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February 17, 2004

Death - The Sound of Perseverence

In following with Salem posting about a band revived after an apparent death, I am posting about the album which could be called the death of Death: the final album from the band that had created single-handedly the genre of their name, and then departed from it in search of a progressive sound. This album, historically speaking, is the last studio album due to the depressingly premature optimization of our ear-drum’s hero: Chuck Schuldiner. Death, and single-album sister band Control Denied, could be called Chuck’s solo bands, as he was the only connecting piece between any given album. He was the restless genius. But I digress…

The album we’re talking about represents the peak of the genre, and actually the peak of the subgenre Technical Death Metal, which they were the primary motivator for, but which now contains luminaries such as Arch Enemy and Theory in Practice.

“Scavenger of Human Sorrow” opens with a short but ripping drum solo, into a bit of a guitar noodle, and then straight to the crunch. It’s extremely catchy, and then we hear Chuck’s voice for the first time: death vocals, but very comprehensible, as is not the style. This song has about three different tempo/time signatures in it and several changes, yet maintains interest throughout.

“Bite the Pain” is a slow start, with an introspective guitar solo. After a little of this, we are dropped off the cliff and into the bone-crushing high-speed thrash which drives the song. As we segue back into the slower part, it becomes clear that the song is an analogy for pain and the experiences of it. I find it very relaxing to listen to, actually.

“Spirit Crusher” is probably the track that does the least for me on this album. It is a slow- to mid-paced bass-driven song, very drawn out. Another reviewer once said it was the most horrifying song in metal, which I doubt, but I can see why the reviewer would say that. Like all the other songs on this album, it has tremendous speed, tempo, and melodic changes which make it very interesting and difficult on the first listen to comprehend all of.

“Story to Tell” is probably my favorite song—it did, after all, encourage me to make the website of that name. This song is an incredibly beautiful expression of the human experience, and everybody not moved by the awe-inspiring 2 minute solo in the middle of it simply doesn’t have a soul. This solo justifies the guitar; nothing else need be made with it. This song will be played at my funeral.

“Flesh and the Power it Holds” has without a doubt the most incredibly evil, powerful sounding lyric to it, but you really have to hear it in it’s context. The song about the danger of physicality contains moments of alluring beauty and moments of extreme ugliness in stark contrast of each other. This song was my introduction to death metal.

“Voice of the Soul” is a painfully beautiful classical/electric guitar composition. A landscape of entrancing beauty.

“To Forgive is To Suffer” starts with another ripping thrash outburst, and alternates between that theme and a theme of slower introspection, taking each to the limit. A strong anti-Christian message is nice too.

“A Moment of Clarity” has some more of Chuck’s incredibly philosophical lyrics. A staccato riffs intersperse between softer drawn out sections, with a stop-and-go feel in some areas, finally leading into the chorus with a nice guitar theme on a strongly chorded background. I love this song, and the mildly restrained solo (compared to “Story to Tell”) works incredibly well.

“Painkiller” is a cover of the Judas Priest song from their album of the same name. It is totally wrong, but shows you how far Metal came in the intervening ~10 years.

Overall, this is one of my favorite albums of all time, if not the favorite. I love it and recommend it to everyone who can handle metal at all. :) Check it out.

Posted by FusionGyro at 11:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack