Death

Picture of Death

Scream Bloody Gore

Death - Scream Bloody Gore ©1987 Combat
1. Infernal Death
2. Zombie Ritual
3. Denial Of Life
4. Sacrificial
5. Mutilation
6. Regurgigated Guts
7. Baptized In Blood
8. Torn To Pieces
9. Evil Dead
10. Scream Bloody Gore

What can be said of an album as influential as this? It's almost hard to admit it, but Death's seminal debut shows its age, for better or worse, depending on your preferences. Essentially starting out as the exact opposite of later-era Death, this album is filled with simple riffs, straight-forward drumming, and pretty darned basic song structures, not to mention that its brutality just seems somewhat tame by today's standards. It's always interesting to look at albums like this in retrospect, since it's a staple of any metal fan's record collection due to its huge impact on the heavy metal scene. But is it an album worth checking out for someone who wasn't there when it all started? Those who've grown up with bands like Suffocation, Morbid Angel and later-era Death pummelling their ears?

There's little doubt that most fans of so-called "extreme" metal should at least have heard this album once or twice, to know from whence the music came. But Scream Bloody Gore can stand on its own quite well if you judge it on its own grounds. Sure, the music's pretty simple, but it's got a nerve, not to mention that most of these riffs are quite wonderful. It's just something about the feeling I get from tracks like "Evil Dead" and "Zombie Ritual" that I feel often is missing from the more technically accomplished works of later death metal albums and that's the spirit it has. Schuldiner's vocals are quite a treat as well, though they seem very influenced by Possessed. The boy screams his throat out, delivering those quite silly lyrics in a very convincing manner.

As I've already said, this isn't the most technical album out there, far from it in fact, nor is it as brutal as many of its followers. But, much like the early efforts of bands like Slayer and Darkthrone, it has a real feeling of a band that truly believe in what they're doing and who've really tapped into the right vein and play their hearts out. An impressive debut from a band that would keep going from strength to strength.

Review by Řystein H-O

Review date: 06/2001

Back to top 

Human

Death - Human ©1991 Relativity
1. Flattening Of Emotions
2. Suicide Machine
3. Together As One
4. Secret Face
5. Lack Of Comprehension
6. See Through Dreams
7. Cosmic Sea
8. Vacant Planets

And so began Death's journey into more progressive, melodic terrain. With Human, the seminal death metal outfit began developing a sound first hinted at on the previous release, Spiritual Healing. While the music is still very raw and rhythmic with muted riffing and ample chug-a-thons, it also features a healthy injection of complexity and melody. Two members of the late, great Cynic, Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal, offer up their sizable percussion and guitar talents, rewarding the careful listener with some subtle fusion influences. Most of the music is up-tempo, with thrashy rhythm playing, frenetic beats, and ample time changes. Melodic harmony plays an increasingly important role in the band's music, with Steve Digiorgio's bass filling out the rhythm in the music's more melodic sections. Vocalist and composer Chuck Schuldiner had refined his compositional skills somewhat, and he employs exotic scales and controlled dissonance to maximize unease and nervous energy in the music. The compositions themselves tend to build up to climactic high points, where wild solo bursts spill out, offering a welcomed release after a series of increasingly intense riffs. The vocal lines are snarled, spat, and hollered, full of venom, with lyrics fixated on suffering, unease, and paranoia. Political themes dissipate, and new interpersonal themes emerge. Human seems at times a musical restatement of Sartre's famous line "Hell is other people", with alienation, resentment, and solipsism appearing thematically. While the album is still very raw and amply "unmusical" (to use the term in a complimentary sort of way), there's definitely a sense of the band moving a new, more proficient direction. There are also some moments quite unique to the album, like the fusiony "Cosmic Sea", which could have only come about with the contribution of the boys from Cynic. Human is a fine album, and though it's no masterpiece, it certainly set a new precedent for death metal.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 06/2001

Back to top 

Individual Thought Patterns

Death - Individual Thought Patterns ©1993 Relativity
1. Overactive Imagination
2. In Human Form
3. Jealousy
4. Trapped In A Corner
5. Nothing Is Everything
6. Mentally Blind
7. Individual Thought Patterns
8. Destiny
9. Out Of Touch
10. The Philosopher

With the release of Individual Thought Patterns, Death announced their place at the head of the emerging progressive death metal movement. 1993 was a great year overall for fusion based technical metal, with the release of Cynic's Focus, Atheist's Elements, and Pestilence's Spheres, all genre defining albums. While decidedly less jazzy than their contemporaries, Death had come to develop a slick, sophisticated sound within the framework of complicated thrash arrangements. Of all the latter day Death albums, Individual Thought Patterns is the most concise and direct, each song possessing an immediate, visceral impact. All the tracks are relatively short, with catchy arrangements and surprisingly lucid hooks. Besides the relatively song orientated nature of the album, the feature that really stands out the most is the clarity and complexity of Steve Digiorgio's bass lines. The bass is high in the production, and the playing contributes a convoluted rhythmic deluge in the music's every moment. Andy LaRoque's contribution as guitarist lends the album a neo-classical flair, with some intricate arpeggios appearing on standout songs like "Nothing is Everything" and "The Philosopher". Chuck Schuldiner's lyrics continue to explore more psychological and interpersonal subjects, with a good deal of spit and venom to make it ugly. Individual Thought Patterns is the Death album one should pick up if they're less partial to the raw, meandering quality of many of their other releases. It's the most quick-witted, if not exactly the most savage of their discography.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 07/2001

Back to top 

Symbolic

Death - Symbolic ©1995 Roadrunner
1. Symbolic
2. Zero Tolerance
3. Empty Words
4. Sacred Serenity
5. 1000 Eyes
6. Without Judgment
7. Crystal Mountain
8. Misanthrope
9. Perennial Quest

Symbolic defines Death's highest abilities in my mind. The album, while fearsomely extreme, tends towards refined melodies, smashingly interesting rhythm playing, and formidable catchiness. The catchy quality is less evident than it is on the more fast-witted Individual Thought Patterns, but tends to stand out more, occurring as it does between jarring, convoluted sections where ugliness is undoubtedly Job One. The absence of Digiorio and LaRoque from the line-up means less funky bass lines and less neo-classical frills, but has absolutely no negative effect on songwriting. Songwriting had by this time become something of a strong suite for Chuck Schulinder (well, as strong as one can expect from a genre called death metal). The songs are completely zappo, with a three-way combination of frenetic pseudo-Eastern hooks, nasty little rough sections, and precise harmony breaks. The harmony sections are wonderful, with intricate arpeggios sailing over sustained low chords, often just slightly (and uniquely) out of sync rhythmically. Symbolic features some semi-experimental material that was wedged into the songs, where Death's penchant for dissonance is taken to a new level. The album also features some undisputable metal classics, "Crystal Mountain" (with its occasional Rush-isms) and "Sacred Serenity" (a song of deceptive simplicity) chief among them. Symbolic combines the dissonant, meandering quality found on Human with the "kick ass" hookery of Individual Thought Patterns, making for what is clearly the band's best album.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 07/2001

Back to top 

Live In L.A.: Death & Raw

Death - Live In L.A.: Death & Raw ©2001 Nuclear Blast
1. Intro
2. The Philosopher
3. Spirit Crusher
4. Trapped In A Corner
5. Scavenger Of Human Sorrow
6. Crystal Mountain
7. Flesh And The Power It Holds
8. Zero Tolerance
9. Zombie Ritual
10. Suicide Machine
11. Together As One
12. Empty Words
13. Symbolic
14. Pull The Plug

In order to generate money to help Chuck Shuldiner pay his medical bills, Nuclear Blast released this collection as Death's first live album. This recording was not originally meant to be released as it is a relatively crude recording with no performance touch-ups or studio enhancements. However, the album's sound is excellent with a very even and crystal-clear mix, and the musicians' performances are downright impeccable, even at fast tempos. Chuck's stage patter is thankfully very polite and restrained, and he never submits the listener to moronic rabble-rousing hails to the power of metal a la Manowar.

The song selection is a little uneven, but the middle of the album features a string of really excellent pieces ("Crystal Mountain", "Flesh..."). The band's energy and precision never let up, and one often wishes one had attended what seems to have been a really good show.

Let us hope that the next live albums Nuclear Blast will undoubtedly release will be as good as this one.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 12/2001

Back to top