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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The Sound of PerseveranceThe Sound of Perseverance
Extra tracks
Relapse 2011
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Human (reissue)Human (reissue)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Relapse Records 2011
Audio CD$10.29
$6.00 (used)
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DEATH Discography

DEATH albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 2.94 | 56 ratings
Scream Bloody Gore
Death Metal 1987
.. Album Cover 3.78 | 62 ratings
Leprosy
Death Metal 1988
.. Album Cover 3.47 | 55 ratings
Spiritual Healing
Death Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 4.19 | 95 ratings
Human
Technical Death Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 4.26 | 96 ratings
Individual Thought Patterns
Technical Death Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 4.45 | 142 ratings
Symbolic
Technical Death Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.31 | 105 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 Symbolic

Album · 1995 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

DEATH Individual Thought Patterns

Album · 1993 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Necrotica
When "The Philosopher" was played on MTV and got featured on Beavis & Butthead back in the 90s, it was clear that Death were becoming influential even beyond the realms of death metal. Keep in mind that, while Headbanger's Ball was a popular MTV program back then, it usually featured artists more rooted in traditional, alternative, and thrash metal. More extreme genres of metal were thrown in there from time to time, but were often tucked behind the primary stuff that was being shown/heard. That, and the program was canceled in 1995, around the time that Death were finally getting more recognition. Basically, what I'm saying is that a band like Death being on MTV rotation is nothing short of an anomaly. But, in hindsight, "The Philosopher" was a great piece of music to get people into the band; from the now-iconic tapped guitar intro to the bizarre shifts in rhythm, "The Philosopher" was the sound of a band venturing into their bold and most adventurous territory yet. Throw in some of Steve DiGiorgio's finest (and finally more audible) bass work yet and Gene Hoglan's intricate drumming, and this song was a perfect appetizer - and closer - for its parent album, Individual Thought Patterns. The second album in Death's highly acclaimed "Final Four," this also might just be their most fascinating album as well.

The album itself is a formula nearly perfected, blending death metal, progressive metal, and even jazz fusion into a ten-song whirlwind of masterclass musicianship and multi-faceted lyrics. Chuck Schuldiner's songwriting was tighter than ever by this point, with the ability to pack so many riffs and twists in each song to vary their moods considerably. "Mentally Blind" is a perfect example, switching from a speed metal-influenced pre-chorus to a slow, atmospheric crawl in a matter of seconds without killing the song's pace. There are also a few welcome additions to Chuck's musical arsenal here, such as the beautifully written acoustic intro to "Destiny" (which would eventually be more fleshed out in 1998's "Voice of the Soul") and the Cynic-influenced "jazz metal" portions of "Trapped in the Corner." In fact, there's a LOT more jazz here than on Death's other albums, based on the guitar chords and rhythmic structures. The title track even gets a bit groovy in the pre-chorus, although it still benefits from some technical bass melodies underneath. You could also argue that this album, alongside Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance is one of the Death albums most akin to classic progressive rock in style, as the band seemed to be gradually working themselves away from classic death metal to focus on a sound that's more intricate and diverse. But what makes it work in Individual Thought Patterns' favor is that it still retains the rawness of the previous albums in the process. It's like you're listening to the unpolished production values and jagged guitar work of Human combined with the epic compositions and progressive tendencies of Symbolic in one single package, which is pretty damn cool.

But, as I stated, the adventurousness is what makes this album especially notable in Death's discography. There's some genuinely surprising material here, so let me briefly list a few highlights:

-A Latin jazz portion in "Out of Touch" which sounds like Death's interpretation of Atheist -A melodic outro in "Nothing is Everything" that mixes catchy guitar leads with a chugging riff for a nice juxtaposition of sounds -A chromatic solo by Andy LaRocque in "Overactive Imagination" that sounds like an evil circus, followed by one of the album's jazziest riffs -The aforementioned acoustic portion of "Destiny" which beautifully kicks off the song and gives it an epic feel, along with some of that Latin flair in the lead guitar -Some very weird discordant harmonies and melodies in the intro/main riff of the title track, which somehow feel both natural and out-of-place at the same time -An extended bass solo in the outro of "The Philosopher," which takes up the last minute of its runtime -A breakdown in "Mentally Blind" that shows all the deathcore kiddies that you can still make a breakdown that's well-written while retaining its heaviness/distortion

Those are just a few of the interesting elements strewn about, and they're coupled with some of the best lyrics you'll ever hear on a Death (or death metal) album. Among the subjects covered are Schuldiner's perceptions of jealousy, social norms, and other realistic topics regarding the human experience. It's cool to hear concepts that started out on Spiritual Healing fleshed out so much in Death's later work, as well as hearing a band that really makes you think about the world around you and might even influence your perceptions of that world. Especially notable is "The Philosopher," which (as far as I can tell, at least) concerns people who think they know everything on their high-and-mighty proverbial pedestals, while never acknowledging the opinions and thoughts of others in their narrow-mindedness. Pretty sophisticated subject matter, to say the least.

While it's not quite my favorite record in Death's impressive catalog, Individual Thought Patterns does come incredibly close to that distinction regardless. It's such a fun album to listen to because of it's experimental and progressive nature, while showcasing an incredibly high quality of lyricism on top of all that. It doesn't reach the production polish of Symbolic, but it seems better off with the rawer production that was used, as it marries the album's instrumental complexity with some edge. Just trust me on this: if you're a death metal or progressive metal fan and you haven't listened to Individual Thought Patterns you're missing out on one of the best records from either genre.

DEATH The Sound of Perseverance

Album · 1998 · Technical Death Metal
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"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
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"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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"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.

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