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Death - Scream Bloody Gore CD (album) cover

SCREAM BLOODY GORE

Death

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

2.79 | 109 ratings

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4 stars The mid to late 1980s were a great time if you were into metal - especially at the more extreme end, as there were countless bands jumping on the Thrash/Speed metal bandwagon, and a significant proportion of these were cultivating unique styles.

This was a real hot-bed of invention, a time as exciting for metal as the 1960s were for music in general, and as progressive as the 1970s were... OK, I'm getting carried away now.

1987 was the year after "Master of Puppets" and Reign in Blood", two legendary landmarks in this genre that still tower over almost anything else at that time. We have to look to the more extreme end of this already extreme genre and investigate the music of Kreator to see where Death came from.

Fortunately, Chuck Schuldiner had a vision that stopped Death from being a Kreator tribute band, and the music of "Scream Bloody Gore" is brutal and primaeval enough to stand up to a band name that was really inevitable, given the desire of the genre to shock and hit hard.

Unfortunately, the lyrics are throwawy rubbish - childish droolings of someone out to shock, but armed with a Thesaurus (the expurgated version).

Fortunately, you cannot make the lyrics out at all, thanks to Chuck's "Death Growl" style of vocals, which suit the high-distortion muscular and brutal tritone-based riffs.

It's not Prog, but will be of great interest to anyone into Death (or related) metal, as this album is widely regarded to be the very first of the genre - and as such is highly progressive.

Yes... I'm going to do a track-by-track now... :O)

"Infernal Death" grants a hugely satisfying entry, with chunking riffs and pounding drums, perfectly met by an elongated "DIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!!" from Chuck. Great comedy - I love it!

You get a few more of these, before the thrashy style starts - and what a monster riff it is. Chuck's vocals just suit the music perfectly, and the song winds around the "Boom- tsh-boom-tsh" drumm patterns with great ferocity. Chuck then snakes a slithery guitar lead in there, and a new riff is tossed in - based, I might add, on the earlier riffs. None of your tangential nonsense here - this is pure metal music carved from a single sinew.

The Egyptian-sounding twin-barrel lead intro to "Zombie Ritual" makes a coherent follow- on, and the doom-laden columns of riff that follow create an architectural wonder of the metal world, before suddenly dropping into a sandstorm that whips up a veritable fury. More columns of chords frame this perfectly, and a monster riff drives the chorus as, lo and behold, the riffage is developed in a progressive way before kicking back into the sandstorm of earlier.

The attention to detail in the construction is gut-instinct at its best, creating an edifice of rock so huge and mighty that make Black Sabbath seem like Pinky and Perky.

And you should hear the guitar solo...

The burn-out is marvellous - you get to hear Chuck belting out "Zombie... Ritual..." in a chilling Death scream. Stirring stuff indeed.

We then get slammed head-first into "Denial of Life" - see, the Egyptian theme is continued... Oh well. The mayhem simply never lets up - a masterful and perfectly developing set of riffs yet again welded together with an instincitve feel for how this new style of music should progress - and the technical abilities to pull it off.

All together for the chorus; "DENIALOFLIFE!!!".

And those brutal riffs are just the ticket - OK, they get a bit "Slayer" at times, but Death remarkably carved their own style in a market that seemed flooded with thrash/speed bands.

We get a little respite for the start of "Sacrificial", but this is only superficial - the riffs grow in intensity and the drums batter and pound the words in the vocals into blissful obscurity - you don't want to know... OK, just a bit:

"With chainsaw in hand, Your death I demand, Slicing through your fat, My awaited gore attack".

Sheer bloody poetry or what?

You should check the rest of the lyrics out - they make Cradle of Filth seem like quite pleasant gentlemen really...

Fortunately, the music more than makes up for it - and you can't hear the words anyway.

"Mutilation" doesn't really do anything new, but it is incredibly fast and brutal, and has a catchy chorus - all together now; "You must die in pain, You must die in pain, You must die in pain, You must die in pain, MUTILATION, MUTILATION, MUTILATION, MUTILATIAARRGHHH!!!"

"WOOOOAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!"

I love it - and there's another side to go!

Some of the best riffing is saved for side 2 - just when you thought it couldn't get any better. Huge slabs of brutal tritones feed into a fierce storm of thrashy mayhem, teasing passages of embryonic riffs changing their minds and feeding into more brutality before you've managed to catch up with the last change, but never going off at ridiculous tangents - always managing to stay, not exactly calm, but focussed through the maelstrom.

Throughout, the band maintain an impressive coherence and rarely lose the music completely - although that almost happens in "Baptized in Blood". This has the effect of showing a band right at the bleeding edge - an appropriate term here if ever there was one - and that is only a very good thing.

I still find it incredible that this was released 20 years ago - what has really happened in metal since then? The addition of time signatures that prove nothing but an ability to count like crazy, a renewed fixation with symphony orchestras and an obsession with precision in playing - that's about it.

There is sufficient precision in the playing on this debut from Death to portray the vision inherent in the music, and enough virtuosity to convey what the music needs to convey.

"Torn To Pieces" shows some great imagination in the riffing - and use of space in the music, unbelievably as it might seem for this genre. Again, the chorus is priceless; "Toooooooooorrrrrn!!!! To Pieceargh!!!", and the solo impeccable - like Kerry King but with real notes and melody.

And melody is another great surprise in this album - who would think that there would be such a thing in such brutal music?

As if by magic, sudden snippets of really great arcing curves of melodies shine through, and nowhere is this more apparent than "Evil Dead", one of my very favourite tracks on this album - a track that passes a few nods and winks to the Egyptian style of sound cultivated by Metallica in tracks like "Creeping Death" and "Call of Cthulu", but also combines it with a Slayer-like brutality, reminding me a little of "Altar of Sacrifice" or perhaps "Jesus Saves".

Again, I'm truly glad that you can't hear the lyrics to the title track, which closes the album. Not only are they utter dross, they are exceptionally sad for their disgusting content. I guess, if they'd been written a different way, or by Craig Raine, then they might be more acceptable - while Chuck's delivery is pefect, the content is unbearable trash that conceals an otherwise great vision.

Treat as an instrumental, in which the voice is but an instrument, and this is a hugely enjoyable album for what it is - and a real masterpiece.

Sadly, it's not Prog at all - but it IS enormously progressive.

Almost as progressive as Metallica...

So I'm giving it an honorary 4 stars.

Go on! Give it a try! It's supposed to be horrible ;0)

Certif1ed | 4/5 |

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