Hoo boy, took a bit more than a day to get this one done, didn't it! In my defense, I did a massive amount of PCP and ended up in jail for the better part of a week. Let's continue.
Burning Inside - Apparition
Burning Inside tend to get a lot of shit from tech death fans, saying that they're just one of the forgettable bands from that style that got churned out in the mid to late '90s, but tech death fans are assholes, universally and without exception. Burning Inside are actually one of the better pure tech death bands out there, despite their woefully underrated status in the scene. Coming across somewhat similar to "From Wisdom to Hate"-era Gorguts with a legitimate sense of jazz influence ala Atheist but with a churning sort of NYDM delivery that helps keep things in motion, the band is sort of a bricolage of various tech death styles, but the music is made with a careful enough hand that it continues to be worthwhile even today. Recommended for fans of, I don't know, Oppressor or something.
The Mandrake - The Burning Horizon at the End of Dawn
A surprisingly excellent melodeath record that now clutters bargain bins, The Mandrake's sophomore LP seems surprisingly nuanced for something on Crash, combining unashamedly poppy, neo-Dark Tranquillity-based riffing styles with clever tempo changes and traces of Peaceville doom influence. The overall effect is an album that's a hell of a lot more broad and well rounded than the typical Gothenburg shovelcore material we're all familiar with. It keeps the death metal in melodeath near at hand and never quite goes to the lowest common denominator, despite how openly saccharine most of the melodic ideas are. Worth a look.
Throne of Nails - Acts of War
Simple, elegant, and to the point, Throne of Nails' only album is a brief, savage little thing that openly clones "Covenant"-era Morbid Angel with just a bit more "normal" death metal to keep things together. It sounds like a prototype of the modern Swedish brutal death sound you'd hear in bands like Aeon or Immersed in Blood with just a tad more oldschool vibe- the brevity and single-mindedness of the album is to its benefit, as the one-dimensional nature of the music works perfectly as a single, crushing haymaker to the sternum, rather than getting bogged down in any pretense of complexity or artistry. Something of a grower- it's hard to fault what this release does when it does it so well and in such a self-aware fashion.
So yeah, Pavement/Crash isn't complete garbage. Dig into the label's discography a bit and you'd be surprised at what you'll find.
Or don't because pretty much everything else is balls.