I am a guy who likes innovators more than virtuoso-es. If a particular band/artist has created a genre, he/she/they automatically attain a high place of respect from me. A few years ago I was searching for the innovator of this very inaccessible genre called Death Metal. And I confronted the awesome band led by Chuck Schuldiner, often hailed as the father of Death Metal. And yes you guessed it right, the genre was named after his band Death.
Death was formed by Chuck in 1983 in Florida, USA. They created the blueprint of Death Metal in the late 80s, with two albums- ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ and ‘Leprosy’. In the early-mid 80s Thrash Metal had blossomed in the USA with bands like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth and Exodus. Soon, Germany evolved Teutonic Thrash, an even heavier form of thrash, with bands like Kreator, Destruction and Sodom. Amidst all these there were many other bands, each trying to out-heavy the others. Some that must be mentioned are Venom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Bathory, Sepultura, Napalm Death, Carcass, Mayhem and Possessed. Possessed was the one which created a prototype for Death Metal with their 1985 album ‘Seven Churches’.
Then Death happened. The first few albums were very raw, and straight-up death metal. The lyrics were almost completely focused on gore, violence, for shock value. However many bands followed in the footsteps of Death, like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Autopsy, Cannibal Corpse, and hence, the style of music that Death were doing was no more a novelty. As soon as Chuck saw this, he changed the sound of Death, and went for a very melodic and slightly technical style of Death Metal, with albums like ‘Individual Thought Patterns’ and ‘Human’. He included in his band various musicians like Paul Masvidal, Steve DiGiorgio, Sean Reinart, Sean Malone, all of whom, later formed great technical Death Metal bands, like Atheist, Cynic, Portal, Gordian Knot, and went on to become legends in their own rights. In the mid-late 90s, Chuck made a few more great albums like ‘Symbolic’ and when he felt that the style of Death Metal was overdone, he formed a new band called Control Denied that made one album that melded the instrumentation of Death Metal with clean vocals.
The first era of Death’s music is very powerful. It has fast parts to break the monotony, but the real empowering moments lie in the slow and heavy riffs that Death play very often and becomes the identity of the Death sound that very few or none of the other bands could emulate. In the middle period, their music has a melodic edge to it. Let’s just say they became a much heavier version of Megadeth. The riffs are melodically very strong. Their lyrics also evolved into a social critic laden with spiritual/humanitarian concepts and ideas. And also there is a very healthy dose of odd time signatures and unusual harmonies, for the musical nerds. In the later years, Chuck created very technical music (including Control Denied). His abilities as a guitarist had grown tremendously. At this time, he was already hailed as a legend, who had always been a step ahead of the whole death metal pack. He was like the Miles Davis of death metal, who had changed the face of the genre more than once, and had been a father figure to many other legendary musicians. However, the legend was cut short in 2001, when Chuck passed away, and the greatest Death Metal band of all time was put to a full stop.
- Scream Bloody Gore (1987)
- Leprosy (1988)
- Human (1991)
- Symbolic (1995)
- Infernal Death, Zombie Ritual, Baptized In Blood (Scream Bloody Gore, 1987)
- Leprosy, Pull The Plug (Leprosy, 1988)
- Crystal Mountain (Symbolic, 1995)
Other Bands To Check Out:
Slayer, Kreator, Megadeth, Possessed, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Autopsy, Atheist, Cynic, Control Denied
I do not own the copyrights to the image used. Got it straight from google. Since I am not commercializing this article (at least not yet), I’m guessing no one will want to sue me.