Released 1987 on Combat/Under One Flag.
Re-released 1999 on Century Media, with 4 bonus tracks (Beyond the Unholy Grave, Land of No Return, and live versions of Open Casket and Choke On It).
Death is Chuck Schuldiner. Chuck Schuldiner is Death. Apologies for the tautologies, but the point needs to be made; whenever Chuck rounded up a new incarnation of Death to embark on an album, even the veritable technical metal dream team of Reinert, Masvidal and DiGiorgio, he was always the centre-point, the driving force of the band.
Chuck started Death in 1983 (under the name Mantas, changing to Death in '84), with the avowed intent of making music that was faster and heavier than ever before. Although he would later realise that such a credo was flawed (as it so restricted what he could do with his music - witness the creativity and progressive nature of later Death albums such as Human
), much of Death's early material, including their multitude of demo and live tapes and this, was still written with it in mind.
Scream Bloody Gore
isn't quite an all-ahead assault of speed, but it also isn't at all refined; it's primitive nature is easily apparent. It's without doubt a great album, but why? The riffs, while nowhere near bad, are fairly simplistic, the lyrics aren't really much of a cut above an "average" death metal band's (except that combined with Schuldiner's delivery they can be dam
n catchy), and to be honest, considering the leaps and bounds death metal has taken, with bands such as Cryptopsy, Gorguts and Lykathea Aflame, in the 17 years since it's release, even it's brutality now seems not so brutal. And yet it's a great album.
The problem here seems to be (at least it was for me) the same as it was when I first heard Kind of Blue
; perspective, hindsight. When I first heard the beginning of So What
, the piano leading into the bass line, I honestly thought it was nothing special - it sounded like any other random jazz I'd heard throughout my life. After a few days of listening to it, though, and catching myself wandering around humming and murmuring the basslines and horn solos, I came to realise why - that other random jazz I'd heard probably was Kind of Blue
, or if not, then very heavily influenced by it, just because it was such an amazingly influential record.
Scream Bloody Gore
suffers much the same problem - a modern listener hears, for example, the lyrics about zombies and blood rituals and thinks "pfft. Typical brutal death crap", when in fact, it's not following the convention at all - it's fuc
king well creating it. It's doing it first, writing history as it goes, so to speak, and there's something exciting about that in itself; it's also mostly doing it better than the slew of imitators who followed. Pestilence, for example, followed Death closely, and whilst Consuming Impulse
is an excellent album (worthy of being a part of any serious death metal fan's collection), it still somewhat pales in comparison to early Death records (Scream Bloody Gore
and what I've heard of Leprosy
). Decapitated are still attempting to emulate them to this day, and yes, they're neatly technically proficient (and shockingly young), but they're also plainly boring; there's undeniably just a feeling you get listening to tracks like Sacrificial
or Baptized in Blood
that any amount of vanilla flavoured Decapitated-and-friends attempts can't give.
Quite apart from seniority and historical significance, it's a great album. In vocals, for one, Death win where many other bands fail - Chuck's only a young guy here, and he really gives it his all, screaming and yelling his heart out. The drumming is less simple that my initial description of the record's sound may have made it sound, and Reifert in himself is something of an underground legend, a part of many other bands, perhaps most notably Autopsy. The combination of early death metal, punk/thrash influenced riffs and a great vocal performance lead to tracks like Zombie Ritual
being some of the catchiest death metal I've heard.
I'd personally say this is an essential purchase (or listen, at the very least, you evil, thieving internet people) for a death metal fan, or an extreme metal fan in general, and probably a good historical value disc for fans of music in general. Incidentally, the cover art's awesome. Four undead monks having a booze-up - classic.
Take your pick, really; the album boils down to ten tracks of top-notch, kick-you-in-the-nuts death metal. Infernal Death
, Zombie Ritual
(which would be my two top picks) and Scream Bloody Gore
are all good tracks to start off on. Evil Dead
is, I think, the only song to have appeared on a demo tape prior to being recorded for this album, if that makes some difference for you.