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Death's last and best.

  • Oct 27, 2003
  • by
If a band must go, it is good that their last album is their best one (ya know, end on a high note). This is definitely Chuck Shuldiner's best writing, and this is the best band to ever comprise Death. Surprisingly, there are no "big names" here like Steve DiGiorgio or Gene Hoglan. Shannon Hamm, Scott Clendenin, and Richard Christy (Gene who?) slaughter on this disc. What makes them so impressive? Unlike the heavy, atomistic rigidity of most death metal bands, Death's musicians flow over each other with an organic single-mindedness that makes their sound that much more impressive. I am a Richard Christy fan, and he is awesome here: scattering cymbals across polyrythmic double-bass battery and plowing through odd-times and tempo shifts with ease.

The music is generally the band's most technical and brutal. Complex, unusual melodies and odd-time signatures galore, high-speed meter changes. Yet despite the album's meticulous complexity, it is still extremely metal. Fast, pummeling, choppy riffs, and some of the most brilliantly predatory guitar harmonies ever penned. At the risk of scaring some people away, I must say that this is what prog metal _should_ sound like: highly melodic and complex but still brutal & heavy. And of course, no synths. The problem with the usual prog metal bands is that their "prog factor" makes them end up sounding cheesy and not metal/brutal enough. I would not call this prog metal of course, but it has certain musical similarities (take prog metal, keep the good parts, toss the bad parts, and kick it up ten notches and you are moving towards this).

All of the songs are great. The opener "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" sets the standard high immediately with its heavy onslaught, spiraling melodies, and all-out speed. "Voice of the Soul" is remarkable: an instrumental with verses of somber, hypnotic electric guitar melodies over picked acoustic guitar and choruses of unbelievably gorgeous guitar ostinati over strummed acoustic that STILL sounds metal. There's a kinda cheesy riff on "Spiritcrusher" but it doesn't last long. The epic "Flesh and the Power It Holds" features some of the most brutal Richard Christy drumming to date. "Bite the Pain" has surprisingly lyrical melodies introduced with confidence and poise so that it doesn't sound out of place with the song's brutal, main chugging groove. Other than that this album is flawless, and brilliant. Even the cover of Judas Prest's "Painkiller" is pretty cool, and I frankly think that band sucks. Shuldiner's shrunken-Cobra-Command-from-Hell vocals are funny on that one. This is one of the rare albums that proves 90s American metal wasn't ALWAYS something to be frowned upon. This is one of the best metal albums ever, and it ranks up there with the best heavy metal out of Sweden in the 20th century.

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More Sound of Perserverence reviews
review by . January 31, 2004
posted in Music Matters
I don't think it can be emphasized enough how good this album is. I believe everything Chuck Schuldiner had done previous had led up to this, his ultimate achievement. I find it hard to imagine anyone with a taste for brilliantly written, technical, progressive metal not liking this. One of the best metal albums of all time. And this is pure metal. The pure metal aspect is do-or-die on the riffs. This album has monster riffs that are PURE METAL but still complex and unusual. Plus, Richard Christy's …
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Clayton Reeder ()
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Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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Combining their old sound with a fresh & more progressive sound, Death are stronger than ever. Features the last work of Chuch Schuldiner. Nine tracks, including an amazing cover of Judas Priest's 'Painkiller'. Nuclear Blast.
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Label: Nuclear Blast Americ
Artist: Death
Release Date: September 15, 1998

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"Death's last and best."
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