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Death - Scream Bloody Gore CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.02 | 218 ratings

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Petrovsk Mizinski
Prog Reviewer
4 stars At a time when many people wanted to get away from the excesses of Glam metal/rock culture and the surrounding pop music scene, there was a developing extreme metal scene, consisting of these subgenres of heavy metal: black metal, thrash metal and death metal.

Thrash metal was definitely already in full swing by 1987, with several major regional scenes across the world. It was a style characterized by it's aggressive feel, fast tempos, percussive riffing style (for the most part played in the lower registers of the guitar/bass) with many riffs played in staccato (for those not aware of the term, particularly in the thrash context it refers to the short stabbing rhythm notes) and often palm muted too. One was the Bay Area scene, consisting of bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Blind Illusion, Exodus, Testament, Slayer et al. By 1987, the punk influence in thrash metal was far less apparent, with many Bay Area bands featuring greater technicality than ever before and hints of progressive rock influences creeping in as well. With many Bay Area thrash guitarists having been taught by local virtuoso Joe Satriani, it's no surprise the Bay Area scene was known as perhaps the most technical of the thrash scene. The Brazilian thrash scene brought along a style somewhat closer to death metal than the Bay Area scene, along with the Teutonic (originating in Germany) scene which heavily influenced the black metal and death metal genres. The German band Kreator were already playing a thrash metal style which heavily bridged the gap between thrash and death metal, with notable Bay Area band Slayer also playing a big role in the development of death metal. While the East Coast scene was fairly popular, the more melodic and usually less technical style had less of an impact on death metal.

One may ask why I give this short history lesson. My answer is, in order to understand where death metal came from, one must have a an understanding of thrash metal, a genre which death metal would derive many of it's musical traits from.

Chuck Shuldiner had already released a demo with the band Mantas (which would change it's name to Death later on) in 1983, and in the following years more demos were released. The first Death album reared it's head in 1987, with all guitar, bass and vocals parts played by Chuck Schuldiner, all songs by Chuck, and drums provided courtesy of Chris Reifert. It was essentially, a creation by Chuck Schudiner, a man with an incredible vision and genius, a man hellbent on creating something different, a man with the hunger to do something new and exciting.

The harsh death metal growling/screaming vocal style Chuck unleashed on this album, does well to hide the fact the lyrics, are far from being great. But don't forgot this was 1987, when death metal was still a young genre, and at the time, lyrics of death, gore and violence was against what was the norm, and it's no mean feat to be able to do that.

Infernal Death starts out with a heavy, chunky riff, accompanied by the harsh screaming/growl DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! from Chuck's throat. Simultaneously evil and comical. Then comes the intense thrashy/death riff, which powers the song along with a thundering force along with the slamming drumming from Reifert. Chuck provides the listener with a rapid fire, fairly technical solo in for good measure too, and the rest of the song continues, with the same rhythm, with a few changes in the riffing.

Zombie Ritual opens with a Phrygian Dominant lead (the scale which creates what some call an Egyptian sound) and like Infernal Death, the opening section of the song is relatively slow in tempo. It kicks into a heavy, fast paced deathy riff. The song progresses in a sense, with the noticeable and relatively frequent evolution/changes in riffage and drum patterns. The guitar solo, like the previous track's, is fast and furious, no more and certainly no less.

Denial Of Life starts off full force almost straight away, quickly building into a series of pummeling riffs and evolving riffs. I noticed the solo on Denial of Life seems to stand out a bit more than the solo on Zombie Ritual, perhaps a little more melodic sounding.

Sacrificial to my ears, has more of a evolutionary feel than the first two songs, with changing drum patterns, noticeable progression and change in the riffing, and points of building intensity. The solo tears your head off with intense, blazing alternate picked lines that could rip a hole in a steel wall if you converted the sound into a thing of more physical nature (weird description I know, but that's what it made me feel!). I love that solo.

Mutilation is not vastly different. But it's sure as hell brutal to the core, and has a heck of a chorus to match. You must die in pain, you must die in pain, you must die in pain, you must die in pain, Mutilation! (repeat Mutilation several times). Who ever thought brutal and catchy would go in the same sentence in 1987? It seems Chuck had the unique vision to do so.

If you were thinking perhaps the album might let up, you were wrong. Absolutely completely, utterly wrong. It just gets more brutal! The riffs crush even more and the lyrical content is just as brutal. Some very inventive riffing on Baptized in Blood and And Torn To Pieces and a crazy chaotic solo in Torn To Pieces too, but always in control, such is the virtuosity of Chuck in his guitar playing.

Evil Dead caught me by surprise by the melodic and rather nice opening lead and was a slight break from the rather insane onslaught. Scream Blood Gore has some seriously evil riffage, and with all it's intensity and power, makes for a absolute killer closer to the album.

Overall, it has a surprising amount of melodic elements to the riffing (but maybe not melodic in a way that most non metallers understand) in edition to the unparalleled brutality of the riffs, no doubt powered along with a helping of tritone based riffs.

Lyrically, anyone that gets offended, is probably taking it too seriously. Just as you can portray extreme in a film context purely as art, it's the same thing here, and is really just fantasy and it really is best to approach the lyrical themes here like that, something not to be taken to heart or too seriously. Anyone should know it's about the music first and foremost, and the guys are in it for that and not for the violent/gore aspect. To me, the lyrics are silly and importantly, fun as well. They are too ridiculous to be taken seriously, and it should be seen that way. Some people get a laugh out of this sort of thing, because they know it's just fantasy lyrics that have no bearing to how they really perceive violence. For Chuck's venture into something well against what was perceived as normal lyrics, I have nothing but praise for that.

Musically, it may not be progressive rock really. What it was though, was not only a capable display of virtuosity, but an album with progressive ideals i.e it's nor prog, but it's truly progressive.

It would go on to change the face of metal to come, and will continue to do so.

Petrovsk Mizinski | 4/5 |


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