Death are considered one of the fathers of death metal, although some argue that Possessed had equal contributions. Death is the brainchild of Chuck Schuldiner. The band was originally formed by Evil Chuck (Chuck Schuldiner), Kam Lee (Barney Lee) and Rick Roz (Frederick DeLillo) in 1983 under the name Mantas. They later changed their name to Death in 1984. Lee and Roz recorded on a few demos and left the band before the recording of "Scream Bloody Gore". Roz later returned to record on "Leprosy". Roz and Lee went on to form Massacre. Chuck remained the only consistent member in Death and has written almost all their material. For some reason their first three discs didn't grab me when I first heard them, but over the years I have grown to appreciate them more. Death's later day offerings moved towards an outstanding progressive, thrash, death sound. Schuldiner disbanded the band in 1996, dissatisfied with his own vocals. Being a big fan of true metal, he wanted to blend Death's prgressive music with a more conventional metal vocalist. The Control Denied project was born, but was shelved after a time, with Chuck taking some ideas (and members) and reforming Death for the 1998 Sound Of Perseverence release. That proved to be the last album under that name, as the Control Denied name was revived, and is now the true continuation of Death. Shortly after it's release, Chuck was diagnosed with cancer. Several bands were doing shows in an attempt to raise money for his treatement and recovery.
Sadly on December 13 2001 at 4 PM EST Chuck Schuldiner lost the fight for his life and past into eternity. Needless to say, I will honor Chuck's memory, and the memory of the music he created.
pull the plug, let me pass away, pull the plug, I don't wanna live this way".
Death - Scream Bloody Gore (Combat) 1987
1. "Infernal Death"
Considered to be one of the earliest death metal albums, but to be honest, I think this is just thrash taken up one notch past what bands like Kreator, Sepultura, and Destruction were doing. Of all the Death albums I own, this is probably my least favorite as it is really not up to the standards of "Individual Thought Patterns" or especially the masterpiece "Sound of Perseverance." The stereotypical blood, gore, and brutal death lyrics are especially not to my liking. ("Regurgitated Guts"?!?!?) Chuck Schuldiner's lyrics have improved a hundred percent over the years. Still, for it's time this was a leader in the genre and is considered a classic today. I do dig the very well drawn cover art. This cd version also features 2 songs that were not on the original vinyl version. Actually, the song listing on the back tray and inside cover art don't even list the last two songs. Of course being on the Combat label, this one is out of print in the U.S. Much of the Combat label was re-released in Germany through Century Media. Before the reissues, this disc was selling for around $20 on eBay.
Death - Leprosy (Century Media) 1988
After sacking his entire band from the first album, you'd think that the sound on the band's second album would be completely different. Surprisingly it isn't. The production value has been taken up two notches, but the song writing and lyrics are still very much the same. Still obsessed with death, blood, guts and being as gory as possible, Chuck was going for extremes here, both in the music and the lyrics. Shock value I suppose. As with the first album, I'm not as impressed with this album as some of Death's later day discs. Still had to get this one to finish the collection before it disappeared into the land of "out of print discs."
Two tracks taken from this disc ("Open Casket" & "Choke on It") were recorded live for the "Ultimate Revenge 2" soundtrack.
I suppose this would be considered death metal, as a matter of fact many credit Death with inventing grindcore/death metal. This be true or not, "Spiritual Healing" is not as one-dimensional as many of their "followers." The songs tempos vary and the songs aren't without harmonic or melodic appeal. I think what is most important about this release is that it was the transition disc for Death, changing them from a band I would consider only average death metal, to a band that incorporates many elements of metal utilizing complex song structures, progressive metal arrangements but never forsaking the hook. What also makes this disc a necessity in my cd collection is that guitar shredder James Murphy plays guitar and has some writing credits. James Murphy has also played with Testament and Obituary.
Chuck Schuldiner nearly disbanded Death before this album because, as rumor had it, he wanted to play more traditional metal, as opposed to "Death" metal. Instead, Chuck brought his power metal and progressive metal influences into Death and began to write bizarre, dissonant harmonized guitar lines and place them into a technical prog-metal setting, yet still managing to retain the aggression of past releases. Death were one of the few bands popular in death metal circles that used time changes and textures to create different moods over the course of an album. Several of these songs, especially the second half of the disc I wouldn't even consider to be death metal.
Death - Individual Thought Patterns (Relativity) 1993
1. "Overactive Imagination"
Chuck recruits King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque and bassist Steve Digiorgio and together with Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan, Death creates a killer metal platter complete with complex song writing and an emphasis on guitar harmonies. Steve Digiorgio treats his instrument as a third guitar rather than as just the bottom end. At this point Death are no longer a run of the mill death metal band but are one of the most technically proficient thrash bands on the planet. Their lyrics are also much improved as they are more focused on personal expression and no longer focused on gore and violent death.
Death - Symbolic (Roadrunner) 1995
Not unlike "Individual Thought Patterns" Death showed no signs of letting up with this their sixth album. Once again, Chuck and Co. focus more on guitar harmonies and creating technically proficient and complex thrash songs. I read an interview with Chuck where he admitted he was more into bands like Judas Priest than death metal bands. It shows on these latter day releases. Anybody want a little death metal mixed in with their power metal, 'cause that's what Death is dishing out. Oh, almost forgot, the incredible Gene Hoglan (ex-Dark Angel) performs on this disc.
Death - The Sound of Perseverance (Nuclear Blast) 1998
Riff-o-rama! Geez, this is just one freaking phenomenal metal disc. Chuck Schuldiner gives the performance of his life deserving to be crowned the king of progressive thrash. New drummer Richard Christy needed to pull off some outrageous beats in order to out-shine Glenn Hoglan's (ex-Dark Angel) last stellar performance. Not only does he pull it off but proves himself a vital part of the sound contained on "Sound of Perseverance." Favorite tracks are "Bite the Pain," which contains some stellar bass work from Scott Clendenin, the acoustic instrumental "Voice of the Soul," and, of course, "Painkiller." Death's cover of Judas Priest's classic is absolutely mind blowing. Chuck definitely gave the vocal performance of his life on this song. I give "S.o.P"10 out of a possible 10.
Chuck had taken a long break from Death before releasing this disc as he was concentrating on his classic metal band Control Denied, which released and independent cd called "Fragile Art of Existence" which was eventually picked up by Nuclear Blast as well.
Death - Live in L.A. (Death & Raw) (Nuclear Blast) 2001
Death were touring the U.S. with Hammerfall for this tour. Two days after this show, they were in my home town. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't go. ARGH! Well, at least I can hear it now. On first listen, my thoughts were, "Oh my! Does it get any heavier than this?" Death were brilliant in their last days. Pulling off all those mega-technical songs live perfectly. Richard Christy's drumming is outstanding. Some of the triplets he throws into the songs are jaw-dropping, and that's not even mentioning the speed and accuracy of his double bass assault. Chuck's vocals sound strong. He uses the more high-pitched shrill style that he used on all of "Perseverance", even on the older tracks like "Pull the Plug" and "Zombie Ritual." An outstanding show by one of the founders of death metal and a testimony to a man who believed in his music.
Death-Live in Eindroven '98 (Nuclear Blast Germany) 2001
1. "The Philosopher"
This live disc was released in Europe to help raise money for Chuck Schuldniner's cancer treatment. Unfortunately, Chuck lost the fight against cancer not long after this cd was released. On December 13, 2001 at 4 PM EST Chuck Schuldiner lost the fight for his life and past on into eternity. The music on this disc is quite good, as is the selection of songs, which are mostly taken from Death's 90's offerings. The sound quality is not quite a good as "Live in L.A.", but is not bad either. It almost sounds like a high quality bootleg. In any case, this disc, along with "Live in L.A.", are a testimony to the awesome thrash metal that Chuck created. Not sure how many of these were pressed or how available they are, but I would imagine that they will not be in print for long and will eventually become a collector's item.
Chuck, you will be missed and heavy metal is forever indebted to you.
Death - Chuck Schuldiner: Zero Tolerance (Karmageddon Media) 2004
Chuck Schuldiner death was a shock to the metal world. Although the man had struggled with cancer for some time, no one expected his life to end at such a young age. Despite his battles with the disease, Chuck continued to work on his music. The first four tracks on disc one are demo tracks for songs that Chuck was working on for his next Control Denied CD. These four tracks are instrumentals as they were never completed. These tracks are in their bare-boned form of drum tracks and guitar only. It's hard to really say what these songs would have sounded like had they ever been finished but as they stand the guitar work is consistent with "Sound of Perseverance". Of course, four tracks don't really make an album so Karmageddon have tacked on Death's "Infernal Death" and "Mutilation" demos. The sound quality of these demos leaves something to be desired, but are still an interesting listen for the Death fanatic. As I understand it these tracks were pressed directly from cassette copies of the demos, so the CD doesn't sound much better than the original tapes. Disc two consists of more demos and some live tracks. The packaging for this release is extremely cheap. There are no photos or even a logo or even a discography, but only a small letter about the label's reason for this release. This is sort of disappointing.
The Schuldiner family didn't wish for these tracks to be released, but Karmageddon Media insisted on releasing them without their consent, claiming that they had a contract with Chuck and the legal right. I can understand why the family many not have wanted this stuff released. Because of this I was sort of torn on purchasing this CD, but since a friend of mine found this CD cheap ($4.99) and used, I am certainly glad to have it as a part of my CD collection. It may not be the best sound quality, but for a metal fan such as myself, it's an interesting look through the history of one of America's premier death/thrash bands and certainly a nice collector's item, since this is a limited edition pressing.