DEATH
Technical Death Metal / Death Metal • United States

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Death was an influential death metal band founded by guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner in Orlando in 1983. They released several demos as Mantas before changing their name in 1984.

Death is widely considered one of the most influential bands in the genre. The band’s debut, "Scream Bloody Gore", has been described as “death metal’s first archetypal document,” and Schuldiner himself as the “father of death metal". However, Schuldiner dismissed such attributions in an interview with Metal-Rules.com, stating, “I don’t think I should take the credit for this death metal stuff. I’m just a guy from a band, and I think Death is a metal band.”

As of 2008, Death has sold over 1.5 million albums worldwide, with 368,184 albums having been sold in the US alone (not counting sales prior to the Soundscan era), making them one of the top-selling death metal bands of all time. Their best-selling album, "Human",
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DEATH Discography

DEATH albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.02 | 56 ratings
Scream Bloody Gore
Death Metal 1987
.. Album Cover 3.79 | 61 ratings
Leprosy
Death Metal 1988
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 54 ratings
Spiritual Healing
Death Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 4.22 | 94 ratings
Human
Technical Death Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 4.27 | 94 ratings
Individual Thought Patterns
Technical Death Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 4.45 | 140 ratings
Symbolic
Technical Death Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.30 | 103 ratings
The Sound of Perseverance
Technical Death Metal 1998

DEATH EPs & splits

DEATH live albums

.. Album Cover 4.25 | 10 ratings
Live in L.A. (Death & Raw)
Technical Death Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 4.08 | 6 ratings
Live in Eindhoven '98
Technical Death Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 2.14 | 2 ratings
Vivus!
Technical Death Metal 2012

DEATH demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

DEATH re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 2.52 | 6 ratings
Fate: The Best of Death
Death Metal 1992

DEATH singles (0)

DEATH movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.50 | 2 ratings
Live In Japan
Technical Death Metal 2010

DEATH Reviews

DEATH The Sound of Perseverance

Album · 1998 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"The Sound of Perseverance" is the 7th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in August 1998. It was the last Death album released before frontman/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner´s untimely death in 2001, but not Schuldiner´s last recording as he had started a US power metal project in 1995 called Control Denied, who released their debut and sole full-length studio album "The Fragile Art of Existence" in 1999. There have been several lineup changes since the release of "Symbolic (1995)", and it´s actually only Schuldiner, who is left from the lineup who recorded that album. New in the lineup are Richard Christy (drums), Scott Clendenin (bass), and Shannon Hamm (guitars).

Stylistically "The Sound of Perseverance" is technical/progressive death metal, like the case has also been on the last three preceding album releases by the band. "The Sound of Perseverance" is probably the most progressive album in the band´s discography and most tracks on the 9 track, 56:13 minutes long album are relatively long. Most clocking in at around 6 minutes or more. The only exceptions being "Bite the Pain" and the instrumental "Voice of the Soul". So "The Sound of Perseverance" is compositionally a relatively complex release, although it´s still unmistakably the sound of post-1990 Death.

Schuldiner´s vocals have over the years gradually gone from an aggressive and relatively deep growl to a higher pitched sharp snarling type growling vocals. It has generally worked pretty well for him, but on "The Sound of Perseverance" he has taken it a bit over the top. His voice now sounds unnaturally high pitched, effect processed, and at times verging on the hysterical. To my ears it´s a slight issue, but it´s probably an aquired taste. The musicianship is as usual on a very high level. Fast fusion influenced precision drumming, sharp edged death/thrash riffs and well played solos, and a heavy bass. Especially new drummer Richard Christy needs a mention for putting his own personal touch on the material.

The material on the album is generally well written, although to my ears a bit more conscise songwriting (a little restraint) could have worked a bit better. On the other hand, the last three releases featured a very similar and rather formulaic songwriting approach (which isn´t necessarily a bad thing, as it worked perfectly on those releases), and maybe it was time for something new, and I have to give credit to Schuldiner for trying to avoid stagnation. The first part of the album (the first four tracks) is the strongest and tracks like "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Bite the Pain", and "Spirit Crusher" are of high quality, but the quality drops slightly from "Flesh and the Power It Holds" onwards. The remaining tracks on the album simply aren´t as catchy or memorable as the tracks opening the album, although they are still quality material. "The Sound of Perseverance" closes with a cover of "Painkiller" by Judas Priest, and while Death do the classic song a lot of justice and also apply their own touch and solos to the track, I still think "Painkiller" feels a bit off on the album. In my opinion in would have been better left for B-side on a single release.

"The Sound of Perseverance" features a powerful, detailed, and professional sounding production, which suits the material perfectly, and upon conclusion it is another high quality release by Death. Personally I feel Death peaked with "Symbolic (1995)" and "The Sound of Perseverance" aren´t exactly on par with that release, and that some of the more progressive moments on the album don´t always work that well or fit that well with the rest of the given song. Still a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

DEATH Symbolic

Album · 1995 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Symbolic" is the 6th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in March 1995. There have been a couple of lineup changes since "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)", as guitarist Andy LaRocque has been replaced by Bobby Koelble and bassist Steve DiGiorgio has been replaced by Kelly Conlon. Drummer Gene Hoglan remains from the lineup who recorded the predecessor along with band founder/guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner.

Stylistically the music on "Symbolic" continues to refine the technical death metal style Death introduced on "Human (1991)" and further developed upon on "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)". So the music style on "Symbolic" is not miles away from how those two mentioned releases sound. But as mentioned certain elements have been refined and new elements have been added to make "Symbolic" stand out as one of the most well thought out and sophisticated releases in the band´s discography. One thing main composer Schuldiner has focused on is catchiness, which was never really an issue on previous releases by the band, but here it reaches new heights. Every single track on the album features memorable vocal hooklines/patterns, melodic lead themes, and catchy rhythm work, and "Symbolic" just feels like an album where nothing is left to chance. Everything fits in the right place, and the hooks appear just when they need to. Add to that intelligent and thought provoking lyrics, which are far away from the band´s original blood´n´gore type lyrics, and you have an intriguing and mature release. It´s not sophisticated in a way where power is lost though. It´s still overall a very aggressive and raw release, which I think is important to emphasize.

Schuldiner started out being relatively deep yet intelligible growling, but over the years have become higher pitched, and they´ve been given another tweak on "Symbolic" to become the most high pitched growling vocals up until then on a Death release. It´s still unmistakably Schuldiner singing though, and the vocals are generally very sharp, aggressive, and well performed.

The Jim Morris sound production is powerful, clear, and detailed, and suits the material perfectly. While the sound production on "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)" is professional and well sounding, I always felt the drum sound was a bit off, but that has been corrected on "Symbolic", where the drums feature a great powerful sound. Not that it needs to be said, but Gene Hoglan is a brilliant drummer, and with this sound production, his skillful playing is on full display. His footwork is incredibly fast and precise, but his symbal- and hi-hat work also deserves a special mention. The rest of the band are also well playing, but compared to their predecessors, both Bobby Koelble and Kelly Conlon are rather anonymous. Most guitar solos are played by Chuck Schuldiner, and you seldom notice the bass (which is a huge difference from the busy and high in the mix bass playing by Steve DiGiorgio). It makes for an overall more streamlined sound, but also a slighly less progressive one.

That´s not an issue at all though, as the material on the 9 track, 50:37 minutes long album is well written and memorable. Tracks like "Empty Words", "Zero Tolerance", "Misanthrope", the title track, and "Crystal Mountain" are absolutely brillitant, but the same can be said about the rest of the material, so it doesn´t make much sense picking highlights. "Symbolic" is through and through a high quality release, and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

DEATH Individual Thought Patterns

Album · 1993 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Individual Thought Patterns" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Relativity Records in June 1993. It´s the successor to "Human (1991)", which was an album that signalled a change in style for Death. While the first three albums displayed an increasingly technical nature, they are still first and foremost old school death metal releases, but with "Human (1991)" bandleader/guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner brought in a new cast of musicians, who were on a much higher technical level than their predecessors, and as a result of that "Human (1991)" became one of the seminal technical death metal releases of the early 90s.

"Individual Thought Patterns" is in many ways a natural successor to "Human (1991)", and that´s despite a couple of lineup changes. Chuck Schuldiner still handles lead vocals and guitars, and bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus) has opted for another run too, but guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert (both from Cynic) have left to be replaced by King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque and Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan. It says a lot about the size and success of Death in those days, that Schuldiner was able to recruit those two rather prolific and greatly skilled musicians for the recording of "Individual Thought Patterns"...

...and the two new guys make their mark immediately on the opening track "Overactive Imagination". LaRocque´s melodic and neo-classical influenced guitar style and Hoglan´s fast precision playing are great assets to Death´s sound, and perfectly compliment Schuldiner´s raw snarl and sharp riffs/solos and DiGiorgio´s busy fretless bass playing. The Cynic guys arguably did a great job on "Human (1991)", and I wouldn´t say the "Individual Thought Patterns" lineup is stronger than that lineup, but it´s fully on par with it.

The songwriting hasn´t changed much since the predecessor and we´re still treated to technically well played death metal (maybe slightly more technical in nature than the material on "Human (1991)"). It´s powerful, raw, and quite sophisticated (including the lyrics which are relatively clever for the genre), but also rather formulaic and generally featuring very few surprises. Most tracks are structured with a succesion of riffs/vers/chorus/bridge, a mid-section with a solo/solos, and then a return of the same riffs/vers/chorus/bridge as the track opened with. It´s not really a surprise though, as Death has more or less written tracks with that structure since "Leprosy (1988)" (with a few exceptions). It´s probably a matter of not messing with a formula which works, and it arguably works here and makes the material relatively accessible and quite catchy for death metal.

"Individual Thought Patterns" features a powerful and detailed sound production, which is overall a bit less bottom heavy compared to the sound on the predecessor, but no less intense and raw. Upon conclusion "Individual Thought Patterns" is yet another high quality release in Death´s discography. It´s not quite as big a revelation as "Human (1991)" was when it was released, but the songwriting quality, the musicianship, and the sound production are of as high quality as they were on the predecessor. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

DEATH Spiritual Healing

Album · 1990 · Death Metal
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Necrotica
There seems to be a growing number of people who consider the 1990 album Spiritual Healing to be Death's worst record, even deeming it clunky and unfocused. Personally, I still stand by my opinion that Scream Bloody Gore was the most lackluster offering by the band; it sounded more like a foreshadowing of future greatness than a great album itself. While follow-up Leprosy did its best to raise the stakes, Spiritual Healing still seems to improve things much further and hit almost all of the right notes. While it may not be the very best album of the Death canon, it is often overlooked and definitely deserves more praise than it gets.

So what do we get? Between eight tracks and forty-two minutes of non-stop death metal, the record flies by pretty quickly. Chuck Schuldiner's songwriting is still the main focus here, but plenty of new elements after predecessor Leprosy help this album succeed the way it does. First things first, the music is way more technical and intricate; many of the speed metal sections of Leprosy and Scream Bloody Gore, while still present, are toned down and usually replaced with rapid tempo shifts and frequent time signature changes. That, and the rhythms are usually quite unorthodox; the riff during the verse of the title track still throws me off now and again. More specifically, though, everything has tightened. The production sounds cleaner, the songwriting is actually more focused than people give it credit for, and Schuldiner was finally starting to ditch the gory lyrics in favor of more social and philosophical issues.

With that said, how are the songs? They follow the typical Death "verse/pre-chorus/chorus/solo/verse/pre-chorus/chorus/sudden stop" formula fans have come to expect by this point, but with the sort of forward-thinking attitude that makes this a great predecessor to Human. Schuldiner and co. were interested in progressing the band's sound, and it shows. It's probably best to start with the opening number "Living Monstrosity" because it's the first impression. As the mid-tempo riff starts up, you may realize the aforementioned tightness in the sound compared to Leprosy. One other thing to note is that Chuck's vocals are a touch odd, and are my main issue with the album. While they're not bad, there's an unsettling echo effect used on his voice that sounds pretty off-kilter compared to how organic the rest of the music is. However, going back to the song, it's an exceptionally strong opener, combining thrashy riffs, an emotional chorus that repeats the beginning motif to great effect, and an emotionally poignant solo that leads to Schuldiner's climactic lyric, "Some say she's naive; she's a stupid bitch." Blunt, but effective.

The other tracks are of a similar nature to "Living Monstrosity," but all have certain moments that set them apart from each other. For instance, after a rather complex riff pattern in "Low Life," a solo battle between Schuldiner and other guitarist James Murphy comes out of the blue. They both let their playing styles clash as a galloping thrash riff illustrates the background behind the two leads. Also worthy of noting is the doom-laden intro to "Altering the Future"; while the rest of the song is Death doing business as usual, the beginning sets a completely different tone, one of despair and a loss of hope. Even when the mid-tempo riff for the verse appears, the atmosphere set by the first thirty seconds continues to loom over the music long after it has concluded. Finally, there's the title track. Good God, the song is great. After a very Halloween-esque (seriously, it sounds eerily close to something out of the main theme from the Halloween movies) intro, the rest of the song is absolutely jam-packed with those "certain moments" I mentioned, the ones that set it apart from other songs on the album. How about the unorthodox riff that manages to be in 4/4 time, and yet has some of the most off-kilter drum work in Death's discography? How about the constant tempo-switches during the speed metal portions? How about the chilling chorus with rapid guitar runs and Schuldiner screaming the song's title? Great moments are littered throughout the song, making the whole thing an absolute highlight.

There's not much else more to say, really. Spiritual Healing is a delightful slice of death metal, as well as a great illustration of how Death were progressing as a group and an entity. While later albums like The Sound of Perseverance and Individual Thought Patterns would come to surpass it, the album has aged very well and remains an early technical death metal classic even after so many years.

P.S.: What the hell is up with that silly album cover?

DEATH Spiritual Healing

Album · 1990 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Spiritual Healing is an awkward spot in the Death timeline; they hadn't quite abandoned their old, more straight-ahead death metal style here, but on the other hand hadn't entirely embraced the technical death metal direction they would latch onto on Human.

It's the more straight-ahead death metal numbers which suffer the most here, with the least progressive songs tending to be the least accomplished. This isn't just a style thing - the sections in question just aren't quite as good as, say, the material on Leprosy, and at points sound like polished-up rejected songs from Scream Bloody Gore. The album is saved by Chuck beginning his introduction of more technically intricate techniques into his performance and songwriting, the title track here perhaps being the best example of this.

Between this and the lyrical shift from overt shocking gore to more contemplative examinations of weightier issues, it's quite clear to me that this more technical, almost progressive material was where Chuck's heart was really at by this stage of the band's existence, his tastes having evolved away from the group's earlier style. Between that and the decision of the rest of the band to tour Europe without Chuck, it's no surprise that this lineup (a mildly tweaked version of the one that did Leprosy, with Rick Rozz gone and James Murphy in his place) didn't last, or that Chuck would switch to working with session musicians rather than running Death as a band project in future.

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