February 24, 2011

Music Review: Death - The Sound of Perseverance (deluxe reissue)

I've said it many times before and will likely say it many times again, I was a late bloomer when it comes to metal. Because of this (and a trip through hair metal and then grunge) I have missed a lot over the years. Bands that any self respecting metal fan should know are still new to me, to this day, or at least not as known/appreciated as they should be. Death is one of those bands, my experience with the music is woefully inadequate and it is high time that that changes. To that end, I have gotten my hands on a copy of Death's final album, the 1998 epic The Sound of Perseverance. The album has left me nearly speechless.

To be sure, this is not my absolute first exposure to Death. That honor would fall on their second to last album, Symbolic. That is a record that I have a lot of affection for, although I do not recall when I bought it or what spurred me on to do so. I have given it a fair number of listens, but for some reason I never felt inspired to go back to the well, so to speak. However, with The Sound of Perseverance, I am feeling a desire to revisit Symbolic and dig a little deeper into their catalog.

Chuck Schuldiner (RIP) founded the band in 1983 and is regularly called the Father of Death Metal. Once you get past the "Big Four" and start digging in bands that were more specifically influential on the genre rather than that plus exploding the genre into the mainstream (not that the bands were mainstream at the time, but I think you know what I mean) you will find Death. Considering what they were doing in their "later" years, one can only imagine (well, until I get back to them anyway) what they did early on. Clear to see why they are so revered. This album, released fifteen years into their career, is a jaw dropping does of brutal, heavy, death metal whose brutality is equaled by its technical skill.

When I pressed play I must admit that I was not expecting to love it this much. The riffs are heavy, catchy, and rock solid, vocals are in a high pitched range, not unlike Rob Halford (whose band, Judas Priest, is covered here with the album closing "Painkiller") but with a raspier death metal edge. Drums are solid and precise and bass has a great presence, especially on the intro to "Spirit Crusher."

The Sound of Perseverance is quite an achievement. Released in a time when metal was not exactly at a high point, this is metal, there is no compromise. I have no idea how well it performed sales wise, but had I been paying attention I would have helped it along. It is a shame that Chuck Schuldiner died, succumbing to brain cancer in 2001. I would have loved to see where he would have taken Death, or his developing side project, Control Denied.

If you like metal, you need this. If you, like me, are not as familiar with Death as you should be, you need this. I can't even tell you the best songs, they are all rock solid. But if pressed, "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" really got me going and kicked off my love for the record. "Bite the Pain" is pretty awesome as well.  Follow it straight through the Judas Priest cover and as soon as it ends you will want to start the journey all over again.

This was recently re-issued deluxe release. It includes a second disk of demos from 1997 and 1998. These are an interesting look into early versions of the songs man cuts, some without bass.

What are you waiting for? Go get this album!

Highly Recommended.

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