Review Summary: A fitting end to a fantastic run of albums
The final chapter in Death's story was a fitting closure to the discography. All of the elements from each album had been stacking up, and every album had brought something completely new and fresh to the table. Scream Bloody Gore had the bludgeoning speed, Leprosy had the refined feel, Spiritual Healing brought the more polished production, Human had the aggression, Individual Thought Patterns brought the more insightful side of Death's lyrics, and Symbolic perfected the progressive nature. By the time of The Sound Of Perseverance, Death metal was a very different band. They had shed their days of brutal death metal, and replaced it with a Progressive styling of death metal, in which Chuck shrieks his lungs out instead of the growl he had on the early releases. And, by some divine miracle, Death still had an incredible amount of integrity to their music.
Their final release contained 8 original songs and a cover, each of which contains that signature sound that only Death could invoke. Starting with the cover, Painkiller was originally a Judas Priest classic, that Chuck decided to cover, and it is done flawlessly. Along with Crystal Mountain, this was my introduction to Death, and is a great song. The drums are very noticeable on this album, having the rattle feel to them that Saint Anger bastardized. However, on here, they are not only tolerable, but sound fantastic, and are coupled marvelously with the incredible drum patterns found throughout the album.
Opener Scavenger Of Human Sorrow somehow manages to be one of the most brutally heavy, lightning fast intense songs ever recorded, despite clocking in at just under 7 minutes. This song contains some face melting guitar work, drumming that could only have been produced by the devil himself, and bass work that is nearly flawless. Chuck sounds utterly demonic on this song, and this will continue through the rest of the album. He took the high pitched styling of his growls from the previous album, Symbolic, and makes his voice even more insane, and utterly unique. This, in my opinion, is Chuck Schuldiner's finest vocal performance by quite some way. His voice drips emotion and rage, despite the fact he is clearly straining his throat to hit some of the notes found throughout this album. The most jaw dropping thing about the vocals is the fact that they still retain that defining death metal feel despite being the complete opposite of traditional death metal vocals, which is a testament to just how good Chuck was.
My personal favourite Death song ever, Flesh And The Power It Holds, is found on this album, lasting nearly 8 and a half minutes and never failing to flatten the listener. This song, along with the album, is a rare case in which it manages to give the listener something completely fresh every time. There is always something amazing that evaded the listener before, and that truly is marvelous. The stop-start solo is utterly incredible, and the blisteringly fast riffs are written so well that very few songs could ever dream of coming close to them. The lyrics for this song are extremely well written, containing moments of pure genius such as "Passion is a poison laced with pleasure bitter sweet". Cryptic and yet perfectly written, the lyrics to this song are some of the best found in death metal.
Voice Of The Soul is the shortest song on the album, at 3:43, and serves as the perfect interlude between Flesh and The Power It Holds and To Forgive Is To Suffer, with some awesome acoustic work, emotional soloing and an atmosphere that no other death metal song would ever come within touching distance of. The mood of this song is one of utter despair, and ties in with the themes of the album absolutely perfectly. Sometimes in music, there are instrumentals that feel as though they need vocals and lyrics to tell their story. Not Voice Of The Soul, however, this song is a classic as it is, and the music speaks so much without the need of any vocal work.
The drum solo that opens To Forgive Is To Suffer is nothing short of breath taking, and the riffs that follow this have so much talent behind them that it is impossible to ignore. The vocals from Chuck found on this song are some of the best I can honestly recall hearing from any vocalist ever. Chuck manages to get so much hate behind his vocals that it does not matter what lyrics he spews out, as the point is always made. A Moment Of Clarity is the final original song off of the album, and the technical guitars at work on this song are a joy to behold. This is how metal music should be written, with a supreme amount of confidence echoing off of every note, so that the listener knows the band who have written it does not *** around. The progression at work on this song is something completely out of this world, being utterly flawless.
The bass work is something to note throughout this album, being more than audible, and used as fills to progress the songs into their next section, such as in the opener and Flesh And The Power It Holds. Unlike some albums where the bass work is just there in the back ground, it is hard to imagine the Sound Of Perseverance without Scott Clendenin's incessant thumping throughout. The same can be said of the extremely insightful lyrics, being some of the finest out there. The lyrics on this album may well rival some of Iron Maiden's best moments, with songs such as Story To Tell, A Moment Of Clarity, Flesh And The Power It Holds and Bite The Pain painting such canvases of warped social commentary that only Chuck could create, whilst being extremely cryptic in places.
The only remote criticism that can be found of this album is the fact that the cover of Painkiller was not completely necessary. This is not to say that it is a poor cover, nor that it lets the album leave on a poor note by any means, as the actual cover is utterly stellar. It is the fact that Death did not need to record a cover, as the 8 songs they already had were jaw dropping enough as it was. However, the Painkiller cover was a homage to one of Chuck's primary influences, and was significantly different in sound from the original, and therefore this is no real down side to the album at all.
This album was the fitting swan song for Chuck, being near faultless on every single level. This is a very technical, well written piece of progressive death metal that needs no clean vocals and constant acoustic guitars to progress from segment to segment and convey simultaneous feelings of loss, hate, anger and despair all at once such as other bands in the genre. This really is one of the most amazing albums ever recorded, and really is in a class of albums that only a few others, including some of Death's own albums, can ever dream of being on the same level as. 5/5