Scream Bloody Gore
Review by Felix on August 22, 2019.
Death have a place in my metallic hall of fame, but it is much smaller than it could be. I always hated the evolution of the band after the third album. Chuck Schuldiner (R.I.P.), this brilliant inventor or at least co-inventor of death metal, began to betray his own supporters. This is my probably narrow-minded point of view. Yet there were no clouds at the sky when he released Scream Bloody Gore. This album was the big bang of death metal and it has lost nothing of its relevance during the last three decades. Not only this, its reputation has constantly grown during all these years.
Scream Bloody Gore sounds juvenile, carefree, explosive and dangerous. Okay, 32 years after its publication it is not that dangerous anymore. Yet it is great to see that it still has a fresh and impulsive touch. All songs open the gates widely to a then new metallic dimension and it is still a fantastic experience to realize how precisely the band, Schuldiner and Reifert, worked. Due to its early death metal vibrations, this output constitutes the album that picks up the aura of "Seven Churches" most successfully. Just like the songs on Possessed's unmatched debut, the here presented ten tracks rely on pretty conventional song structures, an accurate execution and demolishing vigor. The mix of some thrash elements and the brutality of the compositions comes close to the masterpiece of Beccera and his brothers in spirit. And there is another parallel between these two debuts. Both consist of flawless material, each and every song has more to say than only "hello, I'm brutal". A small number of nuances makes the pendulum swing in the direction of the songs on "Seven Churches", but the tracks of Death's debut do not lack personality, strength and class as well.
Many parts of Scream Bloody Gore make my blood boil, for example the overwhelming solos which sound as furious as those on "Reign in Blood" while being somehow more melodic and structured than those on Slayer's last perfect work, the choruses are also absolutely deadly. Listen to that of the heavyweight "Baptized in Blood" or to the totally insane screaming that forms the chorus of "Eviiiiiiiil Dead". The guitar work of Chuck is also second to none, the ultimate mix of powerful speed, murderous sharpness and musical understanding. The aforementioned "Evil Dead" is the number that illustrates his skills most suitably, but actually one can choose each and every track in order to understand Schuldiner's technical and compositional excellence immediately. The somersaulting title track at the end of the running order bundles his competences for the final time and leaves nothing but a slavering crowd of maniacs that long for more. Its chorus infects you immediately - or you are simply immune against the beauty of devastating sounds.
The production gives no reason to complain, too. Maybe it does not reach the level of density that the successor of the debut showcased, but it spreads lively vibrations and it is well-balanced. I enjoy the guitar sound in particular, because it is sparkling and homicidal at the same time. Admittedly, it does not have this technical precision and murderous clarity that "Seven Churches" gave the final touch. Nevertheless, even today it does not sound outdated, although it maybe would have profited from 5% more violence. Be that as it may, I hope a gracious God will prevent the release of any remastered recordings. In general, Scream Bloody Gore sounds the way it should sound, no doubt about it.
Many great bands have been heavily influenced by Death, but unfortunately not only by their debut. Pestilence, for instance, started very promisingly, but their miserable evolution which culminated in totally anemic "Spheres" is almost portraying the way Death took some years before. And it is therefore only logical that formations like Pestilence also have a smaller place in my heart than they could have. However, the first full-length of Chuck (R.I.P.) houses ten grenades and their murderous effect is still impressive. Just lend an ear to the hyper-dynamic chorus of "Sacrificial" or to the guitar lines of "Zombie Ritual", they convey stoical blood lust in the most excellent manner. Scream Bloody Gore has become a monument and marks nothing less than a nearly perfect debut in a row of comparably outstanding first works - "Show No Mercy", "Bonded by Blood", "Seven Churches"... hard to believe that any future decade will give birth to a comparable number of frenetic debuts. So, what else can we do than listening to one of these classics from time to time, for example exactly Death's first work?
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Review by Brian on December 13, 2013.
It is 1:49 am December 13, 2013. Twelve years ago today the metal world lost one its greatest talents. Chuck Schuldiner died on this day back in 2001 after losing his battle with brain cancer. My original plan was to take all the suggestions I received, put them in a hat and draw one out, for this months "Classic Bite". The plan went out the window when I realized that Scream Bloody Gore was one of those suggestions. This is my tribute to Chuck, his music and this album, that started the death metal genre.
In 1987 the metal world was not ready for what twenty year old Chuck Schuldiner unleashed on them. I remember reading reviews for Scream Bloody Gore, everything from immature to the death of heavy metal as we know it. His vocals were described as sounding like cookie monster, the music being thrown together and having no direction or purpose. Amazing how times have changed, I'm willing to bet if I were to track down these critics, they would have a much different opinion of this album today.
There have always been arguments as to who the first death metal band is. Possessed's Seven Churches LP being the one a lot of people claim to be that first death metal album. Although Possessed coined the term with the final track on that album "Death Metal", Seven Churches is a thrash metal album. Scream Bloody Gore, the debut album from Florida's Death has a much different feel.This was a different type of metal. The chord progressions and guitar tone, were unlike the thousands of thrash bands flooding the scene at the time. The vocals, which may seem tame by today's standards, were over the top in 1987. The lyrical content, drenched in gore, served as a major influence on bands like Carcass and Cannibal Corpse.
This is not the best Death album, in fact it may be the worst in the bands storied career, but its importance can't be overlooked. It has some weak moments which no other album in the Death catalog have. The most notable of these is the opening track "Infernal Death", which I find to be boring and I have always felt that a better opener could have been chosen. The party really starts with "Zombie Ritual". The guitar sound on the opening notes of the song is what Death would build their career on. This sound would become a staple on each every album the band released. The chorus with its jumpy, chugging riff also would be something that was used throughout the bands career. "Mutilation" is an absolute burner, with its breakneck speed and thunderous drums it pummels the listener. This is true death metal here, there is no mistaking it for beefed up thrash. "Regurgitated Guts" moves in and out of chugging riffs and speed, with a nice little single note part that brings it all together. Another highlight would be "Evil Dead" beginning with that signature melodic sound, then ripping through its three minutes, it is one of the more memorable tunes on Scream Bloody Gore.
For someone new to Death I would recommend Human, an album that for obvious reasons has aged better. If you choose to experience the band from the debut and move forward, then you must take Scream Bloody Gore as a history lesson. When studying history, you sometimes have to visualize the time period to fully appreciate and understand it. Looking back twenty-six years later, the impact this album had on the metal world is undeniable. Chuck has been labeled the "Father of death metal" a label that he rightly deserves. Scream Bloody Gore is to death metal what Black Sabbath's self titled debut is to doom metal and heavy metal in general. Death created a genre of music with this album, although it's not one of their best albums or one of the genres best albums it is the genesis in the death metal bible.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.6 out of 10