Cryptopsy - None So Vile

InexorableRotting’s Top 25 Death Metal Breakdowns

I’ve seen a great number of people nowadays confusing the term “breakdown” with  “open-note chugging”. Now, all the deathcore/metalcore fans drool over them, while death metal fans hate them. Now that, if you ask me, is wrong. Here are my top 25 songs that gave better, brutal meaning to the term. The order doesn’t count for anything here, this is mostly a list of my favourites rather than any kind of ordering. All of these are good, and that’s what matters.

25. Cannibal Corpse – Five Nails Through the Neck

From the Kill album, CC’s only decent album to me since Gallery of Suicide, this song is almost all breakdown, with one about 1 and a half minutes in, heralding a high scream from George Fisher. It (the scream) sounds just like the opening scream to Priests of Sodom, except this is when they were still good. A fairly decent breakdown to open, nothing special.

24. Origin – Echoes of Decimation

From the album of the same name, this is quite possibly the first time Origin have thought of slowing the tempo. It works. It’s a nice break from the widdly-diddly high riffs that I just can’t seem to enjoy.

23. Malevolent Creation – Tasteful Agony

This beauty dates back to 1995. Now 17 years old and still brutal, also a horrifying proof that music was better then.

22. Ulcerate – Scorn the Dethroned

Some of the most brutal extreme metal to come out of New Zealand in a long time. Right after a quick solo, time for some pure tech-death breakdowns. Classy. Also, note how the guitars are actually audible here, unlike most death metal bands these days.

21. Human Mincer – Scaphocephaly: Status: Error

Jesus rollerblading Christ. We’re heading into technical slam territory here, if that isn’t an oxymoron in itself. I’m not overly fond of this breakdown, it keeps changing, the breaks are only giving it a lackadaisical feel, the drums are predictable. But it’s still good, and it’s unique to say the least.

20. Wormed – Geodesic Dome

On the subject of Human Mincer, Wormed have 2 common members with them. I personally prefer Wormed though. This song and another one in this list are from Wormed’s Planisphaerium release, which is basically an album comprised of non-stop breakdowns. How fun.

19. Monism – Devastate Annihilate

Monism are a very underground thrash/death band from Holland. What with all the pot in Holland, their creative juices were really flowing on this, from their debut EP Pestis.

18. Skinless – Pool of Stool

Ah, Skinless. Random spoken samples and decent death metal. Not bad.

17. Dying Fetus – Atrocious By Nature

A great one from Descend Into Depravity, despite being a little generic, it still stands in good stead as a top contender. John Gallagher’s guitar skills always show throughout this release.

16. Skinless – Execution of Reason

Yet more brutality from these guys. Skinless are one of just 4 bands to appear more than once in this list.

15. Wormed – Ylem

The second appearance of Wormed in this list, again a track from Planisphaerium. Every track from here onwards is definately worth checking out.

14. Cephalectomy – The Urchin Peel

The only band here to appear thrice, Cephalectomy are my favourite band in the list. This breakdown is different, in that it is playable in E Standard, a rarity in extreme metal.

13. Suffocation – Bind Torture Kill

Ah, good old Suffocation. Another great breakdown from the kings of tech-death.

12. Reciprocal – Wrath

Death metal from Hollywood! Jeff Hughell lends his bass skills here, which really shows. Reciprocal really deserve more than they get, in my opinion. An awesome band without a large fanbase.

11. Suffocation – Entrails of You

As we head towards the final 10, we’ve got some serious brutality from Suffocation. Again. Straight from their 2006 self-titled release, this is the sort of song that makes me glad that I’ve seen Suffocation live.

10. Convulse – Resuscitation of Evilness

Sweet. This is the oldest song on the list, at 20 years old! Convulse are an old-school Finnish death metal band, and this song sets a great standard for Finnish death metal.

9. The Faceless – Leica

Back from their more deathcore-influenced era, I still deem this one worthy of the top ten here. A very good breakdown, and a very good band in their own right.

8. Cephalectomy – Feast of the Saints

Another great breakdown from the Canadian deathgrind trio. The only band here to use a drum machine as well. They’ve also got 2 vocalists.

7. Aborted – The Saw and the Carnage Done

I love this one. It’s so incredibly simple, yet at the same time it’s unique, grinding and brutal to the bone.

6. Cephalectomy – A Loathsome Ceremony

The closer of An Epitaph to Tranquility, which is the album that all 3 of the Cephalectomy breakdowns mentioned here came from. A brilliant album on the whole, available for free download from the band’s website as well.

5. Psycroptic – Cruelty Incarnate

Definately worthy of the top 5, this beauty is from 2003’s The Scepter of the Ancients. A grand mixture of riffing, chugging, and arpeggio runs. Pretty head-bangable.

4. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Infection of the White Throne

This breakdown kicks some SERIOUS ass. A brilliant chug-riff, perfect for headbanging, with “KILL!! EVERYBODY KILL, EVERYBODY KILL!!” repeated over the top. A top-quality use of chugs rhythms, rather than the deathcore wankery I keep being subjected to.

3. Gorguts – Nostalgia

The most unique breakdown of the list. This one fuses funky bass grooves in with distortion to provide a real funk metal breakdown.

2. Brain Drill – Swine Slaughter

This one is basically perfect. A brutal-as-fuck slow riff over Marco Pitruzzella’s famed drumming. The second-best one here for headbanging, only beaten by…


The top dog of the list. This is undoubtedly the greatest breakdown ever, from what is undisputedly the greatest technical death metal album of all time. Sliding dischords, a 22-second scream, audible bass, this has everything. Congratulations, Cryptopsy. Now, please be a good band again, like you were 15 years ago?

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2 thoughts on “InexorableRotting’s Top 25 Death Metal Breakdowns”

  1. I like this list. Great choices.

    Couple minor nitpicks, some of the bands on the list (Wormed, Skinless, Human Mincer, Suffocation and Dying Fetus) slam instead of breakdown. Sure, the degree to which slams and death metal breakdowns are similar/the same in some cases is debatable but I tend to think of them as separate.

    Ya ever checked out Scattered Remnants, Eternal Suffering, Sintury or Cadaverment? The slams on ‘Inherent Perversion’, ‘Drown In The Candle’s Flame’, ‘Disgorging The Dead’ and ‘Bloodstream Desecration’are some of the greatest in Death Metal history.

    1. Thanks.

      I see what you mean, but the line between slams and breakdowns in the death metal genre is more blurred than a close-up of a Monet painting. I felt that some of the slams on Dying Fetus’ “Descend Into Depravity” could also constitute as breakdowns. If we called anything slam-like to not also count as a breakdown, half of the list wouldn’t count.

      I can’t say I’ve heard any of those bands, I’ll give them a listen.

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