1. At the Gates The Red in the Sky is Ours - Probably the best - and certainly the most creative - death metal album ever recorded. The sheer audacity of composition is breathtaking in and of itself, but this album succeeds in achieving its ambitions in a way that groundbreaking art rarely does. Still without peer. 2. Therion Beyond Sanctorum - Wildly inventive, and even more wildly underappreciated (in part because its often unexpected rhythms and unconventional harmonies simply proved to daring for many death metal listeners in the early 90s, but in some measure because the douchebaggery of the band's later releases simply turned off many potential listeners before they ever thought of purchasing this album). 3. Carnage Dark Recollections - The strongest of the initial wave of Stockholm releases ('88-'91), and also the most rhythmically and melodically varied. Subtle touches (especially in the incorporation of the bass line into the larger context of songs) display a level of creative maturity unusual in a work of such raw passion. 4. Necrophobic The Nocturnal Silence - The only Swedish album to fully incorporate the lessons of the emerging black metal of its day (without taking the plunge and becoming black metal like Sacramentum, Dawn and Dissection), and, outside of early At the Gates, the best example of 'melodic death metal' to come out of Sweden. 5. God Macabre The Winterlong - A seminal and often overlooked early classic, instrumental in bringing a Candlemass-inflected doom sensibility to death metal. While it lacks the energetic vitality of some other Swedish classics, the dirge-like atmosphere that pervades the album captures perfectly the existential dread of living in the shadow of death. 6. Unleashed Shadows in the Deep - Simple, powerful death metal played with intensity and focus. Effective both as a blunt force instrument and an often surprisingly epic, if concise exploration of melodic possibility. Its only weakness is a somewhat pared down aesthetic sensibility that occasionally strays toward the formulaic. 7. Dismember Like an Everflowing Stream - Often brilliantly showcasing the Sturm und Drang sensibility that made the Swedish style unique, the passion and energy and often unalloyed viciousness of this album are both infectious and irresistible. However, this is definitely a work of creative youthfulness in the negative as well as the positive sense as an inadequate eye toward redaction and a sometimes unsteady sense of overarching concept leave many of these songs with a regrettably unfinished sense to them. 8. Seance Saltrubbed Eyes - Wholly unconventional death metal, at least for the time. This had more in common with the work of bands like Wicked Innocence and Demilich than with that of their contemporary countrymen. This is not a pleasant (or frequent) listen, but its potent combination of unrelenting ferocity and underlying intricacy is intriguing even when the band's reach exceeds its grasp. 9. Unanimated Ancient God of Evil - A more polished hybrid of Necrophobic and early Dismember that serves as an excellent, if not terribly inventive, summation of the basic Swedish death metal concept. 10. Grave Into the Grave - Perilously close to being pure rhythm music, but largely successful on the strength of sheer violence alone. If there is a more physically punishing album out there, I haven't heard it, but vision and scope are distinctly lacking.