We know your first thought when seeing this list was whether Possessed's Seven Churches or Death's Scream Bloody Gore is the first true death metal album. This debate will live on longer than any of us will, which is just fine because who doesn't love some heated discussion over the brutal music we've lovingly punched and bloodied each other to in the pit for over three decades?

While we don't claim to have the definitive answer to this age-old question of who wrote the first death metal record, we'd rather give Possessed some attention considering we're outlining the best albums the genre had to offer from each year. Excluding them just seems trivial, no? With that oversized elephant now addressed and being drawn out of the room, that leaves us much more space to discuss all the gut-check breakdowns, heaving riffs, clinical leads, bowel-emptying bellows and every other disgusting sound death metal has managed to bring to the butcher's table.

If you don't see your favorite band on here, just remember how competitive some of these years have been, especially the formative ones. It's been hard for us to leave some of our favorites behind, but when there's nearly a dozen genuine classics in just a single year, there's plenty that will be left ferociously nipping at the heels of the crowned album.

Prepare to take in the expansive sounds of death metal in all of its deranged forms as we examine the Best Death Metal Album of Each Year Since 1985 in the gallery above.