Sadus, "Swallowed in Black [reissue]"
I have to admit that somehow I missed out on Sadus when Swallowed In Black came out in 1990. I'm not sure how, as I was heavily into the early death metal scene; I know I had Visions of Misery when it came out in 1992. This one slipped by me until later in the 1990's, when I went on a mad Sadus kick for a while and tracked down the old albums.
Swallowed In Black was Sadus' big label debut (Roadrunner) and was a marked improvement over their first album and the demos. All the pieces were in place for this one... Rob Moore and Darren Travis brought truckloads of technical, thrashing death riffs and solos that make your face go all melty, Jon Allen's drumming was at full boil, and Steve DiGiorgio's bass playing was actually audible (and incredible, as the world would soon find out... it wasn't long after this album was released that Steve did the "Human" album with Death).
What's all this, then? Listen to the second song, "Man Infestation", and notice the shift at the 2:20 mark. That's classic death-thrash. We've heard so much of this since the early 1990's that it's hard to be objective and it sounds a bit dated. Especially Darren's vocals, which are pure thrash, mid-range and snarled as opposed to low register growling. But imagine that it's 1990 and you're kicking back listening to it for the first time... stunning. Jon Allen just pummels the hell out of his drums, laying down a massive foundation. Steve's bass playing certainly stands out, not only because it's mixed audibly, but because he adds so much flavor while holding down the bottom end ("Images"). And those guitar riffs are just monstrous. Some of the songs hold back on the throttle just a bit, mostly to set up a speedier section ("Good Rid'nz").
I might like Visions of Misery a tad better than Swallowed In Black, but there's something raw and merciless about Swallowed In Black that really tickles. This is the album that really got Sadus some attention, leading to a tour with Sepultura and Obituary (the infamous SOS tour). Pretty freaking good stuff. The reissue by Metal Mind includes two demo songs from the 1986 demo "Death to Poseurs".