a while since I’ve heard new Death Metal I liked. Here are my thoughts.

        Cruciamentum – These guys are pretty fucking sick. What I could find on Youtube, I liked a lot.

        Corpsessed – How do you pronounce this? “Corpses-Ed”? “Corp-sessed” like obsessed? Whatever. I think this is my favorite of the bands you listed. Leave it to the Finns to make some awesome shit.

        Disma – These guys are pretty good too. Not the best, but solid, certainly. Their guitar tone is very much Entombed circa Left Hand Path.

        Vasaeleth – Meh. Not that good.

        Miasmal – This is one of two bands I could find on Spotify. I like them, but they are more of an Entombed knock-off than Disma. Not that I disapprove of that; I don’t. I love Entombed. But I’ve heard this record before. In 1991.

        Funebrarum – These guys are pretty sick too. I would pay to see these guys live. Not much, but, you know, a little at least. Maybe if they opened for The Magnetic Fields or something.

        Cemetary Urn – These guys belong on Nuclear Blast in 1993 alongside Mortification and General Surgery. Kind of a cool goregrind thing going with them too. Pretty cool.

        Cryptborn – This was the other band on Spotify. This record went straight into my Death Metal playlist AND I shared it with a friend who had sent me Teitanblood a while back. Now, there is a great band you should check out if you haven’t yet. Pretty awesome.

        Enjoy your time here!

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