SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD
Progressive Metal • United States

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There's not much information available about the origins of this truly outstanding original progressive metal band. The band released their first EP in 2004, followed by their first album in 2006.

In their MySpace website, the band cites this as their influences: "Confucius, Buddha, Mr. Bungle, Danny Elfman, Oingo Boingo, Zappa, King Crimson, Dimmu Borgir, Ozric Tentacles, Tub Ring, Estradasphere, Slayer, Devin Townsend, Ween, Journey, Supertramp, Boston, Chicago, Europe, Faith No More, Refused, Secret Chiefs3, Radiohead, Tom Waits, System Of A Down, Dillinger Escape Plan, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Bowie, Michael Jackson, Don Caballero, Pink Floyd, Roky Erickson..."

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD's members are:

Androo O'Hearn - Vocals, Keyboards (ex-Batcastle, ex-Dr. Brainwarp) Matt Thompson - Drums (King Diamond, ex-Batcastle, ex-Autumn Silence, ex-Michael Harris, Surgeon (US)) David O'Hearn - Guitar (ex-Batcastle) Gary Thorne - Bass

Artist self-description (taken from Metal-Archives.com): "When a Manchu conspiracy to overthrow the Ming dynasty is thwarted by a group of
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Thanks to the t 666 for the addition and colt for the updates

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SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Discography

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.54 | 6 ratings
Intelligent Design
Progressive Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 4.04 | 11 ratings
Five Deadly Venoms
Progressive Metal 2010

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 2.58 | 4 ratings
Shaolin Death Squad
Progressive Metal 2004

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD live albums

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

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD boxset & compilations

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SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Reviews

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Five Deadly Venoms

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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Negoba
Hybrid of the Best

Shaolin Death Squad blends together two of my favorite prog metal bands ever, Pain of Salvation and Mr. Bungle. The latter has inspired a small but significant group of imitators, some of which are brilliant, some lite versions, and some just bafflingly wierd. Unfortunately, we don't have alot of bands doing prog metal in the mold of early PoS. As a result, this album is a welcome delight for me. From Mr. Bungle, we get some zany rapid switches between genres, quirky humor, and the vocalist's obvious allusions to Mike Patton. From Pain of Salvation, we get the thicker wall of sound, more decipherable concepts, and a widened vocal approach that includes a stronger sense of melody. There are even a few allusions to my favorite prog metal artist of all, Devin Townsend.

The album opens with a subtle acoustic guitar with some ambient effects on the track "Romanza." But after this introduction, we get a steady chugging electric guitar that sounds disturbingly like pop punk. On first listen, I was worried I'd wasted my money. But the track, "Centipede" evolves with more and more interesting ideas, weaving more sounds than most entire pop albums. But it's not until "Snake" that the album really takes off. It starts with a pulsing bass figure that eventually explodes with energy. There is a particularly powerful riff at 2:00 that is just awesome. The songs is the most PoS like of the group, and from there the albums just hums for quite awhile. The remaining animal named songs are just great, each having its own little morsel of delicious music for the listener to devour.

The rest of the album is a little more uneven. "Mischief and Epiphany" maintains the energy with a ska-ish rhythm that leads into glorious riffing. "Let Us Welcome the Actors" is the kind of self-reflecting theme that nevers works for me in any artform, and the momentum starts to wane. It's is fairly reminiscent of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, another Bungle descendent. "Last Stand" begins with a groove straight off Faith No More's ANGEL DUST and then moves to a robo-voice that had poked its nose in a few times earlier. The last two tracks are strange in that they both sound like they were meant to be album closers, but the band couldn't decide which one to use. They are both good songs, but it makes the album end with a strange taste.

Overall, the middle of FIVE DEADLY VENOMS is very close to masterpiece level prog metal. In a weak year, this album is high on my best of 2010 list. But the slow start and slightly stumbling ending make the decision between four and five stars easy for me. But still this album comes highly recommended.

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Five Deadly Venoms

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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bonnek
Five Deadly Venoms is my first Shaolin experience and I must say this has been a most pleasing revelation. The band operates in the Prog Metal zone and they sure make a fresh appearance there. I might add that such is not hard in a rather stale scene that has never done much for me, Psychotic Waltz excepted.

One name should dominate any review of this album: Faith No More. The obvious reasons being the brilliant Mike Patton-alike vocals and the quirky eclectic nature of their metal. The sound is somewhat different though, scarcer on the keyboards then Angel Dust for instance and without the bouncy funk/crossover influences from Epic. So what's left is definitely more metal-ish, but it's adventurous metal where anything can and does happen in the songs. Some of these non-metallic side-steps are quite prog, sometimes reminding of Gentle Giant, other diversions are the Zappa-esque RIO influences.

Despite the scary name of this band, people with grunt allergy can rest assured, there's nothing but clean vocals here. Also AOR-skeptics like myself should not be afraid, this band is a cool bunch and won’t compromise their songwriting with sing-along pomp rock.

Shaolin Death Squad are wilder then Faith No More but not as insane as Mr Bungle. That makes it an excellent album for me, recommended to all metal fans in need for a fresh and credible chunk of steel that sits outside of the Extreme Metal realm.

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Shaolin Death Squad

EP · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
Shaolin Death Squad is a self-titled EP release by American progressive metal act Shaolin Death Squad. The EP was released in February 2004. It´s a self-released affair and the EP is the first official release by the band. The 30:53 minute long EP contains 6 tracks.

The music on the album is not your everyday Dream Theater influenced progressive metal. Rather the band have opted for a style that´s really hard to define, but there are both progressive and alternative metal elements on the album. Lead vocalist Androo O'Hearn ( or The White Swan as he also goes by) has a voice that´s very similar to the voice of Mike Patton and it´s difficult not to mention Faith No More as a big influence. It´s not only the voice that leads to this comparison, but don´t fear a Faith No More clone by any means. Shaolin Death Squad definitely have their own style and sound. The music is generally very melodic and the songlines memorable. The songs are not terribly complex, but there are sections here and there that are undeniably progressive. The songwriting are of high quality and the musicianship excellent, so you´ll get top notch performances all around. The production is also very good and I´m sure you wouldn´t guess this was a self-released affair if you didn´t know. Now I said the songwriting is of high quality, but honestly it´s the first three songs on the EP that really takes the prize. The last three songs on the EP are not quite as interesting and especially the ambient instrumental Sleepless doesn´t do that much for me. It´s enjoyable but not really excellent.

All in all the Shaolin Death Squad EP is definitely worth a listen if you enjoy a combination of progressive and alternative metal. A 3 star rating is deserved. Had the latter part of the EP been better I would have given a 3.5 star rating. It´s a very promising first release though.

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Five Deadly Venoms

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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J-Man
Another Serious Contender For Album of the Year 2010

2010 has been a year filled with surprises. Whether it is the return of a long-lost project, the release of a stunning debut, or an unexpected masterpiece, it will surely be a year to remember. Five Deadly Venoms definitely falls into the last category for me. Though I'd heard of Shaolin Death Squad before, it wasn't until this album that I would give them a proper listen. Although I sincerely regret not being a fan during their debut album's release, I am so glad I finally jumped into Shaolin Death Squad's fanbase. Five Deadly Venoms, the band's sophomore album, is one of the best releases to come out this year. Shaolin Death Squad is one of the few bands in this day and age who can take traditional progressive metal and form it into something completely new and unheard of, while still managing to wear their influences on their sleeve. It's this striking sense of originality and distinction, perfectly blended with poignant lyrics and unforgettable music, that makes Five Deadly Venoms an essential masterpiece. Although there've been a ton of great albums in 2010, I can confidently rank Five Deadly Venoms up there with the best of the best. It's rare that I hear an album this superb, so I'll do my best to express how great Five Deadly Venoms truly is. I've got a good feeling that words won't do this terrific masterpiece any justice, though.

Shaolin Death Squad's sound is awfully hard to pinpoint. Although they surely fall under the progressive metal umbrella, they are quite eclectic. The biggest influences I hear are Faith No More, Pain of Salvation, and Dream Theater, but there's also an avant-garde touch of Mr. Bungle here and there as well. One thing that's really cool about Five Deadly Venoms are the Chinese influences throughout the album. Tracks 1-6 form a conceptual suite based on the Hong Kong cult martial arts film, "Five Venoms", directed by Chang Cheh in 1978. Another interesting sidenote is that the first song, Romanza, is actually an anonymous Spanish song. The final song, Peace Be Upon You, is a traditional Jewish song as well. This just adds an even wider range of influences into Shaolin Death Squad's sound, and it works terrifically.

As I've previously mentioned, the first 6 songs (with or without the brief intro) form a conceptual suite entitled Five Deadly Venoms, and it's an absolute tour de force. Every song by itself is a masterpiece, and when you put them together you get an even bigger masterpiece. This is surely among one of the best prog suites to come out in recent times. The other songs are equally as fantastic, with Farewell being my favorite from the second half of the album. The wordless Mischief and Epiphany is a highlight as well, combining Mr. Bungle-like carnival sounds on the keyboards and more metal-oriented guitar riffing. If I were to recommend hearing just one song on Five Deadly Venoms, it would probably be Centipede, but hearing just one song off of this masterpiece is criminal. This must be enjoyed as a full album, even though every track can still confidently stand alone. My only complaint about this entire album (and it's a good complaint to have) is that the running time is just shy of 45 minutes. Although this is surely an adequate length, I would've really been in heaven if this were over an hour. I know that Shaolin Death Squad is one of the few bands who could pull off an album like this without filler.

The musicianship is incredible. Although there are no shred-fests, every musician shows their chops throughout the album. The highlight of Shaolin Death Squad for me is probably the vocals from Androo O'Hearn (The White Swan). He has an absolutely marvelous voice that can compare with the likes of Daniel Gildenlöw and Mike Patton, which is no easy feat. The vocal harmonies with the other members are also amazing. As a whole, the vocal department of this band is honestly one of the best I've ever heard. Androo also does a great job as the keyboard player for Shaolin Death Squad. The drums from Matt Thompson (Black Ninja), who's also played with King Diamond, are great as well. He seamlessly combines complexity and power with subtlety and is an absolute joy to listen to. The two guitarists, David O'Hearn (Red Dragon) and Kenny Lovern (Black Scorpion), are great, highly diverse players. On this album you can find soaring solos, metal riffing, melodic picking, and even funky playing styles. Finally, the bass playing from Gary Thorne (White Dragon) provides a great foundation for the music. He has some truly terrific basslines throughout Five Deadly Venoms.

The production is great. It's clean and polished enough to hear everything perfectly, but there's still a bit of rawness that keeps the album from sounding over-produced. This is the type of sound that's absolutely perfect for Shaolin Death Squad's music.

Conclusion:

When I went into hearing Five Deadly Venoms, I can't say that I expected a masterpiece. But when all is said and done, it's hard for me to call this album anything other than a masterpiece. When I say that Shaolin Death Squad is a prog metal band to keep your eyes on, I really mean it. These guys are some of the most talented musicians in the scene right now, and Five Deadly Venoms is sheer proof of this. If you like Faith No More, Pain of Salvation, Mr. Bungle, and Dream Theater, this is an absolutely essential album. This is a very confident 5 stars and a job well done on the band's part. I don't give out this rating frequently, so it's clear that Shaolin Death Squad has really earned it. I've said almost 1,000 words just to make this one point - buy this album. You won't regret it.

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD Intelligent Design

Album · 2006 · Progressive Metal
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The T 666
Another case of an unknown masterpiece.

SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD, an American group nobody knows about, has delivered in a grandiose way with their 2006 album "Intelligent Design", a brilliant album full of great musicianship, innovation, creativity, and entertainment.

We can call this music progressive-metal, but not your typical DT-style prog-metal. We hear some elements of traditional bands, but mostly we hear an eclectic mixture of all kind of different influences, which combine to create a distinct, unique sound. We hear avant-garde elements, we hear some tech-metal touches here and there, we can detect musical passages that sound like DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA but also moments when we're reminded of ARCTURUS. There's some thrash metal in here, too, with many fast riffs and pounding rhythms. Some alternative rock has managed to infiltrate the music as well. As you can see, a complete blend of many colors in the metal spectrum. But the influences we could say are the most important in SDS's sound are definitely two: PAIN OF SALVATION, but even more, FAITH NO MORE. Yes, SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD's sound owes a lot to both Gildenlow's outfit and to Patton's deceased group.

A very important element in SDS's music is the quality of the musicians and specially of their singer. All the instrumentalists are more than capable, showing their skills but never falling for the easy show-off. But it's "The White Swan" who steals the show. Here we have a vocalist capable of switching styles with ease and tremendous creativity. He can go from a melodic, clean voice to a black-metal styled, high- pitched growling in a matter of seconds, in both cases managing to deliver a very compelling vocal performance. Again, his main influences are the same as in the overall sound of the band: Gildenlow, but mostly, Patton. It's his way of phrasing the words, the rhythms, and sometimes also the tone that remind us of that great singer of FAITH NO MORE and MR BUNGLE fame. "The White Swan" doesn't stop here though; he can also sound a little grungy (we can detect a hint of ALICE IN CHAINS in one of the songs) and, in the last track, he evokes Jonathan Davis, of much-maligned nu-metal band KORN. Yes, the guy has quite a range of possibilities in his voice.

The music goes from the burlesque to the violent, from the atmospheric to the grotesque, from the cold mountains of China to the exaggerated joke of a circus; there's anger and insanity, there's laughter and even some light; we travel from the traditional to the modern, from progressive-metal to thrash metal to space-rock to avant-garde.

One of the best cds of 2006, a year when many lost gems like this album or DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA got buried underneath a pile of over-hyped records. It's a shame that this disc has been self-released. Let's hope SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD is allowed to give us their talents with a label that can guarantee that more people will be exposed to great music like this.

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