- Although the SoundScan numbers are generally indicative of the bands’ overall popularity, they are misleading in the sense that many of the veteran death metal groups’ early efforts were issued prior to the start of the SoundScan era (May 25, 1991).
The following are the total sales figures for several of the genre’s forerunners, according to Nielsen SoundScan (all numbers include any DVD and VHS releases, where applicable):
CANNIBAL CORPSE: 558,929
MORBID ANGEL: 445,147
SIX FEET UNDER: 370,660
NAPALM DEATH: 367,654
The top-selling death metal albums of the SoundScan era are as follows:
MORBID ANGEL – “Covenant” (1993): 127,154
DEICIDE – “Deicide” (1990): 110,719*
DEICIDE – “Legion” (1992): 103,544
OBITUARY – “The End Complete” (1992): 103,378
CANNIBAL CORPSE – “The Bleeding” (1994): 98,319
No big shocks, although Soundscan is probably not the best way to measure the sales of these bands. Most death metal albums don’t get sold through large chain stores, so many of sales won’t show up on the Soundscan charts. Plus, it only takes into account American sales. I know for a fact that both Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death have worldwide sales of over a million each. I’ve also been told that Morbid Angel’s Covenant and Domination albums have sold about 250,000 copies a piece. Also, I’ve often heard that Obituary’s The End Complete is the top selling death metal album of all time, but I’m not sure if that was supposed to be worldwide or strictly in America. Still, considering that these bands don’t exatcly play the most, uh, commercial music, their sales are pretty impressive.