03-15 Death To All Tour 2012
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Death Metal, Progressive
Unquestionably one of the most important and influential death metal acts to have ever emerged from theNorth Americancontinent, Florida's DEATH came together in late 1983 when guitarist/vocalist ChuckSchuldiner and guitarist Rick Rozz (realname: Frederick DeLillo) got together with drummer/vocalist Barney"Kam" Lee to form Mantas. Drawing musical inspiration fromVenom and Slayer, the trio (no bassist had yetentered the picture!) went about composing original tunes and making veryrough, crude rehearsalrecordings to send out to various tape-traders around the world. Out of these sessions came aco ...read more
Unquestionably one of the most important and influential death metal acts to have ever emerged from theNorth Americancontinent, Florida's DEATH came together in late 1983 when guitarist/vocalist ChuckSchuldiner and guitarist Rick Rozz (realname: Frederick DeLillo) got together with drummer/vocalist Barney"Kam" Lee to form Mantas. Drawing musical inspiration fromVenom and Slayer, the trio (no bassist had yetentered the picture!) went about composing original tunes and making veryrough, crude rehearsalrecordings to send out to various tape-traders around the world. Out of these sessions came acompletelyunproduced five-song "demo" entitled Death By Metal (mid-1984), which --in spite of its primitive nature--endedup establishing the group as one of most promising contenders for the American death metal throne, astatus that at the timewas being firmly held by San Francisco's Possessed. The recognition they received,however, was not enough to help Mantasalong in their hometown of Orlando, where the group were still notbeing taken seriously by any of the clubs or fellowmusicians.
"The local situation was fuckin' nearly impossible," Schuldiner later recalled. "A lot of people looked down uponus. We got a lotof shit from the local band scene; all the bands from around (Orlando) thought we were pureshit. We were noisy back then,but we were putting out brutal death metal, and it was too much for people tocomprehend." This complete lack of localsupport for the band's music was at least partly to blame for theconstant internal turmoil within the group and Mantas'eventual break-up in late 1984.
Vowing to carry on making music that was "faster and heavier" than anything he'd done before, Schuldinerimmediatelyannounced his plans to form a new band -simply called DEATH- and relocate to either Tampa orCalifornia after his 18thbirthday (which was to occur in May of 1985), a move that he felt could improve hischances of securing a stable line-up forthe group. Within weeks, however, Chuck reconciled with Rozz and Leeand commenced the writing sessions for what wouldbecome the legendary Reign Of Terror demo.
We have gotten so much heav"ier (since reforming), it's almost beyond comprehension," Schuldiner stated onthe eve of thedemo's recording. Laid down over a five-hour period during October 1984 "in the back room of amusic store where they keeprecording equipment", Reign Of Terror cost a grand total of $80 and was neverproperly mixed down due to a lack of time in aproper recording studio. In spite of this, the six-song tape wascirculated worldwide through the vast tape-trading networkand put DEATH on the map as one of the genre'smost extreme and brutal groups.
On December 30th, 1984, DEATH performed with local Tampa heroes Nasty Savage at Ruby's Pub and madean audio recordingof the show that they would later release as an "official" live tape. "We're going to trash the(Reign Of Terror) demo, becauseit sucks compared to our live tape," Chuck was quoted as saying at the time.
Three months later, on March 9th, 1985, Chuck, Rick and Kam finally got the opportunity to record a "proper"studio demo, athree-song recording made specifically for the purpose of finding a record deal. Not an "official"demo release, the InfernalDeath tape (as it would later become known) was to be the last recording madewith this line-up, as Chuck slowly grew apartfrom the other members and began to set his eyes on a Michiganbassist by the name of Scott Carlson (then of Genocide, andlater of Repulsion).
"Scott sent us a tape of himself jamming, and he absolutely kills," Chuck enthused. By the time Scottrelocated to Orlando(replacing Rozz), he brought along with him Genocide guitarist Matt Olivo, and the twojoined Kam and Chuck in a short-livedincarnation of DEATH that ended when Lee finally exited, leaving theremaining three members drummer-less. Severalfrustrating months followed during which Chuck, Matt andScott atempted to find a replacement for Kam, but the task provedimpossible, ultimately causing Scott andMatt to return to Michigan and leaving Chuck the daunting task of finding an entirelynew line-up.
In September of 1985, Chuck relocated to San Francisco at the urging of ex-D.R.I. drummer Eric Brecht, andthe pair soonhooked up in yet another version of the band, this time with the intent of their band "being thefastest ever". Ultimately,however, Chuck realized that a full-speed assault did not allow for the differentmusical shades and colors which made DEATHsuch an import muscial entity, and in December of that sameyear, he returned to Florida, bandless once again. It was aroundthat time that he got a phone call fromToronto death metal upstarts Slaughter, who -just a few short weeks prior to enteringthe studio to beginrecording their debut album, Strappado-- asked him to move up to Canada and join their ranks.Frustratedwith his local environment.
Chuck accepted their offer and in January of 1986 moved to Toronto to start rehearsing with the group.Although initiallyenthusiastic about the prospect of being in an actual "band", Schuldiner quickly realized theneed to pursue his own vision andnot follow somebody else's lead, and promptly left Canada to return toFlorida, where he started plotting his next attack.Within weeks he was back in San Francisco where he hookedup with a promising young drummer by the name of Chris Reifert,and in April of that same year, the pairentered a California studio to record the infamous three-song Mutilation demo. By farthe best-recorded tapeChuck had laid down up until that point, Mutilation rapidly made the rounds in metal circles, and thedemosoon found its way in the hands of Combat Records, who proceeded to snap up the group to a multi-albumdeal.
In July of 1986, Chuck and Chris entered a Florida recording studio to start work on their debut album for thelabel, but due tovarious technical problems, the sessions didn't go past the initial basic tracks and the wholeproject was moved over toHollywood's Music Grinder Studios. Paired up with producer Randy Burns, DEATHspent only a few days recording the LP beforeChuck and Chris returned home, leaving Randy to mix thealbum. While waiting for the album to be mixed and mastered,Schuldiner and Reifert came in contact with ayoung Californian guitarist by the name of John Hand, whom they welcomed inthe band, even going so far asto have his photo included on the back cover of the upcoming record. It was a decision thatwould later hauntthe group, as Hand would leave the group prior to the recording of their second album and thusneverrecorded so much as a single note with DEATH.
Released in May of 1987, DEATH's debut record Scream Bloody Gore was immediately met with praise andaccolades, withmagazines and fans hailing it as one of the most important death metal releases of all time.However, with Chuck once againhaving returned to Florida and Reifert basing himself in San Francisco,Schuldiner --in yet another surprising move-- decidedto join forces with three-fourths of Florida's Massacre(including Rick Rozz). This marked the first touring incarnation ofDEATH, which made its first major liveappearance at that year's Milwaukee Metalfest. During the successful club tour thatfollowed, DEATH airedthree brand-new numbers ("Born Dead", "Open Casket" and "Pull The Plug") that Chuck had written forthegroup's sophomore outing, which showcased a more mature, focussed direction for the band while retainingthe brutalitythat had become the group's trademark.
By April of 1988, DEATH had returned to the recording studio (Tampa's Morrisound facility) and, under theguidance of DanJohnson, laid down their much-anticipated second album. A polished-yet-savagely-heavyeffort, Leprosy, like it's predecessor,had its roots firmly in the Slayer/Venom/Hellhammer school ofsongwriting, but with an increased emphasis on the kind ofmelodic passages that would later become centralto the group's sound. Not surprisingly, this powerful combination was aninstant "hit" in the metalunderground and became a major influence on hundreds of bands that emerged during deathmetal's"resurgence" in the late '80's, including groups such as Entombed and Napalm Death (who ended uprecording theirHarmony Corruption album at Morrisound Studios in an attempt to recapture Leprosy'sdistinctive production).
Although the DEATH line-up would change once again, the band had made an indelible impression with theirfirst two releases.Indeed, it was albums such as Leprosy that help to forge a path for the hundreds of deathmetal bands which would soon risein subsequent years, although none of them would be able to erase theimportance nor savagery of tracks such as "Pull ThePlug". The fact that some of these songs remain fanfavorites even to this day speaks of their time-tested craftsmanship andthe importance of the band, not onlyin the American metal scene but with an impact whose influence would soon bewitnessed throughout theworld.
An appearance at the Ultimate Revenge II video shoot (a live video/CD which also included Dark Angel andForbidden, amongothers) took place in October, 1988, followed by more touring through much of 1989. Bythe end of that year, the volatilerelatiosnship between Chuck and Rick had gotten virtually intolerable forSchuldiner and a parting of the ways becameinevitable. "Rick was basically kicked out of the band due to thefact that we were all into progressing as a group and gettingbetter as musicians, and he simply was not,"Chuck was quoted as saying a few months later. "He was stopping me fromwriting the kind of material Iwanted to write due to his inability to play the songs, and we all knew it was time for a change..
n Rick's place, DEATH enlisted James Murphy, a Florida resident who'd previously spent time in Agent Steeland Hallows Eve,and began work on the all-important third album, entitled "Spiritual Healing". Produced byScott Burns, Spiritual... representedyet another step forward in Chuck's quest towards incorporating anincreased level of musicality into the group's songwriting,while at the same time shying away from the Satanicand low-budget gore movie-type lyrics that were becomingcommonplace in the genre. "I think that SpiritualHealing is very much representative of what death metal can sound like whenit's done with strong emphasison musicality and less so on hyper-speed and stupid Satanic lyrics," Chuck said after thealbum's release. "Webelieve that we can turn a few more people into death metal with this record and change a lot ofpeople'sminds about what death metal is supposed to sound like..
In spite of some of the early criticism from the die-hard death metal fans who viewed the musical progressionon Spiritual... asa negative one, the album went on to be a highly successful one for the group, with DEATHdoing more touring and in front oflarger crowds than ever before. Unfortunately, it also marked the last timethe group would record with this line-up, aspressure in Chuck's personal life and internal band disagreementscaused Murphy to be dejected from the group first, followedby drummer Bill Andrews and bassist TerryButler a few months later.
In the decade that followed, DEATH issued several more critically-acclaimed releases while gradually gravitatingtowards amuch more technical musical approach, one that would inevitably alienate some of the group'slongtime fans. Along the way,Chuck came to be rightfully regarded as one of the pioneers of the death metalgenre, while Spiritual Healing came to earn itsplace in the annals of death metal history as one the finestalbums ever released under the banner. « hide
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