09-20 Death to release Sound of Pers
03-25 Ex-Death bassist dead at 47
08-07 Death announce winter tour
04-22 Death stream Leprosy reissue

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Unquestionably one of the most important andinfluential death metal acts to have ever emergedfrom the North Americancontinent, Florida'sDEATHcametogether in late 1983 when guitarist/vocalistChuck Schuldiner and guitarist RickRozz (realname:Frederick DeLillo) got togetherwithdrummer/vocalistBarney "Kam" Lee to formMantas. Drawing musical inspirationfrom Venomand Slayer, the trio (no bassist had yet enteredthepicture!) went aboutcomposing original tunes andmakingvery rough, crude rehearsal recordings tosend out to various tape-traders around theworld.Out of these sessionscame acompletelyunpr more

Unquestionably one of the most important andinfluential death metal acts to have ever emergedfrom the North Americancontinent, Florida'sDEATHcametogether in late 1983 when guitarist/vocalistChuck Schuldiner and guitarist RickRozz (realname:Frederick DeLillo) got togetherwithdrummer/vocalistBarney "Kam" Lee to formMantas. Drawing musical inspirationfrom Venomand Slayer, the trio (no bassist had yet enteredthepicture!) went aboutcomposing original tunes andmakingvery rough, crude rehearsal recordings tosend out to various tape-traders around theworld.Out of these sessionscame acompletelyunproduced five-song "demo «entitled Death byMetal (mid-1984), which --in spite of its primitivenature--endedup establishing thegroup as one ofthe most promising contenders for the Americandeath metal throne, a status that at thetime wasbeing firmlyheld by San Francisco'sPossessed.The recognition they received, however, was noteenough to helpMantas along in their hometown ofOrlando, wherethe group were still notbeing takenseriously by any of the clubs or fellowmusicians.

"The local situation was fuckin' nearly impossible,"Schuldiner later recalled. "A lot of people lookeddown upon us. We got alot of shit from thelocalbandscene; all the bands from around (Orlando)thought we were pure shit. We were noisy backthen,but we were putting out brutal death metal,and itwastoo much for people to comprehend." Thiscomplete lack oflocal support for the band’s musicwas at least partly to blame for theconstantinternal turmoilwithin the group andMantas‘eventual break-up in late 1984.

Vowing to carry on making music that was "fasterand heavier" than anything he'd done before,Schuldiner immediatelyannounced his plans toform anewband simply called DEATH- and relocateto either Tampa or California after his 18thbirthday(which was to occur in May of 1985), a move thathe feltcouldimprove his chances of securing astable line-up forthe group. Within weeks, however,Chuck reconciled with Rozz and Lee andcommenced thewritingsessions for whatwouldbecome the legendary “Reign of Terror”demo.

We have gotten so much heavier (since reforming),it's almost beyond comprehension," Schuldinerstated on the eve of thedemo's recording.Laiddownover a five-hour period during October 1984"in the back room of a music store where theykeeprecording equipment", “Reign Of Terror” costagrand totalof $80 and was never properly mixeddown due to a lack of time ina proper recordingstudio. Despite this, the six-song tape wascirculatedworldwidethrough the vast tape-tradingnetworkand put DEATH on the maps one of thegenre's most extreme and brutal groups.

On December 30th, 1984, DEATH performed withlocal Tampa heroes Nasty Savage at Ruby's Puband made an audiorecording of the show thattheywouldlater release as an "official" live tape. "We'regoing to trash the (Reign Of Terror)demo, becauseit sucks compared to our live tape”, Chuckwasquoted assaying at the time.

Three months later, on March 9th, 1985, Chuck, Rickand Kam finally got the opportunity to record a"proper" studio demo, athree. songrecordingmadespecifically for finding a record deal. Not an"official" demo release, the Infernal Death tape (asitwould later become known) was to bethelastrecording made with this line-up, as Chuck slowlygrew apart from the othermembers and began toset his eyes on a Michigan bassist by thenameofScott Carlson (then of Genocide, and laterofRepulsion).

"Scott sent us a tape of himself jamming, and heabsolutely kills," Chuck enthused. By the time Scottrelocated to Orlando(replacing Rozz),hebroughtalong with him Genocide guitarist Matt Olivo, andthe two joined Kam and Chuck in a short-livedincarnation of DEATH that ended whenLeefinallyexited, leaving the remaining three membersdrummer-less. Severalfrustrating months followedduring which Chuck, Matt and Scottattempted tofind areplacement for Kam, but the taskprovedimpossible, ultimately causing Scott and Matt toreturn to Michigan and leaving Chuck thedauntingtask offinding anentirely newline-up.

In September of 1985, Chuck relocated to SanFrancisco at the urging of ex-D.R.I. drummer EricBrecht, and the pair soonhooked up in yetanotherversionof the band, this time with the intent of theirband "being the fastest ever». Ultimately,however,Chuck realized that a full-speed assaultdid notallow forthe different musical shades and colourswhich madeDEATH such an import musical entity,and in December of that same year, hereturned toFlorida,bandless once again. It wasaround thattime that he got a phone call from Toronto deathmetal upstarts Slaughter, who just a fewshortweeks priortoentering the studio to begin recordingtheir debut album, Strappado, asked him to moveup to Canada and join their ranks.Frustrated withhis localenvironment.

Chuck accepted their offer and in January of 1986moved to Toronto to start rehearsing with thegroup. Although initiallyenthusiastic about theprospectofbeing in an actual "band", Schuldinerquickly realized the need to pursue his ownvisionand not follow somebody else’s lead, andpromptly left Canadatoreturn to Florida, where hestarted plotting his next attack.Within weeks hewas back in San Francisco where he hooked upwith a promisingyoungdrummer by the name ofChrisReifert, and in April of that same year, the pairentered a California studio to record the infamousthree. songMutilationdemo.By far the best-recorded tape Chuck had laid down up until thatpoint, Mutilation rapidly made the rounds in metalcircles,and the demosoon foundits way in thehands of Combat Records, who proceeded to snapup the group to a multi-albumdeal.

In July of 1986, Chuck and Chris entered a Floridarecording studio to start work on their debut albumfor the label, but dueto varioustechnicalproblems,the sessions didn't go past the initial basic tracksand the whole project was moved overtoHollywood's Music Grinder Studios. Pairedupwithproducer Randy Burns, DEATH spent only a fewdays recording the LPbefore Chuck and Chrisreturned home, leaving Randy to mix thealbum.Whilewaiting for the album to be mixedandmastered, Schuldiner and Reifert encountered ayoung Californian guitarist by the name of JohnHand,whom theywelcomedin the band, even goingso far as to have his photo included on the backcover of the upcoming record. It was a decisionthatwouldlater hauntthe group, as Hand would leavethe group prior to the recording of their secondalbum and thus neverrecorded so much as a singlenote withDEATH.

Released in May of 1987, DEATH's debut recordScream Bloody Gore was immediately met withpraise and accolades, withmagazines and fanshailing itasone of the most important death metalreleases of all time. However, with Chuck onceagainhaving returned to Florida and Reifert basinghimself inSanFrancisco, Schuldiner, in yet anothersurprising move, decided tojoin forces with three-fourths of Florida's Massacre (including Rick Rozz).Thismarked thefirst touring incarnation ofDEATH,which made its first major live appearanceat that year's Milwaukee Metal fest. During thesuccessful clubtour thatfollowed,DEATH airedthree brand-new numbers ("Born Dead", "OpenCasket" and "Pull the Plug") that Chuck had writtenfor thegroup'ssophomore outing,which showcaseda more mature, focused direction for the band whileretaining the brutality thathad become the group'strademark.

By April of 1988, DEATH had returned to therecording studio (Tampa's Morri sound facility) and,under the guidance of DanJohnson, laid downtheirmuch-anticipated second album. A polished, yetsavagely heavy effort, Leprosy, like itspredecessor,had its roots firmly intheSlayer/Venom/Hellhammer schoolof song writing,but with an increased emphasis on the kindofmelodic passages that would later becomecentral tothe group's sound. Not surprisingly,thispowerful combination was aninstant "hit" in themetal underground and became a major influenceon hundredsof bands hate merged duringdeathmetal’s"resurgence" in the late '80's, includinggroups such as Entombed and Napalm Death (whoended up recordingtheir HarmonyCorruptionalbumat Morri sound Studios to recapture Leprosy'sdistinctive production).

Although the DEATH line-up would change onceagain, the band had made an indelible impressionwith their first two releases.Indeed, it wasalbumssuchas Leprosy that help to forge a path for thehundreds of death metal bands which would soonrisein subsequent years, although none ofthemwould beable to erase the importance nor savageryof tracks such as "Pull thePlug". The fact that someof these songs remain fan favourites evento thisday speaksof their time-tested craftsmanshipandthe importance of the band, not only in theAmerican metal scene but with an impactwhoseinfluence would soonbewitnessed throughout theworld.

An appearance at the Ultimate Revenge II videoshoot (a live video/CD which also included DarkAngel and Forbidden, amongothers) tookplaceinOctober,1988, followed by more touring throughmuch of 1989. By the end of that year, thevolatilerelationship between Chuck and Rickhadgottenvirtually intolerable for Schuldiner and aparting of the ways becameinevitable. "Rick wasbasically kicked out of the band since we wereallinto progressingas a group and getting betterasmusicians, and he simply was not," Chuck wasquoted as saying a few months later. "He wasstoppingme from writingthekind of material Iwanted to write due to his inability to play thesongs, and we all knew it was time fora change..

In Rick's place, DEATH enlisted James Murphy, aFlorida resident who'd previously spent time inAgent Steel and Hallows Eve,and began work on theall. important third album, entitled "SpiritualHealing". Produced by Scott Burns,Spiritual...representedyet another step forward inChuck's questtowardsincorporating an increasedlevel of musicality into the group's songwriting,while at the same time shying away fromthe Satanic and low. budgetgoremovie-type lyricsthat were becomingcommonplace in the genre. "Ithink that Spiritual Healing is very muchrepresentative of what death metalcansoundlikewhen it's done with strong emphasis onmusicality and less so on hyper-speed and stupidSatanic lyrics”, Chuck said afterthealbum’srelease."We believe that we can turn a few more people intodeath metal with this record and change a lotofpeople's minds about whatdeath metalissupposed to sound like..

Despite some of the early criticism from the die-hard death metal fans who viewed the musicalprogression on SpiritualHealing as negative one,thealbumwent on to be a highly successful one forthe group, with DEATH doing more touring andinfront of larger crowds than ever before.Unfortunately,it alsomarked the last time the groupwould record with this line-up, as pressure inChuck’s personal life and internal banddisagreements causedMurphy to bedejected fromthe group first,followed by drummer Bill Andrewsand bassist Terry Butler a few months later.

In the decade that followed, DEATH issued severalmore critically-acclaimed releases while graduallygravitating towards amuch moretechnicalmusicalapproach, one that would inevitably alienate someof the group's long-time fans. Along the way,Chuckcame to be rightfully regarded asone ofthepioneers of the death metal genre, while SpiritualHealing came to earn itsplace in the annals ofdeath metal history as one the finestalbumseverreleased under the banner.

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