It took me a while to get into the heavier end of the metal genre, and I didn’t touch death metal for a little while. Amon Amarth was the first form of death metal I started listening too, and from that point on it’s been countless hours exploring the genre and the many talented bands in it.
But it wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized where the name of the genre came from. There are many bands that have helped define a genre, but very few that have had their name given to that genre which they helped to create.
Death was a heavy metal band from Florida formed in 1983 by vocalist and guitarist Chuck Schuldiner. When talking about some of the biggest influences in heavy metal, the Big Four gets thrown out there a lot; Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. But Death is right up there as one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, and clearly the pioneers of death metal and seemingly the first foray into creating extreme metal.
While the band was unfortunately short lived, releasing seven albums in an 18 year career, they’ve had a lasting impact on the genre and have pumped out some amazing albums and songs. Their debut album Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy featured a raw, aggressive sound with the band later utilizing a more sophisticated, intricate sound, losing the theme of gore and instead using more social critique and melody. What’s great about their discography is whether it’s their early sound or their later sound, it’s all great.
Schuldiner can be considered one of the most influential figures in metal ever, helping to create a genre, helped influence a new style of vocals with growls and screams. He was very modest about his part in the history of metal but there’s no denying his impact. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 34 due to brain cancer, and Death ceased to exist.
My favorite Death album, and the only one I currently own, is Symbolic from 1995. There sound is unique to me, because you can hear the influence from 1980s metal while also getting that awesome death metal sound. At this point in the band’s career, Schuldiner was using the progressive, intricate sound that I like a lot and the album is full of fantastic vocals, riffs and solos making it one of the best complete albums I’ve heard in metal.
I chose the song “Empty Words” off of the album since it’s probably my favorite. The lyrics and vocals are strong, touching on the topic of broken promises and the dangers of using empty words in important situations. The intro is soft and builds up to the great riffs along with a catch chorus that’s immediately followed by a perfect sounding bridge into the next verse. The song is structured so perfectly and everything is intertwined beautifully. Some other great tracks are “Symbolic” and “Crystal Mountain,” but the whole album is worth listening to.
What is your favorite song and album by Death? Do you think they can be considered the most influential metal band? Leave comments and let me know what your track of the day is.