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

DEATH Scream Bloody Gore album cover 3.29 | 59 ratings
Scream Bloody Gore
Death Metal 1987
DEATH Leprosy album cover 3.92 | 65 ratings
Leprosy
Death Metal 1988
DEATH Spiritual Healing album cover 3.73 | 58 ratings
Spiritual Healing
Death Metal 1990
DEATH Human album cover 4.27 | 101 ratings
Human
Technical Death Metal 1991
DEATH Individual Thought Patterns album cover 4.29 | 99 ratings
Individual Thought Patterns
Technical Death Metal 1993
DEATH Symbolic album cover 4.39 | 149 ratings
Symbolic
Technical Death Metal 1995
DEATH The Sound of Perseverance album cover 4.39 | 108 ratings
The Sound of Perseverance
Technical Death Metal 1998

DEATH EPs & splits

DEATH live albums

DEATH Live in L.A. (Death & Raw) album cover 4.25 | 10 ratings
Live in L.A. (Death & Raw)
Technical Death Metal 2001
DEATH Live in Eindhoven '98 album cover 4.08 | 6 ratings
Live in Eindhoven '98
Technical Death Metal 2001
DEATH Vivus! album cover 2.50 | 2 ratings
Vivus!
Technical Death Metal 2012

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

DEATH re-issues & compilations

DEATH Fate: The Best of Death album cover 2.00 | 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 Spiritual Healing

Album · 1990 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Out of the seven DEATH studio albums that were released in the band’s fourteen year run (as DEATH) it’s this third one SPIRITUAL HEALING that gets cited most as the weakest of the pack and i can only imagine that the gawdawful cover art could possibly contribute to that more common than not opinion, however personally i really cannot understand exactly why this one has been singled out of the subsequent pack as the worst of the lot. As was notorious in the ever changing lineup, Chuck Schuldiner experienced a third guitarist on just as many albums this time with Rick Rozz being replaced by James Murphy (an unknown at the time but would go on to play in Obituary, Testament, Konkhra and Cancer). The worst artwork of the Eric Repka catalogue aside, SPIRITUAL HEALING musically speaking, continues the forward thinking march into incrementally increased progressiveness and less of the straight forward brutal rawness with a focus on more intellectually stimulating lyrical content.

Although the sub-genre of death metal began with 1987’s “Scream Bloody Gore,” the close ties to thrash metal were still at the forefront and while each following release took baby steps into a complete cutoff from its parent sub, SPIRITUAL HEALING still retains a heavy thrash riffing brutality augmented by a more sophisticated compositional approach but doesn’t quite reach the level of the true progressive nature of “Human” and beyond. Album #3 is very much a transitional album from death metal’s thrash laden birth pangs to the ever increasing technical sophistication displayed all throughout the 90s. As one decade ceded into another, Schuldiner too was laying the 80s version of the band to rest and slowly but surely ratcheting up the intensity that would culminate on 1998’s “The Sound Of Perseverance.” So what it adds up to is a slightly more melodic version of the first two albums that has slivers of the more technical touches such as Schuldiner and Murphy’s excellent dueling guitar soloing.

Lyrically Schuldiner was maturing rapidly as he left behind the blatant shock and awe subject matter of zombies, mutilation and gore and began to tackle the complexities of human society with a special interest in the most fucked up aspects including deformed babies from coke addicted mothers on “Living Monstrositiy,” abortion on “Altering The Future,” schizophrenia on “Defensive Personalities” as well as the expected evangelistic brainwashing punditry as evidenced on the gawdawful cover art. These types of themes would become increasingly more relevant and refined on the following “Human” release. While the insane time signature changes and labyrinthine song structures hadn’t quite blossomed completely, there are hints of the future with little snippets of frenetic time bending as well as sudden breaks that deviate from the expected “normalcy” of the previous albums.

One thing’s for sure and that i would bet nobody would deem SPIRITUAL HEALING as their favorite DEATH album of all time but that is not to say that this album deserves any of the bad reception that it has received. Schuldiner dishes out the expected punishing brutal riffs at intensively high speeds with his by then signature death growls and succeeds in whipping the rest of the band into shape so that the eight tracks are completely consistently tightly delivered with the bombast and as much caustic abrasiveness one could hope for in the fledgling metal sub-genre. Yeah, that album cover really has to go. I understand that it was meant for the album to evolve more into a psychological horror soundtrack rather the blood and guts themes of prior but something about the whole Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker theme on the cover just doesn’t work. Just for the record… there ARE NO BAD DEATH ALBUMS! This included. Another excellent slice of the early death metal years.

DEATH Leprosy

Album · 1988 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Following in the footsteps of Slayer and Possessed, the Orlando, FL based Chuck Schuldiner single handedly developed his band DEATH into a major metal powerhouse and then dropped his fully functional death metal bomb onto the unsuspecting world of heavy metal with his debut album “Scream Bloody Gore.” While in effect a solo album with only the percussive bombast of Chris Reifert as a partner in musical mischief, Schuldiner had unknowingly unleashed an entirely unexplored universe of metal possibilities with darker and more sinister themes that utilized punishing guitar riffage, primeval raw distortion and those famous Schuldiner only blood curdling screams that finally took that last step out of the only recently developed thrash metal into the ultimate world of extremities.

One can basically view DEATH’s all too brief existence as an incremental step-by-step evolution from the deathened thrash metal beginnings of Mantas to the full blown independence within the death metal camp on “Scream Bloody Gore.” On Schuldiner’s second album LEPROSY now under the DEATH moniker, Chuck (on bass and guitar) almost employs a complete lineup making this one sound more like a real band effort and not just an early solo noisefest. Thus on LEPROSY there were two more musicians with the only album appearance of Rick Rozz on guitar and Bill Andrews picking up the drummer role after Chris Reifert went off to start Autopsy. The result of the new lineup and some time to iron out the kinks presented on the debut resulted in a stunningly brilliant followup.

LEPROSY provided a much needed intermittent step from the raw primeval bombast of the debut and the increasing progressive touches that climaxed on the final album “The Sound Of Perseverance.” While not quite in the progressive death metal camp, LEPROSY displays proto-offerings of the famous abrupt time signature changes and adventurous stylistic changes from chugga chug riffing to the histrionic guitar solos with an riveting changing it up of the drums that create an interesting mixture of styles all throughout the album. The proto-prog labyrinthine tendencies are in full regalia on LEPROSY and would only incrementally accrue on each subsequent release. Never mind the pink album cover. These sounds emanate from the deepest trenches of hell. Despite the choice of color for the album cover pastiche, Edward Repka’s artwork is quite creepy!

While it’s true that DEATH was still in its infancy and was climbing the ladder to one of the most innovative metal bands of all time, LEPROSY provides an interesting snapshot into the late 80s when glam metal bands like Whitesnake and Poison were dominating MTV, the pop charts and the overall public’s perception of what metal was. While not exactly taking the world by storm in terms of popularity, Schuldiner was staunchly nurturing his newly sired craft into an incredible maelstrom of technical wizardry that would provide the blueprint of metal ingenuity for generations to come. For any fans of DEATH, you know you’re either in it wholeheartedly or just casually dipping in to hear what all the fuss is about. It’s simply impossible to follow Schuldiner’s brainchild career without experiencing every single stop in the road along the way. LEPROSY provides that interesting phase two realm.

While i personally prefer the four more progressively infused albums that came last, LEPROSY is by far my favorite album of the first three as it successfully captures in perfect balance the raw and unrelenting origins of the DEATH universe but also begins to create more elaborate compositions that utilize not only traces of melody married with the youthful exuberance and sloppiness that comes from the initial stages of a band’s existence. This is truly a subway stop on the road to greatness but because of Schuldiner’s personal style and ferocious approach, i find this to be the quintessential satisfying release in the early years of old school death metal. Tech death is probably my favorite extreme metal style of the 21st century but LEPROSY is a classic that captures a moment in time that can never be repeated and captures it brilliantly. Brilliantly i say, brilliantly! Grrrrrrrrr.

DEATH Scream Bloody Gore

Album · 1987 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
When it comes to metal music legends, the story of Chuck Shuldner’s epic journey with his influential band DEATH has to be one of the most enduring as Schuldner is not only regarded as the godfather of the entire death metal subgenere but one of the most innovative musical influences in the entire metal genre period ( . ) with each album in his all too short career taking massive leaps of evolution over what came before. When it comes to the origins of death metal, the endless debate will surely revolve around who really created it and the answer will forever exist in the morbid murky nebulous annals of history and the idiosyncratic definitions of when and where the death metal sub actually split off from its parent thrash metal. I have developed my own take on this and instead of assigning a clearcut definition, i prefer to view it from a rather biological evolutionary perspective since musical developments occur in much the same manner as do animal and plant species. One species clearly could not exist without branching off of another and each slight differentiation may or may not constitute a relabeling of its characteristics and corresponding nomenclature.

In the case of death metal, there can be absolutely no doubt that the underpinnings of the sub originated with the English heavy metal pioneers Venom whose macabre and bantering din laced with the first vociferations of harsh shouted vocals would ultimately blossom into what would later be called extreme metal. In the beginning Venom was in a metal limbo or rather a somewhat embryonic extreme metal stage where thrash, black and death metal were all nestled within the very DNA of the caustic sonic waves that emerged from their baleful expressions of societal contempt and verbal vitriol wrapped up in distorted decibelage and breakneck speed outbursts. Out of this primordial cesspool sprang forth other early degenerates such as Celtic Frost, Slayer and Kreator as they began to diversify the intensity and focus of their bombastic approaches. These could be considered the proto-death metal bands that not only launched the nascent beginnings of the thrash scene but also were ultimately influential for the evil contorts of Bathory which would hatch the wretched spawn of black metal, death metal’s evil twin.

The next phase in the development of death metal is undoubtedly the Bay Area’s own Possessed who took Slayer’s extreme speed and demonic gore to even greater extremities with lightning fast blitzkriegs of thundering riffing, bantering percussive drive and Jeff Becerra’s guttural vocals, a style that to many, defines the very essence of the death metal sub entirely, however musically Possessed were very much still a thrash metal band as they hadn’t quite taken that final step into low-tuned tremolo picking riffing accompanied by the double kick blastbeat drumming that utilized the ugliest aspects of minor keys, atonality and wicked chromatic chord progressions. They were still a few baby steps away from what we would call death metal today, but personally i find them to exist in that crucial phase 2 development of death metal much like a tadpole (which would be Venom and friends) would development limbs (the Possessed phase) but still not quite the frog that is free of its fully aquatic features and thus keeps it from being a full fledged amphibian, the completely liberated death metal stage.

Chuck Schuldner’s DEATH is where that very amphibian phase of death metal finally came of age. Schuldner had been unleashing his sonic terror onto the world with his many demos (released under the moniker Mantas as well as DEATH) but these too were somewhere in the Possessed camp of proto-death with thrash leanings. Always the visionary even at the young tender age of seventeen, Schuldner set out to evolve his own brand of extreme metal into something even uglier, taking his primary metal influences of Possessed and Slayer to the next level. In the search for the musical talent to take him to this new level, Chuck had one helluva time finding anyone to fill these roles and after moving from his native Florida to the San Francisco Bay Area and then to Canada and then back to the Bay Area. After placing an ad or two, Schuldner finally found promise in the 17-year old drummer Chris Reifert but was unsatisfied with the music scene as nobody else fit the bill to fill the shoes of his new musical vision.

Undeterred, Schuldner opted to record his debut DEATH demo “Mutilation” completely by himself with only Reifert along for the ride, therefore Schuldner performed all lead and rhythm guitars along with bass and vocals. Although John Hand had briefly joined the band, he didn’t play on any recordings or participate in any live settings either. “Mutilation” proved quite the hit on the underground cassette trading community and caught the attention of the fledgling extreme metal label Combat Records which enabled Schuldner and Reifert to record their full-length debut SCREAM BLOODY GORE. The process proved to be more trouble than expected as the album was recorded once in Florida and then by record company demand had to be re-recorded once more in California with Rnady Burns as the producer. While many tracks such as “Infernal Death” and “Baptized By Blood” had appeared on prior demos, half the tracks on SCREAM BLOODY GORE were completely new and therefore the album has an interesting range of primal to more sophisticated, albeit nowhere near as complex and crazy as DEATH would become with each subsequent release.

Point blank, SCREAM BLOODY GORE was a shout out to the metal universe that something new had emerged and that something was the equivalent to a nuclear bomb being dropped at a Bon Jovi concert turned horror movie where audience members’ body parts rained o’er the blood stained lands. And so it was. Death metal was born on 25 May, 1987 as SCREAM BLOODY GORE made its debut to an unsuspecting public that while unheard by the masses has only gained its legendary status as the following decades ensued. Like many metal fans, i myself had only come to experience the magic of DEATH in a posthumous Chuck Schuldner reality. Despite being the DEATH album with the least finesse, there’s a certain rawness and assured certainty in the powerful delivery that infuses the ethos of hardcore punk with the provident shock and awe for an entire branch of the metal universe to spiral off of. SCREAM BLOODY GORE has to be one of the most ferocious sonic attacks of all the 80s, taking the frenetic bantering of Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” and adding a sense of brutality and offensiveness never heard before. Much of the subject matter was inspired by horror movies such as “City Of The Living Dead,” The Beyond” and “Zombie” and Schuldner pummeled the senses with a sense of sonic horror hitherto unmatched.

When all is said and done, one can only bow down to the metal god that was Chuck Schuldner and pay reverence to his pivotal role in the great big bang of the death metal scene. Perhaps other acts such as Morbid Angel or Obituary would have eventually reached similar musical conclusions, but it was Chuck Schuldner who relentless strived to exercise extreme creativity that would ratchet every single album he touched into higher levels of musical expression in his ceaseless reach for the stars and beyond. While no one could ever conflate the magnanimous progressive achievements of albums such “The Sound Of Perseverance” with DEATH’s earliest offerings, there is also no denying that no one quite dished out the old death school charm like Schuldner did on SCREAM BLOODY GORE with not only its landmark old school death metal cover art but also with the pummeling guitar riffs, the frenetic skin punishing percussion or the grim growly gusto of Schuldner’s vocal style.

While this debut may not be the my first album of choice for repeated listens out of the septet of DEATH’s canon, it is clearly the one that deserves the most respect for paving the way for everything death metal related to follow and remains as enigmatic today as it must’ve sounded all those decades ago. THIS is truly one of those “must hear before you die” sort of albums not only for its immortal legendary status of ushering in one of the most popular metal styles of the 90s but must be experienced for its punishing ear assaults that crank out one addictive mutilated groove after another. After recording SCREAM BLOODY GORE, Schuldner would move back to Florida leaving Reifert behind as he would opt to remain in California to create his own band Autopsy. And so the tradition of a new lineup for every album was born along with an entirely new subgenere that continues to evolve in a post-Schuldner world but still carries on his musical DNA in the tapestry of every fiber of the death metal universe.

DEATH Leprosy

Album · 1988 · Death Metal
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Vim Fuego
It must be a teen angst thing, to claim a song or musician “speaks” to you. It was common in the gunge… er, grunge era, where spotty anaemic teens thought Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder were channelling their personal feelings or thoughts, and were communicating straight to them. It’s not a new phenomenon. Similar claims have been made of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Bono, and just about any trendy fuckwit who has ever written a vague sounding song which can be reinterpreted or misinterpreted, and appeals to safe middle class, suburban youth.

Fuck. Off.

All it means is you’ve never experienced anything challenging or real in your life, and you’re trying to be more world wise and weary than you really are. That sort of music, and it’s fans, are deeply superficial. There is nothing truly thought provoking in it, because there is nothing real in it.

For outsiders, people attracted to harder, heavier music, it is either a reflection of the harshness of life, or a complete escape into fantastical escapism. On the reality side, you have genres like grindcore and crust punk, with their social conscience and political colours emblazoned for all to see. Other genres, like brutal death metal or power metal take refuge in slasher movie gore, or Dungeons and Dragons made flesh. A few bands though, managed to combine the two extremes, creating something which was both thought provoking, and an escape. Death’s “Leprosy” is such a creation.

Death’s legacy is legendary in metal circles. The band’s first album “Scream Bloody Gore” is a seminal death metal milestone, creating the bloodstained blueprint for the genre. However, by the time Chuck Schuldiner got to making “Leprosy”, he had been playing this style of music for half a decade, and the plain old guts and gore thing had become a bit passé. So Schuldiner changed tack. Instead of musical horror movies, as later perfected by the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Autopsy, he turned to true life horror.

Take title track “Leprosy” for example. It’s a biblical illness, right? People don’t get leprosy any more, do they? Well, when this song was written, more than 5,000,000 people worldwide had the disease. Although now curable, it is still present in the developing world. There’s a horrifically detailed (and even more horrifically predominantly shocking pink!) Ed Repka depiction of the disease on the album cover. A descriptive song, it describes the ravages of leprosy on a human. It doesn’t just describe the physical effects, but also the social stigma, and the psychological torment of someone disfigured and dying. How would you feel?

Musically, “Leprosy” was also a change of tack. It’s fast and heavy, but also sharp and clear. And ya know, it’s a pretty fucking impressive backing band here. Although things went all to shit later on, and the rest of the band copped a lot of criticism from Schuldiner, all three have been incredibly influential in the way death metal sounds today. The non-Chuck ¾ of the band went on to reform Massacre with former Death alumni Kam Lee. Bassist Terry Butler didn’t actually play on this album, but he has had a full career since, also playing in Six Feet Under and Obituary. Rick Rozz co-wrote much of the music on this album. His playing style was criticised at the time for his blatant Kerry King worship, but in the years since, his style has been adopted by many death metal lead guitarists, because it suits death metal so fucking well.

The rest of the thought provoking songs followed on in a similar vein from “Leprosy”. “Born Dead” took a closer look at third world famine and disease than any pop star collaboration trying to feed the world. “Forgotten Past” is a story of horrifying dreams, or are they a revealed memory?

The incredible “Left To Die” is a war song, told from the point of view of a seemingly unimportant victim dying on a battlefield. It could be the final moments of many millions of soldiers since the invention of gunpowder, but is that life still unimportant if it is yours?

“Pull The Plug” is a powerful first person point of view of a helpless victim in a vegetative state, sensing all, but able to do nothing. It’s like Metallica’s “One” without the anti-war message, and poetic license. “Open Casket” is a jab at the insensitive and cringe-worthy practice of open casket funerals. What good comes from seeing someone’s body in death?

“Primitive Ways” is probably the only song which would have fit well onto “Scream Bloody Gore”. It’s a description of cannibalistic rituals. A bit less intelligent than the rest of the album, this is still plenty gory for the guts fetishists.

And final track “Choke On It”. It’s not a perverse song about brutal sex, as the title may suggest. Instead, the song makes the listener consider: “How would I cope if subjected to torture?”

So, feelings? Yes, there’s plenty, if you count all the varieties of physical and mental pain, and societal rejection. Thoughts? Plenty are provoked, often of the “I’ve never thought of it that way before” and “thank fuck that’s not happening to me” variety. And does it speak to anyone? Well, yes it does. This album spoke to death metal fans and bands the world over. The message was it was OK to explore themes outside murder and gore, it was possible to make clear sounding music without losing the death metal essence, and intelligence and death metal were not mutually exclusive.

DEATH Symbolic

Album · 1995 · Technical Death Metal
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voila_la_scorie
Death’s “Symbolic” album first caught my attention when it appeared in the Top 5 Metal Albums of MMA, showing up smartly in the column of album artwork that usually includes “Master of Puppets”, “Rust in Peace”, “Rainbow Rising”, and “Reign in Blood”. The fifth album recently has been “Keeper of the Keys Pt. 2” but “Symbolic” has been there in the past, and as I have recently taken an interest in death metal, I decided this must be one of the first albums to acquire.

Death is considered one of the most important bands in the development of the genre. I have watched two YouTube channel videos where Death’s debut “Scream Bloody Gore” and Possessed’s “Seven Churches” have been discussed as first death metal albums. Over its career, Death released only seven albums before founding member Chuck Schuldiner passed away, but I’ve heard it said that there is not a bad album among them. So I had very high expectations when I received this.

The album was not to my expectations, however. First, the guitar tone was higher than I had anticipated. Also, the playing style was not technical and fast like Gorguts but more like technical thrash metal. By technical here I don’t mean highly complex and difficult riffs but rather thrash metal that covers several different riffs in a song, changing riffs and tempo abruptly, and includes slow, heavy riffs as well as speedy chugging. For the first two or three listens, I was frequently reminded of Sacrifice or even Slayer, as if those bands had created music with an added dimension. This is of course not to say that I don’t like the music. The guitar sound, the riffs, and the playing, along with many of the lead breaks, all sound really awesome to my ears. It’s just that I had been listening to Opeth, Gorguts, Kataklysm, Bolt Thrower, and Cryptopsy leading up to hearing this album.

Another surprise was Chuck’s voice. Once again, I had been expecting the death growl, that low and guttural roaring and bellowing. Chuck, however, has more of that thrash metal, back-of-the-throat, shouting/singing style. That too sounds great though. So again, no disappointment there either.

One other thing that I had been expecting was a progressive element. A fellow metal fan had told me that when he heard dream Theater’s “Images and Words” for the first time, he had just recently also heard an album by Death, and he was of the opinion that Death’s album was really progressive, so to him Dream Theater sounded more like a glam metal band with some flourishes. That set me up to expect some pretty impressive progressive metal but once more what I heard was not what I had anticipated. Again, I felt this was more like technical thrash metal than progressive metal. Adding more riffs to a song or changing tempo frequently is not uncommon in thrash. It’s one thing I loved about Slayer’s song “Hell Awaits”, songs from Sacrifice’s “Soldiers of Misfortune” or some older Metallica albums like “Master of Puppets” and even “Ride the Lightning”. Megadeth also went for that more technical thrash style. I wouldn’t exactly call it progressive metal though it does exhibit a higher level of creativity than just thrashing through track after track.

Now, despite the fact that much of the album did not meet my expectations, I do really like the album and I am considering picking up two more Death albums in the coming months. It’s not inconceivable that I would end up with the whole collection at some point. The only point for me where this album is not five stars is that I cannot pick out any favourite tracks. Of course each song is distinct from the others and some songs have become familiar enough to me now that I get a little happy rush when they start playing. But overall, there aren’t any really stand out tracks for me. The every song is worthy of 4 or 4.5 stars, in my opinion. I don’t hear any solid 5-star track or any of those totally killer tracks that must be in the higher almost unattainable plane of the 6-star song.

Death’s “Symbolic” is a very solid, consistent, and excellent album. For my preference, it’s not a Top Ten masterpiece, but it’s certainly an album worthy of any metal collection.

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